If you've spent more than five minutes browsing around the web lately, you've no doubt dealt with greedy webmasters assaulting their readers with terrible design and awful ads—but Firefox makes it easy to take back control.
Blocking Unnecessarily Obnoxious Ads
Without question, obnoxious ads are out of control on the web these days—you can barely move your mouse across a page without ads moving around, popping up, taking over the screen or pretending to be a dialog window indicating impending doom if you don't pay for a system scan NOW. These ads can be put in their place easily, using everybody's favourite Adblock Plus extension. Lifehacker is, of course, an advertising-supported site—so we'd be grateful if you'd keep us on the whitelist—but it'll do a charm for those flashing, pop-up-ing, overlaying, obtrusive ads all around the web.
Turn Off Auto-Playing Sounds
As annoying as advertisements and blinking text might be, nothing is more embarrassing than heading to a web page only to have everybody around you hear donkey noises emanating from your speakers at some ridiculous volume. Thankfully Firefox makes this problem easy to solve—though you probably should still think about headphones if you are in an office). You can block most auto-playing music and/or sounds with the Flashblock extension, but since people can still embed media directly in the page, you'll want to take a look at the Stop Autoplay extension for a tool that can address both issues.
Prevent Sites from Resizing Windows and Disabling Menus
Disable the Blink Tag
One can only assume that the <blink> tag is the result of some practical joke by the nerds that created HTML in the first place, and Firefox makes it easy to disable. Just enter about:config into your address bar, filter for browser.blink_allowed, and double-click it to set the value to false. Once you've made the change you won't have to deal with annoying commenters that think they are funny, causing seizures across the web.
Block Animated FavIcons
This is one of the annoyances that isn't terribly prevalent (yet), but if you frequently need to use a site with an animated icon in the address bar, it can become irritating very quickly. Unfortunately, there's no quick config setting to disable the animation, but you can use Adblock to disable the specific FavIcon or use the FavIcon Picker extension to choose a new, friendlier icon for that site with the clueless webmaster.
Stop Pages From Auto-Refreshing
Whenever a web site wants to artificially increase their pageview numbers, all they need to do is set a meta tag in the page that makes your browser reload the page every x number of minutes. Sure, there are some legitimate reasons for automatic page refreshing, but if this one is driving you crazy you can simply head into about:config and set the accessibility.blockautorefresh value to true. You'll end up with a message in the page window saying that Firefox blocked the page from refreshing, but it's better than wasting your bandwidth.
Click, Click, Clicking Through Multiple Pages
One of my personal pet peeves are those web sites that split up every article with a single paragraph on each ad-ridden page, and 437 Next links to click through before you can read the whole thing. The sad thing is that I'm only slightly exaggerating—it's a serious problem, but there's also a plethora of extensions that can help you deal with it. You can take your choice between AutoPager, Skipscreen, repagination, PageZipper, Unlinker, and even the Antipagination bookmarklet to load the next page inline without having to reload. Each of the extensions works a little differently, and none of them work as well as boycotting sites that are particularly hostile to their readers.
Greasemonkey and Stylish Can Handle the Rest
If you've got a specific pet peeve that isn't solved already, you can simply install the Greasemonkey or Stylish extensions and get to work customising your favourite pages to work just the way you want them to. If you don't have the skills to create your own scripts, you can head to userscripts.org or userstyles.org for customisations created by the community—or take a look through our top 10 Greasemonkey scripts, 2009 edition.
Got your own web site pet peeves, or something that just drives you crazy on the web today? Tell us how you've solved the problem in the comments.