What percentage of browsers with javascript disabled?

Blockmetry measures why content was not loaded for any number of reasons. In addition to content blocking by browsers and networks/ISPs, one reason commonly overlooked is browsers with JavaScript disabled. These browsers do not load ads or analytics tags, but are not blocking content in the common sense of the word. Blockmetry measures them using a <noscript> tag, and, as always, filtering out non-human traffic (bots).

So the obvious question arises…

What percentage of browsers have JavaScript disabled?

From Blockmetry’s direct measurements, 0.2% of pageviews from worldwide traffic across all devices in the fourth quarter 2016 had javascript disabled. Although apparently tiny, the aggregate figure hides a lot of interesting variation and regional patterns, with traffic from some countries having much higher JavaScript disabled rates.

Further, cross-tabulating by device type, traffic from desktops, Android phones and Android tablets had the highest rates of disabling JavaScript, while iPhones and iPads generally had lower rates.

The next question is: Who disables JavaScript at high rates? The answer is Tor users, east Asian countries, Africa, and Finland.

Tor users disable JavaScript the most

A somewhat unsurprising finding is that 10.5% of pageviews from Tor visitors disable JavaScript.

Websites that attract sizeable volumes of Tor traffic need to take note. However, the traffic from Tor users was a tiny percentage of the worldwide traffic Blockmetry measured in Q4, so the impact of this high rate is negligible to the overall figures.

East Asia

Traffic from Taiwan, China, and South Korea had JavaScript disabled at 2.3%, 1.9%, and 1.4% of pageviews, respectively, placing them as the top countries worldwide that disable JavaScript after Tor users. These high rates are important, and they are doubly interesting when we breakdown the aggregate numbers by device type.

Pageviews from desktop users had JavaScript disabled at roughly the same rate in both China (2.5%) and Taiwan (2.6%), but lower in South Korea (1.9%).

Mobile phones in China and Taiwan follow similar patterns: For pageviews from Android, 0.4% disabled JavaScript in both China and Taiwan, and no one (!) on iPhones disabled JavaScript from either country. South Korean Android mobile phones and iPhones both had 0.3% of the traffic without JavaScript.

Where they diverge are on tablets. Android tablets traffic had higher rates of disabling JavaScript from Taiwan (9.6%) and South Korea (1.6%), while no pageviews from Android tablet from China had JavaScript disabled. For iPads, the JavaScript disabled rates were 5.8% from Taiwan, 1.2% from China, and zero from S. Korea.

Finland

Finland was a great surprise: 1.0% of all pageviews from Finland had disabled JavaScript, landing it a spot in the top 20 countries disabling JavaScript. Why? From our measurements, 1.3% of desktop users in Finland had JavaScript disabled, accounting for the unusually high overall rate.

Africa

Another surprise in our data is that traffic from Africa had high JavaScript disabled rates. However, there was huge variation, with 1-2% in Botswana, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Lesotho, and elsewhere, 0.8% in Liberia, Namibia, Libya, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland, and the countries closer to the global average of 0.2% like Egypt and Nigeria.

In future work, we will look more closely at Africa’s data. Sign up to our mailing list below to get that and other reports when we produce them.

Comparison to previous results: JavaScript disabled rates are stable

Research into users that disable JavaScript is not new. The first widely-circulated research we’re aware of was from Yahoo! in 2010 (archive of the now-deleted blog post). Then, Yahoo! found “JavaScript-disabled requests hovering around 1% of the actual visitor traffic”, without defining what “visitor traffic” means exactly.

In 2013, the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) posted their own research into this question. They found that 0.2% of their traffic had JavaScript disabled, plus an additional 1.1 percentage points where JavaScript was enabled but some JavaScript resources did load correctly - which is what Blockmetry measures, and is much higher these days!

We reached out to Peter Herlihy, the author of the GDS post, and he confirmed that GDS used a measurement protocol identical to ours: pageviews with bot filtering, with the only difference being that Blockmetry attempts to filter out stealth bots in addition to bots that identify themselves. He also confirmed that the vast majority of their traffic is from the UK.

JavaScript disabled rates are stable in the UK

From our Q4 2016 data for the UK, our data shows that 0.2% of pageviews from the UK disable JavaScript, matching the rate GDS measured three years earlier. This means that, despite the increasing shift to mobile in the UK, the overall rate is the same.

However, we discern device-specific patterns in the UK: Relative to iPhones, pageviews from Android mobiles had JavaScript disabled at a 38% higher rate, but pageviews from iPads had JavaScript disabled 70% more than Android tablets.

Meet us at Bidex in London

We will be talking about how businesses can respond to content blocking at Bidex in London on 16 March 2017. We will be sharing unpublished data and discuss the various strategies you can implement now.