Microsoft tries again to tame annoying website notifications, without blocking the ones you want to see

Microsoft is taking a new tack in the Edge browser for displaying notification requests from websites.

Microsoft Edge version 88 will be gaining a new feature called "adaptive notification requests", using 'the wisdom of the crowd' to take a more balanced approach to browser notification alerts from popular sites. 

In Microsoft Edge 84, Microsoft introduced "quiet notification requests" by default to tame spammy alerts from websites that want permission to issue notifications to users. Instead of a full flyout asking the user to accept or dismiss a notification request, these requests were hidden behind a bell icon labelled "Notifications blocked". 

But apparently that control was a bit blunt. While it helped tame spammy notifications, it also stopped Edge users from accepting notifications from well-liked sites. 

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After rolling out quiet notification requests by default, Microsoft observed that fewer people accepted notifications even on websites where they had previously accepted them. 

Some users also complained they couldn't find how to enable notifications for sites they liked, while others didn't know why notifications from favorite sites had stopped. 

"To build a good balance, we have developed a new approach we're calling adaptive notification requests, and have started experimenting with it in Microsoft Edge 88," the Microsoft Edge team write.  

"With this new approach, we provide either the full prompt or quiet requests based on the data accrued from actual user choices – we're crowdsourcing!"

Microsoft is calling on site developers to provide permission requests after users have engaged with the site, which should improve the acceptance rate and allow the site to show the full prompt. 

Microsoft is introducing a scoring system where a high score is negative signal and a low score is a positive signal. 

"As our score system represents the level of annoyance of the full prompt, "Block" yields a higher score indicating a strong negative signal, "Ignore" and "Dismiss" influence the scores as a week negative signal, and "Allow" yields the lowest score indicating a strong positive signal," the team explains. 

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Based on the collective score of users, Microsoft will provide "quiet requests" to the websites whose scores are higher than the threshold.

After the adaptive feature is rolled out, the "quiet notification requests" will be disabled by default. The setting can be adjusted in Settings → Cookies and site permissions → Notifications. 

Microsoft notes that "when users explicitly block requests 3 consecutive times while navigating across different websites, we will enable quiet requests."