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So far I've found anecdotal, single-site references of anwhere between 3% and 30%, with perhaps the higher disabling rate among more experienced tech audiences. Barring a definitive link, maybe there is some more anecdotal evidence here.
If it is more than 5% in reality, (real readers not the 30% of more of traffic which is from spiders etc), I will cry...
Sean, there are lots js counters out there, and there are lots of stock counters out there. Head to your home page and add a js counter and a regular counter. After at least 2 weeks and atleast 5k uniques, compare the two counters.
"keep your browser turned to CNN.com".
And I have speakers turned off 99.999999% of the time. But we're not exactly your average surfers, are we? As always, the target demographic can make a huge swing in the numbers.
The site I used for those stats is a travel-oriented one. Tech sites would probably have as much as 10% js DISabled (a guess). I've been doing almost all site navigation via external js for over a year now (estimated 1 million uniques during that period), I've had far more complaints that NS screwed up a forms button versus lack of navigation. For general-interest sites, I just can't find a problem with using js --if it works, there is lots of error-riddled code out there.
I browse with JS on and just don't go back to those sites.
Things may get more interesting in the future as browser makers offer more options besides "on" and "off". I'm loving the Mozilla pref that allows me to disable target="_blank" and its variations on selected or all sites. Controls for JS-based annoyances are on the way as well, and I suspect even the pleasant uses of JS (and a few exist) will become frequent casualties of war.
One browser now warns you that a "page is trying to open another window" and gives you the yes/No option. Maybe that is one of the functionalities can be disabled. Strongly disagree though that JS is ususally disfunctional.
Much of our js could be replaced by SSI or cgi, but having a hosted server, who keeps on telling us to use Cold Fusion whenever we talk cgi etc ($25 extra a month) ( because "Perl is antique), JS seems to be the only option.