ie6nomore-logoIf you’re still using Internet Explorer 6 — the frequently criticized web browser that was first released in 2001 — the Internet is becoming an increasingly hostile place.

Popular sites like YouTube are telling visitors who are using IE6 that they need to switch to a “modern browser” like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox 3.5, or Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer 8. There are even sites like Bring Down IE 6 devoted to getting web users off IE6.

Now a group of startups including easy-to-use website builder Weebly, user-generated news site Reddit, video site, simple blogging tool Posterous, and commenting service Disqus (which manages comments for VentureBeat) are teaming up to increase the pressure on IE6 users to switch. Not only are they adding a “switch to a modern browser” warning that shows up whenever someone views their sites through IE6, they’ve also built an IE6 No More promotional site. On IE6 No More, developers can take snippets of code and add them to their sites, allowing them to display similar warnings.

Why the rage? Here’s the companies’ explanation:

As any web developer will tell you, working with IE 6 is one of the most difficult and frustrating things they have to deal with on a daily basis, taking up a disproportionate amount of their time. Beyond that, IE 6’s support for modern web standards is very lacking, restricting what developers can create.

IE6 has been on the decline for a while. According to W3Counter, the browser accounted for 15 percent of the market last month, compared to 35 percent the year earlier, and 48 percent in July 2007. But it’s still one of the most popular browsers around, which means it continues to cause headaches for developers.

I wonder whether a group of startups are really the ones to promote change — I’d think their audiences are more knowledgeable about tech, and therefore less likely to be using such an old browser. Still, IE6 is presumably an issue for all them, or they wouldn’t have joined the campaign. Weebly’s and Posterous’ users may be a good fit in particular, since the companies are all about making tech tasks (website-building and blogging, respectively) more accessible to the general public. Plus, providing the code (which Weebly chief executive David Rusenko says can be installed on another site in 30 seconds) means that the campaign shouldn’t stop with these five companies.