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Firefox = bad for the Internet?
August 16, 2007 6:57 PM   Subscribe

"You've reached this page because the site you were trying to visit now blocks the FireFox browser". Because Firefox has endorsed and allowed the Ad Block Plus plug-in, which is "is an infringement of the rights of web site owners and developers," some folks aren't too happy. With links to How to Block Firefox, Firefox Myths, and The Firefox Cult.
posted by zardoz (181 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I use firefox, i've never run into this...is it really a problem, and .....do we want to visit sites that do this?

the hell with 'em...
posted by HuronBob at 7:00 PM on August 16, 2007


Haha, like this isn't super easy to get by with user agent spoofing.
posted by IronLizard at 7:00 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, where's the plugin that will run up their bandwidth bills by hitting their page a few thousand times when it's redirected to that page?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:02 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Just in case anyone needs to get to one of these scummy sites.
posted by IronLizard at 7:03 PM on August 16, 2007


What "rights", exactly, is ABP violating?

Crappy flashy ads or no, it's MY computer and I have the first right of refusal on downloads. If they want to block me for that, well, it's a big web. I bet I can find what I want elsewhere - and maybe let ads download too, if I want to support them.

These guys need to be honest and say that they need the ads for revenue rather than rolling out the ol' persecution guns. I turn ABP off for Metafilter and some others that I like.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:04 PM on August 16, 2007


"Our revenue model does not work for us so we flail about and strike the nearest target."
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:05 PM on August 16, 2007 [16 favorites]


I had never bothered to use AdBlock ... until now. Just installed it!
posted by RavinDave at 7:05 PM on August 16, 2007 [16 favorites]


I'm assuming that the sites that actually use this are probably the same ones that display those ever so lovely "best viewed in internet explorer" messages.
posted by jjb at 7:05 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


... therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers ...

Insert insane laughter.
posted by odinsdream at 7:06 PM on August 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


FAIL.
posted by empath at 7:06 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Gosh, how bitter are these people? What sites are actually using this code?
posted by sdrawkcab at 7:07 PM on August 16, 2007


So, where's the plugin that will run up their bandwidth bills by hitting their page a few thousand times when it's redirected to that page?

Not exactly but this is a good tool. Especially for pricks like this.
posted by puke & cry at 7:08 PM on August 16, 2007 [12 favorites]


I've had ABP running on Firefox for quite some time now, and I had completely forgotten that Metafilter even had ads until I saw them on my dad's computer.

Also, Firefox beats IE when it comes to organization and "digital ergonomics" as I like to call it. IE has always struck me as being cluttered and way too "busy", whereas Firefox is alot simpler and has better "flow", if you will.

I guess some people are just jealous.
posted by Avenger at 7:09 PM on August 16, 2007


What if the people who sent junk (snail) mail strapped you to a chair and forced you to look at it before tossing it in the trash?
posted by desjardins at 7:09 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"That's why I never kiss them on the mouth!" - Jayne Cobb
posted by ZachsMind at 7:09 PM on August 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Shudder and puke.

"Theft" used to mean something other than "I'm not making as much money as I conceivably could if [x]."
posted by Slam I Am at 7:13 PM on August 16, 2007 [22 favorites]


My Adblock Plus, using the Easylist filterset, blocks the entirety of whyfirefoxisblocked.com. It's just a blank page. Sweet.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:15 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


do.not.want.
posted by misha at 7:16 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


blocks the entirety of whyfirefoxisblocked.com. It's just a blank page. Sweet.

mine too. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
posted by quonsar at 7:17 PM on August 16, 2007


You can get add-ons for IE7 that do the same thing as AdBlock Plus - are they going to block IE7 too?
posted by desjardins at 7:17 PM on August 16, 2007


Seems like this is just another jerk in the great tug of war between whether it's consumers who control how they access information or whether producers and distributors have that control. And if there is a philosophy behind Firefox, it's about maximizing the opportunities for users to decide how they use the web.

On a personal note, I use Firefox and my rule for ads is that anything that significantly degrades my performance or plays audio without having a quick and obvious way to shut it off gets blocked, as does anything that uses a popup or in any other way attempts to hijack my control of the browser. Interestingly, I didn't switch until dealing with popups, flash adds, banners, resizing windows and the like made surfing the web far more difficult than it had to be.

Which suggests that one of the lessons these advertisers should take from Firefox is that ads that are disruptive to a user's experience will create a massive demand for products to block those adds from being shown.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:19 PM on August 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Funny thing is, I don't even need adblock. I use a hosts file from mvps and hardly ever see an ad.
posted by IronLizard at 7:20 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


YOU LOOSE!!! Good day sir!



Bah, I use safari anyway. There's not much performance difference(actually faster with safari 3 beta than Fx or IE) and sites render so much cleaner than on Fx or IE...
posted by noriyori at 7:21 PM on August 16, 2007


Is this any worse than sites that arbitrarily, purposefully block IE? And unless important transactional websites start adopting this (not likely), it'll pretty much remain irrelevant. I don't see too many people switching to IE to read a blog. They'll just get frustrated and close the damn tab.

Also, many firewall software block ads, too. Oops, what now?
posted by Blue Buddha at 7:22 PM on August 16, 2007



You can get add-ons for IE7 that do the same thing as AdBlock Plus - are they going to block IE7 too?


After I looked at the site in Firefox, I looked at it in IE7 -- and I reached the same message: "You've reached this page because the site you were trying to visit now blocks the FireFox browser"

WTF?
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:24 PM on August 16, 2007


Robert Angelo > that's the actual site, it looks that way in all browsers (I'm using Opera). It's just an informational site that tells you what markup you need to add to your pages to block Firefox and why. So...are there any sites that actually did adopt this?
posted by Blue Buddha at 7:26 PM on August 16, 2007


huronbob hits it out of the park on the first swing.
posted by notyou at 7:27 PM on August 16, 2007


"Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing." ... R-U-FKM ??
posted by scblackman at 7:28 PM on August 16, 2007


Is this any worse than sites that arbitrarily, purposefully block IE? And unless important transactional websites start adopting this (not likely), it'll pretty much remain irrelevant. I don't see too many people switching to IE to read a blog. They'll just get frustrated and close the damn tab.

I personally have never run into a site that blocks IE...
(a source would be nice)
I've only run into sites that restrict the user to using IE.(developer laziness?)
A doctor I know has an office operating with 10 computers. With only one running windows XP and IE only because one of the insurance companies requires this to access their web-based reporting software.

Security-wise this does not seem like a good choice for the insurance company.
posted by noriyori at 7:32 PM on August 16, 2007


actually, this sounds like a bunch of kids trying to feel important.
posted by quonsar at 7:40 PM on August 16, 2007


Is it just me, or does the "infringement of the rights of web site owners and developers" sound like legal boilerplate from people who don't want users to have any rights regarding what they do or don't see? I use the flashblock add-on. Since most ads these days (the obnoxious ones, at least, are built with flash and shockwave, I seldom see ads at all. I get the opportunity to click on the flash doohickey if I'm interested, or want to send a little ad revenue to the web site. Otherwise, no bothers.

And noriyori, consider for a moment how many potentially sensitive government and corporate systems require use of IE because of shoddy development practices. Enough to make you shudder.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:45 PM on August 16, 2007


notyou: "huronbob hits it out of the park on the first swing."

Seconded.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:46 PM on August 16, 2007


Yeh, hoorah for AdBlock (I've got it here, if only to blat out the buzzing bug and basically every flash ad). However, the continual quest for FREE STUFF! FREE! is sooner-or-later going to leave us with content which is the quality of ... free stuff.

Newspapers are the thin end of this. People want things online, without paying. Sure, we'll put that stuff online. But the cost of generating that editorial content is very high, and it's nowhere near covered by the online ads. Making those sums add up is causing large headaches (and layoffs) in newspaper land ... and now people demand the right to not even see the online ads.

If there isn't going to be a workable economic model for relatively expensive to create content, that content is going to disappear (and already is). The traditional argument -- that there are plenty of good people willing to do it for free -- is rather akin to the open source software model (appropriately enough for this thread).

But open source has shown us that it's good at things coders are interested in, like dev tools and frameworks, and reasonably acceptable when there's tons of money behind it (Firefox) and just horrid at the other things (Gimp, UI design in general).

So we'll end up with the same thing, words-wise, because most writers -- even the great ones -- aren't always writing what they personally care about. Going by open source, we'll get great tech blogs/writing, good stuff from the BBC, Guardian and other alternatively-funded organisations, and tons of dreck.

But I won't have to see the buzzing bug.
posted by bonaldi at 7:46 PM on August 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


Can I get a "Fuck You". I said CAN I GET A "FUCK YOU!"
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:52 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bill Hick's take on it.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:55 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


This isn't a joke? Has anyone actually been redirected to this page?
posted by chunking express at 8:02 PM on August 16, 2007


When did web site owners have the "right" to require my user agent, running on my hardware, in my execution environment to act in a certain way? Oh, that's right... they don't.
posted by majick at 8:08 PM on August 16, 2007


Doesn't AdBlock allow for the download of advertising content - but interferes with the layout/rendering process so as to remove blocked content?

If the ad revenue is based on views, I don't see how sites would be affected, and if it's based on clicks - this is an audience segment which already disdains and ignores advertisements; whether or not they appear on screen, the person who installs (or is likely to install) AdBlock isn't going to be clicking on any ads.
posted by unmake at 8:08 PM on August 16, 2007


This isn't a joke? Has anyone actually been redirected to this page?

Yes.

You've reached this page because the site you were trying to visit now blocks the FireFox browser.

The Mozilla Foundation and its Commercial arm, the Mozilla Corporation, has allowed and endorsed Ad Block Plus, a plug-in that blocks advertisement on web sites and also prevents site owners from blocking people using it. Software that blocks all advertisement is an infringement of the rights of web site owners and developers. Numerous web sites exist in order to provide quality content in exchange for displaying ads. Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing. Millions of hard working people are being robbed of their time and effort by this type of software. Many site owners therefore install scripts that prevent people using ad blocking software from accessing their site. That is their right as the site owner to insist that the use of their resources accompanies the presence of the ads.


While blanket ad blocking in general is still theft, the real problem is Ad Block Plus's unwillingness to allow individual site owners the freedom to block people using their plug-in. Blocking FireFox is the only alternative. Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers..

Since the makers of Ad Block Plus as well as the filter subscriptions that accompany it refuse to allow website owners control over their own intellectual property, and since FireFox actively endorses Ad Block Plus, the sites linking to this page are now blocking FireFox until the resource theft is stopped.

Netscape users can simply set their browser to IE mode to continue to enjoy the site that sent you here. FireFox users can use Internet Explorer, Opera or Netscape (in IE mode) to access it. FireFox users also have the option of using the IE Tab plug-in which uses the IE rendering engine to display pages, but also disables the Ad Block Plus plug-in.

If you are offended by the Mozilla Corporation's endorsement of dishonesty please contact the Mozilla Foundation and ask them to stop empowering internet theft.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:09 PM on August 16, 2007


populartechnology.com is apparently to technology what popularscience.com is to science.
posted by eriko at 8:09 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


While blanket ad blocking in general is still theft

Eh? I'm stealing by blocking all those ads I don't want to see? This is just a silly idea.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:12 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


This isn't a joke? Has anyone actually been redirected to this page?

Yes.


From where?
posted by scottreynen at 8:13 PM on August 16, 2007


This isn't a joke? Has anyone actually been redirected to this page?

Yes.

From where?


I have a COX business account in Mesa, AZ with a fixed IP. I am using the latest version of Firefox and am not using the ad blocking plug-in. I get it on my desktop and my laptop.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:17 PM on August 16, 2007


Mr_Zero: your quoting of whyfirefoxisblocked.com's "rationale" for seems to have slipped out of italics making you look a tad cuckoo
posted by mrnutty at 8:18 PM on August 16, 2007


*"rationale" for blocking firefox

oops
posted by mrnutty at 8:20 PM on August 16, 2007


Ads by Google: Firefox Browser Firefox News 2 Firefox Firefox Beta Firefox Blogs
posted by LarryC at 8:20 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Please add "waaahmbulance" tag.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:21 PM on August 16, 2007


Mr_Zero: your quoting of whyfirefoxisblocked.com's "rationale" for seems to have slipped out of italics making you look a tad cuckoo

Damn.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:21 PM on August 16, 2007


Mr. Zero: I think the question was which sites have you visited that blaocked Firefox?
posted by LarryC at 8:21 PM on August 16, 2007


This isn't a joke? Has anyone actually been redirected to this page?

Yes.

From where?

I have a COX business account in Mesa, AZ...


No, not where are you; where is the site that redirected you to that message?
posted by scottreynen at 8:22 PM on August 16, 2007


Would I need a stock hosts file to understand this?
posted by pompomtom at 8:23 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think there's some confusion about this. Mr_Zero: If you're talking about the page at whyfirefoxisblocked.com then everyone can see it. That's the explanation of the whole thing.
posted by puke & cry at 8:28 PM on August 16, 2007


Here's a working example of a site that blocks FireFox...

www.jacklewis.net
posted by BillsR100 at 8:34 PM on August 16, 2007


Eh? I'm stealing by blocking all those ads I don't want to see? This is just a silly idea.

Exactly. How is this different from fast-forwarding through television commercials? Have I been stealing television for the last twenty years?
posted by crossoverman at 8:35 PM on August 16, 2007


This is so bad it's AWESOME.
posted by bshort at 8:35 PM on August 16, 2007


With regards to a site blocking IE, one example and commentary. I've run into a few when I use IE from work. Can't remember them because I couldn't be bothered to care about a site that doesn't cater to the majority of web users because of laziness or spite.
posted by Blue Buddha at 8:37 PM on August 16, 2007


I run a Web site that gets some revenue from AdSense banner ads. I also browse the web using Firefox with Ad Block. Why? So I don't acciudentally commit click fraud by clicking on the ads on my page.
posted by elmwood at 8:38 PM on August 16, 2007


Discussion: "Do you have a devise that automatically blocks all commercials on television. There's a difference between ignoring commercials and blocking them. You are free to not look at ads on someone's web site, but those ads are how they are getting paid for providing that content. If you don't want to have the ads there, don't go to that site. Removing the monetization of the internet cripples it's growth. Using adblocker is selfish. It's stealing and it's immoral. People have always rationalized their vises, even Hitler did it. It still doesn't make it right.

People who use adblocker are thiefs.

Comment by Honest Web Master made July 19, 2007, 05:24 AM"


Honest Web Master
posted by tellurian at 8:43 PM on August 16, 2007


This sounds a lot like the nonsense about people trying to prevent deep linking to their sites.
posted by camcgee at 8:43 PM on August 16, 2007


If they blocked all browsers from using the site, they'd be 100% certain to stop all people who were blocking their ads.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:47 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing.

Using ad-blocking to steal gives me a big veiny hardon, and I need all the help I can get in these post-40 years.

Also, do they have ads on the redirect landing page? Because they really should.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:48 PM on August 16, 2007


Here's a working example of a site that blocks FireFox...
www.jacklewis.net


And I, for one, thank him for it.
posted by camcgee at 8:52 PM on August 16, 2007


Uh oh, something like this could split the web in two! One part would be the crappy, ad-laden web run by people who use words like "monetize" and who have no purpose for creating sites except as an excuse for the ads. And the other part would be, you know, the good part.

Excuse my while I get very upset about this development.

I will, y'know.

Any minute now.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:55 PM on August 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


I think there's some confusion about this. Mr_Zero: If you're talking about the page at whyfirefoxisblocked.com then everyone can see it. That's the explanation of the whole thing.

Too much whiskey, signing off.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:55 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Do you have a devise that automatically blocks all commercials on television."

Um... yes.
posted by markr at 8:59 PM on August 16, 2007


This is stupid.
posted by sjvilla79 at 9:00 PM on August 16, 2007


Lost expected profits is not stealing! Thanks RIAA/MPAA for extending the public perception of what constitutes theft that this is actually taken seriously by some people.
posted by geoff. at 9:01 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Doh, forgot the http in the href. Now?
posted by markr at 9:03 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's a working example of a site that blocks FireFox...

www.jacklewis.net
posted by BillsR100 at 10:34 PM on August 16


Seems to block Safari, too. So clearly they must know I'm running PithHelmet.

I don't know what jacklewis.net but it clearly isn't wanting me to read it. Google tells me he's listed as a Fundamental Christian Topsite. So not using IE is just another reason in the long list of why I'm going to hell.
posted by birdherder at 9:04 PM on August 16, 2007


[Ha ha ha ha ha. Pfffft. (Giggle)]

Really?

[Ha ha ha ha...]
posted by maxwelton at 9:05 PM on August 16, 2007


Here's a working example of a site that blocks FireFox...

www.jacklewis.net
posted by BillsR100 at 8:34 PM on August 16


whois for jacklewis.net suggests it appears to be owned by Mr_Zero himself.

hardly a shining example??
posted by modge at 9:05 PM on August 16, 2007


Hmm... don't the major search engines have some pretty strict rules about showing one thing to their indexing spider and another thing to visitors? If they're deliberately redirecting a large subset of real visitors but not redirecting the spider to the same place, shouldn't they be delisted from, say, Google?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:06 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Here's a working example of a site that blocks FireFox...

www.jacklewis.net
posted by BillsR100 at 8:34 PM on August 16

whois for jacklewis.net suggests it appears to be owned by Mr_Zero himself.

hardly a shining example??


I own a lot of url's however that is not one of them. If I am too drunk to understand what is going on, I apologize.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:14 PM on August 16, 2007


I use ABP and I love it. I get a secret thrill from preventing advertisers from taking up my mindspace. It's almost sexual.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:16 PM on August 16, 2007


either something just changed in the last ten minutes or it is i who am too drunk.
posted by modge at 9:21 PM on August 16, 2007


www.jacklewis.net

Wow, that site really doesn't want me visiting. It blocks Firefox. It blocks Firefox with the user agent switched to IE. It blocks Safari. It loads in NetNewsWire, which uses the same rendering engine as Safari, but shortly after loading it redirects to a page telling me JavaScript is required, though apparently only required for loading ads, as the content loads fine without JavaScript.

Remember when websites stopped browser sniffing like, oh, ten years ago? That was awesome.

If they're deliberately redirecting a large subset of real visitors but not redirecting the spider to the same place, shouldn't they be delisted from, say, Google?

Yeah, but these sites do a good enough job of ensuring their own obscurity that Google will never need to worry about it.
posted by scottreynen at 9:21 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


either something just changed in the last ten minutes or it is i who am too drunk.

Nothing changed. You must also be too drunk. Good night fellow mefites.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:23 PM on August 16, 2007


Boy, I love this section:

Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers..

So in other words, it's a tiny problem, not worth solving... except it's a great big OMGXBOXHUEG problem, oh god oh god oh god.

Mr. Webmaster: you are losing no more than the ad impressions for that individual user. You can get a very solid server with a couple of terabytes of excellent bandwidth for about $130/mo. If your server isn't already loaded enough to be giving you performance or bandwidth problems, then the Firefox user is costing you precisely nothing. If you are heavily loaded, then they might cost you a little, in the sense of opportunity costs in missing IE customers.

The correct solution? Ask for donations. If you get a dollar for every hundred Firefox users, you're probably ahead of where you would be with ad money anyway. You have it right now, instead of having to wait for your ad company to pay out, and, having given you money, your users will be more likely to come back and contribute in other ways.
posted by Malor at 9:34 PM on August 16, 2007


jacklewis.net lets w3m through. It's a text browser, so I don't see the ads.

If you get blocked, you're not missing much ...
posted by krinklyfig at 9:34 PM on August 16, 2007


http://www.jacklewis.net/ loads for me in FF with the user-agent switcher set to IE 7, but then it forwards me to a page complaining about JavaScript being off.

I could see Jakob Neilsen getting worked up about this.
posted by Tuwa at 9:38 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


hell yes it's an infringement on the rights of website owners. as a website owner, i not only have the right to serve you ads whenever i want, i also have the right to shtup any hot babes in the same room where you're surfing. you people haven't read the new amendment to the digital millennium copyright act, have you?
posted by bruce at 9:46 PM on August 16, 2007


From that populartechnology site:

Web pages that depend on ActiveX or were only tested in Internet Explorer will only render and work properly in Internet Explorer based browsers.

I'm tempted to think that's a feature, not a bug. Even Microsoft has some dire warnings about ActiveX:

An ActiveX control can be an extremely insecure way to provide a feature. Because it is a Component Object Model (COM) object, it can do anything the user can do from that computer. It can read from and write to the registry, and it has access to the local file system. From the moment a user downloads an ActiveX control, the control may be vulnerable to attack because any Web application on the Internet can repurpose it, that is, use the control for its own ends whether sincere or malicious.
posted by Tuwa at 9:49 PM on August 16, 2007


I could see Jakob Neilsen getting worked up about this.

Or about people who can't spell.
posted by Tuwa at 9:51 PM on August 16, 2007


So these people never get up and pee when the commercials come on during their favorite show right?
posted by 2sheets at 9:59 PM on August 16, 2007


People have always rationalized their vises, even Hitler did it.

not to mention that his mother was very puzzled by the size of the ashtray he made in shop class ... hell, it was big enough to burn somebody in
posted by pyramid termite at 10:02 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


scottreynen writes "Remember when websites stopped browser sniffing like, oh, ten years ago? That was awesome."

Yeah, I just tried switching my user agent, but then I realized that I haven't bothered to install the user agent-switcher extension for like the last three times I've set up a computer, because who needs it anymore? And then it officially became too much trouble to try and see Jack Webb's website.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:05 PM on August 16, 2007


And the funny thing is, I don't even have adblock installed. The ads don't really bother me.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:08 PM on August 16, 2007


In fact, sometimes they even have pictures of pretty girls in them.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:08 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing.

This is adorable. Because even if you assume that their premise is true; that reading a web page without viewing the ads his theft (hint: it isn't), then there is a necessary presumption that I care that I've broken this law.

I don't.

When I look back on the great and terrible things I've done in my life; the wrongs I've committed against innocent people, the lives I've damaged and the things I've destroyed. Reading web pages without looking at the ads doesn't even begin to blip on my radar.

Kinda the same way that a mass-murderer who is fleeing from the law might not notice that he is violating the speed limit in his high-speed getaway.

Of the four computers that I use on a daily basis, only one of them has Ad Block for Firefox.

By tomorrow, all of them will be rocking that program. And if I'm restricted from seeing your web page, I've got a half dozen other browsers and ad blocking utilities that you haven't heard of yet. I can still read your content.

You will lose have already lost, and I will sleep like a baby.
posted by quin at 10:08 PM on August 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


"Before we leave this matter I wish to comment on the theory implied by you, Mr Weems, when you claimed damage to your client. There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is supported neither by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit. That is all."

-- Robert A Heinlein, Life-Line (1939).
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:14 PM on August 16, 2007 [10 favorites]


Stupid solution to a minor problem.

As an ad-supported site owner myself though, if ad blocking became the standard rather than just a small minority, you'd see a drastic reduction in interesting content on the web. We may do it because we love it, but that doesn't mean we can afford to do it for free - creating valuable information takes a lot of time, which I wouldn't have if I had a 9-5 job as well.
posted by chundo at 10:18 PM on August 16, 2007


Danny Carlton et al. vs his readers (jacklewis.net)
posted by LinusMines at 10:23 PM on August 16, 2007


I've always loved that bit, aeschenkarnos. Great story overall of course, but that bit is entirely appropriate to some real world situation at least thrice weekly.
posted by freebird at 10:29 PM on August 16, 2007


Dude, I love that I can commit crime JUST SURFING THE INTERNET. In the old days we had to eat sushi and not pay for it - anyone who tells you computers aren't making things easier IS YOUR ENEMY.
posted by freebird at 10:31 PM on August 16, 2007


Millions of hard working people are being robbed of their time and effort by this type of software.

Won't someone think about the children of all these millions of hard working people who are being robbed. Millions! Like probably enough millions to fill a good-sized room. In a double-wide.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 10:36 PM on August 16, 2007


bonaldi wrote: "Yeh, hoorah for AdBlock (I've got it here, if only to blat out the buzzing bug and basically every flash ad). However, the continual quest for FREE STUFF! FREE! is sooner-or-later going to leave us with content which is the quality of ... free stuff."


Well this only works if you consider the (mostly) free stuff on the internet to suck. Most of it probably does suck, but the very same thing can be said for whatever you could possibly pay for.

I've found that some of the best finds on the web are only tangentially related to advertising.

Look at all the cool stuff we browse through here on MeFi every day! Most of the stuff we like is either "free" (somebody's hobby which they've donated time and money into) or supported by merchandise, CD sales, or sometimes product-tie-ins. Very few FPPs force us to sit through 2 minutes of flash advertising for some new shit adventure show on FX. If they did, it wouldn't be much of an FPP, and very few of us would sit through it.

Somebody else here brought up the example of the RIAA, and I think thats instructive. One day, all music will be virtually "free" on the internet, and the recording industry is just going to have to adjust or go under. The artists will still make money -- live CDs, concerts, donations, tours, even (gag) product endorsement. Artists will still make money, even when their music is "free".

The quality of their music, however, probably won't go down. If anything, I'm expecting the opposite will happen. Music will survive, even thrive without the Industry Machine.

Likewise, the internet will still thrive without advertising. Its not the only way to do things, and certainly not the only way to make money -- if one is so inclined. These guys don't seem to have grasped that quite yet.
posted by Avenger at 10:38 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


And lest it sound like I am sympathetic to him, after finally reading the comments in LinusMines' link, I gotta say this Danny Carlton guy is a complete fucking asshat.
posted by chundo at 10:42 PM on August 16, 2007


chundo writes "if ad blocking became the standard rather than just a small minority, you'd see a drastic reduction in interesting content on the web"

I don't use any ad blocker in Firefox, and I still get blocked by these idiots.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:57 PM on August 16, 2007


Metafilter: Nothing changed. You must also be too drunk.
posted by honest knave at 11:15 PM on August 16, 2007


Their position makes zero sense. This is just straight attention whoring.
posted by IronLizard at 11:23 PM on August 16, 2007


"if ad blocking became the standard rather than just a small minority, you'd see a drastic reduction in interesting content on the web"

As others have pointed out, there is a very poor correlation between whether a site is supported by ads, and whether the site is any good.

Webhosting is cheap now. In fact, you can really present any kind of information online for free, what between all the free blogging sites and video sharing sites and photo sharing sites out there.

On the other hand, the internet is also rapidly filling up with assholes ripping off other people's content, filling their sites with ads, blathering on about SEO and "monetizing". And I guess the impression that this is the group of people who are bitching about moaning about Ad Block Plus.

I can guarantee that the internet is so big, that there will always be interesting content on it, ads or not.
posted by Jimbob at 11:27 PM on August 16, 2007


I for one demand that people only browse my sites with IE 4.0 and running a computer without any anti-virus software.

Anyone who is not doing this is stealing my right to turn their computer into part of a bot-net and thus robbing perfectly decent criminals of their livelihood.

To this end I've started a blog called Why Fire Fox is Blocked.
posted by sien at 11:30 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't use AdBlocker and I get redirected - is he suggesting that I only browse with IE or with an IE-alike extension to FireFox? Sheeaah...
posted by eclectist at 11:30 PM on August 16, 2007


Here's a working example of a site that blocks FireFox...
www.jacklewis.net

Blocks safari 3.0.3 as well.
I guess us Mac users will never get to know the beauty of www.jacklewis.net. I am shocked and offended, can I sue this web site?
posted by dougzilla at 11:40 PM on August 16, 2007


I love how they mention Opera as one of the "acceptable" browsers. I guess they don't realize it has its own adblocker.
posted by Many bubbles at 11:41 PM on August 16, 2007


Yeah, their position on which browsers are allowed is completely illogical. Maybe they just don't like that damn commie open source software or something?
posted by Jimbob at 11:47 PM on August 16, 2007


How is this different from fast-forwarding through television commercials? Have I been stealing television for the last twenty years?

Intelligently-designed TV ads still get a message across when fast-forwarded, so no, that wouldn't be stealing.

On the other hand, if you've been popping into the kitchen to get another beer during the ads, then yes, you boozy thief.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:18 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are they going to get whyoperaisblocked.com now it ships with a content blocker as part of the basic install?
posted by Freaky at 1:40 AM on August 17, 2007


This heavy-handed and narrow-minded approach from Mr. Danny "Honest Web Master" Carlton doesn't really surprise now that I've had a look and some of his writing on JackLewis.net, courtesy this listing of posts at ProLifeBlogs.org (via Google Search, I assure you. I can't even access his site directly from my Mac, because I get chided for using Firefox, even when I'm NOT USING IT.)

He's your typical Limbaugh-parroting right-wing crank/proto-fascist with no perspective on the rest of the world. Ignore him, and avoid his sites.
posted by Down10 at 2:09 AM on August 17, 2007


@sien: Your blog is broken. I think you must have an infinite loop or something, it just keeps opening a lot of windows.
posted by lastobelus at 2:26 AM on August 17, 2007


@lastobelus: As it should.

As a web 'entrepreneur' I demand the right to open as many pop-ups, pop-unders and to install viruses on each and every system that views my site.

If you deny me this right I will block you and sue you for 'sneaky denail of botnet services'.

You have been warned.
posted by sien at 2:38 AM on August 17, 2007


Oh - and that goes for anyone who refuses to view my site as well.

And, Oi, you, going to the bathroom during a commercial.

You're nicked.
posted by sien at 2:39 AM on August 17, 2007


So... failing to take as much of their bandwidth as I can, is theft? Does this mean that I want to be absolutely sure that I'm not stealing anything, I should take everything of theirs that I can get my hands on?

Hey - new car! Sweet!
[later that afternoon]
"No officer, you've got it backwards - I would be a thief if I wasn't taking all their gear. I am grabbing their shit, therefore, I am not a thief! Go arrest that guy over there - he's not taking anything at all!"
posted by -harlequin- at 2:43 AM on August 17, 2007


i'm safe though, thanks to my trusty chamber pot, as delivered to all Aussie houses, courtesy of those good folks at Saatchi & Saatchi.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:46 AM on August 17, 2007


Honestly, does anyone aside from sites as large as the one were blabbing on right now make any money from ads?

A business partner was all hot and bothered about setting up adsense to "monetize" his blog. $2 a day, last time I heard. Whoop de fuck.
posted by maxwelton at 2:54 AM on August 17, 2007


Well I've clicked on a total of three ads in the last year online. Each time because what they were advertising sounded so ridiculous, I had to check out what it was. I think one of them was for the Fleshlight...

Clearly, as a professional male in my late 20s with a family, I'm not in the target demographic for internet advertising. Still trying to figure out what that demographic is...
posted by Jimbob at 3:35 AM on August 17, 2007


I'm not going to buy it. What does it matter if I see the ads?
posted by Eideteker at 3:56 AM on August 17, 2007


Jimbob, you must be visiting sites that the advertising hacks have decided belong to a different demographic than yours. That would probably be a bit like me watching Idol on TV.

So what gives? Is your online activity older, younger, richer, poorer, more masculine or feminine than the real life Jimbob?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:00 AM on August 17, 2007


chundo: "As an ad-supported site owner myself though, if ad blocking became the standard rather than just a small minority, you'd see a drastic reduction in interesting content on the web. We may do it because we love it, but that doesn't mean we can afford to do it for free - creating valuable information takes a lot of time, which I wouldn't have if I had a 9-5 job as well."

Not to derail, but: I am German. Yeah, one of those craaazy Yuropeans who surf the English-speaking internet.

And I hate ads.

Why? Because they are fucking useless!!! 95% of the time the articles and services advertised are US-centric - I cannot order them, I have no use for them, they are not available for overseas shipping, they don't apply, they just simply can not be bought by me even if I wished to do so! I mean, please consider the ads you are served (or used to be served). How many of them would be of any interest to a foreigner? How many of them would be of any use to a foreigner???
I really understand that websites like ad revenue, but if the products advertised constantly fail to meet my lowest possible standard (namely, that I should somehow be able to purchase them) I feel no guilt in blocking them. The only possible exception I could think of are google ads which are inobtrusive, often relevant and thanks to the global google advertising network sometimes even for stores or services in the same country; but if I wanted to purchase something that's related to a website I'm browsing I'm much, much, much more likely to start a dedicated google search for that particular item and basically ignore the advertisers anyway.

Sorry for the rant, but it sometimes really frustrating to follow these discussions when - at least for some of us - there is no real dilemma: I block ads (and thanks to the NoScript extension which I heartily recommend most obtrusive advertising techniques don't work on my computers, anyway).
posted by PontifexPrimus at 4:17 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, next thing, you'll be telling me that I shouldn't fast forward my DVR or my videotapes (if I watched them anymore) to skip ads. Think how resentful you are that you are forced to see an ad in front of a movie or DVD.

So, yeah, this will work out well.
posted by filmgeek at 4:37 AM on August 17, 2007


All of the above, UbuRovias.

I continue to be disturbed that my favourite magazine, The Monthly, is filled with ads for the opera, million-dollar apartments in Melbourne, and the latest Lexus and Audis...
posted by Jimbob at 4:49 AM on August 17, 2007


Here's a working example of a site that blocks FireFox...

www.jacklewis.net


I know I'm late to this, but you guys really need to actually look at that site. Wingnuttery at its finest. From the first post:

"Fifteen Mennonite families from Roxton Falls, Quebec are now planning to pack up and move rather than allow their children to be indoctrinated into the religion of Evolution and be exposed to homosexual recruitment."
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:58 AM on August 17, 2007


Screw ads, I generally use my AdBlocker because I'm on Livejournal and people there are idiots and make icons that either piss me off or are animated or both. I love being able to block individual user's ideas of what should represent them.

And if I have trouble with FF, there's always Lynx.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:08 AM on August 17, 2007


Jimbob, I continue to be disturbed that my favourite magazine, Adbusters, is filled with ads that push all my buttons.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:29 AM on August 17, 2007


My problem with ads isn't ads per se, its the fucking animated, flashing, drag your eyeballs away from the content ads.

I'm easily visually distracted, dunno why, wish I wasn't. As a result its pretty much literally impossible for me to read text on a website with a moving or flashing ad. I'll get halfway through a sentence, and my eyes will flick to the movement and I'll lose my place.

I don't bother blocking static ads, they don't bug me.
posted by sotonohito at 5:36 AM on August 17, 2007


Screw ads, I generally use my AdBlocker because I'm on Livejournal and people there are idiots and make icons that either piss me off or are animated or both. I love being able to block individual user's ideas of what should represent them.

Exactly. Forum software that puts everyone's avatar into a /images/avatars directory, and a hundred other places where putting in a blocking rule on directory/*.jpg makes a page readable, make ABP a worthwhile download even without the filtersets.

This guy and the RIAA's attorneys should do lunch sometime; they would have a grand old time redefining theft for the 21st century.
posted by Mayor West at 5:55 AM on August 17, 2007


That, and opera is recommended in spite of having its own adblock.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:56 AM on August 17, 2007


Never seen dat before.
posted by zzazazz at 6:41 AM on August 17, 2007


I know I'm late to this, but you guys really need to actually look at that site. Wingnuttery at its finest.

I would but I can't even when I switch the User Agent to IE or Googlebot (which is great for perusing boards that require registration btw). Woe is MikeMc, perhaps I should should reconsider my Firefox/ABP thievery. Naaaah. I'm going to continue stealing web content just like I steal television by using my DVR to skip commercials. I am a bad consumer.
posted by MikeMc at 6:41 AM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


The real problem with AdBlock is that it works only for Firefox. Much better to run something like Privoxy so that you can avoid the ads in all your browsers as well as in any other program that tries to pull an ad in over the Internet.
posted by srt19170 at 7:10 AM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Funny thing is, I started using Adblock a couple of years ago during a time when many mainly text-and-css pages were taking upwards of 90 seconds to render - because the Doubleclick and Google ad servers were so overwhelmed and slow.

I wasn't even seeing the ads, and they were pissing me off...

(In fact, I remember quite clearly the specific incident which caused me to search out and install Adblock - it was waiting over 4 minutes for pages at The Register to display.)

Now I continue to use it because I've become an ornery old bugger, and am annoyed with people confusing "the right to try to make money" with "the right to make money". If you think it's so vital and important that I see your content, you can pay for it - not me.

(Apparently the truth behind the evil Liberal Evolutionists forcing their beliefs on me isn't that important...)
posted by Pinback at 7:13 AM on August 17, 2007


Whois says its some religious nut's page.
http://dannycarlton.net/
posted by lilburne at 7:30 AM on August 17, 2007


> I would but I can't even when I switch the User Agent to IE or Googlebot

I'm bounced from jacklewis to the other site even though I'm running seamonkey, not firefox, and have no adblock of any kind. Whatever they're using to test for firefox and/or ad blocking, it's broken.
posted by jfuller at 7:33 AM on August 17, 2007


Just for shits and giggles I hit the whois info for the firefox blocking site.

Registered to Danny Carlton AKA Jack Lewis. So, the only "in the wild" example of redirecting to this stupid "whyfirefoxisblocked" site comes from the web page of the idiot who started the blocking effort in the first place, although he apparently is seeming to act as if it is a movement of more than just himself.

I did open his stupid site in IETab. The result was Runtime error! Runtime error! Runtime error! (which I found to be damn amusing).

Not to mention he's one of those freaky Xtians who think it is important to support Israel to ensure the Rapture. I mean, jesus h. christ on a pogo stick. I cannot get my head around the idea of all of these nice Christian endtimes fans who seriously, completely buy into that particular brand of crazy.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:58 AM on August 17, 2007


I run into way more sites that get snotty about IE these days.
posted by Artw at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2007


Whois says its some religious nut's page.
http://dannycarlton.net/


It's everything you hate about fundies all in one place.

I wonder how he'll react in 10-15 years when one of his sons tells him about his lifestyle choices.
posted by Mick at 8:29 AM on August 17, 2007


Well this only works if you consider the (mostly) free stuff on the internet to suck. Most of it probably does suck, but the very same thing can be said for whatever you could possibly pay for.

Like-for-like, it does suck, rather. The things you talk about us enojying here, sure they're great, but they're not really what paid media is trying to do.

As for other media: Sure, some musicians are unsigned and great, but the majority that are very good -- good enough for us to rank with the greats -- can choose to turn that into money, work on it full time, and make us more music. Flickr's full of really great photographers, but the ones who choose to can turn that into money and work on it full-time. YouTube has one or two talented film-makers, and they can turn that into money, eventually.

But it doesn't work like that with words. Basically, newspapers are machines for supporting (via advertising) full-time writers doing things that don't actually make any money. Because they're working on things full-time, they can get really good -- at reporting, at uncovering, at working contacts, at writing -- and because they're sheltered by hundreds of years of practice and the size and might of papers, they're not as easily squeezed into shit like "conversational marketing".

As writing becomes free, it becomes hard to make an economic model to support doing things that don't make money in themselves. So what is true for music, photography, film, things we'll pay for in themselves, is soon to be not true for dull but vital reporting and costly writing with ambition.

I fear we're heading towards a tragedy of the commons, on the backs of diggers and adblockers (like myself).
posted by bonaldi at 8:55 AM on August 17, 2007


I see your point, bonaldi, but can great writers not also sign book deals, repackage content from column to hardback, and the like? Not so much for reporting, per se, but those who are really good at it can still strive to do it for pay. The trick is to balance what you ask with what people are willing to pay. Lots of folks, for example, are willing to pay $5 to mathowie to post crap on MeFi. People still pay for premium access to some sites, or for subscriptions to dead-tree journals and newspapers.

It is also worth pointing out that writing, music, and the like is supposed to become free; well, free as it ages, anyway. Because people are not willing to allow copyright to lapse as it should, consumers are forced to keep re-purchasing content they already own. Because consumers must do this, consumers don't feel bad about "pirating" content they should already have a right to own (and it's a short step from there to "stuff I have no legal claim to own but should be able to own if not for restrictive copyright law"). Of course, because companies are losing money due to piracy (or claim to be losing, anyway) they feel justified in strengthening copyright to retain their grip on legacy moneymakers and raising prices to combat losses (real or imagined), which prompts more consumer disgust with the companies and thus encourages piracy... it's a downward spiral, and we're stuck in it right now.

Not to derail, by any means. This thread is about a wingnut who thinks that not viewing ads is theft. In which case I'm happily stealing every time I skip commercials on my Tivo or unsubscribe from mailing lists or ask to have junk mail blocked or use SpamAssassin on my email account, plus the aforementioned Adblock (and Flashblock to boot!). I'm just a big ol' thief. Forgive me for not wanting to be bombarded with advertising wherever I turn. When you can't see the content because the "Punch the Monkey" popover is in the way, there's a problem, and it isn't on the part of the viewer.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:33 AM on August 17, 2007


Honestly, does anyone aside from sites as large as the one were blabbing on right now make any money from ads?

Yes. It's my only source of income.

Webhosting is cheap now. In fact, you can really present any kind of information online for free, what between all the free blogging sites and video sharing sites and photo sharing sites out there.

I think you missed the point. Webhosting is the least of my costs. My time and my authors' time is not cheap, and never will be. Sure, you'll always have some amount of information available for free from hobbyists, and some of it will be really good, but the really in-depth stuff takes a long time to research and write - more time than most people have to spare if they have another full-time job.

I also hate ads, I do. So I have strict guidelines for advertisers, and I try hard to integrate the ads aesthetically into the site. I'd love to do it on a subscription basis, but that doesn't work right now. Look how many people bitch and moan about free registration on the New York Times site - now imagine if it was paid subscriber-only. How many of you would still read articles there? Probably not enough to cover publishing costs and the loss of market share / word of mouth publicity.

It sure sounds good to have everything available for free, but there's still bills to pay. Someone's gotta pay them, and if it's not you the reader, it's going to be advertisers. Unless the site has egregiously annoying ads on it, then yes, it is unethical to block ads and still expect to get everything for free.

That was the point of my last post - if ad blocking becomes the norm rather than the exception, you will see a huge drop in free content, because advertisers will no longer be willing to pay, and that burden will be passed to users. Without a viable micropayment system, users will inevitably just subscribe to a few select sites that they find most informative, and suddenly you've gone from hundreds or thousands of sites that you used to get information from, to maybe a dozen.

Bottom line, if you don't like the advertising, either don't visit the site, or offer to subscribe to hide the ads (like on Metafilter or Slashdot). Otherwise, you're not a thief, but you're definitely a freeloader. I'm certainly not going to block you - for the same reason I think it's ridiculous that the RIAA is suing filesharers - but that doesn't make it right.
posted by chundo at 9:49 AM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


The trick is to balance what you ask with what people are willing to pay
Yes. The big problem here, though, is that people are willing to pay far less for certain types of writing than it costs to produce. In terms of straight news reporting, way less. That's why newspapers are sloughing staff now.
Also everything chundo said.
posted by bonaldi at 10:17 AM on August 17, 2007


YOU R STEALIN MY INTERNETZ!!!!1!!
posted by darkripper at 10:21 AM on August 17, 2007


Bottom line, if you don't like the advertising, either don't visit the site, or offer to subscribe to hide the ads (like on Metafilter or Slashdot). Otherwise, you're not a thief, but you're definitely a freeloader. I'm certainly not going to block you - for the same reason I think it's ridiculous that the RIAA is suing filesharers - but that doesn't make it right.

Oh, yeah? Here's my bottom line: if you don't like adblockers, either ban them, suck it up, or find some means of profit that doesn't involve ads. There are plenty of other ways to get enough cash to run a site -- merchandising, sales, donations, contests, etc -- so if you can't make money with your website, one way or the other, then you don't get to make money with your website. Your stuff is on the web for anyone to look at. Nobody owes you readership, nobody owes you ad clicks, and nobody owes you a profit. "Freeloaders" indeed -- how can one freeload off of something that's provided without cost?

It's amazing how people understand this concept when we're talking about a free concert program or a local newspaper (paid for by advertising that most people skip over OMG those freeloaders), but not when it comes to the web. Especially since concert programs and newspapers have a high cost for printing and distribution, and the web does not.

As for "people are willing to pay far less for certain types of writing than it costs to produce", well then, maybe you will just have to produce that kind of writing (or music, or art, or whatever) at a loss. Not every human activity is profitable, nor should it be so.
posted by vorfeed at 10:31 AM on August 17, 2007


a local newspaper (paid for by advertising that most people skip over OMG those freeloaders)
So if some righteous dude was to go through piles of free newspapers pasting white paper over all the ads, that'd be absolutely cool?

well then, maybe you will just have to produce that kind of writing at a loss.
Wait, how does this work? We produce the writing at a loss, and subsidise it with ... what?

Not every human activity is profitable, nor should it be so.
Absolutely right. But the great, great trick of newspapers was to take something fundamentally unprofitable, and make it profitable by packaging it with things that are. Except now websites are cherry-picking all the profitable bits, so there's soon going to be nothing left to pay for the unprofitable bits. And "merchandising and donations" aint going to cut it.
posted by bonaldi at 10:39 AM on August 17, 2007


bonaldi wrote So if some righteous dude was to go through piles of free newspapers pasting white paper over all the ads, that'd be absolutely cool?

Wrong application of the newspaper metaphor. If I paid someone, or got a trained monkey, or whatever, to paste white paper of the ads of my personal copy of the newspaper, yeah, that'd be all right, and it'd be a much more what adblocking software does.

I'll also repeat that I, at least, don't object to ads on principle, I just can't read a web page that includes moving or flashing ads. If the ads don't move or flash I just plain don't bother blocking them. But, the only ads I've ever clicked on were ads for a) webcomics that looked kinda cool, and b) video games.

chundo Seriously? Your only source of income? If you don't mind my asking, how much money per year and what is your site, I'd be interested in seeing it.
posted by sotonohito at 10:51 AM on August 17, 2007


Is it ethical to block ads? Well, lets ask an ethicist. From Randy "The Ethicist" Cohen writing in the New York Times (3/24/2002):

You have no duty to consume advertising. There is no implied agreement between you and the sponsor whereby the sponsor finances a Web site in exchange for your perusing a sales pitch. Advertisers know that many people will flip past a magazine ad or hit 'mute' when a TV commercial comes on. That you have automated the avoidance of ads shows not ethical laxity but technological ingenuity.

If no one consumed advertising, it might in theory vanish along with the TV shows and Web sites it finances. However, other means of financing could be found. Public television relies on fund-raising and sponsorship; many European countries finance TV through taxes. Another possible outcome: your embargo raises the quality of ads, if such a thing is possible, so they seize your eye or stay your finger from the mute button.

[...]

...if many follow your lead: online advertisers will develop countertechnology to thwart this blocking. Then you'll overcome their advance, and they'll return to their labs, creating a rivalry like that of early last century when designers of artillery shells vied with designers of battleship armor. Each spurred the other to greater achievements. A result was World War I. O.K., maybe that isn't a happy result, but progress of a sort was made. And without anybody singing about soda pop.

Definitely worth reading the whole thing if you have TimesSelect (you know, "TimesSelect" -- the business model that doesn't rely on ads. Everyone hates it, but it kinda works)
posted by meta_eli at 10:53 AM on August 17, 2007


So if some righteous dude was to go through piles of free newspapers pasting white paper over all the ads, that'd be absolutely cool?

Not if he left them out for other people. That would be quite rude. It is also rude to deliberately take many more magazines than you're going to read. However, if he pasted white paper all over the ads in his own copy of the magazine every single week, I don't see where the problem is. Likewise, I do not see the problem with blocking ads when you view websites.

Wait, how does this work? We produce the writing at a loss, and subsidise it with ... what?

I don't know, that's up to you. There are lots of ways to do it, from merchandising to creating other, profitable ventures to cover the loss leaders. As for me, I don't have any ads on my sites, and I subsidize my in-the-red web sales venture with a 9-to-5 job. Perhaps you've heard of those?

Absolutely right. But the great, great trick of newspapers was to take something fundamentally unprofitable, and make it profitable by packaging it with things that are. Except now websites are cherry-picking all the profitable bits, so there's soon going to be nothing left to pay for the unprofitable bits.

Well then, sounds like it's about time for another great, great trick. It seems to me that it would be better for you and others like you to be thinking about that, rather than berating people for getting past the previous trick.
posted by vorfeed at 10:59 AM on August 17, 2007


This is just the latest stage in a decades-old fight over advertising.

Newspapers, radio, TV, videos, DVDs, everything has ads, and they all employ different means to force you to view them. Just as many means have been utilized to not view them. The most recent development is that our side now has better tools and no one has been successfully able to lobby Congress to screw us out of our right to use those tools.

Try framing the argument this way. I produce a valuable TV show and people shouldn't be able to fast forward through the commercials I put in to pay for the show. It's the exact same argument, but you'd have a fucking riot if deployed technology to enforce it.

Yes, it does mean that some worthwhile content will go away and take some people's livelihood with it. That sucks, but it's not a crime.
posted by BeReasonable at 11:04 AM on August 17, 2007


Not only does Opera have its own AdBlocker -- it's actually built in to the browser (they euphemistically call it a "content blocker"). IE 7 has a built-in blocker too.

And, of course, people have been blocking ads with HOSTS files for years. And Squid proxies, etc, etc. Block 'em all and there's nobody left!
posted by meta_eli at 11:13 AM on August 17, 2007


9-to-5 job. Perhaps you've heard of those?
Why, yes, and journalism is one of them. Paying for the salaries is my concern.

Well then, sounds like it's about time for another great, great trick. It seems to me that it would be better for you and others like you to be thinking about that, rather than berating people for getting past the previous trick.
This is spot on! I'm not berating anyone -- I use Adblock myself and calling it a crime is ridiculous.

What I'm saying is that I fear we're heading for a tragedy of the commons and that despite 12 years now of me and others like me thinking about how to do what newspapers do online, nobody's done it yet. Nobody. (TimesSelect, btw, barely washes its face and if it had to pay for all the content it gets free from the print side, would be bankrupt).
posted by bonaldi at 11:16 AM on August 17, 2007


"Freeloaders" indeed -- how can one freeload off of something that's provided without cost?

Let me try again. It's provided without cost TO YOU because the advertisers pick up the cost, with the understanding that the readers will be exposed to their ads. If everyone blocks their ads, they will no longer be willing to pick up the cost. It's no different than, say, people who refuse the suggested donation at museums. It's not a contract, it's not necessarily required, but it's expected. Declining to do what is expected in exchange for something of value - how would you define that?

There are plenty of other ways to get enough cash to run a site -- merchandising, sales, donations, contests, etc -- so if you can't make money with your website, one way or the other, then you don't get to make money with your website.

You've probably never run a profitable website full-time. Any site that is primarily informational rather than functional is very difficult to profit from aside from advertising. Long story short (too late, I know), if you strip out advertising, you'll start losing content. Whether you believe it or not, that's the way it is. Maybe in the future we'll devise a better way (we'd love to get away from selling advertising, believe me), but for now, it's the only solution for most sites. It's a great thing for the diversity of information on the internet that not everyone thinks like you.

sotonohito: Seriously? Your only source of income? If you don't mind my asking, how much money per year and what is your site, I'd be interested in seeing it.

The site that I was referring to was Inside Futures (and a few sister sites), which we sold to another company a few months ago, and as such I unfortunately can't disclose traffic or revenue numbers. I will say that we live quite comfortably in downtown Chicago though. I have a new venture in the works that hasn't launched yet, I'll post it to projects when it's ready.

meta_eli: You have no duty to consume advertising. There is no implied agreement between you and the sponsor whereby the sponsor finances a Web site in exchange for your perusing a sales pitch.

I disagree with his take. There is a difference between ignoring advertising and stripping it out completely. I don't expect everyone to read the ads on our site, but I do expect them to appear on the page, and maybe something that interests the user will catch their eye occasionally. This is similar to the approach I take with TV advertising - sure, people can fast forward through them, but they're still there, and have the possibility of being viewed from time to time.

On preview:

As for me, I don't have any ads on my sites, and I subsidize my in-the-red web sales venture with a 9-to-5 job. Perhaps you've heard of those?

Perhaps you're confusing your hobby with my business. This is my 9-to-5 job.
posted by chundo at 11:42 AM on August 17, 2007


Can someone please direct me to the website where I confess that I'm also using Thunderbird with spam filtering on my mails, and so everyone should stop sending me spam (thereby ending my theft of spam mailer bot services?)
posted by davejay at 12:39 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also: someone should write a firefox extension that, when detecting a redirect to this page, throws up a "this site doesn't want your business" message and does a search to pull up alternative sites with the same content.

Then again, that sounds like work. F that.
posted by davejay at 12:40 PM on August 17, 2007


By the way, how can the number of firefox visitors be such a low percentage that cutting them off is trivial, yet at the same time be "stealing" so many resources that it's a burden?
posted by davejay at 12:41 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


how can the number of firefox visitors be such a low percentage that cutting them off is trivial, yet at the same time be "stealing" so many resources that it's a burden?

Man that's too much thinkin' there.
posted by MikeMc at 1:22 PM on August 17, 2007


The whole argument about ads reminds me of a SF story I read once, about (television) advertising companies pumping up their spots with subliminal techniques that made people reluctant to turn away from them. Firms competing against each other, raising the bar for creating ads with the most 'holding power,' until they'd turned all the viewers into zombies, unable to turn away from the advertising even to eat. (Anyone remember what this was?)

I think the people running some of these sites would really love technology like that. That's exactly what they want their viewers to turn into: mindless, quivering blobs of consumerism, unable to do anything but view. They just hate it when people mess with their business model, which assumes helplessness on the part of the viewer/consumer.

Anyway, on a more serious note, I remember what the Internet was like before it became overrun by advertising-supported sites. It was fine. And I disagree that the "good content" on the Web is ad-supported. There are a few sites that are ad-supported and also have good content, but the majority of the stuff that's supported by ads is tripe. It's just crap that people have tossed up to try and get eyeballs to look at their ads.

If the advertising-supported business model collapsed, doubtless there would be a lot of sites that would be unable to find new sources of funding and would collapse, but the internet existed before corporatism and advertising, and it could do just fine. (Actually, the majority of the corporate webpages would stay around just fine, since they don't depend on ads; they're like giant vanity pages anyway.)

Sites like MeFi, Slashdot, Digg, and other "communities" would have to either get their members to pony up or collapse, but it's not like online collaboration didn't exist before advertising. (Usenet is arguably a much more efficient model for online discussion than the centralized model used by forum websites, anyway.)

I really can't get myself worked up over the possibility of a lot of for-profit AdWords blogs disappearing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:23 PM on August 17, 2007


The site made adblock sound so sweet I had to install it! Thanks whyblockfirefox.com!

I never bothered with adblock in the last couple of years because I had having to tell it what to block, but it seems you can just subscribe to a list now. Hassle free!
posted by joelf at 1:24 PM on August 17, 2007


Let me try again. It's provided without cost TO YOU because the advertisers pick up the cost, with the understanding that the readers will be exposed to their ads.

Yes. And what I'm saying is if that understanding goes away, something else needs to pick up the cost, and it's up to you to find that something. Again, you are not guaranteed advertising money.

It's no different than, say, people who refuse the suggested donation at museums. It's not a contract, it's not necessarily required, but it's expected. Declining to do what is expected in exchange for something of value - how would you define that?

In both the museum and website examples: "Perfectly OK". Advertisers know that some people will not see the ads; museums know that some people will not donate. In both cases, websites and museums have made a choice to provide free content to everyone in exchange for donations/advertising dollars from some percentage of visitors. In this model, non-donating visitors are an intrinsic part of the business -- and a very important one, given their role in building word-of-mouth popularity and a sense of community. In short: whining about what "freeloaders" people are makes zero sense if you're in the business of giving stuff away, and thinking of tech-savvy website visitors as freeloaders just because they don't look at the ads is myopic and self-defeating.

It's a great thing for the diversity of information on the internet that not everyone thinks like you.

It's a great thing for the diversity of the internet that people are expecting the status quo to go on forever rather than working on innovative ways to make money doing what they love? You'll notice that I never said "ads are bad". More like, "if ads are no longer enough, you need to try something else rather than blaming people for not doing things your way". I don't see where that goes against net diversity. In fact, I think net diversity suffers most when we start to worry about what's popular and profitable (i.e. what generates ad dollars) rather than what's good.

Perhaps you're confusing your hobby with my business. This is my 9-to-5 job.

Well, at my 9-to-5 job I don't get to blame the customer for "freeloading" if the company isn't doing well enough, so you can probably see why I was confused.

Frankly, if you can't find an alternate income source when your primary one becomes obsolete, then you don't get to be running a profitable business. Capitalism doesn't make allowances for what people "should" do. If advertisers really do stop paying for web ads, all the bitching in the world isn't going to put the cat back in the bag.
posted by vorfeed at 1:43 PM on August 17, 2007


I remember what the Internet was like before it became overrun by advertising-supported sites. It was fine. And I disagree that the "good content" on the Web is ad-supported.
Kadin, it was fine because the content was coming from things that are supported by offline advertising. Look at all the things we link to here where the copy comes from an offline publication. That's what's in danger from low ad revenue, not some shitty blog.

Capitalism doesn't make allowances for what people "should" do.
Yey, so we'll have less great free stuff online, but capitalism will have succeeded. It's kinda up to all of us to find that something you mention, just like it was up to all of us to find a way to pay for universal healthcare. Or (When Metaphors Attack!) we'll have online journalism about as good as free healthcare in the US.
posted by bonaldi at 1:53 PM on August 17, 2007


vorfeed, you obviously think I'm much more worked up about this than I am, so I'll clarify a few things and leave it at that:

1) I'm not quite sure why you think I'm whining; I'm simply trying to give you the view from a content provider. None of this really bothers me that much, and I certainly wasn't "whining" or "blaming the customer for not doing well enough", and accusing me of such makes this conversation tedious. I don't treat them as second-rate users, and I don't try to block them, but just because I accept it as part of doing business doesn't change the fact that compared to other users, yes, they are freeloading. It happens in any business.

2) Although I'm sure it looked like a clever retort to you, I'm not quite sure where you got the idea that I think the status quo will go on forever. On the contrary, in my previous comments I stated: "Maybe in the future we'll devise a better way (we'd love to get away from selling advertising, believe me), but for now, it's the only solution for most sites." You seem to think I'm much more attached to this advertising thing than I am. I hate it. But until my business model changes, I appreciate it when my users play by the rules I set for my content.

Quite honestly, people would be better off tolerating advertising in its current form - clearly defined and pretty easy to mentally block out. It will be a long journey from where we are to get to a point where users directly support the sites they use (via micropayments or the like), and until then advertising is here to stay. If things like AdBlock become ubiquitous, advertising won't disappear - it will get more integrated and insidious. Look what happened with product placement in movies - can't fast forward past all of those anymore, can we? And most content providers will hate it, but they'll have bills to pay and users who aren't used to paying them, so they will play along rather than close up shop.

Use AdBlock if it makes you happy, but if it spreads too far before there's an alternative proven income stream for content providers, it will have the exact opposite effect, and advertising will become even more pervasive. I can't imagine anyone wants that.
posted by chundo at 2:29 PM on August 17, 2007


Great. How am I going to learn how to enlarge my penis now?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:30 PM on August 17, 2007


Enzyte?
posted by chundo at 2:33 PM on August 17, 2007


chundo, bonaldi, et al: Came to mind that my own website (a hobby site I have maintained for 12 years or so) is useful to a small number of people, generates a respectable amount of hits for what it is, and quite likely couldn't generate enough ad revenue to support it should the current host (a university) decide to rescind my web space. I'd be upset, to be honest, to lose the site. I've never tried to make money off of it. So, I understand your concern. There aren't that many people with the cash to continue putting good content online for free, just because they want to, let alone for a living.

Personally, I block ads when browsing, not so much because I hate all advertising, but because most advertising is so goddamn invasive. Google text ads in my Gmail? Doesn't bother me at all, because it stays out of my way and doesn't try to invade the content space. Flash ads? Ads with sound and animation? Java ads that freeze my browser for several seconds while they load? Pop-overs? Porn popups? That's why I have AdBlock installed. The responsible people are hurt by the irresponsible, but there are no subscribable AdBlock whitelists that I am aware of...
posted by caution live frogs at 2:56 PM on August 17, 2007


I'm not quite sure why you think I'm whining; I'm simply trying to give you the view from a content provider. None of this really bothers me that much, and I certainly wasn't "whining" or "blaming the customer for not doing well enough"

You've tried to make not viewing ads into a bit of a moral issue, here ("that doesn't make it right", etc), and you've connected this behavior to the success or failure of your business. That seems like the very definition of blaming to me.

Although I'm sure it looked like a clever retort to you, I'm not quite sure where you got the idea that I think the status quo will go on forever.

If we all wait for "in the future we'll devise a better way", then the status quo will go on forever, because no one will have actually devised one. You don't have some hermetically-sealed system, you run a website. You are able to try any one of a number of different things, and I see plenty of sites that make money without advertising (or with advertising as a secondary source of profit), so your insistence that advertising is the only solution for most sites right now rings a little hollow to me. It's the only solution because it's the easiest solution; I suspect that, should web ads stop being an easy way to generate cash, necessity will once again give birth to invention.

If not, I guess we'll go back to how it was before people got paid to run otherwise-unprofitable websites. Won't be much skin off my back.
posted by vorfeed at 3:07 PM on August 17, 2007


www.jacklewis.net

This web site isn't working for me. Can somebody with IE tell me what's so interesting about jackals wizzing?
posted by mr. strange at 3:34 PM on August 17, 2007


BeReasonable: Try framing the argument this way. I produce a valuable TV show and people shouldn't be able to fast forward through the commercials I put in to pay for the show. It's the exact same argument, but you'd have a fucking riot if deployed technology to enforce it.
There's the guts of a FPP in there about the introduction of Tivo to Australia, the legalities & ownership of TV guide info, & a decision to provide that info only to PVRs without a skip button...
bonaldi : What I'm saying is that I fear we're heading for a tragedy of the commons (...)
The question is, which is the tragedy - the 'ungreateful' 'overuse' of the commons by freeloaders, or it being walled off and covered with billboards by advertisers?
chundo: Quite honestly, people would be better off tolerating advertising in its current form - clearly defined and pretty easy to mentally block out.
Which is exactly what I did - until not only did it become intolerably difficult to mentally block out the ads (your threshold for that may vary from mine - but it's my browser, my mind, and my call to make), but also started to intolerably affect delivery / receiving of content. Then I analysed the problem, said "Ah-ha! It's the ads that are causing the slow load times!", picked up one stone, and killed two birds with it...
posted by Pinback at 3:41 PM on August 17, 2007


Frankly, I think Firefox users are likely to be more Internet savvy than IE users - they are probably much less likely to click on an ad in the first place.
posted by mr. strange at 3:42 PM on August 17, 2007


"It's provided without cost TO YOU because the advertisers pick up the cost..."

No, let's be clear. YOU provide it without cost because the advertisers pay you. It's great that they do, a wonderful thing, keeps the beans on the table and such, but guess what? We're not responsible for your revenue stream.
posted by majick at 5:33 PM on August 17, 2007


Luddites. Go ahead, block Firefox, there are 10 sites out there better than one of yours I've been wasting my time on.

Ah shucks, you can't turn a buck on the Intertubes? tough bounce. Wikipedia ... and all the other 20 million pages produced to share without regard for profit ... is da bomb. Keep your "official" news; I'll take my chances with that smart guy down the street whose honest.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass.
posted by Twang at 5:43 PM on August 17, 2007


@cautionlivefrogs:

You da man (or ma'am, sorry, English).

And if you put one ad on your site, I'll understand and unblock the site: because I can tell the difference between people who do what they really care about, and those who throw up content contrived just to be surrounded by dozens of tasteless ads.
posted by Twang at 5:49 PM on August 17, 2007


I've recently started using Firefox because I can't figure out how to use StumbleUpon with MSIE. There's also certain fun Stupid Tuber Tricks with regards to search functions that you can do in Firefox but can't do with MSIE. I still use MSIE when I can though cuz quite frankly it's more elegant, takes up less space on the screen, and doesn't annoy me as often. By 'annoy' I mean it doesn't... frankly I can forget I'm looking in a browser. I can still see that I'm in a browser when I'm using Firefox, but for some reason MSIE's interface is a bit less obtrusive, yet when I need it, it's there. I don't like going fullscreen with a web browser. I like having the thingy at the top with the buttons and the "file, edit view" crap when I need it there. For some reason FireFox's interface stands out more, and it's not just cuz of the StumbleUpon toolbar. We might be talking about coloration, or a matter of millimeters. Maybe it's fonts somewhere. It's something imperceptible but it's there. Firefox just annoys the crap outta me, and I only use it when I have to, or when it suits me.

Frankly I wish there was a web browser that didn't have a name, didn't remind me it existed, didn't tell me there's a new version of it out there (it'd just go get the new version when there was one - and the upgrade wouldn't suck), didn't bring attention to itself, just let me go where I wanted to go on the web and be a good little browser. I want a browser that serves me. And if I don't wanna see ads, it'd make them go away. I wouldn't need to tell it to do that. That'd be its job. Show me what I wanna see and ignore the rest.

I don't wanna know if I'm using Firefox or MSIE or Opera or Your Mama's Home Made Web Browser. I don't care. I don't want to care.

As for revenue sharing and all that crud. I spend enough of my hard earned money to get on the Net, and then people want me to spend more money while I'm there. I'm sick and tired of every pobucker between here and China trying to squeeze more time and money outta me. No I don't wanna click on your banner. No i don't wanna play that stupid game where I push a button repeatedly and then get told how to win a 'free' ipod. By the way, FREE means it doesn't cost me any time or resources to get it. So stop lying about stuff being free when it ain't.

Get off my tube!
posted by ZachsMind at 5:52 PM on August 17, 2007


Quite honestly, people would be better off tolerating advertising in its current form - clearly defined and pretty easy to mentally block out.

Firefox is an extension of my mind. Adblock is an extension of firefox. I can tolerate that fucking garbage pretty damned well if I don't have to look at it.


I don't expect everyone to read the ads on our site, but I do expect them to appear on the page


That's up to me, not you. If you don't like it, you're free to remove your content from the web.

And above all, understand this: I am not on the internet to provide you with revenue, but to pursue my own interests. If you starved to death due to lack of click-throughs, I wouldn't give a damn. If your livelihood truly depends on delivering ads, you need a better technical solution rather than scolding people for avoiding the plainly annoying.
posted by trondant at 7:55 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Above that, understand this: pursuing your own interests involves partaking in content supported by ads. It's not like by blocking ads we're only harming the sites; in aggregate we're in danger of harming ourselves. The net in 1994 was pretty amusing, but, y'know.

You say he needs to find a better technical solution if his livelihood depends on ads -- do you mean that? I'd hate it. Ads suck hard enough when they're easy to block.

Actually, if AdBlock ever did become a real problem, it's not that hard to get around, is it? Just stop serving ads from adserver101.adsadsads.myadserver.ads.com/ads and start serving them from akami.com, continuously rotating straight IP addresses, or some server people'd be reluctant to block.

Twang: Keep your "official" news; I'll take my chances with that smart guy down the street whose honest.
Yeh? Cos 4/6 of your FPPs here have been from old-media "official" journalism. The expensive kind that online advertising isn't enough to pay for, blocked or no. You thought it was the best of the web, but now you don't mind if the door hits it on the ass?
posted by bonaldi at 8:57 PM on August 17, 2007


I like the idea of AddArt, which proposes to replace ads with curated art.
posted by zamboni at 4:37 AM on August 18, 2007


bonaldi I think you've got a valid point. But I also think that what is killing advertising on the net is advertising on the net.

There are two major problems with advertising:

1) In the early days people objected to ads becuase they added significantly to a page's load time. Today that *shouldn't* be a problem, but many of the major ad farms either will not or cannot get good enough servers to avoid slowdowns. Today when I find that a page isn't loading quickly nine times out of ten it isn't the page, its the damn ad server that's slowing things down. Since the page designers have so cleaverly decided to arrange matters so that the page won't render until the ads are loaded that means that its a bit like surfing on a dialup connection: click a link, wait, wait, wait, wait, and eventually the page will appear. That isn't what I pay broadband fees for.

2) Worse is that an ever increasing number of advertisers are not content to simply toss up a static ad and let it go at that. No, it has to make noise, or flash, or move, or be a popup, or in some other way make viewing the page it appears on less appealing, and more annoying. You don't make money by annoying your potential customers.

If the advertisers would fix those problems I'm fairly sure that adblock would, if not die, at least become a hobby of an extremely tiny minority of people who object to advertising on general principle, other people (the vast majority I assume) simply wouldn't bother with it. As far as I know most people don't mind ads, as long as the ads don't interfere with their web browsing. While problem 1 can be fixed it probably won't be because of the expense involved, and companies are cheap. Problem 2, I think, will never be fixed, and will lead to adblock killing advertising.

It isn't a tragedy of the commons, IMO, but rather a bit like the goose that laid the golden eggs. The ad people just can't seem to let a good thing (ie: quickly served static advertising) make them money. They've convinced themselves that if they can just make their advertising ever more annoying that somehow this will lead to it paying off more, but in reality it will simply lead to ever more people taking measures to prevent being annoyed.

The people using adblock aren't responsible for the eventual demise of ad supported web sites, the advertisers who have made adblock necessary are.
posted by sotonohito at 6:20 AM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


The other thing that might make advertising acceptable is relevance. Quite simply, none of the ads I see online advertise anything I would want. Now I know people have been trying to improve this situation for a long time - Google has gone a long way with relevant ads, but the ads it chooses for some pages are still pretty comical.

I wish there were internet ads telling me apples are on special at my local supermarket, or that a band I like is coming to town, or a nice little weekend retreat i could take the family to. I don't need ads for obscure online hotel reservation services, or for spyware-infested BOOST YOUR PC'S PERFORMACE software, or a site offering "A Realistic Measure Of Your Tech Worth"
posted by Jimbob at 2:35 PM on August 18, 2007


That's a damn good idea, Jimbob. I think things will move in that direction eventually, but not until those supermarkets and local event organizers get more internet savvy. I think Adsense currently lets you target ads by general location, but it's pretty hit or miss right now. That, however, is mostly due to some ISP's not properly attaching city data to the IP's they hand out (time warner does an excellent job of this, almost too good). Something like this would actually be useful, unlike the viagra eyesores we have now.
posted by IronLizard at 5:37 PM on August 18, 2007


It's just a balance and everyone has their part to play. Claiming one view or the other is the right one is just silly.

Ads have to be somewhat intrusive, or their efficacy is not high enough. As the intrusiveness goes up, a certain percentage of people feel the effort of blocking them is worthwhile. Others recognizing this as an opportunity, or scratching their own itch, create solutions to do this -- writing adblock plugin, compiling hosts files, etc. When blocking ads becomes convenient enough that the percentage of people doing it goes up, website owners start to decide the effort of combatting the blockers is worthwhile. Ring around the rosie. All parties should hope their pet, agenda-driven position never becomes TOO dominant, because the whole thing would no longer work if any one of the positions became too dominant.

I for one definitely do not want the net to switch to a micropayment model, as it would then cost me much more than ignoring ads, because I am a less-than-average consumer.
posted by lastobelus at 12:40 AM on August 19, 2007


bonaldi, I'd be interested to see your site, although I didn't notice a link in your MeFi profile so I'm not quite sure what it is. I would imagine, though, that you use something fairly non-intrusive such as Google ads and not the giant flash punch-the-monkey style ones.

Out of the sites I regularly visit, there's MeFi, which has advertisements only visible for those who aren't logged in (per #1's great article). Then there's the messageboard I frequent that is sponsored by a music site as a courtesy, so no ads there, either -- just a large "sponsored by" image on the front page. Then there are the half-dozen blogs by academics that are supported by their universities or their writing, the museum blogs, the web development blogs with advertisements by The Deck or similar arrangements, and the few other sites that are run by donation or offer some perks if you pay a nominal fee or subscription (flickr, last.fm, etc). There are a few tech sites I'll occasionally visit with some honest-to-god banner ads, but they're few and far between and many of them have Google Ads or sponsored content by this point.

So, I have adblock installed, but it really doesn't do all that much. After reading this article I turned it off for a while and went through my most often-used bookmarks and didn't notice much of a difference. By self-selection, I read a lot of sites without prominent advertisements, or I'm a member so I don't see them when I'm logged in. None of these sites have complained about bankruptcy lately, so either I've never been in their moneymaking contingent, they're getting my money some other way, or they're not in the business of making money.

If people don't want to see your advertisements but they're a fact of life for your income, maybe the key is to trick your users by showing something they want to see.
posted by mikeh at 8:57 AM on August 20, 2007


whyisfirefoxblocked.com?
posted by lastobelus at 5:10 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Haha. That's funny, fight the anti firefox pro advertising site with a firefox advertisement. Something smells here, and it's not Barbie Dog Poop™.
posted by IronLizard at 6:31 PM on August 21, 2007


No, let's be clear. YOU provide it without cost because the advertisers pay you. It's great that they do, a wonderful thing, keeps the beans on the table and such, but guess what? We're not responsible for your revenue stream.

---

And above all, understand this: I am not on the internet to provide you with revenue, but to pursue my own interests.

---

Why would you be reading my content if it wasn't interesting to you? And if it disappeared due to lack of revenue, wouldn't that go against your interest? By blocking ads, you are implicitly acknowledging that there is interesting content out there that would not exist without ads. Otherwise, you should limit your reading to volunteer-produced content in order to avoid ads.

No, you don't exist to provide me with revenue. I made a great living before online ads, and I'll continue to do so if they disappear. But my ability to make a living based on you looking at ads is what keeps that content out there. My original point, which apparently is not getting across AT ALL, is that if ad blocking became universal it would have a direct affect on the availability of information that interests you. If you disagree, then try only reading sites without ads for a month.

Also, the split between employee and employer is painfully obvious in this thread.
posted by chundo at 9:52 AM on August 29, 2007


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