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"An approach to fair ad blocking"
May 11, 2009 2:20 PM   Subscribe

The maker of popular plugin Adblock Plus has issued a proposal for a solution that would allow publishers to unblock their ads in certain circumstances.

"As I stated many times before, my goal with Adblock Plus isn’t to destroy the advertising industry. In the end, the Internet does need money to run and ads are still the most universal way to distribute that money," writes creator Wladimir Palant.
posted by jbickers (193 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Palant acknowledges that many users do not take an active role in choosing. Instead, they subscribe to filter lists that block pretty much everything. Palant's proposal would encourage users to be more deliberate in their choice to block ads and would provide publishers with a way to express their wishes.

*Snort.*

Good luck with that there idea.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:27 PM on May 11, 2009 [14 favorites]


Fail. People will just move to a new plugin.
posted by LSK at 2:27 PM on May 11, 2009


If you visit Daily Kos with ad-blocking on, you'll see a politely worded message explaining why they need the ad income - and offering you subscription as an alternate way of opting out. I ignored the message until I began visiting a lot during the election season. I then green-listed the site in by Adblock Plus preferences.

I can't see any scenario that will play out more amicably than that. If publishers are given a way to force their ads on us, they will. If the Adblock Plus developer won't continue to assist us in blocking ads we don't want, we'll find someone else who will.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:29 PM on May 11, 2009 [12 favorites]


TANSTAAFL. More people need to comprehend this concept.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:30 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Instead, they subscribe to filter lists...

Filtering content? That'll never work. There needs to be something between the filter and the user, a middle filter!
posted by mattbucher at 2:31 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


TANSTAAFL. More people need to comprehend this concept.

There is a free lunch for ME. There's just not a free lunch for everybody.
posted by smackfu at 2:34 PM on May 11, 2009 [26 favorites]


Sooner or later, the intellectual property wars will turn to ad blocking, and things like AdBlock will be outlawed as "circumvention devices". Then, some time after that, we will get Attention Rights Management (ARM) technologies, such as content viewers which disable access to content if the advertisements are obscured by other windows, or gaze-tracking software for cameras to enforce requirements on minimum amount of attention paid to the ads by the user.
posted by acb at 2:34 PM on May 11, 2009 [35 favorites]


I was ready to get all annoyed at this, perhaps because of the earlier adblock brouhaha, but his suggestion is actually pretty sensible. It keeps control in the hands of the user, so I'm all for it.
posted by boo_radley at 2:35 PM on May 11, 2009


acb: "Sooner or later, the intellectual property wars will turn to ad blocking, and things like AdBlock will be outlawed as "circumvention devices"."

Sooner. From the last link:

Many publishers and marketers accuse those using ad-blocking software of being unethical for consuming content while denying the presenter of that content with a chance to earn revenue. They liken it to piracy or stealing.

posted by Joe Beese at 2:38 PM on May 11, 2009


I periodically surf without adblock on, and am instantly reminded why I block in the first place.

  • Flash-ads that make my laptop's cooling fans come on and slow page loads to a crawl

  • Images of elongated pigs with the abbreviation of each state name on its tumescent body that is somehow supposed to make me want to buy a mortgage

    Who needs to deal with that noise...

  • posted by jsonic at 2:39 PM on May 11, 2009 [25 favorites]


    I cannot see how this won't just result in every major website adding that meta tag to their pages. I would think that 99% of content providers would say their ads are not intrusive, and we'd just end up needing a new filter for the ad-nagging.
    posted by Harry at 2:42 PM on May 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


    My personal problem with ads isn't content. I'm happy to donate unused browser space to ads for products/businesses/organizations that I've no plan to patronize. So my problem isn't content. It's that 80% of those ads feel like they put me at risk for an epileptic seizure. Stop the damn animations already. And when there are multiple ads on a single page flashing at different tempos and in different colors? No. I'll continue to block.

    My previous snark aside, though, I would consider being more willing to allow ads to share my visual space provided that they didn't assault my visual sensibilities.

    In the same way that I mute TV or radio commercials featuring Billy Mays, that creepy Sham-Wow guy, and anything that happens on SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY, I will always block animated gif ads when I can.

    But if the AdBlock folks can come up with something within these strictures, we can talk.
    posted by mudpuppie at 2:42 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I've got a proposal. I will stop using adblock plus the very instant advertisers stop using moving, flashing, blinking, etc.

    If there was an ABP subscription list that blocked nothing but the moving, flashing, blinking ads I'd use it. I'm perfectly content to not block static ads.

    I have no ideological objection to advertising, I simply have a brain that is overly attracted to movement and blinking; I'm quite literally unable to read text if there's a blinking or moving ad next to the text.

    Oh, yeah, and when the advertisers stop using pop ups, pop unders, or any other sort of popping, anything that resizes my browser, etc.

    Basically if the advertisers will stick with nice, tame, static images or text I'm fine with it. But, of course, they won't stick with that. They want me to pay attention to their ad instead of the content, so they flash, they blink, they move, they make noise, they jack around with my browser window, and they pop under. So its ABP for me.
    posted by sotonohito at 2:48 PM on May 11, 2009 [28 favorites]


    Is this something I would need to get rid of my /etc/hosts file to understand?
    posted by troybob at 2:50 PM on May 11, 2009 [14 favorites]


    TANSTAAFL.

    There's no such thing as virtual lunch, either.

    Offer me something useful and/or tangible, and maybe then I'll suffer the indignity of your ad-plastered website. I still won't click through, however.
    posted by Sys Rq at 2:54 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    This seems reasonable to me, and is a feature I'd actively use. I have no problem with looking at ads as long as they load reasonably quickly, don't launch unasked-for audio, and aren't hijack-y. It's the number of ads out there that fall into at least one of these categories that makes me use ABP in the first place. Advertisers pay for the internet, and I'd like to keep it free.
    posted by middleclasstool at 2:54 PM on May 11, 2009


    Oh, yeah, and when the advertisers stop using pop ups, pop unders, or any other sort of popping, anything that resizes my browser, etc.

    When the revolution comes and it's time to start lining people up against the wall, people who make pop-ups and pop-unders are going to to be in line somewhere behind people who write malware and spam.

    But they will be in the line.
    posted by quin at 2:57 PM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


    Is this something I would need to get rid of my /etc/hosts file to understand?

    Really? I can't even imagine how many manually managed hosts file entries I'd need to get the same kind of restrictions I get out of adblock. Hundreds? Thousands? What a ridiculous proposition.
    posted by eyeballkid at 2:57 PM on May 11, 2009


    Filtering content? That'll never work. There needs to be something between the filter and the user, a middle filter!

    Are you proposing the implementation of some sort of metafilter?

    Yeah, I realize I'm overlooking the actual definition of the prefix "meta."

    When using someone else's ad-filtered computer I, too, realize how annoying it all is. Between that and flashblock, my browsing is usually pretty quiet.

    The only ads I don't block are ones hosted by the site, and some that seem to be innocuous, semi-site-specific.
    posted by filthy light thief at 2:58 PM on May 11, 2009


    Not unlike Freakin' Google Analytics, some ad servers are slow, so the page simply sits there until the ad server responds. Those guys go right into a little magic place in my c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file called "loopback." Some of my other ad issues are fairly similar to jsonic's. Watching my CPU usage climb ticks me off. Random noises happening is also an issue. Flash ads obscure my screen, actually taking it over.

    Tasteful little text ads are beyond most besides Google. The advertising industry does not know restraint. As such, the war will continue.
    posted by adipocere at 2:59 PM on May 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


    My primary concern is anything that eats CPU or downloads unrequested content. And that includes animated/flash content graphics. If I want things moving I'll watch a video. But if that video loads while I am trying to read text I'll quit the whole page.

    Anything that superimposes over content is out. I will not do a survey if it appears over the content I am trying to read.
    posted by dinoworx at 3:00 PM on May 11, 2009


    Not many people seem to have read the actual proposal, especially those who are worried about every site owner using the meta tag.
    posted by maxwelton at 3:00 PM on May 11, 2009


    The thing with ads is that I almost never see something advertised that I would actually buy. What target demographic am I supposed to be in, anyway?
    And the thing is, I don't want to play online poker, I don't want to "click the button to win a prize" and I don't want to buy a brand-new car. The strategy I'm seeing with web ads is to make them more eye-catching than all the others, which ends up completely offending me to the point where I just use AdBlock.

    If the advertisers were businesses I would actually want to buy stuff from, that would be different (and they wouldn't have to have garish Flash ads to get my attention) but as long as the business model is selling people stuff they don't need, sorry- I'm going to opt out.

    What I would really love is a Firefox plugin which automatically 'clicks through' on specific kinds of ads (without displaying them) thereby costing advertisers money without giving them any sales.
    posted by dunkadunc at 3:01 PM on May 11, 2009 [17 favorites]


    I don't block text ads, especially Google's targeted ads in gmail which are often amusing/useful. However, the rest of the internet has so totally raped the advertiser/advertisee relationship that they deserve nothing. ABP is the king because it does the best job for the least amount of effort. When that changes, people will go elsewhere.
    posted by mullingitover at 3:02 PM on May 11, 2009


    His proposal won't subjugate user choice to publisher desire. Rather, it aims to provide a mechanism for publishers to request that users make an active decision about ad blocking, instead of blocking everything by default.

    And what advertiser wouldn't use that? Which means the ad-block software would toss up multiple popups for every page loaded, one per advertiser. That's worse than pop-behinds.
    posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:03 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I run AdBlock on most sites - it's not necessarily whether an ad blinks and flashes that annoys me. It's whether an ad treats me like a complete fucking idiot.

    Ad for specials at my local supermarket chain? Never seen one, but I'd probably appreciate it if they put this sort of advertising on the internet.

    Ad for a car? Ad for a hotel? Tolerable. Normal.

    Ad telling me OMG YOUR COMPUTER HAS A VIRUS CLICK ON THIS FAKE WINDOZE DIALOGUE BOX TO DO A FREE SYSTEM TUNE UP!!!? Go and get fucked.
    posted by Jimbob at 3:04 PM on May 11, 2009 [13 favorites]


    » Could not agree more.

    I've used Adblock since longer than I can remember. But I sometimes do web design and have to test pages with live ads, i.e. I temporarily disable Adblock, accept cookies for longer than a nanosecond, etc.

    It's like putting on The fucking Ring. The web turning into a raging inferno, Sauron's unflinching gaze piercing my soul, prowling undead Wraiths sensing my presence and go berserk on my browser. I can't go back. I can't and I won't!
    posted by Glee at 3:04 PM on May 11, 2009 [47 favorites]


    I'd happily subscribe to an 'obnoxious filterset' that just blocked animated ads, ads that don't look like ads, in-text advertising, large ads etc.

    Virtually no one objects to advertising on web pages per se, but so much of what's out there detracts from site content that it's just easier to take the Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius approach.
    posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:05 PM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


    I worked for a video-streaming site where literally 75% of the tech support complaints were "I can't get video to load on your website!" and the reason is they have AdBlock on. There will always be people who can and will circumvent it but coding a site where an ad blocker also blocks the entire site, requiring you to either disable it or do a lot of custom whitelisting, isn't exactly in the realm on impossibility. Adblock is pretty much the same argument as a web browser in general- the browser designers might have made a problematic product, but it's really the website designer's imperative to make sure their site works the way they want it to in the face of whatever program the majority of people are using.

    Of course, another great example might be to look at the Penny Arcade website- I am led to believe they know a little something about web trends- and notice how their ad sales forbids the use of animated GIFS, noise, or popups. And as such, I feel like very few people find a need to block ads on that website.

    No one ever heard of ad-blockingn software until that x10 or whatever the fuck camera company discovered popunder technology.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:07 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


    I can't even imagine how many manually managed hosts file entries I'd need to get the same kind of restrictions I get out of adblock.

    Me either. Who said manually managed?
    posted by troybob at 3:07 PM on May 11, 2009


    I only use flashblock. Why? Because I wanted to get rid of those fat processor heavy ads which dominate some sites and take forever to load. All the other ads I can see, and don't mind seeing. I can't say I've ever meaningfully clicked on one though.

    I have no interest in 'stealing' content, as long as they don't 'steal' my bandwidth. There's a quid pro quo needed here, as it's not fair that the advertisers get what they want without respecting the audience. Slim down and no tricks, then less people will see adverts as an invasion.
    posted by Sova at 3:08 PM on May 11, 2009


    The descriptions of ads provided by AdBlock users are comically overdramatic and make it sound like the only sites they (you) visit are backwater Top 100 Porn Site directories. Please consider using other parts of the internets.
    posted by punishinglemur at 3:10 PM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


    "When the ad-blocking extension encounters that code in a Web page, it would present the user with an in-line dialog box explaining the publisher's stance and three options: allowing the page to load with ads..."

    This reminds me of the age-old cookie-catchers which would ask you, at practically every site you visited, whether you wanted to store the cookie or discard it. What happens when this Adblock HTML code becomes so ubiquitous and common-knowledge that even blogspam automatically encapsulates their ads with this "stance" urging you to view their ads?

    Seems like a terrible annoyance months down the road, more than a "well-thought out" solution.
    posted by tybeet at 3:10 PM on May 11, 2009


    Me either. Who said manually managed?

    Tell me more about this app that automatically updates your hosts file. I am intrigued.
    posted by eyeballkid at 3:11 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    It's an interesting proposition, and strikes me (in my relative ignorance) as technically feasible, but I'd never go for it. I'd sooner donate to sites I like then be constantly bothered by ads.
    posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:11 PM on May 11, 2009


    I turned off adblock one day last week as I honestly couldn't remember what the internet looked like without it. It made me feel sad.
    posted by ob at 3:11 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Oh, and regarding the claims of "stealing content:" please stop calling it that. Not to start the filesharing wars here, but there's really no way to compare the issue of pirating software and music to using adblock. No matter what you feel about that, stealing/copying intellectual property is actually illegal. You are not "stealing" anything by blocking ads on a website until the day, which I believe will be the Thursday following Never, an actual law somewhere says that you aren't allowed to customize browser options to display what content you want.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:14 PM on May 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


    I actually got adblock at one point just because of these incredibly annoying 'viverant' or something underline link ads. I was just trying to read one article on one website (MSNBC) but they were so annoying that I ended up blocking all ads on all websites. I think this was on a laptop I don't use that much though.

    # Images of elongated pigs with the abbreviation of each state name on its tumescent body that is somehow supposed to make me want to buy a mortgage

    Hah. You should see what's out there these days. There are all these horrible "one rule" ads that show very unappealing "before" pictures of fat stomachs with stretchmarks (the 'before' pictures), or someone's teeth all yellow. They are incredibly obnoxious. It's like, why are you inflicting that on your target audience.

    But I guess it gets attention.
    posted by delmoi at 3:15 PM on May 11, 2009


    I honestly couldn't remember what the internet looked like without it.

    "You wanted to go through the looking glass. How was it? Was it more fun than miniature golf?"
    posted by quin at 3:17 PM on May 11, 2009


    I ignored the message until I began visiting a lot during the election season. I then green-listed the site in by Adblock Plus preferences.

    Serious question on this matter: Assume visitors A and B where A has adblock installed, B does not. Assume further that neither A nor B ever click any ads.

    Does a website truly get more revenue from A visiting than B? How? Who is paying to show people ads if they never click them?

    I understand the "but statistically A might click" argument. I'm asking about the specific case of that individual - does that individual generate any real revenue at all?
    posted by odinsdream at 3:17 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Well, the alternative is advertising hidden in the content. Which is worse, an ad above a webcomic, or Roast Beef telling Ray how great Lavasoft is?
    It's kind of hard to say. Certainly some people will be unwilling to compromise their content, but these are the ones who are probably going to go broke.
    posted by Citizen Premier at 3:24 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Does a website truly get more revenue from A visiting than B? How? Who is paying to show people ads if they never click them?

    Depends on whether they are getting paid by impression, or paid by click.
    posted by smackfu at 3:25 PM on May 11, 2009


    "Fail. People will just move to a new plugin."
    posted by LSK at 8:27 AM on May 12

    Quoted for truth.
    posted by Effigy2000 at 3:26 PM on May 11, 2009


    punishinglemur, do you ever visit, say, the New York Times website? Or CNN? They both use animated Flash popups. On an older machine this can cause the entire site (or the entire computer...) to slow to a crawl.
    posted by sonic meat machine at 3:26 PM on May 11, 2009


    It's like putting on The fucking Ring. The web turning into a raging inferno, Sauron's unflinching gaze piercing my soul, prowling undead Wraiths sensing my presence and go berserk on my browser. I can't go back. I can't and I won't!

    I felt similarly at the theater last night waiting for Star Trek to start. I hadn't been to a theater in several months, so the pre-show advertisements were pretty jarring. There was an on-screen host "guiding" us through the ads dressed in a cardigan. No shit. Then there was a BMW that drove around painting with its wheels while a minimalist choir sang for about... oh, 10 minutes. Ten. Minutes.

    After which I am told that, in fact, it was a BMW I just saw.

    Then Mr. Cardigan told us he'd see us next time, and it was on to the previews.

    I can only imagine the horror that theaters will be in 5 years. Each seat will have a small screen in the back of the headrest, like on planes, and all it will do is show ads. This will continue throughout the movie.
    posted by odinsdream at 3:27 PM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


    If you visit Daily Kos with ad-blocking on, you'll see a politely worded message explaining why they need the ad income... I can't see any scenario that will play out more amicably than that.

    The problem is that the technological trick that shows that message instead of ads needn't be a "politely worded message". It could be anything... even ads.
    posted by rokusan at 3:29 PM on May 11, 2009


    Am I allowed to not look at advertising when it's there? Obviously. How then is this different than blocking what I wouldn't look at, anyway? It's as if advertisers feel as if they have a right to try and get my attention, when I'm determined not to give it to them anyway.

    The logical conclusion, then, is to ask people simply not to come to a website if they aren't going to consider looking at the ads. Which is ridiculous. So then is asking people not to block ads.
    posted by SpacemanStix at 3:30 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I would prefer that decisions about the Web no longer be based on My Business Plan Has Become Outmoded and Therefore I Am Going To Prosecute Anybody Who Ignores My Outmoded Business Plans.

    Has that ever worked? Using the Web like you would a print ad -- with annoying bells and whistles -- has failed. Move on.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 3:30 PM on May 11, 2009 [16 favorites]


    [Turning off AdBlockPlus] is like putting on The fucking Ring. The web turning into a raging inferno, Sauron's unflinching gaze piercing my soul

    I had to check your profile to make certain you weren't a coworker of mine, who has expressed this same idea in almost exactly the same words.

    Creepy.
    posted by rokusan at 3:31 PM on May 11, 2009


    /MyRant

    I don't believe there is any valuable content on the internet supported solely from ad revenue. Not for me at least. Also, the most valuable content is not on the internet at all.

    Hence, I make every effort to block advertising in every way, on every medium and in every form.

    I want to decide when and what to buy and then go and find information, comparisons, reviews. Those usually list places to buy, but I still try to go up the supplier chain and cut out the middlemen.

    Yes, I'm just that much of a bastard, I hate you advertising and marketing people and if you all just disappeared today I would not shed a tear. You are useless leeches.

    /end MyRant
    posted by Laotic at 3:32 PM on May 11, 2009 [13 favorites]


    Text ads are good, and some non-attention-grabbing banner ads are okay too. But I'd prefer to be able to easily donate small amounts of money directly to any site whatsoever without spending any time on the process. In this online world of ubiquitous Digg buttons, why does this not exist?
    posted by parudox at 3:33 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Nthing the comments about noisome or even dangerous/insecure ads being the primary reason for blocking ads. I wouldn't even have Flash installed if it wasn't used everywhere now, so instead I get to cruft up my browser with ad blockers and script blockers because I really don't need the stress of having pop ups, pop unders, and crappy, noisy embedded flash ads that like to mooch about my browser space like some kind of hyperactive day-glow amoeba. (I'm so glad true florescent pigments aren't currently possible on digital displays. So glad.)

    If Adblock Plus starts forcing me to whitelist certain ad providers it won't be long until I'm editing my own blacklists like I used to with my hosts file.

    Also, is this the part where I get to rant about shitty ad agencies and the companies that use them?

    Hey, guys? Fuck you. Fuck you lots and lots with something rusty and pointy.

    You want to bitch about whitelists and blacklists? There's a real world blacklist I keep in my head that notes which companies use shitty web advertising practices, and I'll never, ever use or recommend your products or services if I see your advertising using audio, animated gifs, popups or popunders, needless scripting or obtrusive, CPU hogging Flash of any sort, especially that shit that crawls over and otherwise obscures content.

    I remember my first banner ad - goddamn you hotbot and Wired for setting such a shitty tone. Some of us remember what the net was like before advertisements - and would willingly roll back the clock even if it meant a reduction or elimination of commercially produced content. Because frankly the content was coming along just fine until you got your dirty, grubby little traditional media fingers all over it. Really, you advertising/marketing fucks set the internet back at least a decade and perverted something that was once pure and user-driven. You weren't invited to the party on purpose, but you came anyway. You have no right to come to this party and then bitch about it when we don't want to play by your shitty traditional media rules. You have no right to complain about user-side action from any user. My connection, my computer, my fucking browser. Fuck you, fuck your mom, fuck every rainbow you ever saw, fuck your dog, fuck your hamster, fuck your lawn, fuck every cupcake you've ever eaten, fuck you and your toothache, fuck the ground you spoil with your steps and the air you sour when you breathe. Fuck. You.

    With or without ads I'd still be here talking to the same people I do on the internet in text-based forums just like this one. It might be IRC or usenet instead, but boards and posts and threads and online communities have been the same as it ever was since the wee 80s. What? I might have to pay for some content? That's not new, either, and exists back to compuserve and BBS days, and probably even earlier. I remember having to pay about a buck an hour just to play text games on a BBS, and I was fine with that.

    DailyKos? Fuck 'em. YouTube? Fuck that, too. Videos on the net aren't new. New York Times? You'll be slightly missed, especially since you're just starting to get it, but you're kind of late. Wikipedia? Not ad driven, and it would exist in some form or another. Gmail and google? Ok, you'll be missed, but you mostly get advertising right, anyway, so you're not really on the list. I can basically scratch every single ad-supported site out of my web history and not miss it very much. All of those millions of shitty, content-thieving blogs coated entirely in pointless ads? Get lost. The internet doesn't need your shitty general content spam blog full of ads.


    No, don't cry for the advertisers. Fuck 'em. Look, I've worked in marketing. It's so much bullshit that it wallows in the fantastic and totally unbelievable for the explicit purposes of trying to get you to buy shit you don't need or believe shit that you shouldn't believe. They're very good at adapting and making sure you see their ads. If anything they need a scourge of adblockers to thin out the herd and cleanse the genepool, because this fucked up shotgun approach to internet advertising is wasteful and harmful to us all.

    You want attention for your goods or services? Make them the best you can. We'll fucking find you, ok? Eliminate your marketing department and take all of that money and all of those resources and refocus on making a product that doesn't suck ass, and we'll find you.

    It was true before the internet in the age of better mousetraps and beaten paths, and is especially true now that "word of mouth" is a global phenomenon. Make good shit. Put up a simple but useful page. Be good to your customers and clients and we'll find you and bury you in business.
    posted by loquacious at 3:33 PM on May 11, 2009 [97 favorites]


    You are not "stealing" anything by blocking ads on a website until the day, which I believe will be the Thursday following Never, an actual law somewhere says that you aren't allowed to customize browser options to display what content you want.

    Using my "Ctrl +" blackhat pagezoom technology on most sites pushes the rightmost (ad heavy) column offscreen. I'll be sad to see it outlawed that fateful Thursday.
    posted by Glee at 3:34 PM on May 11, 2009


    How do online ads actually work? This is an honest question.

    I've used Adblock in Firefox for as long as it's existed, mainly because I can't read a text if there's all kinds of blinking and shouting going on around it. But does the content provider get paid per page view with ads, or per click on ads? Does the advertiser know that I'm blocking ads?

    I've never clicked an ad, except by accident.

    I have occasionally seen sites encourage their readers to un-Adblock them, or pay a small amount via PayPal.
    posted by Dumsnill at 3:34 PM on May 11, 2009


    odinsdream: many sites charge per thousand impressions (servings) of their advertisments. Adblock stops the advert being shown, and hence stops it being charged for.

    As for this proposal: I think it's sensible for the adblock team to try and find some middle ground with advertisers. I've seen reports that suggest blockers run at around 6% of browsers. If that were to grow substantially, then we'd see a technology war begin. Most simply, advertisers could begin checking their content has loaded, or sites could start hosting it with URLs that are indistinguishable from the site's content.

    There are counters to this that I can think of, but I can also think of responses to them. And like all wars, it will be much better avoided in the first place than fought.
    posted by fightorflight at 3:34 PM on May 11, 2009


    Tell me more about this app that automatically updates your hosts file. I am intrigued.

    Some of those anti-spyware programs do this. I think spybot S&D does, maybe some others.
    posted by dead cousin ted at 3:36 PM on May 11, 2009


    The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. Can I interest you in some Pepsi? The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners. The future of advertising is not banners.
    posted by mark242 at 3:37 PM on May 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


    Here's a good reason that I run Adblock Plus and block ALL ADS:

    Today, I visited Photobucket on a computer that I don't normally use for browsing and promptly got infected with a "fake anti-spyware" virus/malware application.

    No user intervention required. Probably used some 0-day vulnerability in Firefox that's not patched yet. Luckily I have experience removing malware and was able to get the nasties off that computer. However, a user with no such experience would have been in a bit of doo-doo.

    Until these MAJOR sites can figure out how to keep the malware out of their banner-ad networks, I am going to keep blocking all ads. It's simply not worth the hassle.
    posted by autobahn at 3:40 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Yup, I just checked mine and it has a shitload of entries under "# Start of entries inserted by Spybot - Search & Destroy"
    posted by dead cousin ted at 3:41 PM on May 11, 2009


    I don't believe there is any valuable content on the internet supported solely from ad revenue.

    I realize you said "solely", but my back-of-napkin math* shows me that MetaFilter makes more revenue from advertising than from five dollarses.

    Without ads, we might have to pay TEN dollars to shout at the walls.
    posted by rokusan at 3:42 PM on May 11, 2009


    fightorflight: "it's sensible for the adblock team to try and find some middle ground with advertisers. I've seen reports that suggest blockers run at around 6% of browsers. If that were to grow substantially, then we'd see a technology war begin."

    Judging from the track record of previous technology wars against consumers trying to access content in the ways that they want, I'm not overly concerned about that.
    posted by Joe Beese at 3:45 PM on May 11, 2009


    Ad Block Plus Minus?
    posted by zippy at 3:46 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Without ads, we might have to pay TEN dollars to shout at the walls.

    There are no ads on Metafilter, right? At least for logged-in users.

    I have no problem with the Googlin' masses subsidizing my discussion boards.
    posted by smackfu at 3:46 PM on May 11, 2009


    Tell me more about this app that automatically updates your hosts file.

    I've got my own that uses trusted /etc/hosts files online, but I think there are a few apps that do the same thing.
    posted by troybob at 3:48 PM on May 11, 2009


    It's hard getting an apartment nowadays. They all do background checks, and, of course, I have multiple felonies. They were just petty misdemeanors when I committed them, but PopUp v. AdBlocker eliminated Ex Post Facto, and so a lot of things suddenly became a lot more illegal than they were when they were committed.

    In retrospect, it was stupid. My whole life I had known that it is illegal to close a magazine when you are looking at an ad, but it is impossible to police that. And, sure, there is a warning printed on every remote control warning of stiff fines if you change the channel or turn off the television when a commercial is playing, but they investigate that through random sweeps of neighborhoods, and your odds of getting caught flipping away from a Burger King ad are less than your odds of dying from a mule kick. So I guess I just thought I could get away with anything.

    But the Web is different. They register everything. If a page opens and ads have been blocked, it's recorded. If you Control-C to block an image, it's registered. If you shut a pop under, it's registered.

    So they came for me, as they come for everybody. They took my computer, they sued, I did time and had to sell my belongings to pay off the civil suits. Prison is nothing bus ads now -- they play across the walls of the cell nonstop, and you can spend time in the hole for so much as putting a pillow over your eyes. I used to try to argue that there was no point to these ads. We were prisoners. Even if we had money, and we didn't, there was no way we could buy anything. But the marketing warden had a long talk with me, where he spoke to me in gentle tones laced with menace, and explained that they were building brand allegiance. At my most cynical, I suspected that advertising no longer served any demonstrable function, but was merely being done for its own sake, because millions of ad people had kids to send to school and cars to buy and mortgages to pay and diamond necklaces to buy for affairs that they have. I didn't dare breath it, because sentiments like that would put you in the hole. There is nothing in the hole but one big ad. It swallows you up. You lose yourself there, blinded by the flashing lights and deafened by the bells. Sometimes it's a massive duck that flies across the screen, inviting you to shoot it to get a good insurance deal. Sometimes it is a picture of a celebrity with their IQ listed, asking if you're smarter. Of course you aren't: you're in the hole. You're stupid and criminal and you are going mad. If you can avoid it, you don't go in the hole.

    I'm out now, and all I read are ads. I'm afraid not to. They're my only company nowadays anyway. Since newspapers went under, the New York Times is nothing but ads. I sleep on public benches with the Times as my blanket, and stare at the ads in my sleep, and dream of the day I can again afford an apartment, and a computer. I understand that there is a lot of work nowadays reading ads online. Maybe I can get that job. I think it would make me happy.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 3:53 PM on May 11, 2009 [110 favorites]



    Flash-ads that make my laptop's cooling fans come on and slow page loads to a crawl


    This is a problem on my MacBook. If flash didn't suck on the mac, maybe I could have more than 10 tabs open without bringing up CPU usage up so high that my fans kick on and I have a 60 minute battery life on a brand new battery.
    posted by SirOmega at 3:54 PM on May 11, 2009


    Judging from the track record of previous technology wars against consumers trying to access content in the ways that they want, I'm not overly concerned about that.

    Well, when I look at that track record, it looks like the only losses are where companies tried to prevent digitisation of their content, which is always going to be a losing battle. But in markedly different cases where the return on investment for breaking the technology is relatively low, the companies have effectively won: this is why many DVD players won't permit you to skip the adverts or the company logos.

    Ads on web pages are more like the latter case than the former. They're just pictures, text and Flash. How is the computer to decide which is the content you want to see and which isn't? Right now the task is incredibly easy because the ads are hosted on separate domains or in directories such as "ads". If the URLs are made indistinguishable and often changed, this standard model of blocking is going to fail.

    As I said, there are counters to all these technical solutions, but I'd much rather we tried to keep things in the present sticks and stones age than escalate to the heavy weaponry.
    posted by fightorflight at 3:59 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    "Most simply, advertisers could begin checking their content has loaded,"

    So ABP steps it up a notch and downloads the file directly to /dev/null

    "sites could start hosting it with URLs that are indistinguishable from the site's content. "

    Only way to do that is for the advertisers to trust the content providers; I won't be holding my breath.
    posted by Mitheral at 4:00 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    This seems like a short-term fix at best, anyway. The sort of people who use Adblock Plus are also the sort of people who never, ever click on an ad, as a matter of principle.1 So yeah, site owners might conceivably get more advertising revenue for a little while if more people see the ads.

    But if more sales don't happen as a result, advertisers will catch on pretty quick and won't pay as much. Advertising rates will drop, and pretty soon site owners will be back where they started, revenue-wise.

    1. I am this sort of person.

    posted by FishBike at 4:01 PM on May 11, 2009


    HellLLOOOOOOoooo

    SAY something

    HelllLLLOOOOOooooo

    SAY something
    posted by tehloki at 4:04 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So are they going to remove the mute button of TV remotes as well?
    posted by PenDevil at 4:05 PM on May 11, 2009


    Also considering I pay $10/GB here in the 3rd world I'll be the final arbiter of what I choose to download (and pay for).
    posted by PenDevil at 4:06 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


    As both a surfer and content-publisher, I can say that :

    a) Ads are horrible to look at, some far more than others
    b) Ads don't actually pay publishers shit

    If I turned off all blocking (I use NoScript, all the resulting ideas are the same), I'd be surprised if all the advertising I saw in a day of surfing added up to ten cents for anyone.

    My conclusion is this is a horrible model for everyone involved, and rewards greedy behavior on the part of all players.

    I wait anxiously for a better day, when micro-transactions or a similar idea just let me be fair to people who make things I like / like things I make, and wholly cut out an entire sleezy and unnecessary industry. The Internet does not need to, should not, and hopefully ultimately cannot go the same way as TV.
    posted by Bokononist at 4:10 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


    I was ready to get all annoyed at this, perhaps because of the earlier adblock brouhaha, but his suggestion is actually pretty sensible. It keeps control in the hands of the user, so I'm all for it.

    The problem I have with this reminds me of the difference between using a distro like, for example, Mint, as opposed to Gentoo. With the former, you get loads of apps and codecs by default. With the latter, you build your system pretty much by hand.

    Building - or adblocking - by hand is time consuming. I can still right-click and Ad Block image, though, so at least that isn't being circumvented. Yes, you do get a customizable experience. But just as with Mint, you can uninstall the apps you don't need anyway, you can also unblock ads in ABP.

    The user already has the freedom being proposed with this new take on ABP. This just falls more in favor of the Flash-driven "try and hit the monkey and win a free iPod" crowd.
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:12 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    dirtynumbangelboy: TANSTAAFL. More people need to comprehend this concept.

    Equally, I'd say "TANSTAAFR*. More people need to understand this concept."

    (* "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Ride" ...)

    Placing advertising on webpages (or buildings, or whatever) is implicitly saying "I've got this product / service / content / whatever that I want to provide - I want you to see it, I want to get the emotional / social / monetary advantage of that, but I don't want to have to pay for it. I want a free ride."

    Why should you get a free ride, at the expense of my free lunch?

    (And, no, it is a zero-sum game, it's just that the expense to the many which balances out the benefit to the few is distributed thinly and in less explicit ways, such that it's impossible to point and say "there's the cost!", because it's everywhere.

    It's like pissing in the pool; someone gets the nice warm feeling, and who cares about the expense of uric acid, ammonia, and other nitrates? - it's so diluted that it's not going to hurt anyone else.

    I also call BS on the so-called "social contract" argument; that's a post-facto justification for that sort of selfish behaviour.

    And, to stave of the inevitable "so, you'd rather lose MetaFilter because Matt couldn't afford to run it without advertising?", the answer is this: Yes.)

    You want to provide something? Great, good on you; you've obviously got a better mind in that direction than I have. Find a way to pay for it which doesn't poison the well for everybody.
    posted by Pinback at 4:14 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    odinsdream: many sites charge per thousand impressions (servings) of their advertisments. Adblock stops the advert being shown, and hence stops it being charged for.

    So it's a statistics game, then. Once a sufficient number of people know about and understand what AdBlock is, this will no longer be a believable statistic, if it even is now.

    I have never demonstrated AdBlock to anyone without them immediately asking more about how to get it on their computer. Even the fucking idiots at work who do click on Hit The Monkey web bars get it. They do not want to see the ads. Advertisers know this innately: their target demographic is actively hostile to their product.

    However, there are then people like [REDACTED] who showed me his cool new Windows Media™ system hooked to his HDTV with the stickers still on the bezel. It runs on his laptop, also with the stickers still all over the keyboard pad. Intel Inside! Made for Windows, you know.

    He demonstrated how he could load up cool youtube videos and previews for movies and even his own videos already on his computer. How awesome of Microsoft to make all this possible for him? Except, of course, there were interstitial video advertisements shown before any user-selected content started playing. And banner ads on the interface itself. I asked him what that was about - he had absolutely no concept of it being an issue, much less a problem worth solving.
    posted by odinsdream at 4:14 PM on May 11, 2009


    Let IE users foot the tab for online advertising, they're already complacent enough to not bother, masochistic enough to not mind, and they have a majority market share that will keep the advertisers happy.
    posted by furtive at 4:25 PM on May 11, 2009 [15 favorites]


    "Of course, another great example might be to look at the Penny Arcade website- I am led to believe they know a little something about web trends- and notice how their ad sales forbids the use of animated GIFS, noise, or popups. And as such, I feel like very few people find a need to block ads on that website."

    I haven't done a site by site comparison of ads, but, for some reason, Penny Arcade is the only place I have whitelisted.

    My problem with ads is that they minimize the viewable screen space. Ads off on the right or left side, on newspaper-style narrow sites (which remain narrow even when ads are blocked) don't bother me, but the banners at the top of the page which cut the screen size by 25%, or the ads dropped in the middle of text blocks, piss me right off. Or, rather, pissed me right off, years ago.

    "Serious question on this matter: Assume visitors A and B where A has adblock installed, B does not. Assume further that neither A nor B ever click any ads.

    Does a website truly get more revenue from A visiting than B? How? Who is paying to show people ads if they never click them?"


    I just realized that, in all the years I surfed without AdBlock, that I never clicked an ad. Not once. And it wasn't a matter of policy, it's just that I've never, ever, been in a purchasing frame of mind when I'm browsing the net. Sure, if I want to buy something, I might go to Amazon, or the like, but it's never an impulse decision while browsing, but a specific accessing of the net to purchase things. I wonder how many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of ads I've seen, with a clickthrough ratio of 0%.

    "Well, the alternative is advertising hidden in the content. Which is worse, an ad above a webcomic, or Roast Beef telling Ray how great Lavasoft is?"

    I anticipate a future plugin (much less frequently used) that references a filterset of product/service/company names, and replaces them with "PRODUCT" in the text. "I was hanging out with my friends drinking a PRODUCT, and the doorbell rings". Mouse over the word "PRODUCT" and you'll get a tooltip or the like showing you what it was, for those times where it's important to understand in order to understand the sentence.
    posted by Bugbread at 4:27 PM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


    Well, the alternative is advertising hidden in the content

    TV shows have demonstrated that content producers have no problem doing both. Product placement AND ads? Sure, why not, no such thing as too much $$$$.
    posted by smackfu at 4:31 PM on May 11, 2009


    I do find myself very worried about how we are going to have quality reporting in an age without viable newspapers. Or how we are going to have real content in an internet where everything is "free", meaning no cost to the consumer, ad-supported. And for so long, it has been the news organizations which have provided the real content, only now they're going away...

    I don't see the blogosphere ever filling the shoes of Woodward or Hersch. It's difficult to conceive it even filling the shoes of a local newspaper covering a local police department.

    So, absent advertising revenue, how do we pay for it all? Are AdBlock users willing to pay some kind of fee to help cover what they consume?

    Myself, I've never blocked ads, and yes, some of them are really annoying. Most of them can easily be tuned out, or at least I don't find myself at all impaired by having them on the screen. Frankly, I couldn't even tell you what ads appear on the pages I visit. I just don't even look. But I let the impressions happen, in case it helps the site I'm visiting.

    And my dirty secret is, I give deliberate clickthroughs to websites with content I use often. Just because I let the page load doesn't mean I have to actually read it.
    posted by hippybear at 4:45 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    this is why many DVD players won't permit you to skip the adverts or the company logos.

    If only there were some way to put that DVD in my computer and separate the content I want from what I don't.
    posted by aaronetc at 4:46 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


    You know, it doesn't really matter if the ads that come when I browse the internet are blocked or not. If they're not filtered at the software level, they're filtered at the brain level. I tend to simply not see them most of the time.
    posted by Mitrovarr at 4:49 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Product placement? Doesn't Metafilter already receive a paycheque from Pepsi?
    posted by jeffmik at 4:50 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Placing advertising on webpages (or buildings, or whatever) is implicitly saying "I've got this product / service / content / whatever that I want to provide - I want you to see it, I want to get the emotional / social / monetary advantage of that, but I don't want to have to pay for it. I want a free ride."

    Why should you get a free ride, at the expense of my free lunch?


    That is the most convoluted argument I've read in my life. Can you explain further, perhaps, how a product or service or content creator should be expected to pay in order for others to consume his product? I'm very confused.
    posted by hippybear at 4:51 PM on May 11, 2009


    Isn't this how S.R. Hadden made his fortune?
    posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:52 PM on May 11, 2009


    "I want you to see it, I want to get the emotional / social / monetary advantage of that, but I don't want to have to pay for it."

    Er...if you pay for a monetary advantage, doesn't it cease to be, you know, a monetary advantage? That would be like paying your employer to give you a paycheck.

    If you're writing for emotional / social advantage, then, sure, expecting a free ride is silly. If you're writing for money, expecting to be paid is...well, pretty much the definition of "writing for money". Now, I'm not saying that the ad model is the best model, or even a good model. It may, in fact, be a horrible model. But the problem with it isn't the idea that a person expects to make money when writing for monetary advantage.
    posted by Bugbread at 4:54 PM on May 11, 2009


    hippybear: "I do find myself very worried about how we are going to have quality reporting in an age without viable newspapers."

    Yes, without their quality reporting we might've gotten press-released into a war of aggression by a warmongering White House. Bless you, viable newspapers, whatever would we do without you.
    posted by mullingitover at 5:01 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    "That is the most convoluted argument I've read in my life. Can you explain further, perhaps, how a product or service or content creator should be expected to pay in order for others to consume his product? I'm very confused."

    I can make a guess at what he/she was getting at. It assumes that a content creator is creating content primarily or exclusively for non-monetary reasons. Lets say, for example, a person has written a song that they're very very proud of, and want to be praised by the multitudes. They thus put this song up on the net. The argument is saying "if you want to get praise, you have to pay for it" (well, obviously, in the indirect sense, not in the "I'll pay you to say it's good" sense). Hosting costs money, bandwidth costs money. So he/she is saying "if you want to get praise for your content, you have to foot the bill for people looking at your content".

    I, however, don't assume that content creators are creating content primarily or exclusively for non-monetary reasons, so that argument sounds like incredible bullshit. Sure, I personally run a blog for non-monetary reasons, and I don't run ads. But most of the stuff on the net is not individual folks' blogs, and even the stuff which is run for non-monetary reasons can incur massive hosting and bandwidth fees, meaning that "paying for the privilege of viewers" is completely untenable except for the idly rich.
    posted by Bugbread at 5:02 PM on May 11, 2009


    "Yes, without their quality reporting we might've gotten press-released into a war of aggression by a warmongering White House. Bless you, viable newspapers, whatever would we do without you."

    Better old, stale bread and muddy water than old, stale rocks and muddy gasoline.
    posted by Bugbread at 5:04 PM on May 11, 2009


    Yes, without their quality reporting we might've gotten press-released into a war of aggression by a warmongering White House. Bless you, viable newspapers, whatever would we do without you.

    Disparaging their failures, I hope, does not mean that you welcome a future without them entirely. I'd rather have some form of fourth estate than wish them all to blow away in the wind.

    Or perhaps you have reason not to find that prospect as bleak as I do? Because it scares the fuck out of me.

    What did David Simon say in front of Congress last week? The next ten to fifteen years are going to be a banner time to be a corrupt politician because the watchdogs are dying.
    posted by hippybear at 5:10 PM on May 11, 2009


    Better old, stale bread and muddy water than old, stale rocks and muddy gasoline.

    The worst part about getting dirt to eat?

    You asked for rocks.
    posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on May 11, 2009


    Better old, stale bread and muddy water than old, stale rocks and muddy gasoline.

    Feeding people a diet of old, stale rocks and muddy gasoline seems more likely to lead them to seek better alternatives, faster.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:15 PM on May 11, 2009


    The next ten to fifteen years are going to be a banner time to be a corrupt politician because the watchdogs are dying.

    There's some implicit assumption here that the only possible reason people would probe their government's action is because they are getting paid to write about it. I know that's the status quo, but how crazy is that?
    posted by smackfu at 5:15 PM on May 11, 2009


    There's some implicit assumption here that the only possible reason people would probe their government's action is because they are getting paid to write about it.

    Actually, the case which Simon has made repeatedly is that, without a news organization standing behind him or her, a reporter becomes simply a private citizen who can be turned away without an answer as easily as any other. But once an official has to deal with the noise that can be made by the management of a newspaper, etc, they often will grant access and give answers where they wouldn't before.

    I don't think his argument was about motivation. It was about power.
    posted by hippybear at 5:19 PM on May 11, 2009


    You are not "stealing" anything by blocking ads on a website until the day, which I believe will be the Thursday following Never, an actual law somewhere says that you aren't allowed to customize browser options to display what content you want.

    That's much like saying that if you own a piece of equipment, you are legally entitled to customise it in any way you see fit. Nonetheless, the courts and lawmakers don't see it that way when it comes to mod chips for game consoles and such. I can easily imagine them deciding along similar lines when the question of a user's right to customise the appearance of web pages they view versus the expectation of ad-supported web sites to be presented as they intend comes into question.
    posted by acb at 5:19 PM on May 11, 2009


    "Feeding people a diet of old, stale rocks and muddy gasoline seems more likely to lead them to seek better alternatives, faster."

    I guess it comes down to optimism versus pessimism...and that my analogy isn't so great. Perhaps an analogy involving a sweet-but-slightly-bad-for-you food versus a sweet-but-really-bad-for-you food. Sure, there are some healthy folks who would dislike both, but I figure that more people would be equally happy with either alternative, and wouldn't necessarily seek out a better, third choice. But I'm a pessimist and cynic, and my belief is just a belief. You may be right, I dunno.
    posted by Bugbread at 5:20 PM on May 11, 2009


    So that was fun, that was very New York, but what was not so fun was, by the time we got through the line at the Redemption Center, it was ten minutes until showtime, and my feet had swollen up the way they do shortly before they begin spontaneously bleeding, which they have done ever since a winter spent in the freezing muck of Cho-Bai, Korea. It is something I have learned to live with. If I can sit, that is helpful. If I can lean against something, also good. Best of all, if I can take my shoes off. Which I did, leaning against a wall.

    All around and above us were those towering walls of light, curving across building fronts, embedded in the sidewalks, custom-fitted to light poles: a cartoon lion eating a man in a suit; a rain of gold coins falling into the canoe of a naked rain-forest family; a woman in lingerie running a bottle of Pepsi between her breasts; the Merrill Lynch talking fist asking, "Are you kicking ass or kissing it?"; a perfect human rear, dancing; a fake flock of geese turning into a field of Bebe logos; a dying grandmother's room filled with roses by a FedEx man who then holds up a card saying "No Charge."

    And standing beneath all that bounty was our little Teddy, tiny and sad, whose grandfather could not even manage to get him into one crummy show.

    So I said to myself, Get off the wall, old man, blood or no blood, just keep the legs moving and soon enough you'll be there. And off we went, me hobbling, Teddy holding my arm, making decent time, and I think we would have made the curtain. Except suddenly there appeared a Citizen Helper, who asked were we from out of town, and was that why, via removing my shoes, I had caused my Everly Strips to be rendered Inoperative?

    I should say here that I am no stranger to innovative approaches to advertising, having pioneered the use of towable signboards in Oneonta back in the Nixon years, when I moved a fleet of thirty around town with a Dodge Dart, wearing a suit that today would be found comic. By which I mean I have no problem with the concept of the Everly Strip. That is not why I had my shoes off. I am as patriotic as the next guy. Rather, as I have said, it was due to my bleeding feet.

    I told all this to the Citizen Helper, who asked if I was aware that, by rendering my Strips Inoperative, I was sacrificing a terrific opportunity to Celebrate My Preferences?

    And I said yes, yes, I regretted this very much.

    He said he was sorry about my feet, he himself having a trick elbow, and that he would be happy to forget this unfortunate incident if I would only put my shoes back on and complete the rest of my walk extremely slowly, looking energetically to both left and right, so that the higher density of Messages thus received would compensate for those I had missed.

    And I admit, I was a little short with that Helper, and said, Young man, these dark patches here on my socks are blood, do you or do you not see them?


    George Saunders, "My Flamboyant Grandson," from In Persuasion Nation
    posted by gottabefunky at 5:28 PM on May 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


    If I'm visiting a site to learn about kayaking, I actually don't mind ads for places selling kayaks, or kayaking equipment. I do mind ads telling me about AssFresh Gel or penis pills.
    posted by maxwelton at 5:31 PM on May 11, 2009


    More AssFresh Gel for me then.
    posted by dead cousin ted at 5:34 PM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


    More penis pills for... some other guy.
    posted by Rock Steady at 5:51 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    "That's much like saying that if you own a piece of equipment, you are legally entitled to customise it in any way you see fit. Nonetheless, the courts and lawmakers don't see it that way when it comes to mod chips for game consoles and such. I can easily imagine them deciding along similar lines when the question of a user's right to customise the appearance of web pages they view versus the expectation of ad-supported web sites to be presented as they intend comes into question."

    That'd be a good fight. On one side all the blind and visually impaired users protected by the ADA and on the other advertisers. And how the heck are you supposed to enforce something like that when they can't even get a handful of browsers to display pages the same even on the same hardware.
    posted by Mitheral at 5:54 PM on May 11, 2009


    I don't see any "Wendell" comments yet. I am disappointed.
    posted by chairface at 5:55 PM on May 11, 2009


    "I felt similarly at the theater last night waiting for Star Trek to start. I hadn't been to a theater in several months, so the pre-show advertisements were pretty jarring. There was an on-screen host "guiding" us through the ads dressed in a cardigan. No shit. Then there was a BMW that drove around painting with its wheels while a minimalist choir sang for about... oh, 10 minutes. Ten. Minutes."

    I remember when my local multiplex first started showing ads before the film and everyone would boo the whole time. After a while, though, people forgot that you're supposed to complain when you pay to go somewhere and instead of getting what you paid for, you get some huckster trying to shuck you. Now it's a mixed bag of sushing and MST3King the ads.
    posted by klangklangston at 6:06 PM on May 11, 2009


    If newspapers are unable to offer well-researched, thought-provoking stories without accompanying close-up photos of some poor woman's cottage-cheese thighs, they can fucking go broke.
    posted by troybob at 6:08 PM on May 11, 2009


    Hey Ad Block Users! I've got the simple answer, if you do not like the ads on a particular website, DO NOT GO THERE...

    See, simple... You won't be bothered by all that horrid fan spinning, bandwidth eating, bill paying crap, and the webmaster can not be bothered by your freeloading ass.

    Cause, whether you call it stealing, illegal, copywrong, copyright, whatever. It's just fucking freeloading, it's rude, it's anti-social. Hey, there are plenty of websites that you all can create that don't have any ads. Go ahead and create one, dreamhost is like barely anything a month. Go to Wikipedia.. Hey, an awesome place, no ads! (But, you did donate, right? I did, because I'm not a fucking freeloading dick) Spend $5 on metafilter, and barely anything to upset your sensitive optical globes.

    But, I happen to like the NYTimes, I like the Big Picture, I like Stack Overflow, and YouTube, and ... You get the idea. And I don't want to pay a subscription for each of them. Outdated business model?? You're right, the only way to pay for all that shit will be to close the walls up, and make it subscription based. I wonder what mental gymnastics people will go through to justify 'sharing' passwords and the such.

    Yes, portions of the web are like Times Square or Tokyo - loud and tacky and blaring. Today the NYTimes had an awful first visit flash over ad. If they start going more that route, I'll have to decide if it's worth visiting. Or maybe I'll pay for the Kindle edition.

    Such gymnastics to justify unethical behavior... I just have such a hard time with this. I think movies in Manhattan are too expensive, so I barely ever go to them. I would never think that the price means that it's okay to sneak in.
    posted by PissOnYourParade at 6:14 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Somebody didn't read the article! Also: "optical globes"? Really? That's dumb. You got a dumb way of referring to eyes.
    posted by boo_radley at 6:18 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Hit a nerve there, PissOnYourParade?
    posted by dead cousin ted at 6:22 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I wonder what mental gymnastics people will go through to justify 'sharing' passwords and the such.

    "I'm cheap, and have no moral problem with this, especially since there is no chance I will get caught or pay any consequences." Most people aren't really moral, they just don't want to get in trouble.
    posted by smackfu at 6:24 PM on May 11, 2009


    "Cause, whether you call it stealing, illegal, copywrong, copyright, whatever. It's just fucking freeloading, it's rude, it's anti-social. Hey, there are plenty of websites that you all can create that don't have any ads. Go ahead and create one, dreamhost is like barely anything a month. Go to Wikipedia.. Hey, an awesome place, no ads! (But, you did donate, right? I did, because I'm not a fucking freeloading dick) Spend $5 on metafilter, and barely anything to upset your sensitive optical globes."

    OH NOES IM IN UR INTERNET FREELOADIN UR PAGES

    I mean, right back atcha you prescriptive fucko—how exactly am I supposed to know whether these places have assy ads without going and being eye-blasted? And what if I like most of the internet, but have little interest in paying for it or having my computer fucked with? You're going to tell me that somehow my moral duty is to pay for this shit? Well, again, fuck you right back—if you don't like me surfing without looking at the ads, either make ads that entice me in of my own free will, or don't have a fucking website, or a commercial one at that. Because hey, I do remember the internet without ads, and that's the default position for me. Either come up with a way to work with me or fuck right off with your bitching about entitlement, because someone else will be happy to let me look at their page with the ads turned off.

    I use Wikipedia without donating, and listen to NPR without subscribing. If you try to shame me, I'm going to assume that you're acting in your self interest, which is different from mine, and I'm going to act in my self interest, which is smugly viewing the shit gratis. Piss and moan all you like.
    posted by klangklangston at 6:31 PM on May 11, 2009 [19 favorites]


    Oh, and I use Bugmenot.com too.
    posted by klangklangston at 6:33 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Hey Ad Block Users! I've got the simple answer, if you do not like the ads on a particular website, DO NOT GO THERE...
    Websites have ads?
    posted by Flunkie at 6:36 PM on May 11, 2009


    Cause, whether you call it stealing, illegal, copywrong, copyright, whatever. It's just fucking freeloading, it's rude, it's anti-social.

    Oh, I don't want to know how you'll react when you hear about DVRs...
    posted by dirigibleman at 6:41 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Hey Ad Block Users! I've got the simple answer, if you do not like the ads on a particular website, DO NOT GO THERE...

    I assume you diligently watch all the ads on television, and never leave during them to go to the bathroom or get a snack, and you never flip radio channels when the ad comes up. I respect your no freeloading policy, but don't know that it is reasonable to make the same demands of others.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 6:45 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Hey Ad Block Users! I've got the simple answer, if you do not like the ads on a particular website, DO NOT GO THERE...

    I usually make it a point not to re-visit a site I don't like, but sometimes you don't know a site is totally fucked up with ads until after you visit it - and thanks to driveby malware installs waiting to find this out after a pageload is usually way too late.

    Such gymnastics to justify unethical behavior... I just have such a hard time with this. I think movies in Manhattan are too expensive, so I barely ever go to them. I would never think that the price means that it's okay to sneak in.

    You want to debate ethics in marketing and advertising on the internet? Are you fucking totally batshit insane? Did you sleep through the last 15 years under a rock or are you just willfully ignorant? Or are you wearing rose tinted glasses and wandering through the world like some kind of naive, lost innocent soul? Or do you work in marketing - which in case the any and/or all of above is a given.

    Besides the fake pop-up "YOUR SYSTEM IS INFECTED CLICK HERE" made to look like windows dialog boxes for the purposes of installation of spyware, malware and the fucking massive intrusion of privacy by tracking cookies and spyware - there are ads being served by "valid" ad hosts like doubleclick that are actually malicious software that will install without user intervention.

    This is illegal, and should be considered as criminal as any other attempts at unauthorized access to a computer should be.

    This nefarious, unforgivable bullshit is criminal and costs individuals and companies billions of dollars every year. You want to talk about the ethics of lost revenue? Start there and then come whine to me about the fractions of pennies the fucking advertisers are losing for each person installing ABP. I occasionally still do IT work for individuals and small business and I no longer support IE, and strongly recommend Firefox+ABP for general users. Because it reduces my stress and workload, and supports them in keeping cleaner computers with more uptime and less bullshit.

    Gymnastics? Have you ever seen the contortions marketing associations go through to protect spurious bullshit like telemarketing and direct mail campaigns? You have to be fucking kidding me. Ethics? In advertising and marketing? Let the marketers go first. I'm waiting. But I'm not holding my breath, because I'd asphyxiate first.

    Today the NYTimes had an awful first visit flash over ad.

    Apparently an old friend of mine worked on that campaign. He sent me the link and my jaw basically fell off and hit the floor. I would be more than happy to forward hate mail to him from any and all. (Please send hate mail to my gmail not my metafilter inbox. For forwarding ease.)
    posted by loquacious at 6:45 PM on May 11, 2009 [16 favorites]


    I'm not one to freak out about "stealing" content or whatever, but I think there is a fair point that producing good content and hosting it on the web costs money, and that if someone doesn't somehow come up with that money, that content will eventually go away. I'm in no place to shame anyone or anything, since I use adblock too, but I do wonder what will happen as the penetration of ad-blocking software increases. When I hear about declining ad revenues for TV and stuff, I worry about the same thing. Sure there's a lot of crap on TV, but there's also Lost and presumably some other good shows, and advertisement pays for those things.

    I'm not saying we should all start pitying the poor TV and web content companies, I'm just saying we should be able to consider the reality that things we enjoy cost money, and think about it how those things will be payed for in the future (or whether we think they're worth paying for).
    posted by !Jim at 7:48 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Such gymnastics to justify unethical behavior...

    This is such crap. If you want to get paid for your content, go to a subscription model and stop serving the content for free to every browser that requests it. Also, stop struggling for placement on search engines, because people are going to click through on the results if your page is among them, and there's no contract in the search results that says "before you click this link you must agree to view ads." If you don't want to serve the content without getting paid, then DON'T.

    I think movies in Manhattan are too expensive, so I barely ever go to them. I would never think that the price means that it's okay to sneak in.

    Again, movies charge to let you in; they have a specific mechanism for doing so and circumvention is a deliberate act. Websites can do that too. If you don't want to serve it for free, then why don't you stop doing it?
    posted by George_Spiggott at 7:51 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    If you hang up on the auto warranty guys, you are hanging up on COMMUNISM!

    Wait, I screwed that up.

    If you go to the bathroom during commercial breaks, you are pissing on SOCIALISM!

    Wait, that's not right, either...
    posted by dirigibleman at 8:11 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I've subscribed for twenty years to The Sun magazine, and it is not inexpensive -- I think it's up to 32 bucks a year now. But there are NO ADS. Not one. (Nope, not true -- they do put in ads for their own content, books they've printed, collections of essays that've been in the magazine, etc. I do find that bothersome, as it's more paper for me to recycle. Bothersome, but not offensive.)

    I subscribed to The Atlantic for a year or two, and a couple of years ago subscribed to Playboy for a year, a buddy told me about some special, like five bucks -- it was fun, I was in high school again. Before reading these things, I went through and ripped out every ad, I folded over every page that needed folding, probably threw out half of each of them (no, not threw out -- recycle bin) prior to exposing myself to them. I am truly grateful to Harpers for introducing me to David Foster Wallace, and also for putting up all of his essays, free, after his death, in pdf format. I subscribed to them for maybe four years, going through the same routine prior to reading it.

    I would pay someone to have the magazine stripped for me, some mope cutting it apart and pasting it up. I'd pay extra -- like I do for The Sun -- for a version of a magazine in which I had an interest that had the ads stripped away.

    I would pay more for this site if that is what it took to keep this site up. And: I was one of 'those guys' who actually bought ($30, in 1998 dollars) Netscapes browser when Micro$oft scumbags did all they could do to take their legs out from under them. I would buy Firefox if I needed to do so, and I would pay for AdBlock Plus if I needed to do so. And FlashBlock. And any of the other add-ons that I really like, utilize every day, or most every day, or even just like having added on.

    What I will not do is play ball. I will not cruise the internet without an ad-block on, any more than I'd do so without malware protection and active virus scanner going. I do not want this shit shoved down my throat. I will not play ball.

    When I come to a site that I really do wish to see content of, in which I'm forced to endure their advertising, I damn sure remember who they are, and do all I can to avoid them in the future. I block the screen with my hand, or move the browser down, I turn off the sound. I do not want anything that any of these people are trying to get me to buy into. Someone upthread noted that if someone makes a product which I am interested in I will seek it out. Bingo. Make something I want.

    Ads literally make me sick. I can't stand it, I get queazed out. And if you want to mock me for that, go fuck yourself, roll up a bunch of ads off the walls in subway stations or wherever and shove the fucking things up your ass. I hope your legs grow together. Fuck you. I was in San Francisco last week, noticed that down in the BART station they've got ads on the walls on the other side of the tracks, so that they cannot be gotten to and defaced. I contemplated small ink-guns, indelible ink, to break peoples trance, to get them to notice that they're getting fucked in the ass as they stand there drooling...

    I do not watch television, I do not have cable, nor am I interested in getting it. If I want to watch something, it'll show up online, or if it does not -- hey, life's rough. I don't go to movie theaters, I rent the things, and when I get another skinner set up on this puter I'll rip all the garbage off of the movies before I watch them. (ps -- what's the best, easiest software for doing this, on a windoze platform?)

    I do not buy clothing with the name of some company on it -- WTF ?!?!?! Always it's seemed totally insane/inane to me. Sometimes I've been given items with tags on it -- I remove the tags and toss them in the trash. Items I've purchased in thrift stores or off eBay, same thing. Sometimes some companies do make quality items, before slathering all this jive all over it; if so, I'll purchase it and remove the scum and then enjoy the item.

    I love quality. I love art. I think that the Honda commercial that utilized all those pieces of a honda in rube goldberg fashion is super-cool -- I've seen it on youtube, hell, I even downloaded a copy of it, using my DownloadHelper add-on. Give me something cool and I'll watch it, and be glad I did. But keep your dancing fucking cats, keep your talking toilet bowls, keep your shit to yourself, go fuck yourselves.

    Not that this issue bothers me or anything....
    posted by dancestoblue at 8:20 PM on May 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


    You know, I have a content site which folks are free to browse, and whose hosting costs are covered by one on-topic, small, unobtrusive affiliate ad. If there was such a thing as micro-payments, and each unique site visitor gave me one cent per month, I'd get the same amount of money, and having a fairly loyal audience, I bet I could even get ten cents a month from them. I'd be rolling in it, relatively speaking. If I could get half to give me a quarter per month I could literally devote myself full-time to the site. It would be incredible.

    But giving money is such a convoluted and tortuous process that in seven years I've received maybe 10 donations via the ubiquitous paypal "donate now" button. The failure of web content being a decent business is the failure of micro-payments. If there was an easy, mindless, secure way for people to donate a few cents or a dollar in a click the web would be a much more varied, interesting place.
    posted by maxwelton at 8:32 PM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


    "Cause, whether you call it stealing, illegal, copywrong, copyright, whatever. It's just fucking freeloading, it's rude, it's anti-social. Hey, there are plenty of websites that you all can create that don't have any ads. Go ahead and create one, dreamhost is like barely anything a month. Go to Wikipedia.. Hey, an awesome place, no ads! (But, you did donate, right? I did, because I'm not a fucking freeloading dick) Spend $5 on metafilter, and barely anything to upset your sensitive optical globes. "

    Hee, Hee, I didn't even pay the $5.

    Seriously though, they are serving data on port 80, literally free for the asking. I'm no more obligated to download everything that is offered there than I'm obligated to download everything available on port 21, 119 or 70.
    posted by Mitheral at 8:44 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Wait, I got it.

    If you block spam you are blocking ABORTION!

    No, wait...
    posted by dirigibleman at 8:50 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    How awesome of Microsoft to make all this possible for him? Except, of course, there were interstitial video advertisements shown before any user-selected content started playing.

    i recently bought a gateway computer and those awesome people at microsoft gave me a FREE! copy of microsoft works! with a little ad in the corner - i guess i have to pay for it if i want to have an ad free word processor

    or download openoffice.org - guess what i did?
    posted by pyramid termite at 9:00 PM on May 11, 2009


    Hey Ad Block Users!

    hmmm

    temper-causing - 7

    rantiness - 7

    originality - 4

    laughter-inducing - 3

    likelihood of replies - 7

    your t.r.o.l.l. score is 5.6 out of a possible 10 - try again
    posted by pyramid termite at 9:17 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Cause, whether you call it stealing, illegal, copywrong, copyright, whatever. It's just fucking freeloading, it's rude, it's anti-social.

    If you don't want your content viewed by users who have ultimate control over the presentation of your content, don't publish it.

    Let me rephrase that: IF YOU DON'T WANT YOUR CONTENT VIEWED BY USERS WHO HAVE ULTIMATE CONTROL OVER THE PRESENTATION OF YOUR CONTENT, DON'T FUCKING PUBLISH IT, YOU FUCKING IDIOT.

    You have zero control over the bits that leave your webserver. Zero. The only reason your hosting provider isn't actually inserting ads into your webpages is because that's actually really, really technically hard to do, and the few times it's been done, there has erupted an Internet rage the likes of which even God has never seen. I guaran-fucking-tee you that your hosting provider is just chomping at the bit to be able to reliably insert a string of Javascript into your stream of bits as they leave your provider's network. But they can't, see, because then you'd jump ship to a provider that didn't do that. That's called the free market.

    And a long time ago, before you knew about dreamhost, or Big Picture, when what evolved into Youtube was really just a little applet that ran off the MIT medialab server, back before things like HTTP pipelining and gzip compression, the collective massively large free market of the Internet decided that, for the most part, people putting things online that were accessible via port 80 did so freely.

    This is the way of the Internet. As long as it's legal to write Javascript code that executes inside your browser, you will never be able to stop ad blockers. Advertisements on the Internet are an afterthought. They're bolted on tech that was never supposed to fit right in the first place. They're stupid. They're lo-tech, even the silly Flash bits. They are easily distinguishable from regular content, which makes them extremely ineffective. That's why, right now, it will cost you $53.64 if you create an ad for the keyword "student loans" and someone clicks on it.
    posted by mark242 at 10:05 PM on May 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


    There's feeding a troll, and then there's buying a plot of land, getting a building permit from city hall, hiring architects and contractors, landscaping the area and building a freakin' Cracker Barrel buffet restaurant for a troll.
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:14 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Then there's seeding the landscaping with punji traps and poisoning the buffet, but we quibble over spilt straws.

    By the way, this is very important. Hold still. Now carefully step two small paces back, and then two to the left. You almost tripped that landmine.
    posted by loquacious at 11:17 PM on May 11, 2009


    Cause, whether you call it stealing, illegal, copywrong, copyright, whatever. It's just fucking freeloading, it's rude, it's anti-social.

    You know what? I'm actually going to agree with you here. Choosing to block ads on an ad-supported website is freeloading, rude and anti-social.

    I will keep doing it, however, because I'm a freeloader who is both rude and anti-social, so I really don't see any impetus for me to change.

    I think movies in Manhattan are too expensive, so I barely ever go to them. I would never think that the price means that it's okay to sneak in.


    Really? Because I see nothing wrong with sneaking into movies that are too expensive for me to see. Hollywood doesn't give two shits about me and I don't give two shits about them either. Boo hoo.
    posted by Avenger at 11:37 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Oh, it's "When you surf with AdBlock, you surf with COMMUNISM!"
    posted by Avenger at 11:40 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I thought Charlie didn't surf.
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:59 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


    This is why I use AdBlock, and will always use an ad blocking software.

    I am in Australia. I have slowish, expensive internet. I have pathetic load times. I also have a sad computer that likes stately ambles around the web, with its geriatric processor and ponderous load times.

    I am not going to wait fifteen minutes for a freaking page of ads to load, when even if I did like what I saw, I have no option of buying.

    Yes, I am looking at you, Generic American Advertiser. I do not live in MA, FL, or OK or whatever. I hate your no international shipping rules, your "Applies only to the lower assfuck 23 states and/or military bases". I cannot buy your Carl Jr. Mealie Dealie, your New York RapidTranz oil exchanger, or visit my local Macy's. Your cheap flights would cost me thousands just to get to the pickup point. Your insurance policy is not valid in my juristriction.

    And all the while, I'm waiting, waiting, waiting, for my content to load. The flash has woken the cat. My processor is jamming on the spywares.

    How hard could it be to cut the irrelavant shit? Surely you're going to do better with targeted ads, or at least blocking out the international IPs. Fuck, you'll do it for Hulu, and the plethora of other content hosts that I actually want to see . How about you apply that smashing technology to preveing me from seeing garish swirling morgage brokers, eh?

    I've clicked through on Google ads before, sometimes to see what the fuck they are talking about, but if I've just recieved an email from a friend going, "Hey, Jilder, know where I can get some quality widgets?" and lo, a widget ad has popped up on the top of my Gmail, you better believe I'm going to at least have a little look.

    I've also bought from affiliates - Jay Is Games places purchasing info at the end of a lot of its reviews, and fuck me! I've bought from those links, and enjoyed the product, because it was targeted to me, my likes, and my locality.

    Quit bitching about how your blanket bombing is being blocked and start thinking about making the real money. There's plenty of opportunity to produce effective advertising that works - that informs consumers of products they may well benefit from, with the advertisters and the marketers all making the sweet lucre.

    Your system is sick, advertisers. AdBlock is a symptom, not the disease. Time for a rethink.
    posted by Jilder at 12:19 AM on May 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


    Feh, the revolution will come when they roll out Adblock for real life.
    posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 12:38 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    You know, I hate fucking Internet ads. I turned off ABP and took a look at BoingBoing, and my eyes bled. (Jeez, what the fuck did they do to that place?) But it occurs to me that if we don't meet the advertisers halfway, then we're going to end up with a worse business model, something that's the ethical equivalent of product placement. Like that godawful Nokia moment in Star Trek.

    So, yeah, if I can prevent advertisers from adopting a worse business model by cooperating in making the current one better? I'm willing to meet them halfway BY USING GOOGLE MAPS' WALKING MODE, PREFERRED 2 TO 1 BY MOST INTERNET USERS OVER YAHOO MAPS!. Because otherwise, we could end up with something much worse THAN THE TASTE OF HEINEKEN, WHICH GOES DOWN SMOOTH AFTER A LONG DAY AT WORK!

    What surprises me, though, is how ... well ... completely and utterly lowtech-stupid the ad industry remains. I mean, hey, we are in an age where Pandora can give me a radio station based on one tune where every song it plays has a 8-in-10 chance of being really good, where Amazon can suggest things I'd like, where Netflix can suggest some good flix, and so on. Give me a page full of ads of things I might actually be interested in using that some of that tech, and suddenly the whole browsing-with-ads on becomes beneficial to me. Trusting the user's interest in their self-interest is the surest way to get clicks.
    posted by WCityMike at 1:01 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Oh, by the way, for your ABP recipe list:
    dailykos.com#BLOCKQUOTE(id=adblocker)
    posted by WCityMike at 1:09 AM on May 12, 2009


    Astro Zombie: "It's hard getting an apartment nowadays. They all do background checks ..."

    Fess up, Astro Zombie, you're Max Barry, aren't you?
    posted by WCityMike at 1:14 AM on May 12, 2009


    But it occurs to me that if we don't meet the advertisers halfway, then we're going to end up with a worse business model, something that's the ethical equivalent of product placement.

    I think Jilder makes an excellent point about how ads can be used - either to direct themselves at the target audience, or through carpetbombing. There are ways of generating revenue through ads, in any medium, where you have a choice between being an obnoxious/intrusive spamdroid, or knowing your demographic. I'll take "Nokia moments" over disco Flash ads any day. mark242 also rightly points out that when content has left your server and is in someone else's browser, they're free to read that content in any way they please - a fair point on top of some of the more nefarious if not downright illegal activities that some marketing types have engaged in through the internet. I'd argue advertisers need to consider the notion that maybe - just maybe - continuing to flap your hands and screech in someone's face as a form of advertising will in all likelihood encourage content blocking, and that it might be wise to look into this whole matching product to demographic thing.
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:23 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Here's what I just posted on Palant's blog:

    I would much rather not see this in ABP. If a webmaster wants to invite me to unblock ads on their site, they are already perfectly free to stick a bit of HTML on the site attempting to guilt me into doing that, perhaps even including a link to instructions that say how.

    The point of ABP for me is to stop websites from getting in my face with distractions. If ABP itself started pestering me with info bars and decisions, I’d quickly be reverting to a version that didn’t do that, and if that became unsustainable I’d fork the bloody thing myself.

    I have no objection to some kind hearted soul making available a subscription to an ABP-compatible whitelist of sites whose advertising is generally agreed to be innocuous. I even have no objection to ABP being modified, if necessary, to support such a whitelist. But the bar for “innocuous” would have to be set pretty high for me to even consider subscribing.

    Anybody who truly thinks that I’m some kind of pirate because I refuse to look at Web advertising is quite welcome to their spurious feeling of moral superiority. Water off a duck’s back to me.

    The fact is, the web-based advertising industry long ago broke their covenant with the user, and they did so to such an extent and with such arrogance that that is why ABP is a monster hit

    Word!
    posted by flabdablet at 1:49 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


    FWIW, I don't block Google's text ads. I do block Google Analytics, though, because I object to having my page loads slowed down by it.
    posted by flabdablet at 1:50 AM on May 12, 2009


    it occurs to me that if we don't meet the advertisers halfway, then we're going to end up with a worse business model

    No we're not.

    "We" are the crowd that is savvy enough to install stuff like ABP. Probably not coincidentally, we're the same crowd that's savvy enough not to click a Spank The Monkey banner or panic when a popup tells us our computers are infected. Even before ABP existed, I never once clicked through a banner ad.

    In other words: the ad-blocker-installing demographic is made of people who don't benefit those who pay for advertising. Therefore, failure to detect our page views is of absolutely no detriment to those people. Advertising-based business models will succeed or fail based on their appeal to the great unwashed, and the great unwashed are not savvy enough to install ad blockers anyway.
    posted by flabdablet at 1:59 AM on May 12, 2009


    Just a quick "my 2 cents" on why I don't feel guilty about using Adblock:

    I'm a German, surfing the interwebs and looking mostly at American or at least English-speaking websites. Most ads I see when I turn off blocking are targeted at an American audience, offering services and products not available in Germany.
    In addition to that, advertising in Germany is heavily regulated - we have very strong consumer protection laws, so using fake rebates, unsavory practices, small print exceptions, blatant falsehoods and incorrect claims are verboten; something that does not seem to hold true for most of the internet ads I've seen.

    Oh, and I'm also in the "never bought anything from an advertisement, ever" camp. The whole notion that I would need to be notified of something I am unknowingly missing in my life seems strange to me; if I feel that I need some thing or service I will go actively looking for them, comparing and trying to make an informed decision. I prefer to gather information myself instead of having it thrust upon me - after all, that's how the rest of society works, isn't it? You don't walk down the street, spouting random pieces of information at strangers in the hopes that one of them might need this particular bit of information right now, after all.
    posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:29 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I use Lynx. The Web is overrated.
    posted by dayvin at 3:47 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Attention Rights Management: Microsoft have applied for a patent on it.

    ("Securely providing advertising subsidized computer usage")
    posted by acb at 4:03 AM on May 12, 2009


    I make a living with content based, ad supported sites.

    Ad block plus users don't bother me at all. It's not something I really give much thought to. I actually use NoScript myself (although I whitelist lots of sites that I enjoy, and even some ad servers that I don't think are too intrusive). Just wanted to get that out of the way first.

    What I find really weird is just how little a lot of you guys seem to understand about online advertising, and why it advertising in general makes some people so angry (to the point of ripping out ads in Harper's or The Atlantic? Really?). I've seen people ranting about ads needing to be more targeted, surely you realize Adsense is contextual, no? And CPM ads (banner ads) aren't always designed to get clickthroughs, sometimes they are for branding purposes.

    The ones that do want to get clicked on (the pig mortgage ad for instance, or all the Acai berry weight loss ads, or the teeth whiteners) don't need high clickthrough rates to be massively profitable. And it doesn't bother advertisers too much if you don't click through because your eyeballs are cheap. They love Adblock Plus, because the people that use it are too savvy to be clicking on banner ads and signing up for random offers anyway (as many of you have pointed out). So Adblock Plus is saving advertisers money.

    Look at it this way, if an ad is paying, say, $8 CPM, and you visit and don't click (you're not using AdBlock in this hypothetical), the advertiser is out less than a penny for your visit (800 cents / 1000 page views). And $8 CPM is high when it comes to the more annoying low rent ads. Remnant advertising can go as low as $1-$2 cpm paid out by the advertiser. Probably even lower with some of the third tier networks that I don't deal with. Meanwhile advertisers are getting paid out $40+ for a completed offer when someone actually does click through and sign up for a free trial of scammy weight loss drugs or teeth whitening crap or what have you.

    So, unfortunately these ads are profitable, and probably always will be massively profitable (although the worst of the ads, i.e. acai berry, will eventually get shut down by the FTC, but something else will pop up. This has played out before with "free" ringtone offers). Profitable to the degree that some affiliates are making six-seven figures a month pushing some of this stuff.

    AdBlock Plus is a non-factor until a popular browser actually starts turning it on by default. Which will never happen, Firefox itself is ad supported. How many people here ranting about the evils of advertising and how nothing worthwhile on the internet is ad supported are using Firefox and don't even know how it's funded?

    Personally I think there's lot of stuff that's worthwhile on the internet that is ad supported. Obviously, I guess, given how I make a living. It's not a terrible model, it's how television/radio/news has operated for decades. I just don't really see things changing too much, the internet will always be a mix of ad supported and paid content, and I don't see anything wrong with that personally. If banner advertising really offends you to the point that you're still livid even after installing Adblock Plus and not having to look at it then you might want to step back and let it go a little bit.
    posted by imabanana at 4:37 AM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Give me a page full of ads of things I might actually be interested in using that some of that tech, and suddenly the whole browsing-with-ads on becomes beneficial to me. Trusting the user's interest in their self-interest is the surest way to get clicks.

    I see what you're saying, and John Battelle argued this same thing in The Search. I've always had a bit of a problem with it though - contextual/relevant ads work really well for some things - like your examples of music or movies. We actually want to listen to music, so an ad that helps us discover good music is a good ad. Obviously.

    The problem comes with things that we don't really care about, one way or the other: toilet paper, washing up liquid, much food, beer*, travel insurance, banking, internet access - all sorts of things where there isn't really that much of a difference between Brand A and Brand B, but both those brands have to advertise in order to gain customers. We're never going to get contextual advertising for these things, because most of us really don't want to see ads for them. We purchase them because we need to, not out of love for the product.

    So sure, we'll see some advertising that's targeted and therefore relevant, but there will always be advertisers who want to market more generic products, and will only be able to do this through untargeted mass advertising. So websites will have to carry those ads.

    *OK, there's a difference between boutique ale A and mass-produced lager B; but there's no real difference between the mass-produced lagers - but look how much advertising htey do.
    posted by Infinite Jest at 5:19 AM on May 12, 2009


    Wow. It's really shocking to read about the people who are willing to go to ANY lengths to avoid having to participate in the cycle of creation / consumption / funding which pretty much drives our culture. Sneaking into movies because you claim you don't give a shit about Hollywood (because they don't give a shit about you)? Well, you can't claim you don't give a shit if you're going to all that trouble to sneak into a movie, can you?

    We've all paid our $5 to participate here, but personally, I read MeFi for years before I joined. If I had needed to pay $5 to read the website to begin with, likely I never would have seen a single post on the Blue. If MeFi had been $5 per year, with a credit card required for automatic renewal, chances are, I never would have joined.

    It does sound like there needs to be some amount of dialogue with the online advertising community about their malware and drive-by installation practices. I was not aware of that problem. (Being a Mac owner and such, although that sense of security is rapidly eroding.)

    There's been so much to respond to, but this one point seemed to need it the most:

    If you try to shame me, I'm going to assume that you're acting in your self interest, which is different from mine, and I'm going to act in my self interest, which is smugly viewing the shit gratis.

    Seems as though this might be self-interest. But it's certainly not even the "enlightened self-interest" which the Loathsome Ayn espoused. It's pretty fucking blind to the actual issues at hand, and at best signifies the same attitude that a malignant cancer cell takes within the human body: this is MY food, this is MY blood, fuck the rest of you cells if you can't deal with it.
    posted by hippybear at 5:52 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Wow. It's really shocking to read about the people who are willing to go to ANY lengths to avoid having to participate in the cycle of creation / consumption / funding which pretty much drives our culture." Yeah, I'm totally shocked. It's called anti-consumerism.
    posted by dunkadunc at 6:04 AM on May 12, 2009


    Yeah, I'm totally shocked. It's called anti-consumerism.

    Hey, I have direct experience with short-term non-consumer societies. Got any good suggestions on how to incentivize content creators to do their thing, outside of compensation, in the real world?
    posted by hippybear at 6:06 AM on May 12, 2009


    While I grudgingly accept that advertising is inevitable and, in a market economy, necessary, I do not accept that websites need to end-up looking like something out of Idiocracy.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the more advertising you have, the more advertising you need. It's an odd effect. Television is a good example. In the beginning, it was free OTA, advertising-supported, and people made blindingly great profits. Today, most people actually pay just for access to what was once free, and they are supplied with almost as many ads as actual programming (especially when you factor in in-program product placements and channels that switch to infomercials for a sizable amount of their air time.)
    posted by Thorzdad at 6:07 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    and they are supplied with almost as many ads as actual programming

    This is especially true of some of the History Channel, etc shows. I was dumping something onto my DVD-Recorder, and found that the show came to 35 minutes once the commercials were removed. It was shocking.

    posted by hippybear at 6:09 AM on May 12, 2009


    hippybear, you're missing the point.

    People who install Adblock Plus do so because we don't want to look at advertising.

    The reason we don't want to look at advertising is because it is useless to us.

    The reason it is useless to us is because we simply don't buy things that we're made aware of by web advertising.

    Therefore, installing Adblock Plus aligns our interests with those of the advertisers. ABP saves us being bothered by their execrable website graffiti, and saves them paying for ad server traffic that does them no good.

    Sites like Kos that huff and puff about ABP users are, in fact, seeking to rip off their advertisers by artificially inflating the number of potential customers the advertisers see them serving. There's no reason you should pay any more attention to their self-serving bullshit than you pay to mine.
    posted by flabdablet at 6:11 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


    flabdablet: Yes, but perhaps you are missing the point of the advertising in the first place, which is to pay the content providers for, well, providing the content. This can be by providing the money which pays for the actual storage and transfer of bits, or it can be for putting in the pocket of the people who wrote the thing you're reading so they can eat and continue to live and create more stuff for you to read.

    I have no problem with people not looking at advertising. Hell, I don't look at most of it, or when I do it is with a sharply cynical lens and usually with an eye toward deconstructing its potential power. But the question I've asked at least twice, I ask again...

    If not advertising funded internet, then by what mechanism do the content providers get the required means to continue to exist?
    posted by hippybear at 6:15 AM on May 12, 2009


    Honest question here:

    If advertisers pay based exclusively on the click, then a person who doesn't ever click anything doesn't cost a website any ad revenue by turning off ads.

    But if advertisers pay by the click and by the number of ads viewed, a person who doesn't ever click anything would cost the website ad revenue by turning off ads...except: wouldn't the amount paid per number of ads viewed rise if the click-through ratio was higher? That is, if an advertiser ran ads on Site A, and 1 in every 100 ads was clicked, and ran ads on Site B, where 50 in every 100 ads was clicked, wouldn't the advertiser pay more per ad viewed on Site B, because viewing was more beneficial? And, if so, wouldn't it be the case that a non-clicking viewer removing himself from the equation would raise the ratio of "clicked" to "viewed", thereby increasing the ad pay rate, and thus cancelling out the reduction caused by the viewer not loading the ads?
    posted by Bugbread at 6:45 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Thanks, bugbread, that's my point.
    posted by flabdablet at 6:53 AM on May 12, 2009


    But it occurs to me that if we don't meet the advertisers halfway, then we're going to end up with a worse business model, something that's the ethical equivalent of product placement. Like that godawful Nokia moment in Star Trek.

    This is the state we already have. I went to see Star Trek and the first half-hour in the theater was raw advertisements. The next twenty minutes were previews for movies. None of that stopped them from placing the Nokia advertisement in that scene. Why would it?
    posted by odinsdream at 6:55 AM on May 12, 2009


    hippybear, I have no problem with the advertising funded internet. If the Clueless wish to support my browsing enjoyment by selling each other fake Viagra, that's no skin off my nose.

    My point is solely about the effects of ad-blocking software like Adblock Plus. What I'm arguing against is the generally-unstated assumption that existence of ad blocking techniques is a threat to the advertising-funded model. I don't think it's any such thing. I think the people who install ad blockers are the same people who react to advertising with annoyance rather than engagement, and are therefore not players in the advertising-supported commercial ecosystem regardless of whether they're actively blocking ads or not.

    Which means that Palant's proposal to water down his wonderful ad blocker is ill-conceived and useless, and will make not a whit of difference to the revenue streams of advertisers or the web sites they fund.
    posted by flabdablet at 7:01 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Interesting bit of kismet that this heated conversation over web advertising should boil-up at the same time as one of the rare ads visible even to paid subscribers should appear on the MeFi front page. MeFi being one of the few sites I green-light in ABP.
    posted by Thorzdad at 7:02 AM on May 12, 2009


    That is, if an advertiser ran ads on Site A, and 1 in every 100 ads was clicked, and ran ads on Site B, where 50 in every 100 ads was clicked, wouldn't the advertiser pay more per ad viewed on Site B, because viewing was more beneficial?

    Is advertising truly paid based on such percentages? Or is it paid based on naked exposures and naked clicks without resorting to fancy percentage formulae?

    (Real question. I have no experience with this.)
    posted by hippybear at 7:02 AM on May 12, 2009


    This is the state we already have. I went to see Star Trek and the first half-hour in the theater was raw advertisements. The next twenty minutes were previews for movies. None of that stopped them from placing the Nokia advertisement in that scene. Why would it?

    It's what the market will bear. If the majority of viewers will put up with half an hour of ads before a film and product placements throughout the film, that's what the studios will put in.

    It doesn't matter whether the ad revenue was strictly needed. Studios are in the business of maximising profits, so things that aren't specifically marketed to "anti-consumerist" demographics (think by-the-numbers indie films, Michael Moore polemics, &c.) come slathered with ads and product placements that Joe Sixpack has been conditioned to eat up. Joe Sixpack, the hypothetical model consumer the films are pitched at, doesn't care about "authenticity" or "artistic integrity" or the auteur's vision or any such; he wants an exciting plot, bar-raising special effects, and above all, the hottest stars in the lead roles. Of course, since Brad Pitt has a monopoly on being Brad Pitt, he gets to name his price, which further pushes up the production cost of films (a big chunk of which is stars' salaries), sp after all, they do need to sell as many ads and product placements as the market will bear to recoup that money.
    posted by acb at 7:24 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    XQUZYPHYR: "Of course, another great example might be to look at the Penny Arcade website- I am led to believe they know a little something about web trends- and notice how their ad sales forbids the use of animated GIFS, noise, or popups. And as such, I feel like very few people find a need to block ads on that website."

    Penny-arcade arrived at where they are by daftly driving first to the brink of oblivion. At one point they had placed their webcomic with eFront, and managed to get themselves into a situation where they might no longer own the comic archive. eFront's ICQ log record reveals that a number of webmasters were pushed to embed advertising into their text, before the owner fled from tax evasion charges during the .com burst.

    In response to the memories of that time, they're pursued a wide diversity of revenue streams to never be so beholden to advertisers again. They say that every ad is approved of before running, and that they only advertise what they would personally feel comfortable recommending. But this is also what someone called out on eFront's astroturfing policy might say.
    posted by pwnguin at 7:30 AM on May 12, 2009


    acb: That's my point. It's senseless to argue that by putting up with product placement that we are somehow reaching a diplomatic agreement that advertisers will not show other ads as well.

    There is no agreement being sought. Advertisers are ruthless and amoral. They're about as close to rational actors as you can get. Whatever they can do they will do, as often as physically possible.
    posted by odinsdream at 7:33 AM on May 12, 2009


    which further pushes up the production cost of films (a big chunk of which is stars' salaries), sp after all, they do need to sell as many ads and product placements as the market will bear to recoup that money.

    FWIW, while there is up-front money, a great chunk of star salaries are made-up on the back-end, through gross boxoffice receipts as well as secondary distribution channels, such as rentals, PPV, etc. The ads you see prior to a movie in a theater are largely income streams for the theater chains and distributors.
    posted by Thorzdad at 7:41 AM on May 12, 2009


    Yay! I apparently trolled successfully! - Well, not purposely, but it was a late night slaving away over the code and I was feeling pretty grumpy.

    But, really a large part of my point is this, if you dislike how current advertising funded sites look and act, vote with your feet. I would be all for a plugin that was called AdSiteBlock. You'd go to visit a site, and if it had obnoxious ads, you'd get one of those malware style warnings (take me away!).

    Incidentally, the largest and most successful business on the internet got it's start catering to just this audience. Remember, google didn't win the search wars just because it had better search (although, it did), but it also presented the results in a simple streamlined format; complete with the most successful internet ad format of all time, the TextAd.

    There is no black and white here. I wouldn't consider closing your eyes during television commercials to be a C class felony. But, when TiVo came out, and then cable DVR's hit mass market adoption, it did become clear that something was going to have to give.

    Now I watch most of my network based shows on Hulu, and *gasp*, I don't even take my laptop in with my if I have to go potty during one of the commercial breaks!

    You want an internet that is less tacky, higher signal to noise, and calmer? So do I. Go, use AdBlock to figure out which websites have obnoxious ads, and then leave and do not come back. Enough of you do this, and maybe the content producers will tone it down.
    posted by PissOnYourParade at 8:13 AM on May 12, 2009


    The ads you see prior to a movie in a theater are largely income streams for the theater chains and distributors.

    Whose expenses are buying/licensing the films to show, whose cost factors in the cost of production, a big chunk of which is the need to have A-list names in the cast.
    posted by acb at 8:15 AM on May 12, 2009


    acb: Much of which is covered by the $12 tickets and $7 popcorn, i.e. actually selling things to actual consumers.
    posted by Sys Rq at 8:45 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So ABP steps it up a notch and downloads the file directly to /dev/null

    So they make it an applet which sends back a hash of some sort in order to get the content you really want to see.
    posted by oaf at 10:14 AM on May 12, 2009


    Yes, it is an arms race of sorts, but there is a line you can't cross, where you make the site worse for your legit users to use.
    posted by smackfu at 10:33 AM on May 12, 2009


    If only that were true. DVD and BluRay are examples of more-or-less successful technologies that make the experience worse for users in an attempt to subvert freeloaders: adverts that can't be skipped, content that won't play without a dedicated end-to-end "secure" pathway and so on.

    There is a limit, but it isn't "worse for legit users" it's "as far as all your competitors will go, and not much further". That's a limit that can easily change for the worse.

    If only there were some way to put that DVD in my computer and separate the content I want from what I don't.

    Indeed, but I think this is my point. It used to be we could skip adverts without leaving the couch, with a couple of button presses. Now, because of the escalating technology war, we have to go over to a computer, spend considerable time separating the content and so on to achieve the same effect. People who watch films on TV via a dedicated player/console have effectively lost the ability to skip adverts, since the trouble of attempting far outweighs the couple of minutes spent just letting them play.

    For the same war to begin with ad blocking would be counter-productive for everyone involved.
    posted by fightorflight at 11:44 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    "It does sound like there needs to be some amount of dialogue with the online advertising community about their malware and drive-by installation practices."

    No, a "dialogue" is not going to work. Are you kidding? Regulation might work, if it has teeth.

    "It's pretty fucking blind to the actual issues at hand, and at best signifies the same attitude that a malignant cancer cell takes within the human body: this is MY food, this is MY blood, fuck the rest of you cells if you can't deal with it."

    As long as advertisers take the "fuck you" attitude to the general public, then fuck them. The cancer is not where you're looking.
    posted by krinklyfig at 12:21 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    "You want an internet that is less tacky, higher signal to noise, and calmer? So do I. Go, use AdBlock to figure out which websites have obnoxious ads, and then leave and do not come back. Enough of you do this, and maybe the content producers will tone it down."

    Take your guilt trip and shove it. Your sanctimonious preaching about revenue and content is getting you nowhere.

    The web will not be a better place if we pretend like all these websites are doing us a favor. Come up with a revenue model that works, and in the meantime, I'll do what works for me.
    posted by krinklyfig at 12:41 PM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


    krinklyfig: it is a bit shocking to read you say that "in the meantime, [you'll] do what works for [you]" without a seeming thought toward perhaps maybe "in the meantime, I'll find models I find sustainable and will actively seek to help them succeed in a marketplace full of shysters and ne'er-do-wells". It suggests that perhaps you are content that those who generate content you find useful to languish without financial support of any kind that you might possibly generate.

    Or did you mean the first, and were simply clumsy with your communication? I'd love to know of any good alternative programs for supporting content-generators which exist out there.
    posted by hippybear at 1:44 PM on May 12, 2009


    Donations maybe?
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:47 PM on May 12, 2009


    I'd love to know of any good alternative programs for supporting content-generators which exist out there.

    "Other people's money."
    posted by smackfu at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2009


    OSNews asks adblock users to whitelist the site. The response is pretty positive.
    posted by boo_radley at 2:12 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    oaf: "So [advertisers that want to detect adblocking] make it an applet which sends back a hash of some sort in order to get the content you really want to see."

    This wouldn't work either. You could just design a AdBlockNePlusUltra that performed the hash and sent it back, but just never displayed the ad on the page. Hell, you could render the page twice, if you really wanted to; one without ads and one with ads, but just never display the "with ads" one to the user. It would be expressly for the purpose of spoofing to the website that the ads had been shown.

    If I were designing it, I'd have the plugin work like a standard (pre-load block) adblocker initially, but then have a "increase sneakiness" button that the user could press if they didn't get the content they wanted. That would trigger a stealth-adblocking mode that downloaded everything and made all the normal back-and-forth traffic, but blocked the ads at the display level rather than pre-load.

    Fundamentally this is a problem very much like DRM; short of a "trusted computing" environment, you can't verify what the user's machine is doing with the page it downloads. Plus, many of the anti-adblocking measures a site might take would break handicapped-accessibility guidelines.


    Back to the broad point: I agree with the many other people who have said that it's not possible to 'negotiate' with advertisers. It's stupid to look for 'fair adblocking,' since they are not looking for 'fair advertising' in the first place. They are looking for revenue maximization. They are looking for eyeballs, and they're going to do whatever is legal, technically feasible, and cost-effective to get them. If they could make an ad that literally jumped out of your screen and skull-fucked you before shitting on your keyboard, kicking your dog, and screaming "you ugly fatass, buy akai berries!" it would get made. Someone would do it.

    There's not some risk of some far-off future arms race; the war is already going on. It's been going on for years. Web ads started off as static banners in obnoxiously bright colors; then they became animated; then they added sounds; then they morphed into popups and popunders; then they started simulating system dialog boxes. God knows what they do now, because I blocked them and stopped paying attention. I'd be a bit surprised if they don't actually fuck you in the eye sockets with some sort of giant automated phallus. (Maybe Adobe is saving that for the next version of Flash.) But I have no problem playing hardball in terms of ad blocking, when it's abundantly clear that advertisers have collectively been abusing every bit of technology they could get their dirty paws on for years. It's about time we took the fight to them.

    Moreover, I remember the internet before advertising became the dominant funding model, and it wasn't a bad place. It's true that there aren't any alternatives to advertising right now, but there won't ever be if we just refuse to challenge the ad-based model. I actually suspect that had the web not become very suddenly commercialized and overrun with ads, we might have filled the vacuum with a working micropayments scheme.* But the advertising model was easier to implement and took off. The legions of people who got on the web after this point, and never saw the early web, can be forgiven for thinking that it never existed without ads plastered over every free pixel. But they're wrong, and it could have been different.

    * It's worth remembering that PayPal — now a behemoth — was created to fill a relatively trivial need: paying for online-auction purchases without sending money orders or checks through the mail. Had online advertising flopped back at the beginning, due to built-in ad blocking in one of the early versions of IE or Netscape perhaps, there would have been a much greater demand for a "tip jar" or other micropayment system than there ever was for PayPal. I think you would have seen lots of companies rush to try and fill the void. If ad blocking ever does become ubiquitous enough that it destroys online advertising, or if the majority of online advertisers one day decide that web ads just aren't worth their money, there will pretty quickly be renewed demand for an alternative method of bankrolling web sites.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 2:27 PM on May 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


    "So they make it an applet which sends back a hash of some sort in order to get the content you really want to see."

    It comes down to the fundamental fact that you can't trust the client. The ultimate iteration of any anti-antiABP plugin is ABP runs two rendering engines, the output of one is displayed on /dev/null and made available to the input of the other which is filtered by the ABP ruleset and displayed on my monitor. Any back and forth between the ads being shown and the server is sandboxed in the the first render engine and the people running ABP don't see the content they want to miss. This escalation is bad for both parties as it cost them both bandwidth.

    Or on delayed preview: Ya, what Kadin2048 said
    posted by Mitheral at 4:54 PM on May 12, 2009


    Mitheral, Kadin2048: It's not even clear who you're disagreeing with now. Nobody in this thread has ever said that anti-adblocking would be perfect, just that it would be possible to try, and that would inevitably lead to an escalating technology war in which both sides would be losers. (And that war hasn't begun yet Kadin2048, because you can easily "block them and stop paying attention". It's not going a war of advertising we're talking about, but one of ad-blocking.)

    On your larger point Kadin2048, I too remember the appearance of advertising on the net. At the time, it was seen as the great answer to the question of how we were going to pay for professional content. Advertising was a great panacea that would allow us to avoid paywalls/micropayments and help us all to get access to free stuff. It was this promise that led to newspapers cutting their own throats, for a start.

    If adblocking becomes commonplace, it's going to be an admission that this model has failed, and we're going to have to start paying for content and seeing paywalls everywhere. That would, on balance, be worse overall I suspect. I also think it would lead to another technical battle, as people republished or tried to route around the paywalls, and sites fought back.

    The proposal on the table is that we allow sites that depend on advertising to make an unobtrusive plea to frequent users that they consider viewing the advertising that supports the content they presumably enjoy. If the alternatives are either an adblocking war or the return of paywalls, I think it's at least worth consideration.
    posted by fightorflight at 5:30 PM on May 12, 2009


    Sites that depend on advertising can already make an unobtrusive plea to frequent users not to block advertising on their sites. They don't need help from ad-blocking software to do that.
    posted by flabdablet at 6:07 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Not that doing so will help them much. It stands to reason that people who habitually run ad blockers != people who respond to web ads, and that this must get accounted for in any workable advertising payment rate calculation in a way that makes the use or not of ad blockers moot.
    posted by flabdablet at 6:11 PM on May 12, 2009


    If adblocking becomes commonplace, it's going to be an admission that this model has failed, and we're going to have to start paying for content and seeing paywalls everywhere. That would, on balance, be worse overall I suspect.

    That's valid. I'm not sure I agree with it, but with that as a premise I can see where you're coming from.

    Personally I was never all that enthused about internet advertising, and I was hopeful back in that era that some solution could be developed for non-giveaway content that involved secure, optionally-anonymous micropayments, so users could see and decide whether or not to pay the true costs associated with it. (I was a big fan of David Chaum and DigiCash back in the day.)

    But we never went down this route; instead ads became dominant, and both the cost and value of the information services users interact with every day have been hidden from them. The major downside now is that, with users accustomed to "free" content — which really means 'content paid for by someone else' — it's going to be harder to get a micropayment economy going than it would have been in the early 90s.

    I guess we'll just see how things shake out during the next few years.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 6:15 PM on May 12, 2009


    Come up with a revenue model that works, and in the meantime, I'll do what works for me.

    Except the current revenue model already works for many, many sites, and for many, many advertisers. The sky isn't falling over here in content producer land because of Ad-block Plus and lots of advertisers are making great money from their ads every single day.

    Really, the only sites right now at least that I see this being a crippling issue for are those that cater to the tech crowd. Maybe that changes down the road if ad blocking becomes more prevalent, but at the moment it's just not that big a deal for most people I know making a living owning and producing websites. Would it be nice if nobody used Adblock and I made more money, well sure I guess, but we're only talking about a few percent bump in income here, if that.
    posted by imabanana at 6:53 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    You could just design a AdBlockNePlusUltra that performed the hash and sent it back, but just never displayed the ad on the page.

    You couldn't do this without copying the code from the applet. Nobody would be able to distribute this hypothetical app, because it would be a derivative work of proprietary code.

    Hell, you could render the page twice, if you really wanted to; one without ads and one with ads, but just never display the "with ads" one to the user.

    No, because in order to be sent to the URL of the content you want, you have to view the applet, which is showing you the ad. If you get to the content, I've already shown you the ad.

    It's pretty trivial to make it so that you can't skip the ad without breaking the law.

    Please note that I do not advocate this sort of thing.
    posted by oaf at 7:01 PM on May 12, 2009


    Really, the only sites right now at least that I see this being a crippling issue for are those that cater to the tech crowd.

    I know the Ars Technica guys basically say "don't block ads on our site", and if people discuss doing it, they get banned. As a practical matter, this just means people don't discuss it.
    posted by smackfu at 7:24 PM on May 12, 2009


    I didn't read the whole thread, did anyone mention the plug-in everybody is going to switch to?
    posted by Mr_Zero at 10:33 PM on May 12, 2009


    If adblocking becomes commonplace, it's going to be an admission that this model has failed, and we're going to have to start paying for content and seeing paywalls everywhere.

    On a tangent: I think we need another word for paywall. How about "billgate"?
    posted by acb at 1:59 AM on May 13, 2009


    I prefer "cash-sphincter".
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:42 AM on May 13, 2009


    I can't remember the last advert I saw on the web. And I don't use adblock. I can remember literally one advert in the past fortnight (and I'm a heavy net user) - that's because it was annoying enough to make a noise. I have no idea what it was for. And the only reason I'd want to know is to avoid buying anything from that group.

    In short, I don't care. I block popups. They are things I need to do something about. But if by leaving adblock off I can siphon money from advertisers who I don't like to sites I do, I don't care. In fact all advertisers (other than Google Adwords which I've even bought things through) shoud probably be encouraging me to run adblock as they are just wasting their money otherwise.
    posted by Francis at 5:52 AM on May 13, 2009


    So much misinformation and paranoid assumption going on in this thread.
    And what advertiser wouldn't use that? Which means the ad-block software would toss up multiple popups for every page loaded, one per advertiser. That's worse than pop-behinds.
    ...
    I cannot see how this won't just result in every major website adding that meta tag to their pages. I would think that 99% of content providers would say their ads are not intrusive, and we'd just end up needing a new filter for the ad-nagging.
    Guys. Read the actual proposal - generally a sound policy before spouting off. Advertisers wouldn't be communicating this in their pages, content publishers would. Adblock's choices will always hinge on the originating site in any case.

    The idea that there will be 'multiple nags per page' or that you'll be otherwise besieged by nags is plainly wrong. If you're an adblock filter list user, you'll initially see no ads per normal. If and only if you visit a given site repeatedly, Adblock will eventually act on the 'my ads aren't intrusive' tag and prompt you. Once. You can ask it to ask you some other time. You can agree to not block the given site - and preview how it looks first. Or you can leave things blocked and never be bothered on behalf of that site again.

    Not really that hard to understand (or so I thought). And quite reasonable - if you visit a site repeatedly and benefit from its content, is it really going to fucking kill you to deal with a one-time nag which essentially is the publisher saying "You have repeatedly made use of this resource I provide - how bout if you do something really freakin' easy to make sure I get some coin for it?"
    posted by blackberet at 10:19 AM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Are we having a go at creating the thread with the highest use of "fuck," "fucking," and things like, "Are you fucking totally batshit insane?" Stay classy, kids.

    I thank the ranters, insulters, intolerant and profane; I can at times too feel too cranky and old, but the scorched-earth crowd's made me feel pretty healthy.

    I go to lotsa sites. At times the ads irk me a teensy bit, for about 4/10ths of a second. Somehow I find the will to go on.
    posted by ambient2 at 2:16 PM on May 13, 2009


    "krinklyfig: it is a bit shocking to read you say that 'in the meantime, [you'll] do what works for [you]' without a seeming thought toward perhaps maybe 'in the meantime, I'll find models I find sustainable and will actively seek to help them succeed in a marketplace full of shysters and ne'er-do-wells'. It suggests that perhaps you are content that those who generate content you find useful to languish without financial support of any kind that you might possibly generate."

    Not sure if you're still following this, but to respond ... It's not my responsibility to invent a revenue model for the content providers. The way it's currently working is something of a nuisance, and sometimes dangerous. Also, FYI, I run FreeBSD, and the Flash support lags way behind and is not native (is Linux based, which has to be implemented through compatibility, since Adobe doesn't port it to FreeBSD). Many Flash banners actually crash my browser, so I set a permanent filter of Flash blocked. I also block some of the more nefarious ad companies. I don't indiscriminately block all ads, however. Blocking Flash takes care of most of the technical issues.

    However, this is my browser, this is my connection, and it's not up to the content providers what I choose to see in my browser over my connection. That would presume that people with disabilities should have no control, or that we shouldn't be able to use Lynx or w3m (text browsers). That's silly. I'm more than happy to support creators of many different types of work, including journalism. I feel no obligation to their advertisers, however, particularly if they are obnoxious. If this model isn't working for them, trying to guilt people into unblocking ads like you're doing with me is a fool's game. I don't have any sort of agreement with the content providers to display their page with all the advertising, and I have no moral obligation to justify anything to you. Most of the time, if the ads aren't Flash, I'm not blocking them at all (well, except Google Analytics, which is very slow and causes pages to hang). But it's not up to them. Hell, I'm not circumventing copyright here, and I'm not even trying to undermine their current revenue models, though honestly the content provider's business model is not something I should have to worry about; I'm just choosing what works for me, meaning, don't crash my browser and chances are I won't block your ad. Pretty simple. I don't expect the advertisers to understand the minutae of my particular technical issues, as they don't even see FreeBSD in their demographics, but then again, I need to handle those issues the best way I can, and I don't miss Flash.

    But, like I said, I don't have to justify this to you. Since you seemed to want further explanation, fine, here it is. But guilt trips aren't convincing and are probably counter-productive. If you personally really want to help the providers of content, then work in marketing/technical where you can make a difference, or come up with a better model. The way you're going about it in this thread is not going to have any beneficial effect.
    posted by krinklyfig at 10:21 AM on May 14, 2009


    I don't want to make a judgement either way, but do wonder about "I don't have any sort of agreement with the content providers". Legally, of course you're right. But surely there's some sort of quid pro quo understanding that the content you frequently enjoy (which is the type that's really at issue here) is only being provided to you free of charge because there's advertising footing the bill?

    There are plenty of real-world parallels I can think of -- the take-a-penny bowl and piles of free newspapers pop to mind: now sure, you can fill your pockets with taken pennies and fill your house with every copy of every free newspaper in town and not feel a moment's guilt or step even slightly outside the law. But is that fully moral behaviour? I'm not convinced it's as clear-cut as you suggest.
    posted by fightorflight at 12:39 PM on May 14, 2009


    "I don't want to make a judgement either way, but do wonder about 'I don't have any sort of agreement with the content providers'. Legally, of course you're right. But surely there's some sort of quid pro quo understanding that the content you frequently enjoy (which is the type that's really at issue here) is only being provided to you free of charge because there's advertising footing the bill?"

    Does that mean that I am violating some sort of social contract with them by using Lynx (text browser) or FreeBSD without Flash? Because if that's the case, sorry, can't really sympathize. Talk to Adobe, who have yet to provide a FreeBSD port of Flash. I block Flash because the Linux port is buggy and crashes Firefox, not necessarily for any moral reason. They could always use text ads or even gif banners, and I'll see them.

    OTA television and even paid TV is supported through advertising. Am I obligated to sit through the commercials attentively? Because that's what we're really talking about. I don't feel I'm obligated, but maybe your ethical system tells you that you need to view every cash4gold ad, just to make sure you're not a freeloader. That's fine, but I can't share your level of concern.
    posted by krinklyfig at 1:43 PM on May 14, 2009


    Does that mean that I am violating some sort of social contract with them by using Lynx (text browser) or FreeBSD without Flash?
    No, no more than you are only reading the big text on the free newspaper because you're partially sighted.

    Am I obligated to sit through the commercials attentively?
    Again, no, because those advertising on television are aware that many people will change channel during commercials, or mute the sound, or otherwise drift off. They tailor the adverts to try and keep your attention, but the figures they expect for the efficacy of TV advertising take account of people choosing not to watch. However ...

    Because that's what we're really talking about.
    I see your analogy, but I don't think this is what we're talking about, this is on a much larger scale than your other examples. What we're talking about isn't making a cup of coffee in the ad break, we're talking about an easily distributed system of entirely blocking all advertising content -- as if we were giving away tivo boxes that did nothing except block the TV adverts, and encouraging everyone to use them because "TV needs to get a business model that means I still get the content, but in a way that doesn't annoy me"

    To be clearer than I was earlier, I don't want any of this to imply that I'm at all criticising what you personally do -- I think we're quite similar there, in that I too use Flash block (Mac Flash is awful and a drain on the batteries). I'm just not yet convinced that I have absolutely no moral obligations to the free sites I visit because of it.

    When I become aware that a tragedy of the commons is a possibility, it might still make sense for me to take my entire flock down to graze, but I wouldn't think I was completely morally right to do so. It seems more ambiguous than that.
    posted by fightorflight at 2:05 PM on May 14, 2009


    "To be clearer than I was earlier, I don't want any of this to imply that I'm at all criticising what you personally do -- I think we're quite similar there, in that I too use Flash block (Mac Flash is awful and a drain on the batteries). I'm just not yet convinced that I have absolutely no moral obligations to the free sites I visit because of it. "

    That's fine. Do not foist your moral dilemmas on me. Trying to guilt people into what you feel is acceptable behavior is not productive.

    A lot of the content providers and marketers feel that the open nature of the internet is a problem, and they wish to take more control over the user's experience and browser (e.g., that an add-on like Ad Block is somehow circumventing their intentions and paychecks, as if I owe someone a living by visiting their openly-accessible website). This is the wrong way to look at the issue. Savvy users always seek to control their own experience. You can advocate being a willful fool, but I am not about to cede my choice in the name of marketing dollars. This is not a cause which needs the bandwagon you're trying to start up. This is only a temporary problem while the definition of media and content are in flux. In the meantime, I will not lose any sleep over how the content providers are desperately trying to come to terms with the fact that their old business models aren't relevant anymore. The sooner they come to terms with this, the faster we'll get to a workable solution. The solution won't come from people who whine on website forums that I owe website advertisers my time and attention.
    posted by krinklyfig at 8:16 PM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I obviously wasn't clear enough: I'm not trying to guilt you into anything. At most I was just trying to highlight that while your moral issues may be starkly black-and-white for you, for similar people they're at least shades of gray.

    I'm not trying to start a bandwagon, or whine at you to turn on adverts. I agree that this is only a temporary problem. My key point is that you/we may like the solution even less. You don't owe your favorite websites your time or attention -- but equally, they don't owe you their content.
    posted by fightorflight at 4:31 AM on May 15, 2009


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