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The Dangers of Ad Blocking

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 13 3:13 am
by Psychotic
AdBlock and other tools like it are a pretty common staple on the internet these days. People who use Google, Facebook, reddit, tumblr, Twitter and all the rest hate to see adverts popping up in their way, but is the simple banner ad all that harmful to you versus the act of blocking ads?

AdBlock Plus was released in late 2006 in an effort to block potentially harmful ads and ads that are incredibly intrusive such as pop-ups, pop-unders and anything animated.

Shortly after the advent and rise in usage the act of using more intrusive methods of ad campaigning died off and only a few, low-budget, low-quality websites still use these techniques today.

By 2013 most popular, respectable websites do not use pop-ups, pop-unders or other script-heavy exercises in pain. At most we will get a video that auto-runs in the background, which is annoying enough, but nothing in comparison to what we used to have.

Website owners and designers understand that people don't want these intrusive ads, and we're far more likely to leave if we get them, but is ad blocking really necessary now? So long as websites continue to shy away from intrusive forms of adverts I don't see a huge issue with them, and therefore I do not use AdBlock on sites I use often and trust.

The problem I see with AdBlock and tools like it is that AdBlock is a tool that has only risen in popularity, and will only continue to rise. People do not like ads and there's not likely going to be a time when people do, regardless of how we need them, and other methods of making revenue could be construed as kneejerk and unfair.

To combat blocking The Daily Telegraph and The New York Times actively block many articles from their standard site. They put a lot of articles behind a paywall, so if you want to read more you have to pay. This works well enough for them but I'm not convinced it would work well for social networks like reddit, Facebook or even YouTube, nor am I convinced it would work for niche websites such as Penny-Arcade or Rock Paper Shotgun.

Ads are a necessary evil, but people don't understand why. Website owners don't necessarily make a lot of money from their ad space, particularly if they're not making millions. Most websites make enough money to actively pay for their websites upkeep, but not to pay their own bills. Not all websites have Facebook's level of activity, and so we shouldn't expect them to add paywall-like services, but I feel this is exactly what might happen.

Ad revenue tends to be made for those who don't know or don't use AdBlock. Eventually, if enough people used AdBlock, they will charge you for their services. I don't want this, and I don't think any advocate of AdBlock wants this and being that AdBlock users don't tend to decrease much, I feel this is a very possible problem.

People argue that ad blocking is a good way to boycott websites of ad revenue by telling them to make stronger content but this is a poor argument. Quality control is marked by how many views an article gets. Quality is and has always been King in the world of the web. If your content is poor people will stop reading it. It has nothing to do with the ads on display. Same applies for television, radio stations and newspapers, all who have ads that people dislike but put up with.

Boycotting of a service happens naturally when people don't like the service provided, not because it has ads. These might have been reasons before when we had intrusive pop-ups but not today on a web that knows not to use them.

The web is the only service where we can reliably block ads, and it's incredibly easy, too. We can walk away from a television set or radio station but the ads are always there. An inconvenience we always have to put up with. Newpaper ads are more like website ads in that we can simply ignore them, but people refuse to do this for websites because they know they don't have to.

I believe that if a time comes when websites start offering subscription-based services for their basic levels of content, people will feel incredibly "betrayed" and will likely lash out completely enraged. They would eventually accept this inevitability (just like how the gaming community adapted to Steam) but the public backlash would be huge until we do.

I would be quite annoyed and frustrated at such an act but hardly surprised. I wasn't surprised when The New York Times did it, because they were perfectly justified in their response. The content they provide costs them to produce, and people were getting it all for free.

Ultimately, I feel there's no such thing as a free lunch. Even The Pirate Bay needs to make money at some point. What will people do when it can't? Complain like the millions about their sense of entitlement, how they deserve this lunch for free?

We should all be incredibly thankful we only require ads to see most of our content, even the annoying 10-20 second ones on YouTube. If that's all it costs then I am thankful, for that's a cheap price to pay compared to the alternatives.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 13 6:55 am
by Alex
AdBlock Plus already implemented a thing called Acceptable Ads Whitelist ( ), they have agreements with websites that agree only to display ads in a non-intrusive way (see list here https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus. ... nrules.txt ). This option is enabled by default, so should work pretty good, as most don't disable it. I at least didn't, nor will I in the future.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 13 8:59 am
by Psychotic
Interesting feature, one I wasn't aware about before. I'm glad someone added something like this, particularly because the off-shoot is campaigning for more awareness of itself. This is a feature I would love to see other, similar tools provide.

The one ads that annoy the hell out of me but I find a double-edged blade are YouTube ads. I don't like them and realise that many of the big names on YouTube have contracts with video networks but most of the money is still gained through ads, and by blocking them I also harm the little man, too.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 13 5:09 pm
by Siva
Magniir wrote:Rock Paper Shotgun.

It's okay you don't want to read that anyway.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 13 5:46 pm
by Psychotic
Siva wrote:
Magniir wrote:Rock Paper Shotgun.

It's okay you don't want to read that anyway.

Hah, too true, too true.

Re: The Dangers of Ad Blocking

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 15 2:32 am
by Siva
Good point in the OP btw, I have recently given up any form of attempting to 'pre-borrow' time from reality, be it adblock, torrenting to 'demo' games, or any of that sort of shit. If I can't afford the resource it takes to access the object, I don't need the object, do I?