Adblock Plus and (a little) more

An approach to fair ad blocking - Feedback summary · 2009-05-13 15:41 by Wladimir Palant

I got more than 200 comments in two days to my controversial proposal to occasionally suggest Adblock Plus users to whitelist frequently visited sites. Given that it was a lengthy text and many users came from sites that “compressed” it, the feedback was surprisingly useful (and only few people accusing me of deciding everything without asking users on a blog post that asks users for their opinions). I will try to summarize the important results:

  • A significant proportion of the commenters is opposed to ads in general, no matter whether they are annoying and no matter what effect this will have on the sites they visit (only a few mentioned technical limitations like bandwidth restrictions as the reason). These were mostly the same commenters who felt that a feature like this is unnecessary or would go against the purpose of Adblock Plus. This is not very surprising given the sites that linked to this article but it convinced me even more that I shouldn’t be getting into any of this with just wild guesses on what the overall Adblock Plus community thinks. This means that most likely Adblock Plus 1.1 will ask a few users whether they would like to participate in a poll. There will be some questions on how people use Adblock Plus and what their general opinion on ads / acceptable ads is. Regardless on whether the idea currently under discussion will be implemented, having this information will be very useful.
  • There was a large concern about the notification being too annoying/showing up too often. That was mostly because originally I didn’t make it clear enough in my proposal that the notification wouldn’t show up each time the user opened a page. After reading the comments I realized that it is better to even explicitly limit the frequency of this notification across all sites — e.g. to once a week.
  • There were many voices suggesting that the meta tag is a useless element in the proposal. The general concern is that such a meta tag would just be used on all webpages without spending time on improving advertising — simply because it still increases webmaster’s income slightly while less annoying advertising will currently significantly decrease it. There were some commenters who suggested to simply show the question on all frequently visited websites and I tend to agree now.
  • Something that was established pretty early in the discussion is the fact that opting out of this feature should be easy (especially if it is shown for all frequently visited websites). Some commenters even suggested that this feature should be opt-in but that would defeat its purpose because it is targeted at users who won’t change any options on their own.
  • There were some suggestions to notify webmasters on how their sites are doing. On the technical side, the decisions would have to be sent to which would count them (no further data stored, not even in web server logs) and forward to the website in question at the end of the day. There are still big privacy concerns here, this needs much more thought if implemented.
  • There was some feedback on the notification message itself, mostly on the fact that it should be shorter. I think everybody agrees on that but shortening it without loosing important information or introducing ambiguities seems pretty hard. Another suggestion was dropping “Ask me later” button (which has the same semantics as closing the notification) in favor of a “Yes, please” button — accept the question without having to go through the preview phase.
  • There were some suggestions to allow personalizing the message, e.g. by including webmaster’s name or considering a link to a donations/subscriptions page. There was another comment mentioning that this might cause security issues (spoofing, obscene language, linking Adblock Plus users to malware sites) so I think that this isn’t worth it.
  • Concerning reverting user’s decision, one option that came up was adding “Adblock Plus: Block ads on this page again” to the context menu on sites where Adblock Plus is disabled. This is a useful feature regardless of this proposal, I have put it on the list for Adblock Plus 1.1.
  • Many users would prefer having Adblock Plus block annoying ads only. Unfortunately, this is technically pretty challenging and probably boils down to different sets of filters. While this is under discussion (and was before my proposal already), it requires lots of effort meaning that this certainly isn’t something we will see soon. Another proposal was to limit the number of ads displayed per page. This one cannot be implemented because reliably counting ads isn’t possible from what I can tell and “unreliable” solutions would be open to abuse.


Comment [81]

  1. Jonas · 2009-05-13 16:24 · #

    These suggestions are great, although I do think that the META tag is still valuable.

    1. Many webmasters don’t care if their ads are blocked and would prefer that their users never be hassled. The META tag would allow this to occur (content=allow). This is especially true for individuals who only run Pay-Per-Click ads, which stand to gain no revenue from Ad-Block users whether or not they have Ads turned on or off.

    2. The META tag keeps the burden on the Webmaster to disclose their intents.

    3. AdBlockPlus will have to remember far fewer preferences if it is only concerned with sites using the tag. (adoption will probably be slow)

    4. The META tag probably lowers the amount of processing necessary to determine if Ads are on the page in the first place (ie: just look for that 1 tag, rather than siphoning all the code to see if any of it matches anything in any of the filter lists)

    5. The META tag would be an easily adoptable standard by Ad Blockers running on other browsers.

    In general, I like the idea of creating a standard here that can be used across platforms and that webmasters can uniformly use to protect or, purposefully leave open, their site for Ad Blocking software.

  2. Hubird · 2009-05-13 16:29 · #

    Thanks for the summary, I did not want to have to read through all the posts to get the gist of things.

    As for me personally, I fall into the “opposed to ads in general, no matter whether they are annoying and no matter what effect this will have on the sites they visit” category.

  3. Gerd · 2009-05-13 16:55 · #

    I will not use Adblock Plus Version 1.1 and stick forever with Adblock Plus 1.0.2

  4. neddy · 2009-05-13 17:02 · #

    So Wladimir when do you anticipate releasing a 1.1 dev build?

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    There is a development build already. I have quite a few things on my to-do list however so that you will have to wait some time for a release (which is a good thing because this version currently doesn’t work in any released version of Thunderbird or SeaMonkey, only in nightly builds).

  5. neddy · 2009-05-13 17:05 · #

    oops. i should say when do you expect to release the final 1.1?

  6. LorenzoC · 2009-05-13 17:07 · #

    The more I think of it and the more the idea of an optional “acceptable ads” sounds like nonsense.
    The true nature of advertisement is to expose UNWILLING people to INEVITABLE message.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Really, I heard you the first five times you said that…

  7. Maik · 2009-05-13 17:31 · #

    I think more widespread use of exception rules makes some sort of automatic synchronization feature (hook into Weave/XMarks?) even more important.

    I already add exception rules manually for sites that I like and where the ads aren’t too annoying, but I’m moving between different computers all the time, and making sure the ABP configuration is the same on all machines by hand would get annoying real fast, so I usually don’t bother.

    If using existing synchronization add-ons is too difficult, ABP could do its own synchronization by downloading and uploading a file that contains the user-specific rules and the list of subscriptions to/from a WebDAV server.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Thanks for reminding me, I wanted to check out integrating with Weave a while ago. That hopefully won’t be too problematic.

  8. Jonas · 2009-05-13 18:23 · #

    That’s kinda the idea here – we are letting people know about the ads so they can “willfully” make a decision whether to show them or not on sites they may wish to help stay in business.

  9. Daniel Macer · 2009-05-13 18:50 · #

    Excellent response. Thank you for listening to our concerns.

  10. Mike · 2009-05-13 20:23 · #


    I think the ‘ask’ meta tag is valuable, for many of the reasons that commenter #1 has pointed out. It includes webmasters in the project. It allows AdBlock act as a mediator between users and content providers over what is considered good advertising.

    Is there a way, where, if I opt-in to see a website’s ads, and if they become intrusive, I can opt-out and submit a comment to the website owner? I would like to write something along the lines of:

    I really love your site and would like to support it, but I am blocking your ads because they are [x]animated [ ]intrusive [ ] pop-up, etc.

    We can really use adblock as a forum to decide what is and what is not acceptable advertising. Actual statistics of people re-opting out of ads will make a web owner reconsider the use of annoying advertising, and in turn make advertisers reconsider the design of their ads as well.

    Not only more democratic, this also saves you from the technological nightmare of figuring out how to have adblock ‘tame’ the bad ads.

    Best of luck, and thank you for thinking so deeply about making the web a better place for all of us.


  11. Outcast · 2009-05-13 21:21 · #

    If the user wants to whitelist sites, they would have done it now rather than waiting for an opt-in mechanism. IMO, many users will just simply choose to opt-out once the mechanism is being implemented. Thus implementing it will a be waste of time.

    I will immediately disable this option as soon as it’s implemented in the dev-builds.

    Anyway, Firefox user base is still much smaller compare to IE on the whole. Why the webmasters are feeling so fuck-up about adblocking? Getting 100% traffic revenue for ads seems far-fetched. Do shop-owners expect every visiting customer to make purchases?

  12. pirlouy · 2009-05-13 22:14 · #

    Maybe a button dedicated to support a site with color (or something else) indicators based on numbers of visits.

    (for those which prefers statusbar buttons instead of yellow bar)

  13. zaidgs · 2009-05-13 22:16 · #

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the obvious fact that it is already too easy to unblock a website. The adblock+ icon is by default on the toolbar, and unblocking a website is merely two clicks away.

    My suggestion is this: After Adblock+ has been installed for a week (so as to avoid cases where a ‘friend’ installs adblock+), a prompt shows up advising the user to allow ads on his favorite sites.

    A prompt that goes like this: “Ads are important to the survival of your favorite website. Would you like to learn more about selectively unblocking ads?” (Yes\No\Later). If the user clicks “yes” you send them to a page that describes the simple two-clicks procedure.

    No special tags, no new options, just give the user the information he needs to do what they think is right.

  14. OlsonBW · 2009-05-13 22:18 · #

    I would love to block out ads by content as well as animation.

    Such as, there are certain car companies that at this point would never consider buying a vehicle from and don’t want to see ads about their products. I would mind seeing ads from certain other ones.

    Animated ads should be either blocked or made to show only one frame (it’s the advertiser’s fault if the first frame doesn’t show what their product is).

    If a site has too many or all offensive display (animation) or content then that should also be kept.

  15. Bibe · 2009-05-13 22:53 · #

    I think it’s overkill to decide for every site u visit the first time, just too much trouble. Better make a global white list like a counter to adblocks EasyList that is on by default and can be overridden, maybe even a system to vote down/up some sites.

    It’s better to have more categories of white list’s like:

    uses flash/animated
    no flash only animated
    no animated ads(would be mine)
    text ads only

    The advertising could surely adapt to that and sites that have trouble with adblock could apply for white listing.

  16. Ariel · 2009-05-14 00:30 · #

    I have only quickly scanned the comments to these articles and agree that something needs to be done regarding the current all or nothing approach to ad management. If this has already been suggested, then my apologies for wasting your time.

    Why not do something like more “social” and “Web2.0”-ish.

    I submit the following for your comment.

    Ad Block Plus Community Suggestions Plug-in
    — Voters can suggest new white list items and vote on existing ones
    — users can get prompted about white list items on the suggestion list and can decide whether or not to apply when they are visiting sites.

    webmasters are incentivised to use non intrusive ads, even when a site has both annoying and non-annoying ads the white listed non-annoying ads will be displayed more and generate more income

    the decision to block/unblock remains with the user
    the user gets hints from the community
    the community decides which ads are annoying/intrusive not the site operator.

  17. DevN · 2009-05-14 01:43 · #

    Any solution that involves counting visits to sites, summarizing, and other tabulations will entail a significant hurdle for widespread adoption of ABP. It’s not just the privacy issue, but more needless data collection. As it is too much in is being collected and disseminated without much user control. Going in that direction is certainly a bad move.

    Allowing some ads, no matter what the justification, works contrary to the very reason for ABP to exist.

    When you make two bad moves in one change, it’s called suicidal.

    Trust you’ll make the right choice.

  18. ecjs · 2009-05-14 10:23 · #

    I second comment #17.

    Moreover, this feature without the meta-tag would not involve the webmaster, but only the common user, whom you seem to presume forgets about whitelisting one’s favorite and unobtrusive websites.

  19. Jesse Farmer · 2009-05-14 11:24 · #


    You have a bunch of data about what ads people do and don’t like. There’s a business there. Have you explored the possible strategies around this?

  20. MMM · 2009-05-14 11:47 · #

    Hi! In his summary Wladimir decided to no include another alternative. In danger of repeating myself: I suggest to push the categorisation to the list maintainers, which will then act as a community for (neutral) categorisation of advertising. For example from annoying animated banners to benign text ads. The user has the final decision which categories to block/unblock. What would remain for adblock to do is providing the technical infrastructure.

    In a nutshell: everything would look and feel the same per default, plus users have a better choice over which types of ads to block.

    As others have pointed out it is already very easy to unblock your favourite websites. Just click on the arrow symbol next to the red ABP icon… and your icon becomes green. How easy is that? Well it isn’t, because it is only easy once you know it. After using ABP for years I had to read a Slashdot comment to know about it. I would suggest to sit together with a user interaction designer, perhaps adblock can also benfit from a small UI update.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    This is what the last point of the summary is about…

  21. MMM · 2009-05-14 12:11 · #

    This is what the last point of the summary is about…
    I don’t see that, my suggestion is not technically challenging and doesn’t need different sets of filters. A possible implementation is adding a new numerical field to filter entries, have a default value meaning “no categorisation”. The old filter sets will still work (or can be imported) and filter maintainer can start making use of this addition.

  22. Konrad Adenauer · 2009-05-14 15:13 · #

    As for myself I remove the META tag feature from adblock plus futter versions as soon its inside. I don’t want it and don’t need it. Sure its easy to missuse it with any greasmonkey scripts doing loop reloads on sites with this meta tags.

  23. Anc1 · 2009-05-14 17:26 · #

    I have a monthly limit of 2.5 gb (upload + download), which really sucks. Adblockplus reduces a lot of bandwidth consumed on surfing. Also, I use all kinds of other tools, (noscript and flashblock included) and Most blogs and other stuff I visit, I even disable stylesheets and see them in plain text.

    So maybe for people like me, no ads would be the right thing.


  24. Jay · 2009-05-14 19:08 · #

    It continually amazes me how self-absorbed some people are. We want people to work for us for free! If ads are offensive to you, then A) don’t visit the website or B) support the websites that you visit often with a small sum of money (ideally for ad-free versions).

    ABP is valuable primarily for security reasons (to protect against malicious ad content) and to conserve bandwidth for those who are limited (and yes, believe it or not, there are still dial-up users out there).

    It is appropriate and useful for site users to have a dialog with site publishers about what numbers/types of ads are acceptable. (Ever listen to a radio station which has more ads than music?) Ultimately, publishers need to listen to their customers. But just like someone who eats at a restaurant and then leaves without paying, we have a responsibility to support those who provide us with service. If you don’t like that, then try to start a web service with no income, and see how that works for you. If we want quality content, we need to make it worth someone’s while to produce it.

    On the other side, content publishers need to A) take consumers into consideration, B) make it clear that they are providing a valuable service that requires money to produce, C) make it easy for someone to support them (through ads, merchandise, membership and/or donation (micropayments would help)) and D) engage users in a dialog which will provide valuable feedback, but also serve to educate (or weed out l-) users.

  25. LorenzoC · 2009-05-14 20:54 · #

    I quote another comment from the other post:
    “225 guest · 2009-05-14 17:47 ·
    Congratulations everyone, facebook is rolling out micropayments in the next few weeks and most publishers can’t wait to join the subscription train now that facebook can be directly integrated with their site. Keep ad blocking, screw the ad industry, pay for content.”

    “just like someone who eats at a restaurant and then leaves without paying, we have a responsibility to support those who provide us with service.”

    It continually amazes me how silly people are. The advertisement industry fails because people are so over-saturated by ads that they don’t pay the minimum attention to it. And the more ads the “webmasters” display the less the ads are effective. This means the ads pay very few money the site owners and ultimately the adv-driven-web-business does not work. Of course you don’t see it if you own your own site/blog that you would probably have even without ads and you are just scrapping some plus money. But you do see it when you have to pay BIG money for a costly service like high-traffic Web sites, see Facebook or the newspaper sites. This is the reason why the “restaurants” who serve food good enough so people want pay for it are moving to a subscription service.

    ADBlock does NOT make any difference.

  26. Anonymous · 2009-05-14 20:59 · #

    I’d like to introduce a point you might not have considered yet.

    I set up Firefox and Adblock Plus for a novice computer user. She loves it. However, every time it asks her an unexpected question, I need to help with it. Many other technical people I know provide support for novice users, with similar experiences.

    If you start asking this question by default, you increase the work of anyone doing technical support for novice users. Please don’t do that.

    Adblock Plus works wonderfully. Please don’t break it. Please don’t interpret my comments as “Make the prompts less annoying”; the existence of the prompt at all represents the annoyance.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Actually, that’s something I did think about – because I did “fix” the computer for several people myself. That’s one of the reasons I tried to keep this as simple as possible.

  27. RepInsight · 2009-05-14 21:27 · #

    Jay · 2009-05-14 17:08 · #24

    …But just like someone who eats at a restaurant and then leaves without paying….
    I think you mixed your metaphors here. It’s closer to a restaurant owner standing on the sidewalk and shoving food into the mouths of uninterested passers by and wondering why no one’s welcoming free food but throwing up in disgust instead.

    Advertising, like food, is only palatable in the right quantities, in the right places, and in moderation.

    AdBlock is a response to the failure of webmasters, advertisers, content providers, and everyone else in the whole shoving process.

    The proposed changes to AdBlock is like asking passers by what menu they might like to be shoved with — ignoring the fact that most don’t want anything shoved down no matter how hungry.

    Imagine you are surfing with your mother to find a local doctor, and there in front is a banner ad for a cure for 4-hr erection problem flashing in bright colors.

  28. AllenB · 2009-05-14 21:39 · #

    I believe that this application is already sufficiently fair. I can add or remove blocks at will. I can disable blocks temporary if need be.

    I block adds because they waste my time. And I am of the opinion that using advertisements as a revenue generator is evil. Advertisements as a service are a very different thing, and fleetingly rare.

    Advertisers will over use any thing you give them, it is not in their interest to be ‘fair’.

    I have run into sites that detect the use of adbocking. I am fine with that, I don’t go back to those sites. So I think that if ad sponsored sites think they need to fight back they already have the means to do so.

  29. Jay · 2009-05-14 21:54 · #

    @RepInsight: My analogy translates as: web sites provide us with a service (content). Consumers “pay” either directly (through subscription, donation, merchandise, etc.) or indirectly (by viewing/clicking ads). In the real world, the best analogy is ad-sponsored (i.e., “free”) newspapers. In order to publish, there needs to be some source of revenue, otherwise…nothing.

    Yes, web ads suck (for a variety of reasons, including security, irritation factor, bandwidth) and (like radio/TV ads) if there are too many, users will either block them or go somewhere where there are less of them.

    AdBlock is a response to a response to a problem: how to pay for web services. Blocking one “solution” (web ads) will lead to adoption of another “solution” (subscriptions). Ideally, there would be many solutions available, for each website to use according to its needs/audience. My main issue is the infantilism of many users, who want high quality content for free. Ultimately, services must be paid for by A) ads (the broadcast TV/radio model), B) subscriptions (the cable TV model) or C) ???. The web publishing industry needs to evolve toward a more “professional” approach to revenue generation (coupled with genuine high-quality content), including a better approach to web-based ads (which offer real value to viewers instead of “win a million dollars by plinking the frog”).

  30. Farid H. · 2009-05-14 22:53 · #

    I still think that webmasters should put a textual message on their sites, asking ABP users to please disable filtering to support their site.

    That’s much better than having an invisible meta tag, because it would necessarily draw attention to ABP in particular and ad blocking in general to clueless users who never heard of it before.

  31. RepInsight · 2009-05-14 22:54 · #

    Jay · 2009-05-14 19:54 · # 29
    …AdBlock is a response to a response to a problem: how to pay for web services….


    Sorry, not true. Had it been true, it would have been called AdService, not Adblock.

    Once businesses realize Internet is a public good, not for private plunder, then you will recognize what I’m saying. No user is expecting “high quality content” for free. There is no high quality content for free anywhere. It’s all subscription based, often pre-paid. I have several subscriptions to such services.

    On the other hand, changes to AdBlock as proposed is primarily focused on crappy content that wants to make easy money by shoving crappy ads using a public resource and unsuspecting private investment (in time, privacy, bandwidth, viruses, and untold end-user misery).

    No thanks. You keep shoving, I’ll keep blocking.

  32. Jay · 2009-05-15 00:05 · #


    1. Non sequitur. Reread carefully.

    2. The Internet is a public infrastructure. We are speaking about content, not infrastructure.

    3. No one forces you to view crappy content (with crappy ads), but you do (or you wouldn’t be using ADP, right?). If you do view such crappy content, you should be willing to support it. If you are not willing to support it, DON’T VIEW IT. What you are saying is “I want to view your website, but I don’t want to help you support the costs of it.” This is unfair and disingenuous.

    4. I’m not saying that ad-blocking random websites is inherently wrong. In order to determine if a site is worth viewing and supporting, you need to experience it first. However, to continue to use a site with content that you value without being willing to support it (by some means), is wrong.

  33. MMM · 2009-05-15 00:44 · #

    Amare et sapare vix deo conceditur.

    Jay, nobody forces people to put out content for free. There is no inherent need to “support” a website or you “do something wrong and disingenuous”. Sounds like a very one sided point of view you have.
    Some people are happy to have means of distribution and the possibility of sharing information… twitter, blogs, wikipedia… to name a few. Even the origin of the web is not as commercial as the picture you like to draw. Tim Berners-Lee created a system to exchange and organise information among researchers.

  34. Jay · 2009-05-15 01:20 · #

    MMM, I am familiar with the origins of the Internet and the WWW, and they have nothing to do with the instant topic, which is “Should people block ads on websites which they use frequently?”

    You are speaking from the perspective of a typical user: “I know you are trying to make money (to offset cost or make a profit) from the ads on your site, but I don’t care. I am going to use your site without having my web browser load your ads. Screw you.” You’re trying to argue around that point by bringing in other things (like sites that don’t carry ads, which are clearly irrelevant).

    It all comes back to an issue of fairness (no matter how you may try to colour it differently). No, you don’t have to view the ads. Yes, you should do something to support a site which you use frequently and [obviously] find valuable.

  35. Old Pultney · 2009-05-15 01:30 · #

    @ Jay:

    Sounds like the Internet is just too complicated for you: FREE information interchange for the benefit of the ENTIRE human race.

    If you can’t support a website without people CLICKING on your ads, just take it down. People will go elsewhere. But since most of us would NEVER CLICK an ad, and ad services are typically PAY-PER-CLICK, you wouldn’t get a penny out of me even if I did visit your site AND see all your advertising. I don’t care if it’s flashing ads or Adsense text ads—it’s all junk to me.

    While you’re attempting the high moral ground, perhaps you would like to explain exactly WHO the regulatory body of online advertising is? Who decides what is acceptable and what is even legal? I hate TV advertising, but at least I know it is regulated in my country. If I go to your (presumably US-based) site and I get hit with lots of ads for US-based junk, what relevance is it to me, or the 98% of the rest of the world? Who determines whether you are LEGALLY ALLOWED to advertise Product X to me in a particular manner in my own country? You, Jay? I really think not.

  36. Jay · 2009-05-15 01:54 · #

    Lol. Wow, I’ve struck quite a nerve, haven’t I? No need to be defensive!

    “It all comes back to an issue of fairness (no matter how you may try to colour it differently). No, you don’t have to view the ads. Yes, you should do something to support a site which you use frequently and [obviously] find valuable.”

    FREE information interchange for the benefit of the ENTIRE human race.”

    Question #1: How many websites do you publish “for the benefit of the human race?”

    Question #2: How many hours per week do you spend create quality (non-blog post) content and donating it freely “for the benefit of the human race?”

    “People will go elsewhere.” Yes, they will go to the next free, ad-supported website, until it goes under too.. Ad astra per aspera. Er….

    “Who decides what is acceptable and what is even legal?” Who decides which websites they visit? Oh, you do.

    “If I go to your (presumably US-based) site…” You are presuming I am a website publisher who is trying to make money off of ads, and not just some bloke with an opinion about what is fair and reasonable. Sorry.

    So, basically, we come back round: whiney users who don’t want to be bothered with the very notion of supporting the websites which they frequent. And then they wonder why they have all those stupid ads. Go figure.

    I would love to have a conversation with anyone who disagrees with me and can answer Yes to either Question 1 or Question 2 above.

  37. MMM · 2009-05-15 01:57 · #

    Jay, please don’t put words in my mouth.

    The solution for your problem is easy: stop putting out content for free on a world wide distribution system if you don’t like that people use it for free. You also like to paint a wrong history of internet advertising. In the late 90s when the WWW was not commercialised the first companies discovered this new medium… guess what, as a possibility to make money! Being able to reach a wide audience for little money was amzing. Fast forward a couple of years and most websites are still for free, very few micropayment solution exist and you can argue weather it is the banking industry that is unable to provide the infrastructure or if there is simply no market. In my opinion, blaming people for not having a viable business solution on the Internet sounds not only wrong but you are also looking 180 degrees into the wrong direction.

  38. Jay · 2009-05-15 02:26 · #

    MMM, “Sounds like a very one sided point of view you have.”

    No, actually I am carefully considering all the sides, not just the content consumer, which is all I hear people harping on. If someone wants to publish free, non-ad-supported content, then that is great. Obviously that was the original intention of the Web to begin with. What I am arguing is, first and foremost (and no one seems to be arguing against it, though no one is agreeing, either) that people should support the sites they use. The truth is, generally speaking, people don’t support the sites they use. Railing against ads is just a cover for that behavior.

    You say “the business model is broken.” You’re right. The idea of “build it and they’ll come and then we’ll figure out how to make money off it later” is dead. Youtube lost how much last year? But what would happen if youtube tried to switch to a subscription model? “Hell no, I’ll go start using free site X for video sharing!” Until that one goes under to.

    As a consumer, I want to see high-quality content available on the web. Not all of this content is going to be free. Some of it is going to be ad-supported. If people were saying “Screw that, I’m not going to look at this website because it has ads, I’m going to use another site which is ad-free” I would say “HURRAH FOR YOU!!!” But you notice no one is saying that.

    It would be nice to get beyond this and discuss something actually interesting, like how high-quality content can be provided to consumers in a manner which satisfies all parties involved. But I guess that is not going to happen here.

    So, block away.

  39. John II · 2009-05-15 03:51 · #

    Nice consolidation but changes nothing really.

    1. In the end you will you listen to the majority or do your own thing? That remains to be seen.

    2. It is of course your extension to fiddle with and no doubt it will be forked if you choose your route and if we are lucky the fork will have filter writers as good as Rick was and Ares2 is.

    3. You mentioned taking to newspapers and they were receptive. Of course they are receptive their print editions are dying and you are more then willing to help them make money by allowing their ads online and the more ads the more money they will make. You can not be that dense to see their game plan.

    4. Lets be realistic here. You stand to make some good money catering to advertisers as well as not having to battle other developers like the Noscript dev. You may or may not take advantage of that time will tell.

  40. Brad Hicks · 2009-05-15 04:38 · #

    You’re trying to address a problem that I feel bad about, myself. I do believe in advertiser-supported web content, so every time I add an ABP rule, it’s hesitantly. But I keep getting backed into corners where I feel like I have no choice, and I just don’t see going at it from a content-provider side as opposed to an ad-provider side is going to help.

    I won’t single them out by name, but I will say that one of the biggest two or three ad sellers on the web, is blocked by me. I know that this is bad. But I had to put that rule in after an ad that they approved and sold attempted three times in one day to infect my PC with a virus via a pop-under window that was coded to go around Firefox’s popup blocker. For all I know, I could remove that rule now and go back to paying the salaries of the people who provide content to me. But that would only work up until the next time someone snuck an ad past that company with a mal-ware script.

    As long as ad companies insist that they must have scripting capability, I have to block ads, or else I have to trust that the people who are selling the ads and sticking them into the ad queue are smarter about detecting hacks than the highly motivated criminal hackers are about writing them. And I just can’d do that.

    So, given that content providers sell that space to the advertising companies without any right of pre-screening the ads, and without having the in-house technical expertise to spot malware embedded in ads even if they did, how does giving me the option to let one web page show me ads from potentially-infected adware site “X” while continuing to block ads from potentially-infected adware site “X” on other web pages solve my problem?

  41. ABP User · 2009-05-15 16:30 · #


    I strongly believe that AdBlock Plus should not change it’s behavior one iota as long as advertising on the web is in it’s current state. I will explain briefly.

    Advertising is not something new. It’s used on television, radio, newspapers and billboards quite successfully. Have you stopped to think what has gone wrong online that it is proving to be much more difficult to earn money from advertising? Did you wonder why websites have gone to such lengths to promote ads more than their own content?

    I think the answer lies in the business model in use online. Generally (correct me if I’m wrong) advertisers pay per click, not per display, of their ads. This is very different than the previous model where you paid strictly a fee depending on size / placement. This has led to website owners not earning enough to pay for their service — they simply don’t have a high enough percentage of users clicking. The solution — more ads and more annoying ads.

    Technology has helped the mess we’re in. Since tracking revenue is much more accurate online, they can use such a model. As such ABP users want that technology back — and are using technology to remove those obnoxious ads that they are very unlikely to be interested in at all.

    Take the Super Bowl for example. Advertisers have a high entry cost before they annoy millions of users. As a direct result, ads are well thought out and useful to the demographics watching. People actually watch the games for the ads!

    Therefore, I think that before ABP users concede to webmasters, they must:
    1) Benefit DIRECTLY from annoying us, i.e. pay per view.
    2) This in turn will ensure advertisers have what to offer.
    3) It will ensure advertisers are not splashing ads all over the place. Ads will be limited to pages that turn a profit, which in turn means less ads in general.
    4) Finally, webmasters can use this to earn more money for doing less advertising. They are encouraged to screen advertisers, place better content to attract readers/viewers, and not forced to put ads in the most inconvenient locations.

    I am more than happy to hear your take on this as well as other ABP users. Maybe on totally off the mark.

  42. kdorian · 2009-05-15 19:12 · #

    My, what a great lot of fuss some people are putting into the thought that they might have to – gasp! – click a button to opt out of changing the way AdBlock works on their system.

    I am very much in favor of the proposed changes.

  43. Edmond · 2009-05-15 20:43 · #

    Okay, i am those who are really hate any ads showing on my browser, and i am doing my best to block all ads from my browser to save both data volume and time(for someone using HSPA Internet service, data volume does really matters and i dont want to waste a penny on seeing I’m not intended for).

    I would like to know if the following is possible:
    1. A option for to ‘Total Ban’ such notifications? (means, the flags and the messages will be ignored, by setting in Option page)
    2. Default to ‘No’ when the asking shows.

    And frankly speaking, i don’t think this approach would work as advertisers are greedy, we would then see lots of pages that are asking us to let their pages showing ads.

  44. LorenzoC · 2009-05-16 15:32 · #

    First, it is impossible to tell which ads are “good” and which are “bad”.
    For example, what is worse, an intrusive banner in flashing colors or text ads that are wisely mixed in the page body for camouflaging? The first is obviously recognizable as advertisement, while the second can easily be mistaken by the “not-so-smart” users. See the Noscript page where in the middle of the page body there is:
    Top tip! Click here to check if your drivers are up-to-date!
    sponsored links * Security Events * Car Loans * Search Marketing * Boules de petanque * BPM Software
    Then, besides the technicalities, ads can show different contents. For example I could be MAYBE interested in software while visiting Noscript page but I don’t care of “car loans” or even less “Boules de petanque”. There are sites where you are shown all sort of porn ads. Basically you never know what you may see or read.

    Since you can’t tell what ads are “good”, the “quality” of ads, what remains of all this discussion is merely the QUANTITY of ads that get blocked.

    We are speaking of making it more difficult for ADBlock users to block “automatically” so many ads adding “slow down” tricks like a nag screen that pops up from time to time asking to disable the blocking on that site.

    In my opinion the “begging” meta tag “please do not block my ads” is nonsense. The other options like counting site visits (classical nag screen for shareware) and the bad advertisers list (ADblock decides instead of me) are worrying.

  45. tiik · 2009-05-17 01:44 · #

    I agree with LorenzoC.

    99% of ads is really really annoying .

    Fair ads never happen.
    I think most of adblock+ users hate ads and it is the reason why they install this plugin.

    However you can make a ‘FAIR’ filter for adblock+.

  46. frank · 2009-05-18 15:15 · #

    ab+ = no ads, nothing more nothing less

  47. Bob · 2009-05-18 18:36 · #

    Be prepared for AdBlock to be forked, because too many of us dont want ads. I’m tired of people telling me I have to buy something or that I need something to feel complete. This is not just about revenue its about brainwashing. I dont want any of corporations brainwashing or mindset of what I need to buy to make them rich.

    Part of me wonders, how long it will be before this site gets ads, nothing wrong with making money man, but I think you’ve let it corrupt your opinion now. I couldnt surf the web if I had to see animated, flashing bright colored crap all over the web, nevermind having my CPU slow down because of some flash ad or having my ears blown away by some ad that had sound in it, while I was listening to my music.

  48. Lyx · 2009-05-19 01:39 · #

    What i dislike about the idea of not using the meta-tag and instead using a hard-interval:

    1. I really liked the idea that the webmaster should at least via convention be required, to THINK if his ads really are non-invasive. This to me isn’t so much a matter of if most webmasters will do it properly, but rather a leverage. If a webmaster abuses it, then he has no arguments left. Plus, basing it on personal popularity only is like trial an error – it doesn’t even give a theoretical indication of the invasiveness of ads on a page.

    2. Since this kinda would be an exotic feature, it would expect that only a low amount of websites would care about doing it. To get to the point: “ABP nagging me” is now more a concern to me, than before. I really would like a mode, where ABP would NOT ask me based on a weekly interval, but instead based on my top N websites (with N being something like 10-20) AND only once per website AND at most once per week AND only if a minimum amount of hits is reached.

    In short, my concern here is, that a feature which before was about “whitelisting favorite sites which have non-annoying ads” is turned into a “nag me to whitelist my favorite sites” feature.

  49. Lyx · 2009-05-19 01:50 · #

    P.S.: Part of me wonders, if such a feature perhaps only is ready for primetime, when there is a means available to estimate the amount of ads on the page automatically – i’m not speaking of a super-exact and bulletproof way, but rather a way to make certain that the question almost never appears on sites full of ads in the first place.

  50. Jay · 2009-05-19 19:29 · #

    There should be an option (disabled by default) to allow frequently visited sites to be automatically added to the whitelist. I’d find it much more convenient.

  51. Zach · 2009-05-19 20:18 · #

    I think all this is pretty easily solved. You simply create a rating system for website’s advertising. More advanced users can go through the trouble of rating sites. When you first install AdBlock Plus you subscribe to a blacklist and put a minimum rating a site must meet in order to have their site whitelisted. No more notifications, no more abuse from webmasters, and it solves the problem of some users never wanting to see ads.

  52. doomed · 2009-05-19 20:52 · #

    Interesting article, been using adblock for a while now, mostly as a way to stop site trackers.

    Adblock plus works the way I like it, have had no isses with it at all and would like to congratulate the author on his efforts, because it does seem to block the annoying ads, while seeming to not prevent what I’d call “legitimate” advertisers, anything it doesn’t catch I can easily add myself. I use it for many reasons, one such think is blocking annoying “chat rooms” embedded into websites these days. I go to watch a video and it’s nice to know I don’t have to put up with vulgar conversations and the network load these chat rooms subject you too.

    I look at it this way, I watch TV I expect commercials as I am getting free shows and the TV stations need to make income, with the internet I’m paying $80AU a month
    to my isp, and feel I shouldn’t be subjected to advertising on a service I am paying for. Especially when that advertising is irelevant to me, a company is less likely to get my business if they force pop ups and banners on me. I think the prolem here isn’t AdBlock at all, it’s the advertisers, they don’t want their product blocked then they need to redesign their ads to fit in with peoples surfing habits, not us adapt to “you are the 1 millionth person” crap we get forced upon us.

    When my internet is free, I’ll gladly take the ads pushed at me, until then I’m going for a commercial free ride. Thanks Adblock Plus!

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    You are paying your ISP, websites won’t magically get their share. As I said in the original article, ads are a money distribution mechanism.

  53. ant · 2009-05-20 05:53 · #

    This is a good idea. Most people have reasonable cause to block ads, but there’s a few users that really need their guilt strings pulling once in a while.

    (I don’t use ABP because I don’t have a problem with ads per se, but the one thing I really wish there was an extension for is to just have a simple whitelist for JS and plugins, like the built in ones for cookies/images already do. Everything I’ve tried is either too much or too little… maybe I’ll have to make it myself.)

  54. Breadcultist · 2009-05-20 17:01 · #

    How about an option like ‘allow sites saved in bookmarks’, or ‘allow all sites opened via bookmarks’, like NoScript has?

    Alternatively, I can imagine a program that automagically (upon request) reads through your bookmarks file and adds everything to the Adblock Plus exception list.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    There is – the instructions are outdated however, in Firefox 3.0 you would need to go to Bookmarks / Organize Bookmarks, there click “Import and Backup” and export bookmarks as HTML.

  55. doomed · 2009-05-20 21:21 · #

    “Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    You are paying your ISP, websites won’t magically get their share. As I said in the original article, ads are a money distribution mechanism.”

    Yes this I understand, I am just expressing how I feel when I am just a member of the public surfing on an expensive internet connection. That as I’m paying for the Net, websites need to either find a way to make money, like through merchandise, sellable services on their sites or the “donation” box, or rethink their advertising strategies to be less intrusive.

    As I said, I don’t mind so much “legitimate ads”, but those annoying false advertising “you have already won” pop ups and similar, I as well as most can’t stand. I understand “some” sites need to make revenue, as I own and run several sites myself, but we do not cram our sites down peoples throats, our advertising is small on our own sites, we don’t use pop ups, and any advertising we do have is relevant to our visitors. For example on a music based site we have, there are no ads for games, porn, other irelevant companies, all our advertising is relevant to the people who come to visit us, e.g services musicians can use, or music related products for the public.

    So it’s not that advertising is a bad thing as such, it is often just a poorly executed or inapropriate thing.
    I think you understand what I mean or you’d have Adblock in the recycle bin or have it blocking ALL advertising, not just certain ads and sites.

  56. wetelectric · 2009-05-21 15:58 · #

    How about making it easier to white-list a site. Perhaps put a ‘white-list this site’ option in the context menu?

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Is that significantly easier than the entry in ABP icon menu?

  57. · 2009-05-21 20:06 · #

    I like to hide all unnecessary toolbar and statusbar icons, you should have an option to show ABP in the right-click menu (like NoScript) (you can have this option in about:config if you like) for easy access to “Disable on …”

  58. Mr Man · 2009-05-21 20:20 · #

    There is no way to automate blocking really annoying ads and allowing ok ones. So default blocking everything (and allowing sites you frequently visit) is the solution. But the problem that will arise is that there is a website you want to support, but the ads are really in your face, so you disable the ads.
    Perhaps you should employ a subscription to hide ads using the “ABP Element Hiding Helper” mechanism, and ask the user whether they want to show/hide/block ads for sites they visit often.
    If your reply is that hiding ads is pointless and that most ads are Pay per click, then I’d advise a TrackMeNot style companion extension, that randomly fetchs ad links without displaying them to the user.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    See for an explanation about why this won’t work.

  59. Anti-Consumer · 2009-05-21 23:26 · #

    You are a honourable man in a dishonourable world.

    What makes people click on ads?

    Annoying animated ads work (and always will), if something interesting grabs someones attention, they will click it.
    If a website could read your mind and determine what product you would want, it’s pointless if you don’t see it, however if it were animated…

    You are a bit too idealistic when it comes to advertising:
    Make sure the ads are useful and advertise something your users might actually want.

    I think you’re thinking of like advertising games on a gaming site. With this logic, only toliet roll would be advertised on a toliet roll site. If that occurred, websites would be left without anyone wanting to advertise games on their site, because they already have enough ads on gaming sites. Those websites would then just turn around and say “Sure everyone needs toilet roll”.

    The enemy isn’t the website owner, it’s the advertiser… offering more money to the website owners to display ads that are more likely to be clicked. I guess someone who doesn’t have any ads on his site would understand.

    The website owner wants money and that’s the way it is. The NoScript developer attacked your extension because of money. We can hope that website owners do the honourable thing and ensure that they host only tolerable ads, but they can’t be trusted.

    This system of allowing ads from sites you frequently visit only favours larger sites, it’s the small website that only gets a few hits that some guy is running from his basement that needs ad revenue.

    The reality is that this business model of generating revenue from advertising on websites will fail. Ad blocking software will become commonplace (unless of course a DMCA style anti-adblocking software act is created).
    People without the same ethics as you will install it and forget it.

    Ads R.I.P.

  60. Aryo · 2009-05-22 16:02 · #

    Tbh I would never ever want to see any ads on any site and I most definitely won’t whitelist anything.
    For me this isn’t a moral question but a question of bandwith. My connection is a very slow one and with every ad image/flash that has to be loaded, the important content gets stuck in the pipeline… .

  61. wetelectric · 2009-05-22 16:45 · #



    :) I stand corrected. On my browser the icon was disabled. But onseeing it I would suggest the following:

    change the right click to resemble the noScript menu. In that it might be a good idea to add a

    ‘temporarily unblock adds for this page’
    ‘always unblock adds for this page’
    ‘remove adblock permissions’

    I’m sure you or others could come up with more succinct titles, but you understand the point.

  62. GRaphael · 2009-05-25 22:04 · #

    Wladimir Palant wrote:
    Now imagine that your favorite TV show would only be granted one half of the TV screen. And on the other half you would see advertisements, …

    Then I suggest that the ads that are blocked from your favourite sites be logged, and then a special AdShow page be composed of all those ads be available at the user’s convenience. That way, the user can click on the ads that interest him, supporting his favourite sites, without having his concentration split when viewing them.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Nice idea :)
    Unfortunately, implementing this one will be pretty challenging as well.

  63. Brian · 2009-05-28 03:31 · #

    Ads are annoying. I will continue blocking them. I don’t care if it’s my most favorite site in the world and I would die if the site disappeared tomorrow, I would continue blocking their annoying ads. I don’t click on them so why do I want to look at them? 99% of them are spam and/or lead you to malware/adware/spyware/etc.

    If for some reason your extension changes and I’m forced to look at certain ads, I will uninstall it and go back to another solution like or setup a proxy server and block ad serving URLs that way(oops, I already do that).

    Thanks, but no thanks.

  64. Ciprian Mustiata · 2009-05-29 04:29 · #

    Hi Wladimir. Firstly my great congratulations for Ad Block Plus. I use ABP and WOT for security reasons mostly. I will tell my two use cases that makes ABP invaluable for me: – I use two machines, a high end for regular development and a lower spec machine (Atom CPU based) for testing as developer, but even this lower spec machine is linked with my entire development thing right there. Running some sites I need to check if I have a problem on that machine. Browsing in terms of bandwidth and in machine responsiveness are the deciding factors for ABP. Also, because I can have a lot of sites that may be malicious, and for me is a DEVELOPMENT machine, I cannot sustain the time to reinstall everything – the second case, which I’ve recommend ABP is my girlfriend. She is nontechnical person. The bad thing is that she runs internet under a modem. The difference of using ABP is in bandwidth (her machine is much powerful than the Atom machine, only the internet is very slow) and again security.

    And here is not about ads, I really want to develop, and I would never click on an add. What if I would get a Trojan horse following it? And also, considering that the site is legitimate, and not offensive, in no way, I will really most probably uninstall flash to make work in a low spec machine (as is an atom based). And for my girlfriend, literally she took 6M in 40 minutes, so bandwidth saves are really important!

    I hope that the best thing is that sites to improve their model to show the ads. Tom’s Hardware had on the last page of article their ads. The adds will make me to click them conscious, and at least will be related, not about how to get six packs.

  65. Jared · 2009-05-30 18:26 · #

    I’m not sure if this message, buried beneath tons of comments on a two week old post, will be seen; however, I do want to add my two cents.

    I’ve been using AdBlock plus for as long as I can remember. At least two years; this kind of thing isn’t something that I keep exact records on. I primarily started using it because I was annoyed with flashy, bouncy, yelling advertisements for smilies / bonzi buddy / other web nuisances / malware.

    I’ve come to a point where I realize that I don’t hate ads, and as a matter of fact I white-list many domains that I trust not to put malicious advertising on, that don’t have 2/3 of downloaded content (per webpage) be advertising (as I’ve heard some recent statistic say, and I’m inclined to believe), or have annoying flashing and bouncing advertisements.

    I would love it if AdBlock Plus allowed you slightly more intricate control over what was blocked. If I had my way, I would block all flash advertising, animated pictures, known malicious sites, and that’s it. I believe webmasters do good work, and I obviously want the product they are trying to sell (website), and would be more than happy to look at an advertisement in order to pay for their efforts. I do NOT, however, consider installation of malware / epileptic seizure-inducing advertising as being an appropriate payment for viewing a website.

    Therefore, I will continue to surf the web with my AdBlock Plus flag waving proudly, until such a time as there is finer control over either individual advertising types, or webmasters and advertising providers get their crap together and stop trying to shove garbage down our throats. I don’t mind being offered garbage, but I won’t eat a heaping spoonful every time I visit a new website.

    Oh, and my laptop is old/annoying, so when I’m on that machine I can’t watch ads without it exploding in my lap. Not looking forward to that. So, when I’m on my laptop I won’t be looking at any ads, from anyone. Sorry. :)

  66. Anonymous · 2009-05-30 22:45 · #

    Same anonymous from comment 26 here, replying to your response. You said “That’s one of the reasons I tried to keep this as simple as possible.”. But “as simple as possible” here depends on your requirements; you’ve interpreted that as “as simple as possible while still serving my goal of supporting sites that run ads”, while I’ve interpreted it as “as simple as possible, even if that means don’t do it at all”.

  67. Dom · 2009-06-10 06:05 · #

    About the notification message – very great, pretty unobtrusive IMO, but perhaps re-think the buttons:
    1 Users often press any button just to get rid of it (so if they are going to click something without reading, it should be obvious what decision they are making).
    2 Users would just press Yes/No, unknowing what they are agreeing to (and if they inevitably choose to display the ads without knowing, they would think ABP is being defunct)
    3 Questions are usually confusing when asking “Yes” or “No”:
    4 When skimming the question, the user would see the words “block” and “ads”, if s/he decides to even read it.

    “Yes”, “Yes, please”, etc. could mean
    1 Yes, show ads
    2 Yes, block ads on this site

    “No”, “No, thank you”, etc. could mean
    1 No, do not show ads
    2 No, do not block ads on this site

    “Ask me Later” is OK – with or without it

    Less confusing:

    “Block Ads” could ONLY mean to block the ads on the website.

    “Show Ads” could only mean to show the ads on the website.

    “Ask me Later”

    Also, the question asked to the user should probably use as minimal language as possible (preferably one sentence) to prevent clutter, etc.

  68. James Late · 2009-06-16 04:10 · #

    What about pushing all/some/few ads to a ‘non-pop up’ tab. Perhaps immediately behind the current tab.

    i’m late to the dance, sorry if this has already been over :)

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    See comment 62 above.

  69. Bob · 2009-06-16 08:46 · #

    If we must have some sort of system to allow advertising then it should be like this:

    Only allow plain image or text adds, no flash or script. The a or img tag must contain attributes that indicate precise details about the add – country and state (town?) of relevance, the size (in bytes) of the add itself and some sort of indicator as to what type of service/product is being advertised, this way you can simply show one add on the page that matches the users preference. The user can also choose to blacklist if they want. With this there also needs to be some sort of community reporting system for sites that do not tell the truth, with an appropriate universal blacklist.

    Perhaps, if the user chooses they could even allow adblock plus to send their preferences to the site for customized advertising? (This would be off by default)

    And also adds should never be displayed on the users first visit to a site, a kind of try before you buy system! You could add a support this site button somewhere to allow people to view an add on the site if they want to.

    Surely this system should make everyone happy, the advertisers get people who are more likely to buy their product looking at their adds, the site owner should be able to sell their advertising space at a higher price as a result, the web user feels happy to be supporting the sites they use without hassle, win, win, win.

    Maybe this would even result in sites actively encouraging people to use adblock plus and Firefox, yet another two wins!

    Again this is only if we must have a system of allowing adds.

  70. Sam · 2009-06-22 15:25 · #

    It amazes me the people that defend advertising as if blocking it is some how immoral or wrong.

    The internet was built so that people could host their own website which contains their own content and they are soley responsible for providing the funding for the hosting of their website.

    The problem is (and this is fundamentally important to this discussion) the internet was NOT designed to be an advert supported infrastructure.

    That doesn’t mean it cannot be supported by adverts, it just means that there is no part of it’s design that can enforce advertising, nor are there any laws to govern it.

    It’s kind of like building your castle on a foundation of sand, sure you can build it on a nice beach and maybe its easy to do because no one else wants to build their castle on sand, and that is of some benefit…for a while…but then it sinks and colapses…why? Because you built your castle on sand FFS! It’s not designed to prop up thousands of tons of stone.

    I have no sympathy for people who based their livelyhood on the web by creating advert based revenue systems on a system which they have no ability to control it or enforce it, it’s just stupid and the only reason it survives today is that users simply aren’t educated…well now they’re starting to get educated on the matter, fundamentally the problem has always existed…

    I believe that every webmaster has the right to host whatever (legal) content they please, it’s their website and it’s their bandwidth and their choice.

    However I also believe that users have every right to block any part of that website, it’s their bandwidth also, their internet connection and their choice, it breaks no laws and its a perfectly valid way to use the technology, just like switching channel on your TV when the adverts come on is a valid way to use your TV, you dont sign an agreement when you subscribe to your TV service that states you will watch all adverts and not switch channel…

    Yes the internet would be a different place without adverts, all the popular sites which provide services would become pay to access which IS a valid way to use the internet, it’s supported by the infrastructure by providing different levels of access to different users.

  71. Sam · 2009-06-22 17:58 · #

    The more I think about this specific problem the more it dawns on me that its really just a matter of education.

    When installing adblock you need to ad a modal window which has basic instructions on how to enable/disable adblock on specific sites with the red/green button, the window stays open for 15-20 seconds with a grayed out “finish” button to encourage people to read it while they have to wait anyway.

    It doesn’t have to be more than a paragraph with a small image next to it, it could easily be the final step in the installer screen…

    After playing the game Americas Army the other day I realised that some things should really force some basic level of training on the users, people playing this game cannot use the advanced more complex weapons and character classes until they’ve completed training on the subject and it works great, theres no idiots online wasting a perfectly good sniper spot who doesn’t know how to zoom or adjust the sights, or medics who don’t know how to heal…

    The problem is lack of education, the solution should be education, not irritating people into doing something, but explain in 15-30 seconds how the most basic features of your system works, if people cant sit through that then they can sod off IMHO.

    Check the set up for Hamachi, once installed the user is given a quick walk through of the features, how to create an account and join/leave VPNs, its the perfect example of how to educate the user with a very very quick little guide, if anything there should be a small test at the end…Americas army you have to “qualify” in certain aspects, even to play a medic, so you sit through orientation and then actually take a test to prove you understand what you just read…

    A simple “this is how you disable adblock for a website” page, and then click next and then it says, this is how you add a custom filter. Then a final page that says, turn off adblocking for this site then add it into a custom filter, if you fail then you’re taken back to the start, if you’ve paid attention you’ll ace it easily.

    Some things just require tutorials, I think as long as you keep it fast/quick and simple then you’ll be on to a winner.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Most people are not interested in tutorials – they were told that they need to install Adblock Plus, that’s what they do. Any additional questions or windows are just clicked away (that’s something that the subscription selection on first start suffers under as well). Any education has to happen in context, otherwise nobody will care. And – yes, that’s basically what this feature is about.

  72. Sam · 2009-06-22 21:04 · #

    No thats true enough, but don’t you have the power to force a tutorial screen to at least stay active a number of seconds before it can be dismissed?

    It’s hardly the end of the world being expected to sit through a 30s tutorial when you first install ABP, if people want the features then this is a minor inconvenience for them compared to what they get in return.

    I agree with making applications easy to use for people less savvy but lets face it, whitelisting a website is about as easy as it can get (a large green/red button) trying any harder to simplify the process seems like a massive waste of time, people need to be shown how to use it in it’s current form which is basic enough, a 30s tutorial would be perfect. Obviously I cannot speak for how feasible that is code wise, I am unfamiliar with firefox and the extensions from a technical standpoint.

    Educating users would also mean less support experts helping novices, less support requests on forums and a broader use of the application.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Do you think that forcing the user to do something that he doesn’t want to do will help anybody?

  73. Sam · 2009-06-22 21:44 · #

    Yes, absolutely.

    In my original example I compare it to the online game Americas Army, you’re expected to take as much time in singleplayer training before you’re allowed to use the advanced roles online along side other people. In this particular situation its just a very smart move to restrict gameplay to only those who understand how it works because these classes are rare and important, it benefits everyone who plays the game that the other people on their team know what they are doing when they are playing certain classes.

    I’m not talking about a 20 minute read of all the abilities, just a quick skim over the top 2-3 basic features, it should take no more than 30 seconds to read.

    Again applications like Hamachi do this when first run, I dont see the big deal really, no one is going to leave for another adblock program simply because they have to read 2-3 sentances before it will install…even users like me who already understand how the add on interface works can take 30 seconds out of our life to read the basics when its installed, its not like you install it every day (upgrades should not trigger it)

  74. Max · 2009-06-28 17:21 · #

    I think their is great need to add some option…

    Firstly, Adblock should be in disable state by default.

    Enable it on All sites. (if selected then show description how it hurts website owner with “Yes” and “No/Cancel”)
    Enable it for this website.
    Enable it on this page.
    Block this Advertising Service on all sites.(Adsense,adbrite ..etc)

    Currently it dictates the users.

  75. MarkB · 2009-07-14 19:50 · #

    In the long run, the purpose of Ad blocking is more than just to block ads. When most browsers added pop-up blockers, eventually most web sites gave up on having pop-ups and even users who didn’t have a pop-up blocker were spared seeing popups. The long term goal of Ad blocking is to make it not worth the trouble for ads to exist, so that even people without an ad blocker will be protected. Encouraging any ads will slow this goal. Web hosting is cheap and if you do not want to create content for free, get off the internet and leave it to the people who will create without hoping for compensation.

  76. Seth Wisely · 2009-08-09 05:04 · #

    Some features to consider in tandem with the blocking-adblocking prompt are those from the ‘karma’ adblock extension:

  77. adblocker · 2009-08-19 19:56 · #

    Just build this Wladimir, I think it’s definitely worth while. I have no problem with webmasters getting some income from unobtrusive ads. I’ve learned to ignore them anyway. I have Adblock for the horrible flash Ads and other irritating stuff created in ad land. Claiming “people who want compensation should leave the internet” is ridiculous. I’m very simple in this respect: if you can make money without bothering my surfing experience, good for you.

  78. Die H2k · 2009-08-23 04:59 · #

    I have seen some sites that detect adblock and will show a message that i need to disable or add the site to the whitelist, if its still enabled it wont display the content of the sites. so i assume its already enough for webmaster to add that, perhaps make a button like add this site to white list, as for now i need to read the syntax first and edit the list to include the site

  79. Chris · 2009-08-25 06:26 · #

    For me, the issue isn’t so much about whether the ads are annoying as about:

    Whether they are relevant to me. For instance, I don’t play poker and I already get free MP3s.

    Whether the product is safe. If I wanted weight loss advice, I’d go to my doctor, my province’s Ministry of Health website, or the library.

    Whether the product is likely to be useful. I’m not going to bother trying currency trading.

    Whether I have any money to spend (which I do not want a browser plug-in checking on my behalf).

    Since no site has ever shown me ads that were sensitive to any of these needs, much less all of them, the only solution is to block all ads. I’m doing what I can to improve the situation for my own blog’s readers, but it’s nowhere near enough.

  80. is your content valuable · 2009-08-30 14:45 · #

    @anti adblockers

    Please respond to comment 257 on original post:

    Is your content is valuable? Charge for it otherwise give it away. Placing ads is not a business model.

  81. David H · 2009-10-12 01:17 · #

    I use Adblock for 2 reasons:

    1) Security. Since I first started using adblocking (in general) I have essentially 0 issues with Trojans or viruses. I also get asked to help a lot of people with computers. If I have anything to do with configuring a computer, I’ll install adblock plus, and explain how to unblock a sight in case something stops working. Saves me time because I don’t have to go over and remove stuff when their computer grinds to a halt 2 weeks later.

    2) Pleasure. (anti Annoyance) I’m not against having any adds, but I don’t like flashy distracting stuff, I don’t like noise, I don’t like excessive clutter. It’s one of the additional reasons I’ve always liked Google’s page.

    Adblock is currently great at meeting these goals and improving user experience. That must always be the primary function, or it will die away. (This is assumption 1)

    The secondary goal in discussion, is how to use adblock as a tool to bring accountability to advertisers. (Accountability is BOTH disciplining bad as well as rewarding the good.) Adblock currently blocks very well, but can not allow acceptable advertising through.

    Assumption 2: Separating good from the bad will always require a human.
    Assumption 3: The end user doesn’t want to be this person on a regular basis.
    Assumption 4: Therefore, someone will always have to be “paid” to do the separation.

    Therefore, the only way that Adblock can meet the secondary goal, is to provide a feature that allows someone else to get “paid” for sorting the good from the bad.

    We need to create a class of add distributors who are more profitable when they ensure the quality of adds that they distribute is higher. The last leg distributor is always the website, but often there is also a 3rd party distributor.

    Adblock can’t loose any blocking functionality (or it becomes obsolete) but needs to provide an opt-in feature that allows approved content through. The only Idea I have for doing this that minimizes the end users workload, is to create a secondary whitelist (that people could subscribe to) This whitelist would then let content from trusted add distributers through. To function for 3rd party distributors (i.e. google text ads) the whitelist would have to be able to override generic blocks such as “.net/adds” while not compromising speed or stability of adblock plus.

    I can’t imagine this would be easy to code, and it would require a group of individuals to create trusted whitelists, but it could create a market for add distributors to generally treat us better.

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