Ethics of blocking ads · 2006-06-27 04:55 by Wladimir Palant

I found one of the better blog posts on the topic of ethical implications of ad blocking today. Being on the pro-adblock side of the discussion, it doesn’t fall for the usual “I don’t care how they earn their money” kind of argument.

So, obviously, there’s the first & most popular argument, “I run a website, it costs me money to do so, I need advertising revenue to pay for the website, adblocking robs me of this revenue.

In other words, people should support bad business models because it’s more convenient for the businessmen.

And what follows is actually a nice argumentation about how alienating users with ads really is a bad business model and what webmasters and advertisers could do differently. I tend to agree on all points, surfing the web without ad blocking software is unbearable — and this misery can’t be justified with a vague “social contract”.

For the sake of fairness I want to quote the other side of the discussion here as well:

Adblock effectively robs these free sites of their revenue. If Internet Explorer came with a feature such as Adblock, you would effectively wipe out thousands of websites, maybe more.

So the question is: maybe these sites deserve to be wiped out?

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Comment [45]

  1. Thomas · 2006-07-05 03:00 · #

    “If Internet Explorer came with a feature such as Adblock…”

    Firefox doesn’t come integrated with an “AdBlock” feature either. It’s an optional extension. There’s also an optional content blocking extension available for Internet Explorer;
    http://www.adsfilter.com/en/

    Ironically, 1 of the authors at “Poptech” (Creator of “Firefox Myths”) recommends using Avant & Opera; both of which have an integrated content blocking feature.

    What makes AdBlock so much worse in the eyes of some than Helexis’ similarly optional IE extension, or that integrated into Avant & Opera?

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Yes, that’s a relatively strange argument – the idea is probably that Adblock is so popular that it is used by most Firefox users (personally I have strong doubts about that but there are no reliable statistics). Avant on the other hand really doesn’t have much weight, and content blocking in Opera is relatively new.

  2. Some Curious User · 2006-07-09 19:28 · #

    “So the question is: maybe these sites deserve to be wiped out?”

    Trouble is, an extension like Adblock Plus doesn’t discriminate between OMGPUNCHTHEMONKEY!!! ads and harmless ads like, say, Google.

    I block all of them, because they’re a waste of space, and I don’t want to buy stuff from them. But if most everyone blocked them, how could a site survive (aside from donations and being rich)?

    For that matter, how is Wikipedia surviving?

  3. Winter Knight · 2006-07-10 21:18 · #

    “Adblock Plus doesn’t discriminate between OMGPUNCHTHEMONKEY!!! ads and harmless ads like, say, Google.”

    Actually, Adblock Plus and Adblock don’t discriminate, period. It gives the user control. If you want to view google ads, don’t filter them.

    There is no reason why anyone should view anything they don’t want to. Watching commercials and downloading ads just because the marketers say you should is stupid. Ad blocking is no different than, say, a porn blocker, or a site-based spyware blocker. You are just protecting yourself from the smut on the internet. The important thing for YOU should be that YOU enjoy the internet, or that YOU get the work done that YOU need to, no matter what anyone else says.

    Also, marketers, in general, are especially untrustworthy. Just like rich Christians.

  4. NaSeR · 2006-08-03 13:48 · #

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    I really dislike censoring comments but I will remove offensive comments. Please choose your language.

  5. dave · 2006-08-04 10:13 · #

    “So the question is: maybe these sites deserve to be wiped out?”

    I don’t think they do. We can’t expect businesses that are advertising supported to simply give these services 100% free. Yahoo! Finance, for example. Without ad revenue this huge resource for financial data wouldn’t have much income at all (that I can see). What kind of service would they sell, when users go to the site in order to obtain FREE financial data? The site itself has no product other than the information it offers. When it has to start charging for that information, the consumer, in my opinion, loses. What’s worse – a couple of ads, or a free service forced to turn subscriber-only?

    This is kind of like the DVR for the TV. Eventually if enough consumers start using adblocking programs, ads will morph. Ads will become part of the text of a webpage (similar to product placements on TV), or will be implemented in a way that is extremely hard to block.

  6. Bob · 2006-08-23 11:30 · #

    I am not going to buy anything from an add on a web page so by blocking these adds I actually save the sites some bandwidth and therefore money. To me adds on a web page are like someone you don’t know comming up to you in the street and offering to sell you a top of the range computer for $50 I just would not buy it.

    All the crap about revenue for these sites is irrelevant if someone does not buy anything from the adds, like me, then the site is not going to get any revenue from my visit anyway adds or no adds so if I block their adds then my visit has cost them less than if I visit and don’t block the adds.

  7. jon smith · 2006-10-19 07:18 · #

    i never have bought anything from any of the ads i have ever seen on a website. i don’t plan on it. i installed adblock (even with the filterset OMG OMG!) and nothing changed. I have’nt ever been enticed to buy something or clicked a link to see hot barely legal asian sluts fingering each other. the banners that advertise movies don’t make me want to see the movie. i basically try to ignore everything but what i’m looking for on a webpage… so adblock just helps stuff load faster.

  8. Mark Harris · 2006-10-26 05:54 · #

    Think about this, and it’s just my opinion, but there are enough sheeple using computers who don’t have a clue about using them for anything but retrieving and sending email, and browsing their favorite sites. They don’t know how they work, they don’t want to know how they work, and they won’t bother to learn anything about them. I see them every time I enter a Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, etc. These people are clueless and there are millions of them. I suspect that they accept website ads the same way they accept TV advertising—they don’t think twice about them. So why should browser makers build ad blockers into these products if the millions of sheeple just accept the ads as a fact of life?

    Those of us who are computer literate know how to combat ads, viruses, and spam. It’s us who are actually doing much of the blocking of ads. I find it hard to believe that we are causing websites major financial hardship with our actions, when there are so many others surfing the Net that don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.

    If everyone that used the Net were savvy and sophisticated in their knowledge of computers, then the demand from millions of people would force the browser makers into buiding ad blocking software into their products. But not everyone is knowledgeable and therefore the threat to online ads is virtually nil.

    I’ll continue to use ad blocking software and I’ll continue to sleep well at night. The website operators aren’t hurting, no matter what they might say.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    I think you are underestimating the impact. Yes, only the computer literate know how to block ads. Yet the computer literates usually have enough friends they help. It is why it was possible for Firefox to get a solid market share – because everybody installed it on his friends’ computers. And along with Firefox usually comes Adblock (Plus). Add to this subscription updater in Adblock Plus or Filterset.G Updater and you have a lot of computer illiterates blocking ads without even knowing it.

    Still, I think that right now noticeable damage is only done on pages that attract many computer literate users (like digg – 67% of the users use Adblock according to poll results). This will change however should the browsers come with sophisticated ad blocking solutions built-in. And even though most people don’t know that something can be done about the ads, there are still browser developers who care about their users. That’s the same developers who gave us popup blocking. I don’t think that Firefox with Adblock built-in is so unrealistic.

  9. Mr. Eisler · 2006-10-26 17:17 · #

    I know a website (actually my homepage lies there) where you get free unlimited webspace including PHP, MySQL and so on, they don’t even force you to have adverts on your own homepage—they just expect you to keep writing in the forum, where they place ads.
    This page has a problem: Now they have to do fund-raising to do server upgrades, because a lot of the users are young male and technics-affected, so they block even the forum ads.
    I consider the page really good and due to the fact that my homepage is stated there I rely on it. Though, I block their adverts. Is that good?

  10. Bohemia Bob · 2006-11-09 09:17 · #

    I can say with confidence that I am not the least bit concerned about my use of AdBlock Plus and the article was entirely correct, whatever good will the Internet marketers had, if indeed they ever had any, has long since been exhausted by the devious, greedy, and generally low-ball games that they have been playing now for years. In a society where companies dispose of their workers whenever the feel like it and your job could be outsourced tomorrow it is meaningless for marketers to bring up the “social contract” argument. The consumer has long since been thrown to the wolves and made to submit to the harsh discipline of the real world in every aspect of his life. It is high time for the consumer to return the favor to the businesses who started us all down the path to the nasty society. All I can say is welcome to the jungle. I don’t give a damn if someone’s website doesn’t earn money or if the marketing drones lose their jobs after all of the crap that we techies have been through. Payback is a…well you know.

  11. ewodrich · 2006-11-13 02:06 · #

    When the magazine publishers send a magazine to my door, they pay the postage. They are welcome to send whatever they want and I will continue to throw most of it in the trash unread.

    HOWEVER, I pay for my bandwidth through my ISP. No one, no advertiser, no website, no politician, no other entity, has the right to steal the money that I pay for my bandwidth to send me advertising without my permission. Their theft is much more immoral than the immorality that they say I am committing because of revenue that they say that I am preventing them from making because I don’t want to look at their intrusive, annoying, obstructive, and sometimes downright destructive and dangerous advertising. I don’t have any obligation to wade through their garbage in order to be able to do what I need to do. I have the right to protect my computer. It is MY computer, NOT THEIRS!

    If I sign up on a real, honest opt-in list authorizing them to send me their advertising, then I have said yes, I want to see it. And I equate those who say I have somehow signed up on some list I never even looked at let alone signed up on with those who send out spam. In my opinion they are all equivalent to the substance that can be found in stagnant ponds that you immediately want to wash off your hands. I can do without the websites that insist I must automatically authorize them to send me ads simply because I access their web site. To them I say goodbye forever.

    This is why I use ad blockers and spam blockers and I use antivirus software and anti-ad software and anti-spyware software and a firewall. And if something better becomes available, I will use that. And if something else becomes necessary to protect my computer, I will use that.

    ‘Nuff said?

    Best Regards,

    Ed

  12. bntso · 2006-12-27 16:10 · #

    I might be a little bit clueless here. Does Ad Blocking actually prevent websites from collecting revenues from their advertisers. Most advertising plans charge for number of impressions. And as far as I know they cannot be sure if the ad was or wasn’t displayed in your computer, neither do they know if the visitor is using ad blocking software. So the websites still collect money to support their work.

    Now you may argue that advertisers will stop advertising on the Internet because of ad blocking software. I disagree that is not what you see in the web these days, there more and more ads everyday.

    I also use ad blocking software, but I don’t block everything, I only block the anoying in your face ads because I actually like and bougth some of the offers I see on websites.

    thanks,

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Adblock/Adblock Plus prevent the browser from downloading ads altogether, so even the number of impressions goes down. However, most advertisers nowadays charge by the number of clicks, not impressions. So the only way to make sure webmasters really get their money is to look at the ads and click the interesting ones.

  13. Akhilesh · 2006-12-28 16:56 · #

    Ad-blocking is robbery. All your arguments for it are like

    “Why should I pay for that shirt if I don’t like they way other things are marketed in the shop. I will walk out with the shirt and not pay for it, as I want to take an ethical stand against obtrusive marketing”.

    A lot of useful websites sustain themselves with ad-revenue. Using their services without paying them is a crime of the worst kind. Do you realize that if Ad-Blocking ever became popular, it would be a nail in the coffin for the Internet.

    And I find your assertion that the business model is “bad” patently ridiculous. It is a robust business model – the same model that has supported print for more than a century and the same model that has supported TV for more than half a century. Take advertisements away, and half the sites will disappear.

    I am for blocking extremely obtrusive ads – pop-ups, for one. And certainly flash ads that make noises – oh yeah. Anything more would be irresponsible.

    You know, NAMBLA justifies itself too.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    You might want to read the third part where I go more into detail on exactly the points you mentioned.

  14. bntso · 2006-12-29 23:27 · #

    mmmmmm so if I turn off the TV or change channels during commercials and if I am not reading the ads in the newspaper I am a criminal? Well I diagree I will always have the right to choose what I read and what I watch. Advertisers will have to become wiser on how they advertise, and ad blocking software will have to get better at blocking ads. I believe there is a market for both.

  15. Jared · 2007-04-10 16:09 · #

    sigh

    Like already pointed out, not everybody’s richie rich and need sponsors to run their sites. The sponsors extract their buck by dispalying ads, and probably keep track of the impressions and clicks/hits they receive from different sites. If a particular site aint living upto their expectations, they will probably pull the plug on it — and there u wave another site, perhaps useful, good-bye!

    If somebody’s surfing porn or appz site, s/he is bound to have to deal with likewise ads. If you’re at a job portal or a job-related site, you’ll find job-related ads.

    Why do people not start reading ads-free newspapers? There are ads forced upon us in there as well, but not too many complain about it — they simply ignore them — yet u pay for the newspaper thing.

    Whatever. Both the parties have some valid points, and the bottomline seems to be this — ad-blocking is a challengeable practise.

  16. just me · 2007-05-30 23:28 · #

    Ok so did you guys set up a new domain or what? Because this looks like you also. http://.../ Sorry just trying to get the facts so people don’t bum out or something if they need not too.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    It isn’t. It’s a scam :-(

  17. just me · 2007-05-31 16:58 · #

    I sure hope you can do something about it. That’s a bummer. :(

  18. The Real Deal · 2007-06-03 23:43 · #

    We all know what the real reason for anybody wanting to block ads. It isn’t the banners! It’s the millions of lame pages that have little to no helpful content and boat loads of Google BadSense ads! Google had a good idea – webmasters turned it into a wasteland. Google should do a better job of eliminating these sham pages. Perhaps right next to the BadSense ads they could place a “report this page” button. Of course they would then need a billion employees to sift through the rubble.

    Try this. Do a search for anything. You’ll find tons of redundant, recycled pages with BadSense. We all know that if BadSense did not exist these pages would not exist either.

  19. Munan · 2007-08-01 22:14 · #

    Harmless ads like Google?
    How uninformed are you?!?

  20. betaray · 2007-08-02 00:37 · #

    Ads in and of themselves are not harmless. It is well known that continual exposure to marketing can create associations and familiarity. This is the basic premise that marketeers are trying to exploit. Why do you think corporations shell out the big bucks to have stadiums named after them? They want to associate their brand with the positive feelings you have about your favorite sports team. The same is true of your favorite website. I do not want to be manipulated in this way, and my only recourse is to block ads wherever I can.

  21. cj · 2007-08-02 05:13 · #

    Yea. Take THAT Google, Yahoo, Youtube, Cnet, Digg, Reddit…

  22. Josh P · 2007-08-18 07:22 · #

    I’m confused. You keep making ignorant claims about how “most” advertisements are CTR based and not CPM based.

    For what it’s worth, I’d say some 80-90% of my ad income is completely CPM based and that CPM based revenue accounts for well over half of my income.

    It’s interesting the facts people chose to use when preaching their agenda.

  23. Kelly Wright · 2007-12-02 14:34 · #

    Ads are OK as long as the are not delivered to my desktop against my will. I consider it to be intrusion into private life.

  24. Vadim Rapp · 2007-12-06 08:23 · #

    I think there’s one more effect in this desire to block ads, that I think was not mentioned. It’s the fact that very big fraction of ads on the webpages are in fact scams and lies. The more annoying are ads, the more probability that this is scam. Try to find one deal behind “shot the monkey” that would be anything but yet another scheme to rip off the gullible. Or take these pop-unders “you are winner!” The very first words of this ad is already a lie, the ad itself is 100% lie, so could there be anything but more lies if I click on it?

    Of course it’s not to say that 100% of internet ads are misleading, but I think everybody will agree that percentage of misleading ads on web pages is significantly higher than in the same magazines, higher than on TV, and even higher than in the junk mail. Advertising some blatant scam scheme like Video Professor, for example, on TV or in magazine is more exception than rule; on internet it’s more often than not.

    If so, then one solution to this might be in website owners being more selective to the content they put on their pages, rejecting at least most obvious scams. With the current situation, claiming that website viewers are robbing site owner by not buying into the frauds he has put on it, is not very convincing.

  25. cp · 2008-02-03 16:04 · #

    How can it be illegal to stop your browser from requesting an external script or ad? You’ve downloaded a full webpage, but external things like scripts, images, applets, and objects are not included. If your browser doesn’t support Javascript, it won’t download external scripts. If those are ad scripts, is it stealing? Noscript can be an (overly) effective ad blocker, b/c it prevents the Javascript to show ads from running. Are blind users stealing b/c their browsers won’t download the objects? Adblock just prevents download of scripts or flash ads. It WILL NOT block anything the webmaster personally puts on the page and stores on his server.

  26. Charley Cross · 2008-02-14 20:06 · #

    I consider myself a pretty darn ethical person, and I’ve felt no qualms whatsoever about using Adblock Plus to remove annoying stuff from my browsing experience. I do understand the value of advertising to support many of the Web sites I rely upon for research, news and technical information. I even click through on ads from time to time when they have something to say that’s of interest.

    But I have a very focused category of ads that I block. Virtually everything on my filter list got there by violating Charley’s Law of Web Ads: don’t distract me from the reason I’m on the Web page in the first place. For me, that means animation in an ad where that animation lasts beyond a couple seconds of first arriving at the page. If you want to show some little cartoon or scrolling text right at the start, okay, but rapidly settle down to a static image, at least until I choose to interact with the ad. When your ad keeps cycling through a woman’s wrinkles magically fading away or text keeps scrolling by, you are drawing my eye away from my research or reading. You are making my time less valuable, and I can’t afford that. And that’s when I summon Adblock Plus!

    What’s surprising to me is that such offensive ads survive. Maybe I’m in a minority, but distracting ads have the exact opposite effect from what I assume the advertiser wants. They turn me off from the company or product. The give me a negative impression—a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.

  27. (--G3N3RIC--) · 2008-02-28 14:09 · #

    perhaps the point has already been made, but i didn’t see mention of it as i skimmed the comments.

    when i load a page, i am explicitly requesting info from that server, at that ip address. if that page tries then to get my browser — my ip address — to connect to doubleclick, fastclick, etc., without so much as a warning, or giving me to option to proceed/cancel, that’s when i cry foul.

    i don’t mind most of the ads. it’s the one’s with ‘omgpunchthemonkey’ or ‘5freeipodnanos’ and that type of stuff, which pegs the cpu on some older machines, and locks up the browser completely on even older machines, that prompted me to seek adblock solutions. and i use a custom hosts file to 127.0.0.1 the fastclicks of the world.

    when the marketers make the ads even more embedded and difficult to filter, teckies will find a workaround.

  28. Jonny · 2008-03-16 16:59 · #

    By using an adblock plugin, I am being moral.
    I never, on principal, click on adverts. Quite frankly, they piss me off, and I will specifically not click on them because they have had the audacity to annoy me. If I wish to buy something, I will research into it, read reviews, and search using google, and will never choose a product based on ads.

    If I am never going to click on ads anyway, why waste the poor ad companies bandwidth on me? By blocking them, I am saving them money.

  29. Russ · 2008-05-16 23:02 · #

    The presumption that sites with ads should be removed, or do not deserve to survive, because of a bad business model, is ridiculous.

    If access to for-profit created content is restricted to subscription-only methods, the internet, and communications as we know it, will be greatly harmed. Private enterprise is responsible for the vast majority of news media and entertainment – ad block effectively removes the cheapest way for you and I to get access to that news media and entertainment.

    Could you imagine if Reddit and Digg and Flickr and Facebook and Myspace and Google and Yahoo and MSN Live and everything else you use on the internet had to go to a pay-per-subscription model to survive?

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    You misunderstood – advertising isn’t bad per se. But abusing users with extensive and annoying advertising certainly is a bad business model.

  30. Petter · 2008-06-09 07:24 · #

    Ads are important for the Internet indeed. Still, after years surfing the net one develops some kind of ‘ad blindness’. I have no ad-block, but i can’t remember seeing an ad all day. I would not consider installing an ad-blocker, i don’t see ads as a problem. The web developer of the page you are reading put it there for a reason.

  31. Anonymous · 2008-06-19 13:31 · #

    How about those of us who pay for every megabyte of data downloaded? I can’t see anything wrong with blocking ads in this case. Some sites have so many ads that if it wasn’t for AdBlock I would refuse to visit the site.

  32. Jim Lang · 2008-08-05 01:50 · #

    Is it also unethical to fast-forward through ads with Tivo? How about turning down the volume on the radio when the ads start? Throwing away newpaper inserts and junk mail without reading them?

    Rhetorical questions, of course. It amazes that people can be so well-trained consumers that they actually believe they have an ethical obligation to view ads.

  33. George Krauss · 2008-08-11 23:35 · #

    I have read a lot of comments here and I too am very annoyed when I use my search engine page (Dogpile) and a DA** banner appears tring to convince me to buy adware and suddenly without warning my computer is being scanned by this program if I close the banner. I have to scramble to shut it down. But what really makes me want to strangle those pop-up marketing perverts is when I go to my home page (for instance) and I’ll get one or another pop-up for porn and one time while my 11 year old grand daughter was present. It’s times like these I wish it were possible to fire my shotgun at my monitor and have it load travel the networks and come out at the offender and get a load of buckshot blowing their system all to HE** and back!….and them with it. DA** a porn pop-up advert just popped up while previewing these comments before submitting it.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    That sounds like your computer is infected with AdWare. Please be assured, this site has no ads whatsoever. You might want you install Spybot Search & Destroy from safer-networking.org (note that some spyware will redirect you to other sites promoting fake antivirus solutions, make sure to install only Spybot S&D and not anything else you might get offered).

  34. Wil · 2008-08-17 17:55 · #

    Part of the problem, I think, is that advertisers on the internet went WAY too far a few years ago, and now we’re all leery of them. Remember when you couldn’t visit a site without a popup ad jumping out (or three of them)? Once the popup blockers became common, they quit doing that.

    But then they went too far with in-page content, clogging up the pipes with high-KB files that required eight times as long to load as the the rest of the page. Plus they glare out at you, help damage the layouts of pages, and are so ubiquitous that some pages rarely have “normal” space for a neutral click.

    So we have Adblock Plus. If they would have used some moderation in the first place, we wouldn’t be in this situation now.

    Fortunately for site-builders (like me), most people still are not using any ad-blocking software. IE doesn’t have a GOOD option for this, and many Firefox users still are unaware of how good it is.

  35. andreas eibach · 2009-02-24 23:49 · #

    Heh. I saw it coming—-a discussion about the ethics of blocking advertisements. A very good discussion by the way, probably also due to you, Mr Palant because you take care that language will keep within a reasonably intellectual level. That’s the basis for a good discussion. OK enough of my introduction then…back to facts.
    I tell you the first and most important: When I still had to use a modem (56K), I was NEVER thinking of using an ad blocker EVER. NOT WebWasher, not – whatever. NADA. It was simple to explain: the possibilities which those advertising agencies had were quite limited: size, capacity and bandwidth restrictions (no fancy graphics due to the fact that people could not load them quickly enough), and: NO AUDIO.

    But that was the past.

    Now, at the end of the 2000s, times have been a-changing thru the years: everybody is surfing on the broadband waves, speed is no issue anymore, capacity in abundance, and even a perfect audio-gfx synch is easy to achieve meanwhile. And they’re seizing that to the fullest now!

    That should explain very well why I was never thinking about using an ad blocker. Just because it was SILENT!
    But wait: yes there was this nice guy from Norway, too, ‘einaros’ being his handle, who brought us FlashMute. Mute ANY flash stuff when browsing the web!

    Happy now?

    Not really, for when you browse on music sites you might want to have their players working. OK no problem, so let’s turn on FlashMute again!

    But now the most annoying thing comes: the modern kind of advertisements will now BLAST THEIR SOUND too, blending their easy-listening crap INTO that music being played onyour favorite electro-funk site’s music player!

    So the point is: if Flash ads were a little more silent and did not overuse their sonic possibilites so much, less people would bother using an ad blocker.
    Nor would these agencies ever keep to a listenable volume but usually rather be 10 times louder than the music you’re listening to!
    (which is purpose, maximizing peak by sacrificing dynamic range at the same time is a common means to utterly “fire” the messages into the target audience’s ears.)

  36. Zooxle · 2009-06-23 21:35 · #

    Ok so i read all of the comments and agree with most of them. Yes people buy newspapers not caring that they have ads because they just skip reading them. Here is SA (at least the north of Pretoria) we have a newspaper called Record it consists of about 5% news items and 95% ads. You can never find it except when it is delivered to you door because everybody wants one because all the ads are in one place and you can find anything. It is the best source for any services like appliance repair, custom furniture etc…hell even things like ISP’s and Motor dealerships advertise in there. Granted you can’t put all of the internet’s ads in one place, it would take weeks to open that page.
    I started using adblock plus, when one of those flash adverts yelled “OMG No Way!!” at half past 2 in the morning and i nearly crapped myself it was so loud and unexpected. Now i just block everything because i don’t want that happening again, and i reccomend ABP to any of my friends that had similar experiences.
    I think the best adverts are those that appear between pages, where you click a link and a page opens with a nicely done ad and a button that says “Click here to continue to page x” AND automatic forwarding if you cannot find that button in 10 seconds. I usually take the time to look at an ad like that but not any of the popup, flash, in your face ads. So the questions should not be “Is it ethical to use ad blocking programs” it should be “Are advertisers advertising ethicaly”

  37. CaptainReality · 2009-08-06 09:09 · #

    There’s one implicit assumption that many people are making, and that is that ad-supported media is desirable.

    To my mind, it is not. I would prefer to see every site that requires advertising for its business model disappear. Sure, there would be a lot less on the internet, but here’s the rub; most content on the internet is rubbish.

    Advertisements are the crack-cocaine of content. They have a pervasive, insidious impact on everything they touch. We’d be far better off without them.

    The internet wouldn’t cease to exist. It would become smaller, and I would argue higher quality. Sites would ‘whore’ themselves to attract pure volume much less than they currently do.

  38. btech · 2009-08-08 00:06 · #

    I run a website where i offer free cad files and cnc programs, I am a father with four children and many bills, I offer my time for creating the programs for free, the hosting and bandwidth costs me money, I have to google adds on my site which are always adds directed at the content of my page, google pays by impressions (just the add being loaded, not clicked) though very little, and google pays for clicks, which is a little more, most of the people coming to my site are technically inclined, which is not good in the case of add blockers.
    In a year i make about $20.00 from the adds which doesnt even cover the hosting. Is it stealing? No. but it has made me consider selling the programs for a small amount.

  39. CaptainReality · 2009-08-09 10:23 · #

    Hi btech, If you want to charge for your programs, do it. There are plenty of mechanisms that will allow you to easily charge. If people are actually willing to pay for them, you’ll know you’ve created something worthwhile. If not, well, that’s business.

    What I find absurd is when people want to give content away (because deep down they know that no-one would ever pay for their content), but want to force people to stare at ads in order to get it for ‘free’. Since the HTML allows the client to format the content however they like, demanding that the client format things the way you want is silly.

  40. Mark Nadal · 2009-08-19 15:10 · #

    Over the past year I have been doing intensive marketing research on the internet advertising industry, and I have learned a lot of interesting information. I’m trying to startup a company that gives users an option inbetween being annoyed with intrusive advertisements (and having their personal browsing behaviors anonymously raped and sold to companies) and complete blocking — though I do use Adblock+Pro religiously and admire Mr. Palant greatly.

    “So the question is: maybe these sites deserve to be wiped out?”
    I couldn’t help but take this quotation rhetorically. But it does pose a fascinating problem. Does advertising actually work? Should it be a primary revenue model?
    The response stated are essentially the same as previously mentioned… well if everybody were to use ad-blockers our whole internet would tank, and bye-bye to free information.
    People assume this is a bad thing. Ut-oh, now I’m entering into a scary concept. But get this… all that 20+billion annual internet advertising money would not suddenly cease to exist. This is economics, kids. $20billion would be spent elsewhere, which ultimately will trickle throughout the economy. Would this money freeze? Or would it be used? …Used perhaps to purchase premium online subscriptions to a user’s favorite “freemium” websites?
    People for decades have paid for real-world subscription magazines (despite the fact they are riddled with advertisements), people have spent overloaded billions on movies (despite the fact they are riddled with previews and other advertisements). Yes — people even pay for services that then additionally display advertisements. …bunnytrail.

    I then ask, so what?
    So what if the subscription model increases?
    With developments like FBconnect, openID, etc. signing up for websites no longer are the hassle they used to be, and consequently the notion of dropping a couple of $$ for something you like should be an appealing idea – that is how the economy ought to function. Free Market. You like a service, you pay them correspondingly. Since when did we develop a mentality that “Oh, we have to suffer through annoying advertisements in order to bless the provider of information”.
    (somebody mentioned Wikipedia. Good point. People like it, they donate. Its surviving.)

    Sure, freely available content is great. But we’ve only come to accept it (and now demand it) because of advertisements. But as we came to take that free content for granted… we started getting annoyed with the advertisements. So to be cruel, I’d blame advertisements for starting the whole problem to begin with. Offer a mob something for free… and expect them to demand more, not less.

    The two ultimate outcomes?

    (unlikely option: wikipedia model / open source model).
    Free content. No ads. How? The internet is used as a communications device, not a profit device. People who are passionate about things provide content they give away for free… because they enjoy it. Any money made would be through donations or purchases of gift-items (like shirts, mugs, hats, hard-copy books, photo-prints, etc).

    Subscription.
    Yeah. Like what we used to do to get our magazines. Is it really that bad? Not as bad as you’d think. A door closes, a window opens. $20billion+ no longer spent in one industry, $20billion+ spent in another industry — perhaps your industry.

    The above post does not necessarily reflect the personal views of the author, though he certainly doesn’t disagree with his own analysis.

  41. David · 2009-10-01 23:09 · #

    maybe pop-up blockers are imoral…

    or anti adware… maybe advertising sites should have the right to track my every move…

    then again… maybe not

    and if sites want to keep “earning” from advertising…use simple banners and a request to turn adblock off on the site, to “fund” them

    so turn of that popup blocker.. its stealing :)..

  42. Jim Lang · 2010-01-15 19:59 · #

    I certainly do not understand the argument that I should forced to view advertising. Am I allowed to go to the bathroom during commercial breaks or is that also wrong?

  43. c gilbert · 2010-01-16 21:08 · #

    I was here first, way before the internet had ads. What happened to ‘backward compatibility’? I’m ‘grandfathered in’. Why should they make me give up my searches, etc. If I’m living someplace and someone wants to put up a billboard next to my house, I should be able to say no. Most communities would back me up through zoning laws, etc. The internet is a common good, a public thoroughfare, even though the pieces may be privately owned.

  44. Sean · 2010-02-06 22:44 · #

    I agree that it is stealing, and even unethical. Websites provide free information with the understanding you will have ads displayed on it to support the website.

    Pretend you picked up a magazine, or a news paper for free, but it had no ads on it. How would the publishing companies pay to make them? They can’t without ads, unless they charge people money which defeats the purpose of giving them for free.

    The farther ad blocking software goes, the more publishers will restrict information that once was openly available to the public. Not only that, more websites would shift from banner ads to ads integrated into the content.

    What Jim said above:
    “Am I allowed to go to the bathroom during commercial breaks or is that also wrong?”
    Are you allowed to look away from the ads? Nobody forces you to watch commercials, nobody forces you to watch/read the ads. But they are still there. If commercials were taken off TV or blocked, the companies would have no way of paying for the programming. You would have to pay for each channel you want to watch. That’s why they still have commercials, and while they could mostly be irrelevant, there are some that could be relevant or some that interest you.

    Blocking ads is basically saying “Thanks for the free content, but I am not going to support your website or you Mr. Publisher.”

    If you enjoy a website, you should not block its advertisements, but instead keep them up regardless of how annoying they are. The websites you enjoy may fall off the face of the earth, or charge you for something you could have had for free. Ad blocking is only taking content without giving back to the publisher; it is unethical and a wrong thing to do.

  45. Mumm · 2010-08-17 09:04 · #

    Over time I have learned to read magazines without even seeing the ads. And the same with websites.

    That is, until Adblock Plus came along, and I suddenly discovered that I can now miss all the ads AND be productive too!

    Thank you Wladimir! You’re a star! I keep recommending Adblock Plus to everyone, and actively install it on every PC I support.

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