The unnecesary Ars Technica rant · 2010-03-16 16:25 by Wladimir Palant
Please forgive me this (hopefully unusual) rant. It is simply that I am so disappointed. Over the years I learned that quality journalism is extremely rare. I also came to expect very little from the media (both online and offline) — most often, journalists fail at what I consider the very basics of their job, namely understanding what they are writing about and verifying the information (I very much appreciate the exceptions to that rule but they are just that — exceptions). No problem, if it is important I can usually find the original source and get myself an overview. As it is, getting me disappointed is hard. But apparently not impossible.
A few days ago I mentioned the article on ad blocking published by Ars Technica. I find the argumentation in that article weak to say the least — and so do many others. I put together a collection of interesting replies, most of which happen to put the Ars Technica article in a negative light — but that’s simply because I didn’t mention articles that didn’t bring any original points into the discussion. And I also linked to my own old article along with explanation why Ars Technica being paid for views rather than clicks doesn’t really contradict this article. I later removed that link because I found that Richard Chappell explained that point in a much better way.
One of the very first comments indirectly called me stupid and a hypocrite who simply doesn’t care about websites and their survival. Whoever commented there either didn’t read or didn’t understand what I wrote — but that’s not exactly unusual, I’m not denying anybody the right to express his opinion in my blog but I’m not going to discuss unreasonable opinions either. What actually got me upset is the fact that (as somebody pointed out later) this person is apparently a member of Ars Technica staff and a journalist.
Now I really don’t know Ars Technica. From what I heard I had the impression that it is one of the higher-quality tech news resources on the web. So I was rather surprised to see their rant against ad blocking lack proper argumentation. On the other hand, if members of their staff don’t know that you have to indicate it when you are commenting as a biased party, maybe that wasn’t so surprising after all?
Dear Ars Technica staff! I am fully aware that my knowledge of economics is incomplete at best. But I know that in a market you have to provide value to get paid. If you want advertisers to pay you should provide value to them. And: no, an ad that is downloaded but not viewed doesn’t provide value to the advertiser. An ad that is displayed but ignored doesn’t provide value. Only an ad that generates a sale (either directly because the user clicked it or indirectly via brand awareness and similar) provides value. If you see yourself being paid without providing a value than you either tricked whoever is paying you (this is often referred to as “fraud”) or it is a temporary state where whoever is paying you didn’t adjust to the new realities yet. Either way, it isn’t something to build a business on.
Feel free to come to my blog and convince me otherwise. Or maybe discuss the importance of brand awareness. Or maybe even suggest improvements that I could implement in Adblock Plus to make your life easier (without making the lives of my users miserable of course). But when your do so: please indicate who you are. Even if you are commenting as a private person rather than a representative of Ars Technica, the mere fact of who your employer is makes you a biased party in this discussion. And don’t forget: if you want your argumentation to be taken seriously you need to understand the arguments of the other side first.
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