Is choice for the webmaster not also important?

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Postby Ares2 » Thu May 07, 2009 4:13 pm

Wladimir Palant wrote:The idea was to categorize filters on the server side so that the user can choose how much he wants to block

Depending on the categories, this could be pretty much impossible (annoying, not annoying) or quite easy (third-party adservers always bad, first-party split up in 1. annoying $object,script 2. acceptable text/static image and maybe 3. 100% acceptable text/static image).
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Postby Lyx » Thu May 07, 2009 4:44 pm

Correct me if i'm wrong, but you seem to imply that it may be near impossible because its "subjective" (in quotes, because i consider subjectivity/objectivity a myth). People may have different "scales", but as long as the criteria for rating is consistent, there is no problem. After all, there are also people measuring stuff in meters and miles - and yet both measurements dont exist in parallel-worlds. If in doubt, just avoid values like "annoying" and instead just give them numbers. As long as the criteria and reference is constant, there is no problem.

Now, classifying all this stuff out there and keeping it updated... thats an entirely different problem... :)
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Postby Ares2 » Thu May 07, 2009 4:59 pm

If you really can provide criteria for the annoying/not annoying question that 1. most users agree with and 2. make it easy to understand what ads will be blocked if someone chooses category x, please tell me. :) Then classifying and maintaining also wouldn't be that hard.

As mentioned above, the only way I see to reliably classify the filters is based on third-party/first-party and content type (object/script->layer/image/embed->text).
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Postby Lyx » Thu May 07, 2009 7:24 pm

For the following criteria to work, it is necessary to be able to predict how the loaded page will look like. As wladimir pointed out, this currently isn't possible to do in an automated way. This also means, that the following criteria are probably less useful for generic filters. So, for now i'm focussing on site-specific filters, where the ads can be "reviewed" manually. I'm also leaving out the privacy and security aspect.

How much does it interfere with content?
Referencepoints:
4. Potentially blocks or complicates interaction (popups, popunders, layer-popups, etc.)
3. Difficult to distinguish from content (hijacking words in content for adlinks, strongly embedded in content)
2. Distinguishable but connected to content designwise and layoutwise
1. Clearly seperated from content (both in terms of distance and design)

Attention-whore / Distraction factor
Criteria:
- Overall Size
- Font-sizes and similiar (is it basically screaming at you?)
- Animation
- How many other ads are stacked with it? (Quantity)

Placement (for LTR):
Referencepoints:
4. Middle/embedded
3. Left / Top
2. Right
1. Bottom

Usefulness:
4. Misleading / Fake / Desinformation
3. Random / topic irrelevant
2. Topic related but not directly related to the content
1. Topic related and potentially useful regarding the content

It is not necessary efficient to lump all those aspects together into one single rating. It may be useful to instead allow the user to filter based on multiple aspects and criteria. That also solves the issue that some users may consider one aspect less relevant than another user.
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Postby flashstorm » Thu May 07, 2009 8:38 pm

Luthair wrote:Should Television stations also be able to require viewers watch and listen to commercials?


This is an entirely different story. Firstly, ad revenue is not directly paid to content makers on TV, they are paid to the network. The content makers recieve their agreed-upon stipend despite ad revenue. (sure, the agreed upon stipend may increase with the popularity of the content, but then you're confusing cause and effect.)

Secondly, ad revenues on tv are not based on number of times the specific ad is watched, or the number of times the ad is responded to like it is on the new. revenues are pre-decided. So even if no body watches a specific show at some point, or if every one watches it with ad-evading techniques, no one is deprived any revenue (except maybe for advertisers, but they're not paying for views, they're paying for airtime).
I do not agree that the content provider / webmaster doesn't have the ability to say "No" to people who don't view ads.

mrbene wrote:An easy solution is to require log-in, and have server side code that validates that some portion of the ad code is delivered along with pages to the users. If they don't view the ads but do view the content, give them a warning, or take whatever action is desired.

Technically this could be done against IP + User Agent combination, but that would have a (small) chance of collision.

The way the internet works means that an HTML file that is not protected by authentication is available to anyone. Authentication can be by username/password, or could be by web browser type, or other aspect. But if none of that is done, then the expectation should be that it will be accessed without the ads at least some of the time.
While I agree this is a good suggestion, I don't feel that it fully answers the concern. This doesn't give the webmaster to power to deny a user at access-time in the same way that ABP gives the user the means to deny content at access-time. Being able to go back and "punish" users, while a start, is not quite as effective or "equal" of a solution as I was looking for.


p2u wrote:@ flashstorm

And what if you look at the issue from another angle? Webmasters want to make money; that's all right. BUT: most of the time, they don't even check server permissions. Besides, they implement client application usage on the web that is inherently unsafe. When you get infected online, it is 99,9% through 'ad channels', coming from third parties. Blocking scripts and ads is not just a matter of trying to take away a webmasters earnings, you know. There is surely a security factor involved in all this. And NOBODY will guarantee our safety online. As long as that is the case, I have a right to do what's best for my computer. What do you say to that?

Paul
While I contest the accuracy of your stated statistic, it is irrelevant to my point so I am not going to directly respond to it. In no way am I justifying that a webmaster should be able to infect a users computer with malware, forcibly or otherwise, knowingly or otherwise. The "access denied" page would be locally stored, and safe. Users will still be allowed to surf with ad-blockers, and if a webmaster wants to allow a user with such software to access the rest of their content, they're perfectly free to do so. The only concern I have is that there is currently no reasonably-practical, efficient, safe, and accurate way for a webmaster to deny someone from using their content without generating the revenue that they intended to generate, and that the responsibility to provide this should belong with the ad-blockers.

Wladimir Palant wrote:I wrote a few recommendations for webmasters a while ago: http://adblockplus.org/blog/ethics-of-b ... mendations

Yes, doing that requires a lot more effort. But it will also make sure that your ads are both more affective and not perceived as an annoyance.

Generally, I do think that considering webmasters wishes wouldn't be a bad thing (see for example http://www.thegooglecache.com/rants-and-raves/a-meta-solution-for-adblocking-ethics/). But I am also most certain that the user should be making the final decision - anything else would just lead to abuse, we have seen it before.
I believe that the suggestion in the above link you provided is exactly what I'm thinking. However, I disagree that it should be the user's final decision if this decision is to violate the wishes of the webmaster. (not that we can stop a user from blocking ads if they really wanted to, but a compromise as suggested above I'm sure would be enough to satisfy most users).

@Lyx: Your post doesn't really deal with user's ability to deny ads vs. webmaster's non-ability to deny users.

LorenzoC wrote:If one day ADBlock can't block ads, I would switch to one of the other ways to get the same result, which usually involve the use of a local proxy.
ADBlock will always be able to block ads. Users just wont be able to view some sites if they choose to block ads.

@Discussion concerning setting up a different filter set for ads: How does this solve the issue? It's still possible for a user to click "block all ads", even if it isn't default, and we run into the same problem.
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Postby Lyx » Thu May 07, 2009 9:06 pm

flashstorm wrote:@Lyx: Your post doesn't really deal with user's ability to deny ads vs. webmaster's non-ability to deny users.


lyx wrote:Still, all those arguments against ads change nothing about the simple fact, that here, the user is given the option to say "no", while the site owner isn't given that option. It is not a mutual agreement in that regard.


I'd say, either you mistake me for someone else, or you didn't read that post at all, because it ONLY dealt with exactly that point.

- Lyx
Lyx
 

Postby flashstorm » Thu May 07, 2009 9:10 pm

Lyx wrote:
flashstorm wrote:@Lyx: Your post doesn't really deal with user's ability to deny ads vs. webmaster's non-ability to deny users.


lyx wrote:Still, all those arguments against ads change nothing about the simple fact, that here, the user is given the option to say "no", while the site owner isn't given that option. It is not a mutual agreement in that regard.


I'd say, either you mistake me for someone else, or you didn't read that post at all, because it ONLY dealt with exactly that point.

- Lyx
I was referencing your second post, the one that follows. Sorry for the confusion. As to your above comment, I didn't not reply because I agree with it.

Lyx wrote:There is another aspect, which i just noticed. Typical reasons why a user may dislike ad-usage on a page:

1. Privacy & Security concerns
2. Interferes with normal page content (positioning, popups, etc)
3. Not interested in any ads at all
4. The intensity and quantity is so high, that it is distractive and feels invasive

Now, i would argue that if you substract point 1., it isnt that the majority of adblocking users dislike ANY ads - not even the users to which point 3. applies. Rather, i think that for most users, it is really a combination of 2. and 4., with varrying levels of tolerance. In other words: I think the majority of adblocking users wouldn't mind ads, as long as they are - in terms of quantity, placement and intensity - at levels with which the user is comfortable.

Now, intensity may be difficult to measure with a computer, but quantity, positioning and behaviour is something, which the browser knows already!
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Postby mrbene » Thu May 07, 2009 9:13 pm

OK, so consider "subjective" to describe a case where a human decision transforms a range of possibilities into a binary state, whereas "objective" to describe a native binary state.

As has been indicated, ABP really focuses on the "objective" filtration - is the resource 3rd party or not, does the URL match this filter or not?

To be honest, you've describe a rating system that depends on subjective analysis. Sure, some of them could be measured in an absolute manner (does it or does it not generate a pop-up?), but several of them require that an arbitrary point be selected from a range of possible behaviors.

Realistically, the people who know what the ads are going to be like are the ad networks. Maybe this type of user choice really should be something the web site owners push the ad providers to expose? This is something that Google seems to have started moving towards with their "ad preferences" thing.
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Postby Lyx » Thu May 07, 2009 9:32 pm

@mrbene: Your definition of "subjective" and "objective" - just like basically ANY definition of those terms, makes no sense at all. What you actually mean, is simply if the undisplayed ad-metadata is to be rated, or if the ad-display is to be rated. And: Both can with *sufficient* accuracy be rated. But the application adblock itself, may not have the necessary capabilities to rate both AUTOMATICALLY (i.e., as wladimir pointed out: before a script is loaded, there is no way to tell what it will do).

@flashstorm:
Perhaps i'm thinking a little further than you do. I'm quite aware, that if one looks at ONLY that single issue, and nothing else, it is unfair. However, i also think about "what would happen if we'd do it differently?"

Well, lets play this through:

Preconditions:
- At least the big portals which display ads, are greedy. Greedy here does not necessarily imply "profit-oriented", but rather self-focussed and short-sighted - the typical mindset of a corporate-collective.

- A large part of users are not willing to pay a price for saying "no". That is: If multiple stuff stops working, they are probable to succumb to the conditions of the site-owner, instead of reacting with "Well, i'd rather pass, than accepting a deal with which i'm not comfortable with".

- Most users as well as corporations are currently thinking of the hole ad-situation as a binary issue. Either all kinds of ads, or no ads at all. With such a mindset, a fair solution for both cannot be found.

So, here's what will happen next:
1. Adblock allows site owners to say no.
2. All site owners waste the chance and instead blindly say "no".
3. Users notice that lots of sites don't work anymore and are not willing to endure it.
4. No, what happens next isn't that site owners get what they want.... rather, what will happen next, is EXACTLY THE SAME SITUATION AS IS NOW - because guess what? Another adblocking software comes out, which will not allow site owners to say "no", because they abused that (again).

To put it simple: As long as there is no mutual consensus on both sites, how to do it right, it will always just end up the same way again, as it is now. And thats why in this thread, i changed my course by looking for ways how to "shape" the whole ad-situation to something, in which both sides are satisfied.
Lyx
 

Postby Wladimir Palant » Fri May 08, 2009 7:57 am

flashstorm wrote:ADBlock will always be able to block ads. Users just wont be able to view some sites if they choose to block ads.

Sorry, I am definitely not going there. We have seen that idea before and we know what it boils down to - for the webmaster, blocking Adblock Plus users usually looks like a good thing. If we allow this, most sites will start using it which will mean that user's browsing experience is fully controlled by the webmasters again. Adblock Plus is about giving that control back to the user. Encouraging ads that are not annoying by letting users accept those ads while blocking everything else - that's the way to go IMHO.

@Lyx: Thanks for the nice list of criteria - yes, that's the kind of gradation we would have ideally. Of course, the problem is that rating ads by these criteria cannot be done automatically (as mrbene pointed out), this requires a human decision. The other complication is banner rotation - the same ad network might serve acceptable ads at one point but something absolutely unacceptable (annoying animation, sound etc) a few minutes later. And of course - most filters deal with ad networks independent of the website using them but placement for example is determined by the website. I don't expect ad networks to cooperate with us on this any time soon (categorizing ads means a high effort for them, they still have trouble filtering out malware ads), so we should find a solution that works by itself.
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Postby Wladimir Palant » Fri May 08, 2009 8:00 am

Ares2 wrote:As mentioned above, the only way I see to reliably classify the filters is based on third-party/first-party and content type (object/script->layer/image/embed->text).

Yes, that would be the trivial solution. Allowing all first-party ads, disabling all element hiding (text ads) - that's the options we can give users immediately. As to content types, I am not sure how meaningful that still is. Aren't most ads scripts these days? Or would we allow the scripts to go through just to see what they will put into the page?
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Postby prinn » Sun May 10, 2009 6:39 am

How interested, are you, in offering a solution which is useful to those who block ads due to the privacy threats? I ask, because, although purely static text/image ads might not be annoying or pose a security threat, there is simply no telling what threat they pose in terms of privacy. AdblockPlus has absolutely no way of knowing who will process the request and generate the response. At best it can GUESS... HOPE... that www.example.com/ad.jpg comes from the same host as www.example.com/index.html. Given that the context is advertising and user specific targeted advertising is so commonplace (and becoming even more common and elaborate if not hidden), that is a risky guess.
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Postby Wladimir Palant » Sun May 10, 2009 11:21 am

prinn, first-party ads have no privacy implications - they are served by the same site that you are already visiting and it has all the info on you anyway.
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Postby prinn » Sun May 10, 2009 2:37 pm

At best the client can assure that it only ISSUES ad requests to the same exact host/address as that which it issued the page request to. How the request is processed and by whom is effectively unknowable to client.

The client may be connecting through a virtual IP Address with ordinary requests switched to the "thought trustworthy server" and ad requests switched to a third party ad network server.

The "thought trustworthy server" may be acting as a partial or full proxy for the ads, exchanging data (including client IP and cookie data) with third party ad network servers.

These are not purely hypothetical scenarios. I've observed detailed discussions regarding such implementations over the years. I don't know who might be using such techniques today, but I know one thing... were ad blockers to give same host ads a pass, webmasters would be looking for such solutions. What webmaster wants to concern themselves with ad buys, billing, and so forth?
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Postby Wladimir Palant » Sun May 10, 2009 7:43 pm

prinn wrote:At best the client can assure that it only ISSUES ad requests to the same exact host/address as that which it issued the page request to. How the request is processed and by whom is effectively unknowable to client.

That's true for any request - including the one requesting the webpage itself. Depending on the webserver, you might be connecting to a reverse proxy that will pull the information from different sources (including a third-party it will send your data to). That's something you cannot really prevent, it can only be dealt with by non-technical means (privacy policies). First-party ad calls definitely don't make a difference here, you are still talking to only one server and it up to this server to deal with your data responsibly. Third-party ads are different, here you are explicitly talking to third-party servers, something you likely don't want if you are concerned about privacy.
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