[Rejected] An approach to fair ad blocking

Various discussions related to Adblock Plus development

Postby Arne S » Tue May 12, 2009 2:29 pm

Asking about advertising – that's much better than my suggestion. It's clear and as neutral as it can get – doesn't imply either blocking or acceptance.
Arne S
 

Counter-proposal

Postby Daniel » Tue May 12, 2009 3:26 pm

This is a repost of my counter-proposal from the blog comments, since Wladimir said it was being discussed in the forum thread but I don't see it anywhere.

1. have the user configure what ads are acceptable with regards to format (text/image/flash), size (banner/leaderboard/rectangle/etc), sound, number of ads, etc. At installation ask the user if he wants to block ALL ads or the ANNOYING ads (that seems to be the 2 kinds of adblock users).

2. have adblock block all ads except when it encounters an iframe with an “ad” attribute that lists the properties of the ad displayed by that iframe

3. if the ad fits the user’s creteria, the iframe src is fetched and analyzed; if it fits with the stated description (e.g. no OBJECT tag for text or image ads) then the ad is displayed.

This scheme has the advantage that:

1. It’s not a simple matter of adding a meta-tag; the webmaster has to be somewhat dedicated about serving non-annoying ads
2. the webmaster has to disclose his ads; anything else is agressively blocked
3. we have a proto-standard that could eventually be adopted by the major browsers themselves
4. it promotes the use of iframe to load ads asynchronously and reduce overall page load time
5. in theory this allows the webmaster to provide fallback iframes for less-annoying version of certain ads, but that would allow detection of adblock :-(

I know this goes a fair way beyond the simple “patch” that you had in mind, but I think it has potential.


Wladimir Palant wrote:Your counter-proposal was/is being discussed in the forum thread I linked to. The obvious issue is that you have to make a decision on whether the ad should be blocked before it is loaded – at which point you know almost nothing about it.


I don't see where's the issue you mention. Once you load an iframe, that's simply another page that can be processed very much like the top page, except that you can tweak the ad-blocking algorithm to take into account the fact that this page is supposed to contain a specific kind of ad.

Or you could just skip the whole iframe part and block/allow ads based on their characteristics like comment#75 suggested. If there's any ambiguity of whether an ad meets the user-specified guidelines then it should be blocked. If you do that then webmasters will learn to create unambiguous ads... or they will lose impressions.

Adblock needs to be smarter, not to ask more questions to the user. No offense meant to your infuriatingly useful extension.
Daniel
 

Postby Wladimir Palant » Tue May 12, 2009 3:49 pm

@Daniel: Sorry, I meant the other forum thread (forgot that I have two forum links in the blog post): http://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic. ... 6207#26207
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it's already somewhat implemented on some sites

Postby Gunstick » Tue May 12, 2009 4:26 pm

some websites detect that their ads are blocked and display an inline text "we notice that you use ad blocking software. if you want to support the site please disable the blocking". On some of those sites I actually whitelisted them manually.

So I think that
a) webmasters are willing to add specific code to their pages to make this work
b) users are ready to click some buttons if they want to support the site
Gunstick
 

Postby Wladimir Palant » Tue May 12, 2009 4:33 pm

Gunstick, I don't think that this is the ideal solution:

1) The way these websites "detect" Adblock Plus is pretty unreliable (there is no direct way to detect Adblock Plus). Meaning that they are bound to annoy way more users than they would like.
2) They don't provide the user with the required information to make an informed decision.
3) This nag text is permanently there, the user has no easy way to switch it off. It will also be there regardless of whether the user is a frequent visitor (and might have an incentive to support this site) or just somebody who followed a link to an unknown website.

While webmasters are more concerned about the first issue, users are more concerned about the other two. Given this I think that my proposal isn't a bad compromise that both groups would prefer.
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Re: Opinions requested: An approach to fair ad blocking

Postby Original Anonymous » Tue May 12, 2009 6:05 pm

Wladimir Palant wrote:See here: http://adblockplus.org/blog/an-approach ... d-blocking

Feel free to comment here or in the blog comments.


Hi, before you really consider it, I'd like to add that the webmasters threw the first stone by having intrusive ads. Adblock is run by roughly 5% of the ~20% (firefox market share) of the people who are on the internet. Considering such a small community, I'd say it is a small victory, if any victory at all. Do the advertisers and webmasters really deserve this kind of mercy?

Secondly, aren't white lists enough so that people who want to see ads on their favorite websites do so themselves without being nagged to? After all, I am guessing that if a person is smart enough to get firefox, get adblock, and get its filters, they're smart enough to know about white lists.

Third, in your blog, to post #141, you mention that since that configuration of the browser doesn't save any history, the user won't be nagged. Could you elaborate on that? Doesn't browser keep track of history while the user is still running it? Wouldn't the user be nagged at that time?

Lastly, I'd really advise you not to implement this feature. Already people are up in arms about creating forks and de-throning you. Right now, your project is -your- project, and people know where to go to get it. If there's a fork, it may end up like linux with a ton of different versions, each offering a little extra feature. If that happens, people won't know where to go. Even worse, if there's an incompatibility in regex, all the hard earned filters will require extensive tweaking. Without a centralized solution, an excellent project such as this one could be doomed.
Original Anonymous
 

Re: Opinions requested: An approach to fair ad blocking

Postby Wladimir Palant » Tue May 12, 2009 7:08 pm

Original Anonymous wrote:Do the advertisers and webmasters really deserve this kind of mercy?

It is not about mercy - it is about shaping the Internet in a way that we would like.

Secondly, aren't white lists enough so that people who want to see ads on their favorite websites do so themselves without being nagged to?

Not really, considering that even from the people asking in the forum here many don't find the Adblock Plus options (that are easier to find than whitelisting).

Third, in your blog, to post #141, you mention that since that configuration of the browser doesn't save any history, the user won't be nagged. Could you elaborate on that? Doesn't browser keep track of history while the user is still running it? Wouldn't the user be nagged at that time?

The proposal requires at least seven days of history to work (the numbers in the real implementation might be different). If you keep your browser open for a week without deleting the history - that will be sufficient of course.

Already people are up in arms about creating forks and de-throning you.

I think that's the usual reaction to open source projects making unpopular changes. What these people don't realize is that maintaining such a project is actual work, open source or not. So I don't worry too much about that. What I would like to know however is how many of the millions Adblock Plus users really think like that - and I think I know how to get an idea about that.
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Postby ppb1701 » Tue May 12, 2009 7:50 pm

I think this is bad idea, and I would go for disabling it myself but here's my 2 cents...

I use this because I don't want to see ads, any ads. If I want to on a given site I'll disable adblock or load the page on internet explorer. The last thing I want regardless of how frequent it is are nag boxes asking if I'd like to unblock a site. Don't get me wrong, I get irked when firefox update launches the you've been updated page or when avg's toolbar made itself visible again after I'd hid it. I don't want stuff wasting space on my screen. Besides, it's not hard to turn ad block off and on anyway. For that matter I go hide annoying parts that aren't even ads if they get on my nerves enough.

Some of the posts were indicating a possibility of making the disable something to dig for...why? What's the first thing someones going to do if they are having trouble finding it...google (or similar) it and they'll still turn it off. Only now they will be annoyed with you and adblock because it wasn't either prompted on update or easy to find.

To my understanding ad block users are no where near a majority of net users, so what's the big deal anyway?
ppb1701
 

Postby test » Tue May 12, 2009 10:00 pm

I love your idea,
Personally i wouldn't mind an option, if it was technically possible,
to show all the ads but with no animation i.e only the first frame in a gif or flash.
test
 

Postby Original Anonymous » Tue May 12, 2009 10:11 pm

test wrote:I love your idea,
Personally i wouldn't mind an option, if it was technically possible,
to show all the ads but with no animation i.e only the first frame in a gif or flash.


Go to about:config, look for image.animation_mode and set it to 'none'.

But I agree. That's a good idea.
Original Anonymous
 

Oh please no

Postby Moose from Hell » Tue May 12, 2009 10:29 pm

You may as well have it pop up for every single website you visit because every website with advertising is going to jump onto this bandwagon. This is so redundant that it hurts.

Next you'll need an opt-in button for the opt-in button. What webmaster in their right mind wouldn't try to get their ads unblocked? I'd say every website will do this.

On that note, please don't implement this idea. I understand your reasoning, but you're fixing something that's not broken.
Moose from Hell
 

Postby steve » Tue May 12, 2009 11:25 pm

So you can sum all the reactions up:
There are (more or less) two parties:

- The ad haters, which will disable this feature immediately, simply because they dislike ads and don't trust webmasters, that they will use this "feature" responsibly. (including me)

- The other group doesn't mind text ads and trust webmasters, that they will use this feature with caution. Site owners also think, that this would help them.

There is a big unknown group of users, that haven't commented, but perhaps could be attributed to the second party.
steve
 

Re: Oh please no

Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed May 13, 2009 7:57 am

Moose from Hell wrote:You may as well have it pop up for every single website you visit because every website with advertising is going to jump onto this bandwagon.

Did you read the proposal? Even if the website has this tag, the message will only pop up on frequently visited sites - and even then there will be a limit on how often it can show up (probably once in a week).
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Postby Alberto » Wed May 13, 2009 10:07 am

I like the proposal, however there are few challenges ahead. Particularly, designing the user interface and flows.

When the notification is shown, I think it is proposed that it will await for user decision before showing the webpage.

- Have you considered showing the page without ads initially, to avoid breaking the flow? (ok, will be less annoying but more easy to ignore, but still visible to anyone that cares to read)

- What could happen if the notification is shown throughout a transaction? i.e. submitting a form, etc. Wouldn't that break some functionality if user accepts ads and then rejects?

- The notification message still looks pretty complex. How about a simple question, and also a "Learn more" link to a (local) webpage with further explanation. Also, a "Don't show me this again" link to a webpage that has further explanation and option to disable this feature (not defaulted, so users have to read first).
Alberto
 

Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed May 13, 2009 10:57 am

Alberto wrote:When the notification is shown, I think it is proposed that it will await for user decision before showing the webpage.

No, that's definitely not what it should do. The page should load as usually (meaning without ads). Only if the user clicks "What should it look like" a preview of that page with ads should be shown.

Alberto wrote:- What could happen if the notification is shown throughout a transaction? i.e. submitting a form, etc. Wouldn't that break some functionality if user accepts ads and then rejects?

It definitely shouldn't be shown for POST requests, already because you cannot easily show a preview then.

The notification message still looks pretty complex. How about a simple question, and also a "Learn more" link to a (local) webpage with further explanation. Also, a "Don't show me this again" link to a webpage that has further explanation and option to disable this feature (not defaulted, so users have to read first).


There have been some comments on shortening the message, e.g http://adblockplus.org/blog/an-approach-to-fair-ad-blocking#c002406 and http://adblockplus.org/blog/an-approach-to-fair-ad-blocking#c002416. The problem with a "Learn more" link - if we don't expect the user to read a message that's too long, do we really expect him to click the link and read a longer text? And if we don't expect him to do that we are effectively denying him important information.
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