[Rejected] An approach to fair ad blocking

Various discussions related to Adblock Plus development

Postby Reporter » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:54 pm

Response to http://adblockplus.org/blog/an-approach ... ck-summary

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.


Apart from notifications, you may consider adding a frame. Ads blocked will be replaced by a small cross frame (or something which look nice and natural). This won't be annoying and you may switch it off in the option if you don't want it at all.

It's good and it can remind people what has been blocked. Another plus is if you see that frame in a unintended place. Chance is that something non-ad is blocked incorrectly.

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.


What about setup a wizard for the first time? Present the dialog. Ask them which option before usage.

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 adblockplus.org 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.


Sounds great but not in reality. Despite technical problems, one reason why people are annoyed at ads are some put up tracking ads which invade their privacy. Implementing something like this will raise a lot of suspicious and distrust. Has Wladimir bowed down to the advertisers? Is there any hidden agenda?

There are going to be more headaches than benefits.

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.


What about shortening the button texts first?

Three options:
"Preview"
"Yes" (=Disable)
"No" (=Keep enabling)
----

After all we have different people to cater for. They use Adblock Plus for many different purposes. And most probably don't want to fine-tune their filters.

So I think the best is to offer different filter lists with different purposes. KillAnnoyingAds <-- This is a list which only blocks annoying ads.

Users decide what filter subscription suits them best, ranging from very aggressive to moderate blah blah...
Reporter
 

Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:12 pm

Reporter wrote:Apart from notifications, you may consider adding a frame. Ads blocked will be replaced by a small cross frame (or something which look nice and natural).

That's not going to work - anything inserted into the webpage can be manipulated by the webpage. We don't want webpages to land on the whitelist because they manipulated the text displayed to the user.

It's good and it can remind people what has been blocked.

Showing a placeholder for ads that were blocked is something I am still considering - it is far from trivial however.

What about setup a wizard for the first time? Present the dialog. Ask them which option before usage.

Asking people to answer a question before they had a chance to use the extension is pointless - they won't know and (more importantly) simply won't care.
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Postby reepicheep » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:33 pm

Reporter wrote:Apart from notifications, you may consider adding a frame. Ads blocked will be replaced by a small cross frame (or something which look nice and natural). This won't be annoying and you may switch it off in the option if you don't want it at all.

It's good and it can remind people what has been blocked. ...


But some of us could not care whether there was an ad there or not. Good ridance to it. Don't even mention that it was there. Just ignore it. It's gone. Forget it.


Sounds great but not in reality. Despite technical problems, one reason why people are annoyed at ads are some put up tracking ads which invade their privacy.


Nope! We're annoyed by the ads. Period. That people who are even more unscrupulous put tracking on ads is simply an extra excuse to block ads.

Users decide what filter subscription suits them best, ranging from very aggressive to moderate blah blah...


Already done. Decided on filters to take out all ads. To quote Napolean "no ads, good; ads bad".
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Postby Nemesis6 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:45 am

I hate commercials so much that I stopped watching TV because of it. Actually I realized how shitty European TV is, but the commercials helped me realized how paying for old shit from the 90s with 5 minute commercial breaks every 15 minutes just takes the concept of stupidity to a whole new level. When I discovered that I could block this stuff on the internet, I went for it, and I can't say I regret it. It's distracting(animated gifs), noisy(SmileyCentral anyone?), and downright annoying. To give some perspective: I'd love to switch to Chrome, but it's not happening. I realize that every time I visit a website in it with ads.

In my opinion, the focus should be on things like pre-caching a whole website, now THAT is wrong.
NEDM
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Postby petruc » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:43 am

Wladimir,

I use ABP since 2006 and I sincerely find it to be one the most useful pieces of software ever, and not only for ad blocking (I also use it to quickly block $image or $script temporarily when it is needed - it's quicker that FF's options window).

I must admit I was surprised by this feature proposal - at the first moment negatively but, after reading more about it, seeing that feedback of community is being taken into account and knowing how hard you work on ABP (it immediately remembered me of http://adblockplus.org/blog/investigating-filter-matching-algorithms), I do trust in your work and can't wait to see this feature in action! : )

So, just my 2 cents...

About the top yellow notification... I dislike them mainly because they almost never explain well enough what's going on and thus it's hard to take a decision about it (actually that was more true for IE than for FF, but I got traumatized...). Another annoyance is that all different messages appear very similar with that yellowish background and it takes me some time just to understand what's it about (cookies? popup blocker? ABP? site mimic of a notification?). I realize there's no better alternative, and hope ABP pushes the scenario of notifications usage to the "good side", so here it goes:

Frequency: someone said there could be a 1 per week limit across all sites... well, maybe up to 3 per week across all sites could be okay, but not more.

Now for the text, yet another suggestion:

"This site says it's ads aren't obstructive. Since you often visit it, would you like to unblock it's ads to help support the site financially? [What would it look like?] [No, thanks] [More options...] [X]"

I think "This site" is clearer than "The site www.example.com". Dynamic info such as site's url tends to alter the message appearance and adds extra difficulty to identify what's the notification about. A static notification would be easier to spot and would immediately make the user think: "Oh, another site that relies on ads to sustain this free content. Does it worth to unblock their ads?", allowing the user to concentrate in the decision rather than in reading the notification, making this feature less inconvenient.

You made it very well of not putting a "Yes" button right here but leaving it for the preview window, avoiding "accidents". And also the ABP icon on the left (as in the picture example you posted) is imperative to make it further clearer what the notification is about.

Now for the preview's notification:
"This is how the site will look like if you unblock it's ads. [Yes, unblock the ads] [No, thanks]"
Any of the buttons should close the preview right away and return to the page of the first notification. Maybe the [Yes] button could reload the page so the user sees his option in effect?

[No, thanks], in both warnings (1st and preview), should NEVER display the notification again for the site forever, no matter what, unless those notifications are reset (see More options button explanation below).

[More options...] would be a shortcut to something such as a "ABP Notifications Options" dialog (which should also be accessible from ABP toolbar/statusbar button's mini menu and from ABP main window's menus).
There the user could do the following:
- Disable (or reenable) the notification feature for future sites.
- List previous sites where the notification was answered by the user, indicating in a "Ads" column whether "Blocked", "Unblocked", "Ask again" (see below for this last one). Here the user could change his decision for any sites, or delete some old sites, or even clear the list.

And the little red [X] to close the notification would have the "Later" effect of postponing the notification for one week (site would appear on the list as "Ask again"), and eventually the "No, thanks" effect if the user clicks the [X] again in the second notification for the same site. Maybe you would prefer to display a textual [Ask again later] button with the same effect.

----

The META tag is a great idea.

And just another thing. To define what would be a often visited site... Maybe visits in at least 5 different days (not necessarily continuous) in the whole browser history? By the way, this might not work if the browser is set to less than 5 days of history (such as mine), but...

And finally... I don't think ad unblocking will really help most free sites on the long run. Rarely a visitor clicks an ad at all, and even more seldom he buys something from there. Sites still currently receive money per ad click or exhibition, but sooner or later advertisers will realize it's not worth such investment and will reduce drastically web advertising, forcing those sites to either go offline (at least in the markets where they couldn't find enough ads partners, such as veoh.com outside US and Europe) or sell special subscriptions or "premium services". That's how it seems to evolute, even with the majority of users out there who don't block ads. As for me, thehungersite.com is the only site where I unblock ads.

I'm really sorry for such a long post, but hopefully it can help somehow.

Many congratulations for AdBlock Plus, Wladimir!
petruc
petruc
 

Postby Wladimir Palant » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:56 am

petruc, thanks a lot for the good suggestions!

To most of them my comments just go along the lines of "yes, this is worth considering" or "yes, that's what I thought as well". Only one note:
To define what would be a often visited site... Maybe visits in at least 5 different days (not necessarily continuous) in the whole browser history?

The problem with "the whole browser history" is that searching the entire history is slow (you notice it when you type something into the location bar, it takes a while until the last of the results comes in). Restricting it to one week should keep the effort reasonably low. Also, it accounts for changes in your browsing behavior, a website that you frequented two months ago isn't necessarily one that you still care about.
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Postby petruc » Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:10 am

Hi again, Wladimir! Thank you for the reply!

searching the entire history is slow

Oh yes, that's very true...

a website that you frequented two months ago isn't necessarily one that you still care about

...and that is also so true! Sites one relies on for his (almost) daily navigating satisfaction (lol) are the ones which should worth being supported by him.

Good luck with the feature! : )
petruc
 

Postby undefined » Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:16 am

I have to say that I really don't like the idea of using a yellow bar to request that users unblock ads. Personally, I find those yellow bars really annoying. The place I'd rather see it is in the status bar, but I suppose that would place a strict limit on the length of the message...

I'm not so sure about having it enabled automatically by default, either. Am I using AdBlock, or AdNag? It's no big deal for me, I like to look through the options of programs/extensions and customize them to my liking. But what about those users who can't even find the option to disable ABP on their favorite websites? I can just imagine all the posts on this and other forums the day it was released, asking how to get the prior version of ABP back instead of this "downgrade". And then maybe someone would fork it, users would jump ship, and we'd be back to square one.

I also think the meta tag you've proposed would lose its meaning after a while. Only a very tiny fraction of websites want users to be able to block their ads, so virtually everybody is going to start adding this tag. After a while, it will end up being nothing more than a pointless string of text bloating up web pages, much like the IE compatibility tag that Microsoft originally planned for IE8 probably would have been.

Anyway, all this may sound negative, but I'm actually not against the idea entirely. I just don't like the way you've proposed to implement it.

My suggestion it to add a few configuration options and a brief explanation to the "first run window" (the one where new users can choose a filter subscription). Users could choose to enable or disable the option there, with enabled being the default choice if you wish. Perhaps they could have an option to choose where to put the notice, too. (yellow information bar, status bar, somewhere else?) For existing ABP users, either show them a dedicated window for that when they upgrade, or just leave it disabled as they're used to by default.
undefined
 

Postby berzerk » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:09 am

Well, seems like this will end up in the old time behaviour.

Previously, users were clicking away popup windows all day long, now they will be clicking away requests all day long.
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Postby Philip Goddard » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:13 pm

I finally came back to Adblock Plus just yesterday. I'd had it installed for a while I think last year, but I came to the conclusion that it was superfluous for me, not because of anything wrong about it but because the web filtering of Outpost Pro firewall actually blocked the ads before anything else could 'see' them.

One thing I liked about Outpost's behaviour was that it substituted "[ad]" for each ad, and that "[ad]" still carried the original link, so basically I could still hover my mouse over any link to see where it pointed to, and click on it if I wanted (not that I ever did want to!). I liked being able to see where on the page ads had been blocked, as well as still having the freedom to click on links. However, on some reputable commercial sites Outpost blocked many product images that were not ads at all, and that was a pain because there was no quick way to unblock them without temporarily disabling the firewall or at least most or all of its web filtering.

Because of an incompatibility between Outpost and my antivirus (Avira Antivir Premium), I'm now having to run Outpost with its web filtering disabled, yet Antivir's Webguard doesn't block ads - so I've come back to Adblock Plus and for the first time experienced it actually having the opportunity to do its job.

This comes like a breath of fresh air. At first I felt almost affronted by ABP's so efficiently blocking all ads and not showing any markers or placeholders on the web page (a feature that I really do feel would improve the 'feel' of ABP if it were implemented). But then I quickly found that it was extremely quick and easy to unblock any element that I didn't want blocked. Thus my original impression of ABP as verging on the Draconian and over-zealous has quickly changed to that of it being a great liberator, because, rather than forcing me not to see any ads, it simply gives me control over what ads I see or don't see.

So, unlike some people, I don't see an ethical issue with ABP in its current form at all. That especially because people who want to block ads would usually, though of course not in all cases, be people who (like myself) wouldn't click on ads anyway and wouldn't be swayed towards purchasing goods on the basis of advertisements. With such people, their blocking of ads therefore could NOT in anyway 'hurt' advertising-supported sites, because they would not click on the ads anyway.

Indeed, I see it as an affront and an attempt to impose advertising upon us, for people to seek to make us feel that we are doing something wrong or unworthy in blocking ads that we would never respond to anyway and simply find to be an annoyance and intrusion upon us. Nobody is under any sort of ethical obligation to be confronted by ads, and I most certainly would object strongly to little nagging or guilt-raking prompts appearing (even if only occasionally), effectively implying that I'm harming some sites by blocking their ads. As I say, I couldn't be harming any sites by doing so, because I don't respond to ads anyway.

If nagging prompts were eventually to get incorporated into ABP in some form, unless I were able simply to turn them off permanently I would at once start looking out for an alternative ad blocker. ABP is tremendous as it is - in my view, tremendous not just because it can block ads very efficiently, but because it gives the user so much freedom of choice through near-instant reconfigurations.

At any time I can (and occasionally do) middle click on the ABP icon to disable it, so I can look at a page unfiltered. That's proper user control - not mindless content blocking for the sake of it. Others may wish to use ABP the other way round - to have it disabled most of the time and enable it only for pages with particularly obtrusive ads. We already have that freedom right there with just a mouse click.

Incidentally, I would suggest that if users of ABP were given the option of having markers or placeholders left on the web page in lieu of the ads, they be given the further choice of whether the original ad links be preserved on the page or suppressed.

Well, there's my three pennies' worth, which I hope will in some way prove helpful.
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I decide what I view

Postby blocking4malware » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:49 am

How is it reasonable to require me to not block content I do not want to see?

I use adblock because I want to. They do not have to use adblock. They might want me to not-use adblock. Bummer. I disagree. I continue to use adblock.

Why do they not change their site to sell content? Signup with a credit card processing gateway and test how "valuable" their content is in the open market.

Could it be they realize the could not get any sales?

How exactly is that my problem?
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Re: Opinions requested: An approach to fair ad blocking

Postby Hamlet » Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:00 pm

I have a recurring nightmare..

One day you rename the project to CheeseBlock(tm).
Tagline: It's like AdBlock, only with holes! (At the size of Switzerland..)

Q: But why would I wanna use it then?
A: Because - at the great mercy of global companies - you might be allowed to block one or two ads a day. Isn't that grateful? Isn't that grand?
That's [brand name X] for you - all the waste, none of the taste.

*a subliminal jingle plays as I wake up from that awful hypno-ad(tm)*
Hamlet
 

Re: Opinions requested: An approach to fair ad blocking

Postby Princess_Frosty » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:24 pm

Just interested to know what the outcome of this is likely to be? I know you've read a lot of opinions now and was wondering if it was going to lead to any changes?

I've recently become interested again in adblocking which is mostly because I started my own website (which contains no ads) and started thinking of the topic. This supposed ethical dilemma interests me greatly even though I don't believe people have the "right" to expect ad revenue.
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Re: Opinions requested: An approach to fair ad blocking

Postby Maciej Szajna » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:49 pm

Wouldn't it be beter to create adblocking mode that would download ads but wouldn't show them? Most tracking systems would be fooled by the trick, webmasters would have their money and users wouldn't get annoyed by ads.

Just don't know how difficult would be to implement the feature (didn't looked at the ABP source yet).
Maciej Szajna
 

Re: Opinions requested: An approach to fair ad blocking

Postby Philip Goddard » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:54 pm

With respect, that would be really naff, because one of the points of blocking unwanted content is the speeding of page loading. I most certainly don't want to be kept waiting for content that I'm not going to see anyway!
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