A Mind Lost

Anything and everything.

Adblock those Bastards

I love Adblock Plus.  It may very well be the best addon ever written for Firefox, and it’s always the first thing I install after the browser.  I like having a choice with regards to what I’m downloading and viewing.

What I don’t like are websites that try to guilt me in to not blocking their advertisements.

I started using the Internet way back in the early 90’s.  My first forays online involved a 14.4k modem, a friend’s college ISP, a remote shell, and a text mode browser and ftp client.  Back in this pre-dot-com bubble era, the contents of the Internet were largely free (as in beer).  Most of the sites I frequented were University run web and ftp archives containing information that their authors wanted to share with anyone interested.  There was no flash, no pop-ups or unders, no animated gifs, no crap being pushed down my throat.

Needless to say, I pine for these days much as a parrot might pine for the fjords.

Now, I understand that running a website with even a modest amount of traffic is certainly not cheap, but if you don’t want people looking at your content without your “getting something out of it”, then don’t put it in an openly accessible site in the first place.  Who do these people think they are to tell me what I must look at?  Between constant phone calls from people who can barely speak English trying to sell me shit, to junk (snail) mail and a never ending number of e-mails trying to sell and swindle, I certainly don’t need any more.  I pay for my bandwidth, not for someone to dictate how I use it.  As the end-viewer, your bandwidth use and other costs are of little concern to me.  That’s your problem to deal with, just as my bandwidth consumption is mine.  If you expect remuneration for your efforts, why are you making your content “freely” available to anyone in the first place?  If you can’t afford it, it’s time to change your business model, and if you don’t want people wandering by looking at what you’ve got start closing the doors.

Also, don’t let programmers act as PR.

If you’re not cool with that, buy a subscription. If you’re not cool with that, add this to your hosts list:

arstechnica.com 127.0.0.1

Wow, clever.

If you’re not willing to unblock our ads, we’re fairly happy for you to not read the content we work very hard on, or to just stop visiting the site altogether.

I never realized that sitting at a computer paraphrasing a few paragraphs and inserting a few images and links to another site was considered very hard work. Phew, I’m so exhausted already I don’t think I can manage to throw in any images.  Oh wait, he’s a “programmer”, he must mean all the behind the scenes sitting down and typing that most of the article contributors don’t touch.

All this does is keep clueless people who don’t understand what’s going on from seeing your content. They will just assume your site’s broken and never come back.
That’s fine.

They know perfectly well that sites depend on advertising for revenue and that ad blocking deprives them of some portion of that revenue. They just don’t care. Some of them, like fucking Wladimir Palant, go to great lengths to deny that this is what they are doing, even going so far as to deny that ads make money for websites! It’s absurd.

You’re right, I don’t care.  This is like someone telling me that if I want to sit down and watch the 6 PM News (The Article), I am not allowed to mute or otherwise ignore the commercials (The Advertisements), even though I pay for cable television (The ISP) without paying any money directly to the television channel itself (The Website).  Yeah right.

One Hairy Gunt summarized it fairly well:

I have a Tivo. Am I stealing when I use it to skip ads on recorded programs?

I have an iPod. Am I stealing when I use it to skip ads on podcasts?

I have Adblock. Am I stealing when I use it to skip ads on websites?

In some ways, Ars reminds me of the movie and recording industries. They’re retaliating against their users rather than recognising that their business model is broken. Good luck with that.

These quotes all come from the comments of an unrelated article over on arstechnica.com.  Watch out for the small print browse wrap User Agreement at the bottom of the site, which is in itself ridiculous.

Section IV Part 1 Paragraph I
The copying [browsers cache content], reproduction [by it’s very nature it must be reproduced on the local computer], publication, display [if it cannot be displayed, how are we to view it in the first place], rearrangement, redistribution, modification, revision, alteration, cropping, re-sizing [I have poor eyesight, am I expected to squint really hard rather than enlarging the view], reverse engineering [yarr, reverse engineering marked up text be a lucrative market ripe for piracy], movement [I’m moving the window between two displays.  Suck it!], removal, deletion, or other use or change by you, directly or indirectly, of any such Website Content, including but not limited to the removal or alteration of advertising, is strictly prohibited [You have no fucking right to tell me what I do with my computer (as long as I’m not breaking any laws of course)].

In the end, I don’t feel I’m a leech.  Your content has purposefully been placed in a public location that I have access to without having to circumvent any protective measures.  I have no obligation to view anything else, questionable “User Agreement” or not.  I don’t owe you anything, as you are not charging me for goods or services in the first place.  It’s your job, as a business, to try to sell me a product that I want, not to push crap that I don’t.

Not that it really matters to me in this case, if I’ve visited Ars Technica a dozen times during its existence I’d be surprised.

Yes, you are missing something. You do not understand the business model of the advertising-driven website… but that’s okay, because most people who run them don’t understand it, either.

The readers are not the customer. The customer is the advertiser, and the readers are the product which that website promises to deliver. But the readers, being the product and not the customer, have no obligation to the site or its bottom line.

The fisherman may supply bait to the fish, but the fish is not the customer of the fisherman, and is under no obligation to swallow the hook.
— Whisper, reddit.com

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