AdBlock, NoScript & Ghostery – The Trifecta Of Evil [Opinion]

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why adblock is badOver the past few months, I’ve been contacted by a good number of readers who have had problems downloading our guides, or why they can’t see the login buttons or comments not loading; and in 99% of cases, it’s because they’re running one these plugins – AdBlock, NoScript, or Ghostery – which I shall hereby refer to as the “trifecta of evil”. Here’s why.

AdBlock

Matt has already written an extensive article on why AdBlock plugin is destroying the Internet, but I want to throw my own opinion in here too.

For those of you who don’t know, AdBlock silently removes all advertising and social buttons. The thing is – those ads pay my salary, as well as the other full time editors, professionals writers, and dedicated server costs that make MakeUseOf what it is. We believe strongly in a free content model – whereby we provide free, high quality, full content to you with no restrictions – in exchange for showing you advertising. Apologies if you think my definition of free is defective, but you’re arguing over semantics and kind of missing the point.

What makes me angry about the AdBlock plugin is that the author – while happy to destroy our revenue stream – is also profiteering from the very same free content model by asking for PayPal donations when the plugin is installed. Talk about hypocrisy.

I understand that some adverts can be annoying – and we do try to remove any that auto-play a video or make noise on page load as soon as we identify them (contrary to popular belief, site owners do not choose the ads that get displayed, but we can kill them off if we find inappropriate or annoying ones, and we have requested that no such video ads be displayed as a general rule) – but the free content model is entirely what keeps the online world afloat. If you want online content to all be premium priced then go right ahead and continue using Adblock. Ultimately you need to remember that if everyone cheated the system like AdBlock users do, the Internet would only exist behind paywalls.

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NoScript

In days gone by, Javascript was the bane of the Internet, along with flashing GIF’s. Blocking Javascript used to make sense from both a safety standpoint (most browser vulnerabilities came through Javascript), and a usability perspective (Javascript was initially only used for silly effects and annoying tricks and popups).

But the Internet has very much moved on and evolved from those early days. Browsers aren’t as vulnerable as they used to be. Moreover, Javascript is an integral component of modern HTML5 standards, and jQuery – the most popular Javascript framework – has pushed forward web interfaces far, far beyond pages full of images, links and tables. The modern Internet must have Javascript.

adblock is bad

So when you use NoScript, you’re breaking the Internet. Not only do you drag webpages 10 years into the past, but you prevent essential modern page components from loading – hit counters and such – which again, hurts our bottom line by not giving us an accurate picture of who visits our page; as well as obviously blocking ads. From a user perspective, you’re going to find a whole host of features that don’t work as expected.

In an ideal world, websites would be able to degrade all of their advanced functionality to users without Javascript with some kind of no-JS alternative. In the real world, we’re limited in what we can do by working hours and budgets – and really, why should we support you if you’re not willing to support us by displaying ads?

Ghostery

I hadn’t heard of this until recently, but Ghostery appears to be the ultimate do-not-track plugin. It tells you exactly what companies, ad networks, and tracking services are being downloaded from a site, and allows you to selectively enable them. It presents users with 2 types of cookies (‘trackers’) – those downloaded directly from the site (such as WordPress remembering you’re logged in) – and so-called “3PES” – or third-party elements. The latter are any cookies from ad networks, analytics platforms, and user behavioural trackers.

On the one hand, I think it’s important that users are educated about what’s going on behind the scenes on a site. Ghostery maintains a know your elements glossary of all the known tracking scripts and the companies they belong to – it’s comprehensive, and I applaud it. But educating people and blocking them are different, and given that the majority of users simply leave it blocking everything, the end result is the exact same as NoScript or Adblock – users enjoying our content, without creating revenue.

why adblock is bad

So how much can these companies actually “track” your web usage? Well for one, they certainly aren’t able to see what you’re doing in other tabs, other windows, or general Internet searching. They only keep a record of sites in their network which you’ve browsed to. If company X puts a cookie on the New York Times and MSNBC site, and you browse to both those and Wikipedia, it only knows about the two upon on which it was placed. In other words, they can’t tell that your other tab is open on Asian Hotties or cheatonmywife.com.

By far the easiest way to keep your private browsing actually private is to keep one particular browser, a portable thumbdrive version perhaps, to do all those browsing needs in.

So even if a tracking script does follow some of your browsing habits, is it such a big deal? At the very worst end of the scale (that is, not the ones that simply act like hit counters), they’re being used for what’s called a behaviourally-targeted market.

It works like this: you visit a well known car enthusiast site, a cookie lands on your computer saying “this person likes cars”, and any other sites you visit which are curated by the same ad company will find that cookie and say “he likes cars, so let’s show him car ads”. If you think that’s somehow ethically wrong, then stop watching TV, because they do exactly the same thing. During cooking shows, a large number of ads for cooking appliances and kitchen stuff will show. Toys, during kids programming. Heck, there’s even a bus-stop ad campaign in the UK that only shows itself when a female walks by. Hows that for targeted?

Scare tactics are part of the problem, from conspiracy theorists who believe the government is watching them and now the Internet tracking companies know their every move too. Trouble is, a lot of people without technical knowledge on the subject believe those scare tactics. Now the Internet knows you’re secretly into big ladies smothered in whipped cream, and you can be sure they’re going to use it against you.

Basically though, it comes down to this – we provide thousands of articles, free book guides, and a community-driven technical support service – in return for which, we ask that you don’t block adverts.

Now I realise of course that I’ve only presented one side of the argument here. I’ll admit right now that when you throw social networks into the mix, we may have serious privacy concerns – because suddenly, all this data can be traced back to you and not simply an anonymous user. I’ll leave that to another time or another author to present that side of the argument though. And just for the record, we won’t be locking you out of the site if you decide to not support us by removing ads. We may show a little message asking you not to do it, but we will never lock you out.

Do you disagree completely with what I’ve said? Feel free to vent your frustrations in the comments. Or do you agree with me, and think the whole do-not-track movement is crazy?

Image credit: Devils from Shutterstock

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542 Comments -

Dave Yuhas

I feel your pain, but Adblock, et al will not “kill the Internet.” ¬†

Tamar Weinberg

Maybe it doesn’t kill the Internet, Dave, but it certainly harms the livelihoods of the people whose content you are consuming without any consideration for the work put into that content.

I LOVED AdBlock for the longest time. I haven’t used it in ages. Why? Because I respect and recognize the people who toiled to give me that which I am currently reading. If I don’t like a banner ad, you know what I do? I ignore it. Many can mentally turn off the ads if they don’t like them. Sometimes, though, that ad may actually be interesting.

Erez Zukerman

¬†Tamar, so cool to see you replying on MakeUseOf! And of course, as a writer, I fully agree with what you’re sayingg. AdBlock is tempting… but disabling it seems to be the right thing to do.

Leslie A. Joy

¬†That’s an excellent point. Plus, as a general rule ads have gotten WAY less annoying over the years.

Steve Nordquist

Noted the site linked in association with your name; it’s some domain squatting garbage that’s annoying. So; thanks for playing, and your family is going to be the future deorbiting site for garbage haulers, so you’d best buy the mineral rights there soon.

James Bruce

Please don’t be rude. It’s not domain squatting, it just means they haven’t set up a website there yet. Relax already.

Steve Nordquist

You should read The Paris Review (or other edited works’) notes on payment for content; in sort, like hell should people who care about what they read defer to ad cluster-something for half (or more, or less) of their attention. Erez should know better himself; as a writer (and not least a voracious reader,) he should know time is drawn by the ads on the page, which he competes with.

People got studies done on it; the 500th identical TopCow ad still takes time way more than a/500 seconds to read (a is constant, unless impression ‘size’ up and varied…)

Got an exercise for you; get 10 (issues of) magazines.
Now open enough tabs to represent those 10 magazines the way you’d read them online, at the same time, monitoring bandwidth for the site in particular….
Compare the electrical and internet bills for each (since some of the time with the magazines, you might need lights on.) Now keep hating print and NoScript/ScriptNo/AdBlock/NoBugs/etc.

I think a better reaction would be to write an ad firm app that updated the joke ‘[Creepy voice:] I know where you go to shop, for groceries, for drugs, for things you put on your skin
…..
At the grocery store, like everyone else.’

James Bruce

You think the electrical and bandwidth cost compares even minutely to the cost of printing a paper substitute?

Nonsense…Unless you’re browsing from a mobile phone in a foreign country, which is the only case in which you’re statement has even the slightest bit of truth to it.

Steve Nordquist

Of course it does; certainly with client-side costs it’s near parity, though it’s nice to save on server pipe booking with an iPad edition. Have people at least stopped senseless proxy refresh/page reloading? I also make a claim on memory footprint to-do, though neither on the trouble of carrying your Zune, phone, portable console (as in game), laptop and iPad simultaneously, nor on e-waste (not least because referring to peoples’ MyPrecious as a waste stream to get the carbon footprint is hazardous.) I know I don’t blow half my data contracts (as a reader) for a year using Conde Nast print; that’s a big help, though online images often look like a pretty good match somehow at 1/2000 the data size. Maybe they proof them out specially (seam carving and all that…) So, you never blow your data limit just watching the same sites (plus ads?)

Petr

Alright, I agree with ads being necessary and all – but I think the greatest problem lies in pre-play ads on Youtube and other servers. I don’t mind those who turn off after 5 seconds if you want to. But some are not skippable (has anyone said VEVO?) and that is very unfair – everyone should have a chance to ignore the ad – even on TV you can change the channel. It is my idea anyways, I’m not saying that companies like to abuse us – they just have to do something to get their money back.

jrockstar

Awwe, poor you, prevented from spamming people with garbage advertisements that people don’t want to see in the first place…obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t use a program like “adblock” So, I guess this makes it more difficult to har-ass and annoy people right? It pays your salary? How is that possible unless thousands of people are clicking on the ad? Oh, wait a minute, that is when you get even more aggressive, and make it pop-under, or completely take over the entire webpage where one has no choice but to click it in order to see the site they are on. I am sure you have a million tricks, forgive my lack of terminology, or knowledge because I am a simple consumer, and one of those people that hate being harrassed by your advertisements, tracked, spammed, have my location/email stolen to send your trash emails on deals I could care less about, etc. You know what they say…”If you can’t beat em’ join em” Point being, instead of crying about it, you may want to consider another occupation because people are sick to death of your junk…Furthermore, if not already, you may have noticed there is a dying Market for your profession…One example being this particular one. Oh, also, I have been a professional in Marketing/Advertising/Promotion, and sales for the last 20 years myself…I woke up and realized it was time for a change as a result of all the above. Good luck, stop whining, and do something else…

James Bruce

A dying market for my profession … of web developer? You seem to be a little out of touch with reality, don’t you?

Stefan

“Web developer”? I’m sorry, but everyone and their mother calls themselves a “web developer” nowadays. Writing articles doesn’t make you a developer, even knowing HTML and Javascript doesn’t make you one, while we’re at it.
As an actual developer I also presume your technical ability is very limited, because you think websites _need_ Javascript, by explicitly saying for example a hit counter requires Javascript which is simply not true (just parse your access log, which is easier, more reliable and doesn’t bug your user with decreased rendering times etc).
If you don’t want to provide a fallback from Javascript, your choice. But don’t complain about the users you lost because you were lazy, providing a fallback is not as difficult as you make it sound. Javascript should be considered an extra, a convenience, not the basis of the design.
And yes, there are still security vulnerabilities, as many as ever. In addition to the old reasons which are still current, marketers have lost the trust of end-users and have themselves to blame for abusing the technology (pop-unders etc).
What I personally dislike the most about this article is your blatant disregard in responsibility towards your users. “Conspiracy theories” you say? As a developer I can’t only see that the user likes toys. I can read between the lines and conclude from those big ad networks that the user is gay, because he is a man, bought The Swan and bought tickets for a concert which is mostly frequented by gay people. This kind of calculated information is worth hard cash and may be problematic for you.

In other news, you sound like shoe makers flailing their arms and crying about machines replacing their Fine Art (TM) instead of moving with the times and finding a new way to make money. History repeats itself and nobody feels sorry for people who are not willing to adapt.

William Oliver

The only thing I use adblock to block is the malware domains list. If you’re using an add supported website it’s rude and verging on theft to block the adds.

Jolls

Saying it’s like theft is akin to stating that someone using the “female only ad” targeted bus terminal in the article mentioned ad example is verging on theft if she covers her face and body so the ad won’t play. ¬†

James Bruce

Hmm, interesting point. It’s my fault for drawing a parallel there I guess, but my question would be why would she not want the ad to play?

Jolls

I do think that it was a good parallel!  But then again, I think that because my internet-worldview sees adblock the same way as your example, just something that helps me do what I do in semi-privacy.

Good question as well, my return question is ‘does it matter?’¬† And I mean that in a non-snotty, genuine question kind of way.¬† Whether it’s security, or not wanting to be bothered, or less eye/ear clutter for her, or just a straight detest for marketing material despite the fact that marketing helps the world go round?¬† Does it matter?

To me, it doesn’t matter because it’s her choice and she doesn’t directly interfere with anyone else by making said decision for whatever rationale she desires.¬† If she directly interfered (instead of covering herself to hide from the ad, she were to mess with or break the ad television itself) then that would obviously be wrong; but we aren’t discussing the obvious here, just the subtle. :-)

Jolls

Yikes, I don’t know what I did but just for the record the above post has no relation to the profile it links too. ¬†I do not own a dog. ¬†;-)

James Bruce

I.. what?

Aibek

:)

LL

I’m not sure that is a serious question but if it is, I offer my answer:
Because she doesn’t want to. Isn’t that enough for you?

Anon

You shouldn’t have to have explain why you don’t want to be tracked, profiled or collected on–it’s a basic human right, protected by law in almost every country.

Do you want people to take photos of you in your house, at work, on the street or in your car? Would you feel violated if you found a folder of all your personal habits in a strangers hands?

The rest of the planet should not have to bend their perception of privacy and civil liberties in order for you to make money, which is what you’re asking.

Ironically, your post comment button is broken on Chrome for OS X even with AdBlock disabled; I had to switch to Safari just to post this. If you’re crazy enough to call yourself a web developer, I am sorely disappointed and would not hire you. A fallback from Javascript, at the very least for a post comment button (that shouldn’t even require it in the first place) is incredibly poor programming.

Luis J. Villanueva

You lose points when you label something as evil without considering why these plugins are so popular (are your readers evil too?). Many sites use intrusive ads and questionable tracking practices and users are getting tired of those. Adblock is not shoving an ad on my face and at least lets me turn it off in the sites that I want. 
How about we have a real conversation about the abuses of ads and tracking and discuss possible fair solutions instead of blaming the users?

Tamar Weinberg

Luis, only a very small subset of AdBlock users are using it because of intrusive ads and questionable tracking purposes. The bottom line is that AdBlock users — myself included (until I stopped using AdBlock) — want to hide ads. They don’t care what the ads are doing. They also don’t consider the fact that ads hurt the livelihoods of the people who are toiling hard to provide readers with interesting articles and content.¬†

Consider how AdBlock blocks nearly ALL of the ads on the web. Maybe 5-10% of those ads/sites (and I’m likely being generous) are questionable. Is that a reason to have AdBlock’s presence so¬†ubiquitous¬†so as to hurt others¬†because¬†you’re upset at a few bad apples on the ‘net? Seems pretty offensive to those of us who help provide that content for you guys.

So yeah, since I was one of those users once until I was in the shoes of content creator, I think I, too, am justified in blaming myself and others who clearly feel it’s appropriate to hurt everyone because of a bit of anger toward some jerks on the Internet who seem to ruin it for everyone else.

You know what a better solution would be? Don’t visit those websites. Maybe even expose their tactics to the greater WWW. But don’t punish everyone else because you’re disgruntled with how some bad folks choose to unethically monetize their content.

Luis J. Villanueva

Do you have any evidence to justify what you are saying? Besides, the point is that the argument that these plugins are “evil” is too simplistic.¬†
Your solution to just not visit the sites are one option, but in some categories we don’t have that luxury.¬†

Tamar Weinberg

Luis, as I’ve written, I speak from my own experience. The guy I married used AdBlock for the same reasons I did. I recommended AdBlock once upon a time not for questionable tracking purposes but to hide ads — plain and simple.¬†

Most people I know just don’t want to see ads — you’re more than welcome to find out if it’s because of those more “malicious” tracking purposes. (What’s the tracking for, anyway? To serve people more targeted ads? That can’t be good at all!) But when that’s not the case, these regular ad-block users don’t realize that ads help put food on the table for writers of these sites.

I’m not saying I agree that it’s an issue of just mere “evil.” I do think, though, being in ad sales too and working for sites that are monetized through ad content, that it’s unfair to apply AdBlock to every site out there just because of displaced anger toward a few sites. That’s how AdBlock works, though. Out of the box, it blocks. That unfortunately hurts publishers.

James Bruce

Thanks Tamar, you’ve made a well reasoned argument there and I appreciate your input.¬†

With regards to the title of “evil”, it’s just poetic licence. “(Plugins) Create a Negative Effect on Revenue Models and No End of Support Issues” just isn’t as catchy!

Leslie A. Joy

I agree with your point-I just want to raise my hand as one of those people who uses AdBlock Plus for malaware blocking/social sharing widget blocking, and white-lists sites I support. We do exist! 

Tamar Weinberg

Leslie – interestingly enough, I used to block Digg widgets through AdBlock back in the day when they were banning accounts left and right and even published a tip on how one can do that. I hear ya. But I know that many others block *everything* and there’s a negative consequence to that for hardworking writers.

Pan Chromatic

I would not want or allow any individual I know to track my location or any other parameter of my existence, unless they were my bodyguard or something similar. Why would I allow any of these advertising organizations to do the same?

Does anyone remember what happened with the Radiohead album release a few years back? They released their album for free/donation over the web and made more $ than they ever had with the standard distribution model. Let’s see every site that runs ads on the web also augment their site with a Flattr Button or some donation method. Give it some time and see how well you make out.

I agree with Louis that y’all should police yourselves and then come talk to us consumers about letting down our defenses.I can’t help but hopefully wonder if the entire concept of advertising and the industry it envelops are past their point of¬†usefulness¬†to our species. Can I draw an analogy from those profiteers to those in the health-insurance industry? Parasites.

Hel M.

¬†I use ad-block because I put a lot of effort into cultivating what I give brain-space to. Ads, particularly internet ads, pretty universally play on the worst stereotypes and prejudices. I’m not willing to give that kind of crud brainspace. It’s also a safety/privacy issue, as the ads that are blocked could, were they displayed, load a tracking cookie. I’m absolutely not willing to have my web browsing tracked, period. As for noscript, this single article page wants to run scripts from 15 different domains if I view the article. I’m not about to expose my computer to that kind of risk just to read an article.

I want content creators to be paid for their work, but not at the expense of my privacy and security. There need to be new models that don’t put those goals (user privacy&security and creator livelihood) at odds. But so long as those goals ARE at odds? I’m going to be coming down on the side of my security and privacy.

And I’d also like some citation for the numbers you’re quoting, cos they seem awfully anecdata-ish.

Tamar Weinberg

“Luis, as I’ve written, I speak from my own experience.”
…should answer the question regarding the citation you need. But maybe I will make a real survey one day.

Just a note, I work in ad sales.¬†Clearly you’ve been so isolated from advertisements and the improvements over the years that you don’t know anything about them anymore. They are not intended to universally play on stereotypes. They are intended to *help* the advertiser AND the reader. That’s how you have an experience that ensures that an advertiser renews — because they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck since people are clicking and signing up for the advertised service or buying the product. And while there are exceptions when third-party served, most are served simply by a single graphic (GIF) and do not include a tracking cookie. A lot of sites use Google AdSense and those advertisers have no way to integrate tracking cookies.

Therefore, while I wholly respect your argument, you’re simply misinformed about the true risks of advertising and make the assumption that it’s a privacy/security concern. I think you should be more concerned with Facebook or Twitter privacy than ad privacy.

Finally, I reiterate this point when it does come to additional tracking, which really barely happens, at least in my¬†experience: “What’s the tracking for, anyway? To serve people more targeted ads? That can’t be good at all!” I mean, wouldn’t you be interested in services you may not know about but would totally suit your professional/personal needs? And if not, why not?¬†

If you want content creators to be paid for their work, then you’re going to have to make some concessions. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Ethical publishers are cognizant of privacy (read privacy policies to see what data may be collected, if anything) and they shouldn’t be punished.

Hel M.

You’re being very “my experience is of course universal and applies to everyone and anyone who says their experience is different must be wrong”, which isn’t productive.

I see plenty of ads. I see ads in magazines, on tv, when I use any computer other than mine (which is pretty often as I do computer repair and education). Your lack of ability to recognize the stereotypes that are on display doesn’t mean they’re not there.

And you assume I’m not concerned about Facebook or twitter privacy, wrongly. Plus you’re trying to tell me what my concerns should be, which is silencing rather than discussion.

If you really experience almost no tracking, I’m surprised. Like I said, I do computer repair, and I’ve yet to encounter an unprotected computer that didn’t have dozens if not hundreds of tracking cookies. And I do know the difference between useful cookies and tracking cookies, so when I say tracking cookies, I mean tracking cookies.

And it’s funny how you’re so sure that folks would want targeted ads, but every single time I’ve explained tracking cookies to folks I’m working for (generally senior citizens) they find the idea of companies watching what they do online to offer them ads relevant to their interests to be appalling. There’s a reason no one likes junk mail either.

No, I’m not interested in services I don’t know about that are presented to me based on being tracked. I find this intrusive. For others it can be outright dangerous. You did hear about the teenage who was outed to their parents based on facebook tracking, right? The one who got kicked out of the house? Threatened with violence? I think you’re foolish if you think that was an isolated incident rather than exactly the kind of thing that happens over and over when one allows tracking, or is ignorant of it happening.

You’re doing really well at silencing bingo tho! “Mountain out of a molehill, I’d think you’d worry more about X than this, in my experience it’s not a problem, it’s really to help you” One more and you “win”!

Tamar Weinberg

Not saying it’s wrong, but I’m saying from another angle that it isn’t right either.¬†

I have friends/family who use it for the same reasons I said. Again, there’s no scientific fact in anything I’ve said, and I’ve acknowledged this as being purely anecdotal thus far (that’s why I want a survey), but I’d be inclined to say that many are in the same boat as I was.

I know what tracking cookies are. I also am looking at all of them right now. Most of them are tied to the sites I explicitly opt into visit, rather than being tied to ads. 

I said before and I said again: I do respect your argument, but I think there’s another side to the story that people don’t recognize and that’s the fact that by simply blocking ads, they are preventing the people who work hard to provide them with hours of online entertainment the ability to feed their families. You may think it’s totally appalling, but that’s only one side of the coin. I’ve been on both. When people start seeing it from different angles, they typically are more agreeable.¬†

What people don’t understand is that most ads — when they track — don’t track truly identifying information. They know about the content you read, sure, and they can target good ads to that content. But these trackers don’t really get granular about who you are. After all, Google — which has a boatload of information on me and could truly do it if it wanted to — can’t even get it right:¬†http://mashable.com/2012/01/25/google-cookies/¬†(Just a note, Google also says I am a 35-44 year old man. They were 0/2 on that.)

As a note, I appreciate that you are also concerned about privacy on social networks, and I wasn’t trying to imply anything with that correlation. But I think you need to look at privacy on the ad side as a little less evil as you believe it is — because that’s not the intention here.¬†

James Bruce

Google thinks everyone is a 35-44 year old man , I reckon. I’ve never been so insulted!

Tug

So I assume that you never skip ads on TV by using a DVR?

Guest

I think that you’re missing something here.¬†

1. AdBlock has a fairly extensive white list now, Sites that agree to not use overbearing ads can be whitelisted automatically, I’m not up on all the details, but it was a controversial move, but one that was needed, IMHO.¬†
2. If we stop visiting sites that have bad practices when it comes to tracking, content creators will stop getting nearly as much traffic. Those sites include major social media outlets. 

Adblock is also just as useful as something like userstyles and user scripts. Its great for blocking out elements of any type that you don’t want to see. I really should use it to block out comment sections on most sites :D It’s also a good way to kill facebook features that you don’t like.¬†

I think that perhaps, instead of trashing these elements, you might think about what drives people to use them. It’s bad mojo from creepy ads that follow you, its that virus that you got from an ad a few years back, its the obscene flashing, noisy add that is right in the middle of the page that makes you want to throw the computer out the window. Think about these things, and instead of calling users of a particular software extension selfish, maybe try to fix what makes them want to use it on your site?¬†

Tamar Weinberg

John:

As I said, out of the box, it doesn’t, and most people don’t know how to configure it.¬†

And that also addresses your later¬†comment¬†about “what makes them want to use it on [my] site.” Yup, they don’t know how to turn it off, so they’ll use it¬†because¬†someone else recommended it to them.

Beelymagee

Javascript is a necessity for Internet browsers, but it also opens the door for drive-by infections like the fake Antivirus infections of 2009 & 2010. I did stop using NoScript on Firefox because it was also such a headache to maintain. I will defintely give the points made in this article some serious thought. Thanks for the well-written info.

VasiaUVI

I understand what you are saying but there are a LOT of sites which are full of ads. For example the news papers sites from my country are more ads than news. Plus the fact that they put pop-ups ads or, if from mistake I hoover above an add a windows appear is¬†annoying… This kind of sites kill the internet, not AdBlock or Ghostery. I use all those addons plus some more and I don’t have any problems anymore.

But, because MakeUseOf is a great site I will place on “whitelist” and maybe you should make a tutorial how everyone to do this and in this way to help MakeUseOf.

Tamar Weinberg

If those sites killed the Internet, they wouldn’t exist. But they still do. Maybe it’s because they have good content if you don’t consider the ads.

Ed

An obvious rejoinder is that: If AdBlock was killing the Internet, it¬†wouldn’t exist. But it still does. Maybe it’s because it has good intent if you don’t consider the unintended consequences.

Tamar Weinberg

Yeah, but those unintended consequences hurt those publishers. 

I don’t love all ads; heck, I don’t love most of them. But I’d rather take an ad over destroying livelihoods any day.

Vance Packard

I use both adblock plus and ghostery. I don’t want to see ads and I don’t feel it’s anyones business which sites I visit. If the author has such a disdain for people using these useful tools maybe he can get a widget that blocks people using them from seeing his content.

Trevor Lenten

Well if adblock is the bane of this site, why offer ways to subscribe to articles via RSS and email? I have adblock installed BUT because I was asked to whitelist this site I have done so. 

James Bruce

Thank you for whitelisting. 

You raise an interesting point about RSS and email subscription, but generally a visitor who subscribes like that is likely to come back time and time again / enter competitions / partipate on the site also. There’s value in that, to us. A lot of advertising is aimed at users who don’t return again – they search, come to the site, click on an ad, and are gone. So I guess RSS subscriptions are like a service to regular readers, and we choose to not to jam those full of ads.¬†

Trevor Lenten

Ah right on

Apostolos Karakousis

Actually you are quite missing the point. The user is free to choose. And with so many users, the ones with blockers should be minimal. You should also be able to get your own ‘please donate’ button wherever you write. It’s your article after all. If not, consider a different revenue model.

As far as noScript goes, do you know that standards enforce the html content provider to have also a version for people that cannot use js? For example the visually impaired. Did you ever think of those? Todays sites are too cluttered to find the information you want. We need more good content that visual candy.

And we DO need a completely anonymizing system. You shouldn’t be able to track myself. Only my behavior. Your. Not the advertising companies’.

All in all I don’t see anything negative in these products.¬†

Or let me put it on an other way? What’s next? Make jailbreak unlawful? :(

M.S. Smith


If not, consider a different revenue model.”

Which would be?

As I said in my own article about adblocking, these “different revenue models” are unicorns.¬†

Peter

Necessity is the mother of all invention. Soon there will be a work around for adblock, then someone else will invent another way of blocking ads. What’s required is innovation how internet advertising works rather than complaining about people doing what’s in their own best interests. To claim it will never happen understates the internet in my opinion.

Obscura

“…these “different revenue models” are unicorns.”

Only when your product has little to no value.

Pan Chromatic

“Unicorns”…I suppose your profits are dependent on your expenditures.

I have used VLC Media Player for close to a decade and it has always been free. Not a unicorn.

James Bruce

I agree, the question of anonymity is important, and I’m glad you’d be happy for us to track your behaviour, not your identity.¬†

We could consider adding a donate button to remove ads. that would essentially be starting a premium version of the site though, I wonder how the majority would feel about that. 

Qtg

Though I agree somewhat, it’s a bit ironic that it comes from a website that writes articles on how to best download from torrents.¬†

Anon

‘starting a premium version of the site’?

I don’t know why you make such elaborate jumps and extrapolation but as a reader it is insulting. A donation button simply provides a way for concerned users who value your content to make a contribution and get nothing in return (i.e., a ‘donation’) — this does not segregate users or create a premium version of the site in any way shape or form.

You chose to insert that phrase in order to downplay the value of alternative additional revenue stream because it is less convenient for you.

The bottom line is that users will come for your content; if your content is trash or caters to a niche market then advertising is likely to be your only revenue. It’s a content problem not a user one; as a content publisher and businessmen you find a way to a) market to your users, b) provide a service that your users appreciate and c) monetize your work in a way that your users respect.

You approach it from the reverse angle where you expect your readers to bend to your will and as such I will no longer be visiting MakeUseOf and I’ll be making blogs posts in my communities to similar effect.

safaricompanion

Yet Make Use Of has Ghostery and NoScript on its best Firefox addons list.

Aibek

yep, that’s because the best of lists are compiled based on suggestions from readers)

Lee

I understand that ads create revenue, but they really make pages look cluttered. I tried turning it off for a while and sites,¬†especially¬†YouTube, loaded slower and were very cluttered with ads that I wouldn’t click on anyway.
I have disabled (well at least tried to, I’m not sure if it actually worked or not) MakeUseOf, mainly because of the huge banner at the top of some pages about disabling AdBlock (ironically, that banner didn’t go away when I whitelisted MUO).
Every time I read one of these articles, I feel inspired to disable adblock, but then the internet becomes really cluttered and I enable it again.
I don’t mind unobtrusive ads (especially just text ads like what’s in gmail and such) but huge flashy image ones are really annoying.

James Bruce

It should disappear if the ads are showing. It checks the height of the ad container, that’s all.¬†

Cbrbill

All three members of your own trifecta are included in the best Chrome extensions and the best firefox addons on your own site….
Just sayin!

Aibek

that’s because the best of lists are compiled based on suggestions from readers))

James Bruce

I completely agree. Including them was downright irresponsible, and I certainly didn’t write that. I humbly ask that you disable them all on MakeUseOf.

Serge SIMON

That’s totally illogic saying that “adblock is killing the internet”.

I’ve NEVER clicked on a single ad on a website when i hadn’t adblock.¬†
Never.
Oh, maybe one time, but just because i had been tricked (with a full background page being a geant ad).
And from time to time, ads became more and more intrusive : more ads, bigger ads, a ton of ads on any webpage, popups, more popups, tricks, more tricks. That’s the total illogic point.
Then i discovered adblock, and i can surf quietly. It’s a really better experience.

So is adblock killing the internet ? No.
Are people like me who anyway won’t click on any ad (even if they don’t have adblock) ? They’re not killing the internet, they’re just saying “we don’t want an internet with the same crap than there is for a few decades on TV”.

Guest

1. Speaking of illogical points, you might want to reconsider your understanding of advertising income streams. You’re only talking about clicks. That is NOT the only factor in ad revenue. Some pay for impressions instead.¬†

2. “we don’t want an internet with the same crap than there is for a few decades on TV” — Then you’d better be prepared to pay for it. Creating quality content (of any variety) takes time and sometimes even a good deal of money. Hosting that content takes resources. Ads often pay for it so YOU don’t have to. If you aren’t willing to pay outright for that content when you block ads, you don’t respect the site owner and content creators enough to be there in the first place.

Ian

Most people pay for TV, but it still has ads. I don’t think you are making a valid point.

Brian Beardsall

¬†While I agree with you that adblockers are taking away content creators revenue, and that it is impossible to see the full internet with noscript, I think that users should always be in control of their own privacy. And why can’t ads be displayed without trackers?

James Bruce

they can, they just don’t make as much money. Hence, we would need more of them, or would be forced to use those kind of deceptive “click here to download” ads that basically trick you. Personalizing ads is a win-win situation for everyone.¬†

kuey

Agreed! I do think intrusive ads are a problem and surfing with AdBlock makes for a much better experience, but the whole privacy panic is getting a bit much. People are advocating for changes that goes to the heart of the business model and technology of the Internet. Aside from ads, consider this:

On reddit, you “upvote” certain stories you like. When you upvote, the website keeps track that you did in fact upvote. To make sure you don’t upvote again, it ties your account to the story. If they can’t “track” you like this, you lose the whole upvote feature, or at least turn it into something where anybody can vote up a story any number of times, rendering the feature useless metric for popularity.

Now ads are a little different, to be sure. You don’t affirmatively interact with the ads. You don’t know anything at all about most of these ad networks. Nevertheless, these “cookies” and “tracking” is what enables advertisements to be more valuable not only to the user but to websites and companies. I think the scary part of this is not so much THAT we’re being tracked, but that we don’t know when we’re being tracked. I think these ad networks and tech companies are culpable but only insofar as they don’t explain to their users what they’re collecting, how it’s being used, and most importantly, how it generates value for everybody.

I think we need to strike a balance. I think users should know when and where they’re being tracked, but we shouldn’t ban the practice outright (not that I think this is going to happen). The real danger is imposing too high of a transaction cost for users to consent/opt-in to being tracked such that they will not want to consent simply because they have to click through 10 screens and read a giant wall of legalese-text. We should also be mindful of the value of “tracking,” and how laws regarding privacy can affect the usefulness of technology.

(I know it’s long, but;) EDIT: Tracking has been standard WWW practice since forever. It’s a large part of how the Internet generates value.

Sanityvoid

As mentioned, the minimal ppl who use the 3 are not going to affect very many bottom lines. I heard like only 3% of the internet uses NoScript. If so, yes that is a lot of ppl but all the internet does not visit your site so you’re even less affected.

I use the 3 for the simple reason of security. You don’t can’t trust sites to not harm your computer. If you do ANY sort of online banking there is no effing way I wouldn’t use the big 3.

The problem is the advertisers don’t always know what ads are being pushed by their customers. In this day and age, it is big business to infect computers, so I take precaution.

Sorry for all those hard pressed people trying to make money on the internet. The business model is broken if you can even make money on the internet in the first place by simply writing an article about something like above. 

I don’t feel bad for your lack of income, now reporters have it bad. There old school method of circulation is dead or dying.

Still even more, are you an expert on this? How many qualifications do you have? It becomes a matter of how qualified is one person writing an article on the internet? How many people can they affect if they get wrong info?

I’ve seen articles posting about, “use this new program it’s great” only to find out the program had a virus or trojan in it. Thus every person who read the article and downloaded it was infected.

Only way to be safe is to be safe in practices, and the big 3 help the little guy do just that.

James Bruce

I don’t follow your argument with regards to online banking. Cookies can’t steal your passwords and neither can javascript. It’s that kind of misinformation that causes problems. Malware and viruses, sure – but that’s a different issue entirely.¬†

I’m also not sure why you think our business model is broken. We provide an awful lot of high quality content at makeuseof, for free. If you think our business model is broken then I’d be happy to hear your alternative ideas. Personally, I’m glad the old ways of printing words on paper is dying. It’s a waste, frankly. I also subscribe to certain publications, and they also advertise. Do you think we should charge you money, and advertise to you? No, well then suggest an alternative model. We’re all ears.¬†

As for me being an expert, that’s a good question. How do you know that anyone is qualified? Would you like me to write my qualifications in the author info box? Because I only get a limited space there.¬†

The issue of software being actually infected is a very serious issue indeed, and there are times when something has slipped under the radar here at MUO, but I can assure they have been dealt with swiftly and apologies made. Sometimes, the links will actually change as time goes by, so an article from 5 years ago might now point to malware which wasn’t originally there. In that case, we only react when users inform us; and it’s neccessary to be vigilant on your end. If an article is 5 years old, perhaps be a little cautious. We’re not asking you to disable virus checkers, you know.¬†

Sarahdayski

Its ok saying you dont have certain ad’s on your sites but unfortunately that is not the case with many sites that are just full of adverts.¬† I applaud you for being thoughtful on what adverts you allow.

Guest

I’ve come to a middle point with ads, where I use FlashBlock to block all that irritating Flash arround the web and only allow that one on trusted webpages.

James Bruce

I agree. Flash is annoying, buggy, and slows the entire online world to a crawl. There’s just no excuse for it anymore. By all means, block all the flash you like here.¬†

Jamal

You’re hilarious, Dr. Bruce. A content publisher using Flash ads to generate revenue on her website could use all of your previous arguments to justify her revenue model and condemn users of Adblock Plus, etc.

You jump ship at the Flash ads juncture simply because it’s not inconvenient for you to do so; your employer’s website doesn’t employ that type of ad, and thus you aren’t affected.

You’ve revealed that your reasoning is significantly driven by a narrow personal interest, failing to convince those of us who are not in your situation and neglecting to acknowledge or address alternative revenue models.

Furthermore your blas√© attitude with respect to real security and privacy concerns brought about by some of these trackers doesn’t endear you to your readers and makes you come across as callous.

James Bruce

Well, thanks for the Doctor status.

Rubbish though. We use flash ads here all the time, and I block them. I block them because they do actually drain resources, and flash has always been buggy as hell on a mac. They’re usually autoplaying video based, or some kind of interactive nonsense.They’re unsupported on mobile devices. They are utterly unneeded on the web today.

As for my “personal interest”; I’m salaried. I get paid whether you block them or not. My own websites are unaffected, and I use discreet advertising anyway. My concern is for the web as a whole, and this site in particular, which employs quite a good number of people. If you think that’s self-interest, then I feel sad for you.

Furthermore, I wrote a complete follow up to this article explaining the alternatives and how to deal with adblock.

As I keep saying, using a secure browser eliminates security concerns from rogue javascript. Privacy? Perhaps; that’s a personal thing. I don’t feel that I lose anything because ad companies show me better ads that are more appropriate to my interests. Maybe you do.

bioadam

AdBlock and Ghostery make my life better. ’nuff said.

mizkitty

Just because someone is concerned about their privacy doesn’t mean their “other tab is open on Asian Hotties or cheatonmywife.com”.

Sounds like the usual rhetoric when the politicians are trying to push through a new surveillance bill…”You’re either with us or with the child pornographers…”

Cheap shot and rather insulting…I usually expect more from MakeUseOf…

Thanks for the tip about Ghostery though…hadn’t heard of that one yet…

James Bruce

Wow. That really wasn’t my intention to have that taken so seriously. My point was that whatever tracking services are running only run on sites they are placed on, so they *dont know* your other browsing habits. I absolutely wasn’t saying “you only need to be worried if you’re a dirty porn watcher”. I think maybe you misunderstood me there.¬†

Jamal

I don’t think you were misunderstood. I think you were using vile debating tactics.

Anon

I have to agree with mizkitty and Jamal on this one–you took poetic license and instead of treating the issue as a serious one worth debating with your readers, you took a childish, unprofessional jab that is every bit as misleading as the comments people make about Javascript and Internet security.

It is every citizens right to both understand and have control of the privacy of their actions, protected by federal law in most countries and international law in all (see the recent UN decisions on internet privacy for reference, if you care at all).

It is not your place as a content developer to make assumptions and recommendations about how your readers should feel about their privacy–‘what’s wrong with being tracked?’ is not a valid argument, it’s an assumption without basis and completely unprofessional.

Would you support a new bill that allowed a federal government to walk in to your house at any moment with the rationale of ‘what do you have to hide?’? I suspect not but that’s what you’re asking people to do here.

el tio ska

Interesting points and valid arguments (in article and comments). However:

Apart from being annoying, don’t flash ads and trackers slow the browsing experience? (Case in point: here in Spain, my supposedly 10Mbit connection and my previous also-supposedly 6Mbit connection rarely get over half a Mbit…)

I had never used Adblock and stuff, from consideration of the ads’ revenue generation, but recently came across recommendations for the usage of blockers mainly to block Google’s “+1″ button, and especially on Google reader. (I did find GReader faster after blocking the +1 button.)

Then, I installed Flashblock and suddenly browsing is faster. Go for text ads – they don’t eat up bandwidth and don’t annoy with animations. Many websites, unlike this one, ¬†have too many ads; others have automatically-starting video. Those are the real problem.

As you mention in the article, one of the big problem nowadays is social media. Facebook is pushing the idea of what they call “passive sharing”, where you can be unknowingly “sharing” whatever you’re browsing. That’s simply ridiculous. Why should I see what my facebook contacts are reading on The Guardian, Yahoo News, etc??

Two examples:
How come I get on MakeUseOf and I’m already logged in on Disqus to comment?
How come I’m ALWAYS “logged in” on Mashable?

I run normally CCleaner a couple of times daily (mainly to keep browsers faster) & delete cookies and everything.

James Bruce

Flash-anything slows the internet down, I agree. Cookies are absoutely minimal though. But again, a few seconds in exchange for supporting the sites you visit isn’t too much to ask, I dont think.¬†

Text ads just dont pay as much. 

Regarding your examples:

Disqus is a third party service. If you’re logged in and using Disqus on any Disqus enabled sites, you’ll also be logged in here.¬†

Mashable…. If you’re refering to comments, they use Facebook as a third party comment handler. Again, if you are logged into Facebook, you are automatically logged in to their comment system.¬†

Mike

I think the whole¬†ad-blocking boom is a “too late” solution for a problem that existed some years ago. The¬†ultimate evil being those that tried to make easy money via ads (pay-per-view) while delivering low quality or none-original content.

Few years ago when you hit Google or your preferred search engine every second result (thanks to SEO) was a site full of advertisement ~ often more than 30% of the sites content.

Today (and too late) the browsers finally hit a state where it’s easy to provide tools like Adblock etc. that allows us to fight the above problem. What people didn’t notice is that search providers took the fight themselves by “evaluating” sites and provide the user with better quality results (tracking being one part of it too!).

The resulting situation: 
Once a week some new¬†ad-blocking¬†or tracking “guard” hit’s the web hurting those that legitimately try to make revenue via quality content in a reasonable manner.

Honestly, if people are really afraid of tracking and targeted advertisement someone please explain to me how Facebook got 800 million users and Google+ manages to co-exist.

James Bruce

Very true. 

Cristian Figoli

Fantastic article, I have worked in online ads for almost a year and changed my mind completely about security on the web, 100% agree

DJ Skilz

I did a little experiment to see the difference for my own eyes. I run numerous blocking mechanisms from DNS based, Adblock, Ghostery, Flashblock, etc. So I disabled all the blocks and cleared my cache, then viewed this page. Here is my results.

What I learned. You had a total of 27+ items that tracked my movement across your site, and may set persistent cookie(s) that would stay with me across many pages I visit in a web session. They might also stay for an indefinite amount of time, (a cursory glance showed cookies w/ a 10yr expiration date). Google Analytics as an example is used on an estimated 49.95% of the top 1 million websites(according to Wikipedia) so half of my web visits could be packaged together, and possibly more if signed-in to my google account. Several of these ads you displayed were animated, flash based (with LSO cookies), and generally of little interest to my tastes. These ads showed poor targeting, and were rather annoying. I support the right to get paid, but you need to set high standards for the ads/beacons you choose to use. If you were only to display relevant text ads, I would have no problem supporting your stance.

I have also been infected from Javascript exploits via supposedley pre-screened ads from a syndicated revenue network, and that also included the reputable Google Adsense. I don’t use no-script because it created to many headaches today, in the era of rich media. If you were to use a platform like OpenX and screen your own ads, I would put more trust in your statement.

To spark a conspiracy fuse here, when you have 10yr cookies, 27+ privacy policies, that Indicate that they won’t do … except when required to by …. Ever eroding checks & balances on what constitutes a right to search, and the Quid pro quo that exists between Big Corps and Goverments seeking user data. Why shouldn’t I block by default?

James Bruce

Well fist off, of course the ads were poorly targeted. You just said yourself you run ad-blocking all the time, so they wouldn’t have had a chance to learn anything about you yet. You would be served ads from the bottom of the pile – typically bad flash based ads. I’m sorry about that, and we’re working to remove those.¬†

If text ads alone could pay the bills, we would happily switch. They dont, by the way. 

Moving to OpenX is a good suggestion though, so I’ll make sure we investigate that option, possibly even do a trial. If we can make the same revenue using that, then we would certainly be open to it by all means. Thanks for the suggestion.¬†

Varun Nagwekar

I fully understand the pain of you guys, and I had even disabled adblock softwares in the past, but had to re-install them due to just one site. YouTube. I find their ads intolerable. Due to this one single site all the rest of the sites I visit are being hit right now. I wish I could just enable adblocking on just YouTube and give you guys what you deserve. 

James Bruce

I think you can whitelist MUO. There will be a tutorial posted soon. 

Jamal

Thanks for doing us the favor, I’m sure the article will be a blockbuster.

James Bruce

You’re totally welcome Jamal!

Bob Carbaugh

Just checked my FF Ext. AB+ v 2.0.3 – found: “Starting with AdBlock+ 2.0, there is an ‘option’ in ‘Filter Preferences’ to allow some non-intrusive advertising. The goal is to support websites using non-intrusive ways to advertise and to encourage more websites to do the same.”
…and it was enabled (check-box) on auto-update in January…I had already disabled AB+ for MUO. Bob C.

James Bruce

The problem I have with that is the creator of adblock who gets to determine what he feels is non-intrusive: http://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads#criteria

It’s a start though.¬†

Steve

So who should choose then? The advertisers, I’m sure that would work really well.

anon1

Interesting article, I clamped down on my privacy years ago, not really sure about the risks I faced, but very aware my wifes ID was stolen and used to try and create a Paypal account. I haven’t given it much thought since then, but your article has given cause to think about what I need now in this different time

James Bruce

Identity theft is a very real concern, I understand that. I guess my opinion on this matter would be quite different if I had been a victim of ID theft; but I think the risks to identity are actually more from social engineering, human error, and weak passwords Рas opposed to click tracking and personalized ads. 

Ofcourse, you should always beware of unknown and untrusted sites. 

Chcurtis

In my opinion, the practice of tracking is both useless and potentially dangerous. ¬†Useless, because the algorithm is flawed — A few months ago, I bought a car. Now I get many ads for cars; wasted, because I’ve already made my decision and am no longer in the market. Virtually every purchase I have made online has resulted in ads for that item –after the purchase. Wasted effort.¬†
The “dangerous” part is harder to explain. The internet makes it easy to interact only with those with similar views, similar tastes. Tracking intensifies this tendency. It assumes that I am only interested in what I have already exhibited interest in. It assumes I do not want to be exposed to something new. That is something that I find offensive when applied to consumer goods, and dangerous when applied to social media or news.¬†

If people are only exposed to views that mirror their own, they unconsciously come to think that anyone with different beliefs are aberrations. I would not be surprised if that is a factor in the current political polarization. I definitely consider that dangerous. 

James Bruce

I understand your point, but advertising models say you are wrong. You do click on ads personalized to you; you don’t click on random ads. It’s that simple, bottom line. Personalized ads make greater revenue.¬†

I completely agree that the personalization of things like search results is a dangerous path to go down. 

Greg

Until the internet actually begs for money to view sites, I’ll keep using Adblock

James Bruce

we could start begging…

Spam blocker

Agree no script is dumb but love my Adblock

Must be a very small proportion of users who purposely click on the ads. I suspect that most of your money comes from tracking the users.

Maybe you need to move to an infomercial type of model and not rely so much on the ads

James Bruce

Tracking users in and of itself provides zero income. The purpose of tracking users is to presonalize ads Рonly that. 

Infomercial type of model is an interesting idea, but I think the bosses made the decision that it would hurt our integrity. If we were to publish ads-as-articles, a lot of users would stop trusting us, don’t you think?

Fubdub

Thanks for the article. Ironically, I am now going to install all of those plugins, because others are not a scrupulous as you! (don’t worry you’re white listed)

James Bruce

Well, thanks. That wasn’t quite what I intended though!

Jim Thestoic

DailyKos will put up a box at the top of the page alerting the viewer that it’s site’s ads are being blocked but also offers bypass code that you can plug into AdBlock so it will display ads. You should consider this. Once you plug in the filter (or bypass) the annoying block goes away.

James Bruce

I’m not sure what that code is, but thanks, I’ll check out that site to investigate.¬†

Guest

May be u should choose to ask for paypal  donationation too rather  than adds.

James Bruce

Excellent idea. 

Ian H.

Yes, and dvrs are killing TV… If your business model relies on pissing off your users, you need to rethink the business model, not tell your users that they’re wrong for being pissed off.

While I have never been an AdBlock user, the kind of personalized tracking that Ghostery prevents is vastly different from the kind of segmented targeting that network execs use to decide what kind of ads should play next to certain shows. For instance, TV networks don’t have access to my web search history and browsing history. In fact, unless you’re a Nielsen family, they don’t even know what other shows you watch. Besides, as I stated above, dvrsare killing off the traditional advertising model. Making an appeal to a dying business model as justification for propping up your own is not winning you any points…

James Bruce

Advertising is a dying business model? Hey, if you have a better alternative then by all means, suggest one. Would you pay if MUO went premium only?

Ian H.

If something like workable micro payments came out, yes. But I’m not paying for a subscription to a bunch of articles I have no interest in. My cable provider already bundles in a bunch of crap channels I have no interest in watching… I don’t need the same thing on the web.

Anomaly

I lose my mind with rage when ever I read some perplexed primate whining about ad blocking extensions. Here is what these people believe they have the right to do to you.

1) Provide a vehicle for malware to infect your machines. Ads are a major source of this.

2) Massively slow down your on line experience.

3) Hugely distract and annoy you with idiotic BS you don’t want to see.

4) Severely reduce the battery life of your laptop due to the excessive  CPU usage.

5) Probably decrease the life span of your machine due to excessive CPU, Fan, and HDD usage due to all the shit the ads ad to the site.

6) For those on limited data packages you will use up your limits much faster downloading all the shit from these ads. It’s amazing how much mb of your package ads will use up.

7) Annoy the people next to you with the fans spinning into orbit trying to cool your hot machine. Hot form all the excessive CPU usage due to the crap ads.

These are just the most obvious evil things ads will do and the anti ad blocking crowd think they have a right to do to you.

As for the stupid argument about paywalls and ruining the Internet, it’s total BS. There is and will always will be people that want to provide free content just for the love of doing so or it’s because it’s what they believe in doing. It’s the mutts trying to monitize every corner of the internet that are the evil ones and destroying the Internet. You want to see evil look in the mirror before you start on another anti ad blocking BS session. .

James Bruce

So, I’m an evil monkey then? Good start.

2-5,7 all relate to Flash ads. Yeh, we hate them too. Disable Flash is you like, it does suck. 

Sure, there are some people who will provide content for free, just as there are some who work to provide Linux and free apps there. There’s also a reason why most users don’t use Linux…¬†

Anomaly

I do use Linux and love the whole way the Linux world works. I would have no problem dumping Windows and Mac which I currently use as well but am getting more disgusted with every second. Windows 8 will probably be the tipping point for me with Windows. Metro is just disgusting and MS seems to have developed a bad case of Mac douche bagness with Windows 8. 

The reason why most users don’t use Linux is simply because they are lazy. They used the dominant OS’s and can’t be bothered to change or they think they are cool buying over priced Mac dog crap.

Salantrax

Dear James. Your problem is actually the topic of two discussions.

The following may seem off-topic, but I would like you to read it, for the sake of an analogy.

I can be pretty sure you have limited experience with Linux and Open Source in general (?). Linux takes time and effort to use, which is why (i think) a majority of people don’t know how to use it, and therefore don’t. (Which is what Anamaly wrote a while back.)

This does not mean that it is fundamentally inferior. On the contrary, when you have invested enough time and effort into learning how to use it, most people will never want to go back to Windows. As time progresses, you start moving away from Microsoft altogether. As time progresses even more, you start to move away from commercial software altogether.

As a former computer gamer and recent server administrator I am experienced both in the Windows and Linux based operating systems.

What ‘Anamoly’ says is that most people don’t use Linux because they are too lazy. There’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, those of us who are *not* lazy, and want (and often need) to get the most bang for our buck in terms of hardware investments, there is no way we would use Microsoft software. It simply doesn’t get the job done. It was not built for the internet era. It was not built to handle multiple users. DOS, which is in many frightening ways the basis of later Windows versions was a one-machine, one-user OS.

As for the base of an advanced web server. Serious web server admins generally use Apache on Linux or some other UNIX-like system. Even Microsoft uses Apache, for its stability and low maintenance cost. What does the server hosting MOU use, by the way?

This means loss of revenue for Microsoft, granted. Now, should Microsoft be able to get money out of all those people (currently the majority) who don’t have the time or energy to learn how e.g. Linux works? Of course!

It is a viable option for users who need to be spoon-fed “stuff they think tastes good”, and who don’t need or don’t have time to use their computer in a better way. One can take it even further and buy an Apple product, where in the software is usually taylored to the hardware (they actually do a really good job with this), as long as you’re willing to pay. (And Apple, my goodness, they know how to get paid good money.)

Should those advanced users (currently the minority) who know what they’re doing be able to say no thanks to Microsoft and Apple? To be responsible for their own system, with all the extra knowledge and all the extra time and effort that means spending?

Of course! If we’re brave enough to learn how a computer really works, then let us do it. Now apply this to the ad world. The fundament of generating ad revenue on the internet is users being stupid and lazy enough to download the ads in the first place. The default option with web sites is to “download all”.

Those who know better, should they be able to filter some of it out? Of course! Your real problem is that the author of the Ad-Block plugin was so knowledgable and wrote such good code, that his product (which is free, btw) can be used by pretty much anyone. End of this discussion.

As for generating money, that is another discussion altogether.

You should take a cue from the way the Open-Source community works (it does work, and it blossoms more than ever in the internet era!).

I may download some OSS software that I like, for free. I make improvements. The original author gets those improvements for free. There is no money involved directly in OSS, but the gain is enormous. Look at what Apache has become. Look at what Linux has become. Firefox. Chrome. VLC.

I download your website for free. I host my own website that you can download for free. Millions of websites are free for *you* to download, without any ads what-so-ever! Why should you be any different? Are you *that* good? Then yes, I suggest you make members pay for the content.

And in the end, it’s all really simple. If you can’t make ends meet, then don’t host the site! Or, if you are confident that people know you are in need, and that they enjoy your site enough to pay your expenses, then ask for donations.

What you do NOT do is complain to your users that you don’t have enough money to host your site and shift the responsibility to them. The real evil here is to use your personal difficulties with getting paid for people downloading your site, as an argument not to use Ad-Block (not download all of it).

Only ignorant people and jerks blame technology for their loss of income; the same domain of technology that enabled you to host a site in the first place! I’m not suggesting you are a jerk. You just need to think this over some more. Do you ever pay the major newspaper companies for their loss of income when you choose an online source of news instead? Do you ever donate to any of your users for making insightful comments?

I will black-list MUO until you take back this ridiculous article.

And I accept no donations for this post. It’s all free.

Roger Dempsey

Best comment on the page.
“I download your website for free. I host my own website that you can download for free. Millions of websites are free for *you* to download, without any ads what-so-ever! Why should you be any different? Are you *that* good? Then yes, I suggest you make members pay for the content.”

DrShajul

That was totally unwarranted for!! I am running on Linux (Ubuntu) for many months now..
You should give it a try! And maybe I can make some MakeUseOf posts on Linux for you..

And for the “developer” tag, now I know some comments above were so true..

Joseph @ SEO Goa India

I agree   that it certainly harms the livelihoods of the people who produce original content which takes  a lot of time to produce. In case they are not compensated  they will  no longer be able to supply  great free content which all of us dearly  love. Secondly the website owner will  also not even  know  who has visited  their site in some cases. It is only fair that  website owners  who give you free content  are rewarded  and  can get statistics  of how may people visited, from which country and which pages they visited etc.

Bruce Epper

The stats you mention are all available from their web server logs; they just need to know how to mine those logs.¬† Ads don’t even figure in there.

Kagnon

I remembered adblock used to just hide the ads but still load them in background so it generates revenue for the site owners.
I have no idea when they changed it to totally blocking the ad itself.

James Bruce

Speeds page load, I guess. 

car

Good Grief! Another person telling me I am evil and a thief! 

I sort of understand the objection to adblock, but now because I choose to turn off cookie tracking and javascript? 

For heavens sake. I am not breaking the internet if I turn off javascript. I am choosing to have a visually less pleasing and less interactive experience by turning off javascript. 

As for cookie tracking, why must I put up with sites tracking my clicks?

James Bruce

Turning off javascript breaks every single bit of advertising on this page. So yes, its the same effect as adblock. Of course, its your choice to disable Javascript, but please understand it does the same thing as adblock, if not *more* aggressively. 

Cookie tracking and click tracking are different. There are methods to track where you click on the page, used by google search page and such, but general advertising doesnt do that. Advertisers track sites in their network that you frequent, to learn what interests you and show you more relevant ads. That’s all.¬†

Jamal

“Turning off javascript breaks every single bit of advertising on this page. So yes, its the same effect as adblock.”

If there are legitimate reasons to disable JavaScript, and the ads on your website critically depend on JavaScript to function, maybe you should think about reworking your ads. At the very least you should stop condemning visitors to your site as destroyers of the internet.

Anomaly

I posted a comment that seems to have been removed. I can only assume the author of the article isn’t serious when they say they would like to her your comments. Not surprised.

James Bruce

I didnt even wake up yet, so it certainly wasnt me. I can tell you that our system will have automatically deleted the message if it contained profanity though. 

Tina

Anomaly,

your comment was caught by Disqus moderation because you used potential foul language. Your comment has been published now.

Roy

I quit using Adblock years ago because of the same arguments made here. I have, however, been using NoScript because I accepted that it decreased my vulnerability. I am going to take your word that (a) it decreases your ability to be compensated for the service you provide; and (b) it will not increase my susceptibility to malware. Here is hoping you are correct.

James Bruce

Thanks Roy. 

Rita

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Jacob Santos

Firstly, I was under the impression that ad block when used on chrome, doesn’t actually stop the ad from loading it only hides it from view. If that is no longer the case then please correct me. Also, ad revenues are gained when a person actually ¬†clicks on an ad, correct? Some of these ads use deceptive wording, such as get your free Ipad 2 or you just won a whatever are praying on gullible individuals for thatad revenue. Much like the tribalfusion ads that are at the top of your home page claiming a woman made her skin look 20yrs younger for less than $5 dollars. If you click through, which I did (you’re welcome), you immediately find that you are going to be paying more than $5 for the this miracle snake oil. So who is the thief here? My point isn’t about the product, it’s the trickery and deceptive marketing being used to get you a few cents from people that don’t know any better.

James Bruce

Adblock prevents ads loading, not just hides them. 

With regard to deceptive ads, I completely agree. When I find them, I ask for them to be taken down. Free iPad 2 is a good example. We dont have a system to vet every advertisement though, and I’m not judge and jury either. The ads are also tailored to users, personalized. If you see something you think is deceptive, then please take a quick screenshot and set it to me, I can ask for it to be removed.¬†

As you say, ads generally only pay per click, so it’s our interest to show ads that are relevant to you and not likely to cause a negative response, so we dont like those deliberately nasty ads either.¬†

(Thanks for clicking on that silly ad, by the way!)

Anomaly

Wrong about ad block with Chrome. In it’s current form it can’t block much. It hides most. This is¬†something¬†they are working on but they are limited¬†because¬†of the way Chrome lets addons hook into the browser.¬†

When I play around with Chrome I see ads all the time load for a split second and then hide. These clearly were not blocked but covered up or hidden.

Try SR Ware Iron which is a Chromium based browser with real ad blocking using an ad block ini file like Opera and you will see the difference.

Anomaly

Yes the ad blocking on Chrome sucks for the reasons you said. It is actually slower with ad blocking on in Chrome than with it off¬†because¬†of the way it blocks ads or doesn’t block ads I should say. This is why I will not use Chrome. I use¬†Firefox¬†and Opera but if you want Chrome with real ad blocking use SR Ware Iron browser. It’s Chrome with real ad blocking and you will see the speed difference. Iron uses an ad block ini file like Opera and does block ads not just cover them up.¬†

gowtham

It is certainly true.

Jobber

Yawn, not another whiny anti-adblock post. If you can’t sleep nights because you can’t monetize the 5% of users (a very liberal estimate IMO) who use adblock, well you need to find another revenue stream. It’s pathetic.

I work in construction and more than half of companies who inquire from us and also our formal project bids end up buying from our competitors. Yet I still give 100% to all inquiries and request for bids. 

James Bruce

So you’re only argument is that it’s fine because not everyone does it? Thats pretty weak.¬†

If you like, we can completely block users with adblock running until they donate a certain amount? Would you prefer that?

Dan

If you have the courage of your conviction… Yes. I dare you to block us freeloaders. We’re the 1%, what will you guys lose?

James Bruce

Sorry, perhaps you didn’t read the line that said “we will never block users of ad-block”?

Nevermind what we would lose – what would we *gain* by doing so?

Jamal

James, blocking users of ad-block was your suggestion. Am I missing something? Why are you asking Dan to provide you with a rationale?

Ramandeep Singh

I support this. Really ads are the ones due to which we can view and gain knowledge from such awesome sites like this. Atleast every that person who have a broadband connection should not use AdBlocks as it takes no time to load a webpage on a fast connection.

Bruce Epper

Not all sites are like this one.¬† Even this one not too long ago took minutes for a page to load on a 7Mb connection as James found out with my bitch-fest some time ago.¬† (Just in case I didn’t say it before: Thanks for the improvements, James.)

Sam Ben105

Well, you are correct for the point that these 3 kills the revenue system… but i dont want a website that is bloated with craps like a big-breated woman in bikni… internet is meant for free thinkin… if i dont like ads… i shudnt have adds…its simple as that!

and about¬†JavaScript… if i want to download a image from a website and js is standing in my way… its obvious what a person would do.¬†

without adds sites look clean… and if these addons were not there… every website would hv said..”We will do¬†whatever¬†we want… you have to live with it” – thnkfully thats not the case!

James Bruce

It’s a fallacy to think the internet would exist without advertising. Do you think making a website is free?

Aksgan

But,it depends on how you use them.I’ve disabled them for frequently visited sites like muo,lh,wired,etc,but when surfing the web, there is no choice bot to use them.Ads have become annoying and heavy and i know i will never click on it,and as sites are only paid if i open the link,what difference does it make?

James Bruce

I don’t agree with the argument that “I never click on ads”. You might not think you do, is all.¬†

Pushpacomms

This article is a big FAIL for me. While the article swears by the how the add-ons can kilol the income stream, why not think about improvising in posting ads? I cant wait to block the annoying ads and as much as we love your content, the ads in their current form are a big annoyance.

James Bruce

can u clarify what you mean by “why not think about improvising in posting ads?”, I would be happy to respond

Norm

for one would be fine to pay (or not).  There was a time that a
business either made it (or failed) based on if they could acquire and
keep loyal (and possble) paying customers.  What happened?  You hear
from “these adblock critiics”¬† that customers just want “free”
stuff–that has always been the case, nothing new there.¬†¬† Stop crying
because you have to work “hard” to get customers and monetize that base.
I think many customers are tired of being made “the product” and if it
means paying…so be it.¬† However, know that the fate of the business
that can’t compete on both price, value and customer service will fail.¬†
Hmm…is that too old school.¬†

Secondly, don’t blame your customers for an industry problem.¬† Privacy
and annoyance is a real issue for people when it comes to ads.  The same
people complaining about the few adblock surfers should be advocating
for better privacy practices among advertisers.  Instead, at least imo,
generally these critics are willing to sellout their customer’s privacy
and could care less as long as they get the ad money.
 

James Bruce

Our entire mission statement is based around the concept of being able to use apps and websites for free, so the very concept of us moving to a paying reader model seems very wrong. 

thenonhacker

Nah, as long as IE is the top browser, it would not be an issue.

The advanced users who use Firefox and Chrome are the only ones who will bother installing Ad Block, No Script, and Ghostery.

Maybe we will stop using Ad Block, when the heavy Flash Ads stop, or when annoying popups stop.

James Bruce

Well, we’ve never had popups on this site. Flash ads I agree are unjustified in this day and age. Block flash all you like!

Roland

My wife and i were so peaceful Michael could do his aliynsas through the entire ideas he was given out of your web site. It is now and again perplexing to just happen to be giving for free facts which often many others could have been making money from. We fully understand we’ve got you to be grateful to for this. The specific illustrations you’ve made, the easy website menu, the friendships you will give support to engender it’s got everything incredible, and it is facilitating our son and our family know that this situation is satisfying, and that’s particularly fundamental. Thanks for all the pieces!

IE User

IE’s tracking protection + fanboy’s IE list = adblocking! No need for third party extensions.

Gordon Hay

Hello James. I disabled AdBlockPlus, as requested, when I first started using Makeuseof, have never used NoScript, and, following our recent exchange of emails, also disabled Ghostery fro the reasons you gave then and above. However, I think there are times when it is reasonable to use these apps, for instance when you visit a site for the first time, deliberately or randomly, and want to limit the adware/tracking footprint of the site until you decide if it’s a keeper. Also, as I now have to pay a monthly fee to access the full content of my newspaper of choice, I think I’m justified in eliminating content of no use or interest, only allowing those elements (Disqus, Brightcove, Gigya) that are necessary to use the site. I think we will have to agree to differ on this one.

James Bruce

That’s a fair point Gordon, and I appreciate your actions. I guess my concern is that most people don’t put as much thought into as you did – for them, it’s just left on default blocking anything and everything, with no concern for the writers of the site in question and their livelihood.¬†

Kubota

extension should work.While whctaing Free TV, you might see some ads. You can disable the ads using AdBlock Extension for Chrome.Features of TV Chrome Extension for Google ChromeOver 2500 Channels.Gather channels freely

thios

¬†The add-ons mentioned above are great, useful “prevention tools”. I don’t want to visit a site with camouflage ads, splash screens, getting tracked by Facebook or Google. If I trust a site I can disable them, for the rest of the internet are on.

When the sites -and the internet- become “mature” and keep the ads on a specific place (and not let’s say on the background image of a site) and get rid of the connection addons (like, +1 etc) then I will not need them. Until then…

James Bruce

You know, I actually kind of like background ads Рthey certainly have a greater impact. I dont want to be tricked into clicking on them, but if they provide a big enough revenue to support the site without traditional ad blocks, then good on them for trying a new model. 

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Peter

It’s a bit rich to be complaining about the evils of these three addins when you have profited from publicising their existence.
Don’t get me wrong, MOU is a top notch site and I understand the importance of advertising¬†income, however if I didn’t have adblock, I probably¬†wouldn’t visit this site anymore. The reason being the ridiculous amount of ads.
 

James Bruce

Peter, this is an opinion post and represents my opinions and not¬†necessarily¬†those of other writers. I personally have *never* encouraged any users to install these plugins. That would indeed be quite rich of me. And you’re right, I think it’s pretty disgusting other writers here would encourage such an unethical plugin – that’s on their heads though, not mine.¬†

I’m sorry to hear you wouldn’t visit without adblock, and that’s why we won’t be blocking you for your decision. We can but ask you to whitelist us ;)

Sten

You’re upset people block a bunch of totally uninteresting and pointless ads, but at the same time supply/educate the same people with ways of obtaining free stuff that isn’t free? (I’ll give you that you’re better then most when it comes to these things tho, but you’re not innocent, check your post history (talking site wide)). You can’t give with one hand and take it away with the other and not get called on it, sorry. Also you can’t expect/demand to make a living out of something just because you want to. If your business model doesn’t work, change it or quit. It’s not rocket science. Anyways… I’ll tell you what I get told as a musician every day… do it for the love; fun, isn’t it? Or how about, sell merc to generate income because your writing is worth nothing and neither is your time or knowledge.

It’s a brave new world, get a second job and deal with it.

James Bruce

Thankfully, I have a few income streams myself Sten, I appreciate the concern though!

Bben46

I use Adblock and Noscript. Why? Because of the stupid tricks that the ad makers use to throw their stuff in your face. Because I got tired of having to click to turn off an ad so I could see the content that it covered up. Then they even took that away forcing me to sit through the exact same 10 second flash animated ad with sound that moved across the screen obscuring content and couldn’t be stopped or turned off EVERY TIME the page refreshed. Sometimes over a hundred times a day every day!¬† – until Noscript and adblock saved my internet and my sanity.

I didn’t mind the ads that were displayed quietly on the side, or the non moving banner ads. I DO mind the animated flashing loud audio ads that ruin web browsing and often DO carry viruses that are triggered when you try to turn them off.

The ad companies cut their own throat by doing these type ads. Now, I just use an ad killing addon and rarely see any ads at all. So instead of blaming the user, how about blaming the ad companies for not policing their own industry and allowing the ad pollution that we see if we don’t block all ads.

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Vin7803

I think the whole argument is flawed.
I for one use adblock and make no apologies. I use it mainly to hide ads as I don’t want to see them and secondly to stop any tracking etc. I for one do not look at ads and have never clicked on an advert. so adblock simply unclutters the screen.¬†
the argument about why adblock and other similar plugins are “ruining” the internet is flawed –¬† why because those people who view and click on ads¬† won’t use adblock, and those of us who don’t click on ads – simply don’t want clutter on the screen. If the majority of internet users use adblock plugins then that would indicate that the revenue model needs to change.¬† I for one would rather pay $x dollars to view so many articles on a site such as MUO : so i could read a summary, and if I click to read the full article that counts as 1 read article out of the total number I’ve ‘paid’ to read- and leave out the annoying ads. Alternatively that subscription is less if you allow adverts – that way people have a choice.
Incidentally when I’m in the market to purchase an item – I will look search for stockist of that item both in stores and online retailers and choose the best option at the time – sometimes that’s based on price, sometimes on after sales service and support.
but that’s just me!

Justin Winokur

I agree with you on AdBlock. As for NoJS, that is a user issue more than the site. I have flash blocked and I accept that some sites and ads will not load correctly, but it is the risk I take. I am not saying you should cater to the NoJS crowd if you do not mind losing their revenue. It is probably pretty small and not worth it. If the whole net was like that, then maybe it is a good idea to make NoJS pages (kinda like how sites make mobile versions of their site).

However, I disagree on tracking. More to the point, I disagree on your analogy. If I go to a car site and see car ads, then your analogy holds. But if I go to a site on pets, then see pet ads on my car site, it is not the same at all. Television ads assume that if you are watching a car show, you like cars and if you are watching animal planet, you may like pets. But to turn the analogy around, if I watch a lot of animal planet, then go to a car show, then they showed JUST ME an animal ads, then it would be the same.

I do agree, for now, that it is not a big deal. However, I won’t hesitate to install such extensions if the tracking gets beyond my comfort zone.

James Bruce

A flawed analogy, I see, you’re right. I don’t see a problem with showing you car ads during animal planet if you like cars though… I’d be so bold as to say broad random advertising on TV no longer pays, and that the future for TV will be more personalized too.¬†

Leslie A. Joy

I completely understand your point, but I think instead of a ranting-type article, you should have written a tutorial article on how to white-list sites.

For example, I use AdBlock plus-mainly for the blocking social-sharing widgets from loading because I always seem to have 50 million tabs open and use bookmarklets for sharing, so for me the widgets are just annoying clutter-BUT I white list sites I frequently read and support-and I’m sure a large number of people would do that if they knew how.

Same goes for Ghostery-I have it installed to see what’s tracking me and to make informed decisions. I don’t block everything, but I have blocked a few marketing companies. (I don’t use NoScript, so I have nothing there.)

Ranting doesn’t accomplish much besides making you feel a bit better-how many people are REALLY going to install the above plug-ins because of your article? An article explaining how and why to white-list sites would have been much more useful and have yielded much better results.

Also, maybe I’m missing something, but I’m pretty sure the AdBlock Plus guy doesn’t have ads on his website, just a donation plugin-how is that hypocritical? Both are ways to make some money for your work-he chooses to ask for donations instead of using ads. Seriously-what’s the problem with that?

James Bruce

Hi Leslie, thanks for commenting. A tutorial on whitelisting a site will be forthcoming in the following week, not written by me. You’re probably right about it being more productive than ranting, but I wanted to rant. ¬†

Its good that you whitelist sites and make informed decisions, but you are the minority. Most just leave it blocking everything, informed or not.  

The creator of adblock plus does indeed as for donations. I find that hypocritical because he’s happy to block our revenue, in exchange for his own. It’s basically the same thing as me pirating software, then making it available in an alternative model (ad supported, unlimited downloads etc … like megaupload perhaps?). I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s stealing, obviously, but it’s in poor taste I’m sure you’ll agree.¬†

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Cybertron Mantis

The best solution is to whitelist makeuseof.com and ohter trustworthy( awesome ) sites from Adblock :)

pceasies

I haven’t used those since I switched to Chrome. I got tired of having to constantly unblock scripts. I’ve since switched over to a pre-made hosts file.I don’t have anything against ads, but far too often there are so many on the page I can’t read the content of the article.¬†

James Bruce

Do you make the hosts file block yourself, or is it something everyone can use? How agressive is it?

pceasies

I just started with the MVPS hosts file.
http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm 

Then, I just used Google Chrome Developer Tools Network tab to identify any ad-serving domains and manually added those to the bottom. Took a little bit of time, but right now it’s coupled with Squid proxy and has been working great. Very rarely do I encounter problems, and when I do, I just change my internet settings to not use the Squid proxy. (The Squid proxy is setup on another computer and has a hosts config option)

You can find all kinds of different host file setups with some Googling. Another alternative is using Peerblock, setting up the ad list (probably the only one you’ll want for this) and enabling HTTP blocking.

KMFDM_Kid2000

Selectively blocking JS and ads is also huge for bolstering security. This site whines often about this. I find it funny, considering all of the torrent and piracy related articles here. All good information on this site, it’s in my top 3 tech sites. But the whining about revenue, we simply do not care and it’s presented in an obnoxious way, opinion or not.

James Bruce

I’m sorry you find me obnoxious, and we appreciate being ranked in your top 3 tech sites.¬†

Bear in mind, this is an opinion article. There are 20 writers here, and more in the past. We don’t have a single voice, and often disagree. As the developer though, I would ask you to support MUO by whitelisting it in adblock.

Sebredd

This is such a frustrating article.  I happily disabled adblock on MUO when the banner requesting me to do so first appeared, but the aggressive undertones in your article and responses to comments made me consider turning it back on.

In all business, you have to work within the system that exists. ¬†You can complain about the system as much as you want, but the system doesn’t have sympathy with you. ¬†It’s up to you to find a way to make a profit. ¬†Don’t get angry with another guy for finding a way to make a profit.

I’ll keep your ads running, because I generally like MUO. ¬†But this article is hogwash.

BKS

First of all I love everything MUO but I have to disagree with your¬†hypocrisy¬†statement. Advertisers with their many round about ways of sending me pop ups, loading extra windows that I can’t close. etc… are offensive to me – something I didn’t ask for. Adblock on the other hand is a program I asked to download to rid me of the offensive. Asking for a donation to assist in helping me do that is not¬†hypocrisy. I, however have uninstalled it as it was slowing my page loads down a lot so today I’m receiving the offensive ads and I’ll wait and see how long before reinstalling if the ad nazis veer too far from tolerable.

Celeste Sanders

I used to use ad block until I realize it was preventing me from seeing things I wanted to. The pages also looked blah

boglid

This piece is said to be written by British street artist, Banksy, It’s his two cents‚Äô worth on advertising.

“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into
your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you
from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant
comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the
fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend
feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology
the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are ‚ÄėThe
Advertisers’ and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual
property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they
like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice
whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and
re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is
like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially
don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the
world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your
permission, don‚Äôt even start asking for theirs.‚ÄĚ

James Bruce

I’m down with that. Ban advaertising in public places, by all means. I find billboards to be obnoxious and who the hell gave them the right to show themselves to my face. What do I get from it? Nothing, it’s bloody rude, is all. It’s an onslaught of random noise I just don’t need.¬†

You’re missing the point though. You choose to come here. You choose to receive our articles, and in return, we advertise to you. That’s how it works. This website would not function as it does without advertising. Simple.¬†

James Bruce

It is a good quote, though, dont get me wrong. 

al

You know you essentially redacted your entire article with this comment. If you don’t like billboards and other public displays of advertising, quit going to the city, get rid of your phone and throw away your computer. Also, stop buying newspapers, periodicals and other things that inform you about new products. And when you go down to the store, just pass it right on by so you won’t have to read any of the labels or instore merchandising. In fact, just walk right up to the Queen and ask for your welfare check and free bag bread sticks. Something does not fly here …

I have a better idea, all website owners, especially those that got on board with stop pipa, sopa, open and acta should rewrite their site structures so that all these adblocker softwares simply cause their sites to stop working.

The real travesty is people have somehow been brainwashed in the last 60 years to believe that needs can be met without advertising. If that were true you wouldn’t need to hear a politician talk and the politician wouldn’t need to be elected as they wouldn’t have to advertise “translation: campaign” what is they will do for you if elected “translation: purchased”.

Oh, wait, most of the republics resemble dictatorships now, with freedoms of their peoples being stripped left and right by the thousand fold.

Are we all FROGS in slowly boiling water!

muotechguy

I didnt negate the sentiment of my article, actually. Public advertising is obnoxious – those billboards do not provide a service for me.

TV – yes, sure. Ok, I accept advertising, I get to see shows. Simple.

Magazines – sure, even the paid ones supplement income with advertising.

Billboards? They can go to hell. What free service do they provide to me? What right do they have to shove that crap in my face? What do I get in exchange?

Flyers through the mail? No thank you. I didn’t ask for those, and I don’t get anything in return.

I have nothing against advertising in general, obviously. It’s the unwarranted advertising that pisses me off.

As for adblocker – I can make the site blackout for those users, but I dont think thats a good solution. Far better to educate than disenfranchise.

RPM

Yes you did!

“If you don‚Äôt like billboards and other public displays of advertising, quit going to the city, get rid of your phone and throw away your computer”

The city makes money off of that billboard. If you don’t like it, don’t go to the city. That is your whole argument, and it is BS!

You create and share. We the readers don’t owe you squat. I have never clicked on a single ad, nor paid for a single movie/tv/videogame/software/etc

Information and knowledge and archives and anything non-physical is FREE. I will continue to block all I can. I don’t give a lick about your revenue stream.

SuperJdynamite

Can I assume that the authors of MakeUseOf do not fast forward through advertisements when watching DVR’d television programming?¬† Doing otherwise would seem to be hypocritical.
 

Tina

I don’t. But that’s because I don’t watch DVR’d TV. ;)

James Bruce

I don’t, personally. I can’t speak for every author though.¬†

Indronil Mondal

don’t know about killing the internet¬† but why does the sites don’t keep a particular area for showing ads, go and visit sites like way2sms and site2sms just cant navigate properly on that may be the internet is free but we have to pay for data plans and these ads uses a lot of data….so just instead of forcing users to see adds with pop ups and blind links they can show ads at the side of the page and we will not use adblock

James Bruce

Ad zoning reduces the revenue for precisely that reason. Users find the ads very easy ignore. 

Popups are certainly annoying, and we dont do those here. I’m referring to this website in this article, not others.¬†

Jerry

With all due respect, your ads are not unobtrusive. I turned off all the ad blocking I use and went to Makeuseof to see what is there. I can’t even concentrate on what I try to read for all the flashing, wiggling nonsense. That stuff is so objectionable that I would gladly never go to the site again (a great loss to me because your site is great) if it meant I’d have to look at that stuff.

If you don’t want people who don’t cotton to those ads to come to your site, you should say so right up front. I’ll stay away.

How about this alternative: give me a way, say, once a week, to go somewhere and look at ads for 5 minutes or so and record that I did it. That way I could “pay” for using the site and not be disturbed while reading your fine content. You might think I wouldn’t do it, but I would (and you shouldn’t let me in if I don’t).

There are ways to get this done without hitting people up the side of the head with ads.

James Bruce

You saw flashy wiggling nonsense because the ads networks show you the lowest paying advertising they have. I dont see those, by the way, because I dont block trackers. I see relevant ads Рone for broadband internet, one for web servers, and one for some famous SEO tools. 

Your idea of a specific ad page is interesting, but would sadly be against most ad network policies, and would generate little to no actual revenue for us. It’s a nice thought though, so I appreciate that. You’re right, there are alternative models – like sponsored posts? Regardless, we won’t be blocking you, so please continue to enjoy. ;)

Sorrybutno

I only recently discovered this site. I was excited but after reading this article, I don’t think I’ll be coming back. Pointform to convey all my thoughts:
-as others have said, the tone is childish and whiny and will alienate many readers.
-enabling ads will do nothing for most people that use adblock, as they wouldn’t click ads anyway.
-adblock has been around for *years*. it’s not new and plenty of tech savvy sites seem to survive. This is your domain so you need to learn how to deal with it (not just complain).
-you sound like a greedy beggar. it’s just like going shopping in a store and a clerk saying ‘hey can you just buy something and give me some money”?¬† You could have easily been more strategic about solutions without directly complaining like this (e.g. educational blog post about how online advertising works or how about a donation drive? give away prizes?).
-privacy. it’s an ongoing battle between consumers and marketers. Ads are EVERYWHERE in our lives (not just online). It gets annoying and of course the issues of privacy invasion, malware, identity theft are all top concerns of consumers. Marketers *are* devious (how much does FB do that non-techsavvy users know about?). There are precedents to consider and this will never go away.
-Google makes tens of billions of dollars in revenue every year. All from ad revenues.
-why not more data/information/research notes? e.g. how many of your users have it installed?

Final note: the fact is, ads work on non techsavvy users. Your site is techsavvy. Deal with it.

See you … never

James Bruce

Ads do not only work on non-tech savvy users, and the idea of “well I dont click on ads so blocking is fine” is a false belief. I’m tired of arguing that.¬†

I’m sorry if you find my tone childish. I respect your opinion though, and please bear in mind this was clearly marked as “opinion”. This does not represent the views of other authors¬†necessarily, and discounting the other 10,000 posts here because you find one disagreeable is like hating China because a Chinese kid once bullied you.¬†

An educational post will come next week, teaching users how to whitelist sites they wish to support. This is not that article, and was not pitched as such. We give away prizes all the time, as you will see if you take a cursory glance at the featured posts bar at the top. I should note: entry requires javascript and liking our facebook page. It wont work if you block it. 

Google does make tens of billions from ad revenue ever year… and employs lots of people. Not sure I follow your point here.¬†

blast0

I use adblock because the internet is unbearable without and after reading this article I’ve whitelisted makeuseof.com

James Bruce

Thank you. 

Alex Nelson

Just for reference here are two screenshots of the same MUO page with and without adblock on. I think it is pretty clear why people are using adblock…

James Bruce

…because it removes the advertising. Yes.¬†

Nalk

If you want to get an idea of who¬īs tracking you try installing Collusion add on in Firefox.

This is a screenshot of what happens when you visit Makeusof.com:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3307922/makeuseof%20according%20to%20collusion.jpg

Every dot is a company tracking.

I¬īm not so much against adds on websites but I hate (and I do mean hate) being tracked. I hate shopping agents for the reason someone earlier in the comments remarked.¬†
It makes me dumber if I¬īm only presented with more of the same.

When I become a member of a site they ask for my name, address and birthday among other things. They also track my behaviour. 
Granted they say it is anonymous tracking and for most of us that tracking is at best an inconvinience. Knowing who we are is of little consequence. The company doing the tracking wont be able to exploit us more if they put a name and a face on the “trackee”.

But that is today.

As a user I have to look to the future. I cannot predict the future. If I could I could have predicted the law in my country that nowadays demands providers to log my internet activity.

I only know that now the government have this huge database of logged internet traffic. “Only to catch terrorists mind you”.

Storing that information is expensive so to make it more cost efficient maybe they might decide to use it for other purposes. I feel like I¬īm on a slide. I dont know which government might have the power years into the future in all the countries I “visit”.¬†

By refusing to be tracked I feel some what safe right now. Sorry if it cuts into your livelyhood. I wish it didn¬īt because you write good stuff.¬†

And you¬īre right – it does make me sound like a “tin foil hat” but I saw the Berlin wall come down and ¬†read the stories about STASI.

James Bruce

We aren’t denying or hiding anything about the number of ads here. I believe ghostery lists 26 trackers in total, about 6 of which are core to the site functionality, and 20 of which are from ad networks and behavioural tracking.¬†

It’s great that you’re not against ads, but the fact is that random ads don’t generate enough revenue. The only way to make enough is to track users and personalize the ads displayed.¬†

Anyway, we won’t block you for the choice you make. Perhaps if we added a donation button you would considering donating?

Nalk

You¬īre WL¬īed. You¬īre the first one I ever did this to and I only did because you asked nicely and debated cordially.¬†
Besides, as I stated earlier, you write useful stuff.Now Google knows I was in here. :)No, I have to be honest. I dont donate. I read a recent survey done on an add free porn story site. It revealed that it¬īs mostly women who donate.Maybe you might consider making a subscription type of deal where one can pay to avoid adds.Other sites do this.Or you could make articles that require micro payments.The best guides at 10 cents a pop? I have one of your Linux guides for free but I¬īd have paid to get it.You¬īre not the only site to hassle. The newspapers fight to earn these days. Mostly because they started out having all free content and now they cant turn back the clock and have people start paying.If you crack “the code” regarding payment you will become richer than Gates. :)¬†¬†

James Bruce

I really appreciate that Nalk, and you can be sure the bosses are reading that too to consider all options. 

Mike

I think a lot of commentaries miss the point that this article is flagged as an opinion.

Having that said I bet my candy *** that anyone running an independent site at the size and demand of MUO would use one or more ad-system on that site. 

You don’t run a site like MUO on a $10 all inclusive unlimited hosting provider. Reliable and powerful hosting costs money, running a site that size takes a lot of manpower and having new content on a daily basis takes a lot of writers time.

All the tracking is only natural when using ads. You don’t want the geek located in Europe view ads about a nail studio in San Fran, CA. You want to show him ads relevant to both, the sites content and the visitors interest. That’s what (most of) the tracking is about.

Be my guest using Adblock, Ghostery, NoScript and whatnot… It’s your right to get the best web experience possible.¬†I myself have a hosts file with a bunch of Google/Doubleclick servers in it.
Just be aware of who you are hurting for the good AND bad.

Vin7803

I know this is an opinion piece and it’s interesting the different view points. No doubt this debate will continue across the internet, for a while yet.

I find it interesting the viewpoint, that those who use adblocking plugins ( I’m raising my hand ..) are “hurting” the authors livelihood and the internet.

But shouldn’t that be directed to all those who don’t read and don’t click the ads?

isn’t not reading the ads the same as preventing the ads from appearing? the results are the same aren’t they – in both cases the adverts are ignored, the sponsors message has gone to waste?

Websites should have banners with ” ..if you don’t read and click on
these ads – you’re ruining my career and depriving my family of shelter
and sustenance!”

As for the “tracking” – that adbolckers also prevent – the adverts and websites don’t say …” by the way we’re tracking your movements across the internet and recording the data – hope you don’t mind!”

All the tracking and related technology is done by stealth – it isn’t openly advertised or publicized on adverts or websites is it?

Non- techies would have absolutely no idea what’s happening.

James Bruce

No, you’re wrong. Many ads pay by impression. The very fact the ad appeared on your screen, regardless of whether you clicked it or not. Even if they dont pay by impression but by click, the impression figures are used by used to bargain a better deal. We can guarantee ad networks at least a million impressions, so we get a better deal.¬†

The idea that many users will simply ignore ads is irrelevant, and wrong. You may *think* you don’t click on ads, but you do. Especially if they are personalized. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and I used to think exactly the same way. “Meh, whats the point of advertising on the web at all, it’s not like anyone ever clicks on them unless they’re really stupid!”. That’s just false though.¬†

Furthermore, actively encouraging users to click on ads will get you banned from most major ad networks, as a principal violation of terms of service. 

As for tracking – do you use clubcards? Store discount cards / loyalty, whatever? Do they have a big block of text on the front that says “we record everything you purchase , when you purchase it , how you pay, in order to advertise our other goods and services to you and gather data on all our shoppers”. No, they don’t.¬†

You’re right though, of course – consumers do no need to be aware of this form of tracking and be technologically informed as to *exactly* what is being recorded – otherwise we end up with conspiracy theories – just browse through the other comments here to see examples. That’s why I appluad the efforts of ghostery to maintain the database and describe what each tracker does. But blocking them by default is not the answer.

Mr. Bob

I respect your view on how does this affects you as a working man. However we are consumers we need to take precautions! Companies tracking down our usage information doesn’t simple involve cookies. They create a Profile, just like Facebook (it contains all your data, likes or dislikes, companies you purchases from etc.) as well as Twitter which I’m sure you are well aware that the government record every single twit being made as part as the law, and how Facebook is working with the CIA to take anything that appears hostile to them, they’re many companies involve with one another all for “revenue” purpose are you telling me this is ethical?…Point being the internet isn’t safe, and with this two bills “SOPA & PIPA”-which were “illegally” passed nothings gets better. We want to protect our privacy as consumers and is our choice to choose weather we want anybody behind the screens learning what we do on the web.

Vin7803

No I don’t use loyalty cards – and no I don’t click on ads – why because I view a site for the info it provides and not for the products advertised.

just like I don’t read ads in the newspaper, I gloss passed it and view the articles – same for magazines all those pages of ads – simply lost on me, I flick passed it until I get to the article that interests me.

anyway that’s just me –

I recognize that adverts help provide the articles that I read and websites I view,
that’s the current model – however as mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t mind paying to get the info without the ads.

Sree kumar

My point of view is, one request the visitor to disable ADP or other addon. That is the best way to deal. I did the same for “makeuseof.com” after seeing a message from the website. Just if u are good u cant claim others are good. So these 3 may be evils for u but good for society.

Thank you.
Sreedhar

Ben

There are a bunch of reasons that I use Adblock Plus and NoScript (many of those reasons have already been described by other commentators), but I won’t mention them in this comment.¬† I will, however, address this statement you make about NoScript:

“when you use NoScript, you‚Äôre breaking the Internet”

I am of the opinion that if the average user installed NoScript, it would do more harm than good.  However, if one knows how to properly configure it, Noscript can be one of the most powerful tools available in the realm of ad-blocking/privacy addons. 

FYI, I have not added MUO to the AB+ whitelist, because I cannot stand the ads on this site.  I also have blocked the annoying banner telling me to turn off my adblocker. 

FYI # 2 This site introduced me to the wonders of NoScript and Adblock Plus.  For that I am truly grateful.  Thank you MakeUseOf!

James Bruce

oooh, blocking the banner that only appears to adblock! Clever!

But, wait, theres a banner for noscript too, and that can’t be blocked. Can it? Sneaky‚Ķ I’ll have to work on that.¬†

Ben

¬†There’s a banner for NoScript too?¬†¬† I never saw it.¬† BTW, I normally do disable adblock for sites that ask for¬† it to be disabled.¬† In MUO’s case though, I couldn’t stand the flash ads.¬† Text ads are mostly fine in my opinion, except for the ones that are placed inside posts.¬† Addendum, one no-brainer use for Adblock(and NoScript) is protecting from viruses and malware.¬† In NoScript’s case, protecting from vicious javascript code.¬† I have installed Adblock Plus on all my friends computers and all my family’s computers.¬† As a result of installing it, not one of them has gotten a virus.¬† Adblock Plus is essential for the experienced computer veteran and non-experienced user alike.¬†

randy

I agree ,these blocker dosen’t kill the intermet¬†;like Adblock ( I don;t use ) , NoScript ( on Chrome , its work too well , it block everything and don’t use it ) , NotSpcrit was good on chrome , and now, Ghostery is¬†uses on all the web I use . Some blocker are good and other is you add one then add another one that will work ¬†. Read what it offers and ask around for good suggestion that you want to block .

BenN

While I can understand the rant and point of view I am not sure I can completely agree.

I use adblock. ¬†I don’t micromanage sites, whitelisting some and not others. ¬†I don’t compare results of blocked/unblocked sites to see how they look. ¬†This is the same way I deal with News Papers. ¬† The paper costs $.50 because they put paid ads into the middle of the paper. ¬†Do I leave the ads where they are even though they block my view? No. ¬†Do I make and effort to look through them first and then read the paper? No. ¬†I get the News Paper, take all the ads and throw them out, then read the paper. ¬†Is that breaking the News Paper industry? I dont know, but I do know if I was required to keep the ads in the paper where the Tribune put them I would stop reading the paper. ¬†I also don’t look at junk mail even though that subsidizes regular mail. ¬†

I suppose this argument exists all over. ¬†Am I required to watch the 30 minutes of trailers, ads, promos and logos before the movie starts? ¬†This helps advertise and sell other products so the poor celebrities and studios make money. ¬†Am I required to watch them all even the 14th time I watch Superbad? ¬†Movie theaters lose money on tickets but make up for it with selling a 5 dollar soda, am I cheating somebody out of a living if I don’t buy one?

Websites serve the content. How I digest it is up to me.  

A sincere question here- is it preferable to not view the site at all? ¬†Business and ad revenue wise- would MUO(or any similar site) prefer me to not view their site if I use adblock? ¬†I ask because I would actually be more apt to oblige in this way than to start turning micromanaging ad- blocking and white listing on a site by site basis. ¬†If I visit 100 sites per day I don’t want to manage them all and change them as their advertising schemes change. ¬†But MUO has been good to me and if you asked me to not mooch anymore I would probably oblige.

For the sake of full disclosure- I am a tin foil hat, bunker in my backyard, pay cash, prepaid phone type person. ¬†I am de-googling myself now, won’t touch facebook, never use my real name, delete all history…¬†

James Bruce

You actually rip out the ads from newspapers? That’s pretty hardcore‚Ķ.¬†

No, it’s not preferable for you not to view the site at all. That’s why I’ve explicited we will never block content to those who do choose to block our ads. We would rather have you as a loyal but unsupportive reader than not at all.¬†

BenN

I am actually in a state that starts with WA… oh I have said too much. ¬†At work I can only control so much, like my name and email. ¬†My company is pretty big and our traffic gets routed through multiple states, sometimes I am an “M” state, sometimes a “C”.

I don’t cut out the ads but I do throw all the stuffed ones away without even looking- same with my postal mail. I don’t by sodas at the theater, I FF past the previews in movies and walk away during commercials on TV. ¬†All stuff that makes money for the provider.

I understand this was an opinion piece by one writer and am not saying I will stop reading or anything. ¬†I was just curious regarding the pay structure of me coming here with adblock(I don’t use the other two) on. ¬†You said some ads pay by impression. ¬†So if I come here and the ads load but are hidden do you still make some money? Are people running the trifecta of evil a net loss to MUO or still contribute a tiny tiny amount through impression ads and site rank boosting the¬†value¬†of your advertising space? ¬†

BTW- Have you now typed way more in comments than you did in the original article? Does Aibek pay by the article or by the words/comments?  I am thinking that may turn into a more important rant for you.  Thanks for engaging and taking this from an interesting article to an interesting conversation.

James Bruce

You’re right. I should have noticed that. Being British, I assumed that was the name of your ISP, not a company you work for. I guess that’s as good as using a VPN in effect ;)

I’m afraid I don’t know exactly which ads pay by impression or how much revenue is generated exactly as I’m not privy to that. It’s also difficult to pin down if we lose money per blocked-impression ¬†with regards to hosting and content costs, but I suspect there’s still value in people coming here to read out articles – maybe they then pass them onto a friend who does become a loyal reader without blocking ads; mayve they mention our article or link to us on a different site or their own blog; or maybe they contribute something interesting to the comments such as yourself. There’s definitely some value in that I think, but nothing we could put into numbers.¬†

I suspect I’ve now typed more in the comments than in the original article, yes! For the sake of disclosure, we do get paid for responding to comments, but not by the word (or I would be extremely rich by now!). This ensures that people with valid concerns and questions do get them answered instead of just feeling like they’re shouting into the wind.¬†

Thanks for hanging around. 

al

Omg, do you buy stuff from the supermarket, or do you make everything yourself. Ie, if you can’t grow it, slaughter it, or knit it yourself you don’t get it? I’m thinking when you are at the store and you want Yorkshire Pudding or Spotted Dick, you buy the one from the Manufacturer that advertises everywhere vs the one that has it in a plastic unmarked nondescript undescribed bag near the register. Oh, my did you buy a stick of gum today? Why did you do that when you could have chewn on a twig. Sounds like somebody wants to be advertised to when they see fit vs all the time. Oh, and your comments are advertising for your cause “product” that your touting “selling”. Maybe the guy that makes Adblock, NoScript or Ghostery could come up with a product called say “comment blocker or no talk or …”.

James Bruce

By the way, Ben, not to feed your tin-foil hat theories, but I should advise you that if you want to truly anonymise yourself, you need to start browsing behind a VPN. As it is, your IP address is recorded with every comment you make, so I know for instance that your ISP starts with “A” and you’re located in a state that begins with “I”. I won’t name the rest, but it’s easy to obtain from your IP.

Just search here for “VPN” and you’ll find many articles on the topic.

Pctutor

The creator of Adblock is hypocritical because he asks for a donation?¬† I don’t get that.¬† You’re comparing a one-time donation request to a constant display of ads.¬† Those two things are the same to you?

Believe me, I understand your point.¬† In fact, I don’t use Adblock any more either.¬† But when you make a statement like that – a personal dig that is not even based in logical reasoning – your argument definitely loses a good chunk of credibility.

James Bruce

He uses a similar free content model with donations instead of ads yes. It’s still the same content model. He couldnt rightly display ads to you could he? So yes, I still find it hypocritical. Happy to make money himself while destorying other peoples abilities to make money. If he believed everything on the internet should be free, why ask for donations? His work is somehow so special that it deserves payment and ours doesn’t?

usb47

Happy to make money himself while destorying other peoples abilities to make money.
=============================

Hypocritical, no. Capitalistic, yes.

David

“If he believed everything on the internet should be free, why ask for donations?”

I don’t remember him saying this.

“His work is somehow so special that it deserves payment and ours doesn‚Äôt?”

That’s the thing though – he DOESN’T feel entitled to payment. If people like his service, they can choose to donate. A site with advertisements will make money whether the consumer feels it deserves to or not. There’s no choice there. Well, not unless you use adblock ;)

Lamialily

I try not to block ads if I can help it, but every once in a while, obnoxious, obscene, or downright dangerous injections will make me whip out Opera’s built-in content blocker.

Can’t say much in this case since I’m browsing mobile, but I haven’t consciously noticed the ads so I’d consider them non-intrusive and thus perfectly fine.

morrisson swift

I read this article as sympathetically as possible (I don’t want to see anyone’s livelihood crushed) and have followed the replies with interest. Thank you for providing the perspective and forum. I nevertheless, having done so, still feel the matter is extremely cut and dry: if the best motivation a site/author can provide for users to willingly submit themselves to–(i) the perceptual/mental overhead of ignoring ads, or (ii) the overhead of continually re-educating themselves on how much risk s/he may be incurring by exposing her/his browser to ads–is that they ought to do so because that’s how writers get paid, I can’t blame the user for choosing not to. It’s very simple: people will always act in what they perceive to be their own best interests.

You could possibly demonstrate that blocking ads is not in users’ best interests, but if that’s really true, I think the onus is on you to figure out how to make that obvious to them, rather than castigating them for taking what strongly appears to be the easy way out of incurring that overhead. If you’re considering this essay to be that demonstration, I’m sorry to say that I still feel, like many before me in this thread, that the business model as it currently exists seems like a bad deal for both writer and reader. And “if you don’t like the business model, you come up with another one” isn’t a legit response to that: my optimal model is currently to block your ads, and until there is a different transaction model that leaves an even better taste in my mouth, I’m sticking with it.

James Bruce

“I think the onus is on you to figure out how to make that obvious to them”

The easiest way is to show users what content they would receive if everyone used adblock. ie, nothing Рblock them completely out of the site. 

morrisson swift

¬†You say that as though it’s some sort of punishment, like you’ll teach those rascals a lesson; but maybe you’re right – maybe blocking them out would be a better tactic than berating them.

I guess what I’m seeing the question distill down to is, what would you rather your customers be saying to themselves when they leave your site after reading one of your articles: ‘Wow, that was an excellent experience that I look forward to repeating,’ or, ‘Gee, that was a great article; too bad I had to suffer through all that BS to get to the good stuff – oh well, at least I Did The Right Thing.’

morrisson swift

I’m sure you’re tired of defending your perspective. I want to reiterate that I agree with the ethics you’re building your case from; I just don’t see it as adequately practical to expect users to Do the Right Thing just because it’s The Right Thing to Do. There has to be a more effective incentive than that–if the threat to put your content behind a paywall works, more power to you–I for one do pay for digital content from two periodicals, the NYT and the New Republic.

And again, as long as you’re the one berating people for not Doing the Right Thing, it does seem to me that it is your responsibility to advance a better model, not curtly invite your readers to. In other words, as long as readers can continue to get your content despite using adblockers, it’s going to continue to be your problem.

All the same, I do wish you luck and don’t expect to get something for nothing. I don’t know how successfully the paywall model is working for the NYT or the New Republic, or anyone else. I don’t know if that’s the solution. I appreciate your perspective and hope neither you nor anybody else gets screwed out of a living while we as a culture adapt to the technology.

Anonmcpony

hahaha i have all three installed :)

James Bruce

Hahahah you sneaky sneakster you!

Jan Moren

I didn’t know about ghostery. Thanks, installing it now!

James Bruce

;)

Keith Tipton

I just turned off Glimmerblocker to see what ads I am missing.¬† I’m sorry, but most of these ads are crap, especially the ones at the top of page from google. ¬† Do you really depend on these??

James Bruce

As I already said on numerous occassion, you see crap ads because you always have adblock enabled. With no tracking on you, you get shown the lowest common denominator from bad ad networks that pay terribly and have ugly flashing deceiving ads. If you actually used the internet properly, you would have ads customized to your interests (as I do, and many others). It’s your own fault that you see crap ads.¬†

FYI; we took steps this morning to block those low quality ads and restrict the types of ads that can show. Hopefully you’ll see less of them, if you are kind enough to whitelist us.¬†

Lomapur

well, I always whitelist the pages I like in both AdBlock and NoScript..

the problem here is that if I disable them totally the Internet becomes totally unusable, because of all this Flash s*** on 95 % of pages.. my PC simply cannot stand all of these ads/eyecatching gadgets (that are not useful for anything), RAM and CPU is feeling pain in bones..

So, surprisingly, for me and my PC, YOUR advices would kill the Internet, not those two mentioned above..

Anyway, I disabled them on your site, because of great content you have here.. :)

 

James Bruce

Flash block is a separate plugin, and I completely understand Flash kills your PC – mine too. by all means, block Flash. It’s a dead technology (and yet people still whine about iOS not supporting it? How sad for them.. )

Ben Mackay

correct me if I’m wrong but you only get paid when some clicks an ad right? and as I never do my ad block makes no difference one way or the other

James Bruce

That’s wrong. Read my responses elsewhere in the comment thread please, I dont like repeating myself endlessly. You’re only 10 person to say that.¬†

Adrnmrn85

the only reason me and a million other people got adblock was because annoying video ads playing before the actual videos on youtube… blame youtube for doing this… when adblock came along it was like saviour to us… we didnt care about ads all over the page.. but the video ads is what killed it… and you can blame you tube for taking it too fucking far…

Adrnmrn85

we got tired of seeing ¬†40 SECOND ADD to watch a 20 second video… thats just rediculous… blame youtube

muotechguy

What on earth does that have to do with static banner ads?

Anonimous

¬†Maybe create a selective blocking addon based on all 3 of these , blocking badness but not blcking select add’s & scripts from an online kept repesotory lst of url’s & not letting users selectively block (all) ads/scripts

muotechguy

Too much bother, no one would adjust the defaults. And who would maintain the list? You can be sure they’d start accepting bribes from ad companies to allow their network by default. It’s a nice idea, but …

Peter

Thanks for introducing me Ghostery, this add-on is really awesome. Another great add-on and reason for Mozilla Firefox Browser!

Thanks!

James Bruce

Doh!

Joeblow

or we design less intrusive adds and thus there will be less to block. Its not ads from Microsoft of Apple sites that is the problem. It’s the run of the mill sites that think it is ok to host adds that actually detract from the user experience. If your adds get more of my attention then your site, I am blocking you, as simple as that. If I wanted dawn dish soap, i would have gone to dawn.com.

James Bruce

“run of the mill” ads don’t pay the bills, simple as that.¬†

EAS

Tough titty. It’s not the customer’s fault that your revenue model doesn’t work.

Sounds like your problem is with your advertising partners. If I see bottom of the barrel ads because I’m “not using the internet right,” that doesn’t exactly make me want to go around getting blasted by more and more bottom of the barrel ads until supposedly, according to you, they might somehow get better (but also creepier).

The ad-based model turns readers into a commodity and ad companies into your customer. It’s very clear from this article where your loyalty lies. If you cared about the reader’s experience, you would take steps to correct it instead of browbeating and guilt-tripping them into changing their behavior so that their personal information is easier to sell. And don’t kid yourself — the type of article a (supposedly anonymous) user reads IS personal information, and you are selling it. The articles are essentially bait.

If you can’t “pay the bills” without being intrusive about the kind of information you collect and obnoxious about the type of ad you display, either get better at your job or find a new one. That’s what the rest of the world has to do if the boss tells us our performance isn’t cutting it at work.

Ad-blockers are a sign that your readers AND your advertisers find your performance lacking. Shape up or ship out. That’s how work WORKS.

muotechguy

I agree, the ads suck. My own sites have much better advertising; this is not my site. You’ll pleased to know I am being very vocal about changing them here though.

Pan Chromatic

I understand your argument that you deserve to be paid for your work, but…¬†
Accepting donations is a humble alternative to taking in revenue from advertisers. This model, by definition, cannot be defined as “profiteering”. I don’t think any entity should belittle the donation model until it tries it. If I weren’t in a day-to-day struggle to pay my rent, I would be happy to pay for more services on the web. I wonder how many years it will be until we have to opt-out of individual genome tracking.¬†I’m so happy to allow AdBlock for Chromium to help me block the ads on HULU.com. Somebody still hasn’t figured out how to prevent commercials from being exponentially louder than the show you’re trying to watch.¬†When I have the capital and the neccesity to make a purchase, I know where to look to make that purchase, most likely because I’ve heard through WORD OF MOUTH that a product or service is worthy of my own hard-earned currency. I don’t need any commercials reminding me that Home Depot, for example, exists.

al

Sheesh, I was in your group with all the others, however, the fact pure and simple is that people and entities buy stuff that they are familiar with, the buy stuff that they hear and see about. For instance how did you get hired? Were you sitting on the poddy and one day a leprechaun popped into your bathtub and said “hey bub! You gotta job … go here and get paid!”. Naw, I bet you made a resume “translation: advertising flier/packet” or filled out an employment form “translation: subscription to a banner exchange or profile directory”, but that is not where it stopped. Then you had to let your prospective employers “translation: your customers” know about your advertising. But that didn’t impress them so you had to dig down deep and inform them more about yourself and how you would benefit their company “translation: the sales pitch”. Finally, after countless, if not innumerable attempts, somebody said yes “translation: purchased your product – ‘you'”. Unfortunately, after you sold your time to one customer, several others finally got the same idea but were too late to make the deal.

Now consider what would happen if the company you worked for stopped advertising “translation: telling their prospective employers the consumers what they can do for them” and gradually lost their entire revenue stream “translation: money generated from consumers purchasing goods and services” to some other company or individual that actually wanted the business.

Yep, that’s right, you’d be let go, you would have to remarket yourself all over again “translation: marketing”. Not only that, your company would probably fold.

So, that’s not going to happen, because the company you work for is going to continue to advertise, call on potential customers, make the sales pitches, so everyone in the company can make money and pay their bills and otherwise enjoy life.

Now, consider what happens when a sales pitch “translation: banner ad/commercial/flier etc” stops converting “translation: bringing in new or continued sales”. Yes, that’s right, we website owners discontinue it. In the case of over-arching analogy here, that’d be you in your company. Once your company attributes a loss of sales and or revenue potential from you, after a probationary period (if you are lucky) “translation: the consultation” if there is no improvement you are let go “translate: we get rid of the advertiser”.

Then the company starts the process all over again to attract another advertiser “translation: employee”. And you will start the process all over again and make another resume “translation: advertising packet”.

Granted, I’ve simplified this and it might be more complex than this, but nah I don’t think it is.

You can find me http://www.BowieRocks.com

– Al

Joe Fazio

You can thank the big boys – FB, GOOGLE, ect ect for this happening. if i want to buy something guess what i search for it. never ever once have i ever made a spark of the moment purchase from an ad on someone’s website. nor taken a suggestion from forced advertising. those programs which stop this madness are free because those who made it were just as sick and tired of it as we all are. Action/Re-action. Cause/Effect Causality.the best you as smaller websites could do is either take donations like Wikipedia does, or work with the programmers to fit it in in such a way as to not bother us. in looking at Ghostery there is 12 bugs trying to capture my information. i find that disturbing. when a disturbing person comes near my house i ask them to leave. when the don’t i pull the shotgun out. FB & GOOGLE and the other have removed themselves from my shotguns aim. so ghostery and the others put them back into the crosshairs. Deal with it. we do not wish to be bothered by nonsense. when i want shoes i’ll tell google to find them. but this impulse purchasing crap has got to stop

muotechguy

Yet again, we find the fallacy that you’re “unaffected by advertising” and “never click on them anyway, so what’s the point”. Other commenters have explained that idea in numerous places, so I’m not going to repeat them here.

Also, we’re not small, thank you very much!

nicko

I block everything all the time. No sympathies. If services or worthy I pay for them. ’nuff said.

Salantrax

Dear James. I’m so sorry for posting in two places, this was not my attention. I was going to reply to ‘Anomaly’, but my reply wandered of from that internal topic. Hope it’s all right.

Reply to article:

Your problem is actually the topic of two discussions.

The following may seem off-topic, but I would like you to read it, for the sake of an analogy.

I can be pretty sure you have limited experience with Linux and Open Source in general (?). Linux takes time and effort to use, which is why (i think) a majority of people don’t know how to use it, and therefore don’t. (Which is what Anamaly wrote a while back.)

This does not mean that it is fundamentally inferior. On the contrary, when you have invested enough time and effort into learning how to use it, most people will never want to go back to Windows. As time progresses, you start moving away from Microsoft altogether. As time progresses even more, you start to move away from commercial software altogether.

As a former computer gamer and recent server administrator I am experienced both in the Windows and Linux based operating systems.

What ‚ÄėAnamoly‚Äô says is that most people don‚Äôt use Linux because they are too lazy. There‚Äôs nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, those of us who are *not* lazy, and want (and often need) to get the most bang for our buck in terms of hardware investments, there is no way we would use Microsoft software. It simply doesn‚Äôt get the job done. It was not built for the internet era. It was not built to handle multiple users. DOS, which is in many frightening ways the basis of later Windows versions was a one-machine, one-user OS.

As for the base of an advanced web server. Serious web server admins generally use Apache on Linux or some other UNIX-like system. Even Microsoft uses Apache, for its stability and low maintenance cost. What does the server hosting MOU use, by the way?

This means loss of revenue for Microsoft, granted. Now, should Microsoft be able to get money out of all those people (currently the majority) who don’t have the time or energy to learn how e.g. Linux works? Of course!

It is a viable option for users who need to be spoon-fed ‚Äústuff they think tastes good‚ÄĚ, and who don‚Äôt need or don‚Äôt have time to use their computer in a better way. One can take it even further and buy an Apple product, where in the software is usually taylored to the hardware (they actually do a really good job with this), as long as you‚Äôre willing to pay. (And Apple, my goodness, they know how to get paid good money.)

Should those advanced users (currently the minority) who know what they’re doing be able to say no thanks to Microsoft and Apple? To be responsible for their own system, with all the extra knowledge and all the extra time and effort that means spending?

Of course! If we‚Äôre brave enough to learn how a computer really works, then let us do it. Now apply this to the ad world. The fundament of generating ad revenue on the internet is users being stupid and lazy enough to download the ads in the first place. The default option with web sites is to ‚Äúdownload all‚ÄĚ.

Those who know better, should they be able to filter some of it out? Of course! Your real problem is that the author of the Ad-Block plugin was so knowledgable and wrote such good code, that his product (which is free, btw) can be used by pretty much anyone. End of this discussion.

As for generating money, that is another discussion altogether.

You should take a cue from the way the Open-Source community works (it does work, and it blossoms more than ever in the internet era!).

I may download some OSS software that I like, for free. I make improvements. The original author gets those improvements for free. There is no money involved directly in OSS, but the gain is enormous. Look at what Apache has become. Look at what Linux has become. Firefox. Chrome. VLC.

I download your website for free. I host my own website that you can download for free. Millions of websites are free for *you* to download, without any ads what-so-ever! Why should you be any different? Are you *that* good? Then yes, I suggest you make members pay for the content.

And in the end, it’s all really simple. If you can’t make ends meet, then don’t host the site! Or, if you are confident that people know you are in need, and that they enjoy your site enough to pay your expenses, then ask for donations.

What you do NOT do is complain to your users that you don’t have enough money to host your site and shift the responsibility to them. The real evil here is to use your personal difficulties with getting paid for people downloading your site, as an argument not to use Ad-Block (not download all of it).

Only ignorant people and jerks blame technology for their loss of income; the same domain of technology that enabled you to host a site in the first place! I’m not suggesting you are a jerk. You just need to think this over some more. Do you ever pay the major newspaper companies for their loss of income when you choose an online source of news instead? Do you ever donate to any of your users for making insightful comments?

I will black-list MUO until you take back this ridiculous article.

And I accept no donations for this post. It’s all free.

muotechguy

Hi Salantrax. Thank you for taking the time to write such an elaborate response, and I did indeed read it all.

However I believe your first argument is a bad analogy, and here’s why. Linux is a free *alternative* to Windows. While everything you have said about it being more powerful, for users who wish to take the time to learn etc, is completely true; it’s also illogical to draw an analogy to adblock. Rather, I would say, if there is a website out there, similar to MUO, to which users contribute high quality content completely for free, and the hosting costs are presumably covered by an anonymous benefactor, or some kind of free torrent ‘hosting’ is enabled – then the analogy is good.

Rather, adblock is akin to downloading windows and using an activation hack to prevent microsoft from being renumerated. It is taking content without giving back to the author – plain and simple. I could just as easily say “The fundament of generating revenueby purchasing windows licences is users being stupid and lazy enough to not know how to use an activation hack. The default option with windows is to pay!‚ÄĚ.

****

So then we get into the issue of how to generate revenue, and that’s a more valid discussion.

this website doesn’t run on Apache, because the performance is terrible once you scale beyond X requests per second. We use NGINX – which I grant is also free – combined with dedicated servers (at a cost of at least $1000/month, though I dont know specifics), and a separate Content Delivery Network which also costs per TB of data transferred. The bottom line is, a website needs money to operate, we the OSS model is simply not valid.

As for making the content premium – that’s a moral decision our boss made, and that’s his prerogative to make, not yours. He decided that it was better to let users access our content for free – so that anyone on the internet could make use of it – not simply those who can afford yet another monthly deduction from their salary. It’s not a case of “is this content worth it?” – some people simply can’t pay, and certainly don’t wish to after spending god knows what on a PC, a net connection (and windows!). So we have chosen the free content model, and we expect users to comply with that. If you don’t , we’re not going to block you, but that’s an ethical decision that you have personally chosen to prevent us from being paid your percentage of the bill. You went to the restaurant – you ate with everyone else – and yet you didn’t pay. Everyone else picked up the bill for you instead.

As for newspapers, personally I never did buy them – because I believe strongly in a free content model – as opposed to paying monthly subscriptions for it. Perhaps this is a difference of opinion, but I would rather get my news for free, from anywhere, in exchange for viewing ads – than pay one particular news outlet (and then another, and another).

Donating to users for insightful comments is an interesting idea – and we kind of do run a similar system. If you were logged in right now, you would be generating points on your account. The same for sharing content. Right now I’m developing the next stage – which is where those points can be exchanged for competition entries and software licences (and possibly even real world goods at some point). So yes, we do (or rather, we will) be giving back to users who contribute more than others.

Anyway, thank you again for your comment. As I say, we certainly won’t block you for the decision you have made to not give anything back renumeratively, just as I would not presume to tell someone who runs a pirated copy of windows that it’s wrong. You can be your own judge of that.

Salantrax

Thank you muotechguy, for answering despite my somewhat hostile attitude in the previous post! :)

I answered in part to James’ earlier statement that OSS is free mostly *because it is inferior software*. This is simply not true, which you also say, and statements like James’ make me a bit angry. *He makes this an argument for requiring people to pay (or watch ads) for “quality content”, because quality content can never be free of charge and free of ads.* (This is also not true. And whenever I encounter a web page that is truly Free in this way, I am encouraged act in the same way and/or donate!) That is why I felt a need to draw the rather vague (but in many ways valid) analogy.

As for running a big web server like MUO, I agree, it probably does cost a bit of money. But that is not *my* problem, as harsh as that may sound. Shifting this liability to the users is completely irrational. If something on the web server does not work, it is the administrators problem.

“Rather, adblock is akin to downloading windows and using an activation hack to prevent microsoft from being renumerated.”

Not at all. That is an illegal activity! However, it can never be illegal (as far as I can tell) to opt out of downloading part of a web page. We can opt out of running javascript if we think there’s a security issue with the page.
We can opt out of displaying flash elements (James readily suggests that you do this, beause “they are annoying”. What about flash ads? Don’t some web sites depend on *those* for income? Now *that’s* hipocrisy if I ever heard it.)

What I’m mainly attacking in this article is that awful idea that users should feel bad about blocking ads. That’s ridiculous. If you want people to whitelist MUO, then you should ask for this of your users, not begin by suggesting they are doing something morally wrong by not doing it. That’s akin to stating that not donating for something worthwile is morally wrong.

This article only hurts MUO, but its scope extends to the internet as a whole. That is too arrogant to go unanswered.

What’s wrong with the ad-based revenue model is that people don’t know how *not* to download the ads. The default option has always been to “download all”. Hopefully, with adblock, the internet will be more OSS-oriented (in a vague way, I agree) in that it is the user who makes an active choice to support a website they like, be it through donations or by whitelisting ad-wise.

I thank you for not blocking me, despite my choice. However, I want you to feel fully entitled to block me from this website based on me blacklisting you. That is entirely your choice. I only suggest then, that you are clear about your policy with new users before you block them, should you ever choose to do so (which you have already stated that you will not do).

Thank you for an otherwise great website.

Salantrax

PS

As far as web server administration goes, you, muotechguy, clearly have more knowledge on the subject, and I acknowledge this fact. Note, however, that I did not suggest that MUO runs on Apache specifically.

My point is that MUO runs on open source software, perhaps not mainly because it is free of charge, but because OSS generally spawns more secure and stable software for the end user. In that sense, my guess was correct.

James Bruce

Sorry Salantrax, didn’t mean to deceive here, but muotechguy is me, James. I am the developer for this site. I have two accounts for admin and authorship, forget which I’m logged into sometimes.

– Flash ads are unneccessary in this day and age. Website do not rely upon them, but sometimes they are served by ad networks. I’m happy to block those, and thats not hypocritical because it’s not blocking advertising on principle, its blocking a dangerous and outdated technology.

– You seem to imply that it’s somehow disfunctional that it costs money to run a website (“it doesnt work”?). I dont really follow that. It’s a “problem” for our admin to deal with – it’s just a fact. Bandwith isnt free, storage isnt free. You’re welcome to try and maintain a major website in your free time for free, but if you had any experience of web technologies you wouldn’t really be questinging this point.

– I didnt say OSS software was inferior. I think I said linux sucks, and will never reach mainstream. But again, software and websites are completely different things and the model for one does not neccessarily equate to another. By your reasoning, everything in the world should be free , made by donations and people volunteering their time. That sounds remarkably na√Įve.

– Illegality and ethics are not the same thing. While it may not be illegal to block ads, it is certainly unethical. My point is that this analogy is far better than comparing it to using linux.

– “people dont know how to block ads, so the ad revenue model is wrong” just isnt logical, sorry, can’t respond to that. “people dont know how to use torrents, so charging for software is wrong”. See how silly that sounds?

– Users should feel bad about blocking ads here. And we will be rolling out a whitelist plea very soon that will permanently show itself to adblock users (not blocking content though). However, this was an opinion piece, and as such represents my opinion on a topic, not an official plea from MUO. It should not be taken as such, is quite clearly labelled opinion, and does not necessarily represent the viewpoint of MUO or any of the other writers.

The last point is critical. Please don’t take this article as anything other than a personal rant from the developer of this website who makes it his full time job to maintain it, help out users with queries, continually write content, keep the website online, and make the user experience better; and is paid for that.

Salantrax

I see :) ! No problems… They both seem like nice people.

About Flash ads: I’m sorry. You are definitely right. :/ I somehow got attached to your argument about it simply being *annoying*, but you definitely have some valid tech arguments for blocking them too. I take my hypocrisy statement back.

“- You seem to imply that it‚Äôs somehow disfunctional that it costs money to run a website…”

No, I’ve said nothing of the sort. Of course it costs money. That does not mean a website in general can’t be provided without ads. And that is why “the trifecta of evil” can’t possibly kill the Internet, or even hurt it noticably. I may be too radical, but I think the world will be a lot nicer when people know when and what they are contributing to on the interweb. It might kill *your* site though, if you can’t find a viable alternative to cover your costs. I would sincerely be sorry for such a thing to happen (although I don’t visit here much), but again, that’s part of another discussion.

What I’m saying is that any financial problems are not the users’ responsibility; it is the server admin’s problem. Neither is it the Ad-block Plus author’s fault, that software was probably bound to happen. What do you mean by “profiteering from the same free model”? He is not! He only asks for donations. He doesn’t blame anyone for not viewing his ads. I’m not sure he even has ads. I don’t see how he acts hypocritically in any way, regardless of what one might think of the effects of his software on the Internet.

“- I didnt say OSS software was inferior. I think I said linux sucks, and will never reach mainstream.”

I was referring to this statement:

“Sure, there are some people who will provide content for free, just as there are some who work to provide Linux and free apps there. There‚Äôs also a reason why most users don‚Äôt use Linux‚Ķ”

Here is where I picked up the OSS analogy. You clearly imply that free (truly free) content can’t be better than paid content. This is not true, and had to be adressed. However, one can have opinions about Linux itself, absolutely. OSS can’t finance a server infrastructure by itself, since there is no money involved. I was making a subtle hint, that you should give what you can, and enjoy what other’s give to you, because there *is* content on the internet that is truly free of charge (e.g. Wikipedia). On the other hand, I’m not stupid. I suspect many sites would die without ad support. I say “so be it”. Future web sites will need to learn not to rely on ads, or be appreciated enough that users are prepared to pay the extremely small price of white-listing them.

“By your reasoning, everything in the world should be free , made by donations and people volunteering their time. That sounds remarkably na√Įve.”

No! I haven’t said anything like that. It is each and everyone’s choice to provide information free of charge. But when you claim to do so, you can not at the same time flame the users for not paying you by viewing your ads. That, I would say, is not ethical. Default beviour should be to block ads. If a website asks for a whitelist, and handles the ads well, that’s another story. My model of a free site would go something like this:

‘Hello! This is my site. Everything here is free of charge, and you may (may not) redistribute it as you like.
Currently, we have problems financing the server costs, because a lot of people have realized they do not need to download ads (and never needed to).
Therefore we ask you for a small contribution in the form of a donation, and/or an Ad-block whitelist of the entire site (which is cheaper!).
Thank you!’

If this doesn’t work, then yes, I suggest you make members pay. This is not a demand, it’s simply a suggestion.

– ‚Äúpeople dont know how to block ads, so the ad revenue model is wrong‚ÄĚ

No, I think I just put that part (what you interpreted as the above line) a bit out of context. This was part of my personal opinion:

The ad revenue model itself is not wrong, ethically. What’s ethically wrong is how the end bill is presented to the user. Users are default:ed to contribute, whereas I think all contribution should be an opt-in feature. In this context, the model has been flawed, because while it has always been theoretically possible to block ads, it has not been easy enough for an ordinary user to do so. This is what I think Ad-block et al. are going to change, if/when some of the major browsers implement it by default.

As you say, I may have taken this a bit too far by blacklisting MUO. I somehow got the impression that you were representing MUO, and I don’t want to support any website with this attitude regarding user responsibility.

I do respect your opinions otherwise.

muotechguy

The problem with opt-in is that nearly all users will not opt-in. They will leave it on the default of nuking everything, and the ad model fails. It’s human nature to take without giving back if you believe you can get away with it. Not everyone takes the time to educate themselves as you do or whitelist sites you enjoy. You are the minority, and this is the tragedy of the commons. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons]

Salantrax

I hear ya loud and clear. It does suck. Nothing we can do about it. Good luck anyway, because you’re doing a great job on this site. You’re whitelisted now, of course.

muotechguy

thank you ;)

Mikey

I disabled the trifecta of doom for your domain only.

Mikey

Wow! This page lit up like a Christmas tree.

Salantrax

Personally I think the great content on this website is definitely worth having that christmas tree show. It is a *very* small price to pay.

If it weren’t for the article on this very page, that is.

FreedomOverMoney

“We believe strongly in a free content model ‚Äď whereby we provide free, high quality, full content to you with no restrictions ‚Äď in exchange for showing you advertising.”

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but this sentence demonstrates that there are clear gaps in your understanding of the concept “free content model”. It suggests to me that you don’t realize that *having to deal with advertising is a cost*. Commercials are a cost. Pop-up ads are a cost. Anything that distracts from desired content is a cost. The “free content model” applies only to content which is *actually free*, i.e., without cost. If you can’t afford a site on your own external income, that is not an issue of your readers — it’s yours. In a perfect world we would all like to be paid, stay-at-home internet bloggers but most of us can’t be, and that’s fine. Just like people can’t walk around being philosophers anymore expecting to get paid. There are a lot of jobs that simply aren’t fiscally feasible, that’s just the way things are. No shame in that.

The point is, people will always have a choice. If they want to be free of ads and trackers and all that stuff, they have the right and freedom to control what is presented to them on their own computers. If your content is good enough, maybe enough people will accept certain costs to access it. But the point is, people should always have a choice, and by labeling these blocking addons as “evil”, and by extension implying that their users are, is like getting mad at Wikipedia because fewer people use Britannica.

muotechguy

Call it “ad supported model” then, I’m not here to argue the semantics of what you call “free”. The dictionary has many definitions, one of which is “without charge” . We don’t charge for content, therefore it can be termed as free. You’re simply being pedantic by arguing that ads are a cost.

Anyway, let’s hope someone doesn’t demean your job to the status of “financially not feasible”.

FreedomOverMoney

Feel free to paint my words in any light you desire (“pedantic”, “semantics” debate, etc.), but it doesn’t change the fact that ads are most definitely a cost. Sure, any single ad isn’t much, but over dozens of pages loads and several sites visited each day, the increased load time and distraction can add up. Put most simply: if they aren’t a cost, why are people blocking them?

And yes, if someday my job becomes fiscally infeasible, then I will change as needed. It may be frustrating, annoying, and I might fall on hard times, but life isn’t always fair. I find no difficulty in accepting that and moving on, whether that means looking for alternative models (e.g., offering free content but paid perks to my users) or finding a more fiscally sustainable profession. I may even decide to make my entire website ad-supported, even though I may lose some visitors in the process. But the point is I would never call someone “evil” for blocking my ads, nor would I advocate for a policy which removed the freedom of choice from everyday people just to make my personal lifestyle more sustainable. Let every man and women decide for him or herself, I say, and if they want to blocks ads, by God let them have the freedom to! :-)

muotechguy

I didnt call “someone” evil, I called the plugins evil. I believe users are misinformed and misguided in using them.

And at no point did I say you couldn’t have the freedom to choose. In fact, I explicitly stated we will not block anyone who chooses to do use those plugins. This is an opinion piece, set out to try and convince people and inform them. Information is the key to making a personal, ethical choice.

Steve Nordquist

Heh; financial investment is steadily both unfeasible (no solicitation and all that,) and done, like making the blocker bits. As opposed to the browser plugin, javascript, and user script options; take leisure to back up your opinions (eeeviiiil! A term dating baaack to the time when a Common Commercial Code blackened the land…) with the usual tracking data, cite some public sources (not everypony can toss $20k at GlobalData every month,) etc.

David

Calling you out for using the word “free” is not pedantry. You’re deliberately ignoring an important distinction.

Let me put it this way: If you truly operate your site “for free,” then how are you making any money off of it?

muotechguy

Actually is it pedantic, because there are two meanings of the word and you;re simply choosing the one that you prefer.

Let me put it this way – how much did you PAY to read any of the content on this website?

bank of america merchant services

Hmm i hope you do not get annoyed with this question, but how much does a site like yours earn?

muotechguy

No idea.

But just so you know, I disabled URL linking so your SEO spammy ‘name’ won’t work here, whether this was an automated comment or not.

Brian

I choose to leave them all enabled and will continue to do so. Stocking your fridge is not worth sacrificing my personal security.

muotechguy

Most ads from large networks do not attack you or contain spyware, and if you used a secure browser the few exploitative ones on dodgy sites wouldn’t be an issue anyway.

Steve Nordquist

Is that so? Can the governments you comply with take that to the bank (or get you back if it ain’t so?)

That’s false at least 10 ways, not even counting samizdat, the content and ad delivery networks v. the things themselves, and that most sites and browsers have dodgy moments several times a year (as opposed to just when they recommend IE8. As opposed to bat with thorn, a really useful, easily personalized information tool.) I also note the closeness (????t) of your hail to Chrome’s sandbox to Google’s payment of $270k Finders’ Fees on vulns in the sandbox. Where’s that version string, before the patch or not?

If your government (employees, contractors, either side of G20, etc.) can’t suffer the ads (e.g. visit Forbes.com on breaks) because of those resource nuisances, is that content free?

Try loading 3 tabs of Forbes.com and/or Facebook (if those qualify as large?) Using all your cores yet? Do you still have to click more to see the whole article, making it still less free to read and more distasteful to consider the ad booking’s association with the article, which editors used to (and sometimes still) do?

Okay, now what part of those ads (script/image/metadata/etc.) does your firewall/proxy at work let through? Any notion? If you ask, do you get a used issue of the Paris Review free for your trouble?

Do checks at the ad sources at o-o.2340-97.likely.youtube.com et al bring up traceable affirmations of the scripts’ rampant use of bandwidth (Movies of a credit card at two beaches! Just my kind of drek, sure, yeah, beach movies. Sure. The article is on mass gay burials in the Sudan, so good connection!) and computing resources in your favor, or reek of distrust of ad impressions (clickfraud, etc.) rather than honestly thoughtful oversight and regard for the publication at hand?

James Bruce

Was this run through Google translator? I’m sorry, but I find what you’ve said to be completely incoherent. Apologies if you’re a non-native speaker.

The bit I did understand was something about Forbes and Facebook being processor intensive – to which I say I currently have open 3 browsers, each with over 20 tabs in them from various sites including facebook. The only time I’ve ever heard reports of website using massive amounts of processor power was when the user was running ADBLOCK, which caused some kind of endless loop or memory leak.

Andysnat

Adblock is the best add-on available to man, the internetz become unusable if it is turned off.

Never in a million years, unless advertising stops being so bloody intrusive.

muotechguy

The internetz would become non-existant if it was all blocked.

Jason

Funny how the internet existed and thrived before ads.

Skeptical

Yeah, and Piracy is killing music too, right?

Andysnat

I disabled for this page, took a look, then enabled again. You are fighting a losing battle.

D

When advertisers quit allowing viruses and malware to infect computers through their ads, and sites with ads reimburse me for lost data, lost time and damaged hardware after a virus attacks my system, I’ll quit using blockers. Until you can guarantee that, I will keep on blocking.

muotechguy

Major ad networks screen their ads extensively. Viruses through ads is quite a thing of the past and its about time we lose that myth. The main delivery method was javascript, which has also been hardened since those dark days. If you used Chrome, it would be inconsequential since tabs are given a sandbox – theres no chance of a virus ever getting to your OS.

Furthermore, would you expect MS to pay compensation for your loss because their OS allowed virus code to run? How about the browser?

Jason

http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20000898-245.html

In the past year or so I’ve seen a dozen or so well-respected sites that have been marked as malware by Chrome due to serving malware through their ads.

Thankfully I have adblock, ghostery, noscript and block the ad domains at the hosts level, so I wasn’t infected.

Tijuana Brass

Hi there!

I disabled Ad-Block here – I didn’t like what I saw, so I’m switching it back on and moving on (by that I mean unsubscribing from the mailing list, and no longer visiting MUO).

Why? Since I now understand how much my use of ABP on this site adversely affects the contributors, I think it’s the only honorable thing to do… and I’m not ready to give up using ABP!

It really isn’t end-users responsibility to tell a website owner when an ad appears on their site that breaches their standards – whilst I accept that on a large site it’s probably unfeasible for the owner to vet all ads, expecting users do so isn’t acceptable!

Also, I don’t think its up to us end-users to design a workable business model for authors/websites to get paid – I think when one does appear, I and others like me will accept (and buy into) it. For now though, the current model doesn’t suit me.

As mentioned, I really do respect the right of authors to be paid for their work – so I sincerely hope that a mutually acceptable solution can be found.

So long, etc.

muotechguy

We’d rather you stay and continue commenting, even if you are blocking ads. Hence why I explicitly said we would never block the ad blockers.

Jason

Why is it unfeasible for a large website to vet its ads?

I don’t see porn ads or scams when I’m watching the news. Why should I see malware, trojans, scam sites, etc when I visit websites?

Calibrae

Hell, I seriously thank Tim Berners-Lee for NOT thinking like you do when he released the first html code.

But I do thank you for pointing Ghostery, which I didn’t know, and am really happy to use now.

Rickesh John

This article was very informative. Its sad to know that turning on ad-block reduces your revenue. But turning it off introduces a lot of irrelevant stuff to the page.
Also, if I am true, loading those ads also increases my bandwidth usage. :(

So I guess leaving them on would be the right option.

muotechguy

Such minute bandwidth use unless you’re still on a dial up connection or 3G mobile.

Kevin

You can not compare ads on this site to TV, watching a cooking program and getting ads for Jamie Olivers new book is fine, as would be seeing an ad on this site for Dell or PC World, the ads should be random, TV channels don’t know the other channels I’m watching, so why should you? If I decide to show my friend an article on the latest app, I don’t want him seeing ads inviting me to join GayDar, or my partner seeing ads for engagement rings.

And if your watching a drama on TV rather than something specific, they don’t know what your interested in, they show you whats currently available, and that’s what online companies should be doing. Not putting cookies on my computer without my permission and building up a profile of my interests, I don’t want people to know them, yes, I use Facebook, but iv never once clicked Like on a page, because my interests and thoughts are my own.

Besides, show me an ad for something new, and Id probably click it, show me an ad for something iv already been looking for, and I’ve probably already found something cheaper or better..

muotechguy

TV ads do the same kind of profiling. They do samples of audiences to find that people watching Jamie Oliver are also switching over to that gardening show afterwards, so they show gardening ads. Your problem just seems to be with anyone knowing anything about you specifically rather than you as a stereotype, but thats not something I can argue against.

However, your last statement about showing you “new” ads vs something you’re already interested in is just plain false. There is years of data to backup the personalization tactics used. You think you’re so special as to be unaffected by it?

Kevin

Years of data may be great for TV, but the internet changes everyday as you should know. If these Ads were interesting and non intrusive then the uptake of these add-ons would be much less.

And no, I don’t think I’m special, its based on experience, I search Google for replacement bits for tools, find there ¬£3 a blade but ebay has 5 for ¬£10, so I get those, the next 3 days, all i have is scrolling adds going through every tool iv already bought available with another company.

That just doesn’t work any more, shops are closing down because people are more savvy on the internet and can find it as cheap as possible, and get cashback to.

I’m also a movie buff, yet I never see any ads for movies, which I would defiantly click, there more interested in something I’m going to buy instantly. But people want to be informed about a product, which they can buy in there own time after finding a good deal.

muotechguy

” If these Ads were interesting and non intrusive then the uptake of these add-ons would be much less.”

I dont think that’s true at all – people dont consider using an adblocker because they find ads intrusive or aren’t interesting, even if that’s their default excuse. They do it because it’s easy, and they can. Download a plugin, hit activate, hey presto ad-free web. It’s human nature to take advantage of something where possible with minimum risk. Why do you think file sharing and torrents took off in such a huge way? Some might valiantly say its because the music/movie industry has “failed to adapt to modern technology”, but really who are we kidding? It’s because you can get something for free, with minimum risk. Most people wouldn’t have bought the stuff they download anyway – but if they can grab it for free, they will. Human nature. Nothing more.

You know what, I dont see movie ads either. Perhaps movie marketeers realised that they aren’t that effective online?

Kevin

When ads aren’t in your face people are happy browsing with them there, take facebook, there blended in with the rest of the page, they don’t open up in the middle and expect you to actually close it.

Thats when people seek a way to stop them, and it just so happens the add-ons block everything, which is like everything in life, people put up with little annoyances, until one day its right in your face and you just snap. So blame the ad company for crossing the line, and making an ad that has more bells and whistles than the page your viewing.

And using facebook as an example first, I know there still not innocent, with there “Like” Button and comments box on every page on the internet, I see one day they will start putting a different kind of target ad on user profiles, under the guise that friends have the same interests, “Kevin listens to….” With an ad for Gaydar Radio, even thought I never leave a comment through Facebook on that site because I wouldn’t want people to know.

There are some great movies out there, which never get advertised, so they flop. Yet when they make a new movie, and they WANT it to be big, even though no one has ever seen it, the advertise online, but its happens so so little. Take Avatar for example, it made billions because they got off there ass and advertised, I know it was on the news and TV a lot, but I’m sure online Ads played a big part.

Anonymous

You should direct your annoyance to advertising companies and ones that use tracking. I for one use Adblock plus to prevent viruses from annoying event-driven advertisements, however Adblock plus and other blocking addons are working to permit adverts which do not distribute viruses, cookies and do not annoy or track the user.

All I can really say is use a company that does not have a bad history, google adsense’s text ads are not blocked.

muotechguy

Adsense tracks you more than anyone – only they have your complete web search history, youtube preferences – everything. Don’t think that just because you have web history turned off means they dont track you – they do, they just keep the information to themselves.

Ads which dont track, dont perform well. They dont pay, simple. You know the kind of ads they end up being? Scammy, low paying, get rich quick, lose fat now, aunt makes $70/hour doing nothing… if those are the kind of ads you’d like to see more of, then by all means continue blocking.

EAS

“If those are the kind of ads you’d like to see more of, then by all means continue blocking.”

Er, the whole point of blocking ads is that you don’t see them at all, much less “more of” them. So thanks, I think I WILL continue blocking.

Jason

It’s funny because in the “Similar stuff” section, I saw this: Use Adblock To Block Online Ads and Malware (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/adblock-protect-browser-malware/)

Ads and javascript are huge security holes. Why shouldn’t I block them?

muotechguy

It’s not really *that* funny. This was an opinion piece, and there are 20 odd writers here. Others have posted tutorials on it in the past, and opinion seems to be divided straight down the middle in terms of those of us who believe it destroys the web, and those who just don’t care.

Harper’s Ferry Magazine

This is all nonsense. Noscript and Adblock protect you from malicious and intrusive scripts and advertisements.

To the author: you complain about losing revenue… Well, I don’t know, maybe you should have gotten a better job than blogging about irrelevant browser plugins. Like say, I don’t know, line cook at McDonalds.

muotechguy

Are you trying to spam us with that name of yours? Well, sorry to tell you but we’ve disabled URL linking on names. …

Tom

This really assumes that we are all out to get you.

I use Noscript, it has saved my bacon on many occasions and generally makes browsing the Internet safer and faster. You have no right to make me download your Javascript, Flash, Java or any other plugin. I have no idea how secure your site is or how competent your developers are.
Don’t worry though, I’ve white listed Google so you’ll still get the analytics.

I also use Adblock, but I only black list ridiculously annoying adverts.

You should probably research this sort of thing more before coming out with blanket statements and painting your readers as immoral.

muotechguy

You should probably research the actual threat of internet-borne malware before refuting my blanket statements without actual reasoning or counter argument.

Here’s an idea – download Chrome. It sandboxes every site you visit with no access to OS or your files. Malicious anything is a whole lot less scary then. (Ooooh, but there was this one hack that no one ever actually used that did manage to break through, so go ahead and use that one time to justify everything you say)

Robert

I’m sorry you’re not getting money from ads, well, I don’t really care really. Having a safer browsing experience is more important for me than your ‘salary’. Get a real job and stop complaining.

RMS

Adverts and the tracking they all do are against freedom

Also using programs made by advertising companies (like Chrome) is against freedom and therefore malware

muotechguy

… using chrome is against freedom.

Well, thats a new one.

EAS

Not really. Google is the largest advertising company in the world. Not everybody thinks freedom requires selling their personal data to the highest bidder.

And yes, I’m typing this on Chrome, and that’s a gmail address in the email field above. Haw! But I’m aware of what I’m getting (and my main computers’ browsers and primary email are from other providers).

Does anyone still believe Google gives away “free” stuff just to be NICE? Now who’s naive? Versus browsers that seem to do quite well based on the unobtrusive donation model, Chrome is a long, long way from “freedom.”

Anonymous

Wow. I didn’t know about Ghostery. Thanks for letting me know about its existance. Installing it now! :)

James Bruce

You’re welcome.

Anonymous@aol.com

I never knew what ad blockers where before these and would sometimes click on them on the other postings on this website. Thank you for the information and ill make sure everyone I know uses these great programs!

there should be a noidiot plugin

The author of this article clearly has absolutely no clue about network security, or even consumer targeted marketing indeed.

James Bruce

Oh, please enlighten me as to the evils of targeted advertising.

Gclock

I’ve listened to the arguments with adblocking. I’m very shocked you would try to ignore the dangers of the internet for a quick buck! Malware is a myth? Javascript is safe in modern browsers? What planet are you living on? For a so called tech site spouting this rubbish it makes me wonder do any of you have even the basic common sense. It seems that you scrape content from other sites too! Do you share any revenue with those websites you have scaped from? I couldn’t care less if your blogger site goes behind a paywall.

Max1

I meant malware in ads is not a myth. There are new addon’s for Firefox and Chrome. Disconnect.me and Facebook.disconnect.me, Google.disconnect.me, Twitter.disconnect.me. They block any of those services from tracking you. Google them or go to the chrome addon’s page and install them. Same for Firefox addon’s page. Enjoy.

anyway

For the sane bunch: additional to the absolutely essential ghostery and noscript, also consider privacychoice trackerblock, user agent switcher, and referer control. Can check greasemonkey, will need to write some javascript (really simple, but there are also thousands of readily availbe scripts for download). Fingerprinting is still an issue, with fonts installed (flash and javascript both reveal ALL your fonts) being the main sources of entropy, and there is of course your actual IP, so proxying is also worth considering. Tor offers an excellent solution, while a very low profile one being anonymouse.org.

Check how much junk there is to track, trace, and fingerprint you:

panopticlick.eff.org
browserspy.dk
analyze.privacy.net
anonymitychecker.com

then check and compare your results with Tor enabled or even by just visiting these links through anonymouse.org.

Of course you can also just let your head to be used as a wastebin for arbitrary ads to generate some pathetic income for bums like the author of the above article.

James Bruce

LOL. How many sheets of aluminium did you use in that tinfoil hat?

Probiner

“The Trifecta Of Evil” reminds me about the silly snappy words warmongers find to turn people against someone and take them down with support. Talk about “scare tactics”…

Do you Tivo your TV shows and sit through the ads?
Do you sit and watch the advertisement in the cinema before the film or you choose to enter in the theater room, only 10 minutes later?
Do you allow advertisement in your physical mail box?
Do you subscribe to every newsletter with ads of every site you have interest in?

So… Why diabolizing tools that give users the ability to navigate through the internet without getting tracked or spammed or slowed down with useless bandwith usage for them?

If you had advertisement that was just an Image and an url link no one would block it would it? Why is the user problem and not the system? Why don’t you blame the ad companies or try to get revenue from alternative paths than blaming the same people that make your site viable for a revenue?
And yeah a lot of people don’t configure them much, but a lot do and it does fine for the website one is regular, so why not make a damn article explaining how to unlock those for cherished websites instead of pounding on the software and the users?

Cheers

James Bruce

1. I dont have a TiVo. I have a Windows Media Center PVR, and yes I watch the ads.
2. I always sit through the trailers/ads on that rare occasion I go to the cinema.
3. I dont allow unsolicited flyers for which I am getting nothing in return, but I accept them if theyre coming *with* the free newspaper.
4. Not sure the relevance of a newsletter and adblock, but I am signed up to quite a few newsletters from ebay, amazon, and victoria secret 0_o

5. I am “diabolizing” the tools because they are killing the *free* internet. If you wish to pay for all your online content, go right ahead and continue to slaughter websites with your ethical crusade against evil advertisers.

6. An ad that is just an image and a link is neither targetted nor effective, the effect of losing revenue is the same. With regards to why we dont try alternative routes – that’s because, as ive already explained a million times – we believe the content should be free of monetary cost the user. If you would like to pay us a premium subscription in exchange for being able to use the adblock plugin, go right ahead.

7. We already have an article on how to whitelist sites. Surprise – this wasnt it. In fact, we have over 15,000 useful tutorials and articles, all free to view and ad-supported.

Does that sufficiently answer your questions? Thanks for reading.

Vic

LOL, sure ya do…

muotechguy

Which point exactly you are doubting? I don’t appreciate being called a liar.

SomeGuy

Your definition of free is wrong.

The price of something is what you give up to get it. If I’m giving up bandwidth, time, and patience to read your articles, they are not truly free.

As a consumer, why should I pay a higher cost for something if I don’t have to? If other markets exist where I have a dominating strategy, then why should I even bother with others? There is no reason. For that matter, you aren’t even paying attention to WHY users are moving in this direction in the first place. Furthermore, if this “trifecta of evil” was such an issue, you probably wouldn’t be complaining about it on your blog, you’d be out finding another job.

Suck it up and learn how markets work, and stop bitching because your business model doesn’t fit the demand of the consumer.

qwerty

I don’t care about your stupid money. This is my computer, my browser.

Russell Nash

Have I mentioned how very profoundly I do not care about your whining about “lost revenue”? Have you considered that *your model* is broken and not the browser tools?

I happy employ all three of the above. Eat my analytics.

James Bruce

Maybe it’s your attitude that’s broken? Enjoy the free content, anyway.

scott

When you start paying for my bandwidth then maybe you can have some say about what is sent over it. Until then you are going to just have to learn to deal with it.

muotechguy

Sorry, but have you given a thought to *our* bandwidth? We pay for that too – bandwidth is a two way street.

SomeGuy

You don’t seem to understand.

I’m writing this here because you mentioned paying for bandwidth, and you mentioned it under the tone that people accessing the FREE content on this site is somehow detrimental to your well being (income).

You should realize, when you’re not making money, you change your business model, not your consumer. You’ve been looking at this the wrong way, and from the other comments I’ve seen, you’re apparently too self-righteous about your own opinion on the matter to notice it.

James Bruce

I also happen to be the only vocal one around here about actually changing the revenue model, so when you do see changes you can thank this particular self-righteous writer and developer for said changes.

theApocalypse

This seriously sounds like a YOU problem. I am astounded by the audacity of “content” providers who think that just because they decided to maintain a web page, then all of the sudden they have the right to tell their visitors what they should and should not be consuming.

Everyone out there wants to get rich farming data from their consumers, they want to leave the doors wide open getting paid for everyone who crosses the threshold, yet still complain when some people decide to walk away with the stereo.

It’s pretty sad when you can insult your consumers in this manner. Completely ignoring the positive impact our sharing of your articles, our connection to you via social media and our feedback can have on a site. You seem to forget that the only reason this site and others like it are even remotely viable is your viewer base.

It’s not your articles, your snazzy design, or your giveaways. You get X number of people to cross that threshold a month. If you provide content that they find acceptable, they will come back, tell their friends, etc.

Most people aren’t savvy enough to block all ads or tracking scripts, so your complaint seems more akin to the BS “we are losing money on MP3’s” argument made by the RIAA.

Digital content in infinitely reproducible. Other than the initial cost of production and the finite costs of distribution, it has NO inherent value. Your articles can and do get you mileage far beyond YOUR bandwidth. So while I generally get the foolish and insulting point you were trying to make, I do not sympathize with you when it comes to SOME of your users deciding they don’t want visual spam to read a blog post.

You want revenue? Ask for subscriptions, period. I suspect you aren’t confident enough in your offerings to do so, and that is not an insult. Not EVERY site has subscription worthy content. But the bottom line is, so long as your door is left open, you have to accept the fact that your stuff is FREE, reading and ad or clicking a link is a COURTESY not an OBLIGATION. You would do well to remember that.

muotechguy

Well, glad you value our articles and free guides so much. Your other points have already been responded to multiple times in other comments, so I apologise for not infinitely repeating myself.

theApocalypse

As someone else already pointed out, our valuation of your content has nothing to do with not wanted to be spammed with BS ads to read it. You want support? Ask for support, charge a small fee for your content, granted that would mean your content would have to be 100% original, which it most certainly is not. Just like every other blog out there you comb the internet for materials to post and discuss.

I wonder how much revenue you share with the sources of your material? Oh wait, you generally LINK to those sources thus increasing traffic and stirring up interest, hmmm why does that sound familiar?

And there is no need to repeat yourself, you don’t have a leg to stand on so long as you are leaving the door wide open. Make good content, provide something more substantial that a rehash of the rest of the web and people will(and do) respond. tutsPlus has ALWAYS used a subscription model. Some content free, some content behind the door. They have a fantastic collection of materials and I have in the past had NO problem shelling out cash to view it.

I believe you give your readership far to little credit in that respect, so as I said earlier, this is a YOU problem, not an US problem. From the comments in this thread YOU are the one looking at this bassackwards.

People like a clean viewing experience, if you really want our help in maintaining the site, step up the game, work out an actual revenue model and stop complaining about how your users view the web.

Personally, a random post here and there is not something I would pay for, but then again I am not your primary audience, your guides are generally to basic for most of the people savvy enough to block ads and disable scripts.

The answer is out there, bashing your users and generally acting like a tool when they call you on it, well that isn’t part of the solution.

muotechguy

As I quite clearly said earlier we CHOOSE not go with a premium subscription model, because we want the information to be available FOR FREE. Do not presume to dictate your preferred business model to us – it isn’t relevant that YOU prefer to pay for content, there are hundreds of thousands of visitors to this site daily who do very much appreciate the fact that we offer material for free, offer free technical support and free guides – and accept quite willingly that this means viewing ads along with it. If you wish to call them “non-tech savvy” then kindly take your elitist entitlement attitude elsewhere.

theApocalypse

First of all, I said no such thing. I can assure you without a doubt, having been a web developer for more than 10 years, MOST PEOPLE are not tech savvy enough to realize such things exist. That is a FACT, not an insult. Take your head out of your butt.

“hundreds of thousands of visitors to this site daily”

Then EXACTLY what are you complaining about? SOME of your users block ads, MOST of your users wouldn’t have a clue these things existed if you didn’t make posts about them, regardless the whole point of this post and the other one than brought me here is nonsense.

You want to help your users? Make a post detailing the common mistakes that can lead to missing content elements. Explain how they can fix some of the issues caused by improper use of these tools. Oh wait, that would have made TOO much sense on a site supposedly devoted to giving its users information.

You could have easily informed your users AND made your point about supporting the sites you visit without being a d-bag and insulting the people kind enough to visit.

plasticity

Choice is a wonderful thing, no?

You’ve chosen to publish content without a paywall. With that decision you’ve agreed to allow readers to consume content as they see fit. Like it or not, that includes the option of stripping ads.

Even if one accepts your (rather naive, imo) dismissal of security and privacy concerns, there still exist numerous valid reasons to use these products.

Your concerns might be taken more seriously if not for the astonishing abuse of readers’ trust and resources committed by this very site. On this comment page alone I count twenty-nine (29!) separate javascript requests. This is both unnecessary and unacceptable. Even on a desktop, I find such waste borderline offensive, but imagine the effect on smartphones with their less powerful processors, smaller screens, limited battery life, capped data plans, etc.
When supporting the authors via advertiser networks also means considerable bloat you make the decision that much easier.

The web’s openness will always be a hindrance to this revenue model. All other ad supported media uses a standardized format. We needn’t worry about completely separate policies when changing television channels. Things aren’t so simple in internet-land. Consequently, some choose to block the worst offenders, and many others become collateral damage.

Finally, you dislike empowering NoScript’s author with deciding which ads are “non-intrusive,” yet you’ve decided for everyone that javascript is mandatory and flash is not? Well done, sir.

Even if you find everything I’ve said unconvincing, consider this: The choice of how to publish is yours and yours alone. Own it.

Alice White

I like how you didn’t bother addressing people who use text based browsers which thereby completely block any image ads. Are they somehow ripping off your “content”? Any writer who refers to themselves as “content” providers, is obviously not writing because they love it. I find it hard to be lectured from someone on their high horse about “content” when they themselves have no love for the medium.

You degrade the works of actual artists and writers when you refer to it as “content”. Furthermore, you seem completely detached from reality. This is what the market wants and someone is facilitating a need for that market. People (not consumers, /people/) want to view sites without annoying ads or potentially unsafe ads. People want this. The market will be facilitated whether you like it or not. Staying behind the times means your business model will dry out and you will simply blame others for changing while you stay the same. Get with the times. Figure out a new way to make money. Stop clinging to old business models. Not everything gets to remain the same. And for the love of Odin, stop calling works “content”.

latchkey

Bravo. Free-markets rule everything, content providers will be left in dust.

James Bruce

Less than 0.01% of users still use a text based browser.

Is your entire point based on a simple dislike the word “content”? That isn’t really something I can respond to. Books are content, TV shows are content. “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts: a poetic form adequate to a poetic content.”

Anyway, you are somewhat right. We need to adapt and create other revenue streams. Hopefully we can survive, and you can continue to make use of our great free *content* and guides.

Derek

Have you tried getting a real job?.

James Bruce

LOL. No, I like to sit here in my underpants arguing with random net users all day.

(If you don’t realise, this comment was a joke)

latchkey

You criticize AdBlock for using a paypal button? Why don’t you add a paypal button and stop the ads too?

James Bruce

Becuase it wouldn’t pay nearly as much, and many people around here would lose their job.

Ted

Until Ads respect my privacy and freedom, I shall block them.
If you do find an ad provider that does just that, please notify your readers and I, and hopefully others, will unblock your ads.

seaweed

B’awwwww why wont they let me spam them with ads for my shitty blog?!

James Bruce

Moderated links, I’ll make a point of not allowing accepting those.

Anonymous

Here’s an interesting suggestion… Get a real job.

Seconding this Comment so as many people as possible may see it

Until Ads respect my privacy and freedom, I shall block them.
If you do find an ad provider that does just that, please notify your readers and I, and hopefully others, will unblock your ads.

James Bruce

… Working on it.

seaweed

>Fights against people blocking your site against loading up scripts they don’t want loaded
>Has a privacy-breaching Facebook plugin on the page
Yeah, no. You don’t deserve to be pitied at all.

Raji Vinjaraki

If I do not block ads, but do not click on them and do not buy their products, I am then by extension hurting the advertisers just as the siteowners because the money which they payed to put up the advertisements is being wasted.

If I bought everything which was advertised to me, the internet would become a very expensive place.

Advertising cheapens one’s contend and should be blocked at all times. I tune them out in real life. Should I look at all billboards too?

seaweed

Upboated

James Bruce

That point has been countered numerous times already, sorry, not repeating the lengthy argument yet again.

seaweed

Anonymous

If you don’t think people should use your site, view your content, without also viewing your ads, then don’t let them.If you try to control how users use your site, you’re going to drive them away. It is your job to adapt to the ever changing climate of online activity, and the users job to create it. If you don’t want to adapt, then go right ahead and die like the rest.

If you’re not willing to do anything about the problem, and still whine about it then your part of the problem.

James Bruce

Repeating myself again here. I am one writer, and this is an opinion post, this is not a corporate view and there are 20 other writers here. I have explicitly stated on many occasions that we will not block the adblock users. Ok?

XYZZY

Noscript is absolutely essential for websites that are not familiar. Noscript + common sense gives almost perfect protection from viruses.

That said, ghostery+noscript+adblock user here.

Suck it.

Random Troper

Started off as a good comment
Ended up a total douche
Awesome

anonymous

The real irony is when you will eventually start deleting and blocking comments because people aren’t eating up your bullshit and instead are telling you off with valid arguments.

James Bruce

(a) That isn’t irony, it’s just deleting commentsa.
(b) We haven’t deleted any comments just because they don’t agree with us.
(c) If your comment went into moderation, it’s because it contained a link (which we vet to ensure it isn’t random malware spam – yeh, that taks requires someone to be paid too you know?), or some offensive language.

Tina

Adding to what James said: We do occasionally edit or delete comments that are abusive or use foul language.

Bruce

Thanks for the reminder, I’ve been meaning to download NoScript on this computer but keep on forgetting.

Nope

“It works like this: you visit a well known car enthusiast site, a cookie lands on your computer saying ‚Äúthis person likes cars‚ÄĚ, and any other sites you visit which are curated by the same ad company will find that cookie and say ‚Äúhe likes cars, so let‚Äôs show him car ads‚ÄĚ. If you think that‚Äôs somehow ethically wrong, then stop watching TV, because they do exactly the same thing. During cooking shows, a large number of ads for cooking appliances and kitchen stuff will show. Toys, during kids programming.”

Those are totally different things. Showing cooking ads during cooking shows is like showing car ads on car websites.

Tracking what websites you visit is like your TV tracking what shows you watch, reporting them to the studios and then having them show car and cooking advertisements just to you.

James Bruce

Ok, point taken. And I’m inclined to agree, somewhat. I vet all the advertisers to my own site ipadboardgames.org, and intentionally disallow anything not iPad/iPhone related. It’s a better model, and I’m looking for us to make changes around here.

John

Everything that needed to be said about this asinine article appears to have been said. Adblock stays on. Enjoy being an elitist by attempting to tell me how MY experience is SUPPOSED to be on the internet, because I certainly won’t be coming back to read about it.

Random Troper

Enjoy having to fork over credit card info to go to any website once everyone catches on to your way of thinking, John

Anonymous

The donation model is the best model. Drop the ads, ask for donations.

James Bruce

and you would know this from having actually operated a large-scale website, I presume?

Anonymous

Asking for donations is not the same thing as user tracking, ad-targeting, SEO spammers, and mining every but of information you can about people just to try and force their money out of their pockets.

Random Troper

Because all of these things actively hurt you, because the big scary corporations know what sort of things you get up to on the interwebz.
BTW it’s not money out of YOUR pockets, but out of the advertising companies.
Wouldn’t you like to be taking from the rich and giving to the poor?

stop trying to Track me

Hilarious…broken model? it’s the consumers fault THE CONSUMER NEEDS TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

and sadly I don’t have noscript so this page got one extra view from me. Sorry I promise never to waste my time clicking a link that leads to this website.

Random Troper

Agreed. You, the consumer, need to take responsibility.

Won’t Make Use of You

>entitlement

stop saying that word….I think bloggers feel entitled that they can make blogging they’re job. Why don’t you contribute in a semi-meaningful way instead of talking about things people are already talking about….

James Bruce

Writing is a very small part of my job, the majority of my time is spent developing and maintaining the site. Blogging alone rarely pays anyone’s wages.

(*their*)

Arrow

“My view of the world starts with the end user… It’s important the advertising model doesn’t scare the user.” – Google Cofounder Eric Schmidt

Today’s advertising model involves intentionally degrading the user’s experience- the user only wants to see the text of the article, the ads want him to see only the ads. And it’s not just displaying ads, but tracking the user’s behavior through “anonymous user data”, a concept which has been debunked. Furthermore, as users we don’t have any control over what “anonymous” data you collect, what you do with it after you collect it, or how long you keep it, or have any way to correct errors. Furthermore, you have no legal responsibility to safeguard any of this data.

On top of that, all web advertising follows this model, “if you see an inappropriate advertisement report it and maybe we’ll take it down.” When that ad involves running arbitrary Flash or Javascript code inside the user’s browser, and subrequesting arbitrary third party domains, that’s not good enough.

Right now, the advertising and datamining industries are reeling; for years they have silently exploited end users for profit, with no accountability or recourse on the part of users- and they took full advantage of this. Now users are realizing they don’t have to tolerate that anymore, and instead of innovating solutions they’re bemoaning the use of choice by consumers. I think you’re right- alot of sites are going to end up behind paywalls, and I think people will pay. And lots of people will get the same thing for free somewhere else.

A couple details you got wrong:

Ghostery is now OWNED by the advertising companies, and uses THEIR OWN OPT OUT SYSTEMS to block tracking cookies. It is impossible for this addon to interfere with downloads, or displaying comments. It sets opt out cookies that any user can set themselves by manually going to each advertisers’ website and clicking opt out; except some of us like to clear our cookies and cache sometimes.

You should also note that adblock plus, by default, now allows some advertising, which the ABP authors have checked and found to be unobtrusive, that is, polite.

Javascript is not required for most things on the internet. In fact, most of it goes into “widgets”, tracking, and login functions. What you don’t seem to understand is that *I don’t want an account on your site, for the same reason I block your ads.* Which is why things such as Disqus and OpenID are so popular; And in fact on a site which uses those, IU can selectively allow that while blocking things like Google Analytics and Twitter. Anyone who leaves everything blocked in noscript isn’t using it right.

James Bruce

Ghostery is owned by Evidon – http://www.evidon.com/about/ – and they provide privacy solutions to company. They are not an advertiser, so I have no idea where you got that idea. It is also doesn’t use OPT OUT systems , because no such thing exists. It blocks cookies, thats all.

And you’re right, anyone who leaves everything blocked in noscript isn’t using it right. Which is exactly what 99% of users of these plugins do.

Anyway, I’m inclined to agree with you that the types of adverts need to change, and web site owners need to be more selective in who they work with. Expect changes around here.

Arrow

Excuse me. I got a little hot under the collar. I had ghostery confused with TACO, another anti-tracking extension.

xyzyfz

It’s not hypocrisy by Adblock Plus to ask for donations since advertising and donations aren’t the same goddamned thing. Here’s an idea, why don’t you switch to asking for donations so we don’t have to sit through another bitchfest like this, driving us away from your site and making sure we never click your ads?

James Bruce

Here’s an idea – because it doesn’t pay the bills. Thanks for playing “wheel of monetization” though, you’ve been a great contestant!

It’s the advertisers own damn fault. They brought this on themselves.

If advertisers weren’t such assholes and started creating ads that slide over the stuff I’m reading or play horrendously annoying sounds in the background or redirect me to another site, I never would have download adblock + noscript in the first place. The advertisers brought this on themselves and at this point, they can just deal with it.

James Bruce

True as that is, it’s not the advertisers that suffer – it’s the site producing content.

none

Why don’t you get a real job?

James Bruce

Oooh, because writer and web developer is not a real job? Excellent and well reasoned argument sir, I commend you on the thought you put into that .

EAS

If nobody will pay you for it then no, it’s not a real job. And since the whole point of this article is to whinge that you can’t pay the bills with what people are willing to pay you, well…

muotechguy

I get paid just fine, and people are willing to pay me what I charge; I don’t pay the bills for this particular site. This was not an article about MakeUseOf; it was an article about the internet in general and how adblock is very much harming it.

Kero

U mad capitalism?

Federico

I don`t want the malware that publisers insert in ads. Or defective ads selling scams or some personal info profiling disguised has a “free” product.

James Bruce

Deceptive ads are annoying, and we always ask for them to be removed as soon as they appear. Malware actually in ads is a myth though, and any modern browser is a good defence against it.

Joe Schmoe

Would you please explain how “malware in ads is a myth” ? This would be a good article for you to write about as many people block ads because of the malware issue. I’m sure that flash plug ins now using policy based protection can alleviate some malware (I believe adobe uses their own definition of ‘sandboxed’ flash plug-in). But it would be a disservice to your readers if you make a blanket statement that malware in ads is a myth without some info and or data to back up such a claim.

muotechguy

Perhaps some other writers can take up the task, personally I’m sick of being flamed for posting anything related to advertising.

I dont have any data to back up my claim. I’ve used the internet for 15+ years; never once caught a virus from online advertising. I don’t run virus scanners either; but then the problem seems more prevalent in recent years when I’ve only run on OSX, so it was perhaps mitigated for me. I’m sure there is some malware in ads, but no more than could be injected any other way. Take reasonable precautions and it would never be a problem – blanket blocking of all ads on the off-chance one of them might contain malware that might infect your machine and might get past your browser/google/local protection seems a bit heavy handed.

Joe Schmoe

It’s a bit disingenuous to claim you get flamed for posting ‘anything about advertising.’ Your article is titled: ‘ AdBlock, NoScript & Ghostery ‚Äď The Trifecta Of Evil [Opinion]’.

muotechguy

I was referring to my other article, on how to deal with the adblock problem (intended for site owners), which people jumped on without actually reading it.

muotechguy

Perhaps some other writers can take up the task, personally I’m sick of being flamed for posting anything related to advertising.

In hindsight, “myth” is the wrong word to use. “Extremely unlikely to make it worth my worrying about, ever” would have been better. I dont have any data to back up my claim… I’ve used the internet for 15+ years; never once caught a virus from online advertising. I don’t run virus scanners either; but then the problem seems more prevalent in recent years when I’ve only run on OSX, so it was mitigated for me. I’m sure there is some malware in ads, but no more than could be injected any other way. Take reasonable precautions and it would never be a problem – blanket blocking of all ads on the off-chance one of them might contain malware that might infect your machine and might get past your browser/google/local protection seems a bit heavy handed.

sage

The thing is, if your content is ad-supported than it isn’t free. I guess that would make you a liar now wouldn’t it?

I find it funny that you don’t seem to realize that the web has been around longer than ads and spam have been around. If you like these things, more power to you, but it seems some of your users have more sense.

If you are unable to support the bandwidth costs of your “free” content, than maybe you should find yourself another line of work. Or perhaps you could wise up like some of your betters and quit pretending this “free” content is some kind of altruistic service.

I would say the incendiary nature of this article seems successful though. Too bad you can’t seem to be satisfied with users who like more control over their web experience than “content creators” would like to force on them.

I’m perfectly satisfied with my web experience, perhaps you should look into how you can be too, because these plugins and workarounds are not going to go away. They are going to become more prominent as the general user becomes more tech-savvy. Even without any of these, literally all of your revenue could also be blocked with a simple host file, and stock browser settings in any major browser.

10/10 nice trolling.

James Bruce

Don’t call me a liar please. Kindly go look up the dictionary definition of free. One of the meanings is “without cost”. Is there a monetary cost to you for reading the content? No? Well it’s free then.

The net evolved significantly because it was able to have money injected into it from ad companies. Without the ads, we would be stuck at the web as it was 10 years ago – unprofessionally made, ugly, and badly written pages posted by the geek elite. I should know, I was one of them.

You’re right about needing to adapt, of course. I do realise that these plugins are here and not going away, which is why my next article is on the topic of “how to deal with adblockers”, so perhaps you’d be interested to read that too. Bear in mind that I don’t own this site though, I simply work here. I don’t have any control over the revenue sources, but I am crying out for changes and imploring my bosses to look at other sources such as sponsored posts (ie, something you can’t block). This seems to be in line with what you’re suggesting?

Raptor Jesus

The problem is that it’s a two edged sword. So on one hand, many websites would never have survived this long or even appeared in the first place. But on the other, the web is turning into a large, mindless shopping mall overflowing with too much superficial content and too many users looking for a quick buck. So there’s a fair chance the internet will end up choked by the very people who helped it grow in the first place.

A concerned citizen

It bothers me a lot that you claim these add-ons “break the web.”

Foremost, it is the responsibility of any web developer to make sure each page degrades gracefully. If that doesn’t happen, it’s simply a matter of poor web design practices. The real problem is how pervasive this mentality has become. It isn’t just your website that thinks “Users should view the content this certain way, or we can’t be responsible for what happens.” That mindset is flawed, and doesn’t help promote progress or standards in any way.

That being said, it isn’t really your place to tell the user what s/he should or should not be doing with their browser and their web experience. It’s not your business. If you really want to put out free content, then it should be on your dollar, not mine, or it isn’t really free. Claiming that I’m not really paying anything by having to view ads is ridiculous. It takes extra time to load all of those worthless, malware-vector spam images. It takes time to load a lot of heavy js. Time is money, and my time is just as valuable as yours. The problem with these ads and malicious tracking cookies and javascript/flash/java exploits is that they are underhanded, and take advantage of unwitting users without any background in web technologies. They didn’t sign up to be tracked or monetized, and, even if they did, in most cases didn’t understand the full implications of doing so. This is a pervasive social problem, and you are only fueling the problem. You shouldn’t claim things are free when you are really just hiding the real price.

If you can’t figure out how to do that, or believe that it gives you the right to violate your user’s freedoms and privacy, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

Beverley Eyre

I’m always amazed at people who so conveniently ignore the difference between voluntary and involuntary. Pay Pal is voluntary. Stuff popping onto my screen that I don’t want in involuntary. Wasting my time by making me deal with crap is involuntary.

You’re a fool if you think that getting rid of ads will destroy the internet. It may destroy your job, one hopes, but there are other ways to pay the piper. Some are here now, some need a little more implementation research to make real, some aren’t thought up yet. But forcing people to have to deal with crap they don’t want popping onto their screens is the wrong way to go. It’s always been the wrong way to go.

Also, of course, after a certain point (name recognition), advertising doesn’t work, as a 30 million dollar Pepsi research project proved in the early 1980s. Pepsi learned it can’t advertise it’s way to beating coke, and Apple learned, and showed the world, that it’s products that make people buy, not brilliant ads.

Poverty Stricken Brown Orphan

I don’t mean to be rude but using Apple as an example here was a terrible idea. Apple’s success lies in brilliant marketing much more than in actual product design. A simple comparison with competing products shows that more than half of the price of each Apple product is the brand itself. I mean, look at the iPad: they managed to create a brand new need for tens of millions of hapless consumers.

James Bruce

Offended for being called hapless, but regardless – thanks for your input, “poverty stricken”

Collin

Thank you for telling me about these amazing add-ons. I just installed all of them and they work great!

Doodie Waffle

Thanks Mr. Bruce! I was not aware of Ghostery until reading your article. It’s a great addition to my other Fx addons!

James Bruce

Your welcome. Just think – if the site didn’t exist , you would never have heard about it! Yet if everyone ran it, the site wouldn’t exist, and you wouldn;t have heard about it, so the site would exist. Waah, my brain is exploding from the paradox~!

Dante

I use “the trifecta of evil” on all my devices (PCs, laptops, even phone) now internet is faster than ever. You don’t care user experience, you only want to make more many on my clicks.

Sorry pal, maybe you should considerer another aproach to ads. I recomend to every one i know to use these apps. Website ads days are over.

A new internet has born. Deal with it.

James Bruce

That would be the internet situated behind paywalls then I presume?

Regert

This ‘trifecta of evil’ could be quite easily be compared to a Tootbrush, Toilet paper and Soap. Thus, the ‘trifecta’ is bound to cause a stir in the bacterial community (as pictured elegantly by James Bruce above).

muotechguy

Wow. You really know how to make a well reasoned and logical argument, don’t you?

Regert

I’m terribly sorry, but is that meant to be ironic in some way?
If that is the case, could you please elaborate on how ads could be considered anything else than an annoying off-topic clutter clouding the user experience and page content?

muotechguy

No, I don’t care to respond in any other way I’m afraid, not when you begin a conversation with as eloquent personal insult as you just did.

tidux

I have Adblock Plus and NoScript enabled right now.

http://rubbermallet.org/dealwithit.gif

Glockstar

It would just be terrible if you had to do like other people and work hard for your money. Wouldn’t it…?

Tina

If you think this type of work is easy, then maybe you’re in the wrong job.

Donator

I personally use 2 of the 3 – for many many reasons. I’d prefer donating makeuseof some money (yes, using PayPal) then seeing ads.

People are generous, especially if they feel part of a community. Ask for money (like the “evil” people do), or be creative and find other ways.

But in any case, thanks for the nice opinion article! I don’t agree, but I appreciate it!

Jbentrs

Thank you for convincing me to install Ghostery.

If a company cannot make money without surreptitiously exploiting my personal information, then I won’t feel very badly about it when they fail. My privacy is at least as valuable as their bottom line.

MIke

Though i see your point of view on the subject at hand and i somewhat agree with you. my main concern falls into commercials that you are forced to watch such as youtube channels.
i used to have zero issues with advertisements in the past, whether they were on the sides of a webpage or a small pop up in a video. They were always easy to click to close or easy to ignore. But you have to admit that they’ve gotten way out of hand; and because of this it’s forced myself to get an adblocker to deal with this ongoing nuisance of forcing these advertisements to be watched before entering a page or watching a video.

perhaps if all web programmers stood up for the people and forced the advertisements themselves to be instantly closeable or at least have a maximum of 2 seconds before click to close required then most of us would probably not care enough to bother with an adblock.

Why? because let’s face it, having to be forced to watch the same commercial over and over again from start to finish while watching numerous videos get’s old pretty quickly. It also makes me 100% sure to never buy the product being forced down my throat or buy anything from that company out of sheer spite and anger to the company for pushing me to watch things i had no intention of buying in the first place

Random Troper

The thing with Youtube ads is that the average time spent watching a youtube ad is roughly 20-40 seconds per, let’s say a 7-20 minute video.
This ratio is FAR better than anything TV or Radio can offer.
idon’tknowwhypeoplecomplainaboutyoutubeads.jpg

Anonymous

I was highly surprised by your opinion.
Then I read this:
“James is a keen gamer with a passion for ipad boardgames.”
And I wasn’t surprised anymore.

James Bruce

I’m not sure I follow. Are you implying I’m biassed because I run a website? My revenue has been largely unaffected, actually. I’m also a web user, so I think that actually makes me less biassed than yourself, presumably you’re just a consumer?

max1

“James Bruce” and “muotechguy” are the same person ha ha. Wonders never cease to amaze me. A “Good cop, bad cop” tactic to get people to disable their add ons ha ha. I reckon you’re website advertisers are threatening to pull the plug on Makeuseof hence the rhetoric on so called “evil add ons”

Arrival of Adblock and Noscript, Notscript (Chrome) has taken control from websites and given it back users. Resulting in websites having a “hissy fit”, claiming theft of content that they made public, ha ha.

Using aliases on the forum to manipulate the outcome shows real desperate act to win the argument. Call me “Tinfoil wearing” or “paranoid”, I don’t really care. My duty is to protect my computer from these intrusive ads. If reveal you are connected to Ehow or SEO sites that Google has banished from their search engine. I’ll do the same with my host file.

Ps. Is Tina also you’re avatar too?

James Bruce

Never denied being the same person, haha! I have two accounts, one with admin privileges to run the site, and one with author privileges to write articles. It’s not really that funny, but sure, ok. I ought comment with only one, but sometimes I forget to log out, and it ends up being posted under my admin account. Haha, such a conspiracy. Tina is not me though ;). She has the enviable job of reading every single comment posted, and moderating for offensive language, as well as reminding us when a comment goes unanswered.

None of our advertisers are threatening to pull the plug on anything – though I don’t actually deal with that side of things. I am however being quite vocal to our boss about changing the advertisers, because I’ve listened to everyones feedback, and tend to agree that low quality advertising is detrimental – we should be doing more to curate our brand, and consequently the ads we display. But , please do continue to make assumptions about me.

Ryan

The responsibility lies in the hands of the people showing us these advertisements. Don’t tell us “just deal with the annoyance, we need money”, because (as is becoming more apparent) we’ll just say “No, we don’t have to.”

I wouldn’t mind advertising, if what was being advertised was at all related to my interests. (“Hot [your age here] year old single females in [your town here]” doesn’t count). Unfortunately for you, I have absolutely no interest in supporting Train’s newest album, or buying Resolve carpet cleaner. If you’re going to track everything I do on the internet, you might as well use it to send me ad’s about things I’ve Googled.

If I’m going to be honest, the idea of demanding payment for writing an internet blog is laughable. Why should you have to get paid so that other people can hear your opinion, most people do that for free. I like your scare tactics though, a lot of people are going to believe that the internet will just disappear and their browsers will just be white screens if they don’t remove adblock.

Ryan

Let me rephrase that second part.

“I would absolutely LOVE advertising, if it were at all related to my interests”

James Bruce

In that case, let me suggest something crazy . Turn off your adblocker for a month to let it gather data about you. Now, do you suppose that having gathered data about your interests, the ads shown will be more or less related to your interests?

Also, you’re obviously not a regular reader if you believe MakeUseOf solely exists as a platform for me to voice my opinions. I would suggest you read around the site before making blanket statements like that.

I also never suggest4ed the internet would disappear for using these plugins, nor would we ever choose to block users at this particular site. However, if you are blocking javascript, and modern features rely upon javascript, then it should be patently obviously that said features won’t work.

Loco

Pure irony. The whole point of advertising is to psychologically manipulate people into buying products they don’t want. This is pretty close to “evil” yet the article attempts inversion to suggest that actually avoiding this is the moral failing.

As for stealing, I know this was intended as hyperbole but the article does strongly suggest the author thinks that way. The fact is sites have chosen a business model whereby they offer free content in the hope that ads will net some user interest and indirect revenue. Viewing the ads is in no way part of the business contract with the user and blocking them is no more stealing than is skipping a page of ads in a newspaper or accepting a free sample of food with no intention to buy the product. Blocking ads is the modern equivalent of changing TV channels during a commercial break.

NoScript temporary exception made so I could post a comment :)

James Bruce

Not a fan of marketing in general then, are you? Not really much I can say in response to that, but just wanted to let you know I do read all your comments.

I don’t recall saying it was stealing, actually. Merely that if everyone did that, we wouldn’t be able to survive and the site would be shut down. In just the same way that if everyone had a magic adblocking box for their tv, the advertisers wouldn’t pay for shows and free-to-air tv would fail to exist.

More to the point though Loco, why don’t you tell us how you would run the site? How would you pay 20 full time writers and editors, cover server costs to handle hundreds of visitors every second? I’m not in control of the monetization myself, but I’m sure my boss would love to hear your ideas, genuinely. We are always open to reader feedback and ideas, and I can assure we take it all very seriously.

Adil

I agree with the author on the point that it hurts revenue generation but many people also use adblock to block ads or scripts that block the loading of the webpage.

MatthewOMealey

I unblock ads on websites I support… such as you guys!

HuwOS

Seriously?

Whining about people not taking your ads is like a street musician complaining about people not putting money in his jar?

Nobody asked you to set up there, if you make money doing it good for you, but no one is obliged to help you make money doing it, they aren’t being evil if they don’t help, they’re being neutral.

Alex

HuwOS +1

Absolutely agree with you on that!!!

With may 25 years experience as the system administrator I will tell you that active content killing Internet.

All malicious activity come out from ActiveX, flash, Java and JavaScript.
Period.

There absolutely no needs in active content to be able to see what you wrote or to see images. Passive content didn’t dig deeply in my computer and DON’T USE WITHOUT MY PERMISSIONS MINE RESOURCE to trick me to buy something that I really don’t needed.

By the way, how about if plumber come in to your home and SILENTLY install some special device in a toilet that will trick you to poop every single seconds – 24 hours, just because he also want to live and make money when he fix your overloaded toilet. Is it Ok with you , yes?

“Moreover, JavaScript is an integral component of modern HTML5 standards”
Remember my words – in a near future we will see new type of
“super-duper special web-antivirus that will hunt malicious JavaScript and slowdown computers more and more” :)

muotechguy

You’re a sysadmin with 25 years of experience, and you just said ‚Äúsuper-duper special web-antivirus that will hunt malicious JavaScript and slowdown computers more and more‚ÄĚ. Why do I doubt your credentials?

muotechguy

The analogy is terrible, but if you insist: how would you feel, as the artist or musician in question, if someone came along and put the lid on your tip jar, preventing you from getting tips. Or if someone was standing there shouting “dont give this guy tips! It’ll just encourage more buskers, and kill off the legitimate music industry”.

Like, I said, its terrible analogy, but since you raised it….

joe

Most people I would think would use Noscript for security reasons. to say that javascript isn’t a threat is a laughable, it’s an important component in attack vectors. Adblock is used also for anti-tracking. there both reactionary to the downside of the internet – loss of privacy and security threats.
The downside is that is can hurt websites revenue, and that a shame, but to not use such protections is not practical for those that already do, there’s a reason they do.
What the system lacks is trust, trust that our privacy will still be there even though advertisers are so tempted by our every detail.
The current debate on how to remedy these two conflicting aims will hopefuly yield a solution to enable the continuation of a freely accessible web to all.

selfentitleddouchebagbloggers

lets face it, you don’t run this blog out of the kindness of your heart, you do it to make money, just admit it and move on with life.

you mention how addons are causing all kinds of hell and effecting your profit, but what about people tricked into visiting your site because you make use of plugins used to cheat them such as “All in One SEO”

are you really saying that these poor individuals people who inadvertently clicked your site links MUST view the ads you force down their throats? you sir bring hypocrisy to new levels.

ubuntufriend

>Moreover, Javascript is an integral component of modern HTML5 standards
But that’s fucking wrong. Much of HTML5 is intended to reduce the use of clientside Javascript for DOM interaction.
Stopped reading there.

muotechguy

Reduce, not replace. Any modern sites has html5, CSS and JavaScript.

muotechguy

I lol’d

Tony

I think this is just nonsense. If you got an advertizer who is serious, then you integrate his ads on your page and no adblock would even be able to block them. These adds are reviewed by you or your team and you know in advance they are not annoying or anything you wouldnt want to bother your viewers with.

By using ad-networks that go for the max you make a bad bad user experience and ad-block is a gift from heaven to get rid of it. Think about it. Ad networks want maximum clicks -> hence they go for the ads and options that will distract the user as much as possible.

thx.

Joseph Hundley

I have ad-block plus and I use a predetermined list. I would have never installed or even searched for a way to get adds to stop if It wasn’t for intrusive and questionable adds. I put up with adds trying to con me into clicking them by pretending to be something I may be interested in. I could even tolerate the ones who took over the whole page and hid the close button and the ones who blasted you with stupid sound 5 times the volume of everything else. But when a very graphic adult add randomly started blasting at work on one of my many work related open search results while I was listening to something work related, I almost lost my job and that was the last straw. I do block most all adds, I do this because advertisers,you should concentrate more on attacking these unethical add sites and spreading information on what we can do! Ill gladly turn off the resource hungry app if we can ditch those!

BS

So you accuse ‘some group’ of fear mongering over personal data and online behavior yet you call this article about perfectly safe to use plugins the ‘trifecta of evil’?

AVG recently offered a ‘Do Not Track’ functionality and your site is a perfect example of why I love these additions. Facebook (+analytics), Google+, Twitter and Linked in all harvest information simply from me being here, where I got simply by clicking a link in google search, or a link I come across in another article. You never gave me the option to be tracked by these external companies.

The reason adblocks and ghosting plugins exist is because internet content generators have been complete blind as to how annoying and intrusive many of these ads are and more importantly how they often invade our privacy by tracing our behavior without consent. The internet did not start out this way, there is no reason why we should blatantly accept this invasion of privacy.

By all means but a header on this site that you would prefer me to leave if I have an ad blocker, but this is not something I can select on before I actually get to your content. Just as I can’t select whether or not you let facebook, linkedIn, twitter or an exotic variety of ad networks track me.

Otherwise put in some effort. You sound like the music industry when mp3 came out. Either proactively deal with marketing and ad revenue independently, or work with blocking software to set up advertising guidelines for which does not get blocked.

Murphy

People like you should be in leg irons performing hard labor. We’re setting the web back 10 years because parasites like you have spent the last 10 years ruining it. Look around you, idiot – capitalism is dying. Soon the homeless mobs will come for those still supporting plantation slavery. If you really gave a damn about “making a living” you would say NO to co-operating with the corporations and governments bleeding you dry. But since you are a hypocrite, you play along with evil and bully the little guy. Congratulations, I already use Adblock Plus and NoScript; you’ve now convinced me to download Ghostery.

Z

I DON’ T want your damn adverts. There is far too much advertising anyway.
To Hell with you adverts.

Schmidtit

I use Adblock. I am blocking ads on my browser. I don’t want to see them. How does that impact your livelihood?

muotechguy

My job is maintaining this site. If the site no longer made revenue through advertising – which if it wouldnt if everyone blocked them as you do – then we would no longer be able to run the site, and it would close; laying off 8 or 9 full time staff in the process and our entire team of writers.

Shaughn

Okay so i turned off both adblock and ghostery on this site just to see what it looks like, and i am annoyed by all the adds. i read someone say not to go to the site rather than block the adds, but just think, if everyone that didnt want to see your ads didnt come, then you’d be in the same boat as if most people used a blocker, so that wasnt good advice. Not to mention that ghostery says there is 45 trackers… that is disgusting.. make me SICK. I dont want to be tracked, i dont want to see ads because it thinks i like cars, i dont want to see that single woman who DOESNT really live near me. or this one ON YOUR SITE “is he cheating on you?” no, no, no. It might be costing you money “taking food off your table,” but what makes you think anyone on the internet cares when “pirating” constantly goes on. you say the internet will be trapped behind pay walls? NO it wont, you know why? because no one is going to pay to see these websites- and you’d be out of business.

I have NEVER seen a good ad on the internet that I wanted. theres a big difference between tv ads showing cookware on food network and what internet ads do, because i never see the “cookware” on a food website. its always just junk. Plus i dont want ads because I DONT WANT TO BUY ANYTHING.

Random Troper

Protip: Don’t look at the ads
I don’t know how so many people apparantly have trouble with this.
On TV ads are an unavoidable menace that eats up 50% of the running time of a show.
On the interwebz, ads usually take the form of easily ignorable banners to the side.
Not wanting ads because you don’t want to buy anything is the same sort of logic as not going to a resteraut because they have the option to serve salad, It doesnt affect you in any way whatsoever, and by making yourself known you come across as a dick

Bozo Clown

Well I feel for you. But as a user who has to pay for bandwidth, here are a few of the things which will drive me away from your site FOREVER = NO AD REVENUE.
1, The overlay window which asks if I want to sign up. That thing is a guarantee no thank you, and 50% chance I never see your content
2. Music – Don’t care what your page says – I am gone!
3. Things which pop up, sometimes up and down, like the meebo bar at the bottom. It is in the way and annoying.
4, ads which keep running over and over their little gif movie or what ever
You may be worried about your salary, bur with a hundred thousand sites to choose from if you wand me to see your ad, do it without ramming it down my gullet. Remember the mouse is still in my hand and I can get away from you faster then tour page will load.

The short of it is. want us (users) to see your ads? be nice.
The ‚Äútrifecta of evil‚ÄĚ exists because YOUR web designer is an *** (opinion)

Annon Emouse

There’s a vast difference between having big ad companies infecting the internet like a virus and sit back to watch the bags of passive income roll in vs. smaller sites funding their bare existence. (never mind the data they sell on to 4th and 5th parties)

When adverts are placed appropriately within a decent layout and well designed site, they don’t harm the flow of a website – Just like in “free” printed newspaper. Showing adverts in such a manner is largely acceptable, and hey, if you want to sneak in a cookbook advert whilst I’m looking at a recipe article, then kudos to your smart ad server.

When sites start putting adverts at the top, side middle, bottom, bottom corner popup/layover, do-no-leave, click stuff now, stop reading your article and look at this advert, then, really – pull out all the ad-blocking software you can find.

James Bruce

Well said, and I completely agree.

Peter

Why don’t you let people use their computers as they wish? That’s kind of what big corporations like Apple are being called evil for.
If someone doesn’t want to run JavaScript, his bad. If someone filters content that his browser displays, that’s completely his choice. Come to think of it, I’d love to hear what you think about filtering content for children. Is that evil too? What is one of your precious ads was naughty and blocked because of that?

Demanding visitors to look at ads is much like demanding a donation.

And when you think about it, the people who hate ads probably wouldn’t click on them. And even if you get paid for just displaying the ad, the ad is only useful to the advertiser if it actually results in a sale. You need to think of ads as a currency. Ignored ads reduce the amount of money paid for advertising.

James Bruce

How is this in any way related to filtering content for children? You’re completely diverting from the real issue, creating a straw man to prove your point. Of course I have nothing against parents using filtering software to prevent access to inappropriate material. With regards to inappropriate ads – any ad network worth dealing with has explicit settings to prevent those.

And when you look at actual behavioural data instead of just randomly theorizing, you’ll find the kind of people who block ads are no less likely to click on them than other users; moreover, ads are not about clicks necessarily – some simply serve to strengthen a brand.

The fact remains that when you use an ad blocker, you consume content, and you dont give back. If everyone did that, the content would cease to exist. Its a very simple equation. This site is supported by ads; if you enjoy the content, don’t block the ads please.

Peter

“How is this in any way related to filtering content for children?” Both are content filtering. You shouldn’t force people to load content they don’t want. The whole-package-or-nothing systems are unethical.

I also hate software that comes with yahoo toolbars and shit like that (but at least that’s optional)

“you consume content”
I don’t consume content.

Anyway, I understand the need for advertising and I don’t blame you for it. They’re an unfortunate necessity. Hell, I use ads on my website, but I don’t go on telling my viewers how much of a prick they are for filtering them out. I’d be a bloody hypocrite if I would, wouldn’t I?

AdBlock Plus is a wonderful tool, though. And it even prevents commercials on Youtube (commercials that force you to wait are the worst).
You’ll also be glad to know that AdBlock Plus now allows non-annoying ads by default.

muotechguy

You would be a hypocrite if you said that, but that’s not relevant at all: I don’t use it, for the reasons in the article above.

Also, what makes you think you don’t consume content? You read this article, didn’t you? There, you “consumed” it.

Tye

I agree with you, partially. I use luakit for my web browsing, which doesn’t come with an adblocker (yet) as it is basically just an LUA engine bound to WebKit. that said, I -do- use Privoxy, being sent request via Squid (to reduce the load being sent to Privoxy, since Squid is a chaching proxy).
I use a bash script that I wrote to convert AdBlock lists to Privoxy rules and I use all of the EasyList lists. it isn’t perfect but I haven’t spent a great deal of time perfecting it either. I suppose at a later date it will be.

now, I don’t disagree with advertising or even targetted advertising. I don’t like being tracked from site to site but I do understand that some websites rely on advertising and I do notice the ‘please add us to your whitelist’ replacements for ads (such as on WoWHead). if I visit a website regularly, I’m more than happy to allow them to receive revenue for my visits, so long as the extra page elements don’t up my load too much or get too annoying (those annoying flash ads for instance). I think you’ll find a lot of people are actually in this middle ground. the amount of crazy ‘no trackers, no ads’ people are a lot fewer than you think and the aforementioned plugins are leaning towards allowing non-intrusive adverstising, which some people have already written articles against.

Joseph Mornin

“We believe strongly in a free content model ‚Äď whereby we provide free, high quality, full content to you with no restrictions ‚Äď in exchange for showing you advertising. Apologies if you think my definition of free is defective, but you‚Äôre arguing over semantics and kind of missing the point.”

This isn’t quite so. “Free” also means free as in freedom, which is part of what AdBlock tries to promote. The Internet wouldn’t fall apart if advertising disappeared. It was a free exchange (in both senses) before the advertisers showed up.

“The modern Internet must have Javascript.”

No. The “Internet” is just a set of data exchange protocols with machines that follow them. The Web sits on top of it, and does many things (like letting me read this article) very well without JavaScript’s interference. JavaScript is useful for a certain class of web apps, but the Internet doesn’t depend on it.

“So how much can these companies actually ‚Äútrack‚ÄĚ your web usage? Well for one, they certainly aren‚Äôt able to see what you‚Äôre doing in other tabs, other windows, or general Internet searching.”

Unless those sites happen to display ads from Google’s advertising network, which controls almost half of the global advertising market.

“By far the easiest way to keep your private browsing actually private is to keep one particular browser, a portable thumbdrive version perhaps, to do all those browsing needs in.”

This presumes that the only reason to care about privacy is to keep “those browsing needs” secret–which is hard to take seriously.

derp

The point of Adblock, is largely because of the sheer volume of sites that use incredibly tacky, and at times – noise making, advertisements.

Some people will chose to view the ads of those who decide to not be obnoxious with them.

As for NoScript – noscript isn’t a “turning off of javascript”. It’s control of javascript. It’s that simple. I whitelist the sites I trust. And if you think that javascript can’t be used today to do some malicious stuff, they you don’t know what you are talking about.

me

Exactly the same whining we got when popup blockers appeared. Oh, the content will disappear! Oh, it’s unfair! Too bad. It’s my browser, my computer and my privacy.

The advertisers will take everything they can. They will make pages unreadable with their Flash popovers. They will slow down our browsers with their stupid java ads. They will cause seizures with their strobing ads. They will scream in our ears with their autoplaying video ads. They will annoy everyone with their endless streams of popups. And they will complain when eventually people have had enough and click the block button. Tough luck.

Regarding user tracking, you’re already in big trouble, as opt-out tracking is as of a few days ago plainly illegal in the EU, it’s mandatory opt-in for tracking. And even if you ever get the law changed so you can have your opt-out, people will still opt-out and you will be forced to not track them.

The solution is easy. Create an advertising service that respects the user. Not like Google, pretending to respect the user but spying on them behind their backs, but earnestly respect the user. Limit your ads to text and static imagery. Do not force the sites in your network to include your javascript. Do not accept any dynamic content, like Flash, Java or javascript from your advertisers. Do not accept ads for shady crap like these phony lotteries and similar scams. Do not track users over different sites.

Maybe you’ll be able to convince the blockers not to block you. If you do not use javascript, noscript will not block you, and if you do not track users Ghostery will not block you. You may even be able to work out a deal with the adblock people; they are not against ads per se but they are for getting an advantage in the ads arms race. And ultimately, as long as your content shows up on the users computer, they will decide what they get and what they block and you’ll never win that arms race. Either you will adapt or you’ll go the way of the dodo.

Jeff Him

Let me explain to you the one simple reason that I use Ad Block… Tracking…
Do you know how creepy it is for me to shop for OTC medication on amazon then see it advertised when I visit makeusof (yes it actually happened on this site)

Yes, I know that I can install the “do not track plugin” or cookie, but literally I have to install one for every advertising network.

Considering that every website, including this one, uses that type of advertising, I dont see myself as having much of a choice. I do donate to a select few websites and I donated to AdBlock.

I *attempted* to justify my usage of AdBlock, now your turn to attempt to justify your usage of these advertising networks such as DoubleClick (I know it is widely used but that doesn’t make it acceptable)

muotechguy

Every ad network tracks, not just DoubleClick. If they didn’t , they wouldn’t pay as well, and you’d need more ads to make the same revenue.

Personally, I don’t find it “creepy” that things get advertised to me after searching for them. I’d much rather see a relevant ad than some BS lose-weight or “how my grandmother made $500 in a day working from home”, which is what you’ll get if they aren’t personalized. That’s a personal preference though, and you’re entitled to think that way too; just bear in mind that if everyone did as you do, half the web would disappear.

information

I think it’s worth considering how web browsers and web servers actually work. Whenever you load a site that loads content from Facebook (for example) your web browser sends a request to Facebook including (naturally) information on which site you’re viewing. How does it do this? There are multiple ways of doing it, but a simple way is to encode it in the URL, for example something like ‘http://connect.facebook.net/all.js?appId=1234′. The App ID is assigned by Facebook to each web site that is integrated into Facebook’s social graph. Facebook receives and logs this information as well as your IP address – even if you’re not logged into Facebook! If you’re a Facebook user, then Facebook can easily de-anonymize this information (to some extent) by matching your IP address against any Facebook logins from the same address, enabling them to match web browsing logs to Facebook users. Of course, if you’re logged into Facebook, the de-anonymization step isn’t necessary.

Whenever you load a page that runs Google analytics, your web browser sends a request to Google that results in logging the site and specific page, time, IP address, browser type and other things. This information is later provided back to the site, of course, but is also available to Google itself. Like Facebook, Google can easily de-anonymize data by matching IP addresses against logs of Google searches (which as the AOL search log leaks demonstrated are often very personally identifiable) as well as logins to Gmail/Google+/Google Chat/Google Talk, etc., from the same address. Of course if you’re logged into Google, they don’t need to do that.

Not everyone thinks it’s necessary that Facebook and Google maintain a log of every other web site they visit, so they use Ghostery to block Facebook and Google from any page which isn’t actually on facebook.com or google.com, respectively.

muotechguy

Yep, I acknowledged that Facebook and social networks can be an issue, and I know how they work because we’ve implemented social logins here. And I totally get why you have a problem with that; but realistically, what do you think Google does with that? They use it for advertising. That’s their business. They don’t have a team of private investigators who look at your web history and flag you as a potential terror suspect; they don’t dig into your sordid porn interests; and they don’t send an automated Gmail to your wife if they think you’re cheating on her. Sure, it’s the principle of thing, not what they *actually* do with the information that counts, but I have a problem personally with fighting something just for the sake of it.

The remarkable thing is that most people who don’t want Facebook tracking their web history are also quite willing to post intimate details, likes, interests and photos there everyday. As the joke goes – its the best intelligence gathering tool the CIA ever invented!

Should it be up to us webmasters to remove FB like buttons though? Or should be up to Facebook to stop tracking just because we have the button. We’re at a disadvantage – severely – if we remove it. Why are we the ones being punished?

Santello

Load of bollocks mate. I also run add-supported websites, and nonetheless have AdBlock installed myself.

I for one support the user having a choice of whether or not to see ads on mine or any other sites. Excuse me for not putting greed before freedom.

And by the way, I think you will find that many users do not necessarily mind the odd ad on a discreet corner of the page. It’s when they can’t see the content for all the spam that people get pissed off.

Law

Santello –

It is your constitutional right to act like a fool. It is your choice to have your ad-supported website bring in $0 in ads and pay all the hosting costs yourself.

The fact is that none of this has anything to do with greed. Perhaps your content is worth nothing – which is probably the case. As a journalist, my content is worth something. People come to my site because they’d like answers to questions and I’ve written good articles to help them. The price for admission is something any reasonable person would pay for – to see my sponsor’s ads and know that these people are helping me pay for my site.

Now if that is too much “inconvenience” for you, then take your browser elsewhere and get out of my site. If you want free lunch in my restaurant then you have to listen to a 15 second pitch. But if you just want the food for free and leave me with no money, then I’d tell you that you’re foolish because then all these restaurants – where you don’t have to pay any money and just listen for 15 seconds – are all going to go out of business.

In the end, large companies will probably do away with the web as we know it. They will have some type of javascript that will run in a browser or application not subject to browser tracking laws. People are fools. They don’t know a good or reasonable thing until it’s gone.

Random Troper

The thing with NoScript is, if you use it correctly, it simply prevents scripts from running until you whitelist the page (something I do whenever I figure out a page is legit).
So the only people who SHOULD be losing revenue are people who make garbage, content-less sites or websites with no reason to exist other than to bother you.
I do understand that a lot of people probably use it to stop ads, however.

Dave

One of our sites shows 140 pageviews in Statcounter, but when we use server side stats, the real number is 2200 pageviews per day! So that is 2060 pageviews (or 94% of pageviews) that are blocking Statcounter. They will also block our adverts. While we do not want them to click on the adverts, or even look at them, we do expect them to allow the adverts to display.
We are a free site and NEVER make our costs in advert (or any other) revenue. If all visitors had adverts displaying, we would make more than our costs and could expand.
Yet most people are worried about SOPA and PIPA? While I too disagree with these insane and heavy handed laws, I see our site losing money and I have to pay money from my own pocket just so that the adblock and noscript users can view our website without adding any value to our site. The internet is the wild wild west. How many people try to attack your server every day and how many are actually reported?
Put simply, it is not fair to take free content while blocking adverts that are on the site. Lets say you go to a talk where you get a free radio for listening to the talk, but before the talk begins, you take a radio and walk out. That is similar to what adblock users are doing. If you do not like the adverts on the site, go elsewhere.
We will be blocking ALL adblock and noscript users from our site using custom code. They are simply not welcome on our website as we all work for free and pay out of our own pocket for the server, yet 93% of people take the content without contributing towards our site.

Do you know what the answer is? Paywall!

And that is funny because adverts seem to have become so popular because users were willing to have adverts displayed so that they could access content without paying. Now they are blocking it, so back to a paywall!
Yet these people would be the first to complain about poor content, even though they are preventing the site from making a better income and thus being able to spend more time on the content.

People are idiots. Just look at all the stupid comments that have been made thus far on this issue. They are merely content thiefs. They want to have their cake and eat it. I would rather throw the cake in their face :D

James Bruce

Thank you, Dave. Your stats sound quite disproportionate, but youre clearly getting a larger percentage blocking ads. I suspect we are too, but we havent gone to the bother of checking.

What’s really funny? Everywhere will switch to a paywall, then 10 years later, a new “free model” will arise, where instead of paying for the content, you just have to view some advertising! How forward thinking!

You throw that cake Dave!

Just Sayin…

Curious about the author’s actions and beliefs… I Imagine they have a DVR. Do you watch the commercials when watching a recorded show? Should we all watch commercials on recorded shows?

muotechguy

Yes, I have Windows Media Center to record TV, and YES I watch the ads.

Irrelevant analogy though; the TV companies get paid regardless of whether you use a DVR/PVR or not. We don’t. See the difference?

jeff

This site has ads?

who knew?

Statistics for Ad Muncher v4.93.33676/4132 Beta
Adverts removed: 10,391,480
Bandwidth saved: 305,925 MB
Counter started: October 20, 2001

muotechguy

Well, thanks for being a loyal reader!

MInd your own effin’ business

This is the first time I’ve ever visited your site (because someone linked to your screed about “the trifecta of evil”) and it will be the last as well.

You complain about Adblock, Noscript and Ghostery destroying the Internet. No. They are not. They are negatively impacting your bottom line. Two different things. I’m not interested in your content-farm garbage or your advertisers. I don’t give a rat’s ass about your revenue stream.

You seem to think that without your crappy site, I lose something. I’ve been on the ‘net for over 20 years and I haven’t lost a thing by never visiting this site — and not a fuck was given.

In conclusion, I’m taking my browser (with two of the “trifecta of evil”) and going elsewhere. And if I ever see a link to your site, I’ll remember not to visit.

Have a nice day!

muotechguy

Content farm garbage eh? Glad you like the site!

Justin

Well, I see this site got rather popular with this article. I don’t think I’d ever heard of “makeuseof” before, either, but when I saw Ghostery included in this “trifecta of evil” I realized it was just what I needed to block all the crap that was getting through AdBlock Plus and NoScript. It’s amazing how fast pages load when all that extra crap is blocked. I just can’t work up much sympathy for somebody whose livelihood is based on selling my browsing habits to all manner of sleazy ad networks.

Right away I can tell there’s something amiss when authors refer to their writing as “content” and my reading as “consuming”. Clearly such authors work in the advertising business. What’s not clear is how they purport to have the expertise to create all this “content” that is supposed to be worth my while to read–I mean “consume”–and, if they did have the expertise, why I should trust them, since the main goal of their writing is to sell me the stuff displayed in the ads they so desparately want to show.

I don’t think there’s a whole lot of love or money lost, anyway, because by and large the people who buy stuff from the ads this guy wants to display aren’t going to be sophisticated enough to install these ad-blockers or know or care what goes on behind the scenes of those ads on the internet anyways.

I for one use NoScript because I don’t want arbitrary scripts and programs and all kinds of other spyware and adware to run on my computer without my permission. I use AdBlock Plus because I don’t even want to load all this bloated Javascript in the first place. And I really resent being tracked from one unrelated site to another by all manner of web bugs/trackers/analytics crap.

No, what’s far more likely to break the web is that it’ll slowly become so overrun and bog-slow with advertising, adware, malware, spyware, content farms, analytics, and affiliate networks that no one will be able to find anything useful on it anymore. Just like what almost happened to email before decent spam filters were invented.

Mark Nielsen

I use Ghostery. My primary purpose there is not to block ads, but because I don’t want companies building up profiles of my browsing. You sneer at the notion that governments might want to watch people. The current internet snooping bill being proposed in the UK parliament is evidence that governments would love to have more access to our browsing habits. Our government’s object is to keep records on every website we visit, and the date/time and recipient of every message we send somebody. But apart from the growing concerns around government motivations, I think we’d all be concerned if we found private investigators rummaging through our paper recycling bins in our back yards to find out what we’ve been buying so as to build up a profile of our buying habits. I don’t really see why our online activities are any more public property than our offline ones. (Now counting down to the moment someone drags out the “nothing to hide? nothing to fear” argument.)

I have little idea whether or not or how much to be personally concerned by companies are tracking me. But I don’t think that nearly enough legal protections exist in the US or Europe to ensure our data is not abused in the future. We’re on a slippery slope, and no honest person can say they know where it ends as we’re still learning. So I think it is very good for people to be wary and keep this debate open, until our legal rights catch up with our technology. Stating that people are evil if they hold a different opinion is not a smart way of keeping the debate open.

There are other revenue streams coming along that are much more direct than advertising. Flattr.com, as an example, allows people to pay you directly if they like your content. The AdBlock developer’s donation model is also perfectly valid, and there’s nothing to stop content-providers offering a donation button. Or perhaps some content providers worry that they’d have to provide much better quality content before people were prepared to pay for it?

Ultimately, if you feel passionately that you have to fund your website through traditional advertising, I’m sure you could find a way of checking to see that a web bug has loaded and, if it hasn’t, perhaps obscure your own content with a message saying “Please turn on advertising and commercial surveillance before browsing this site”.

Mike Phelan

Your web page is filled with adverts that use a lot of our 10GB monthly allowance and takes a lot longer to load without AdBlock.

Joe

A) Your ISP needs a kick in the … well it needs to be replaced. Unless you’re on a cell phone or dial up, that’s insane. 10GB is possible to go through in less than an hour on many cable modem connections. I assume you live in Australia or somewhere like that where the government deliberately has policies that lead to a technologically backwards implementation of the network.

B) Flash Block is very effective at blocking video/audio ads while leaving banner ads alone. It also blocks Flash drive-by exploits. :P

Joe

Err, not exactly a conspiracy theory. Just Google “UK email monitoring” and it’s the first link on the BBC from April 2012. And it’s not even the first time the mainstream press has mentioned it. Nor is the UK the only ones asking for this. You almost have to be living under a rock to be using the Internet and not know about this.

muotechguy

Not sure what relevance this has to ad blocking…

eh

Dear Algernon(s),

perhaps it’s time to change the income source of your meaningless sites then, and if abandoning the raping of naive users means your shit site going down, maybe that’s just evolution, too.

i don’t respect your pathetic, undereducated, unskilled income anyway, which merely pollutes the internet with cheap commercial propaganda, moralising idiocy, and clearly uninformed opinion. Readers should recognise the trivial second layer to your efforts, namely that you are trying to do the exact same as your advertisements. Like them, if you can only support your existence by advertisement itself, 99% percent of the time not even creating any actual product associated, noone will miss anything by letting your business die, as again, you don’t create anything.

You can’t stop this, and trying to imply that users installing rapist-non-comliance software on their very own computers is somehow immoral, is at least as pathetic as the existence of some apparent idiots who willingly give up their rights for privacy based on this assumed morality of zero content. Finally, I also have to ask, you many registrations did you create to agree with yourself?

Joe

Tell us how you really feel. Come on, don’t hold back! :P

tmarshallva

I find it interesting and very much hypocritical that you would rail against these add-ons but advocate the use of UnoDNS. Sites like Netflix and Hulu have location restrictions due to the licenses agreements they enter in to with content providers.

You ask people to accept the ads on your site so as not to hurt your income but then turn around and advocate the use of a services to circumvent content restrictions potentially harming the ability of content distribution services to license content thereby hurting their income. Am I missing something???

James Bruce

Explain how me paying for Netflix harms their revenue, please.

tmarshallva

By circumventing the location restrictions required by the content providers you are endangering Netflix’s ability to obtain licenses from the content providers. If Netflix cannot obtain content they cannot make money. What part of this isn’t clear? You are showing people how to circumvent a restriction that enables Netflix to license content and thereby make money.

James Bruce

You realise that if I get on a plane, and go to america, that also works to “circumvent restrictions”. Is that somehow different?

Apart from which, Netflix themselves don’t unlock the content to me, and therefore doesnt break the terms of their licence. If the content providers strike a licensing agreement with UnoDNS, then we can talk again. Right now, no one is breaking any terms of any licenses; no one is losing any revenue. That’s the difference.

You’re drawing a parallel where there is none, so this discussion is pointless. If you want to argue against the point I made in this article, go ahead. If you’d like to jump on over to the UnoDNS giveaway and argue about it’s legality and impact on content providers there, then go ahead. The two are unrelated however, and I’m a little sick of silly analogies in the comments so far. Why don’t you just accuse me of skipping ads using a DVR and be done with it?

Joe

Well technically, as consumers, we’re breaking the agreement when we watch DVDs from outside our regions or bypass geolocation tools.

But we’re still paying for it so morally we’re compensating them for their work. It’s (or seems to be – read on) greed and arrogance than makes them think it’s OK to sell movies in one place and not another or make people in some regions deal with worse versions at the same or higher prices. They setup this system decades ago when physical books and VHS tapes were the norm and now they’re stuck with contracts to local distributors. “You did it to yourselves.” paraphrasing Mass Effect’s Shepard.

nicholas nicholas

If your content is actually worth a damn, then shouldn’t people be willing to pay for it?

Most people aren’t actively aware that your precious content only comes at a hidden price.

nicholas nicholas

I mean, what’s next?

Devious trojans in all your stuff?

It’s your perogative as a “content provider”, right?

James Bruce

Devious trojans, eating babies… who knows where we’ll go from here, eh?

James Bruce

What if people can’t afford to? Do you think, perhaps, we made a conscious decision to keep the content free deliberately so that everyone can access it?

Anonymous

Right after I read this, I went and downloaded all 3 of these plugins. They are very useful for when browsing free porn sites.

Some One

Thanks for pointing out NoScript and Ghostery, I didn’t know about them. I have been using AdBlock for a while. After reading this I installed NoScript and Ghostery.
It is pretentious to think that it is OK to just do whatever you want with people’s computers.
I actually believe that there should be a law that would make these three types of addons built into browsers and they should all be enabled by default. At the very least make it so people are given an easy to read heads up display of everything that is going on with their connections.
Seriously, if I want to go shopping for cars on the internet, I will. I don’t need anyone to help “guide” me there, and I sure as hell don’t need someone probing my surfing habits. It really is privacy invasion.

muotechguy

Yeh, a new law for TV sets too that automatically blocked out commercial breaks. That would be really successful wouldnt it? Oh, until the TV networks all died.

Mark

Except the non ad funded networks, which in the UK would leave you with the BBC – 5 or 6 good quality TV channels and a dozen radio channels. Your sarcasm reeks of desperation and your argument doesn’t actually add up.

James Bruce

You realise the BBC is PAID FOR by taxpayers right? It’s not just “free”. I have to pay ~ ¬£100/year. If you think restricting the choice of consumers is a good thing and that everything should be based on a subscription model, then … I can’t eve write that here.

Bill Davis

I hear you. And I don’t. I find ads annoying and ignore them all. It’s nice to have the blocked. But I understand the concern of those who are using the ads for income as a recompense for providing the content.

But ads (unless blocked) are visible. I can choose not to click on them. I can chose not to see the content they are linked to.

But ads are not all that people are concerned about. Since installing Disconnect (You didn’t mention that plug-in here) Blogger blogs stopped loading correctly in my browsers. The header would disappear and the log-in buttons were gone, etc. Today I tested some things and found out that Disconnect was blocking 18 (count ‘em, EIGHTEEN) “Google requests” which were apparently hidden in the banner of my friend’s blog.

It’s that kind of subtle (that’s a nice word for “sneaky”) undetected, hidden tracking that many of us are disturbed by. I don’t want Google tracking my browsing, even if it’s only on a particular site, and ESPECIALLY if they do it secretly. Sorry. It’s the equivalent of someone following me around their store noting everything I look at and for how long, what color, trying to surreptitiously measure my shirt size, etc. It’s just wrong.

Yeah. Talk about “evil.”

muotechguy

And you know those 18 scripts were “trackers” do you? Not just random bits of javascript that aided site functionality, like font loading and jQuery? And what makes you think even the tracking scripts were tracking *you*? Have you considered perhaps they track page load time from your country in order to identify bottlenecks and such, or the type of browser most prevalent? Would you then like all of this to be declared in the header, and for a popup to confirm you’re okay with it before going ahead? On every single webpage, a new popup, asking for permission to load scripts essential to the page functionality? And then a seaparate popup to ask if youre ok with the page metrics one? And another for advertising!

Excellent.

Bill Davis

Nice sarcasm! I won’t try to match it.

Hey, I’ll be honest and say “No, I don’t ‘know’ that those 18 requests are trackers.” I’m not a web designer or programmer.

That said, let’s look at this logically. Do you really think Google is the only people who cannot code a web site so that it requires all that to display a banner, fonts, etc.? WordPress, Twitter, news sites and EVERY OTHER SITE I VISIT display just fine for me with AdBlock, Ghostery and Disconnect running on Safari and Firefox or Chrome. And why does the Blogger banner show up SOMEtimes but then get blocked again. Doesn’t make sense (unless maybe, Google is collecting information to sell. But no, wait, we know they would never do that!)

And the guy who wrote Disconnect used to work for Google (and AdClick… I think). Is he really so unskilled as to write his plug-in so that it blocks sites’ legitimate requests to display fonts, etc.? I doubt it. Plus if his plug-in were to make sites unviewable as a general rule, then he would not get many loyal users.

And just because technology allows sites to learn so much about the user (for whatever reason) doesn’t make it right, much less comfortable) for them to do so. My analogy here would be Radio Shack (or the hardware store here where we work) who ask for my name and address, etc., when I made a cash purchase. Sorry, but they don’t really need that. But at least in that case, I can decline. They aren’t doing it by scanning the magnetic strip on my driver’s license as I walk through the door, unbeknownst to me.

James Bruce

Thanks!

I’ll explain it though. Twitter hosts scripts on their domain. Googles hosts them in one central place – it doesnt store a different copy of scripts for every blogspot blog – that would be an incredible waste. Those are being blocked by that plugin for being “third party” – ie, hosted elsewhere and therefore presumed not needed. We actually use the google hosted plugins too – this ensures they load from your local cache instead of reloading from ours. Its to keep the internet moving along without wasted bandwidth. I dont know the disconnect plugin precisely, but i suspects its the same ilk as ghostery or noscript.

As for erractic loading behaviour, it has nothing to do with collecting info – its just the order in which load events are fired. Some scripts wait for the page to load first so the content is readble; then they add in functionality. Sometimes when these can’t load, random things happen. Remember, as designers we don’t plan for things to not be loaded.

Do you use any store loyalty cards at all? Or a credit card? Unless you only pay in case, your life is already intricately tracked.

Mark

Hardly needed. Just making it the norm that ads come from subdomains such as ads.somesite.com, trackers from track.somesite.com etc etc, then users could exercise choice easily without a myriad of buttons for every page. Why not? We’re always told it’s about choice by advertisers, so why not offer choice in a way that doesn’t require an arsenal of plugins and the knowledge to configure them?

Since an awful lot of scripts are indeed trackers, and advertisers/trackers do their level best to disguise what their scripts do, is it any surprise people assume the worst rather than the best. It doesn’t take a tinfoil hat or fear of government to detest the laissez faire approach businesses take to users privacy.

Derek

I’d bet that the vast majority of “trifecta” users are highly technical. They know how to enable ads and scripts when they want to enable ads and scripts. These are people that almost certainly would not click on your ad if they could see it, and may quickly abandon your site if your advertising is too obnoxious, or your tracking is too obtrusive.

Ultimately, these users add value to websites in other ways, like contributing to the discussion. Your impressions may look lower than they actually are, and you may have to sell advertising for less money. But you *should* sell advertising for less money, because (at least for traditional advertising) this segment has an ad click-through rate of approximately zero. There are effective ways to monetize this group, but a traditional text ad or banner ad model is not one of them.

And the idea that it’s somehow unethical to opt-out of tracking is absurd. I work in the web marketing industry, so I know exactly how creepy (and arguably unethical) these tracking tools can be. Using tools like noscript to disable tracking is not an aggressive act by the user. It’s a defensive response to an aggressive act by the producer.

That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with tracking. As an analytics junkie, I depend on it. But there’s plenty of data out there, and my greed for data isn’t great enough to justify being a dick to the end user.

L

i use all 3 evils of the trifecta, and speaking from my personal stand point the reason why is simple. I do not like being marketed too, on your obviously biased side i can understand why you think they might be “evil” because they hurt your bottom line. But its not something i choose in order to economically undercut you or any other person profiteering from advertisement based business model.

Asking people not to adblock in itself i have no issue with. That invloves you making a plea to people and allowing them to decide.

But writing slosh articles slandering work that people put their honest time into.. the only goal of which is to provide CHOICE. braindead

Colton

I run a weekly woodworking class. I have a guy who pays me so he can root through my student’s houses to find personal information, while the students are at my class, then with all the stolen information he sends their home addresses to advertising firms who bombard my student’s with junk mail, including letters loaded with emp technology to disrupt my students’ home electronics, and secret cameras so the advertisers can look at my students when they’re watching tv or in the shower. My woodworking class is free, but I have to get paid. When my students complained to the police their houses were broken into I put a letter on the noticeboard telling them they’re evil for complaining and a guy’s gotta get paid, if they go to the police again there will be “consequences”.

James Bruce

What a truly ridiculous anology. Does your woodworking class employ 20 full time workers? How does it pay them? In the real world, you’d charge your students, or in this little fantasy world you’ve made up you’d take the model we do: if you come to the class, please have a look at this 2 minute commercial first. If people started sneaking into your class without watching the commercial, you’d be unable to pay your workers and your class would disappear.

C

Mr. Bruce –

You are wrong. The companies that are your “revenue stream” create parasites. These parasites are invasive to privacy and other fundamental liberties. Moreover, privacy laws differ internationally and not everyone across the globe is provided with adequate protections. Further, you are culpable for helping trackers invade these liberties. Finally, I acknowledge the slight deference you give Ghostery in your article but Ghostery empowers Internet users with the ability to protect their fundamental liberties and should be applauded.

You are wrong because the companies that provide you with revenue create parasites; parasites that you, Mr. Bruce, invite into the intimate recesses of people’s homes. These parasites, cookies, beacons, pixel gifs, etc. (collectively trackers) feed off of a user by gobbling up and recording the data trail a user creates while on the Internet. This is not a symbiotic relationship as marketing trackers help themselves to user‚Äôs own computing resources while they compile and transmit the user‚Äôs personal data. When done, they give nothing back. Generalizing, these trackers record a user‚Äôs IP address then tracks the webpage that a user just navigated from, tracks the webpage that they ultimately navigate to, records the fields a user populates with text while on the website, records the links that a user mouses over or clicks, records comments a user leaves on a website (and even the feedback they leave another‚Äôs comment), keeps track of the duration of a visit to the website, transmits this information to where it is inadequately stored, creates a ‚Äúdossier‚ÄĚ about the user‚Äôs online activities for target marketing, and ultimately sells this dossier to others. Contrary to what you may urge others to believe, many of these trackers, once inserted, also continue do this on every webpage a user visits on the Internet – even after they left the website that originally inserted the tracker.

One might ask, “What harm in having a user’s IP address? Its not like its their name and address.” I will assume you are a U.S. citizen (and also discuss U.S. liberties below) but I am unclear where you live or where your webpage is located. So, anyway, what harm? Well, in the United States there are no federal laws that adequately prevent an Internet Service Provider (ISP) from giving out or selling the personally identifying information attached to an IP address to a private entity. Once a user is personally identified and connected to the dossier of their online activity, the already present harm your article disregards intensifies.

Trackers are invasive and harmful to fundamental American liberties. First, these trackers are inserted on a user‚Äôs computer without any notice or consent and I consider that to be a trespass to ones personal property. Second, similarly, these trackers can build up on a user‚Äôs computer and degrade needed computer resources like RAM, processing power, and bandwidth because they are all being used by the trackers to record and transmit data. Trackers might also have compatibility issues amongst one another when competing for resources and cause a user‚Äôs computer or software to become unstable or crash. I consider that to be conversion. Third, I, like many others, happen to find privacy, also known as the freedom to be left alone free from intrusion, to be extremely important and do not appreciate eavesdropping or prying whether the offender is a public or private entity. It chills freedom of speech and deters seeking out new ideas or educating ones self of the unpopular ideas of another… in other words, it inhibits the exchange that is supposed to occur within a free marketplace of ideas because new or radical ideas are likely not vocalized (and conversely not asked for) when someone untrusted is watching. Fourth, it hurts ones right to speak anonymously. For example, in writing this comment to your article I will not put my real name down nor will I use a valid email address. I do this because I prefer to remain anonymous. Should one of your revenue streams read this comment that they recorded with their tracker and decide they want to identify me by getting my personal information from my ISP and publish it, then they can do so and destroy my right to speak anonymously. A lack of the ability to speak anonymously also chills free, open, and candid speech. Fifth, it has an uncomfortably high potential to diminish a U.S. citizen‚Äôs right to be free from unreasonable searches by the government. You see, U.S. citizens are protected here because the government must get a warrant to search an area in which one has a subjective expectation of privacy that society would find to be reasonable. If these tracker intrusions are pervasive and Americans are complacent with their snooping, then we speak with a voice that says we don‚Äôt believe that our computers or Internet activities are private – ergo the government would be empowered to search them warrantlessly as such a search would not be objectively unreasonable. As you can see the harms your article minimizes are serious.

I recognize the EU, if that is where you are located, has just begun enforcing new privacy laws to protect and limit the information trackers may gather. From this I infer the EU embraces the liberties discussed in the previous paragraph. However, this also raises another issue. The inconsistencies with privacy laws internationally mean that those residing within the EU have federal laws that safeguard their privacy while other countries remain vulnerable to unwarranted intrusions. Add-ons like Ghostery provide people whose governments have yet to pass legislation affording them the commendable governmental protections offered elsewhere with equal or greater protections.

You are culpable for the harm trackers cause because you allow them to be inserted onto your reader’s computers in exchange for a payment. You act as though you are entitled to this revenue stream that you have been receiving for betraying your readers’ trust. But you go further. You have the audacity to write an article complaining that there is a trifecta of evil that is robbing you of the money you earn for selling your readers’ liberties. You brazenly urge your readers to believe that Ghostery, which empowers them with the choice not to have their computers invaded by parasites, is evil because you can no longer sell their privacy.

You think Ghostery is evil because it takes shrinks your paycheck a bit? Well whoop-de-do. Fundamental liberties like privacy, speech, anonymity, being free from trespass or conversion, and guarding the integrity of our protection against unreasonable searches and seizures are at stake and are worth far more than a few extra dollars in your pocket. Countless brave people have died defending these liberties and I take offense to your complaint that you’re not getting enough for selling them. How much do you make on each user’s computer that you infect? 0.5 cents… if that? Is that the value you would place on your own privacy? On your family’s or children’s privacy?

Your views are so revolting I need to shower the ick off. I can respect your desire to earn the best living possible but I have no respect for your desire to sell these fundamental liberties to do so. Ghostery blocks the trackers that you, Mr. Bruce, invite into our homes. It allows users to contact your revenue stream directly and tell them their uninvited snooping is not welcome in their computers. I applaud the developers of Ghostery, their continued nonprofit work, and their patriotism ‚Äď so should your readers.

muotechguy

Thanks for your input.

Unfortunately, you’ve demonstrated a complete lack of technical understanding as to what these “trackers” are capable of, and it’s exactly this kind of scaremongering by users such as yourself that really annoys me. I don’t blame you, though. Fair enough, you make some great points – but when you start talking about the things cookies and tracking bugs can do, it just negates from the rest of your points. Please, learn a little more about the technologies from a realistic perspective and not the conspiracy theorists websites you’re clearly learning this stuff from now.

I’m from the UK, by the way. We have sufficient privacy laws to protect our personal data already: no ad tracking systems are currently in breach of them.

Also, I’m salaried; my paycheck is unaffected. Sometimes things are about more than just your personal situation though.

Hope you enjoyed the shower.

C

Mr. Bruce (I believe you said you are also muotechguy) –

I appreciate your fast reply, but my account of what these trackers are capable is not scaremongering – nor has the origin of my knowledge come from any conspiracy theorist website. Additionally, as explained in my original post, I am concerned about the collective situation of privacy and not my own personal situation as you believe.

I know what trackers can do from case law. For example, one case details how a persistent cookie collected “names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, genders, insurance statuses, education levels, occupations, medical conditions, medications, and reasons for visiting the particular website.” (In re Pharmatrak (2003) 329 F. 3d 9, 15, available at http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16773119706371842963&q=Cookies+AND+IP&hl=en&as_sdt=2,5; see generally Deering v. Centurytel (2011) U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51930 (D. Mont. May 16, 2011), available at http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16367374844624649196&q=deering+v.+centurytel&hl=en&as_sdt=2,5.) Another case, one that might enhance your own technical understanding of trackers, and that can aid others generally on the workings the internet and how trackers are inserted, collect information, and transmit that information in disregard of consumer approval or their expectation of what type of information advertisers collect, is In re DoubleClick Inc. Privacy Litigation (2001) 154 F Supp. 2d 497, 500-507. (Available at http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=10324117215397984111&q=doubleclick+AND+cookie&hl=en&as_sdt=2,5.) My technical understanding is reliable, accurate, and a demonstration of real life litigation over information trackers obtain – they are not products of conspiracy theory. I don’t claim to know more about technology than you, but it is clear you are either uninformed by the scope of what the trackers you advocate for are capable of, are in denial, or are simply spreading falsities for your own financial gain.

In regards to my concern with the liberties of persons across the globe, I would simply refer back to my original post where it plainly demonstrates my concerns have nothing to do with my personal situation. Many reliable peer-reviewed articles can be found about this as well. (See Matthew Keck: Cookies, the Constitution, and the Common Law: A Framework for the Right of Privacy on the Internet (2002-2003) 13 Alb. L.J. Sci. & Tech. 83.)

Forgive the sloppy citations, this was written hastily, but I hope you review some of those materials.

muotechguy

Thanks for the links C, obviously I was being hasty in judging you there.

I’ve reviewed them, and the only truly alarming one was the first really. However, I’d like to clarify that a persistent cookie is NOT capable of doing what is outlined in that case. A cookie is a text file, no more and no less. Cookies can be used to identity sites you visit because the tracking companies are integrated with them, and with those sites only. If you visit a site that doesn’t contain the trackers code, it cannot do anything with that cookie nor can the cookie do anything by itself. It certainly can’t record information you type into forms, the address bar, download and links or anything else.

That said, the technology descibed in that case is clearly on a malware level – it talks about Javascripts and Java applets (the latter of which would be blocked by most systems), which did indeed covertly intercept various bits of data. Please be aware though that this is NOT the norm – this is considered malware – and this is why there was a legal case. To use this as evidence to claim all tracking companies do the same is quite absurd, basically.

****

The CenturyTel ISP case is also quite worrying, but its not related to ads per se; rather, the ISP was altering the users web traffic – diverting ad calls to a rival network and such; intercepting packets to read personal information. This is just a downright dirty trick, but again, not something that the typical advertising network or tracking script is even capable of – you need to either be providing ISP services, or providing public wifi for your customers, for example.

I’m no laawyer of course, but although it’s a dirty trick to intercept and manipulate your users traffic, it did explicitly say they would in the TOS…

***

The third case against DoubleClick (now Google, I believe), looks to be testing the legality of the whole cookie issue and tracking in general, and if I’m reading this correctly the case was dismissed. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but this particular case didn’t reveal anything untoward I don’t think.

Thank you for continuing the discussion C, I really do appreciate the input here. I can only go so far in discussing legal cases of course, but I hope I’ve understood most of what you’ve outlined. I agree that there’s a lot of nefarious activity out there, but I think it’s wrong to punish authors because of the actions of a few bad ad companies (and ISPs).

Olonis Glades

So, you can’t make money from people like me? Tough. I have no intention of helping anyone make money on the internet. I refuse to make any purchase from any sponsor of any website I visit. Aside from that, I try and block any tracking of what I do online. Not just for corporate reasons, but 99% of what I use the internet for could be considered illegal, So I make every effort to prevent the man from getting in my face about stuff. So, how else would I use the internet freely without track and adblockers? Or is it your opinion that people like me shouldn’t be allowed online at all?

muotechguy

99% of what you use the internet for is illegal?

Wow, thats quite an admission to make. I’m afraid I dont really have a response to that.

Kevin Ford

If your advertising partner can’t guarantee quiet, unanimated non-annoying ads, can’t you find a new advertising partner?

I definitely would like to see this kind of article push back harder on the advertisers than the users, it’s our computers and eyeballs you’re asking to leverage to make money here.

muotechguy

That’s a great point Kevin, and the approach I would recommend. I have a strict policy on my own blogs with regards to advertising, and I take the time to approve each and every one. Ultimately I’m just a writer and developer here, but I’m sure my bosses are listening and will take that to heart.

Brannon

As a passionate web developer, graduate of an arts degree, and huge fan of all forms of creativity and innovation, I am a huge supporter of sites being able to advertise to their users. I totally value, respect, and encourage it. I do not approve of stealing content. However, I use AdBlock. I installed AdBlock after the fourth time I had to re-install Windows due to a virus that got to my computer through a compromised flash ad on a website that I wanted to read and support. I would totally allow ads on every website on the internet to be displayed in my browser if they weren’t a security risk, but they are, and I’m tired of getting burned for it. On sites I read often and know display safe ads that don’t use flash, I disable AdBlock.

After years of resistance, I began trying out Notscript. Naturally, as a web developer, I love JavaScript. While I develop a non-JavaScript fallback in every project I can, I understand that most of the best behaviors on sites today rely on JavaScript at the very least for user experience enhancement. However, I have gotten devastating viruses at least three times by clicking a link to a site that immediately began downloading malware through JavaScript. Although I run a constant antivirus with a trusted sites database and a constant malware filter, I’m just tired of biting my nails every time I open a link to an new domain. Again, this is still a security risk for me.

I’m trying out Ghostery for the first time today, mostly out of curiosity as to how often I’m tracked online (as it’s turning out, A LOT). I’m okay with services I trust tracking me, but I’m not particularly thrilled about a program I installed on my computer tracking my behavior off of one site and onto another. I love analytics programs and their ability to help me improve a user experience, but using someone else’s personal property to spy on their behavior, and then use it to advertise to them seems kind of shady and invasive to me. How about at least asking for my permission before doing that?

All in all, I don’t like disabling aspects of my technology, and I don’t like anything that impedes online innovation, but security comes before that for me. After that, I’d like a company to respect me before they ask for something. You want to keep reminding me about a service I looked up? Probably fine with me, as long as you ask me first. Wanna keep doing it without asking me every time, how about asking me once before you do that?

You’re asking people to respect what you do, and how you support what you do, and that’s great. If you want me to do that for you, respect me and how that impacts me. Ask me before you do stuff with my computer. Make sure your site isn’t infecting my computer and putting me at risk. Do those things, and I’ll disable my security for your service.

James Bryans

the fact is that a lot of websites now carry instead of picture ads but video ads which begin to play automatically and not just one but depending on the website there can be quite a lot cluttering up the webpage, now I don’t have a big problem against using ads, but videos even small videos drain my internet speed so if I’m downloading something I can see my speed decrease from 150kb/s to 50kb/s which significantly lengthens my download time. Also the fact that many of these advert start to play straight away and can not be paused, you have to wait 15 seconds for it to end.

Now the fact that you are saying the creator of adblocker is trying to do the same thing aka profiteering. The very key difference here is the fact that he is saying if you like it and use it why not give me a tip not here wait 10 seconds then I’ll show you what you want to see. Now think of this 10-30 seconds watching an ad everytime you want to do something on the internet eventually adds up to a hell of a lot of someones time.

I don’t use adblocker because like you said I don’t like letting people lose money but I donate significantly more money than I do click on ads, I never click on ads as a matter of fact.

It’s something I think a lot of businessmen forget people like donating to something they enjoy or are a part of but people don’t like to be forced to pay (it’s human nature). Hence why a lot of videogame reviewers, online mechanics and other video creators get significant amounts of people sending them valuable stuff and why wishlists are so popular these days.

Heres my final word, people hate the concept of money but people enjoy the concept of value; thats why people prefer to give item orientated gifts at christmas rather than money. Because if you give an item of value it feels as if you participated in the event because you can say I gave them that or this, where as with money it becomes a statistic in a sense. If only people would build a model of payment around this concept but that is living in an idealistic world.

Jakub

I understand all your reasons, however I think you are missing very important point. Once a tracker is able to connect your behavioral information about your browsing habits with some info which allows personal identification, like IP address, email, etc. than this knowledge itself is very valuable personal information.

It really does not matter if you find it paranoid or not to assume that personal information can be misused. The think which matters, that by using these ad services you help these companies to collect personal information WITHOUT asking users if they agree or not. So it is fair from user of your site to BLOCK this unauthorized collection of data.

So it is you who should bleak this circle. Either use ad companies who do not collect personal information and inform users about it (asking them to unblock ads) or clearly state, that if a user is not happy with tracking s/he should not use your page.

Jakub

frozzy

Just because we block your crap doesn’t mean we don’t support you. We don’t always look at billboards while driving down a road in fact many of us ignore them completely so why should online be any different. I’m looking at this at the basic level but I do it to protect myself not to stop your ads. Find a safer medium to show me your stuff that can’t be used to give me spyware/adware.

ted

Users who don’t want to see ads tend to not click them. Saving themselves bandwidth. Idk about you but I never purchased anything via spam or an ad. If I want to add 5 inches to my penis instantly risk free I will visit a tube site as after all its the internet.

They are never relevant. The only kind of advertising I enjoy and find relevant are those the smart companies use. Amazon for example in suggestions when going to shopping cart tend to be right on the money. You’re about to buy an rpg video game for x system they show you rpg games for x system. Not miracle cures for scalp cancer. When they do things like buy this with your order and we will knock off 10% now that is smart practice.

I block everything unwanted because it is just that. Unwanted. People are full of wants and advertisers just gotta smarten up on how to address the wants they have w/o trying to make them want something generic.

Its progress. Whatever can’t adjust should die. I know greedy isps with all their data capping plans are loving it. How many tbs are saved every second because videos aren’t on an unwanted or expected autoplay on one of my 40 tabs somewhere?

As for tracking if unsought again screw that too. On any level. Your traffic is what makes your site. Its not fully on your talents, your advertising partners wellness,etc. People should listen to them when they say take they are tired of the boots on the tires or they will rip them off themselves and resent everyone for it. The increase in use of these programs should be telling that the way it is now….is not the way it can stay much longer.

James Bruce

Advertising works, regardless of whether you think they do or that you’re one of the special few it doesn’t affect. And context ecommerce advertising is only relevant to ecommerce sites – it isn’t even advertising and certainly wouldn’t support a site like this.

Mark W

@ted didn’t say advertising doesn’t work, he said it’s unwanted. Advertising may well work, but then so do blackmail, Sarin gas and shoplifting. That they work does not make them any more desirable for the majority.

James Bruce

Read the first line: “Users who don‚Äôt want to see ads tend to not click them”. This is what I’m referring to, because it’s BS.

smart person

Hmm, I’m reading this article and writing here without seeing any filthfy ads, thank you adblock!

Ben Kite

Hello, James!
My name is Ben Kite. On the few occasions when I watch television, I use the bathroom on commercial breaks. When I browse the web, I like to optimize screen space (and save myself a headache by flashers and talkers) by using Adblock. I also render pages more quickly with JavaScript disabled, and I preserve my privacy by managing cookies.
Your article has not convinced me to change any of my aforementioned behaviors. However, I invite you to ask the gentlemen at MakeUseOf to block my IP address, to prevent me from stealing content in the future.
Thanks!
– Ben

James Bruce

TV companies still get paid regardless of whether you go to the loo or not. See the difference?

FYI, we dont block users, and have explicitly stated that.

D.Wright

I do not use Ad Block, no script or ghostery because adds don’t really annoy me. But I will stop from visiting your site from now on. Everyone who tries or just thinks of trying to disable ad block by those funny little scripts does not respect my freedom and i will in no way support such a person. Have a nice day.

Install Gentoo

>Hating on NoScript because apparently JavaScript is now the safest language on earth

JavaScript isn’t the only reason we use NoScript, many of us use it because there are MAJOR security flaws in Flash and other embedded libraries.

James Bruce

Ever heard of flashblock?

Install Gentoo

For a geek you sure do miss a lot of blatant flaws.

1) Flashblock only blocks Flash, NoScript blocks scripts.
2) If a legitimate website (take makeuseof for example) was hijacked and malicious script injected into the homepage, imaging the amount of damage that could cause without NoScript or other plugins to prevent it.
3) Flash is not the only asinine security hole out there.
4) >James is a keen gamer with a passion for the iPad
5) >gamer with a passion for the iPad
6) >gamer
7) >iPad
8) >Geek

Install Gentoo

Followup: This site is so hilariously bloated it isn’t funny, and any way to lessen the impact that has should be welcomed. Seriously, an HTML document should NOT have 13,612 lines of code unless you’re doing something ridiculously huge where size is not an issue, such as a database.

James Bruce

Did you consider most of that is COMMENTS?

James Bruce

Your last point makes no sense. Are you saying “Geek” as a derogatory term? Because I’m not the one who puts “Install Gentoo” as their name. Talk about pot calling the kettle black.

Eliott Bryant

Thank’s for telling me about Ghostery!

James Bruce

You’re welcome Elliot. As a registered user though, the site will stop working for you if you activate it; you’ll no longer get points, and you’ll be unable to claim anything from the rewards page. Jus’ sayin.

David

Boo freaking hoo. The way the world wishes to view the web doesn’t fit my current businesses model.

Here’s a free tip: Adapt or die, ***hole. Don’t tell people how they should be rendering web pages.

Valvar

I myself host a couple of sites that use Google AdSense. I am writing very specifically targeted articles, and about 85% of my visitors do not see my ads. I think that’s okay though, as I value people’s integrity higher than my personal profits.
Personally I only use AdBlack, AdBlock Plus and Do Not Track Plus. DNT+ I think does most of what NoScript and Ghostery do but without disabling all Javascripts (thus allowing me to use this comment section for example).

thisshitsfunny

sorry but the days of getting easy advertisment monies are long gone. it’s a little ironic you have 10 !@#$ing tracking beacons on this very article. and lots of laughs about it affecting your livelihood. you’re lucky you made one red cent doing nothing but typing words onto a virtual network. ad revenue is for suckers. try farming, then blogging.

James Bruce

Try web developing, then commenting.

Just Opinions

my god what drivel.
Writers, 99% just cut and paste and call it an article. for my money these ad-ons dont go far enough, I look forward to the day I can block blogs/*cough* news articles/poor content web sites and the like permanently for even showing up in a search engines.

advertising is the death of the internet with every fat ad-man extending his greasy fat hand and gasping his ad-man mantra of “more money” or “pay me” should be given 30 lashes daily.

These people are no more used car salesmen than well, used car salesmen.

I find it laughable that you consider these companies/people are paying your salary. perhaps you should move onto a used car salesmen career as telling readers that these legitimate and useful tools are taking food of your table is something you would hear down at the ‘lot’ followed by a chuckle of laughter.

I install these and more on every single computer I can get my hands on. Sir it may pay your wage, but it wastes my time and I find it offensive that these must be used by any reputable website.

Just opinons

for anyone interested to see what goes on in the background.

perhaps install collusion ff addon look at who is passing what onto who. potentially anyway ;)

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/collusion/?src=api

Internaut

This is a debate that always concerns me and as such, I would like to intervene. First of all, I must say, respecting the author and his point of view,

I agree completely with some of the criticism that has been made to the tone of this article, even for a personal opinion, it’s pretty much in a blaming posture instead of a constructive one and besides, on my land we have a saying “The costumer is always right”, because in the end, if you can’t secure your costumers, they’ll just fly away to somewhere else where their needs are met.