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Chances are that you have encountered a pop-up advertisement at some time in your online life. These pop-ups can appear out of nowhere and surprise you, and if you panic you may make a stupid mistake.

Often, these ads offer fake free goods, threaten you, falsely tell you of required updates, or redirect your browsing. None of these are behaviors you want to experience, so it’s wise to protect your browser of choice against these pop-up ads. Read on to find out how.

General Tips To Avoid Shady Websites

Be Careful Where You Visit

Even with an adequate, free antivirus program Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe What is the best free antivirus? This is among the most common questions we receive at MakeUseOf. People want to be protected, but they don’t want to have to pay a yearly fee or use... Read More , a misinformed user can do a lot of harm to a computer. In his list of ways to stay safe without an antivirus What Can I Do To Protect My PC Without Anti-Virus Software? What Can I Do To Protect My PC Without Anti-Virus Software? For plenty of users, getting and using anti-virus software can be a hassle for lots of different reasons. Not only can they be expensive, but they can be slow, difficult to control, and a major... Read More , Danny highlighted that careful browsing habits are the key to keeping any system secure. It’s better to have a lousy antivirus with a discerning user than a premium suite of protection with someone who clicks on anything.

01-Free-Screensaver-Search

Trying to download video games for free online on shady websites, for instance, will usually lead to all sorts of pop-ups. You don’t have to risk that, however, as you can find plenty of premium games online legally at no cost 7 Places Where You Can Download Premium PC Games Free & Legally 7 Places Where You Can Download Premium PC Games Free & Legally Want great games, but don't want to pay? If you're looking for the latest, you're out of luck. But if you go a little older, you might find something perfect for you. Read More . Therefore, it’s wise to know your sources. Don’t just Google “free screensavers;” try finding a list of cool ones from MakeUseOf 5 Awesome High Tech Screensavers [Windows] 5 Awesome High Tech Screensavers [Windows] Read More or another website you know to be safe.

Links Can Be Deceiving

Okay, so you’re trying to be safe and watch where you visit. You want to install some software, so you search for Adobe Reader and get to this page:

Ads by Google

02-Fake-Adobe-Reader

Or one like this:

03-Fake-Adobe-Reader-2

Neither of these pages are the Adobe Reader you’re looking for. Although both of the URLs contain the words Adobe and Reader, they’re still phonies. The first website uses the text after the “/?” to make you think you’re on the correct page; but you can place anything here and the page won’t change.

04-Fake-Website-URL-Change

The second is simply a junk website that doesn’t even attempt to look real. Whenever you see pages like this that are primarily text and advertisements, leave them alone. If you’re truly not sure whether a download link is legitimate or not, use an aggregate site like FileHippo to find what you’re looking for.

It’s also worth noting that search engine ads shouldn’t be trusted. Google marks the first result or two as ads. but it’s easy to forget that when you’re in a hurry. Take the extra second to double-check that you’re on the real website when you download. Upon examination, the ad’s URL doesn’t look even close to what it should be, and you won’t be getting the real download from it.

05-Google-Ad-Fakes

Another type that you should be cautious of is the shortened URL 6 Cool URL Shorteners With A Twist Which You Should Try Out 6 Cool URL Shorteners With A Twist Which You Should Try Out URL shorteners are a dime a dozen and don't seem to survive long. While regular URL shortening is nothing new or exciting anymore, there are still several pretty cool services out there that offer a... Read More . Since social networks like Twitter limit the amount of characters available per tweet, shortening huge URLs is essential in today’s world. However, they can also be used to disguise a malicious link.

06-Twitter-DM-Scam

If you’re ever asked to click on a short link, whether to download something or just out of curiosity, be extremely careful. It’s wise to use an unshortener tool Reveal Where Short Links Really Go To With These URL Expanders Reveal Where Short Links Really Go To With These URL Expanders A few years ago, I didn’t even know what a shortened URL was. Today, it’s all you see, everywhere, all the time. The rapid rise of Twitter brought a never-ending need to use as few... Read More to see where the link is going before you follow it. You’ll be able to tell if it leads into a mountain of advertisements.

07-Shortened-URL-Reveal

Browser-Specific Tips

Once you’ve reviewed (and put into practice) the broad tips to keep yourself safe, here’s what you should set up and double-check in each browser to dodge pop-ups.

Internet Explorer

For IE, head to the gear icon in the top-right, then click Internet Options.

08-IE-Internet-Options

Make sure that your homepage is something that you recognize. If it’s a weird search engine that pushes ad-filled websites to the top of its results, you’ll experience more pop-ups.

09-Bad-Search-Engine

On the Privacy Tab, you’ll be able to adjust your pop-up blocker’s settings. Make sure it’s actually turned on, of course. If you click Settings, you’ll be able to adjust its aggressiveness. Medium should be fine, but if you’re experiencing lots of pop-ups and don’t mind having to bypass the blocker for legitimate ones, go ahead and try High mode.

10-IE-Pop-Up-Blocker

Finally, check for any malicious add-ons that may be spawning ads. You’ll find this under the Programs tab. If you discover anything weird, simply click Disable to stop it.

11-IE-Add-Ons

Firefox

To make sure you’re protected in Firefox, head to the three bars menu in the top left, followed by Options.

12-Firefox-Options

Once you’re in, check your homepage settings on the General tab. Again, it should be something you recognize. If you need a recommendation, we’ve covered some awesome start pages Great Personalized Start Pages: 6 Alternatives To iGoogle Great Personalized Start Pages: 6 Alternatives To iGoogle If you’ve not yet heard, Google plans to pull the plug on iGoogle in November 2013 in addition to a few other services like Google Video and Google Mini. Though the company have yet to... Read More .

13-Firefox-General

The Content page houses the pop-up blocker. Make sure it’s on; other than that you can’t change its intensity like in Internet Explorer.

14-Firefox-Content

While you’re here, it’s also a good idea to head to the Security tab and make sure that you are warned when sites try to install add-ons. This is an uncommon problem, but it’s always best to be safe. Also be sure that Firefox is blocking attack websites and forgeries for you; there’s no reason to turn these off.

15-Firefox-Security

An option you can enable that will stop sites from redirecting you is found in the Advanced tab, under the General header. If you check this option, Firefox will always ask for permission when a site tries to change. For most people, though, this behavior will get irritating, since many legitimate sites behave like this, and as such it isn’t worth the hassle.

16-Firefox-Advanced

Finally, don’t forget to check your add-ons. On the same menu where you found Options, choose Add-Ons and look for any that are shady or that you didn’t install.

Chrome

For Chrome, we’ve already covered what to do to remove browser hijackers 3 Essential Steps To Get Rid Of Chrome Hijackers In Minutes 3 Essential Steps To Get Rid Of Chrome Hijackers In Minutes Have you ever opened your browser of choice and been greeted with a bizarre-looking start page or an unsightly toolbar glued to the top of the page? Restore your browser to tip-top shape. Read More , and these are the same steps you should take to secure your browser against pop-ups. Besides what’s in this article, you’ll also want to double-check Chrome’s pop-up blocking settings. Head to the Settings menu after clicking the three-bar icon.

17-Chrome-Settings

Once you’re there, head to “Content Settings…” under the Privacy header.

18-Privacy-Settings-Chrome

You’ll find the pop-up settings about halfway down. Like Firefox, it can only be toggled on or off.

19-Chrome-Pop-Up-Blocker

Heavy-Handed Solutions

If you’ve educated yourself about what sites you visit and taken advantage of your browser’s built-in protection, yet still have issues with pop-ups, you can try a stronger solution. Both of these browser add-ons will assist with defeating pop-ups.

AdBlock

Using AdBlock blocks ads and malware all over the Internet Use Adblock To Block Online Ads and Malware Use Adblock To Block Online Ads and Malware Read More . By blocking nearly all online ads, you’ll naturally be rooting out pop-ups. However, extensions that block ads hurt the sites you love Are Ad Blocking Browser Extensions Killing The Internet? Are Ad Blocking Browser Extensions Killing The Internet? One of the reasons for the Internet’s surge in popularity is the cost of most online content – or rather, the lack of cost. That’s not to say the content is free, however. Almost every... Read More , including MakeUseOf, so you should think carefully before installing this nuclear solution. If you want to use AdBlock responsibly, you can create a whitelist of sites to allow ads Please Whitelist MakeUseOf In Adblock: A Plea From a Former Adblock Filter Developer Please Whitelist MakeUseOf In Adblock: A Plea From a Former Adblock Filter Developer It’s no secret that we’re not huge fans of Adblock here at MakeUseOf. But we know that some of you won’t let go of Adblock until it’s pried out of your cold, dead hands. If... Read More and only block the bad ones.

20-AdBlock-Whitelist

Disconnect

Disconnect, which we covered previously Disconnect Me: Stop Third-Party Widgets On Websites From Tracking You Online Disconnect Me: Stop Third-Party Widgets On Websites From Tracking You Online Read More , stops third-party tracking of your browsing by companies such as Facebook and Google. In the process, it also stops some ads. It may not block as many ads and pop-ups as AdBlock, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

Like AdBlock, though, Disconnect can be harmful to sites like ours, and James has laid out his opinions on why extensions like it are evil AdBlock, NoScript & Ghostery - The Trifecta Of Evil AdBlock, NoScript & Ghostery - The Trifecta Of Evil Over 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... Read More . Whether you choose to use AdBlock and Disconnect is up to you, but consider this: Is having to fight the occasional pop-up worth being a good citizen of the Internet?

If You Are Caught In A Pop-Up

Being caught in a nasty pop-up happens to the best of us. The next time one fills your screen, don’t panic. Keep calm and follow these steps.

21-Example-Pop-Up

  • Do not download or click anything. No matter what type of ad you encounter, it’s important to first make sure that you do not comply with it. Ignore statements telling you your plugins are outdated; if you proceed and install the malware it’s offering you, you’re going to have a bigger issue than an outdated plugin.

22-Plugin-Pop-Up

And of course, never input personal information such as your address or financial info into a pop-up.

As you can see below, this particular pop-up went as far as to get a download ready for me, which could fool you if you were looking for a legitimate download already. Keep an eye out for potentially harmful file extensions when downloading, especially .exe files.

23-Pop-Up-Download

If you’re concerned about a plugin, after you safely close the ad use a site like Mozilla’s plugin check to see if you actually need to update Flash Player or anything like it.

24-Pop-Up-Bad

25-Chrome-Task-Manager

If you’re not using Chrome, you’ll have to open up the Windows Task Manager by pressing the Control + Shift + Escape shortcut, or by typing Task Manager into the Windows search bar. Find your browser and kill it off. The pop-up below had lockdown on its tab; no matter how you try to close it the dialogue kept coming up. Using Chrome’s task manager, I was able to defuse it.

26-Scary-Pop-Up

Still Getting Pop-Ups? Check For Malware

If you’re browsing safe websites and still running into a barrage of pop-ups, your computer could be infected with malware. Usually, if you’ve checked your browser for malicious extensions as outlined above, you’ll be in the clear, but especially nasty malware can re-install its browser add-ons and spawn tons of ads.

If you suspect this has happened to you, check out our ten steps to take with malware 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer We would like to think that the Internet is a safe place to spend our time (cough), but we all know there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites that have worked... Read More , as well as three things to check after you’ve finished 3 Things To Check After Removing Malware From Your PC 3 Things To Check After Removing Malware From Your PC Removing malware can be a pain. Malware removal guides ease the process, but it remains tedious. Finally, you will have to deal with after effects, like messed up browser settings or a broken Internet connection. Read More cleaning it up. Our complete malware removal guide will prove helpful if you don’t know where to start.

Pop Till You Drop

Pop-up ads can be frustrating, confusing, and scary. Once you know how to avoid them, however, you won’t have any issues coming away from them unharmed. Just remember to be careful where you visit and never install anything that a website tells you to. It’s always wise to visit the website in question yourself, just as you should never click a link in an email telling you that you need to re-input your password.

It’s not a bad idea to use a pop-up blocker testing website to make sure your tools are doing their job. And while you’re brushing up on security, be sure to learn about ransomware and other forms of phishing Don't Fall Foul of the Scammers: A Guide To Ransomware & Other Threats Don't Fall Foul of the Scammers: A Guide To Ransomware & Other Threats Read More so you’ll be ready for anything.

Do you have issues with pop-ups? What other solutions have you tried to defeat them? Speak up in the comments!

  1. Rose
    May 6, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Ben,
    I forgot to mention that sometimes it isn't necessary that I am browsing any site for the pop ups to appear on my screen...
    Once I just open a tab and my internet keep turned on .... an hour later when I came back to work on my computer 23 tabs from different sites were already opened in my browser !!!

    Thanks
    Rose

  2. Rose
    May 6, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Hi Ben,

    I bought a new computer last September ( Windows 8 ) and as result I bought the Word package for it... When I was paying the guy in the store, he asked me if I wanted to install the Word package I had just bought ... as I am not a computer expert, I agree with that ... So, my problems begin ... I don't know if he just went clicking YES to everything , but when I arrived at home every site that I open ( Yahoo for my mails , Google , etc. ) any site ( It doesn't matter which ) a pop up opens in my screen ...
    During the time I wrote this message to you I have to stop three times to close a site that popped into my Screen ....
    I think that is something from India ...
    When I was in Brasil with my old computer nothing like this happened ... I don't know what to do ...
    I have add block ( But it didn't stop sites like : Alibaba, Jabong , etc., from opening when I am writing an e-mail or simply browsing the facebook...
    I even try what you mentioned above ( settings , block , etc. ) No results at all...
    Sometimes I think I will have to Format my computer , because this problem is so annoying...

    Any advise on that ?

    Thanks
    Rose

  3. Jane Stansfield
    April 8, 2015 at 6:45 am

    http://imgur.com/AV6klg2 Hope that does it!

    • Ben S
      May 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      Jane, I just saw this comment as I wasn't emailed about it for some reason. Apologies about that; you can always email me at ben [at] makeuseof [dot] com if this happens again.

      I haven't ever seen that tab behavior. One thing I notice, though I don't think it's related to your issue, is that you have two instanced of AdBlock installed. You do not need these; one AdBlocker is more than enough and it's heavy on resources, meaning two is totally overkill. I doubt this is linked to those junk tabs but it's worth mentioning.

      If you've followed the steps in my article here:

      http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/3-essential-steps-to-get-rid-of-chrome-hijackers-in-minutes/

      I would recommend backing up your Bookmarks and other Chrome data and just reinstalling, as trying to pinpoint the issue is probably more trouble than it's worth. A refresh of the browser will be easy.

      http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/everything-you-need-to-know-about-managing-chrome-bookmarks/

  4. Jane Stansfield
    April 7, 2015 at 7:30 am

    I uploaded it to Imgur, but how do I get it to you? Never used it before My username for Imgur is Mayaraschad if that helps.

    • Ben S
      April 7, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      All you need to do is go to Imgur, upload it, and then paste the link it directs you to in a comment here so I can see it. Just like this:

      https://imgur.com/gallery/bG2ZwAj

  5. Jane Stansfield
    April 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Just checked. The only thing listed as start up pages is my proper home page.
    I got rid of them(the actual popups) by removing them from program files, program data, and installed programs,even checked on the "start-Run" command. I don't know where else to look.

    • Ben S
      April 6, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Hmm. Could you take a screenshot of your tabs like that (throwing it on Imgur is fine) so I can see what you mean? I'm trying to think of other places those junk tabs could be hiding. Perhaps a reinstallation of Chrome is best.

  6. Jane Stansfield
    April 4, 2015 at 12:10 am

    I got rid of 4 popups that I let in my PC through the fake Adobe ad. Now they don't come back, but my tabs still show something loading, but they are all "unavailable" The site which I am currently waiting for, seems to take longer now. How do I get rid of these extra tabs which go nowhere?

    • Ben S
      April 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Jane, have you tried going to the "On Startup" section of Chrome's settings? Check there, as those fake pages might still be referenced and are being opened once your browser starts.

  7. TJ
    March 17, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    This is great. Thank you. After being a victim of these kind of ads and navigation I have been more careful. I've used system restore back then, but now I just shut the computer, because the page wont let me navigate out of it... It's good to know I can use ctl, shft, and del to close the processes. Most of the time I have about 3 to 4 windows open. I will try it next time I encounter it. Thank you

  8. michael
    March 15, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    THANK YOU for not being a hypocrite and having one of those javascript popups activated by the mouse gesturing toward the tab X, because those are ALMOST AS BAD!!

    • Ben S
      March 15, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Those are atrocious, I agree. I'm not the one in charge of this stuff, but I know we won't let it happen.

  9. Pete
    March 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I received a pop up this morning that claimed to be from Norton Anti Virus software. I had to bring up Task Manager to close Google Chrome. A message to Norton via Face Book advised me to buy their Ad Blocker software, claiming the pop up didn't originate from Norton. Still......it's allowing them to try and sell their software. If someone was using my company name, you can bet I would investigate. Yet they're pushing software. Time to fight back against ALL companies ALLOWING use of their name ! After all........this particular pop up IS causing people to contact Norton, thus allowing them the chance at a new subscriber !! I hate to say this but we need Internet Police !

  10. Saajan Dhall
    March 9, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    you can also use Ghostery.com to block tracking, and social media annoying buttons like subscribe/like/follow.

  11. Anonymous
    March 4, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    quarter page or more pop-up, back out... they dont want my patronage.

  12. john
    January 22, 2015 at 2:07 am

    *you're *on . Sorry google voice text sometimes

  13. john
    January 22, 2015 at 2:06 am

    Hi ben can you form a guide for google chrome mobile version I'm gettting pop ups for this browser now but to a more annoying extent it actually redirects your page that your one and replaces th address itself. So if you press back page then essentially you go back two pages it's like you were never on the current page.

  14. Anonymous
    January 15, 2015 at 5:40 am

    Personally I use Privoxy. Takes a little configuring but well.worth it.

  15. lashana
    January 3, 2015 at 12:25 am

    I need a ad free search engine

    • Ben S
      April 6, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      DuckDuckGo has one ad that can be toggled off if you prefer.

  16. Mr. Spock
    January 2, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I don't get it. you advocate this page for getting rid of pop-up ads and then your saying your ok with the ads?
    This means you are getting paid by the advertisers and really should not be posting anything here on how to get rid of pop-ups. This makes you a hypocrite in my book and I will not listen to your advice on these issues.
    It's like going to a "natural path" Dr. and he prescribes you modern medicine.

    • Ben S
      January 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      All I can say is that there's a difference between malicious pop-ups and ads that provide revenue for their websites.

      We need the ads on MakeUseOf to survive. Without them, writers wouldn't get paid, and there would be no content for you to read (for free, I might add) and take advantage of).

      We take care to ensure that our ads respect your time and browsing. We don't feature pop-up ads and all that other crap. Ours are non-intrusive.

      This article was meant to protect you from the malicious, junky kind of pop-ups. I'm not telling you to block other website's pop-ups and not ours, I'm preparing you to avoid the malicious kind that want to harm you. If you look, and I linked to them in this piece, we've written more than one article on why AdBlock and the like are negative things for the Internet and should be avoided.

      I don't appreciate being called a hypocrite without any base.

  17. dragonmouth
    January 1, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    "Once you’re in, check your homepage settings on the General tab. Again, it should be something you recognize."
    How about just using "Show a blank page"?

    • Ben S
      January 1, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      That's perfectly fine, too. My point in saying that it should be something you recognize was that if it's some spam/ad-filled site, it needs changed. I find that a blank tab doesn't provide much information on startup, so perhaps another page is more interesting/useful. But if you want to use a blank page, that's great.

  18. KustenWatche
    August 29, 2014 at 1:18 am

    Ben S , FYI the Quote re: the Philistines, was one of the last things Peter Jennings said about the ABC network and how they wanted him to format his evening news program, he was a great fan of the English language and wanted the/his show to his reflect that. They apparently wanted less verbosity so they could squeeze in another ...wait for it...COMMERCIAL! They are indeed at the gate so will slay them?

  19. KustenWatche
    August 29, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Well Ben, it seems that the Philistines were among the greatest enemies of the Israelites because god was angry with them, the Israelites . God then , after some time, sent a messenger to a woman who was barren and told her she would have a son, he turned out to be Samson. Samson, now grown, was a threat to the Philistines and he was in a fortified structure, I believe it was even in Gaza, when told "The Philistines are at the gate" , waiting to ambush Samson, he went to the gate tore it down and laid waste to to them. Once again I am no biblical scholar but that is my understanding perhaps there is someone more familiar with this that could elaborate

    • Ben S
      August 29, 2014 at 1:04 am

      I know the Bible, but what's the point of the comment?

  20. Zach L
    August 26, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Okay, help me out here: I know websites get paid per click-thru of an ad on their site--that makes sense to me. It also makes sense that a website gets paid just for a reader "showing up" at a website; that is to say a website gets paid per eyeballs on-page even if the reader doesn't bother clicking on the ads, albeit less money than for a click-thru. Is there some way to tell that someone reading your page is suppressing your ads, so you don't get credit for the eyes on your page? I think you can safely say that the kind of person who uses ABP is also the kind of person who would never, ever in a billion years click on an online ad. I certainly never would! So you haven't lost a clic-thru, just an "eyes-on" commission, if a person uses ABP. Is that right?

    I know darned well there's no way to tell if someone is over 60 years of age, which not an age anybody seems to want to market to (except adult diapers and "I've fallen and I can't get up" style advertisers, in other words, advertisers that will NEVER place ads on websites.) As an over-60 myself, I find the ads I've seen puerile and juvenile to the extreme. The ad that made me get ABP was an animated ad of a young, drunk girl in a tight, low-cut blouse waving a glass of wine around in front of her boozed up-looking face. After a few moments it revealed itself to be an advertisement for an on-line university--and not for learning how to bartend, which might have made some sense, but for a degree! Yeah, WTF was that all about. I don't need to have my intelligence insulted by con artists going for the lowest common denominator of readers for their victims, because only a mark begging to have his money taken away from him would go for that ad.

    • Ben S
      August 27, 2014 at 12:36 am

      Zach, I'm not a web design expert, nor do I handle our ads/revenue, so I can't say for sure. Sites do have ways to know when you're running AdBlock; for example, NintendoLife will display a graphic in place of their ads if they detect you're running it:

      http://www.nintendolife.com/

  21. KustenWatche
    August 26, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    This is a quote from the bible and I use it as a euphemism.

    • Ben S
      August 27, 2014 at 12:33 am

      Thanks; that's really constructive. If you'd elaborate, I'd be happy to reply.

  22. Phantomx
    August 23, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Changed my browser to EPIC, a full time privacy browser. Speaks for itself.

    • Ben S
      August 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Not a bad idea. Does Epic do a good job of blocking pop-ups?

  23. KustenWatche
    August 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Watch out the Philistines are at the gate!!!

    • Ben S
      August 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      What do you mean by this?

  24. Erica
    August 23, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Oh yes and what do you consider good advertising Ben?

    I hate all this advertising and I block as much of it as I can and as for the developer of AdBlock Plus being a thief. Don't you think your comment is a little over the top? For a start if I want to buy something I will go in search of it myself. I don't want to be bombarded by bandwidth sucking advertisements.

    Furthermore not to sure if you're aware of this Ben? But in some countries there are still quota's in place and what these advertisements do is eat away at such quota's. So who is the real thief here? I think you'll find the real thieves are the site owners who plaster their sites full of useless advertisements while at the same time steal your quota and the real hero's here to save the day and your wallet are developers like the AdBlock Plus developer.

    Furthermore like all these so called newspapers who are turning to a subscription based system. I can honestly say I do believe it will be the beginning of the end. Simply because there is no shortage of other sites to get such information from. So try the subscription idea and I am sure you will see your readers simply disappear over night and your site will just become a thing of the past like all the others that have gone down this road.

    • Ben S
      August 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      What I consider good advertising is small, text-based ads without flashing lights, noises, and popping up. Is it really that big of a deal to deal with those?

      I hate advertising too, but so does everyone. I don't think that my comment is over the top. For every person that installs AdBlock, visits sites like ours, and pays the developer, he makes money that should have gone to us. That's theft. Also, ads are in place that have no relevance to shopping, so that argument really isn't valid.

      Sites full of "useless" advertisements - why are you visiting them? Ads are not useless to the site that displays them, because they need them to survive. My guess is that sites with crappy ads all over the place are shady anyway.

      I never said we were going to try the subscription idea. But the only other option is an ad-based model, which is what we use... Get the picture?

  25. Erica
    August 23, 2014 at 1:33 am

    Talking about popup blockers how about all these stupid slide out banners that you have on this site now. Don't you think it's a little ridiculous and over the top? For a start why do you have social media share icons that slide out when you move your mouse over an image? It's quite frustrating and it's like navigating a mine field. Furthermore why do you need so many social share options to begin with?

    I don't know who your website designer is but it's obvious to me they don't have much of a clue when it comes to a designing a decent site layout that doesn't include the over use of all this social media rubbish!

    Now if we could just find a way to block all this slide out garbage life would be great!

    • Kim B
      August 23, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      I run Ad Block (not Ad Block Plus) and when I first get the slide out banner for social media sharing, I Right click, select Ad Block and "Block this ad". Presto No More Banner! this works on most pop ups and I feel quite justified doing it because without Ad Block I would not keep reading the article, and I assume the site would like me to read it. A simple share button below the article, is all that is needed to prompt people to share. If I like the article I always look for a button to share. If I don't NO AMOUNT OF POP UPS will induce me to do so!

    • Wayne
      August 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks for bringing this up, those slide banners drive me crazy. I hate them.....

    • Ben S
      August 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      I'm sorry you don't like the slide-out links. We decided that the old static links to other articles weren't as useful, so we changed it out. I'll let someone know you aren't a fan.

  26. P.f. B
    August 22, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Ben S, I resent that you think the creator of AdBlock is a thief. You seem to be willing to ignore the fact that websites use YOUR bandwidth (and mine, and everyone else's) to display advertising. Now, when it's a site like MUO, sure, the code should be benign and reasonably lean. But when it's not--and keep in mind that even other legitimate sites farm their advertising out to servers located who-knows-where and running who-knows-what--the problems begin.

    Granted, I use AdBlock Plus, and I whitelist sites whose content creators ask nicely. They're not the problem. But still, even though the blacklist is now pretty sizable, and loads every time an iframe loads, it's generally much safer than letting any old ad server load whatever it wants on my machines.

    But to say that an ad-blocking creator "takes away money" from other websites is only half the story--and half a story is no story at all.

    • Ben S
      August 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      I don't think your argument is the same thing I'm saying.

      Nobody forces you to view a website. You go there to enjoy content, which they place out for free. In exchange, you have to put up with some ads. If you don't want to come to a site and "use up your bandwidth," then you don't have to.

      The creator of AdBlock wouldn't be a thief if he didn't ask for money for blocking ads. In his vision of the future, everyone uses AdBlock so nobody has to see ads. Free content would effectively cease to exist, and where would we be then?

      Browsing the Web at any level requires some inconvenience. Radio is free - why? Because of ads. If you pay for Sirius/XM satellite radio, you don't deal with ads because you've paid.

    • P.f. B
      August 25, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Ben, here is what you seem to be missing.

      To use your analogy, my radio has never crashed due to an ad while I'm listening to terrestrial stations. (And I listen to WUSF 89.7, an NPR affiliate, so while there aren't many ads, we do get those REALLY LONG breaks during spring and fall campaigns, so if anything were to crash it, those would do it.)

      On the other hand, rich media CAN crash a browser, and sometimes even hammer an OS, especially a Windows PC, even if there's no malware involved. I still have had problems on both iOS and Android devices using Safari, Chrome, and Mobile Firefox because of poorly served ads.

      And the "nobody forces you to view a website" concept is a complete canard--specious to the core. Nobody forces me to view a website, but until an end user loads a page, nobody knows where the ads on those websites are coming from, whether memory allocation will be set properly, whether the ads will load properly, or whether they'll hose the end user's software completely.

      So you're still completely off base. If web advertising were trustworthy, I would agree that ad blocking software is not fair.

      Web advertising is not trustworthy. Stop being snotty about it and own up. You don't understand all the facets of the issue, and that's my whole point.

    • Ben S
      August 27, 2014 at 12:32 am

      We'll have to agree to disagree here, but I think that I understand the issue just fine. I used AdBlock for years, and after switching off it I hardly have any issues. It doesn't bother me at all, and I feel better for not using it.

      Don't call me snotty. I choose to suffer a bit so that credit goes where it's due.

  27. Tom E
    August 22, 2014 at 2:44 am

    Point of contention - you say "AdBlock" but the ad blocker you are running is "AdBlock Plus". They are COMPLETELY different sources, and AdBlock (the later one from a development standpoint) is doing some shady things, such as allowing unique IDs sent to their list of "good advertisers." Plus, their source code is not open source any more -- are they trying to hide something?

    Relevant article:
    http://readwrite.com/2014/08/01/adblock-plus-switch-adblock

    • Ben S
      August 22, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Tom, you are right that they're different blocking programs. If you're going to use one, AdBlock Plus is supported on more browsers (Firefox doesn't have a version of AdBlock) and by default it does allow some non-intrusive advertising.

      However, is this really a bad thing? What's wrong with good advertising? Do you really want to block every ad in existence? You hurt the sites you visit when you do this, because we're not seeing any revenue for the content we put out. Would you like more sites to go to a paid subscription model, where you have to pay to see anything on a site?

      AdBlock Plus realized how harmful they are to the Web and tried to make amends. The guy who created AdBlock asks for donations - how ironic! He wants your money for taking away the money of other sites you visit. A thief.

  28. Bben
    August 21, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    I do understand that ads are a third party thing - But it's the third party that profits most by allowing shady ads to sneak in - there is no penalty to them for allowing one from time to time. They still make the money. But there is a penalty to the users - and to the site because of people like me who are just fed up with the advertising companies getting away with poor policing. I tried being nice and allowing some sites to show ads - it just didn't work - the ad companies won't let it work. Within a few days I was again seeing those ads that jump, change color and broadcast loud audio as well as those trying to lure people to some shady site. They have shot themselves in the foot as more and more people will opt out of their intrusive ads as they learn how to do it. And the ones to suffer will not be the ad companies, but the sites that rely on ads to stay in business. Users cannot do anything - the sites themselves need to find a way to reign in the abusive ad companies before they ruin the ad supported model.

    • Ben S
      August 22, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      I know that ads are annoying. It's a tough area to discuss, because everyone hates them but our site needs them to survive. I've gone months without AdBlock and don't really miss it. Apart from a 30-second ad to watch a minute-long video on YouTube, most ads really aren't that bad. Sure, some text off to the side or in the middle of an article is annoying, but I don't know any legitimate sites that have blaring, flashing ads. We don't, and neither does How-To Geek, Lifehacker, or other tech sites. I find that the noisy and intrusive ads show up more on seedy sites.

  29. Bben
    August 21, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    "extensions that block ads hurt the sites you love, including MakeUseOf" Blaming the user for blocking ads that YOU allowed to be served to them is not the solution. The advertising companies are who you should be blaming. They have allowed this trash because they make money off of it. FIX THE ADVERTISING and people will not have to use ad blockers to protect themselves from the garbage the ad companies are shoving in our face. The only way to stop this is to find a way to make it cost the ad companies some of their revenue. Then, I believe the problem of malicious advertising will dry up.

    • Ben S
      August 21, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      First, I'm not the one who deals with our ads, so if you'd like to talk to someone please visit our contact page.

      Second, MakeUseOf doesn't allow pop-up ads or other types of malicious ads that change the page or prompt you for downloads. Our ads are non-intrusive and if you see one that's an issue, I'd ask you to let someone know so we can fix it, because we hate these bad ads too.

      We don't have direct control over what ads you see, unfortunately. I wish all ads could be contained and respectful, but this just isn't the case.

    • etim
      August 22, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      I agree with Bben. And you just illustrated the problem--"We don’t have direct control over what ads you see...".
      Until you do, and start taking responsibility for all that appears on your pages, I'll continue to use blockers.

    • Ben S
      August 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      We don't have control because that's not how ads work. Like I said, please contact someone who has control over this, because I don't.

      Before I started writing for MakeUseOf, I used AdBlock myself. I haven't used it for months now, and I honestly don't miss it very much.

      I've never seen a pop-up or other malicious ad on the site, so I don't really understand what you're so upset about. I only encounter the really nasty ads on movie-sharing websites and the like.

  30. steve
    August 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Its not just the fake ads.

    Many sites nowadays try to get you to subscribe to them, add them to Facebook, Twitter etc. When you land on their page they pop out their own ad.

    While at least not malicious or harmful, they are doing themselves no favours, as my first thought with a site that sticks self advertising pop ups on is "bye bye" and go elsewhere.

    • Ben S
      August 21, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      That's a good point, Steve. I especially dislike mobile pop-ups that ask you to install a site's app. They annoy the heck out of me.

      Pop-ups that freeze what you're reading to advertise for the site are almost as bad as malicious ones.

  31. karen
    August 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    good article...it never hurts to review this stuff. i just tried the link you gave for popuptest.com and Firefox blocked all successfully except the 'Drop Down popup'. is there a way to fix this? many thanks~

    • Ben S
      August 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Karen, I just tried the drop-down pop-up in Chrome and it came up for me, too. I've never seen a popup like this, though, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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