Web Culture

It’s About Ethics in Stealing Games Journalism: Why AdBlock Needs to Die

Matthew Hughes 19-02-2015

It’s been a rough month for games journalism.


After almost 12 years, AOL-owned games blog Joystiq shut up shop, meaning 12 people just lost their jobs. It’s a sobering story, especially for anyone who works in digital publishing. It’s a story that reminds us of the tenuous nature of the industry in which we work, and the inherent frailty of our positions within it.

Joystiq was a brilliant but hugely divisive publication – it had fans and haters in equal measures. This was, for the most part, because it was loud, confident, and wasn’t afraid to kick up a stink when need be. It was one of the few games publications I read on a regular basis, and the loss of it has left a crater-sized hole in the world of gaming journalism.

But the real story behind its closure isn’t the 18% drop in traffic in the year that lead up to its closure, although that undoubtedly was a contributing factor to its demise. Nor is it the allegation that the strong editorial stance against Gamergate resulted in it alienating its core readership, as was claimed by Milo Yiannopolous writing in Breitbart London.

No. This is about how a simple, free browser plugin killed Joystiq, and is ruining the Internet.

Meet AdBlock Plus

First, a little bit of backstory.


AdBlock Plus is a browser plugin, available for Chrome, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer and Android. When installed, it removes banner adverts from web pages before they even appear in the user’s screen. As you can imagine, it’s immensely popular, with almost 300 million installs worldwide.

It’s not the only plugin that blocks adverts, but it’s definitely the largest.

But in addition to fundamentally changing the user’s browsing experience, AdBlock Plus has had a massive impact on how online content is monetized, and the livelihoods of digital creatives. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The Economics Of The Internet

The problem with free content isn’t that it isn’t free. Not really. Every post you read on MakeUseOf, and many other websites, costs money to produce. With respect to MakeUseOf, each post written will take hours to write, edit, and package – but mere minutes to read. It will see a writer, editor, and graphics designer getting paid for their services, but will cost the reader nothing upfront.


The overwhelming majority of the editorial and writing staff on staff here live in first-world countries (you can find out more about where we live and work here Who We Are: An Inside Look at Our Writers and Their Workstations We all have a wide variety of computer setups and each of us has a unique workflow that keeps us productive. Join us as we bare our most sacred spaces for you to see! Read More ), with the subsequent first-world costs of living. For us to continue writing content on a full (or even part) time basis, we need to get paid according to the cost of living where we live, or we’ll just do something else. It’s basic economics: labor has to be compensated.


Right now, advertising is the only revenue model which can be reliably expected to work, and allows digital journalists to reasonably expect to earn a living. Most adverts aren’t directly serviced by the website itself, but through a third-party network. There are far too many of these to mention in a single, comprehensive list, but two of the biggest are Google AdSense and Tribal Fusion.

Sites are paid based upon how many people see the adverts (called impressions, and are measured in terms of thousands of visitors), or less commonly on how many people ‘click’ the adverts (known as pay per click, or cost per click). This means that the incomes of websites are directly contingent upon how many people see these adverts.


So, it’s pretty simple. People go on websites. They view the content, but also the adverts accompanying the content. Content producers get paid. It works.

But unusually, it’s also a revenue model in which people can ‘opt out’ of paying by employing technological means. This is becoming increasingly common, with almost 10% of all web traffic coming from computers with this awful plugin enabled. Given that Adblock users tend to be quite technologically adept, this has disproportionately affected tech and gaming websites.

Almost 47% of Joystiq’s user base had Adblock installed. Fellow games website Destructoid had similar numbers, with almost half of their readership using AdBlock. For ArsTechnica, it’s close to 40%.

This has meant, (as Papa Niero, founder of Destructoid pointed out) that sites are having to work twice as hard to earn the same income. But the problems with AdBlock aren’t just economic. Using it is  also deeply unethical.


Think about it. Sites offer content for free with the expectation that their readers will ‘do the right thing’ and view the ads that accompany the content. It’s just the same as going to get a haircut. The barber will happily give you a short back and sides, because he knows that once he’s put the clippers away, you’ll pay him for his services. A taxi driver is happy enough to drive you home because he knows that when he reaches your destination, you’ll pay him. And for the most part, it’s considered highly unacceptable (and illegal) to skip out on paying for your haircut, or your cab.


So, why is it somehow acceptable to skip out on paying for the content you consume, especially when there’s the same expectation of payment? I honestly don’t know. Believe me, I’ve thought about it. I’ve racked my brains, and I’ve spent hours discussing the very subject with people who completely disagree with my point of view. I still haven’t been able to think of a way in which using AdBlock is any different to stiffing a cab driver.

The ethical dilemmas of using AdBlock aside, it’s important to remember that using it is ultimately self-defeating. Paying journalists less money doesn’t result in them producing better content, in greater quantities. Rather, it puts us all on a path to a bleak, depressing world where content is thinner, less interesting, and less dangerous.

A Race To The Bottom

It’s hard to see what impact AdBlock has had on the quality of content being produced. For reasons that are entirely understandable, scant few publications are in the habit of releasing stats for each article. In fact, of all the blogs and news websites I read, Business Insider is the only one that publicly discloses how many hits each piece gets.

But there is some compelling evidence that AdBlock is having an adverse impact on what content is profitable, and not.

Game Journo Pros is a highly secretive messageboard with an exclusive membership that consists mostly of high-ranking persons in the gaming media. The contents of this were leaked by members of the GamerGate movement around 2014.

In one thread, the conversation turned to the mass layoffs at IGN and the subsequent shuttering of GameSpy, 1UP and UGO, that occurred in June of 2014. More than one person had commented what a loss 1UP would be, especially given the notable quality of their features. In gaming terms, it’s almost like what would have happened should the New York Times close its doors. William O’Neal, then editor at TechRadar who now heads Softonic, matter-of-factly responded that ‘great features don’t make money’.


He has a point. Gaming websites that make a profit from long-form journalism are, in a word, exceptional. Believe me. Many have tried, and the vast majority have failed, with Polygon being a great example of the latter. They laid off a significant chunk of their long-form staff in 2014.

The problem is not that there’s a shortage of demand for great journalism. The problem is that there’s a shortage of people willing to pay for great journalism, even in an industry that is as booming as gaming. When half of a site’s readership is unwilling to support that site even by looking at ads, the end result is that proprietors will be more conservative with what they publish – and less willing to take risks.


It’s not just long-form journalism that’s been hit. Across the web, there’s been a perceptible drop in standards as journalists are paid less, and are stretched further as they have to do the work of their recently laid-off colleagues.

Overwhelmingly, this has manifested itself as thin content, reworked press releases, and dishonest linkbait titles: the trifecta of everything wrong with the Internet in 2015.

But I’m not just referring to smaller, less established websites. A cursory browse through Google shows that people are getting frustrated with the likes of The Independent (an established Broadsheet paper) and even the BBC, which displays adverts to visitors from outside of the United Kingdom for using deceptive, Upworthy-style linkbait titles.

When writers continue to get squeezed, this trend will only get worse. As the old adage goes, if you pay peanuts, you only get monkeys. But surely some of the blame deserves to lie at the feet of publishers and content producers, right?

We’re Not Angels

Cards on the table: I’m biased as hell. I’ve got a dog in this fight. I find AdBlock completely and utterly distasteful. It senselessly hurts content producers, and is a contributing factor to how hard it to monetize content online, and the subsequent homogenization and attenuation of online journalism.

It’s incredibly easy to blame freeloading users for the woes of the publishing industry. Easy, but fundamentally lazy. This worldview ignores the fact that there are some glaring issues with how online advertising works. My friend and colleague Mihir Patkar wrote an incredible piece Publishers Need to Stop Whining About Adblock Ad-blocking seems like a natural option for any consumer because of a simple reason: it's an easy way to get rid of an annoyance. Read More on this earlier this week, and I really recommend you check it out. But if you want to read my take on the situation, read on.

But first, let me point out that the irony of a writer complaining about advertising networks isn’t lost on me. It’s a bit like being a truck driver and having an issue with the internal combustion engine. But let’s face it: everyone agrees there’s a huge amount of room for improvement in the online advertising world, and nobody is satisfied with the status quo.


There have been a huge number of really distasteful things done by the major advertising networks that have cost it the trust of users, and of publishers. Last year, I published a piece on Kyle and Stan Meet Kyle And Stan, A New Malvertising Nightmare Read More , which was some particularly pernicious malware that was distributed through erstwhile legitimate advertising networks.

Advertising networks have also been accused of colluding with the NSA in their Prism program What Is PRISM? Everything You Need to Know The National Security Agency in the US has access to whatever data you're storing with US service providers like Google Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook. They're also likely monitoring most of the traffic flowing across the... Read More , which saw billions of Internet users come under the watchful eye of the American security services. Not to mention their entire current incarnation is based around the surveillance of people’s Internet activity in order to better customize their adverts.

And then, there’s the undeniable fact that many adverts have a real impact on how a website is experienced, and seldom for the better. From slow page load times, to pop-overs, to video adverts; each of these things serve only to annoy and alienate users.

There are a great many reasons to be angry with advertising networks. Trust me, I depend on adverts to put food on the table, and I quite often find myself resenting the fact I’m dependent upon them.

Everyone agrees that online advertising industry is in dire need of reform. But not everyone agrees where that reform should come from.

In many respects, some of that reform is being done by websites who are unhappy at how their users’ experience of their content is so deeply warped by the presence of bad advertising. Sites can vote with their feet, and can choose the kinds of advertising that they display.

You’ll be hard pressed, for example, to find an autoplaying video advert on MakeUseOf. We take a proactive approach to the adverts we display here, and in the two years I’ve worked for this site, I haven’t seen a single advert I thought was deceptive, or sexually inappropriate. If, on the off chance, we did find an unacceptable advert, we immediately will take steps to remove it.

But ultimately, the biggest change in the advertising industry will come from consumers.

It’s only a matter of time before the camel’s back breaks, and advertising networks will be forced to reform as a result of the overwhelming pressure of people installing AdBlock.

But no matter what you feel about advertising networks, it’s undeniable that content producers are disproportionately affected by the decision not to view adverts. We’re not bad people. We work hard, and we want to produce stuff that people enjoy reading and watching. But we also have to put food on the table.

Can there be a happy compromise? I think so. I think it’s possible for consumers to see good, unobtrusive adverts, without stiffing content producers. But we need to work together. Websites need to act whenever an unacceptable advert runs on their website, and refuse to work with networks that engage in underhand activity. But simultaneously, consumers need to put pressure on companies and advertising networks to respect their privacy, and their user experience.

For the sake of fairness, AdBlock Plus does allow users to permit ‘acceptable’ and ‘unobtrusive’ advertising. This can be activated and deactivated as that user sees fit. However, the cynic in me worries that AdBlock Plus have set themselves up as gatekeepers to websites earning an income. That’s an immense position of power, and one which is troublingly bereft of independent oversight.

Furthermore, my concerns about AdBlock Plus are compounded when you consider that they have an economic incentive to permit some adverts, and block others. In their own FAQ, they answer the question of how they make money with ‘We are being paid by some larger properties that serve non-intrusive advertisements that want to participate in the Acceptable Ads initiative’.

My friend, ScraperWiki CEO Francis Irving, once described the three-way conflict of interests between advertisers, users and content creators as a ‘war’. He might not be wrong. At this point, it’s worth exploring whether there are any viable alternatives to advertising.

Are There Any Alternatives?

The great thing about advertising is that it’s very much a ‘One Size Fits All’ solution like no other.

Advertising works. No matter where you are in terms of readership or your stage of development, advertising can allow you to start earning money from your content. It’s also a model that has been successfully repeated on millions of different websites. Another compelling advantage of advertising is that it’s inherently predictable. Get your total traffic, subtract those using adblock, divide by 1000 and multiply by your CPM, and you’ll have an idea of how much you’ll earn that month.

As a result, it remains the most effective and popular revenue model for the Internet. But are there any alternatives?

Well, yes. The problem is, they’re either not scalable, or not repeatable, or simply just not viable for everybody. I’ve written about these in the past with my piece on alternative ways to monetize creative content 4 Unusual Ways of Monetizing Your Creative Content Are you a creative person? Perhaps you're a fiction author, or an investigative journalist? Monetizing your work is tricky. Here are four of the best ways to monetize content without an inch of advertising. Read More without advertising, as well as in my piece on publications that have eschewed the advertising revenue model Banners Begone: How Readers Supported These Three Websites How to survive in a post-banner-advert world? Here’s how two popular websites have managed it. Read More . Overwhelmingly, they boil down to crowdfunding (I’m including Patreon here) and micro-donations.

The problem with crowdfunding is that, despite its laudable number of successes – with the $500,000 raised by Penny Arcade on KickStarter being a notable example – it’s simply not a repeatable, scalable or predictable solution.


If you’re not an established journalist or writer with a baying legion of fans, the odds of you getting enough money to write full-time are pretty slim. Even for larger publications or authors, it’s not guaranteed whether you’ll manage to convince enough readers to donate to keep you afloat.

Paywalls, similarly, suffer from the same problem. If you’re the London Times, or the New York Times, great. You likely have a sufficiently large readership and a strong enough brand to start charging for your content. But if you’re a small, or otherwise unknown creative, then you’re going to struggle to get people to open their wallets.

Micro-donations are even less of a viable option. These services allow viewers to ‘tip’ authors of work they enjoy, usually in amounts of just a few cents. Flattr is one of the most notable examples of these sites, with thousands of registered users. However, I’m yet to find anyone who has managed to make a living from them.


But I’m not entirely cynical. There’s a service, in Slovakia of all places, that has applied the Spotify Spotify Music Streaming: The Unofficial Guide Spotify is the biggest music streaming service around. If you're not sure how to use it, this guide will walk you through the service, as well as offer some crucial top tips. Read More model of consumption to web publishing. It’s called Piano Media, and it allows customers to access premium Slovak language web content from 60 properties for the fee of €3.90 per month. For sites that have signed up to Piano, this effectively nullifies the impact of adblock.


But the advantage of Piano isn’t just limited to beating AdBlock at its own game. It has made it possible for people to make a living from writing in a language that has a meagre 7 million speakers. To put that into context, that’s roughly the same number of people who visit MakeUseOf in a week.

Would I like to see Piano take the leap from the Carpathians to the rest of the world? Absolutely. Would I be willing to pay $20 per month to support content creators and not see adverts, anywhere? Again, absolutely. But nobody has built that yet. So, in the interim, we’re stuck with advertising as the only scalable, repeatable and predictable model for web publishing. The only one that works.

We’re At A Fork In The Road

The Internet is at a crucial juncture in its development, and it’s up to us to decide what we want it to look like in a few years.

On one hand, we’ve got a world where content creators aren’t compensated for their work. Where it’s almost impossible to make a living from writing deep, original and dangerous journalism. Where the only people making money are those resorting to shameless link-bait tactics (a la ViralNova), and rewriting stuff they saw on Reddit (a la Mail Online). Where there’s no profit incentive to create interesting, long-form journalism, or to create awesome pieces of art.

On the other hand, we’ve got a world where people don’t cheat the people who write the Internet. Where people can make a living from challenging the status quo, and from writing well-informed, well-researched journalism. Where film makers, musicians, and writers are all adequately compensated.

I know what world I want, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. How about you?

Photo Credits: Dismissed businessman Via Shutterstock, Angry Driver With Dollar Bills (Konstantin Sutyagin – Shutterstock), Wage Slip on notepad with black pen in background (Phil.Tinkler – Shutterstock), Annoyed designer gesturing in front of her laptop in her office (wavebreakmedia)  

Related topics: Ad-Blockers, Blogging, Online Advertising.

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  1. Ethan Givens
    March 1, 2019 at 2:43 am

    This is why I use Brave. It's a pretty good browser service, it blocks ads from me, but to whoever is putting the ad there (Google AdSense or other), the ads are marked as seen, and thus, the revinue isn't lost to the people getting paid by AdSense. Is it perfect? No. But it's saved me from getting a few viruses. So, if anyone from makeuseof sees this..look into Brave.

  2. Mark
    February 1, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    go earn some money with hard work, not by installing malware in people's computers by your scripted dangerous ads which destroys people's hard earned machine's. 10 years ago there were hardly any ads on the websites but today there are 50 to 100 ads on each websites detected by my ublock origin. you people's created your death bed, now sleep on it

    • Nwwoman
      February 12, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      Do not worry. In time you Dems will create an internet only displaying e-commerce sites and you will then complain about how capitalism took over the web. You will complain that only big business exists in the US as you continue to build barriers for small business start-ups. I object to a type of intrusive ads also but your goal is highly paid employees and no revenue to a content business.
      But no matter..you do not care. You want free. Period.

      Do tell me ... Assume you were building a news site. How would you generate revenue so you can pay employees a market wage and pay good quality vendors on time not to mention.. family leave, unemployment, Medicare, IRS, biz insurance, disability, vacation leave, sick leave, turnover, and more? Do tell me.

  3. John
    March 27, 2018 at 11:29 am

    I actually prefer having control of the content I recieve and the information I allow to be given. But this is not to say blocking out ads, but choosing the preferences of advertising I recieve, not some analytical company who can profile me to the nth degree detail and store this on database gold out somewhere for some other 3rd party to reuse as they see fit without my consent. I think that's the difference. If I as a user actually have selective control of what data of myself is out there for advertisers to use and not them, then it's different but currently I don't, that's why you see this adblocker backlash. The advertising model in it's present form has to change not users.

  4. Bob
    December 29, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Guarantee no malware in ads and I will happily whitelist MUO in UBlock Origin.
    Or, sign up for Google Contributor and I will participate.
    Otherwise, my home network and the online financial life of my family must be protected.

  5. The Unteleported Man
    December 25, 2017 at 2:45 am

    Did you ever consider that maybe, just maybe it is advertising that needs to change not people? Sticking in your face rectangles of irrelevant crud is no good. And TBH has never sold me anything in the 20 years I have been browsing.
    There used to be a compromise called "advertorial". Product reviews also do the job (and if the product was actually bad so you can't write a good review what is 'moral' about making money advertising it?)
    Winners in business deal with reality and the reality is the free model internet.
    Bottom line, harsh as it may seem, is that you do not produce a product that pays for itself!

    Maybe you could have parallel systems 'public internet' and 'commercial internet'. Sure the development of the web has been fascinating but many like yourselves are stuck in no mans land neither the straight "transactional" commercial interaction like say the Home Depot site nor an amateur blog like my own.

    Here is the fundamental:
    The internet was for the free flow of information and it's preservation by dispersal . It was not conceived as a commercial arena.

  6. Killer of Ads
    November 23, 2017 at 10:51 am


    Ads that flash near to giving people seizures.

    Ads that play automatically with really loud sound.

    Unsolicited video.

    Ads that follow you down the page.

    Ads that keep coming back after you click the 'x'.


    SUFFER! You have surely made us suffer.

  7. Two Pennies
    November 14, 2017 at 5:44 am

    I thought you made a good point with a well reasoned argument and turned off my adblocker for this site. Opened another MUO article in a new tab and made it halfway down the page before being redirected to a fake flash installer. Looked at another MUO page and noticed an ad for what appeared to be pirated Adobe products. Can't be sure as clicking it to confirm opened a blank tab like you get when opening an installer in a new tab. Came back to this page and my browser blocked a piece of malicious flash. Among the many ads seen on the way to the comments box was one for Adblock. Good idea. Turned Adguard back on and it's blocked over 100 things on this page as I type this.

    I don't think most viewers mind legitimate ads that much and would happily do away with adblockers if that's all they actually were. I would. My guess is that it's the malicious/deceptive ads that cause many people to install them in the first place. Understand completely where you're coming from, but IMO you're complaint should be more with the companies serving these ads that force people to block them or the people who run sites that allow malicious ads (like this one apparently).

    Adguard has blocked over 300 items on this page now. Wonder what they were.

    • Two Pennies
      November 14, 2017 at 7:30 am

      Went back and reread the article (and my post) and missed your part about this site removing bad ads when aware. I don't doubt that, and my comment about the site apparently allowing them was rude and terse. My sincere apologies. I suppose it's also possible that my few pages of un-adblocked browsing woes were caused by something else that I misconstrued as coming from the site. If so, even more apologies.

      Guess my overall point was that, as a viewer, we don't know what's lurking behind ads on any given site, and blocking them can be a case of better safe than sorry. If they could all be trusted to simply be advertisements, I don't think adblockers would be so common.

  8. Duke LePuke
    November 14, 2017 at 1:57 am

    I don't care. if you are worth viewing, you can sign up subscribers. Short of that, get bent

  9. jose kay
    November 4, 2017 at 4:42 am

    I'll allow advertisements only if I can know for sure that the companies displaying them are just showing me an ad, not using the opportunity to harvest information and follow me around the internet. Don't want me to block them? Don't invade my privacy & track me with them.

    If that doesn't work for you I'd suggest you find a different business model because people like me care a hell of a lot more about our privacy than offending your tastes.

  10. ruthven78
    June 24, 2017 at 2:46 am

    if the ads where so intrusive or resource hogs, I wouldnt have to use an adblocker

    • Ozan
      July 20, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      This is not an excuse. If ads are intrusive you have the freedom to not to visit the website, but you definitely should not block ads that's stealing their money because they make living with ads. Imagine an expensive restaurant, would you eat there and leave without paying? No, because you would go to jail. What would you do, well you just would not eat there. It has the same analogy with your case, the only difference is that you don't go to jail and that's why you are comfortable with blocking their ads. I bet that If you did not go to jail when you eat in the restaurant that I mentioned, you would also comfortably eat and leave without paying!

      • ruthven78
        July 20, 2017 at 9:20 pm

        Its my excuse and Im sticking to it. Advertisers need to learn to tone down their resource useage and until then, I'll use adlblock, because I can.

        • Ozan
          July 20, 2017 at 11:29 pm

          Yes you can because publishers are not yet protected by laws unlike restaurant owners. You would also eat free and leave in restaurants if restaurant owners didn't protected by laws either. And your excuse would be "I don't care, restaurant owners need to cut down it's prices." Not having trouble with laws enables you to do that, but this does not mean that what you do is right. If everyone was like you, we would not be able to connect to any website without making a subscription based payment to websites. People like you are the killers of the efforts and creativity, shame on you.

      • Cam
        October 16, 2017 at 5:34 pm

        Your way off base. With a restaurant there is understanding of a pay for service model. With a website it is free to visit. It is not stealing if it is open to the public to read. If the put up a paywall and asked you for a subscription or used a program to ask you to disable ad block or you can read the content you would have a point. Yet they don't so you don't either. Your analogy doesn't fit. Two completely different models unrelated.

        Stealing is taking something with a monetary value without paying. The articles don't have a set monetary value as it is public access.

    • Cam
      October 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      Use it, smart people do. The restaurant analogy is way off base. They are offering the content free of charge. A restaurant has a menu, where you chose your product. If you want a guaranteed source of income, require a subscription or make a paywall. Sites are free to do so, as we are free to chose NOT to see intrusive ads with tracking and monitoring cookies. No on is stealing anything. So stop acting like your moral compasses is better calibrated the rest of the visitors. Websites can use programs to ask the user to turn off ad block. Some even block the content till it is turned off. You can not say someone is stealing if you set something out for free for everyone to see.

  11. Madd Dogg
    May 5, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    There are now Ad-Blocker detectors available. I know because there are several sites that I routinely land on that block their content, and request to be White Listed in the Ad Blocker. (LA Times, NY Times, Fox News)
    This gives me the option of whitelisting and allowing the content provider to generate revenue or, more likely, me to skip the site and not "steal" their content.
    Seems fair to me. There has been 2 or 3 times I was interested enough to allow a page to load.

    • ruthven78
      July 20, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      switch to mozilla

  12. Brian
    April 28, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    "No. This is about how a simple, free browser plugin killed Joystiq, and is ruining the Internet."

    Why would anyone with a brain read past that line? Ad-blockers are a response to the threat that was already destroying the internet. I have to allow my browsers to be crashed and my bandwidth stolen from me? I don't think so.

    If you can't afford to publish your book, it's not going to end up at the library. That's not on the reader. Likewise, if a website can't make it, it's the website's fault, not mine.

    • Ozan
      July 20, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      They are not "stealing" your bandwidth they are using it rightfully. The content on web is free means you just don't need to pay money to use. This definitely does not mean that they don't need to make money. They have to use your precious bandwidth to sustain. If everyone was like you, we would not be able to visit any website without paying money. In fact you would not be able to write this comment and I would not be able to respond to you without making a subscription based payment to makeuseof.com. Imagine a world where you can't visit any website without paying, that would be the end of the internet. Ads are not a threat to internet unlike you mentioned, they are actually the vital organs that keep the internet alive. People like you are the haters of efforts and success, they are the killers of creativity.

      • Brian
        July 22, 2017 at 11:34 am

        People like me kill creativity? That's a little over the top. People like me write actually symphonies. That's a little creative.

        But that's neither here nor there....We both contributed half to a whole misunderstanding. I didn't make it clear that I was referring to ad-network delivered malware....Which absolutely steals bandwidth in the form of botnets and creating hidden web servers, etc. But you didn't clarify what I was talking about even though I couldn't have been talking about plain ads, what with my statements.

        No biggy.

      • Cam
        October 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm

        Ozan, your coming of kinda of contrived and pretentious. Maybe if they asked permission to push ads at us or maybe ask us to agree to cookies. It would be a different story. Either way, your obviously out of touch with the situation and not even capable of looking at someone elses point of view.

  13. Torsten Funk
    April 28, 2017 at 10:40 am

    For the case you haven't noticed: The internet is already dead, thanks to those some few huge companies attracting all the lemmings. From my European point of view, it died around 2010.
    I use AdBlock myself since several years, not mainly to hide ads, but to increase readability and to save time. On many pages the eyes need to search far too long to find the begin of the content or article. Such pages won't work without AdBlock. One or two fast loading ads on a page are OK, including one animation/video. AdBlock usually lets some few ads passing, so it makes a perfect job.

  14. q125656
    April 28, 2017 at 2:03 am

    Thanks for letting me know about Adblock Plus! The internet suddenly seems to much more pleasant.

  15. John Sheffield
    April 27, 2017 at 5:49 am

    I have nothing against reasonable ads.

    Publishers who allow deceptive ads, design pages to mislead visitors into clicking on ads, and break up content taken from other sites into slideshows mixed in with ads SHOULD go out of business.

  16. Steve Veltkamp
    March 26, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Absolutely wrong in the basic premise. Advertising itself is not why people install or use adblock. It is because the advertising has become so awful. A simple old-fashioned static banner ad would be fine, very few people tried to get around that. Then the ads got into animation, pop-ups, pop-overs, pop-unders, inline, and contextual (like when your mouse goes over a word and an ad appears). Worse, if I do a search for Las Vegas in Google or Bing, next thing I know every site is showing Booking.com ads for hotel rooms in Las Vegas. That is creepy and downright wrong. As a result, I now use duckduckgo for untracked searches and Brave browser for ad-free browsing.

  17. Herbert Kornhuber
    March 17, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    OK ... I have skimmed through the article above - I admit I did not read it entirely.
    Nevertheless, I want to add a comment here:

    We are using ad-blocking for one simple reason - blocking potentially malware infected ads.
    Period. No other reason. There are many reports on infected/hijacked ads infecting computers with malware - or worse, with ransomware.

    As much as I would like to do "the right thing" and support anyone living off these ads and all they support - this is a huge problem and I will opt for better security rather than "the right thing" - that is part of my job in IT.

    Sorry to all - until ads can no longer pose a threat I will block ads on all machines I am responsible for ...

  18. Dan
    February 28, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Women have it harder on dating sites?
    A womens thought parttern is like this
    "Is he a model,check. Is he loaded,check.Is he prepared to give me control of his check book,Dadum.Oh well,move on to the next"

  19. Highly intelligent economy minded person
    January 11, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Yeah well, advertisements ruin entertainment and these skeeze balls wont regulate them self. All gaming DLC is the same as online advertising and they should not exist for exactly the same reasons. I don't see a dime of online advertising and I never have. Those greedy people are only employed from lying to people with shady advertising tactics. 12 people got fired but my youtube experience now is ruined because people think ads are a good idea. I hope they lose the use of their hands and all this ad progress is made illegal by Trump. And his libel laws. F advertisements. That's not an economy, that's a racket.

  20. Mr me
    January 6, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    How about you start paying for the bandwidth charges I have to pay for when an unwanted advert pops up and starts gobbling (particularly the video based ones) my metered internet?

    An unwanted advert that uses my bandwidth without my permission is theft.

  21. Mathew
    December 2, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Self Entitled much? This post offends me. In no way is paying for a cab or haircut the same as viewing an advert. When your service decided to use adverts to pay for your service you relinquished any control over the user. Basically it is my perogative to decide if I want to view an advert or not. I'm already forced to see many adverts in my daily life and being an avid Internet user since it's birth I watched how greedy sites forced more and more adverts until the internet was a pile of shit. Thw chickens have come home to roost. Adblock fixed that. You do not get to guilt me because your paycheck is being hurt. Your a douche and a part of the problem. Do you hear every aspiring novel writer complaining because they don't get paid? Just because you are not an A list world renowned journalist does not mean you get to blame your readership and demand they pay for your service. Words really aren't that expensive of a commodity. Maybe if the ad compancompanies hadn't been so greedy and websites stuffing as much of them onto a page, then their wouldn't have been a need for adblock.

  22. chris
    November 24, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    I understand your point and agree. There are 2 sides, I have low speed and old hardware. If the world was to go back to only HTML and sites offered text advert links relevant to your site and or my needs I would visit them. I am always looking for deals on tools, audio, electronics components and cute animal pics.
    It not the ads it the amount and presentation.
    when ads take longer to load than a webpage..... adblock it.

    Scripts are a devils device.

  23. rivardau
    October 14, 2016 at 3:49 am

    People not wanting to pay is a time-old problem.

    In fact, the "free rider" problem is an actual term, it is so common.

    Websites with abusive ads are reaping what they sow.

    I actually kept ads running for years, but finally succumbed last year to adblocker softwares....in large part bcs I have to keep removing malware and viruses from my step-dad's and mom's computers,, bcs they are seniors and dont know much about computers and keep getting duped by far right-wing and religious-right crappy websites.

    Since I can no longer trust the websites, nor even free antivirus, on their computers....when I fixed them again this past summer, I paid for multi-user licenses for antivirus, malwarebytes, and lojack recovery services.....since multi license, i installed it all on my own computer too.

    as part of that, i found the free adblock plus, put it in all their browsers....and while i hated doing it, i put it in mine too...bcs I have had just enough irritation at self-starting video noises that blast me out of my chair and wake up my roommates at 4am ---- and I've had more than my fill of various malware, or even worse, the TRICKERY of those big green Download buttons from Softonic crap software repackages.

    ads online are not the first to have problems....

    Look at tv commercials with the arrival of VCR - instant speed zoom! DVR's now make it possible to skip the commercials without even holding down the button for 2 mins!

    Music, film have both taken major hits in revenue.

    But here is probably the best analogy.....

    think of the US interstate highway system.....FREE TO USE for any road built post-1956 Eisenhower signature. The few interstates that are tolled, were actually built before 1956 with bonds, and then I-numbers were applied later to provide continuity links for nationwide number system. AND some of those toll roads have been converted to free once the bonds were paid off (ie, CT, KY)

    Trying to add tolls to roads is an instant politician's loss of seat in Congress, so will never be supported.

    But you know what....even the gas tax that is supposed to pay for these roads, has not been raised in 23 years!!!!!! We can not even get a gas tax hike after 2 decades in spite of construction workers and materials being in the 1st-world cost of living.

    gas tax is stuck at 18.6 cents per gallon, since 1993.
    But here is the other issue of gas tax....it is priced PER GALLON.....which was ok in the 50s and 60s when big cars got 10 mpg...

    what happens with gas tax revenue when a car now gets 30 mpg? What about hybrid, or all-electric vehicles????

    technology is changing the revenues of how "free-to-use" highways will not be able to exist either. Going to have to start charging by the mile, or tolls, or privatise the roads and make them corporations, or something....

    Oh, wait.....the taxpayers can keep bailing the roads out.
    Taxpayers wont bail out the advertising companies, nor the newspapers.

    But here it the KEY difference....

    People see highways as USEFUL- even essential - , and thus willing to pay taxes, as paltry as it is, to fund them.

    People see some ads as useful, when they learn about a product that they'd be interested in.

    Most ads are JUNK, obnoxious, or dangerous with malware or virus.....

    and thus people see ads as not only non-essential, but downright dangerous.

    If we can not even get people to pay more for driving on a road that costs billions in infrastructure, labour, and materials costs.....

    they how the f do you expect people to pay for reading something on a website????

    • Brian
      April 28, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      You know that around 40% of the taxes the Feds collect on gas goes to earmarks....not the highway system?

      (And I'm ignoring the insane taxes some states have put on gas, thereby thwarting there being anymore room for the Feds taxing gas, in general.)

      We're paying for the highway system but our money isn't being delivered there.

  24. JA
    September 19, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I read half of your article and partly agree with. What you might not be getting is that WE the users, who can be persuaded to see ads gets dodged on websites and get TOO MANY ads that it becomes compulsory to close the website instantly even reading through a sentence partially.

    I can see close to 100 ads blocked on a single video. Thats ampint of ads is NOT ACCEPTABLE , NO.

    I will whitelist makeusof and will swe how many non invasive ads you show on various pages. I will go one step ahead and frmm today if i appreciate a website content (not like about.com ) i will whitelist it in my adblocker. But every we site will get only 1 chance.

  25. RocketChimp
    September 2, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Sticking ads in the middle of articles, between paragraphs, ( like this website does) is annoying AF and frankly as a result I couldn't care less about your livelihood. Most especially when these ads are either completely irrelevant to your target audience, or Is an ad for some BS get rich quick scam. You are not "pretty reasonable" about it at all, your ads are invasive and irritating. QQmoar, crybaby.

    • george
      April 28, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      Pretty much this. If there's so many ads that I can't see the article, I even blacklist the site and never go back.

  26. Scott McC
    August 27, 2016 at 2:04 am

    Just finished reading the article. Let me me try to offer a counter argument, and a proposal.

    I read the breitbart article linked above. It sounds like Joystic wasn't in a very good place there toward the end. Aside from suffering from toxic management syndrome, they had seen a decrease in ad revenue due to adblocks. Instead of acting professionally and seeking a viable solution to their problem, Susan decided to rant on twitter and in articles about her "freeloading" readers. Combine that with her caustic representation of her readers as "mysoginistic, virgin, basement dwellers" and it becomes dishonest to blame the downfall of Joystiq on adblock alone.
    Adblock presents a new hurdle to traditional revenue in online journalism. We don't yet know how to overcome it, but we know with certainty that calling our readers "thieves" is not the way.

    Is using adblock unethical? I would say it is incovenient for people who rely on ad revenues, but not unethical. Almost all internet users pay for the service through their ISP, so saying readers aren't paying for content isn't quite true.
    I don't think it's fair to say that readers are obligated to view ads in the same way that customers are required to pay their barbers. No contract is written or implied that states that viewing ads on an otherwise free site is mandatory. The site owners are simply capitalizing on an existing client base. I'm sure the rest of these commentors have laid out why adblock has become so popular.
    One might say demanding a user turn off their adblock in the current ad climate is similar to a surgeon refusing to wash his hands before surgery.
    Crowdfunding could alleviate some of the burden, but it can't be looked at as a solution. That said, there is no good reason not to have a tip jar on your counter.

    My proposal would be to establish a contract with your users regarding adblock.
    Allow any user to use the site no matter what plugins they use, but let your users know sincerely and politely that your continued existence depends on ad revenue. The contract would ask users to disable their adblockers when using your site in exchange for your promise that you will not allow the ads displayed to discomfort your readers.

    This means laying down the law with ads. I define discomfort in ads as any ad that is audible, animated, changes colors or text rapidly, or is clearly designed to distract the consumer. I'll also include ads for offensive products and services.

    I wouldn't be opposed to coming out of my bunker if you'd agree to stop dropping bombs.

    • SAM
      November 19, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Excellent post. Thank you Scott. I agree completely Adblocker use is all about avoiding the loud obtrusive ads and the security risks. I accept commercials during a TV show because they come in defined breaks- they aren't constantly running across different parts of the TV screen, or popping up unexpectedly, or represent a risk to my TV's operation.

  27. ADudeMostSuave
    August 24, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I picked up adblock because many ads that I see, that you use, do lasting damage to my browser and occasionally crash my setup completely. My adblocker is the single most effective anti-malware software that I have.

    So no. I will not stop using adblock. I have also found that with a couple quick changes to the page's code, Forbes' attempt to prevent me from reading because I won't let them bombard me with aggressive advertising can be adequately circumvented.

    If your survival as an industry requires me to consent to you "peeing on my shoes," then I guess this is the end of the industry.

    • ADudeMostSuave
      August 24, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      Before one comments on the consequences of widespread use of adblock, one must first assess why there is such widespread use of adblock.

      There were privileges. These privileges were exploited and abused. The fruit of this abuse appears to be the death of an industry.

      Let us consider why advertising was chosen as the primary revenue stream in the first place. It is believed that if it were not for advertising, the reviewers would compromise their journalistic integrity by taking money from benefactors like the publishers of the industry. This would result in provably biased criticism according to whomever's pockets the funding comes from.
      Please note that I have not asserted that with advertising revenue, journalists do not compromise their integrity. Let me instead assert, that I have a very jaded view of journalism. I would have a much much more sympathetic view of journalism in general if it did not claim either lack of bias or integrity.

      Take their money, where your bias and your backer's influence on your sleeve, and we will all go about our day grudgingly admitting to ourselves that the illusion of journalistic integrity was just that and be better for it. That is my solution to the problem.

  28. derek
    May 7, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Forbes was asking users to turn off adblockers and after doing so it was serving malwares through ads! See-http://www.extremetech.com/internet/220696-forbes-forces-readers-to-turn-off-ad-blockers-promptly-serves-malware
    You guys are asking to turn off adblockers so that there revenue doesn't get hurt. what about we users? For many of us, computer is a very important and crucial part for our daily life, and publishers are asking to wreck havoc on our machines so that they can make money??? Sounds brilliant! If you do need ads to survive, then make it harmless and non intrusive such as banner ads, normal text ads etc. Other than that forget about it. If the publishers are selfish enough to destroy our PCs to make money, then we also have right to throttle your revenue to save our machines.

  29. Chael
    March 3, 2016 at 5:31 am

    I use Ghostery instead of Adblock.

    It does the job similarly - but allows you to specifically block certain advertisers and not others!

    That way I can block the irritating, the pop up as you're clicking a link and redirecting you BS, or the ones full of porn; and leave the nice banners, or the "sit silently in the corner for you to glance over whenever" ones. It's so useful!

    I can only hope this sends a message that advertising that is obtrusive is ineffective. But at least I'm not completely throttling the content creator's income.

  30. Anonymous
    March 1, 2016 at 12:37 am

    I'm reading this with AdBlock Plus on.

    There are still ads getting through.

    The ads are related* to things that I have searched for on other sites and Google.

    This is an invasion of my privacy.

    It is also not effective advertising because the ads are not for what I'm actually looking for, so I will never buy from them.

    *Related to but not that closely.

  31. Olennex
    February 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

    I understand the use for ads as a source of revenue for websites to run. However, some people like myself don't have an unlimited bandwidth. A 10 second video in 480p, sure, I can live with that. Simple banner ads, yes. HOWEVER, the biggest thing for me to use Ad blockers is the bullshit like, your PC has errors, download this useless crap. If a website looked at their ads they show and filters the bullshit, I would turn ad block off for that website. Also no pop ups or pop under. The online ad industry needs to get its shit together and clean it up. Only when it is clean and to the other standards that I listed will I stop. Until then I will not visit any website that blocks people from viewing it if hey have a ad blocker

    • rivardau
      October 14, 2016 at 3:30 am

      good points!

      and in fact...

      advertising (as in billboards) became so overused - and ugly - along all those shiny new interstates, that the governments finally in 1960s passed strict laws limiting their use, size, design, and other factors.

      In part for driver safety, and in part for the America The Beautiful campaign!

      I see direct correlation......online website advertising has become so overused and ugly...that we NEED some government laws passed...

      because of individual computer safety, and privacy safety of users.

      Advertisers need to remember that if something gets bad enough, there will then be a clamour for the government to step in -- it'll make things worse, of course....

      but when people are worried about their safety of selves or properties, then all kinds of howling will be done.

  32. Ad Buster
    February 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I read your post while using adblock. Your blather didn't earn you 1/10000th of a cent off me.


  33. Jay
    February 4, 2016 at 3:34 am

    I don't believe in an internet monetized by ads. We already have that in the "real" world. I can remember when some suits came peddling "banner ads" back in 1994 or so and we laughed them out of the building.

    Most of us can live without 95% of the so-called "digital journalists" on the web. If you need to get paid, put a little button on your site to Donate. Many people, including myself, will pay a one time donations, or several small donations, to sites they enjoy.

    But I will never make Google/YouTube or any number of sites rich by serving me ads from mined data. Instead, I'll continue to adblockers and custom scripts to entirely remove any ads from my sight. I haven't watched TV in 7 years because of - oh! - ads.

  34. Peter
    January 16, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Without Adblock the internet is almost unusable to me and I can honestly say I would not use it if it otherwise (except for pop3 mail).

    I don't watch any commercial TV 'cause I cannot stand the 'effin ads.

    The internet is a constant breeding ground of change and innovation and something will come up to correct to the problem in its entirety.

  35. Anonymous
    November 3, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Who took the time to actually really thing incredibly long article? F*** youtube red and any other bullshit pay service that wants to give me a 30 second commercial for a 15 second video. You are the f****** problem, not AdBlockPlus!

    Pewdy Pie can kiss my a**.

  36. Anonymous
    November 3, 2015 at 1:02 am

    I have been using the internet since the beginning well at least when it became more than just an academic communication tool, this was around 1995/96 if I remember correctly. Back then I used to enjoy just browsing from site to site because they were all different. Some were really good and some were horribly bad, but all of it was at least for me fun to experience. Back then it was extremely rare to even encounter a commercial website that was trying to sell you something. Now fast fwd to 2015, 99% of all of the websites look like the next guys because they are either using WordPress, or a couple of other popular website template tools that in my opinion make the internet Boring! And if you objectively look at these websites 90% of them are all trying to get you to buy something or some service from them well I guess this is ok but since this it the way things are then Why in Hell do we the consumers where ever we live, the US, Europe, or Asia have to pay for our access to the Internet? Here's a radical idea, access to the internet should be the fastest that is technically possible and FREE to the end user, you and me. The bills for the Internet infrastructure should be born by the 90% of commercial websites that are all trying to sell us junk, with how much they are charged each month based on their sales profit. Websites like blogs etc would be exempt. As far as the use of add blockers each site could require the person to turn them off if they want to view the sites content. If the website uses the really abusive in your face kind of adds with pop ups and pop under's etc they would quickly go out of buisness because no one would go there.

  37. Anonymous
    November 2, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    This has it backwards.

    It isn't AdBlock that causes the problem.

    What causes the problem is advertisers with no restraint or ethics.

    Their solution is "You need to get out of your armored vehicle" meanwhile they are still firing at us.

    Then, maybe just maybe, they will clean up their ads?

    But since they will have no incentive to do so, how likely will they?

  38. Anonymous
    August 11, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I agree with with Rich Hoyt's assertions about Advertiser attempting to force feed us their advertisement. There is such are such things as free will and free choice and currently Advertisers seek to take this away from us acting as though it is their right.

    AdAware came about because of Advertising's behavior towards what it viewed as a hostage market. Pop overs, pop unders redirects when you click a button on a page that have nothing to do with what you clicked. AdAware was developed in defense of these tactics and Advertising simply refused to take the hint that their approach was unacceptable.

    Let's not even get into a discussion of scam advertisements that nobody wants to take responsibility for keeping off their websites or malicious code injected into advertisements that neiter advertisers nor web masters can be bothered to protect against! Makeuseof itself, just reported in the article "Update Firefox Now! Or a Security Flaw Can Steal Your Local Files" that AdAware "might have saved some users from the exploit, since it was being served through ads."

    In short, Advertisers and Web masters want to see the demise of AdAware? The best way to do that is by making it unnecessary in the minds of those who religiously use it by making ads less annoying. Accomplish this by ceasing to make them unavoidable in dealing with and incessantly shoving them in our faces. Web designers and masters need to take responsibility for the type kind and behavior of Ads on their websites and state what is and is not permissible. Current contracts are extremely one sided in favor of Advertising and give the website owner basically no rights power or say in what goes on with the ads.

    As long as these distasteful to consumers practices continue AdAware will continue to flourish.

  39. Rich Hoyt
    May 26, 2015 at 12:47 am

    The problem with electronic advertising is thinking they have some sort of right to force views. This applies to radio, TV, and the Internet. Print has never had any option to force the consumer to view. So the idea that consumers have an obligation to spend time view ads is flawed. The correct way if for advertisers to offer something attractive enough that consumers want to view the add. In print we have always ben able to flip the page if the ad is annoying. We must have this option electronically. Flipboard is a great example of how it should be. I am not a slave - I will not be forced to spend my time watch advertising I do not want to see. The idea that advertisers should be able steal part of my lifetime from me is astounding. Discrete amounts of attractive, compelling passive advertising is acceptable. Popups, auto running video, unstoppable, unskippable video, and distasteful, creepy carp of any kind is not. I have quit using web sites, such as The Blaze, which that are so overload with junk ads that it actually crashes my browser on my state of art Macbook Pro. Advertisers can only offer, they can never demand. If they do, people have every right to not consume their trash.

  40. Lazza
    April 15, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Your analogy with the taxi cab is interesting, because it is purpotedly wrong, precisely to make Adblock users feel guilty.

    The problem with the analogy is that it's quite weak. Let's use a better one. While watching TV you're pushing your TV signal into my apparatus. The right to use the remote and switch to another channel while you show ads is completely guaranteed. Nobody would question this, I hope.

    The same is for the web. While I am surfing the web, I can decide what I want to see with my client (the web browser). If I decide that my browser should not load anything from (e.g.) facebook.com, then I'm free to do so. Now replace "facebook.com" with "adsense.com" or other domains and you get the point.

    Years ago I was one of those who thought "mmm I should not use AdBlock Plus", and I wasn't using it. Then I started using it without pre-made filters, but just filtering big image ads and Flash content. Finally, Adblock Plus introduced the whitelist for unobtrusive advertising, and the game was over.

    Websites using unobtrusive ads will not suffer. Those using flashy ads, or even worse video ads, will suffer. Ok, they deserve it. It's easier that *they* change their behavior than *I* decide to allow all that nasty stuff to enter my PC. If they complained, that would be like virus creators complaining that I use an anti-virus just because they also created a freeware website in which I can download software but with malware included.

    The client is ours and we decide which content to access, including which webpages (or parts thereof). You can't just force users to load your website in its entirety. We pay the bandwidth, especially on mobile. This is why it's essential to install a hosts file on Android phones to prevent DNS resolution of advertising domains (that also solves the problem with many apps cluttered with ads).

    Same for social networks tracking every move we do. I use Disconnect and I doubt Facebook or Twitter would have any right to complain about it.

    I have a website and decided not to put any ads because I don't want to annoy my readers. Of course I understand that some websites are for-profit and so they need a form of revenue. That's fine. I can accept it, if the ads are unobtrusive. If it is a website I visit often, I may also disable the ad blocker for them. But seeing modal boxes, flashy pictures and other stuff just when I end up on a site because I'm searching for something... no thanks.

  41. RaiderX
    April 14, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Problem with Ads is that some sites use it in a very invasive, obtrusive way. So users are mostly forced to opt for ABP. If there is no ethics nor netiquette in how ads should be presented in order to respect user experience , why should there be an ethics related to a user choosing to use ABP ?

  42. Guest
    April 3, 2015 at 12:33 am

    Some websites detect the presence of adblock plus and displays a kind message to the viewer. When I see this message I immediately turn adblock plus off for that website. MakeUseOf should do something like that. Say something like, "It appears that you are using an ad blocking software. Our staff and their families depends on ads to put food on the table. You should really consider turning off your ad blocking software for this website. We promise not to show you intrusive or offensive ads. If you have a problem with any of our ads, please let us know by emailing _______."

  43. Hohin
    March 11, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Well, I guess that this stuff isn't really free then, now is it?

  44. common sense
    March 5, 2015 at 5:46 am

    I propose an online database: Those making money off of adsvwould be entered into a global blacklist and be unable to install any form of ad-blocking software. Everyone else is exempt.

    That way people making money off of ads would be able to spend the time to support ads, purchase the offerings of ads, and support sites with ads by viewing them. They are also making money off of ads, and need them to ensure their livelyhood, so it is only fair.

  45. common sense
    March 5, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Many people witnessed the internet before the first banner ad appeared, and it indeed was growing. The internet started up and grew exponentially without ads, and so without ads it will continue. The internet is the leading edge of the information age. Businsse age ideals can't lead the information age any more than industrial age ideals could lead the business one.

  46. mchlbk
    March 4, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Sorry Miguel, my comment wasn't meant for you.

    Don't know why it was posted as a reply tou your comment.

  47. mchlbk
    March 4, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    1) Internet ads have a tendency to be extremely annoying.

    2) If a page is worth supporting I might disable Adblock for that page. Serve .gifs, dating services etc. and I'll reenable Adblock immediately. There is no second chance.

    3) Responsible parents make sure their kids are not subjected to ads.

    4) Don't like Adblock -> implement a paywall. If nobody will pay, your product is not needed and you should quit.

    5) The world needs less adds. Stupid ads make people stupid.

  48. Miguel C.
    March 4, 2015 at 4:40 am

    First of all, these ads are very annoying. You are torturing us. Then some of these ads plant unwanted cookies in our computers. Third, if you want us to pay for your services, you need to provide a valued service that people are willing to pay for on it's own merits. Taxi drivers deliver a valued service. They don't bombard us with annoying ads.

  49. A41202813GMAIL
    February 27, 2015 at 5:13 am

    A Few Months Ago, I Completely Stopped Using Blocker Extensions, When I Found Out CHROME And OPERA15+ Can Have The Settings Changed, By Only Allowing Plugins When They Are Clicked On Purpose.

    On Your Opinion, Am I Still A Bad Guy ?


    Now, Talking About Specific Annoyances In MAKEUSEOF:

    I Would Love To See Any Article Page Load In 1 Go.

    The Bottom Part, With A Selection Of Other Articles, Only Displays A Looooot Later, Which Makes The Page:

    A - Taking Tooooo Long To Load,

    B - "Dancing" Before Your Very Eyes ( Having Someone Constantly Pulling A Rug You Are Standing On Is Not Funny, At All ).

    Yes, I Could Buy A Modern PC Every Year Or So, But I Live Under A Somewhat Strict Budget.


  50. Peter
    February 26, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    You wrote: "The problem with AdBlock is that it’s indiscriminate by nature. It screws over ‘everyone’."

    My point was that AdBlock is only a problem for you because you rely on intrusive advertising as your business model. If I were not allowed to use AdBlock, I would simply stop visiting sites that use intrusive advertising. There is so much good content on the web *without* advertising that I can easily afford never to visit MUO again; it would be no big loss to me. You need a new business model if you want to keep readers, who by their use of AdBlock, have indicated that they don't want to be subjected to advertising.

  51. John D. Mueller
    February 26, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Well, I'm not convicted that it is unethical. I started blocking ads because of the grotesque "belly flab jumping over the belt" animation ads and many other tasteless and attention getting ads, which I do see that you guys do not display here, but I would see elsewhere. My question for the author is- "Do you own a DVR? Do you skip commercials on it? Is it any different press that wonderful button on your TiVo?" Advertisers on TV can't measure who watches the ads (and be charged per click) as well as you can track how many ads have been displayed/clicked on a web page but the fact that people are skipping ads with their DVRs does decrease the effectiveness of ads on that medium and there must be a cost involved in that. I run a website that generates income, some of which is adsense based, but I have added other income-generating layers to diversify things. I must confess that it is not my sole means of supporting myself though. Anyway, my primary question was whether your conviction on ad blocking went all the way to commercials on TV?

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 26, 2015 at 8:53 am

      Oh, it goes further, John. I don't actually own a TV. But I do get your point, and I don't think that it's necessarily fair to compare online advertising to TV advertising, since they're entirely different kettles of fish.
      TV advertising is based upon surveying a small group of viewers and extrapolating that to gain an understanding of the viewing patterns of an entire country. A huge chunk of this isn't done in real-time.
      Online advertising is completely different. Here, statistics are gathered in real time, and every advert impression counts towards the website's bottom line.

  52. alan edwards
    February 24, 2015 at 12:31 am


    I am a freelance writer and I use Adblock. Why? Because popup ads and banner ads are the most annoying type of advertising, in my opinion, that exists on the Internet. I love the idea of Piano Media, but until then I am leaving ADB on for those kind of ads. Another comment talked about this and said when he turned ABP off, MOU had a banner ad.

    As a writer, I don't want banner ads and/or popups detracting from my writing or images. As a reader, I do not want those same ads intruding on my reading. Writers know that a reader decides in just 5 seconds or less whether to stay on the page. With many hating banner and popups, time on page is reduced - that affects pay too.

    I love your writing and enjoy MOU - use more side panel ads if you must, but get rid of the advertising that is making readers shun your site.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:33 am

      Hey Alan,

      Firstly, thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it very much.

      You've raised some interesting points, and I'm all about compromise. But what you're proposing isn't really a compromise, but rather a paring back of advertising until it just isn't viable to write stuff any more. There has to be some advertising. Some of those adverts have to be banner adverts.

      It's just how it is.

      With that said, I'm all for quality in advertising. MUO are proud to say that we don't run video adverts, and we do our best to only display appropriate ones that don't deceive or mislead the visitor.

      That's, in my view, the bare minimum, and it's a shame not all sites are like us.

      Thanks Alan

  53. kevin o'brien
    February 23, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    ok to start with you have 13 trackers with 21 links to other sites this is one of the main problems people have not trust left with ad networks .

    This is a very simple. Either you as a site owner take responsibility for what appears on YOUR site, or for security and privacy all ads will be block and everything that even remotely smells like it out of rational self defense.

    What's that? You have a lengthy legal document that disclaims all responsibility for what your code may do to my network?

    The blockers stay on i use a firewall server with adblocking and anti virus so all users even guests that use my net work have some protection,

    To many virus and ransom ware have been injected on to peoples computers my ad networks even from googles network so adblocking is a must, i will not white list any till they take responsibility for the 3rd party (4th 5th ect) content that they put on there site.

    When you go to a website your going to that site not 10 others sites that put information (ad code) on that page.

    I have no guilt about using ad blockers. The HTTP exchange goes something like
    Client: Can I have the page named “/index.html”?
    Server: Sure, here you go.
    [Client looks at HTML content.]
    Client: Hey, it looks like the page wants image “/images/aaa.jpg”, could I have that too?
    Server: Sure, here you go.
    Client: Hmm. Looks like this site wants to run software on my page. Based on my user’s NoScript settings, I think I’m going to skip those requests. Oh, it looks like they want to download some advertisements too. Nah, based on my user’s ad-blocking settings, I think I’ll pass on using bandwidth for that too. Ah, but now we want “/images/bbb.jpg” too, so server, could you give me that?
    Server: You got it.

  54. Cqoicebordel
    February 22, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Hum. How to resolve the issue if you think that ads isn't the problem ?

    You said it yourself, it works.
    No, it doesn't, Joystiq is the proof.

    If you publish freely on the Internet, you should expect most of the readers to read it freely.

    And if ads doesn't bring enough money to pay all the journalists, the answer isn't adding ads. You have the choice to spend less, or to find another way to monetize the audience. There is lots of ways of doing that.

    Look at the way the french Tech news site nextinpact.com did it : a part with tasteful ads (and not a lot, and not intrusive), and part montly/yearly subscription. Almost every articles are visible by anyone, but a few that are specially for the subscribers, until a week or a month later, when it is open for everyone.
    Creating a community is also strong, because you can sell them goodies.

    Anyway, forcing someone to do as you wish isn't a good way of doing business. Maybe you should find some way to adapt, and provide to the user what he wants : great experience and worthy reads. And find new ways to monetize that.

    Adapt or die.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:29 am

      I think there's a lot of adaptation going on. Just not all of it is successful.

      There have even been cases of digital folks going 'dead tree'. Paul Carr's NSFWCorp being a great example. That didn't work either.

  55. Sharky
    February 22, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    This article laments the position of MILLIONS of technology jobs (especially in the "first world"), not just how the specific issue of online content writers are effected by ad blockers. But since this IS the topic at hand, I couldn't help but notice that Ghostery has identified no less than 12 trackers on this site as I post, including several from Google's omnipresent eye. I remember back when you could visit sites and ads weren't a big problem, but those days have been relegated to a full blown surveillance mechanism with the sneakiest and sleeziest methods of extracting information, which incidentally goes WAY beyond mere advertising and into the realm of population control. In this regard, every little plugin or routing method helps. And I fear there will be no fix, but rather the dystopian future as predicted ad nauseum. I have known more than a few accomplished and highly technically savvy folks consider going native.

  56. Laurie
    February 22, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    It seems to me that having a forum to publish your content for huge #'s of people to see possibly read is a huge ad in and of itself. If people are interested in the product you offer, they will seek you OUT! If you inundate them with ads, they'll close the ad, and probably leave the site. Some people are sheep, but many are not. I have NEVER bought a product offered to me through an internet ad. If I'm targeted that way, I by default "shut-down" to that tatic, and find another site.
    If I want a car, I will walk into a dealership and ask a sale person for help. I will NOT buy a car b/c I saw Shaq, or tiger woods, or the pope driving one. I think for myself, and shop around for the BEST deals which you do not always get with "intrusive" internet ads. Not to mention the fact that I have never seen a deal with a lower price in an ad than I can find elsewhere with a little DUE DILIGENCE in my shopping!

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:06 am

      As someone who has (and does) work as a freelance developer, your argument sounds familiar.

      "Why do you want money? How about some EXPOSURE instead?"

      Well, for starters, WalMart doesn't accept exposure as a unit of currency. They do accept money though.

  57. Peter
    February 22, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Not everyone deserves to make a living as a musician or an actor.
    Not everyone deserves to make a living as an online journalist.
    If anyone is sufficiently good at any of these AND gets enough exposure (being behind a paywall is therefore not a good idea) people will be willing to pay them. It is up to the industry (film/music/journalism/whatever) to find an acceptable business model.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:27 am

      It's not even an issue of worthy people getting compensated. The problem with AdBlock is that it's indiscriminate by nature. It screws over 'everyone'.

  58. Wozza
    February 22, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Adblock may be construed as hurting content providers at the moment but I think this is a powerful way for consumers to "vote". I'm sure a lot of people are just cheap and don't care whether you get paid or not, but a lot of people also just want a better web.

    You as a website can curate what ads you'll serve all you like, to try and keep them generally tasteful and so on but you are still feeding the beast - ad companies.

    Agreed it is difficult to find reliable, scalable etc monetization but try you must. People can block ads and they will block ads. We've been doing it ever since VHS.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:25 am

      I don't think it's an issue of 'we must'. The problem is, "we can't".

      There isn't a model that works, other than advertising. The challenge is making advertising work for everyone.

  59. Anonymous
    February 22, 2015 at 4:58 am

    So consumers should gladly accept garbage being shoved down their throats?

    I've never felt anything but violated and controlled by advertising...If it's worked, it was subliminal, which is even worse.

    Can you really tell me you'd rather watch a TV sitcom with commercial breaks?
    You'd rather listen to a music album the rude interruptions of "I'm loving' it"...Give me a break.

    What this article says to me it FINALLY advertising and business in general needs to change.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:24 am

      Right, but content has to be paid for somehow.

      Advertising is the only model that works, even if it has its fair share of flaws.

  60. Something Other
    February 21, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    It's not just advertising is it? These advertisers use all manner of tricks and methods to tie your online activities to your actual person. They then buy and sell all the info they gather about you to whoever is willing to pay for it. This isn't just about flashing banners and Viagra - its a privacy issue too. I block everything .

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:23 am

      Would you be okay with advertising if it respected your privacy?

      • Anonymous
        June 23, 2015 at 1:19 am

        I would be much more open to unobtrusive advertising that was generalized, and not tied to me. I am extremely uncomfortable with anyone collecting tons of data about the users of my PC, which includes my kids. And flashing ads give me a headache. As long as this is an issue, I will continue to block.
        To give you a different marketing idea, Barnes and Noble offer a sample from their books that can be read before you purchase. I offer support to a lot of new indie authors, but have come to rely on these samples and the reviews of other readers when making decisions about which authors I'm willing to support. Some people just don't have enough education to make their books worth trying to read.
        A paywall that occurs after a sample of the website/article is an idea worth looking into.

  61. Kerri
    February 21, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    You have some good points here, but it's also important to understand both sides. From the perspective of a user of the internet, lots of websites have very intrusive advertisements which take away from the experience of browsing their website, and many websites have ads with malware or those which pop-up. I think a good solution would be for people to use AdBlock selectively; disable it on websites which one may want to support or just all of the websites which you frequent, but enable it for those websites which they discover to have annoying and intrusive advertisements. ABP clearly exists for a reason, lots of websites have very annoying methods of advertising, annoying enough that people will research how to not have to deal with them. And of course lets not forget that this is the information age. Just by going on a website they are going to give your IP to lots of trackers and monitor what websites you browse, I also block that with ABP. Regardless, thank you for the article, I disabled ABP on this website and I'm going to do the same for other websites which I frequent.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:17 am

      Interesting points.

      Thanks for whitelisting MUO! We appreciate it!

  62. William
    February 21, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Go cry me a river. When advertising stop being in-your-face-offensive, not to mention ads that play automatically using MY bandwidth on MY mobile connection then maybe I can tolerate some decent degree of advertising. oh, and those websites that have so much more advertising than there is content? Shall I go on? How about advertising directed to me for a product or service I already have? Example; I have my cell phone service with a very well known company and every time I go their website to pay my bill, guess what I am bombarded by advertising of that company.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:16 am

      I think one of my main arguments was that advertising needs to be reformed. Badly.

  63. WKH
    February 21, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    I disagree that crowdfunding or asking straight up for cash isn't a reliable method for sites which are not established. Ricochet, in Canada, raised $80K over the span of a few weeks to start operations (they have a firm policy that writers deserve to be paid). Now, they had a few people involved who were "known" somewhat in the internet world, and got a few people who were even more well known to say "hey this sounds like a good idea", but this was a brand new start up. And they did it. Part of that is because they team they had soliciting the donations is a driven team who are relentless at making things happen. Some people just cannot sell a crowdfunding project. These people did.

    I asked how this was sustainable. After all, that's great they got $80K to start. But that eventually runs out. They continue to get people to donate. The Dominion is another one which has struggled, but managed to find "subscription donation" to be a fairly reliable stream of revenue (people willing to pay a certain amount each month). Now, admittedly, neither of these functions as a method to employ writers full time in a sustainable living wage. But now I'm going to suggest something shocking and controversial: I'm not convinced that writing articles for newspapers, whether about news, games, fashion, or anything... is or should be a full time job. I'm not convinced quality content can be turned out by people writing enough content to justify it as a full time job. And I'm not paying someone $800 per week (a living wage, full time work) to write one 1500 word article. That's insane. Don't get me wrong; I'd love to get paid that way myself! But it's just... ridiculous.

    I think we of the writer world are going to need to accept that unless we write books, writing is simply not a reasonable full time career.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:13 am

      So, I don't know much about Ricochet, and it's hard to find out who is behind it. Can you tell me much about their crowdfunding process? Like, did they have any reputable/established journalists backing the project from the get go?

      Do you write for them? I'm curious.

  64. bob
    February 21, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    i will NEVER turn off Ad Bloc,,someone getting less pay is not my problem ,could care less who gets pay cuts,the WEB is reaching the point where the saying,,we now interrupt this commercial or Ad,,to bring you the internet was coming true.way to many,ads,pop ups,,etc,etc,,,,,you will find sympathy between shit and syphillis in the dictionary...go cry elsewhere..oh ,300 million other people obviously had a problem with Ads,,pop ups,,etc,,Advertisers could pay us to view their ads,,that works for me

  65. Ed S.
    February 21, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Boo Hoo! Let me call a whambulance! So many websites come with more ads than content on them that it's impossible to comfortably read/view/consume the desired stuff. Not to mention the fact that advertisers learn your ip address for no good reason. Tipping is optional in this country. So is looking at ads! I'm not saying one shouldn't tip, but you can't make anyone actually do it if they don't want to. Besides that, why can't you all do what Google does, which is serve ads in text form on top of the page and be DONE WITH CRYING!?????!?? Or make your website subscription-only service if you want to make sure people pay for what they read. I personally don't use adblock, I prefer NOSCRIPT. It takes care of ads and other third party java plugins and trash that wants to load itself in my browser. I paid for my computer, I pay for my internet connection and electricity. I will decide whether I want to be bothered with ads or not! This is a free country! Have a good day.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:11 am

      You lost me at 'whambulance'.

      • Anonymous
        November 3, 2015 at 1:48 am

        That's the problem, Matthew.

  66. Adam
    February 21, 2015 at 5:25 am

    I got tired of having audio start playing on random tabs I had open, so yes, I installed adblock recently. I do unblock different sites as I see fit, but more and more sites are displaying really crappy ads that do nothing but ruin my experience on their site.

    And that's even before we get to the malware problem with ads. I just installed it because it got to annoying ot browse the web otherwise.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:10 am

      I mentioned much of this in my article.

      I totally think advertising needs to be reformed to protect users, but also support creators. Your criticisms of the industry are valid.

      But my criticisms of AdBlock being absolutely awful for people who get paid from advertising are also valid.

  67. DevNull
    February 21, 2015 at 2:01 am

    Won't turn it off.

    There are way way way too many bad actors that will put malicious java code, flash code and tracking that is intrusive to the extreme.

    You may not be one of them. I will not risk my data, privacy, financial information etc on the chance you are not.

    It is a tough business to be in. I have lost a job in the online world due to falling ad revenue. I proceeded to get a job in a different industry.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:08 am

      Right, but why should *anyone* lose their job? How about we find some middle ground where consumers are protected, but writers are paid?

  68. Bob McLain
    February 20, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Maybe one way around the AdBlock "problem" is to provide exclusive content to people who come here with the site whitelisted.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      That's not a bad idea!

  69. Kenneth DeVries
    February 20, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    If a cab driver or waiter or any other service provider continuously SCREAMED IDIOTIC BLATHER IN MY FACE, I would totally want to avoid paying them or ever using their services again. If I found a way to continue obtaining the services I needed, without them SCREAMING IDIOTIC BLATHER IN MY FACE, I would do so. If their business model requires them to SCREAM IDIOTIC BLATHER IN MY FACE for them to be profitable, then their business is likely to fail. This is Economic Darwinism.

    • Ryan Dube
      February 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      Do you endure previews when you go to the movie theater? Do you tolerate commercials when you watch your favorite sitcom? Do you tolerate the 15 seconds of an ad at the start of a YouTube video before you can click "skip ad", so you can see the video? Do you make a point to turn away from posters and advertisements displayed all around the place while you're walking through the mall?

      Ads have always driven economic development in most areas. Why are adblockers so obtuse to think that the Internet will magically be different - that it can survive without advertising where non other could?

    • Kenneth DeVries
      February 20, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Ryan, I don't go to movie theaters or watch broadcast television. I watch exactly what I want to watch when I want to watch it in my own home - how? INTERNET!! I never see any ads on YouTube, and I go to the mall a couple of times a year as a freak show. I buy exactly what I want to buy when I want to buy it, educating myself according to my needs. When I see ads in public they are for things I don't need and would never buy, so I usually laugh at their primitive propaganda techniques. "Don't do what doesn't work." People use adblock because advertising is failing them - it doesn't consider their needs or desires, only its own. That is why the marketing-driven business model is failing sites like this.

    • dragonmouth
      February 21, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      You are making one big assumption that has not been substantiated by independent research. You assume that people see an ad and, in a Pavlovian reflex, are immediately develop an overwhelming urge to purchase the product. Even in dogs, it takes a certain amount of time to train them to salivate at the sound of a bell. Any research on whether advertising works is done by the advertisers and is designed to prove that it does work.

      If you were to survey people on whether they notice the advertising around them, most will reply in the negative. Because advertising is so pervasive, it has become mundane. People see it but they do not notice it and/or react to it. As an analogy, in a big city such as New York, taxicabs are pretty much ubiquitous. Even though they are bright yellow and drive very agressively, most New Yorkers see them but do not notice them, unless they need one.

      Like Kenneth DeVries, I buy what I need when I need it and do not repspond to advertising. I admit that I look through supermarket fliers but that is because they advertise items I may be interested in purchasing at a price I may be willing to pay. At other times, when I see advertising, I do not remember the product seconds after the ad is over. I remember ads for their technical and/or artistic merit, not the product they try to push. I remember the "speecy, spicy meataball" or "Zambini, that'sa soft" or the Whitney Houston and lizzards Super Bowl ad but don't ask me what products they were for.

      " Why are adblockers so obtuse to think that the Internet will magically be different – that it can survive without advertising where non other could?"
      Why are some content creators so obtuse not to see that the current Internet advertising model is untenable for the advertisers, and unpalatable and unacceptable to the users? There is no Commandment that says "Thou shalt not block Internet advertising" or "Thou shalt gladly suffer Internet advertisers." There is no Constitutional guarantee for advertisers of any kind to survive. For advertisers the rule is "adapt or persish", just as it is for all other manners of businesses.

  70. GodSponge
    February 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Well MakeUseOf has finally gotten their ad content under control, so I've turned adblock off on this site. I'm leaving it on on the rest of the internet until sites stop putting more ads on their sites than content. Or they make it so annoying that I can't even consume their content.

    Way to go getting the ads to a point where they are tolerable. I'm glad to support MakeUseOf.

    Honestly though, if I wasn't unemployed, I'd pay a subscription for and ad-free experience here.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:10 am

      We appreciate that, GodSponge. Thanks so much!

  71. DW
    February 20, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    These plug and play ad systems seem like a lazy approach to make money and you get paid for your lazy effort in cutting and pasting their code.
    If you really want to make money stop being lazy. Go out to the advertisers make deals and incorporate their products meaningfully. Online seems to be the only place that uses template advertising. Why not endorse something you believe in and be meaningful. The percentage of people using adblock may be telling you that your current revenue systems in not working. You need to change this or loose your reading. Don't blame people reading your content that block your ads. The five minutes it takes to install adblock is more time then the time you sent seeking out advertisers and getting their funding. Copy Paste Get Rich Quick is not working must be my readers fault for blocking my crappy sales efforts.
    You are going to have a long and successfully career writing articles online.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:03 am

      Wait, are you on about native advertising?

      A huge amount of people are against native advertising. They should love banner adverts, since they allow publishers to keep advertising and editorial content as two separate, distinct things.

  72. Anonymous
    February 20, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    BTW... https://adblockplus.org/en/donate
    Just because they really deserved many thanks :P This is how REAL web should work - you create useful content and have fun with profit. Not vice versa.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 25, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Because AdBlock only screws over the vacuous, pointless sites, right?

  73. KT
    February 20, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Awesome article, but there's another side to this. What about ad companies and google especially, that take our browsing history and patterns and sell them to other ad companies without paying us a dime? They make profit off of our labor without paying for it. That's another reason to adblock and use add ons like ghostery.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      Right, but using AdBlock hasn't stopped the stratospheric rise of online advertising. It's only screwed over publishers.

  74. TheSirFin
    February 20, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Interesting view point and I sympathise to some degree, as do AdBlockPlus.
    I am not sure if you are aware of their policy on this, but in their manifesto, and in their default install settings, they allow well designed ads that meet good design criteria to run on a site. They also maintain an list of "allowed sites" when it will allow ads to be run.
    It seems to me, that is is a much more intelligent approach to take, and website that don't adhere to will designed ads should - by right - be forced to go out of business or clean up their act!

    However the "state of the advertising nation" as described by Jason above, means that AdBlock will be staying on, and I will give my business to well design

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Thanks for your comment.

      I actually wrote a couple of paragraphs about about their acceptable ads policy. I have my reservations about it.

      But I agree, there should be an ISO or an RFC which establishes standards for online advertising.

  75. anon
    February 20, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Everyone should use Adblock, Adblock+, µblock. Without advertisers, the internet would be a better simpler place. A site closed is an opportunity for someone less greedy to provide a better site.

    • Ryan Dube
      February 20, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      I wonder what television would have become if all viewers could have cut off the revenue stream between advertisers and sitcom producers, with just the act of getting up and getting something to eat.

    • dragonmouth
      February 21, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Apples to oranges.
      The business models for TV/radio advertising and Internet advertising are different. In TV advertising the advertiser pays a flat fee UP FRONT for a discreet amount of time of exposure (30 seconds, 60 seconds, etc.). In this model it does not matter how many people watch the ad.

      In Internet advertising, the advertiser pays AFTER all the impressions are counted. In this model every person seeing the ad counts. Sometimes this model may produce higher income, but most of the time it does not.

      Internet content creators are hoist on their own petard. Maybe if Internet advertising used the same business model as TV advertising, their income stream would be more predictable.

      Are you trying to imply that because TV viewers choose not watch certain type of a show (sitcoms, documentaries, sports), that somehow they are not paying "their fair share" for content?

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:53 pm

      >Are you trying to imply that because TV viewers choose not watch certain type of a show (sitcoms, documentaries, sports), that somehow they are not paying “their fair share” for content?

      Er, what? I'm not sure what you're getting at here.

      Also, whilst you (correctly) pointed out that TV advertising isn't based on individual impressions, you failed to point out that the value of the cost of advertising is based upon data gathered from surveying a small sample, and then extrapolating that to estimate the viewing patterns of an entire country or region.

      Like you said, apples to oranges.

  76. dragonmouth
    February 20, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    "My kids (4,2) are addicted to Michael Jackson videos, which I Chromecast from YouTube. I could do without the 50 Shades ads."
    The ads for 50 Shades of Gray and other inappropriate ads is why people use ABP, Matt. But of course you don't give a damn about the kind of crap users have to put up with as long as you get your shekels.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:45 pm

      Did you actually *read* my article, Dragonmouth? A good third of it was a critique of the online advertising industry and how desperately it needs to be reformed. I obviously do give a damn about the users. I want to see advertising that's fair for everyone, and that respects the user's privacy and prevents against malware.

      I also want to get paid. So do a lot of people. It turns out living is expensive. I (temporarily) live in England where that's quadruply true.

      Also, you argue like a Fox News host. It's hilarious.

    • dragonmouth
      February 25, 2015 at 12:20 am

      "Also, you argue like a Fox News host."
      I'll take that as a compliment. :-)

  77. Tim
    February 20, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Most sites, including local and national news sites and almost every completely legit website that uses ads, carry malicious ads from time to time. OK, so when you find out they are there, you remove them, but after how many people were infected by malware from the ad before it was discovered by the site owner? Frankly most webites don't even remove them because they either don't know, don't care because they are making money from the ads, or are just too inept to discover that they are there. Current ad formats are worse than the persistent pop-ups of the 90's internet, except now they are 100x harder for a user to tell that they are ads, because many are tailored to appear as content placed by the site author. It's a scourge on the internet and anything that removes them like AdBlockPlus, should be used by everyone! If a site can't sustain without ads, then it probably shouldn't exist in the first place.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:50 pm

      >If a site can’t sustain without ads, then it probably shouldn’t exist in the first place.

      That's easy to say, but that'd kill the vast majority of commercial publishing on the Internet.

      That would be bad. Very, very bad.

      I disagree that most websites don't care. The majority of online publishers are very, very conservative about the advertising they show, and very sensitive about how they readers perceive them. MUO included.

    • Tim
      March 4, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      I disagree. Most websites are greedy. There is no other reason for the ad space to consume more than 1-5% of a website's content, however in many cases you will see up to 50% of dedicated ad space on totally legit websites.

      MUO used to be one of them, but giving credit where it is due, it has become much more modest in it's approach to ads. I applaud that!

      That being said... it costs roughly $150 per year to host a website plus the one-time development cost of the site. Once it's up and running, it's pretty much turn-key and you simply add content.

      If the content is useful, the site can survive on nominal advertising. There was once this thing that everyone purchased to get content. It was called a newspaper. And people would pay .50 cents a day to read it. If they didn't care what was inside, they didn't buy. But the ones that did, didn't flinch at the price. There are other models that can work, but websites aren't willing to attempt it, mostly because the content isn't good enough to warrant someone paying for it. The cream would rise to the top and become lucrative and the rest would just disappear. Not such a bad thing.

  78. Xoandre
    February 20, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    AdBlock has its value and uses... Yes, it deprives certain sites of ad view incomes, but the method I use is not an all-encompassing blockage of everything.

    For the sites I know and trust, I DISABLE AdBlock on those particular domains. I have seen many valuable ads on MakeUseOf and similar sites (Amazon, Google Play store, AintItCool News, /film.com, etc).

    It is those untrusted, uncertain sites that I visit on a rare occasion that I do not know what their ad scheme is like. Many of them contain pop-ups, location finders, and scripts that I just do not want running.

    For me, it's like you are dating someone... Do you immediately tear off all you clothes and have unprotected sex? NO! What if she's a "lady of the night" and not safe to even kiss on the cheek? What if she's got some serious flaws and mental issues that you don't want to deal with the morning after?

    It all comes down to trust. Sure, some people have zero trust in any ads. But then there are those rare people like myself, who wish to get to know the people behind it all, learn to trust the content, and then open the AdBlock Menu and click on "Disable on makeuseof.com" as I did several months ago.

    Privacy issues aside, there is also the value of the advertised content to take into consideration. If I am a single man (I am) living alone (I do) with a single cat (yup), then why would I want a discount on a family cell phone plan? What single man in this world needs to spend $179.99 for 5 lines on a cell phone? It's validity that makes people click on the ads. No thanks, T-Mobile/Verizon/AT&T.. I'm happy with the single off-brand cell phone that costs me a whopping $35 for unlimited talk and text, with 2.5 gb data (of which I use barely 1 gb) per month...

    But that's just the way I am - when I grow to trust a site, a person, a potential live interest, I unblock the extraneous information and open myself to the possibilities.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      Interesting perspective. Thanks for your comment!

  79. Guy in Victoria
    February 20, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I just joined the majority. Adblock is off.

    Guy in Victoria

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Thanks Guy! We appreciate it!

  80. Bob McLain
    February 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    After that snarky response to "anonymous", Matthew seems to have thrown in the towel.

    His argument portrays website consumers as the bad guys for blocking annoying, often dangerous ads. Why not instead direct such energy and analysis to the ad networks themselves? If so many ads weren't the digital equivalent of psychotic clowns, I wouldn't mind looking at a few of them. But I block ads here, there, and (nearly) everywhere.

    And you know what? Most websites don't fail as the result of me and tens of millions of others blocking their ads. Maybe those that do fail have issues other than blocked ads. This is not an existential issue. If Matthew, or people like him, are no longer willing to write original content, then there is ALWAYS someone ready to take his place and do it just as well.

    This article strikes me as little more than a deceptive effort to guilt users into turning off AdBlock so more coin will flow into MUO coffers.

    • Ryan Dube
      February 20, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      "If Matthew, or people like him, are no longer willing to write original content, then there is ALWAYS someone ready to take his place and do it just as well."

      Historically, you pretty much get what you pay for. Sure, there are plenty of folks willing to write, create art, or create video and audio for free - but eventually someone has to put food on the table and even artists need to eat. Someone might be willing to take the place of a paid artist - but that could mean the difference between enjoying a professional concert in a music hall, or standing on the sidewalk and watching a "free" street performer. The choice is yours.

    • Bob McLain
      February 20, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      I'm not so sure about that. Before ads overran the internet, there was a *lot* of excellent content on the internet. People will always want to express themselves, regardless of whether they're paid to do so. If MUO or Lifehacker or whatever pulls the plug, there will always be someone there to take their place, maybe with a revenue model that works for everyone.

      As much as I want to support those who make their livelihood generating content, I won't do it at the expense of my browser consumed with irrelevant and sometimes inappropriate or even harmful ads.

      AdBlock is not going away. Instead of complaining about it, the practical approach is finding a better way.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      >After that snarky response to “anonymous”, Matthew seems to have thrown in the towel.

      Not really, I had this thing called 'a weekend'. They're awesome!

      >Before ads overran the internet, there was a *lot* of excellent content on the internet.

      Advertising on the Internet is as long as the Internet itself. And was there? Was there really? I've been online since the mid-1990s, and right now, the Internet is at its peak. There are a lot of people doing awesome stuff, and they're doing it because they can get paid for it.

      The 90s didn't have YouTube, or blogs, or anything interesting really. Lots of dancing babies though.

  81. Allan Jay
    February 20, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    This article sheds a necessary light on how and why ads help the digital publishing industry and how the people who work in the industry are affected. Does this make me remove adblock from my browser? No. However, it reminds me to be more active in looking for quality content from trusted sites. Like the other commenters, I do whitelist trusted sites like MUO.

    As someone who used to write web content, I felt the effects when a significant number of readers use adblock (and similar services/apps). As someone who develops websites that rely on ads, I try to find creative solutions to put ads on pages without making the readers resort to ad blockers. But, damn! It is a constant struggle and headache.

    I guess I see this as a web design issue, too. Those who are committed to delivering great content can take advantage of ads that are 'properly' included in a page. Ads are not necessary evil. I discovered Evernote in an ad (most probably in a MUO article)! But, the reality remains that ads (from trusted source or otherwise) has become the trash of the Internet.

    This is a great example of human culture desperately trying to catch up with technology. The current business model, as most commenters mentioned, is badly broken. It will take years to formulate one that works for both readers and content writers (including websits, etc.) For the meantime, I will still keep adblock and just whitelist trusted sites.

    Great article, Matthew!

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      Hey Allan,

      Thanks for your comment, and the kind words!

      Something I've said about 100,000,000,000 times so far is that there needs to be a common ground between the needs of the users, and the needs of the sites.

      I agree the current model needs to be reworked. And personally speaking, if advertising could be replaced by something like Piano Media tomorrow, I'd be all for it.

  82. user quote
    February 20, 2015 at 8:44 am

    "Ad blocking is not about depriving someone of their income. It's about protecting my privacy. If your business model centers around letting other companies invade my privacy, then your business model is broken."

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:27 pm

      Right, but depriving someone of their income is an unavoidable consequence of AdBlock.

  83. Stefan
    February 20, 2015 at 7:43 am

    So just out of curiosity, I disabled ABP and reloaded the page. First thing I see?

    [Broken Link Removed]

    Right on top of your related articles list. The majority of the stuff it's blocking is the social media buttons on the left (and to be honest, I rarely use them anyway). of the three actual ads on this page, one is a giant monstrosity placed above the actual content, one's a midway banner which isn't too intrusive, and one's a banner below the comments that I wouldnt have seen if I wasn't scrolling way past the actual article itself.

    Without that top ad, I'd be willing to consider whitelisting MUO, or eve if its position was moved below the linked articles, but at its current size and position it constitutes intrusive advertising and I'm turning ABP back on.

    ABP is default behaviour for those of us that use it, it's a response to the activities of advertisers, those activities were so widespread and invasive that they forced a reaction. MUO has not demonstrated any reason for me to change what is now the default behaviour of my browser.

    Anyway, if you believe MUO has acceptable and non-intrusive ads, sign up to ABP's acceptable ads program, that way people have to go out of their way to continue to block them

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      I'm amazingly skeptical of ABPs acceptable ads program, for a vast number of reasons.

      But I see your point. It's about finding a middle ground.

  84. Daveytay
    February 20, 2015 at 6:22 am

    I unblock ads as an Adblock user for any site that is smart enough to recognize it and let me know. Those recognized ones get white listed. If you don't run that detect script, then I just leave the default blocking action on and then selectively allow the No-Script until I can read what I want or play the video.

  85. Charles
    February 20, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Great Article. Very Interesting. Some wonderful insight and it's certainly made me question the 'free' element of the internet and the subsequent repercussions for content publishers. A 'spotify' model is the Nirvana. The only way people will 'buy in' if the big boys decide to play ball and join the group, e.g NYT etc... People won't pay for the small fry!

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Exactly! You get it!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment Charles!

  86. Saifur Rahman Mohsin
    February 20, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Ever visited a porn site? Ok that's a lame question to ask but the answer is obvious. You see how many ads are put up in porn sites? These are much more ads than those in blog websites. The money that comes from these ads drives the porn industry. You're basically contributing to a community who involves itself in filmed prostitution, human trafficking, etc. The blogs hardly have one or two ad sites but porn sites have so many! It's in fact better to block ads entirely.

    Anyway I don't use adblock. It's stupid..!
    I just dump the content of http://someonewhocares.org into my /etc/hosts
    While it does take up an MB or so, it does the job well!

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Er, actually, the vast majority of advertising networks won't deal with porn websites. So, yeah. We've got nothing to do with the porn industry, and I find the insinuation that I do incredibly insulting.

    • Saifur Rahman Mohsin
      March 24, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Yes I know that vast majority of advertising networks don't deal with porn. But a lot of porn networks deal with advertising and they rely on the same providers as other content makers. That's where ad-block comes in. And as per the stats they are more largely dominant in the advertising industry than these other "nice" networks. I perfectly understand your argument that ad-block affects journalism and I don't mean to insult. as I find a lot of the points you made perfectly valid. But it's a bad idea to think it needs to die. Honestly it's doing a great job. I was just reading this article today (http://thenextweb.com/market-intelligence/2015/03/24/who-are-the-biggest-consumers-of-online-porn/) which only confirms what i stated.!

  87. A gorrila here
    February 20, 2015 at 4:27 am

    If it's not a secret, could you say what % of MUO readers use ABP or other blockers? You said the avg is 10% overall.

    I see two solutions.

    1. Run your own banner ads the traditional way, images hosted on your server, coming from the same domain as images in your articles, with links to sponsors. These will not be blocked by ABP. The only way people wont see them is if they disable all images on your site which is crazy.

    2. Don't display content for whoever uses ABP, this is extreme I know but it's your choice in the end.

    What do you think?

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      I can't say, unfortunately.

      Interestingly, a friend of mine created an ethical adblocker after we had an argument about this in the pub. It blocks adverts, but also blocks ad-supported content. It's called SadBlock, and you can find it on Github if you're interested.

  88. Honesty
    February 20, 2015 at 2:34 am

    The sad truth is that if large media distributors go away, the internet will get on just fine without you. A few years ago, most of the articles on the internet were freely written by people who were simply interested in disseminating information and opinions. There were admittedly fewer articles, but there was a lot less repetition, and far less puffery. One would think that a magazine-style editorial board would promote a higher quality of journalism on the internet, but it has not. Simple grammar and spelling errors abound in the world of "internet journalism". One can ask, why do we need these mass media companies, that are driven by revenue streams? What has the monetizing of the internet really gotten us?

    • Ryan Dube
      February 20, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      "One would think that a magazine-style editorial board would promote a higher quality of journalism on the internet, but it has not. Simple grammar and spelling errors abound in the world of “internet journalism”. "

      ---I've personally watched the development of the Internet from the early 90's to today, and I can testify first-hand that the original Internet was an atrocity of bad grammar, bad spelling and horrifying web design. That comment above is not only slightly untrue, it's painfully wrong.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      I remember the Internet in the 90s. There was nothing cool there. Unless, of course, you include The Dancing Baby.

      Anyone remember Ally McBeal?

  89. Via
    February 20, 2015 at 2:29 am

    Great article.
    I did use AdBlock few years ago, but it was when I still noob in the world of forums and articles. I found ads annoying because many forums in my country place so many ads in any parts of they forum (seriously, you have to scroll down many times just to find the menu of the forum, because there are around 10 banner ads on the head of the forum alone).

    But I never use AdBlock again now, mainly because I think it never hurt to watch ads when you can enjoy good article. I hope the ads provider will do better in providing good ads to see, because many of the annoying ads comes from the provider(the other comes from the owner of the website).

    I hope MUO can survive and deliver more good content in the future.

    • Nate
      February 24, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Everyone brings up paying for cable and its advertising up-front, do we not do the same thing with internet? My internet costs about the same as my cable, should i not consider myself paid in full while i read this article without ads. If the ads lowered my internet costs then I'd be all ears.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks Via,

      I appreciate it. We appreciate it.

    • Via
      February 25, 2015 at 5:00 am

      @Nate If all of you compare it to the cable(or mainly satelite tv in my country), then you should file complain to your ISP, not the website owner. What you pay for cable is for the infrastructure and the content (because they pay for it, buy or make the content), what you pay for internet is only the infrastructure (including bandwith). The website owner got nothing from the ISP so they need to find alternate way to survive, with ads or paying subscription.

      I don't know if this is right, maybe you can look at it from website like netflix or hulu. I know they're quite different from cable tv, but the way it works is almost the same (they buy/make content and they pay for the infrastructure too). The main difference from the cable, netflix or hulu using internet and you pay for the internet service, but you have to pay again to netflix to watch their content. For hulu, you can enjoy the content for free, but there are ads in-between the content.

      Maybe the difference between cable and internet in my perspective is the vastness of the content. In cable, the cable provider is controlling the content, you can watch the content only from what you pay (the subscription). You can't watch indonesian channel aren't you? If you want to watch all the channel in the world, I don't know how much you need to pay for the subscription fee (once again, the cable pay for every content). It's different in internet, there's no limitation on it (except for country exclusive content). You can read indonesian website wherever you are. The downside of this freedom, the website owner got nothing from the ISP because what you pay for internet used only for the infrastructure...

      All of this is my opinion...:)

  90. Marco Sarli
    February 20, 2015 at 2:11 am

    Bad advertising and too much of it is killing the internet and not adblockers. Pay per click and obtrusive advertising are killing the internet. In my opinion companies should pay to place ads , if possible static, on authoritative sites with good content. They want me to pay for their products. If I like and need their products I will buy them. They should pay to promote their products. Not ask me to pay for their advertising . This way we would have less advertising, less websites delivering bad content only as an excuse to get advertising and less companies selling useless stuff. And a bit more respect and attention for the reader/consumer. After all he is footing the bill.

    • Ryan Dube
      February 20, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Do you buy cable TV? You're essentially paying for advertising. What's the difference?

    • Marco Sarli
      February 20, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      No cable here, sorry. Would you buy a book, any form of it, if it would be full of advertising, sometimes printed on top of the text of it ? I am always ready to pay for content (or software or any other good) in a reasonable way and when I can afford it. I already pay for my internet connection (and do not get what I was promised).I do not want someone to intrude in my privacy, possibly deliver malware, certainly ruin my experience and make money of it.

  91. Socalnerd
    February 19, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    I am an avid adblock user on firefox. Instead of pleading us not to use adblock plus. Why not try to find a new method or solution to this problem. Its either evolve or go extinct. Let me give you some examples.

    Paid television services (Satellite and Cable) customers are either switching to over the air signals or streaming their favorite shows on tablets, phone, computer. Now we watch content when we want instead of having to watch it on when the big tv channels want us to line up. Now most channels are offering apps with a monthly service to view their content. HBO, Sports, and others. I remember when I was a kid and one of the benefits of having cable tv was "no commercials". Now there are more commercials just like radio. Satellite prices keep on going up to help pay the contracts of the kardashian clan. I cancelled my tv service.

    Radio is on a slow declining death. Stations are laying off personalities left and right. More people are heading off and using tunein, , pandora, spotify and etc. Why? Have you heard how many commercials there are on radio today? There is like 5-10 minutes of show and 20 minutes of commercials per segment. Satellite radio is not doing better either. XM started with commercial free music, now you have to pay extra for music license on top of the monthly fee. Iheartmedia and Cumulus have billions dollars of debt. Hell, Tom Leykis made more money in profits than those two big companies. Online talk radio is gaining momentum, people like Tom Leykis, Alex Jones and others are showing there is a different way.

    Newspapers - The Orange County Register enacted a very strict paywall. Everyone stopped visiting and paying for their service. Now there is no paywall and anyone can now read the news stories for free. Who reads newspaper? I just turn on my device and read it instantly. That media is going extinct fast.

    Brick Stores vs Internet shopping. Now that in California enacted all internet sales must include sales tax. Now its a level playing field. I rather shop online still. Why? I don't have to deal with traffic, long lines, rude store workers, wasting gas on driving and comparing prices. Look at Radio shack. I still have Frys, amazon, ebay for better pricing.

    VOIP/Cell service vs Landlines. Who pays for traditional land line? I get that you have to pay for landline for home security systems. I have saved a bundle of money by switching over to VOIP system.

    Taxis - Uber/Lyft service has gained momentum for better service and pricing. Both can do better to screen people. Who can say their taxi experience was great and not overpriced? Now taxi drivers are angry and their union trying to stop that.

    Is adblock plus a service disruptor, hell yes. Why was it invented? To serve a purpose. I work in the IT field and those pop up ads cause nothing but problems. I understand your company needs to make money. But its in these times you and your company know what the problem is now. Trying to find a creative way around it or the next commercial boom is right there. Trying to convince and educate people is fine. The Adult Industry is trying the same approach of educating its base customers to stay away from free tube sites. The industry overall is hurting but they need to bring new ideas to advertise that are not expensive and not invasive. People are telling you we are done with those annoying ads and banners. We have the power to vote. If MUO goes broke, there will another company that will take its place. If that one fails there will be another one after that. There are no guarantees in life other than death and taxes. There is not shortage of "Guides" on the this internet. So don't feel special.

    • THX4theFish
      February 20, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      It is not my policy to comment on anything I read, because usually I read to much needless information made available by ad money....
      But reading this techno-luddist article I couldn't help myself scanning for the comments to see if there was anyone sharing my point of view. So socialnerd, thank you for your (albeit California-centric) opinion which expressed my take on this problem exactly.

      ... so Matthew Hughes found a nice niche in which he can dwell and write his texts... nice. Kudos to the author. Does he have a guarantee that the model supporting his cushion job will continue ad infinitum? No, and neither should he expect this to last.

      In the subscription publishing domain, it's not the features nor the whining that sell. It's the promise of continuous amusement and interesting ideas. Attention grabbers like the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus of these days are ephemeral ...
      Inspiration for a different web:
      http://www.ted.com: People with "real" jobs get produce interesting content. http://www.patreon.com/nixiepixel: A girl talking about Open Source and still paying her bills. Without any "features"...

      So, long story short, Matthew. Find a new niche. Look at Glenn Greenwald, there are real stories out there...

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      To be fair, about one third of my piece was a discussion of the current advertising alternatives, and why they don't work. Patreon isn't scalable or repeatable. Micropayments don't work. Nobody uses Flattr.

      If an alternative to advertising came about, I'd jump over it. The problem is, there isn't one.

      I did look at Glenn Greenwald. He works primarily for old-media, Salon (ad-supported) and First Look Media (Pierre Omidyar/VC funded). Hardly repeatable stuff, is it?

  92. Anonymous
    February 19, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    When you can get the advertisers, website owners, and corporate media conglomerates to agree to a standard set of rules in online advertising, including enforcement for breaking said rules, I'll be 100% willing to turn off my ad blocking software. And let's not forget about the malware currently delivered to Internet users via online advertisements.

    Ad blocking browser plugins were a response to an increase in the advertising "arms race" amongst online advertising agencies and to the detriment of online users. Your article addresses only a symptom, not the root disease.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      Er, about 1000 words of my piece was a critique of the advertising industry as it is right now. It absolutely did address the symptom, and the disease.

      For the record, I agree. Advertising needs to be safe, unobtrusive, and appropriate. I think the entire industry needs to get reformed.

  93. Dave
    February 19, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    Matt, I've got a question regarding your RSS feed, do you have ads in the feed? I've never actually thought to check and have adblock on at newsblur because if I whitelist the site I'll see adds in all of my other feeds. A solution to that would be nice.

    Another question, assuming a single person unblocks the ads on makeuseof and they view a few articles daily how much would you earn off that individual in a given month from the ads? If I remember right don't ad networks pay out a tiny amount for each impression?

    Anything else I was going to say has pretty much been said in other comments. The short of why I use ublock is security. Too many malware attacks are done through ads. Family bringing a computer over infested with nasties? Clean it up, slap a blocker on it, assuming it had anti-virus from the start when it was first infected, and they're good for years if they don't go around installing everything they find. Preventing the malware attack ads on various sites while allowing harmless text ads would be a super how-to article if you happen to know how. I know adblock plus has that acceptable ads thing but I'm not sure I trust them when they're accepting compensation to allow ads.

    An adblocker is my bubble suit online. I'll turn it off for makeuseof though, that said, I usually view the sites rss feed in newsblur so I guess I need to turn it off there as well?

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      You know, I'm honestly not sure about the RSS feed. I usually read the site from the main page. I'd assume there's some advertising, though.

      I agree that advertising networks need to be better. That was, for the most part, the argument I made. We need to get paid, sure. But consumers deserve safe, appropriate advertising.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      As someone who generally is quite defensive of the advertising model, I'm aghast at what Lenovo has done.

      But advertising wasn't the attack vector here. A dodgy cert and a proxy was.

      And it's a bit disengenuous to compare SuperFish to most traditional online advertising. It's entirely different!

  94. Old Timer
    February 19, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    The accusatory tone of using our Adblock as "ripping you off" I find hilarious. The web itself was meant to be free, so putting it on the viewership because you guys haven't figured out a way to make money, is your fault! If you wanted to allow a one paragraph preview, then do a paywall like the NYT, then you might be getting somewhere. But the nature of the beast here is that technical folks, reading technical blogs are going to be technical and BLOCK ads. The problem with this publish-everything-people-read-what-they-like model is the SAME model as an artist creating a CD that I have to buy in it's entirety, even though I only like one song. The one song model is called iTunes. That new model has been proven over the old. A la carte wins. Cable and Satellite are next. People want choice. Maybe if the ads, were links to stuff we'd use, or services we would use, people would click. I don't need ads. "Hey, click here for $20 off Dreamhost" BAM, you got me. Ads, nope.

  95. Shade
    February 19, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    The most I'm willing to do is use AdNauseam in conjunction with AdBlock Plus, which means the ad networks will see ad clicks on every ad on each page I visit while I get to see none of the ads. I disagree entirely with the advertising model, so I'll continue using AdBlock with AdNauseam to make the data advertisers collect as useless as possible.

    Advertising on the Net used to get you shouted out for even considering to try and make money through online advertising, and people still create thoughtful and well researched pieces online without the money motivation. If you don't want to compromise yourself as a journalist, the best way to make money is to beg your fans to donate rather than enslave yourself to advertisers. Try looking at the No Agenda Show's model. The listeners aren't consumers. They're producers who keep the show going.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      >people still create thoughtful and well researched pieces online without the money motivation.

      True, but with any frequency, and any editorial oversight? The fact is, there's no way to do good, frequent, comprehensive and responsive journalism without having some kind of revenue model. Advertising is the only one that halfway works.

    • Shade
      February 24, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      See http://www.noagendashow.com/ for an example of a model without advertising, entirely user supported. Two shows a week (and extensive show-notes) for over seven years.

      As an aside, why is editorial oversight a criteria? That sounds like something which invites censorship.

  96. Lou Guay
    February 19, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Interesting article, but, the point remains the current ad model is so badly broken it probably cannot be saved. Ads are overwhelming the content, ads are pretending to be the content, ads are presented instead of content. Ads waste my time, eat my bandwidth, steal my personal information, and try to infect my computer. Now, one on-line search yields weeks of ads directing my attention back to that one product, on every website I visit (including MUO) and to like products based on my `known personal preferences`.
    I`m not an Adblock user, but Adblock is not a disease. It`s one logical response to an industry determined to overwhelm the internet, and take by fair means and foul the maximum financial gain with the minimum of effort, ethics and truth be dammed.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      > Interesting article, but, the point remains the current ad model is so badly broken it probably cannot be saved. Ads are overwhelming the content, ads are pretending to be the content, ads are presented instead of content. Ads waste my time, eat my bandwidth, steal my personal information, and try to infect my computer.

      I agree that the advertising model is broken. But what would you replace it with?

  97. Mark
    February 19, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Matthew, I must say that I appreciate your handling of the opposing views presented in the comments. You have much more patience and understanding than I would, and it is refreshing to see something other than a useless back and forth argument that seems to be the internet norm anymore.

    Your article is well written, and of the two articles (yours and your colleagues' opposing one), I definitely feel more swayed by yours. While I do understand the points you make, I would like to hear your thoughts on the following:

    As the user/consumer, I pay for a certain amount of bandwidth through my ISP. Shouldn't it be my choice whether or not that bandwidth is taken up by advertisements?

    I'm not going to pretend to be as well educated on this subject as you are, and I don't know what the right answer is but it seems that the whole process is inherently flawed. I mean, when you're watching broadcast television (some of us still do!), the commercials are usually when you get up to use the bathroom, go get a snack, etc. I'm not easily influenced by the ads because I'm not paying them any attention. I don't want to see them, I don't care about them, and even less so when I browse the web. It seems to me that if your paycheck relies on advertisement views and those views are not counted due to an ad blocker on the user's end, then something needs to change in how the advertisers pay you. It's not your fault that users don't want to see their ads, and you are still giving them the ad space; they should still pay you regardless of whether or not the end user/consumer views the ad.

    Also, and this is not meant to demean or belittle what you do, but there is no way that I would rely on such a sketchy source of income as the primary means to feed my family & pay my bills. Maybe a side gig at best, but if it were me I would seriously look at other career options. More power to you, I couldn't do it.

    All that being said, you have convinced me to whitelist MUO for now to see how it goes, but no promises on keeping it that way.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:55 pm

      Hey Mark,

      Firstly, thanks so much for the white list.

      Out of curiosity, where are you based that you have to pay for bandwidth?

      Anyway, addressing your points. If I missed any, let me know:

      1.) Shouldn’t it be my choice whether or not that bandwidth is taken up by advertisements?

      That's tough. I've always said that users shouldn't be prevented from downloading AdBlock. I'm all for people taking control of their computers. But there's a different, unrelated question. 'Should I consume this content, without paying for it in kind, with my eyeballs?' or, 'Should the limitations of my Internet package prevent this guy from making a living?'

      The problem with this debate isn't that there's one question that needs to be answered. There's a flurry of them, and the answers often conflict.

      We need to find a middle ground. Content producers and sites need to behave themselves and be a bit more conservative about the ads they show. Consumers need treat writers better.

      In short, we all need to be a bit nicer.

    • likefunbutnot
      February 26, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      @Matthew Hughes,

      You're almost entirely ignoring another aspect to this discussion, which is that non-static advertising delivered via third party advertising networks is probably the single biggest malware vector most internet users encounter. Whether or not advertisers make their ads less annoying is entirely secondary to the flawed assumption that users should trust anyone in the chain of development or deployment of an internet advertisement in the first place.
      Ads are actively dangerous, especially though not exclusively to Windows users. Your lengthy discussion of this topic largely ignores this.

      And again, internet users do not owe you a living. We don't. You're paid by MakeUseOf and whatever other sites you write for at an agreed-upon rate. It's up to MakeUseOf to find a way to offset that cost. If MakeUseOf has an editorial policy of being antagonistic toward its readership and MakeUseOf can't find other sources of revenue, it should probably either restructure into an organization that can continue to exist or it should cease to operate. In any case, this is something you should take up with the people who sign your checks.

  98. Stanley
    February 19, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    You overestimate your importance in our own lives.

    • dragonmouth
      February 20, 2015 at 12:08 am

      Exactly my sentiment.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      Because that's what I talked about.

      Er, no. I didn't. I talked about the economics of the Internet and the damaging effect of AdBlock.

  99. Anonymous
    February 19, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Don't get me wrong. I sometimes whitelist MUO or other sites when I am at right mood. Let's change word "reality" to "economics" and add some aspects of human psychology (because we are not angels ^^) which is explained at other comments + many more factors and we have what we have.
    BTW, you said "Adblock is killing the web" earlier. Ofc it does, but only THAT web which we all hate - crowded with flashing images, alerts, fake URL's etc. That's a good thing. MUO is better compared to some other sites I visit so sometimes I give exeption to it.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks for the whitelist. But I disagree that AdBlock is killing *that* web. It's not. It's killing anything that's supported by adverts.

  100. Frank
    February 19, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    This article states, "Sites offer content for free with the expectation that their readers will ‘do the right thing’ and view the ads that accompany the content."
    So, simply make that expectation a demand. Stand forward and be a site that demands people watch their ads. Why present the illusion of choice if you view people who don't watch the ads as "doing the wrong thing"?
    Until you look at readers equally, I think you should go ahead and make people watch ads first, before they even see content.
    Oh? What's that you say? You'll get even less revenue if you do it that way, because you'll be seen as dictatorial. Well then, just bitch about it and demonize it in an article, I guess.

  101. Anonymous
    February 19, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    I work at small company and my employer pays me too little, too. It's called reality and whatever you do for money, you still have too little. Deal with it.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      What a sensible, well thought out discussion of the article. Well done.

    • dragonmouth
      February 20, 2015 at 12:06 am

      Don't get snarky just because you do not like the answer. Anonymous summerized the contents of the article very nicely and succinctly.

      This horse has been beaten to death again and again by various MUO writers. Instead of accusing the readers/posters of unethical behavior and of taking food out the mouths of your children, MUO writers should direct their venom and vituperation at the real culprit, the ad networks. Maybe MUO should start and lead a crusade for static ads that do not abuse the users.

      If my bandwidth came free of charge, I couldn't complain about ads, obnoxious or otherwise. Since I DO pay for my bandwidth, I will not waste it on advertising that that takes it over at the expense of legitimate content. If that means that MUO gets lumped in with the "bad" sites, too bad. Complain to the ad networks.

      If you feel you do not get paid enough by writing for MUO, you can always get a 9 to 5 job where your income will be guaranteed (maybe).

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      Not really, @dragonmouth. He made a non-point that discussed absolutely none of the points I made.

      Did you read the same article I wrote? About 1000 words was about how terrible the ad networks are, and how desperate they are in need of reform?

      And why should I get another job. Why can't people just not rip off writers? To me, that seems like a pretty fair solution.

  102. Stephan Huebner
    February 19, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I do use Adblock Plus but your article reminded me that there are two sides to the story, and I've just whitelisted MakeUseOf to see how it will play out.

    There are two problems not addressed though:

    a) "distraction". It may not be such a problem on a website with game-reviews. But as soon as the material is more serious (for example a programming-tutorial) advertisements are a real distraction from the content I actually want to know about.
    b) "time". (which goes hand in hand with point a) Advertisements are time-wasters. There's so much info nowadays that even the few seconds we might take to look at advertisements feel like a waste of time, especially as, in my opinion, 90 % of them are uninteresting or irrelevant.

    So, no, I don't think that Ads work. I can't remember how many times I've been pestered by ads about items that I looked at or even bought online. In which case I don't need nor want to see it again on some other site. If the article was interesting enough, there are wishlists or similar functions.

    And then there are items and services that I may have investigated once or twice, a long time ago. The problem of course is that the Ad-networks can't know *why* I looked for something. I may have helped somebody to find something or I may have looked for a birthday present. But still I am hunted by adverts for these things for the next ten years, as it seems. Again, nothing but useless, time-wasting distraction.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Interesting points. And thanks for the white block!

      I've noticed that a lot of the high-quality programming sites (like NetTuts) are pretty conservative with the adverts they show. I think people are hearing you.

  103. the duke of prunes
    February 19, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    I found a loophole to block ads of facebook. Spend an hour a week reporting all of these as sexually offensive. Over a year later and I still don't see ads.

  104. likefunbutnot
    February 19, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    I am sorry you don't know how to monetize your content, but It's not my job or my responsibility to view your advertisements.

    You can say that it's unethical or me to not view your ads, but I have a vastly higher obligation to protect myself and my users from well known malware vectors, to simplify the web that they can see and to make sure that the finite resource of my and their downstream bandwidth is being used responsibly. Internet advertising is runs counter to all of those things.

    A solution that I do support and wish were more widely implemented is a site-wide tip jar. I don't have a problem offering some modest sum of money for a site I visit and value. That avoids the concept of an ongoing subscription or the notion of unknowingly spending money on microtransactions, although both of those things are less unappealing than ad-based revenue.

    In any case, one thing you absolutely do not have a right to do is decide that unknown third-party content should be viewed on my web clients. That is for me to decide. Internet advertising is actively dangerous to the health of computers and mobile devices and I believe that it's something that needs to be stopped at all cost. If you don't like that, or if you don't feel that you're being sufficiently compensated because of that, find a different revenue model or get a different job. Content will still be created. Discussions will still happen on the internet. The internet will go on.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      Interesting points.

      Let me flip it back to you, though. You say that I don't have a right to dictate that you should view adverts. Fair enough. What gives you the right to view content that's given under the assumption that you'll view adverts, and not hold up your end of the bargain?

      I'm not trying to be confrontational here. I'm just trying to have a conversation.

      I do think that the Internet can exist without commercial, for-profit sites. But would it be as good? Would there be editorial standards? Would there be the same amount of stuff published? Would there be the same journalistic ethical standards?

      I think not. People, after all, have got to eat.

    • likefunbutnot
      February 26, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      @Matthew Hughes,

      You put the content online for public consumption. It's not gated behind a login system. There's no User Rights Agreement, code of conduct or contract between the sites you write for and those people who read them. Why are you assuming that advertisements are integral to that content? Clearly, they aren't. If you need to dictate the terms of my readership, you've already made a serious mistake by publishing in the manner that you have.

      Do I buy the idea that the we needs editorial and journalistic standards? I do, though perhaps not in the same way that you do. Slashdot is a great example of a site where the community is largely self-policing and fully capable of illuminating both good and bad information with minimal need for administrative control.

      As you say, people need to eat. And that's fine. But perhaps some need to find a different means to feed themselves, both practically and metaphorically.

  105. Joe
    February 19, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    Every comment has been spot on.

    1) The internet, content providers, designers and administrators are partly responsible for blockers. The minute you started letting your sites be used to push spyware, viruses and other infections content you sealed your own fate.

    2) Like others, I too whitelist sites that I trust. Sites I enjoy and most importantly feel safe on will get the whitelist.

    3) There is no alternative. If you go in and block only as needed then you have already infected your computer. The internet is that bad. Hackers are scum. Lazy greedy advertisers aren't much better and between them our privacy and identity protection constantly live on borrowed time.

    4) Privacy is important and as time goes on more and more people see that. When someone finds a way to get you paid whilst keeping the consumer safe they will have struck the honeyhole of the internet.

    5) Is the market really able to handle all of the people wanting to provide content? At some point you have to ask yourself: Am I wanting to be paid for something that is essentially a hobby? Joystiq did not offer a whole lot of anything. For no adds, less crap and nicer people i could go to half a dozen other game forums. Frankly, I find this almost as laughable as my son telling me he wants to become a professional gamer... Know the difference between a hobby and a career. I have been an avid game for 25 years and I have never visited Joystiq with any regularity. In fact I do not visit any dedicated gaming sites.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      > Is the market really able to handle all of the people wanting to provide content? At some point you have to ask yourself: Am I wanting to be paid for something that is essentially a hobby?

      That's a tad insulting.

      It's not a hobby. It's something I do professionally, and have been doing for two years. It's something I've been able to make a living from, and has kept me from getting a 9-5. I'm incredibly lucky in that respect.

      That's true for a great many people, by the way. Writers offer a skilled service that has value, and has been regarded as such for centuries now. There are thousands of people who are employed full time in this industry.

      The problem, I feel, isn't demand. The issue is the revenue model, and the fact that people can effectively consume a service and then 'opt out' of paying. There's not an industry on earth that's like that.

      I'd like to see advertising replaced, but I can't see it happening in my lifetime.

  106. m-p{3}
    February 19, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    I personally only use AdBlock without any subscriptions. If something is really obstrusive or disrupt the website, I'll block it myself.

    This is my way of making sure I provide a fair stream of revenue to website owners, while blocking only a minimal amount of stuff.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      That's awesome. Thanks man!

  107. ad-blocker convert
    February 19, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Point well made. On the one hand, adverts on some websites are intrusive and sometime distasteful. But, on the other hand, websites that have a proper approach to advertising shouldn't have to suffer by blanket ad-blocking. I'm going to leave my ad-blocker in place by default, but, deactivate the blocker on sites that I visit often. MakeUseOf will be the first to be put on the 'safe' list.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Thanks man. I really appreciate that.

  108. Robert
    February 19, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Yes, I use AdBlockPlus. I just allowed ads for Make Use OF. I hadn't thought about the authors making their living from the ads.
    However, I use it because of the reasons so many others have stated. The ads have gotten obtrusive, and abusive. Reform is needed. How is the BIG question.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Agreed. Reform is needed, and that was a huge chunk of my post.

      How, like you said, is the big question. I'd like to see sites be more proactive and for change to come from them. From us.

  109. Johnny
    February 19, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    I have Ad Block but disable it on a site by site basis. Unfortunately sites where the ads are as unobtrusive as they are on MUO are rare. Also to MUO's benefit are that the ads I usually see are from sites I already do business with and/or are well targeted to me as a DJ.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Aye, we try to do the right thing by our readers! Part of that is being a little bit more conservative about the adverts we show.

      Thanks for whitelisting us! We really appreciate it.

    • Johnny
      February 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Avoiding autoplay videos and excessive pop ups is enough for me. I like the side placement of the ads here.

  110. Novar
    February 19, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Matt, maybe I was talking too rude, but about crying I didn't want to say you are crying. I am just tired of endless articles an the web about how ads kills a web.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      But Adblock is killing the web, though. Like, we don't do this for free. I have bills to pay. Adverts pay those bills.
      If you want free content, you shouldn't also rip off the writers of that content. It's a bit of a no-brainer to me.

  111. Xeedo
    February 19, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    You just earned a place on my "White List" ;)

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks man! :)

  112. Anonymous
    February 19, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    LOL, ironic.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Two people who write for the same publication decided to write a piece on the same topic, with a slightly different angle. How is that irony? In most places, that's called a discussion.

  113. Novar
    February 19, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Sorry if my previous post shows like a reply. I was heading to article's author.

  114. Novar
    February 19, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Those words:
    " ... live in first-world countries, with the subsequent first-world costs of living. ... need to get paid according to the cost of living where we live, or we’ll just do something else. "

    MOST. FUNNY. THING. I. EVER. SAW. You dare to compare yourself to poor countries and act like YOU are victims who can't do living in different ways, in more useful ways? ADS is just a bait - you can do nothing or very little while others (clickers) do whole job for you. Stop crying and go do real jobs - do REAL web which does what it says instead of fake URL and viruses, do shop business, do gardening, write books, construct, clean rooms ...

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Er, what? Saying that those living in first-world countries need an income that isn't even remotely a slight on people in poorer countries. It's just a fact.

      Also, a.) I'm not crying. I'm talking. b.) We do REAL web (whatever that is) c.) Adverts aren't a bait. They're a way of monetizing content.

      I'm not really sure what your point was.

  115. DonGateley
    February 19, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    I've long excepted MUO from AdBlock Plus because I want to support it and because it behaves itself. Behavior is key.

    If it were possible I'd reverse the modality of AdBlock Plus so that the default was to not block and I could add poorly behaved sites as needed.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Thanks man. We really appreciate that.

  116. Anonymous
    February 19, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Same website, so different articles...

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      Yeah. Mihir is a colleague. We both decided to write a piece on AdBlock, and we both approached it from different angles and different perspectives.

  117. bben
    February 19, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    One site I frequent has a inexpensive alternative. For $2 you get NO ads on that site forever ( and a few other small perks). Plus, pay for anything, anything at all, Such as a no download speed cap membership, on the site and you get the same NO ads forever included at no extra charge. So, you spring for the no download speed cap for one month - that is $5. You get that no speed cap for the full month (and a few other perks) - AND no ads forever. Now, how long can a site manage to stay in business with a deal like that? How about 14 years so far. How many sites do you know that have been around for 14 years? They must be doing something right.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      That's pretty sweet. I'd add that this is only really scalable for large, or established sites. If you just open up and ask people for $2, you'll get either a.) ignored or b.) laughed at.

  118. Old Timer
    February 19, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    First, I find it ironic you're posting all the reasons why someone would use Adblock. And I use it for most of those reasons. Most sites are so ostentatious with the Ads it's downright offensive. So to wade through all the visual bullshit to get to the meat and potatoes of an article, I can ONLY read it with Adblock on. Websites are absolutely drowning in it. 30 second ads before a video is like being held HOSTAGE! Pre-installed crapware and ads are on our mobile, brand new phones and computers come pre-installed with all the crapware and yet we're supposed to tolerate it all. We're being force fed because YOU are too lazy to find an alternate revenue stream. Not my problem. If you don't adjust, the market will - and is. Just ask the music industry. Let's be frank, you're not curing cancer or solving societal problems, you're writing about games. Get over it. Adlock makes your website layouts tolerable.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      a.) Adverts on webpages and pre-installed crapware on laptops are two entirely different things.
      b.) We're not too lazy to find a different revenue stream. The problem is that there aren't any that are scalable, repeatable, predictable and come with a sufficiently low barrier to entry.
      c.) How is it ironic? It's a discussion about AdBlock. Surely a discussion about the motives behind why people use AdBlock is entirely relevant here.
      d.) I don't write about games. Not often, anyway.

  119. Juan Camargo
    February 19, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    I see your points, but i failed to see evidence directly linking Joystiq's demise to the use of AdBlockers. I use one for the same reason i torrent movies and TV shows. Because we are not for you to abuse. Have a website is files with blatant and instrusive ads that take away from the experience. I also assume that using reader mode in browsers hurts you too. I don't mind gracefully placed ads, but when i have to watch a 1min commercial to view a 15 second video on Youtube, i use AdBlocker, when i have to read an add when i'm trying to read a longform peice, i'd use an adblocker. When a website can't properly format their site for comfortable reading, i use reader mode. Fix your website and then i'll stop using an ad blocker.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Right, but you can't have your cake and eat it. Either you read content that is supported by advertising, or the content doesn't get made because it's just not economically viable to spend hours writing, editing and designing a piece, and not get paid.
      What you would call 'fixing my website' is basically the same as 'work for free'. Which isn't really fair, is it?

    • Juan Camargo
      February 20, 2015 at 3:40 am

      I am more than content to not use AdBlock in some websites, where the advertising isn't obtrusive, but not when it's thrown in my face every few pixels and completely ruins the experience of reading a simple article. It may not be your website, but there are millions of others that do.

  120. BigXYZ
    February 19, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    More sites need to go out of business, because "those resorting to shameless link-bait tactics (a la ViralNova), and rewriting stuff they saw on Reddit (a la Mail Online)" aren't going to go away when we turn off our ad-blocks, they will get bigger and better and more abusive to the individual. Do you really want to take such a strong stance (unethical, really?) against one of the only forms of defense the individual consumer has against the colossal and well funded advertising industry? Yeah, screw consumer protection, lets keep draining them till their last penny is funneled into corporate pockets, privacy invasion is chugging right along, but we need to do more.. how about victim shaming? If you really want something to change in the online culture of content creation maybe you should start with the gigantic (and apparently ethical) controlling hand of advertising, rather than the "unethical" time passing surfer.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      I think it is unethical. Addressing your first point: you're right. People not using AdBlock won't make ViralNova or Mail Online any better.
      But it also won't result in better, more thoughtful content. You generally have to pay people for that.

  121. Hildy J
    February 19, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I'm a ad blocker user (ublock rather than adblock) and a Privacy Badger user. You have 15 ads and 11 trackers on this page and I'm not interested in a single one. They cause the page to load slower and eat up data limits when I'm away from WiFi.

    Since the VCR (yes, I'm old) I've enjoyed ad free TV and I see no reason my Internet should be different. That said, I do pay for premium access to some sites and have donated to others.

    The problem, especially for things like gaming journalism, is that enthusiasts are happy to post equally cogent analyses for free. I would be much more likely to pay for access to crowd sourced fora than sites such as MakeUseOf because I can find ones that are more focused (if I never see another iPost it will be fine with me).

    Someday an ad network will offer clearly labeled, text only ads and I'd be willing to white list them (your promoted content comes close and it isn't blocked). Or if offered I might subscribe to a basket of sites under the Carpathian model (I wonder, would Humble Bundle work for you?).

    • Dmitry
      February 23, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      As (disabled - MUO is one of three info sites i trust and support so far) 'Disconnect' says to me there's 54 Ad requests, 1 Analytics request and 59 Content requests (31 of whose are Google and 25 are something called Automattic) at this moment at thi page :) Isn't that a bit overboard? I saw pr)n sites with lesser numbers.

      And must add something - you can blame adblockers, but lot of people read blogs etc via other means than directly - i mostly browse RSSes, then if something caught my atention save link to Pocket. Don't think either of those roads bring any ad revenue too. And they exist just because they're so convenient to use.

      Not that a long time ago there was uproar among webmasters about Google (and Bing) stealing their 'graphical content' via Image Search function. It didn't helped.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      I don't think it's reasonable to compare crowdsourced content with a site like MUO. We've got quite a lot of strict editorial oversight, which directly shapes the stuff we publish. The only crowdsourced site I know which has that level of editorial scrutiny is Bellingcat, which is a conflict analysis site owned by Elliot Higgins (aka Brownmoses).

  122. Javvad
    February 19, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Hey Matt,
    Really well-written article. Your passion shows and it's great because the last thing I'd want is for you or so many other talented writers and journalists to lose their income – but I disagree.

    Doing the 'right thing' as you call it and agreeing to see adverts on websites, is not something anyone using the internet has really agreed to do. Consuming advertisements is never mandatory. If I use sky plus to record a TV show, then fast forward through the commercials, am I stealing? Am I being unethical? Or am I just using the technology at my disposal to get to the content I'm interested in.

    I don't use adblock – but by the same token, I don't pay any attention to the ads on this site and never intentionally clicked on any of them. Your article makes it sound as if I have a moral obligation to do so if I want to read the story.

    The taxi driver and barber analogy is wrong on so many levels. No-one is 'skipping out' on paying for content they consume. You're trying to frame the 'writer / reader' relationship on your terms. Another way of looking at it is that I am agreeing to give you 3 minutes of my time to read the story and in exchange I want you to give me content of interest.

    It's not fault that your website has a flawed income model. This isn't 1991 anymore – people don't have to – and shouldn't put up with interruptive advertising. We have too many distractions and alternative options available. Adblock is simply the symptom of an underlying issue – traditional interruptive advertising is about as welcoming as Jehovah's witnesses knocking on your door just as you are sitting down for dinner.

    I'm not a pessimist though, like nature, advertising will find a way. The rate of disruption is going up, look at how the likes of Uber or Airbnb have disrupted the taxi or hotel industries respectively. Yes, there are problems, but it's an illustration.

    I guess what I'm saying is that traditional advertising is like brass on the titanic. It's going down and will sink… eventually… well mostly. The way to combat this isn't by complaining about Adblock or users who install it – rather – that should serve as reinforcement of the fact that people don't want to see traditional adverts and that alternative methods should be explored.


    Javvad (not an adblock user)

    • Doug
      February 20, 2015 at 6:47 am

      Well said! I agree completely that complaining is and always has been a fruitless venture. If someone moves your cheese don't stand around waiting for someone else to feed you, its time to move on.

  123. John Smith
    February 19, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I don't use AdBlock Plus. I do browse the internet without javascript enabled. If your ads require any scripts to be loaded externally, then I'm not going to see them.
    The internet is not a place where I'm willing to let people arbitrarily run code inside my browser, especially not an industry with a poor security track record and a profit model that involves harvesting as much information as possible about me.
    If we have to use ads, then real reform would be static ads, generated on the server you're viewing. No dynamic code. From a privacy and security point of view, external javascript is as bad as an auto-playing ad. From a content producer's point of view, it shouldn't feel that the consumers are jypping them. It should be that the ad networks are, for not paying a flat fee to have their advertisement on the site, regardless of who views it.
    I would argue the taxi analogy is incorrect. A better one would be if you were forced to watch advertisements throughout the trip on a two-way television that also recorded your facial expressions in order to try and figure out what you liked so it could, guess what, show you more ads. It'll also store that video of your face. Probably forever.
    Is it wrong to look away from that television?
    Salesmen that come to your door are just trying to make a living. So are telesales people who make cold-calls. They're rightly considered a nuisance. We frown upon people who try to sell us things in the streets. Sometimes, we might, just once, want to see an internet where we're not constantly bombarded, on every single page, with somebody attempting to sell us products. I wouldn't accept a book where every second page was a picture of Coke/a car/etc, even if it was free.
    I accept that ad networks are a viable, and easy method for content producers to monetize their content, but I don't accept that it's unethical to not view those ads. Content publishers use ads, ultimately, for convenience, instead of building or supporting another system that allows them to be compensated, and the internet has suffered as a result of that. That's the fundamental reason we have linkbait titles and shoddy sensationalist journalism and TEN THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Those will continue even if nobody uses AdBlock, because they work. Because they will always make more money, in the current model, than clever, interesting journalism.
    As far as I'm concerned, everyone should use adblock. Donate to the writers you love. Give to their Patreon. Ask developers you know to work on something like Piano, as much as I hate paywalls, but as far as the monetizing model goes right now, we should put it out of its misery.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 24, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      I'm going to answer one point, because you made a *lot* of points.

      I accept that ad networks are a viable, and easy method for content producers to monetize their content, but I don’t accept that it’s unethical to not view those ads. Content publishers use ads, ultimately, for convenience, instead of building or supporting another system that allows them to be compensated, and the internet has suffered as a result of that.

      I don't think it's just ease that's made advertising successful, not do I think that it's just being used as a temporary, stop-gap measure until another viable system works. There just isn't another system that can take advertising's place. I wish there was. But there isn't.

  124. Jason
    February 19, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    The ad networks are the problem. Virus laden flash ads. Blinky distracting text when you're trying to read. Insulting/Inappropriate pictures of busty chicks with click-bait headlines.

    The truth is this: Ad Blockers are still the #1 way to keep your computer safe on-line.

    Jim Sterling made a great case for this a few months ago. I turned off my adblocker and was just going to let his video run so he got the clicks. That's when the commercial for margarine started playing OVER the video I was actually trying to watch. WTF?

    I wouldn't sit and watch Broadchurch while a banner flashed in the corner inviting me to click the monkey, or if the ran a Toyota ad over top of the program. Or if the scene where they expose the killer had a picture of a bodybuilder with "10 amazing steroids they don't want you to know about!" Or a girl in a bikini with "You'll never believe what happens next!" Or if watching Broadchurch meant my TV got infected with malware. The perfume tester in this month's Vogue should give me Anthrax.

    It's about ethics on both ends. And sadly, a lack of ethics and oversight by the sites and ad networks they use has driven many people to install Ad Blockers. Even your plea page for us to whitelist you has the caveat that you don't vet all of your ads, and there's still a chance that something delivered from your site is going to turn my computer into a steaming pile of OS re-install. And you guys are one of the better sites.

    If you want me to stop wearing my internet condom I need assurances that your site isn't going to give me banner-ad gonorrhea.

    FYI, I worked for a newspaper for 20 years. We had protections against ads that were misleading or fraudulent. What I'm asking for is the norm in media.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      I promise you, we won't give you banner-ad gonorrhea. ;)

      You've made some good points. Interesting points. I think we need to find a happy middle ground. I can only speak for MUO, but we totally believe that we only run adverts we think are tasteful, appropriate and unobtrusive. If more sites follow our lead, hopefully we can all get what we want.

    • Charly
      February 20, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Matthew, I see your points, and this was a really great read. As a sysadmin currently focusing on security, I respectfully submit that you can't make the promise to not distribute malware (banner-laden gonorrhea), because you (and sites where this is an issue) have little to know control over the ads that show on their pages. The internet is becoming increasingly trust-no-one, and ad networks are right up at the top of the list. Financial and healthcare institutions are getting hacked on a fairly regular basis. I doubt the ad-networks are half as concerned about security as they are, and when they go down, so does every user served malware through their ads.

  125. Ace Calhoon
    February 19, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    I am someone who has never used an ad blocker. And I do not think that going without a blocker is something that I will be able to continue to do for much longer.

    I do believe in "paying" content creators by looking at ads. I think that's a reasonable thing to do, when the ads are presented in a sane manner.

    But ads are entering a cycle where they are becoming increasingly bad for the user experience. You hit on a lot of the problems yourself: auto-playing audio, performance-killing video, insecure flash, tracking, and so on.

    My options, as a consumer, to combat this blight are limited. I can complain to sites that host the ad types I don't like. Maybe some of them will complain to the ad networks. But the ad networks don't care if they lose a few sites, and the sites don't care if they lose a few viewers.

    I could boycott sites that use technologies that annoy me. For a long time, I made it a policy to immediately leave any site that auto-played an audio ad. But this doesn't provide the ad networks any incentive to change. They will continue to push them out until we reach the point where they're so ubiquitous that I can't escape them.

    We are fast approaching a situation as annoying as the popup hell of the nineties. The one that resulted in ad (popup) blocking technology being integrated into every major browser.

    And this is why I don't think I can go without a blocker for much longer. I don't want to block ads. But I feel that I need to block certain behaviors of the software on my computer. And if that kills ads as a side effect, so be it.

    I do not want to slog through a popup bomb when I open or close a site.

    I do not want to play "find the audio player" every time I open a site.

    I do not want to watch my machine's performance slow to a crawl because I clicked a link that was festooned with flash and video ads.

    I do not want to see the last item I looked at from Staples plastered over every site I visit across the Internet.

    So you say don't use AdBlock Plus. Fine. I can dig it. I'm with you. But I also can't use nothing any longer. So what alternative do you recommend? What is the most humane way to kill the garbage while allowing the honest folks to still make a buck? Is there something that works off a black-list instead of a white-list? Is there something that lets me filter by technology?

    I'm not going to disable the popup blocker on my browser. And I think it's time I supplemented it with an auto-playing-audio blocker.

    And right now, the only product I'm hearing to achieve that is AdBlock Plus.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:36 pm

      Hey Ace,

      Firstly, thanks so much for your comment. You know, I agree with you, to a point. A lot of adverts are bad for the user experience. I wouldn't be so downbeat about the power websites have, however, to police the adverts they show.

      They can pick what adverts they show, and if they're told that a specific kind of advert is negatively impacting the user experience, they'll probably remove it.

      But yeah, it's tricky. I see where you're coming from.

    • Simen B
      February 19, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      I haven't used adblock for a few years now, but back when I used it, I figured out I could choose to only block swf files. That way, I got rid of 99% of the autoplaying spam, while still seeing normal, static image/text ads. Another option is to enable click-to-play for plugins in your browser. This will basically do the same as blocking swf-s (that's the solution I use these days).

  126. Bryan Clark
    February 19, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    I'm an Adblock user, and a journalist. I can honestly say that I had never really thought about the implications of using the plugin and how ironic it was that I was using a technology that could effectively put me out of a job at some point. This is easily one of the most impactful articles I've read in recent memory, and one of the few that will enact meaningful change to my browsing behavior. Kudos, and thanks for enlightening me!

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      Thanks Bryan! I really appreciate your comment!

  127. ReadandShare
    February 19, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    OK, I am a reasonable person and I see your points.

    How about addressing an article to your side of the fence to remove all the gif's and popup's that make webpages all but unreadable -- small, static ads on the sides only -- and I will remove my Adblock? Want a world of trust and fair play? Stop abusing your readers. It's why 'adblocks' got invented in the first place. So please, MUO, etc. -- don't play the victim here!

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      Well, I think we are pretty reasonable. We intentionally remove malicious, deceptive advertising. If you see anything that falls in to that category, let us know! We want to have a good relationship with our readers.

      We're not playing the victim, and we're certainly not abusing our readers. We're having a discussion about AdBlocking, and its impact on the publishing industry.

    • ReadandShare
      February 19, 2015 at 8:18 pm


      Since you asked... MUO's FB Like icon. I don't mind at all. Really, I don't. Until that stupid thing follows me down all the way through an entire article!!

      Advertise by all means. But please be respectful. No need to be so in our face.

    • ReadandShare
      February 19, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      @ Matthew (again):

      The FB like icon is gone now. I've just added it to my Adblock. I hope that puts my point across??

  128. Chris
    February 19, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    OK, you've convinced me to turn off AdBlock, at least until something happens that makes me angry enough to turn it back on. We'll see. Because the truth is that there is tasteful advertising and there is obtrusive advertising, and it's the obtrusive stuff, popup windows you can't figure out how to close without clicking the ad, for example, that make AdBlock so useful. But I will consider that I should not punish everyone just because some sites abuse advertising.

    That being said, I would LOVE to never see that Sponsored From Around the Web box that I see everywhere, with often meaningless thumbnails and clickbait titles... and that one isn't blocked.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 19, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      Yeah, I agree. I'm not a huge fan of OutBrain and Taboolah, either.

      Thanks so much for turning off your AdBlock. We really appreciate it. :)