Mar 072010

I recently started blocking ads in my browser. I don’t actually mind advertising, and I resisted blocking ads for a long time. I understand that some sites rely on ad revenue to earn a living, and I’m fine with that.

Why, then, have I started blocking ads?

Simple. Companies that insist on using tricks to try to force you to look at ads you don’t want to see. Pop-up and pop-under ads, for example.

Worse, to me, is those ads that pop up if you simply mouse over text in the middle of a news story. This is the epitome of skanky behavior on the part of advertisers. It’s offensive and disruptive. This is why I block ads now. If advertisers would simply realize, “Hey, if we only put some ads here and there in the main page and refrain from making them stunningly distracting, from interfering with the actual usability of the site,” then I would be perfectly happy to turn off the ad blockers and let the ads back into my life.

Until then, I’ll block the ads.

 Posted by at 12:11 AM

  7 Responses to “On ad blocking”

  1. Indeed.

    I think the problem isn’t that people block ads, it’s that the only solution for blocking ads is a nuclear bomb. What I really want is an adblocker that lets me choose an “annoyingness” rating that I’m willing to put up with, and to rate sites that I visit. Like a filterset for the whitelist, really. Most ads are either non-intrusive or even sometimes a bonus. But there are just enough sites that have massively irritating blinking/pop-*/friggin’ mouseover ads that I basically have to shut down the entire internet.

    This makes me uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as being repeatedly asked to punch a donkey.

  2. Of ad-blocking reasons, the primary reason I see is simply security. I don’t want random 3rd party JavaScript (potential XSS) and Flash files (major source of attack). Running ads is a _major_ security threat—even large sites like the NYTimes let through malware.

    Quite simply, until browsers support sandboxing better, and advertisers remove this unbelievable need to run any JavaScript they want just to insert an image, then I won’t stop blocking ads. I don’t even have Flash installed. My browsing experience is much better for it.

    P.S. your form requires JS to comment, what’s with that?

  3. “… skanky behavior on the part of advertisers.”

    Sorry, you are mistaken. This is skanky behavior of the website. It is the website that decided to allow this kind of advertising, thus it is the website you should block.

  4. Kroc — The requirement for JavaScript to comment is a spam prevention measure.

    Kim — I agree, at least some of the blame goes to the sites hosting the advertising. However, if I avoided every site that had annoying ads, I might as well quit using the Web entirely. :)

  5. Why do I block web ads?
    – I feel no “duty” to let businesses at the other end of the world make money by selling me stuff that I don’t need.
    – If I do need it, then spamming me is the exact wrong way to get my trade. The “right” way would be to have a reseller in my hometown or near it, and an entry (possibly with an ad) in the Yellow Pages.

  6. I agree with quodlibetor. I don’t block ads directly, but I run NoScript (and RequestPolicy) which shuts down the annoying ad behaviors. I think we have the most leverage if we don’t block all ads (which would cause ad networks and site owners to react by developing countermeasures), but either (1) selectively block those ad networks that serve obtrusive ads, or (2) block annoying and risky behaviors, like running 3rd party javascript.

  7. […] after, several Mozilla developers did posts on why they block ads. The universal reason is that the ads suck. The purpose […]

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