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Show HN: Let's encourage ad blocking (fivefilters.org)
92 points by k1m on March 4, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 139 comments

For me the simple truth is: I don't care. Let me explain. I use ad-blocker (ghostery) on all the sites with everything blocked, because it makes my browsing experience better and faster. "But! But! How will the authors survive?". The answer is: I don't care.

Forbes stopped letting me read their site with ghostery enabled? I don't care. There are a million other free sites to read. So I go there.

But.. But Google wouldn't exist without ads??! I don't care - there would be some other search engine that works without ads.

Really, I got other things to worry about than some random company/person on the internet making money off of me.

I remember the web before ads became so prolific, and before it became so commercial. There was still content, people still cared about topics and put up web pages devoted to them. Without ads, it would still make sense for an individual to write a blog or a company to put up a page that allows others to search or purchase their products. IMDB started as a place to put information related to a usenet group (rec.arts.movies?), iirc.

Without ads, there would be a lot less "get rich quick" schemes and search engine fiddling. Websites that exist only to point to information scraped from other websites and wrap them in ads would disappear. If a web site created by some lone coder started to explode in audience size and bandwidth costs, they could go the donation route. I already donate to some sites that provide content I like. I think we would end up with quality over quantity when it came to finding information, and that's probably a good thing.

So I'm right there with you. I don't care how someone's business model is going for them. I block ads because they've been out of control since before the "punch the monkey" stage came around years ago.

This. I still generally find that the really excellent deep content on the Internet is written by people doing it out of passion, not out of trying to make a living from it. Are there exceptions? Of course! Stuff like Rock Paper Shotgun exists and I really enjoy reading that, or TopGear magazine on iOS gets my digital subscription e-dollars, but most of the articles that I really spend time on are small personal hobby blogs or forums.

Content that exists to make profit for the authors is rarely worth the cost of ads IMO. Let them die.

I remember before the proliferation of ad-supported content, people used to just charge for content.

Back during the late 90s, early 2000s, many forums used to have paid membership programs.

If content is desired, even if its user created, you can charge for the platform users interact on.

I think you represent the opinion about 90% of ad-blocking users, me included.

Would you care for some side money that you can use for micro-transaction (one click for: paywalls, items in games, rewarding a blog author?)

(doing market research here)

Would you care enough to make the switch to another ad-blocker? One that pays you to rent your pixels if the ad is deemed fast, non intrusive, non tracking, not attention grabbing, not misleading, for a sufficiently ethical product, etc.

There's a perverse incentive there. If I'm paid to watch adverts, and my love for money outweighs my hatred for adverts, then I'll watch lots of adverts without actually buying anything. That's great for the ad-provider, but not so much for whoever's products are being advertised, as they'll be getting a significantly worse return on their investment. It's actually in their interests for me to block adverts if I won't buy anything that's advertised in them.

What you're proposing is that if I see some ads, then I get virtual money that I can then forward to someone I deem worthy?

In theory, it seems a nice idea. Sharing ad profits from my views with someone who creates good content. Sure.

I'm not quite sure I'd care enough, but maybe.

I think you are the majority, your opinion on this anyway. Too many people are afraid to say this publicly.

I personally do care about the small authors, and for that I will disable my ad blocker if I come across a small site with ads but I also won't go out of my way to do so.

I come from "web 1.0" or really "beta web" pre 1995 & BBS days so the web we live on right now is / was our nightmare back then.

> I don't care - there would be some other search engine that works without ads.

Why don't you go there then? Go on duck duck go, go on any website that don't show ads. Most of the time, you won't find one because that's just impossible to achieve, there just so much cost associated with hosting a good quality website that it's even hard to achieve only on ads.

Whatever will you answer is the reason why you should care. That exist because ads exist. I don't feel like giving 2-3$ to every website I visit, even if I actually have that money and way to pay it (which I literally couldn't do when I was younger, but you probably didn't lived that).

Nothing is free on this planet, literally nothing. Don't expect the web to be either.

Sure, it's hard, but again - I don't care. I can use an ad blocker, why should I not do it?

(it is very interesting how almost everyone in this thread assumes I'm young - I wouldn't count almost 40 as very young :) )

You should use an ad blocker because it gives you control over your browsing experience. You need that control because advertisers have made the web an unpleasant place. The thing is, we all need adverts. Think of all the products you've bought, that you wouldn't have known about without advertising. The issue isn't 'To block or not to block'. Everyone should block ads until advertisers learn to behave. As advertisers are unlikely to learn to behave voluntarily, it's up to ad-blockers, bloggers and news sites to start pushing advertisers in the right direction. Annoying ads, slow downloads and tracking all need to go. Bloggers should avoid the main offenders and work with advertisers that offer true unobtrusive ads, minimum downloads and that don't track. We need adverts, but more importantly, we need advertisers to play nice.

Your boss, costumer, whatever doesn't make enough money to pay you: I don't care.

Good for you - you shouldn't. I don't know you and will probably never meet you. You can't worry about everyone and everything :)

Somehow I agree with you (I even upvoted your main comment, it distils the sentiment of our generation), when the page is really annoying I also turn on the adblocker but by the other hand I curate a niche blog that is sponsored by ads so I really know how this hurts my revenue and will to continue blogging.

The 'I don't care' millennial attitude is opposite to our parents generation that advocate the opposite: their quixotesc quest to support local small businesses is a proof of that.

I am happy to hear millenials are not going the route of the Baby Boomer locusts. Gen X is the nihilist generation, the Baby Boomers took 10 - 15 years to go from Woodstock to throwing themselves off the top of buildings on Wall Street. The band Jefferson Airplane perfectly mirrors their transformation. They played at Woodstock, then became Jefferson Starship, and finally became the cockrock band Starship. For their final trick, the baby boomers invented the reverse mortgage to guarantee that they leave nothing of value behind for their children.

Note: I am only 51.76% serious. I love a good generational joke. Funny that we think we can classify an entire age group with such prejudice.

I've been a hold out on ad blocking. It always seemed a grey area between the evils of psychological manipulation, tracking and increasing cognitive load and the good of paying for content delivery.

As it becomes increasingly impossible to live in modern society without the internet and the ad networks become more intrusive and the negative consequences increase, it becomes more and more difficult to full justify the pro-ad stance.

This week I got a cold. I'm not sure which social network I mentioned it on or what search I made, but the ads I see everywhere now are for NyQuil.

That first NyQuil ad was a real dousing in cold water. This isn't the ad network knowing I'm actively searching the web for a web monitoring product and showing me pingdom ads. The ad network knows I'm sick and what my illness is.

I'm actively investigating ad blocking now, enemy mine.

> This week I got a cold. I'm not sure which social network I mentioned it on or what search I made, but the ads I see everywhere now are for NyQuil. This isn't the ad network knowing I'm actively searching the web for a web monitoring product and showing me pingdom ads. The ad network knows I'm sick and what my illness is.

The ad network knows you searched for, or included in a status update, "cold", or "sneeze" or some other combination of keywords that Proctor & Gamble paid to have associated with NyQuil.

Genuine question: Why is this a problem? I prefer to receive adverts that are about something I might actually want.

When I've been browsing things on Amazon and then, for some reason, browse without ad-blocking, I start to receive adverts about things I was looking at but didn't purchase. I think that's much better than, say, receiving a page full of obnoxious animated adverts for some Clash of Clans rip-off.

Well its the same thing. You have an unfulfilled need and did something online to try and solve it, so a company targeted you and are displaying their solution in ads. Illness or any other product, the process doesn't change.

Yes, that's actually the point. What I'm saying is that seemed well and good when it was actually helping me find a product I was looking for. It seems less well and good now that I know it's tracking when I have an illness and selling ads based upon that "demographic".

Think about the repercussions if I googling for cancer treatments or HIV infection symptoms and not just cold cures.

Your eyeballs are being programmatically sold to the highest bidder, and cancer treatments can be very expensive.

It's irresponsible right now to browse without ad blocking, because all the major ad networks have at times served malware.

Otherwise, I would not block ads.

I don't get it. A big part of the web is paid by ads. Lots of websites rely on (non-invasive) ads to sustain themselves and provide content to anyone for free. It's safe to say that the whole web sustains on ads (think about google, FB).

I know that sometimes there are too many ads on certain web pages, but that is no excuse to ban them all.

Yes, ads are also used to distribute malware but, come on, it's 2016 and you should have uninstalled both Flash and the Java plugin in your browser a while ago.

Ads pay for some web sites. People pay for ads because they want the attention of the sites' readers to get them to buy their products. People buy their products, which pays for the ads, which pay the websites.

I prefer to be able to steer my own attention, and not have it be steered by those who win the bids for it. I don't like paying a surcharge on every product to enable this practice. It seems like an inefficient way to finance the web.

But after a decade and more of attempted monetization in a plethora of different models, this is the only one that kind of works. In general, people won't pay for content and expect the web to be free, when we all know it's not even close to free to run.

Ad blockers are popular because ads got creepy. Seriously creepy. And majorly intrusive and auto-playing and so on and so forth. No one considers TV ads or print ads to be "inefficient" - yes, there are pay channels, but even the bulk of paid cable channels show ads, and pay magazines are sometimes a full 50% or more ads.

I can't expect you to suddenly cheer for ads. They're everywhere and there is definitely fatigue throughout the day. They uglify highways, they can definitely be pushy. But it's not like people haven't attempted other ways of monetizing content.

I'm not sure that I agree that it works (even kind of; but that is mostly down to "working" being ill-defined), nor am I sure that there aren't other models that have worked out (parts of the web are still ad-free).

But taken at face value, my first thought was that it's just difficult to establish an alternative model against an incumbent. Advertising was there first, but on a level playing field, maybe micropayments could have taken off?

Of course, elsewhere, incumbents fall all the time. So I guess it's just difficult to establish an alternative model against an incumbent that sells the illusion that you're getting something for free. At the same time, people routinely spend 10+ cents for every web page access through mobile access charges. I don't even think about it when I browse the web on the subway.

Let me hasten to add that not all alternatives to classic ads are an improvement. Native advertising and other forms of embedded marketing come to mind. Although I am hopeful that readers will fairly quickly come to despise it even more than the more honest and easier to ignore ads.

  >Advertising was there first, but on a level playing field, maybe micropayments could have taken off?
The biggest barrier to micropayments is the same as it's always been: no real framework for achieving it. You can't add micropayments to your website, but you can add advertising. We're closer than we've ever been, though.

Is there an ad-blocker on earth that will block static content from the same domain? That seems about the best compromise all round, so much so that I think it's inevitable.

> I prefer to be able to steer my own attention, and not have it be steered by those who win the bids for it.

He who pays the piper calls the tune. Very few people are going to create content for you for free. If you don't want your attention steered, prepare to pay the piper.

> I don't like paying a surcharge on every product to enable this practice.

The theory that advertising is a "surcharge on every product" assumes that the dynamics of sales and competition wouldn't be hurt in the absence of ads, that honest, unbiased, uncommercial content would pick up the information slack from ads. These assumptions does not stand up to basic scrutiny:

a: Ads support the entrance of new products into the market. For new products to be successful, they need to drive either new value, higher efficiency, better status-signalling or lower prices.

b: There is nothing to keep uncommercial content from recommending alternative equal-quality non-advertising products, which we would then expect to be cheaper, as they don't incur the surcharge. Certainly, there are examples of such products (eg. consumables that have a store-brand alternative), but if the theory were true, those alternatives would be widely available throughout the market. Consumer Reports routinely recommend products from brands with expensive ad campaigns.

c: Status-signalling is a thing, it really is, and while certainly exploited and supported by the ad industry, it wasn't invented by it, and won't go away if the ad industry does.

> It seems like an inefficient way to finance the web.

Perhaps so, but in a century and a half(?) of ad-supported mass media, not a lot of viable alternatives have appeared. Subscriptions (newspapers, magazines, still contains ads), donations (NPR), tax support (BBC and the like). It's not obvious to me either model would support the almost absurdly rich pluralism of content the web has with ad-finance.

EDIT: spelling, cleaned up ambiguous language.

People block ads because they can. It's that simple. Morals and philosophy have little room when all it takes is a few mouse clicks to disable virtually all ads. The barrier of entry (or de-entry, if you will) is incredibly low.

> Ads support the entrance of new products into the market.

It's going to be difficult for this trend to stop until there are some technical hurdles built. Until then, I think it's unrealistic to say we should subject ourselves to ads because "historically the market has worked that way". It may have worked that way in the past, but times are changing.

No, the the fact that ads entail a surcharge on most products is fairly self-evident (companies pay for it, and price it in), and does not rely on those assumptions.

My take on your argument is that despite the fact that products get cheaper when you remove the "ad portion" of the price, the consumer markets would get more inefficient, and hence the price would increase (or products would be worse, which is basically the same thing). Which is a fair point. But if that were true, it's still not clear which of the two would have a greater impact.

However, I don't think it's very hard to come up with mechanisms that serve the same function as ads in terms of market transparency. You don't even have to be very creative about it, since they already exist (e.g. consumer reports are a thing, and vaguely 10% of the Internet seems to be dedicated to discuss the dos and don'ts of buying shit). Ads are already one of the worst ways to get information about products, particularly in non-niche markets.

> (companies pay for it, and price it in) ... when you remove the "ad portion" of the price, the consumer markets would get more inefficient, and hence the price would increase

Yes, that is what I meant. I guess "net surcharge" is a better term.

> it's still not clear which of the two would have a greater impact

I believe it is, which is essentially what my argument is about. If the net surcharge is non-trivial and positive, then where are the people (trying to) capture it for profit? They can even piggy-back for free on certain kinds of competitors advertising (your competitors spend on ads explaining why everybody must have a dishwasher, you can just show up a sell a dishwasher).

> However, I don't think it's very hard to come up with mechanisms that serve the same function as ads in terms of market transparency

In theory correct, but in empirical practice this doesn't happen. Where is the car/dishwasher/whatever brand that is cheaper because it doesn't advertise, but consistently come out top in Consumer Reports? Even store brand consumables doesn't consistently test as better or equally good, just as good enough, and cheaper.

This is not one of those things where an obvious inefficiency shows up and everybody is falling over themselves because the market takes a few years or ten to smooth things out -- ads have been a fixture of the market, well, since the 60s, going by Mad Men.

This is the bit where I speculate wildly, but I think some of the fallacy is thinking about product, ad and consumer in an abstract isolation. Effects are probably much more diffused and harder to quantify. Broader status-confirmation than that of being seen carrying a can of Coke rather than Walmart Quality Cola is probably one: it feels good to be buying Tide, even is nobody ever sees the bottle, it's a confirmation to yourself that you've made it, and when you and I can shrug that off and get the cheap alternative, it partly because we can derive status confirmation from our work in a way that frankly isn't available to everybody. Also, positive branding (as supported by ads) is pretty important for employee morale which rubs off on product quality. This is way out in the margins, but an employee at the white-label detergent factory probably isn't going to feel the same pride the Tide employee is, and even a little compounds over time.

Very few people are going to create content for you for free.

The very popular site you yourself are posting on for free demonstrates the opposite. Millions provide valuable content for free every day in twitter, medium, HN, Reddit, blogs, Wikipedia etc etc.

An ad-driven web should not be the only future we can envisage, and ads and the search for clicks are what is actively damaging our news media at present IMO. We can do better than ads.

To be the most efficient way, it has to work.

As far as I know, this is the most efficient way to finance a website. What's your most efficient way?

Are you also against relevant adverts in magazines? Some of those are pretty useful...

Nobody disputes the usefulness of some ad(vert)s. But while an ad on a website is coming with tracking, a nice advert in a magazine does exactly what is the intention: inform people of something, either a product or a service. And I can watch that ad anonymously.

While I would like to watch online ads, for the information might be useful to me, is impossible to disable the tracking, somewhere in a log file an IP will be associated with receiving and/or clicking this ad. This IP might be associated already with my identity because I did login to Gmail from the same IP, for example.

That's why I am using ad-blocker.

> Nobody disputes the usefulness of some ad(vert)s.

I do. Some years ago, I've read an essay where the author, among other things, considered banning paid advertisements, i.e. getting paid to promote someone else's work.

I sadly didn't save a link at the time, and I can't find it on Google. The author argued that today's social networks are effective ways for word-of-mouth advertising, which is why classical advertising is not strictly required for a new product to take off (esp. when combined with crowdfunding).

Furthermore, advertisements regularly create requirements that are irrational and even harmful to the people involved (e.g. sodas and sweets) or the society or its natural resources. I can see how banning paid advertisement could help in transitioning to a zero-growth economy, which I consider one of the most remarkable challenges of our generation.

I would love to see these ideas explored with scientific scrutiny, because, as always with economic policies on this scale, it's near impossible to estimate their effect in advance.

> a nice advert in a magazine does exactly what is the intention: inform people of something, either a product or a service. And I can watch that ad anonymously.

Even ads in magazines aren't there to "inform" people.

"Informing" would be objective. Ads are meant to show the product in the best possible light and get people to buy them.

A less mentioned problem is the fact that, as far as our industry is concerned, ads corrupt.

They corrupt the developers, because the purpose is no longer to create a great product. You now have to think on how to:

* tweak your product to accommodate ads

* trick the user to comeback even when he shouldn't have to

* collect as much data about the user as you can

And they corrupt content creators, because it makes them focus on volume (views) instead of quality.

And yes, we painted ourselves into this corner, where is really tough to make it without using ads. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't explore other options. And without ad blockers, the industry will have no motivation to search for alternatives.

Hey, if a website uses ads that it hosts on their own server and if the ads are relevant to the content of the page and not my browsing history, I'm more then happy to see them.

Since in 2016 this is mostly not the case, I have to go with whitelisting the sites instead of the other way around.

If your business model can be defeated by a browser extension, then it wasn't a business to begin with.

The internet is in need of a unified subscription service. One that you can pay a monthly fee and see as many ad supported websites as you want, without ads.

I tried to contact some media sites a month ago because I was creating that service. No one even replied my email. I do not think they are even interested in it.

It's a lost cause unless if you can get someone like Murdoch in as an investor.

There would already be a unified subscription service if there would be a real demand for it.

As ad-blocking becomes more common, demand for a unified subscription service grows. Hopefully, it's feasible, because I think it would be a wonderful thing. Some subscription services, which remove ads, are doing pretty well as far as I can tell; Twitch is the obvious one that springs to mind.

And after a few years it would end up being similar to cable tv. It started offering «more and better content» without ads, because you already paid a subscription. And once they had enough users and content, they added ads. Whats stopping those websites from doing the same?

Flash is a red herring here. Yes, we argue about the too many. And for lots of people that is 1. I pretty much feel this movement is just a reaction to a very nasty practice, and every advertising company deserves what it gets. Ad supported != free, sorry and Google and FB != the whole web.

I'll admit that "the whole web" was an exaggeration, but I'm trying to make a point. Nearly every website that I browse is sustained by ads.

Yeah, the adv industry is a nasty one, but still this movement is not providing a viable (any?) alternative option to finance the web.

I don't think the ball is in the customers court hereto come up with solutions, but some alternatives might be 1. donations like patreon, flattr, paypal etc. 2. pushed down on people throat a different way e.g. build into your monthly internet bill (the same way as piracy 'damages' were included in CD and DVD prices) 3. maybe just let those parts die

edit: 4. I really did enjoy South Park sponsored content

Patreon is working reasonably well, and other sites are using a similar model even if they don't use Patreon specifically. Flattr is still around even though it isn't very popular. Readability tried this and distributed some money to site owners, but they didn't have a good reputation with site owners and eventually folded. Looks like the Brave browser is trying a similar thing now.

Should ISPs be required to share their profits with the owners of the sites their users visit?

Never mind the technical hurdles; from a strictly ethical standpoint, would it make sense? The industry seems to have settled on 70/30 being a fair split. Why shouldn't sites be able to opt in to receiving a portion of 30% of the profits coming from a particular ISP subscriber, proportional to how many times that user visited their site compared to other sites?

ISPs profit by transferring other people's copyrighted content but sharing none of that money with the content creators. Wasn't MegaUpload raided and destroyed for doing essentially the same thing?

BBS and similar services offered content for free before the advent of www and Web as we know it today. I think most of the Internet would survive without ads, it'd just have a bigger split between free and premium content, and p2p for distribution would be more common place to share the load.

A BBS had a more static infrastructure cost though, because the resource use was gated by fixed limitations like the number of incoming lines. Traffic cost requirements can be much harder to predict and while you can emulate the fixed maximums of older technology this is going to put your users off because people these days do not expect that sort of limitation.

All the ads you see track you.

I would be OK with watching ads instead of paying a website, I'm not OK to be tracked in doing so.

Security, performance, aesthetics help in strengthening my resolve.

If I really want to help a website I'll value whether to disable the adblocker (ublock origin) or not, or perhaps pay for an ad-less service.

So what? The web worked just fine before ads came along, and I'm not convinced that the deluge of ad money has actually improved it much. If the ad money dries up, we'll get by and the web will still be full of interesting things people have created in order to give them away for free.

It's mostly about tracking for me.

The "Why?" text didn't convince me at all, so... why? I'm serious. I don't mind ads and I don't mind being tracked. On the contrary I've found interesting products on banners, mostly due to retargeting.

Since this site's purpose is to encourage people not using adblock to use it I don't think "don't use it then" is sufficient here.

I found blocking ads significantly sped up some sites (especially on mobile) and prevented page layouts jumping about as more ads loaded after the initial page.

The web is just much faster without ads.

Thanks. That's a good argument.

Ad networks have been known to distribute malware.


Websites have been known to distribute malware.

True, but hacking an ad network to distribute malware has a much better Return On Investment since it will distribute your malware from potentially thousands of websites, instead of just one.

The same reason why exploits for Windows and Windows software are more common than for other desktop operating systems.

When I visit cnn.com without ad-blocking, I receive content from 41 different domains: with ad-blocking it's 7.

So without ad-blocking I am putting my faith in the operators of 7 domains that none of their servers have been compromised to serve up malware. Most of those domains don't operate as a service that intentionally lets fourth-parties serve up arbitrary content.

With ad-blocking I have to trust that 41 domains, some of which will be serving up fourth-party content without curation, will not serve up malware. I don't even know ahead of time whose servers I'll be visiting, so I can't try to estimate how much risk I'm exposed to.

I disagree. You can't just get malware by visiting a website and taking no action. You don't /really/ have to trust those 41 domains, you trust that CNN knows what there doing by using all those services and monitors them regularly.

Citation needed on malware not being able to be installed without user interaction!

I don't trust CNN to monitor those 41 domains. I don't expect CNN to monitor those 41 domains. The very point of an ad-broker service that allows the highest bidder to inject their own content into a website is that CNN doesn't know ahead of time who's going to provide the content for a particular view.

If a website uses an ad-broker which permits - or can be tricked into allowing - adverts which aren't just simple static content - e.g. allowing javascript, SVG, web fonts: anything which might have browser bugs exploitable by malware - there could be a problem.

This is an excellent point: how on earth can publishers be happy with this? Every time I see either the face peel / belly fat advert, or the component with a grid of so-link-baity-its-parody ads in it, I think less of the site I'm on. It doesn't matter how prestigious your name, if you associate it with the scummiest content in the universe, prepare to cop some flak.

It doesn't have to convince everyone. If you don't want to block ads, then don't. I will still do it and many others with me since we are convinced by the same type of arguments that are on that page.

But that's the ting. You already had AdBlock installed. This page is aimed at people like me, who aren't using AdBlock.

The site is aimed at people who want AdBlock but don't know yet that a) it exists or b) how to get it.

Do you really have to load jquery for a couple of lines that could be done in pure js? I run a local proxy to redirect hosted libraries like jquery. Google could and probably tracks where everyone's been on the web when loading their hosted libraries. Pretty much bypass adblockers altogether.

Agree. We'll remove jQuery dependence and move remote JS/CSS files to the same server.

>I run a local proxy to redirect hosted libraries like jquery.

how to do this?

How come? Shouldn't the browser cache the jquery library and very rarely do a connection to Google CDN?

It isn't just the network load. If you are on a small device the RAM use is not entirely insignificant.

The CPU load too, though I think the use of animation/video in adverts is more of a problem in that respect than the overhead of using jQuery instead of modern DOM APIs directly.

Even just considering network load, you need to be careful about the cache control headers that you send to ensure that all common browsers will cache content (see http://blog.httpwatch.com/2011/01/28/top-7-myths-about-https... amongst other references) and you have to be careful not to accidentally indicate that it is OK to cache something sensitive (which is why some servers send blanked "don't cache" headers for HTTPS responses unless explicitly ordered otherwise, it is the safest default).

I visited it on Firefox mobile and it correctly detected that I didn't have adblock (as I tend to only read HN and technical blogs on my phone), but the link send me to uBlock Origin's Github page. While uBlock is a nice blocker, if the goal is to encourage adblocking I think it would be better to directly link to the extension for whichever browser is being used as I do not think there is much overlap between "Knows how to use Github" and "Doesn't know what an adblocker is".

Absolutely. Just wanted to get some feedback on this in its current state. Agree that it should detect user's browser/device and suggest an appropriate blocker.

I wish uBlock Origin had a nice install page I could point to that would do that kind of detection itself. All I could find at this point was the Github page.

I was thinking of linking to the extension/webstore pages, like [1] for Firefox and [2] for Chrome.

[1] : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/ublock-origin...

[2] : https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ublock-origin/cjpa...

>> it should detect user's browser/device

For me it would just take away from the service, if you want to detect what I'm running, you are only a little better than advertisers. I understand, it is for the 'greater good' from your pov, but this way the means impairs the cause.

Are you serious? Basic browser/device detection to suggest a suitable ad blocker is not really the same as the tracking carried out by big ad networks. I don't see the similarity to be honest.

I'm very serious [1]. It is not at all basic for me.

I can't find the discussion from a couple of days earlier, but afair it basically said wsj let the google crawler indexing their articles, while simultaneously blocking users by detecting their device.


That blog, to me, only shows the problems of selective enforcement I fail to see how it is relevant?

Regarding the WSJ: it's a technologically unsophisticated (but probably effective) way of having indexing work with a pay-wall (which requires more tracking in and of itself anyway). But selective access does not violate your privacy, only your freedom to view their content. And as much as I oppose the "companies are people too" movement I do think they have a right to selectively serve their content as much as you have a right to decide what you want to do with the bytes they (try) to send you (e.g. adblock them).

Not a lawyer, and not even a native speaker, my interpretation might be false. I take away there is a very fine line what is authorized access and it can be bent depending what size of a fish you are. And if I violate CFAA when accessing systems someone not cared to secure (not that I do), they sure as well when running scripts in my browser that track me or try to detect my system.

I think it derails the conversation, but do you have the right to pretend to be the google crawler then?

What about CSS extensions like .webkit? Same thing really. AFAIK the standard way to do browser-detection is to use the user-agent string, which your browser sends with every request it makes (but can be overridden) anyway, so them programming an if(browser == firefox) statement does nothing whatsoever for their knowledge of you. They already get told what browser you are running.

And I am no webdev, but a quick google seems to show that it is possible to do browser detection completely client-side anyway with Javascript, so even if user-agent strings did not exist they could detect your browser without any kind of fingering.

Granted, if you wanted to do so perhaps you could use this to circumnavigate people hiding their user-agent by having the generated link be a hosted redirect link, that way you know that if someone clicked redirect-firefox.theirdomain.org they were using firefox even if they hid their user-agent string. But it's not really fair to assume that in this case. (and i have to wonder what the value of an ip-adress/browser pair is).

Hmm. I'm conflicted.

I am very much against tracking, and ads that track retarget and abuse me, so am very restrictive in terms of what I let near my browser.

I'd also be very happy to see ads on many sites (eg Stackoverflow style - respectful ads) if I could trust them not to track, retarget or drop malware. That implies either an ad network that's restricted to static pngs (and that they've developed trust), or going back to publisher hosting.

I think, there's the germ of a great idea here. But, rather than pushing people at uBlock (which is my preferred blocker) I'd try and educate on tracking and ad network abuse, then link out to several newbie friendly, zero effort options (that probably implies adblock and others). Why not uBlock? It's a LONG way from newbie friendly, but chances are that's your audience because they don't have a blocker already.

Educate to get some pushback against tracking and crapware ads, like was done to kill ie6 long ago.

If I gave uBlock to my mum's generation (generalisation) or neighbour I'd be fielding quite a lot more tech support calls. :p

> Why not uBlock? It's a LONG way from newbie friendly

How is this? It's an install and forget blocker, requires no fiddling out of the box/ You fiddle with its settings only if you want to, it has no install page.

Thanks for the feedback. Do you really think uBlock Origin is so different from other blockers in terms of usability? I don't see how. It relies on essentially the same set of filter lists that others like Adblock Plus use, but without selling out to big ad networks. I love that they don't give in to acceptable ads - I think that's a very murky area for ad blockers to be involved in.

The icons are non-obvious apart from on/off, settings icon is hard to find, and when in settings there's no easy mode wizard to keep you away from the list of 50 filters and just recommend easylist or fanboy's + a couple of other recommended defaults.

If I gave it to some of the folks I know they'd end up utterly baffled if they ever opened the interface (probably unlikely to be fair :D)

EFF's Privacy Badger does a brilliant job of first run wizard and UI for non techies. Adblock first run is 4 or 5 steps and steers away from the techie guts. uBlock just dumps you at the settings that are programmer friendly (far as I remember there's no first run anything).

For me and reasonably IT literate folks, uBlock is perfect. It's by far and away the best blocker I'm aware of right now though.

To be honest, I think when it comes to usability, most users of ad blockers aren't going to change settings. And having just checked it against Adblock Plus, I'm not so convinced that Adblock Plus is easier.

If we assume that most users will install an ad blocker and expect it to just work, then uBlock Origin and the filters it enables by default gives users much better protection than Adblock Plus. I think that's far more important than how usable the settings page is.

I installed ublock origin at school, no real problems, just showed one person how to click the big Off button to stream a show from a tv channel website that complained.

uMatrix is better, just sayin'

One thing about this, is that I don't particularly want an ad-blocker per se: I want a malicious-or-annoying-stuff blocker.

So I primarily use Privacy Badger, which dynamically blocks sites that try to track me (and gives me an excuse to rail against sites that tell me I'm running an ad-blocker, because I'm not running an ad-blocker!) and self-destructing cookies to stop first-party tracking on sites I don't trust.

The down-side of self-destructing cookies being the EU cookie regulation, which relies on sites setting a cookie to tell me that I have to agree to set cookies, when I've actually configured my browser to do what I want with the cookies anyway. So then I need an ad-blocker set up specifically to block the cookie panels (with https://github.com/r4vi/block-the-eu-cookie-shit-list) which requires me to have an ad-blocker installed after all, even if it's not set to block ads...

I'm simply using Ghostery to block any ad trackers and other scripts. Which this site tells me it's apparently not enough.

Thanks. We'll test Ghostery and try to fix this.

Perhaps the same here - ghostery, noscript and adblockplus installed, and the page says no ad blocking detected! Actually, I'm hoping that this is a success rather than a failure because the next phase of anti-ad blocking is them needing to detect that I'm blocking ads. I, however, don't really want them to be able to detect that..

Hmmm, are you by any chance using a filter list other than Easy List in adblockplus?

Yes, I don't have EasyList ticked

While you're at it, it doesn't appear to work with Disconnect.me either.

Thanks, will take a look at that too. Pretty sure they publish their filter lists, so should be easy to make sure it's covered.

Are you objecting to advertising in principle? I don't have anything against advertising as a means of improving sales. We just need to stop talking about 'advertising' and start focusing on 'annoying' and 'tracking'. I object to anything that tracks me and to ads that annoy me while I'm trying to read an article. To be fair, it's not just ads. I hate any form of animation while I'm trying to read. It makes it harder to concentrate. I wish all bloggers (and news sites) would avoid using GIFs and ensure their content rendered fully without JavaScript (vain hope). As far as I'm concerned if adverts are unobtrusive, don't track and have a light download, I'm OK with them. Mostly I'll ignore them (just like I do with TV ads) but at least they provide revenue for bloggers.

I caved to forbes.com demand that I turn off my adblocker yesterday. As soon as the page loaded my browser slowed to a crawl and the content was covered by ads. Chrome was going unresponsive from the page. Needless to say I couldn't close the tab fast enough, and forbes went back on my adblock list.

Blocking all adverts is short sighted. It works at present because the ads are delivered in a pretty obvious manner and it's easy enough to drop the scripts/elements. Blocking everything will become a much harder game once the content producers figure out how to bake ads directly into the content. How are you going to distinguish between an image that's part of the article and an advertising image when they are both served from the content producer's host?

Installing an adblocker is a reaction to an overwhelming onslaught of ads. The solution is some sort of compromise between "full on malvertising shitshow" and "eliminate all ad-funded business models".

EasyList[1] already contains various per-site adblocking based on CSS selectors, with several packages for different languages and site type. I think the community is big enough and motivated enough to manually lists any ads on most websites.

Also first-party advertising is complicated because it prevents the advertising company from publishing the ads it wants, since the ad would be delivered by the site itself. While this is the business model of Google and Facebook, most sites don't have the analytics power to publish the most relevant ads to their users.

[1] https://easylist.adblockplus.org/en/

Re easylist, that is what I meant by 'pretty obvious'.

Re first party advertising, the scorched earth blocking approach is going to push the advertising industry to take over first party advertising. Your site runs httpd and advertd, where advertd receives ads from the industry to inject into the pages, and returns tracking data to the industry. If this doesn't exist yet, it's definitely under construction.

> How are you going to distinguish between an image that's part of the article and an advertising image when they are both served from the content producer's host?

That would at least stop 3rd-party ad tracking, and would make ad malware less likely

I doubt that. What I think we'll see is that the content producers will inline the ad-industry adverts & tracking code and send the tracking data back to them. Which amounts to routing the advertising machinery through the content producer's network rather than directly to the client. I don't see where the vetting process will be vastly improved or how it would lead to fewer trackers.

You can't get a tracking code that tracks users across all the sites they visit unless the user gets their tracking from a single site.

The best thing the tracking industry _could_ have done is not pair it with stuff you don't want to view like adverts. If tracking was done via jquery hosted on a CDN, it's quite feasible we wouldn't even know it was happening.

> If tracking was done via jquery hosted on a CDN, it's quite feasible we wouldn't even know it was happening.

That almost certainly is being done, and we probably know about it.

Surely google track their cdns?

If they do, they aren't using tracking cookies. I can't guarantee they aren't doing any sneaky browser fingerprinting (like panopticlick.eff.org) to track me, though.

I'm using Dan Pollock's hosts file method[1] which is detected by Wired and Forbes, but not this site.

[1]: http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/

Thank you. You're right, pure host-based blocking is not currently detected by the site. We'll try to include that too.

At the moment we're relying on a rule in Easy List - https://easylist.adblockplus.org/en/ - it's used by Adblock Plus, uBlock, AdGuard and a probably others. But we need to take into account other methods/blockers that don't rely on this list.

My two layers of blocking are also not detected.

Layer 1: Similar to what @accommodavid has, my router uses several lists of ad-server domains to block requests to them. The list URLs are at https://github.com/pi-hole/pi-hole/blob/963eacfe0537a7abddf3...

Layer 2: My browser has uMatrix. It is set up to only allow a) first-party requests of any kind, and b) third-party requests for images and CSS. (So on your site, the JS from ajax.googleapis.com is blocked.)

An ad-free-web would mean a inevitable sponsored-content-web. The first was easy to manage. We need to start thinking about Add-ons that can detect sponsored-content.

There's AdDetector: http://www.ianww.com/ad-detector/

If I understand well this reads if the page says "sponsored by", I fear the future where this tag is not available.

Checked Firefox and Chrome, with uMatrix in a typical configuration that blocks all but first-party requests and external images and CSS by default and a default set of common AD and tracking hostnames blacklisted. "No ad blocking detected"

Allowed site do to third-party requests to fetch jQuery. Still says "no ad blocking detected".

I guess just testing that /css/ads.css (a first-party resource) fails to load isn't a good measure.

Thank you for the report. Yes, we'll include other measures soon.

For anyone interested, in our tests with uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus and AdGuard for Android - the default installation (which we assume most people use) - all included the rule which blocks ads.css, even if it's same origin.

I visited the site from an iOS device with Purify installed and enabled for 'Ads and Tracking'. The site told me It didn't detect an ad blocker.

Thanks for the report. I can't find the filter list for Purify, but I think it's the same developer who took over uBlock (not Origin).

We're relying on a rule in the Easy List filter set which blocks loading of anything called ads.css. Perhaps this rule does not exist in Purify. I'll make a note to test. If anyone knows the filters Purify uses, I'd love to take a look.

We also test for 'acceptable' ads getting through based on a rule in Adblock Plus, and warn against it.

Let's encourage the monopolisation of the internet.

Whenever I encounter an intrusive add that basically overlays the whole page and send me to some shady site, it goes to the black list. Mistakes happen, so I occasionally review this list, because I care for the revenue of the sites I like. Anyway, today Ad blindness works as good as any ad blocker.

Ad blocking is a rhetorical misnomer. It's not ad blocking, it's malware blocking. I have no problem with ads and would allow to be subjected to them if cookies, trackers, beacons, and privacy invaders were not inserted into my personal property.

I like to start on the DNS level https://github.com/jakeogh/dnsgate

Any approved blocker for iOS yet?

Doesn't appear to detect the use of Privacy Badger on Firefox.

Thank you. We'll take a look.

I've never seen a group so ready and willing to destroy their chances at future success.

Ads are pretty much the only way to make a living when you are bootstrapping. These blocks, like all of the other silly things in this community meant to hurt the big, bad, corporations, do nothing but strengthen them.

It's an automated way to remove competition. The people with resources and money will survive (as always) and the rest will suffer the consequences of their short-sighted actions.

It happened with the music industry over the last two decades (1 million plays on spotify nets you $1000, if you are lucky).

I’m glad I have resources: I can get a good deal on labor when these sorts of movements decimate an indusry.

If the authors are opposing advertising, why are they advertising their opinions here? These naive opinions are more intrusive to me than many targeted advertisements. To be clear, i'm not opposed to ad blockers. I'm also not opposed to some advertising. I am averse to hypocrisy.

Your argument falls apart when you consider HN is explicitly a place to advertise either ideas or products. And you can show your disdain via the downvote button or you can offer criticism in the form of comments. This is a platform for advertising, whether there's money to be gained or not.

Similar discussion from a day ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11215801

Encouraging adblocking is harmful and discriminating against advertisers. A more appropriate term is content blocking. Indeed, why not to see some static ads and just disable tracking?

Because they didn't give me the option. Seriously I'd like to be as diplomat as you, but they've taken obnoxious and shady so far my reaction to ads is now 'default deny'. And I'll lose no sleep discriminating against the advertisers.

I don't get the "harmful and discriminating against advertisers" part.

Advertisers are forcing me to pay attention to something I don't want or need to pay attention to, why do I have to cater for them?

I feel you have to be politically correct about these things, because there might be ground for a lawsuit based on the loss of advertisers. It might sound stupid, but that is definitely something I could imagine they come up with.

Good thing I'm not in the US. :)

Because I don't want to see static ads either? Being harmful to and discriminating against advertisers is kind of the point. Why should I put up with their harassment? It's my computer, I'll do what I want with it, and if that includes refusing to download and display a bunch of crap some advertiser wishes they could trick me into viewing, well, it's my choice to refuse to download that crap.

There are no good adblockers today. Most of current "adblockers" remove DIV element just because it has id="ad", without analyzing if there is any advertisement inside it. Simply stupid.

And since many "adblockers" are not open-source, you never know what it is doing. Software may perform censorship of the world wide web, depending on what investors tell the programmers to do.

Imagine the investor is Apple. They can make adblocker remove the the results containing "android" from your google search. I think such scenario is quite possible in the future, if users blindly trust "adblockers".

> And since many "adblockers" are not open-source, you never know what it is doing.

Hmm, not entirely sure about this.

* Adblock Plus: https://adblockplus.org/en/contribute-code

* uBlock: https://github.com/chrisaljoudi/ublock

* Adblock (the original one, without the "Plus"): http://code.getadblock.com/

I could go on and on, but I would argue that these three are the most popular ones.

Does happen, but not such a big problem for me. I'd argue that developers/designers should be testing with ad blockers enabled.

Unless you work for a site that's ad supported, then it's the other way around unfortunately.

They might not be perfect, but my uBlock says 611,492 or 8% blocked requests, which still helps.

What uBlock displays is merely a lower bound. Many ad scripts, when loaded, will make further requests. But with uBlock, they're never loaded, so uBlock can't count the requests that were never tried.

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