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Adblock Plus now sells ads (theverge.com)
381 points by mariusavram on Sept 13, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 376 comments

A word of warning about uBlock for those who aren't aware: uBlock Origin forked off of uBlock some time ago and left the Safari version behind. For Chrome and Firefox uBlock Origin is great, but for Safari I personally suggest Wipr[1].

1: https://safari-extensions.apple.com/details/?id=com.giorgioc...

Actually, uBlock Origin comes from original author of uBlock. Some time ago he said that he doesn't have time to develop Origin and passed project to other guy. Unfortunately, that guy didn't make any big changes in code (except adding himself as an author) and asked for donations. After quite big drama, original author came back, but he wasn't able to get back his project so he called it uBlock Origin.

It's worth noting that it all started on APRIL FOOL'S DAY (2015). That was the convenient day the author of the project decided to say in the comments for a random Github commit "hey, anybody wants to take this over? I'm out", without any previous discussion or announcement. Users assumed it was a joke but it was for real. Literally the first person to reply took over the entire project, and when the developer who was the real responsible for the Firefox and Safari port saw it, he stopped contributing instantly.

However, it's not that "the original author wasn't able to get it back". He is too proud of himself to admit the big mistake it was to give up the project to a random greedy teenager (who after the drama offered to give it back), so he decided to stay with the Origin name.

The result of this is that said teenager still makes a profit off the brand name (see ublock.org). People see that page and happily give him money thinking that they are helping the world.

By the way, it's also worth noting that the greedy teenager inflated his Github commits with minor changes and by hijacking the authorship of some commits, so that people would think that he did more than he actually have done (he can't really do much), and donate more to him. Eventually he just stopped making commits at all (https://github.com/chrisaljoudi/uBlock/graphs/contributors), since people will still donate just for thinking that his domain is legit.

The moral of the story is that uBlock Origin is a good extension, but its developer, despite being talented, can't be trusted to be here tomorrow. He can just have a tantrum and delete the entire project or give it up to some other random teenager again.

The uBlock Origin name just adds to the confusion. The original developer (gorhill) should create a totally new project name. Word would spread that uBlock was the old thing and no longer maintained and that gorhill's new project was the future.

Even using a name like "uBlock Next Generation", which is less ambiguous than "uBlock Origin" and suggests "this is the new project", would still cause confusion. People unfamiliar with the project history would just call it "uBlock", leading to the same donation problems.

Agreed. Similar name issue happened with Tox.

what happend with tox?

Sorry for the late reply. Tox was loosely organized under the umbrella Tox Foundation. When it was discovered that head and CEO (holding the purse strings) was abusing donation money, the devs split and created uTox. However, the Tox Foundation insists on holding the name, but as it's only one guy who doesn't appear to have taken any binding legal action, the name sharing persists.

> ... can't be trusted to be here tomorrow. He can just have a tantrum ...

"Tantrum" exists only in your head. Be judgmental as much as you wish, bottom line is that you know nothing of me or my private life.

Your comment is super confusing. Do you mean that he didn't have time to develop uBlock so then we went to make Origin? You wrote it the other way around. Which one does the original guy work on now, Origin?

I'll start over for him. Gorhill was the author of uBlock. He got tired of maintaining it, gave it up and willingly allowed chrisaljoudi to take the project. chrisaljoudi later started asking for donations, allegedly hasn't changed the code much except for some visual tweaks and added things like "Made by Chris" to the website. Some drama ensues, people accuse chrisaljoudi of being greedy, he makes some changes to how he presents things and Gorhill seemingly regrets giving the project up and instead of taking it back, (not sure if he tried or not) he forks the project and goes back to maintaining it, so now there would be 2 uBlocks. However there was an issue where Google removed the Gorhill's version from the store because it was a dupe of chrisaljoudi's version (which yes, used to "belong" to Gorhill), so Gorhill renamed the repo he was maintaining to uBlock Origin.

tl;dr Gorhill started uBlock, got fed up & gave it to chrisaljoudi, later did a reversal, forked the project and continued with maintaining that fork, only now his version is called uBlock Origin.

Origin is from the original author. The original author passed the torch to someone else who then used it as a donation source. So the original author came back, forked it, and titled their fork Origin.

the real reason, imho, was that gorhill got fed up of crappy bug reports and all the issue management hell. he forked and continued working with his own repo without ability to make issues. he probably hoped that this teenager had more energy for communicating with users and skills to merge commits back. someone probably know relevant issue numbers where drama was happening...

Wipr on Safari is great, it's super lightweight, probably the fastest ad-blocking experience on any platform. My only complaint is a lack of configurability, it doesn't seem to have any way to whitelist things etc.

Pointing ad host to in the hosts file so no DNS resolving takes place. Nothing beats that as a baseline.

See FreeContributor [1]

[1] https://github.com/tbds/FreeContributor

> uBlock Origin forked off of uBlock

No, uBlock Origin was the original. The fork was confusingly also called uBlock. Origin==original.

See https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/commit/06334a190ea9589e983... (or Wikipedia)

  > https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/commit/06334a190ea9589e983
If you remove /commit/06334a190ea9589e983 and look at the actual README.md on the project page [1], you'll see it's called uBlock Origin =)

[1] https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock

I've been using 1Blocker. It syncs rules between the mac and iPhone versions of Safari.

I've had good luck with the original AdBlock for Safari (no relation at all to the AdBlock Plus that sells ads) :


It's actually the other way around.

The only thing to do if you haven't already. uBlock is open source and does the job.

This all adBlock making money by blocking ads and then showing their own ads is becoming ridiculous and unethical.

So what does Adblock stand for now ?

>So what does Adblock stand for now ?

Same thing it did years ago when it decided that an Adblocker should default to allowing "Show Ads" for any advertiser which paid them a blood ransom: PROFIT

You're assuming that everyone shares your world view.

I'm a happy Adblock Plus user and I like this move.

Advertising, in general, does not bother me. I occasionally even find it valuable. Ads on sites like Google and Facebook are perfectly fine by me—I just don't want big, animated ads or (more frequently) broken ones which prevent me from reading content. In fact, I already go out of my way to disable ABP on sites where the ads are acceptable.

Contrary to what people on HN believe, advertising is not inherently evil. Most people are perfectly fine with ads so long as they're not invasive.

> Contrary to what people on HN believe, advertising is not inherently evil. Most people are perfectly fine with ads so long as they're not invasive.

I would guess most people have this idea (in most cases illusion) that advertisers are not able to manipulate them. I do not have that illusion, and I do not like people that are manipulating me for their own benefit. I do not know if they are evil, but I think it is fair for me to try to avoid those kind of people.

> I would guess most people have this idea (in most cases illusion) that advertisers are not able to manipulate them.

I certainly don't pretend that advertising has no impact on me.

I also don't think I'm a mindless drone who does whatever advertisers say.

Advertising is not zero sum. It can be effective and good for the consumer. For example, I have Charles Schwab account because I once saw it in a magazine ad, did some research, and have been a happy customer ever since. Both Schwab and I won, even though they "manipulated" me into learning about their excellent offering.

> I do not have that illusion, and I do not like people that are manipulating me for their own benefit.

You should probably never leave your house then, because almost every person in the world is trying to (subtly) manipulate you. Manipulation isn't evil.

Aren't you manipulating him into not leaving his house? /jt The kinds of ads Ad Block Plus allows will be interesting. With the push for analytics, enabling any ads may allow some crafty shnooks to manipulate the system and figure out your personal interests. It's fine to tell a person directly what you want, but it's annoying when they spy on you all the time. That said, I agree that advertising is a good thing, just that marketing has focused too much on direct advertising and less and actually being accommodating. This article showed up on HN not too long ago, but it's still worth reading twice: https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/07/how-google-analytics-ruine...

I agree with what you say, but advertising (more specifically Google's Adwords) actually introduced me to a couple of interesting services/products! Was I manipulated? Definitely, because I clicked the ad, but I don't mind because I also benefited.

However, a lot of adverts are subterfuge these days and I did fall for one (to shame it, it was TrackR Bravo, which works nothing like its advertised, to make matters worse it was part of a present), so one does need to be careful.

I do not know if they are evil, but I think it is fair for me to try to avoid those kind of people.

This is a fine stance to have, but I don't see how it relates to the context of ad-blockers. It's a simple enough just to not visit websites that display advertisements. Why would you need an adblocker for that?

> Why would you need an adblocker for that?

Because there are websites with content other than advertisements I am interested in.

Now, I think Facebook, Google, other advertisers and content providers using these ad networks have made the (moral) rules of the game quite clear. They try to extract as much net value from every transaction with me as is even remotely legally and technically possible. And they make massive investments on the technology that is trying to maximize this value extraction. Why should I feel bad playing by the same rules they have created?

(Note that in practice I am not as ideological as my arguments here are. I have e.g. chosen to disable the adblocker for some websites instead of paying for subscription to support them somehow. Reason for this is the fact that it is much easier to turn off the adblocker than hassle with payments.)

> Ads on sites like Google and Facebook are perfectly fine by me—I just don't want big, animated ads or (more frequently) broken ones which prevent me from reading content.

Honest question - don't the sidebar ads (on the right) on Facebook look ugly and intrusive to you (more so since they also change often)?

Apart from Facebook tracking, I block ads on Facebook because of these too.

> Honest question - don't the sidebar ads (on the right) on Facebook look ugly and intrusive to you (more so since they also change often)?

Not at all. I honestly don't even understand how you could think they are.

They're literally just a (static) image and a few lines of text.

Heck, I often even find Facebook ads to be inherently valuable. Most of them are for services I use and like.

They aren't very valuable if you are already using and liking the advertised service.

Blocking ads so you can show your own is pretty evil though.

That's not how this program works. The publisher has to opt in and still gets 80% of the revenue from the program.

> Contrary to what people on HN believe, advertising is not inherently evil.

Most people on HN make their living off advertising I would wager!

Why is it unethical? What ethical principle is being violated? (These are not rhetorical questions.)


Performing the exact opposite of the stated and expected purpose of the application, for money, is a violation of trust. There is an implied belief that a product should do what it claims (and its name clearly states a purpose -- ad BLOCK), and the plain English reading of the title makes that pretty clear.

Imagine a virus scanner that only blocked those viruses that didn't pay up.

This is a conflict of values between users and the devs.

- Users want ads to just go away, period, the end.

- The devs want ads to be nice. So they swat down the nasty ones and permit the nice ones.

Ransomware was probably the wrong way to do that, but I can see why it was superficially appealing. "We check your ads for niceness, and then permit them. We won't give our effort away for free", being the idea behind it.

As a user, I do want ads to just go away. Since they started some 20-odd years ago, advertisers have abused the medium. If advertisers had had even a smattering of propriety, I wouldn't have been using an ad blocker since I first learned they were a thing.

If advertisers take a sudden "nice" approach, I'll keep blocking ads for another decade or so and see if the trend lasts. That's all I feel I owe them at this point.

I don't want ads to go away. I want ads that are relevant, or at least aren't insultingly stupid.

The utter shit people run on major sites these days is so patently offensive ("Single Mom's Weight Loss Trick!", "Get Government Money Tomorrow!") that I keep a blocker on for my own sanity. I'm consistently appalled at the extremely low quality advertising that supposedly reputable properties put on their sites.

Give me good ads, please. Don't give me garbage.

Whilst I largely disagree with you on advertising generally (see Adam Curtis, Neil Postman and Jerry Mander for the long argument), I have to agree with you on the growing preponderance of low-quality ads.

I see few to none on Firefox, but even with a firewall hosts blocklist, Chrome/Android shows the bottom-feeder stuff on, again, supposedly reputable publishers' sites: TIME, CNN, Salon, Vox, and more. And the only impression it gives me is that thes companies have to be absolutely desperate to let that crap darken their pages.

You're right, it's absolutely insulting. To both the reader and the sites running the spots.

They are optimizing their ads for effectiveness. Patently offensive garbage ads weed out all but the most gullible of customers. Show them to enough people and the idiots come flowing in, cards at the ready to buy miracles and snake oil.

except by nice ads they mean anyone willing to pay to get whitelisted

Is this actually true? Can you give an example of a dumb or distracting or obnoxiously obtrusive ad that got whitelisted for pay?

sadly no. i know NDA are void in california, but california also has employment at will.

I have never trusted the ABP people. But this is not the "opposite of the expected purpose of the application." In fact ABP is working exactly as designed, by blocking other people's ads, and allowing ads that ABP profits from. From day one, the business model was shakedowns of large advertisers. This is just a slight evolution in technique.

Well, huh, they do state the purpose clear on their homepage:

    Surf the web without annoying ads!

    Can block tracking, malware domains, banners, pop-ups and video ads - even on Facebook and YouTube
    Unobtrusive ads aren't being blocked in order to support websites (configurable)
    It's free! (GPLv3)

Um. If you turn 'acceptable ads' on, this is the stated and expected purpose of the application, and it explains this during installation.

They're experimenting with a new and better way to power the exact feature I installed the software for.

No trust is being violated here.

There's a significant difference between providing a tool to allow an end user to take an action and leveraging your position as a middleman to inject content. This is no different than the egregious behavior displayed by Verizon and others.

What gives Ad Block Plus the right or qualification to determine that my ad is a "bad" ad?

Why should ABP have the ability to suppress editorial or advertising content on my website, replace it with it's own advertising content and not share revenue with me?

Ad blocking itself may be considered a ethical issue as well, but it's a different ethical issue. With blocking, the decision is ultimately made by the end user. With ad injection, ABP is making itself a third party stakeholder.

Misleading to the user - any person who downloads a thing called "adblock" expects it to block ads. (A less charitable person may point out that a program that claims to do one thing and actually does another is known as a "trojan horse")

The same way a person who downloads an antivirus expects it to block viruses.

The application does the opposite of what users believe it's purpose to be. Ad revenue is stolen from ads it blocks.

I wouldn't call it "unethical;" perhaps "unexpected?" Seems like an appropriate adjective for an ad blocker which displays ads.

On the Internet, unethical = I don't like it

Well that's all ethics are anywhere. There's no concrete list of universally agreed ethics, by definition people pick and choose what they deem ethical for whatever reasons they want.

In real life, unethical = I don't like it

Do you think there is some ultimate arbiter of what is and isn't "ethical"?

it is a man in the middle changing your DOM with stuff that profits them. how can you tolerate this?

That's precisely my argument against it.

Blocking Ad is itself unethical. Ads are placed on pages to pay for the content. By blocking ads you are depriving the content creators of compensation for their work.

Replacing Ads with other ads is worse because you're not only depriving a content creator of revenue but then profiting off of their work. You could argue that it amounts to theft.

Do you also think that leaving the room or changing the channel when the TV or radio plays an ad is unethical?

Is using fast-forward on your DVR unethical?

Is skimming past the ads in a newspaper or magazine unethical?

Is it ethical to let your eyes glide past the ads shown in a browser?

Is it ethical to read books from a free library rather than buying the right to read a copy from a store?

None of those situations are very comparable.

TV is paid on viewership numbers. Newspapers are paid on circulation. Gliding past ads on a site is factored into the CPM values. Books in a library are paid for and covered by the first-sale doctrine.

They are completely comparable.

You don't think people who change channels to avoid ads/who use DVRs is factored into the price per viewer for TV ads?

Your individual impact might be harder to track than with ad-blockers, but on the aggregate you are driving down the price per viewer by switching on channels during ads, using DVR, etc.

(Imagine a world where 100% of people used a DVR and skipped ads. Obviously the price of TV ads would plummet. By using a DVR you are contributing to making our world, that world).

Suppose someone offered you a free TV to sit through a 2 hour presentation about a timeshare. Does that entitle you to just take the TV and leave without sitting through the presentation?

You chose a particularly interesting example: as far as I can tell, to a first approximation, all timeshares are scams designed to separate a fool from their money.

So if I had the free time, I would consider attending in order to ask pointed questions and warn other people away.

You could also make the argument that ads or ad networks are potentially dangerous. That doesn't make Ad Blocking ethical, just justified. The ethical thing to do would be to either not use an Ad Blocker or not visit sites that are ad supported, neither of which is realistic if I'm being honest.

I think we're at a very Napster moment for content websites.

So ad-blocking is unethical. Not ad-blocking is dangerous. Not using the services is impractical. So which is it then?

That's a choice for the individual to make but lets stop pretending that Ad Blocking is ethical. It's about as ethical as Napster was, but given the alternatives it's the obvious choice.

Additionally you can use things like Patreon or Google Contributor.

counter point: blocking ads is self-defense and defense of others, including one's family. it is everyone's ethical duty to block all ads, because a non-trivial and unpredictable portion of ads contain hostile, abusive, invasive and/or subversive content. this can lead to loss of data, loss of time, loss of money and loss of privacy.

> it is everyone's ethical duty to block all ads, because a non-trivial and unpredictable portion of ads contain hostile, abusive, invasive and/or subversive content

It is everyone's duty to burn all books, because a non-trivial and unpredictable portion of books contain hostile, abusive, invasive, and/or subversive content.

They meant it in terms of malware/viruses/tracking and probably could have phrased it better as "hostile payloads" or something similar. Books generally don't contain malware and those that do don't contain malware that will run on your computer when you open the book.

This is made apparent by:

>loss of data, loss of time, loss of money and loss of privacy.

> loss of data, loss of time, loss of money and loss of privacy.

Not really. There are certainly plenty of books which will lose you money and time.

More importantly, if the sole concern is "hostile payloads" then the acceptable ads program should be exactly what you support. I'm fine with ads on sites like Facebook where I know it's not going to take over my computer or launch a massive popup, and I support ABP in pushing more publishers towards acceptable ads.

>Not really. There are certainly plenty of books which will lose you money and time.

But what about data or privacy?

>I'm fine with ads on sites like Facebook where I know it's not going to take over my computer or launch a massive popup

The concern there would be privacy/tracking via advertisements. I readily admit that is a silly argument if one is already using Facebook. I do not have a Facebook account. I do not know when, if ever, Facebook will extend their advertisements to be used on partnered sites instead of internal-only. I can block them in advance even if I may never see them at all.

i'm speaking to technical aspects, not advertising copy or imagery.

Merely unblocking ads is not enough! If you don't buy the products advertised on every website you read, you are unethical.

Ads are placed on web pages in the hope that people will click on them and make them money. It's not unethical to instruct my browser not to download them any more than it is unethical to avoid the lady giving out free samples at the grocery store.

If it means we go back to the days where people spent their own money to create pages because they were passionate about a subject, I'm fine with that. I miss that era. It sure beats advertisers thinking they are entitled to know where you go when you browse around the web.

> It's not unethical to instruct my browser not to download them any more than it is unethical to avoid the lady giving out free samples at the grocery store.

The difference is that you're not having someone sweep the grocery store and remove all free sample ladies before you enter it. Ignoring a free sample lady is akin to ignoring an ad on page.

The primary difference though is that the lady doesn't take a photograph of you, follow you around the store noting everything you stop to look out or put in your cart, and then follow you out to the parking lot and go to the next store with you.

I'm not saying that what content owners or advertisers do is right or ethical, just that at it's core blocking the ads is unethical as well.

I'm not having someone alter the web page on the server. I'm declining certain files. The original analogy is much better than your version. At most I have an assistant declining for me. But I didn't damage the displays or affect anyone else.

Back in the late 90's and early 2000's, before it was possible or commonplace for ads to track whether they were being shown, plenty of web sites included text like: "Support this page by clicking on our ad banners!" Would you have argued back then that it was unethical to view a web page and not click on all of the ads displayed on it?

Not Adblock. Adblock Plus.

> This all adBlock making money by blocking ads and then showing their own ads is becoming ridiculous and unethical.

I think they've mentioned that a site owner signs up on AdBlock Plus marketplace to sell ad space on their _own_ site.

It will be just another ad marketplace with one exception: AdBlock will make sure that these ads are shown to people who uses the extension. They also promise to allow only "acceptable ads" on the marketplace.

Not only that but this business model sooner or later is sure to attract regulation from some government agency.

Adblock = product = make money. Products don't stand for things.

seems like ad ransom. "we will block your ads but if we get money we will show ads"

So how should they make money?

I'm pretty sure all browser extensions are "open source" but I get what you're saying.

I understand where you're coming from, but "open source" does not mean "I can read the source". If that were the definition, then Windows 2000[1] is open source.

[1]: https://the.bytecode.club/showthread.php?tid=147

True, but Adblock Plus is GPL: https://hg.adblockplus.org/adblockplus/file/tip/COPYING

That qualifies as Open Source under any reasonable definition of the word [1]. So being Open Source is no argument for or against either Adblock Plus or ublock origin, because both are.

[1] https://opensource.org/licenses/gpl-license

The OSI definition of "open source" is not the only definition. I would argue that most people see "open source" as software where the source is "visible" (no data to back that up).

Then you have a gazillion of "Open source licenses", that can be less "free" to more "free", like BSD, GNU, MIT, Apache, the free source license, ...

My definition of open source is software where I can modify the source and use the resulting modified software without unnecessary roadblocks or fear of legal reprisal.

By open source, most people mean that the source is free to redistribute legally. The OSI definition is more formal. The source being viewable is not enough to qualify it as being open source.

Thanks! Was just wondering about the availability for Edge.

...not that Edge isn't hilariously un-fun to use, even with an adblocker...

As someone who regularly uses a Surface Pro 3 without the keyboard attached (it's become my default couch computer), Edge is the only Windows browser I've found that's touch-friendly, so it remains the main browser I use on that machine.

That's fair - I just find it's horrendously unstable (often hanging or crashing) with only a few (under 8, generally) tabs open (also on an SP3), whereas Chrome / FF will handle up to hundreds with no issues.

Why even ask...

I've been using both for a while, just uninstalled ABP on this news. Unfortunately, uBlock Origin adds several seconds to Firefox startup time.

I though uBlock point was to be CPU/ram efficient ?

That's even what they show in the chrome/firefox store images, it doesn't make much sense to me that it adds several seconds to Firefox startup time

Am I missing something ?

I've found uBlock to be much faster than ABP

> Am I missing something ?

Be skeptical of claims which come with no technical details whatsoever to help you reproduce it?

While it's running it seems smooth and efficient, or at least not a bear like Ghostery. It's something with startup. Anyway, minor nit, it's a great extension.

How often are you restarting your browser that this would matter?

As often as I want.

> uBlock Origin adds several seconds to Firefox startup time

It loads quite fast on Firefox, see https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/Launch-and-filter-lis... -- see "Setup time" graph, typically less than half a second on Firefox.

If that's happening, I doubt it's uBlock.

I've tested it, it is uBlock. Very fast boot when disabled, several seconds when enabled.

Have you thought about filing a bug report? gorhill (the author) is an active user on HN. I'm sure he would take a look if you provided some logs.

It looks like another addon was phoning home to a blocked resource. I should've tried more combinations first. The best thing I can think of is that it would be cool if uBlock reported when a call from another extension has been blocked.

> it would be cool if uBlock reported when a call from another extension has been blocked

That is the purpose of the built-in logger[1]. By default uBO is not setup to block other extensions' network requests, or those made by the browser itself, one has to configure it explicitly for this to happen[2].

1. https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/The-logger

2. https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/Behind-the-scene-netw...

Hm OK, must be something else then. Either way, uMatrix blows Ghostery away so this has been fortuitous.

I'm using it now at the recommendation of people here, and you're too right. It's a bit like going from a pogo stick to a McLaren.

That's bizarre! Have you tried disabling everything except uBlock and seeing if that persists? Maybe it's some kind of interaction with other addons causing the problem.

I think that's the next step, I've done things like this before but generally only to troubleshoot outright breakage caused by some addon. Thanks!

My pleasure, I wish you the best of luck with it.

Another user recommended uMatrix as a Ghostery replacement in this thread which I was trying out, and it looks like some Ghostery/uBlock interaction was to blame. My best guess is some Ghostery resource is correctly flagged by uBlock and that the delay I experienced was a request timeout or similar, from Ghostery.

That makes sense, and oddly enough I was just (literally for the first time, 10 minutes ago) looking at switching out Ghostery for uMatrix. Decision made, thanks.

Maybe it is interaction between it and another addon. I just removed and reinstalled all my addons last week and performance was dramatically increased.

Well, not all my addons - turns out though my Scriptish has been installed since Firefox 3 (now at 45), it wouldn't reinstall after removal for compatibility problems. Not sure why that wasn't automatically detected, and that may have been the performance issue

This is an interesting theory! The only scripting thing I have enabled is Greasemonkey, I'll have to experiment more with combinations.

I find that it goes very well with script blocker and ghostery; that handles most combinations of advertising, trackers, so on. You can add privacy guard if you feel like it as well, but I haven't' tried that and can't speak for it.

Why would you use it with ghostery?

It's like using two antiviruses to be more safe. I believe ublock already takes care of trackers by default, and if not, just add the tracking list.

I just uninstalled Ghostery earlier today, in part because of good advice such as that. Thanks

Also, look at blocking DNS as an alternative to in-browser blocking:


Using a HOSTS file to block things while effective, is also a very bad user experience.

For example, some sites won't let you in until you unblock ads. With an extension you can use the in-browser UI to whitelist that site, with a HOSTS file you'd have to figure out exactly which domains got blocked, then update the HOSTS file, and finally restart the browser & flush the DNS Cache Resolver for it to take effect.

Again, it works, it is just a bad user experience.

Even simpler solution: never visit those offending sites again, which is a great user experience ;)

And that's why I haven't seen a forbes article in a long time.

> is also a very bad user experience

I think I'll be the judge of that, given that I'm the "user" in this "experience" ;) It works just fine for me.

You can't recommend your solution to others and then say that they can't judge whether or not it is a good solution.

This is also the purpose of using DNS management like Umbrella from OpenDNS, which has been serving me very well. It catches most malware sites, and I can add in my own whitelist, blacklists. I did get a bit overzealous and add a cdn once that caused a ruckus, but besides that, one by one blocking ad networks based on which ones generate the most traffic is not only keeping my bandwidth cleaner but makes parsing through dns logs much easier.

I use this source, which seems to be a pretty good aggregation of several hosts file sources: https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts

Instead of hosts file, use dnsmasq that support wilcard extensions. See FreeContributor [1]

[1] https://github.com/tbds/FreeContributor

A great option for amoral people who want to see a free and open internet disappear.

I, for one, agree with them.

We started blocking ads because they had become 1. obnoxious, interfering with the fruition of the actual content; 2. dangerous, being a vector for malware and disrespecting our privacy; and 3. costly, for those with a slow or metered connection.

Most people accept ads, if they are acceptable.

They are the first company to actually push through with a plan to restore this market to sanity, so it's only natural they would take a small profit from it. Other well-known technology companies grab well into the two digit percent off other people's earnings.

Well, the royal "we", perhaps :-)

I started blocking ads because they dramatically slowed down my browsing experience. But I keep blocking ads because, fundamentally, I believe that advertisements are neurotoxins, and nobody has the right to poison me.

The old Sean Tejaratchi quote - popularized by Banksy - applies here, I think - http://www.readingfrenzy.com/ledger/2012/03/taking_the_piss

I just want to go out there and say, they don't have the right to poison you, but you don't have the right to their content...

I fall in this weird spot with ads. I don't like them, they slow down the experience, they can have PORN on them (this happened to my brother the other day), they have little oversight and track you. Many things I do not approve of.

What I DO approve of is paying content creators. And unless you are paying to remove ads through google or something else then you aren't paying the content creators and this is how we get paywalls. Which I personally don't like and even worse, plagiarized articles from pay-walled articles so that we can see them on sites where we can just block ads.

I'm not saying I think ad blockers are bad. I just think we shouldn't feel that we have a right to content without ads if they are done properly. I.E. Not tracking, no malware in ads, etc. etc. If we get ads that server all 3 parties (consumer, ad companies, and content creators) so that consumers don't have to pay then I think we should be ready to get back on board.

> you don't have the right to their content...

if they allow the public to view their content, they cannot dictate how the content is viewed. There's ways to block people from viewing content if ads are blocked - but a lot of sites don't do that, because they deem the traffic more important.

Forbes has started blocking their content if their site detects the use of an ad-blocker.

Interestingly, their content is still viewable (though in raw form) when viewing the page source, at least for now, and there are extensions allowing you to view it anyway.

The content-blocking / anti-content-blocking arms race has begun.

Forbes started by asking nicely for people to disable ad blocking on their site, stating that their ads were not obnoxious nor dangerous.

I complied, just to find myself overwhelmed by some of the most obnoxious, heavy, and dangerous ads around.

The solution? STOP VISITING FORBES. It's that simple.

It also shows that you can't trust the publishers themselves to rate their own ads, and that's why an initiative like ABP's one is a good thing.


that was my solution. i've never found an article on forbes that was really critical to my life that i couldn't live without. generally its some clickbaity headline that i'm only very mildly interested in knowing what they have to say, and i'm happy to find some other source of basically the same information if i actually care. the only thing that forbes offers over their competition is that they wind up at the top of google results because all that ad revenue must get poured into hiring SEO optimization experts...

Yes, but viewing the source or using extra extensions is more work. Is it really worth all that trouble to view Forbes articles?

Here's what I did: when Forbes asked me to disable my ad-blocker, I politely ignored the request. When it demanded that I disable my ad-blocker, and actively prevented me from viewing the articles, I simply went elsewhere. Problem solved: they made it too difficult to see their site while blocking ads, so I stopped going to their site.

Every site which really believes that ad-blocking is "theft" should do the same. But as long as they happily allow me to see the site while blocking ads, I have no problem doing so. I'm merely politely declining to view the ads, just as I politely decline the extra warranty when buying stuff, or I might not bother showing up early enough to see the ads in a theater before a movie, or I don't bother looking at billboards on the highway, or I muted the TV and/or went to the bathroom during commercial breaks back in the days when I watched TV.

If you really want people to look at your ads, you need to enforce that, instead of just whining about it. But if you enforce it, you might drive some people away, but there's nothing you can do about that. You can't have it both ways.

"...if they allow the public to view their content, they cannot dictate how the content is viewed..."

You could not be more wrong. I am having a hard time imagining any art installation, public park, etc., that does not have rules about how you use and consume it. Offering something to the public does not mean the method of consumption is suddenly a free-for-all.

This is a ridiculous assumption that gets played out here a lot. There is an agreed-upon trade taking place - you get to consume content, they get to advertise to you. If you don't like the terms, you should avoid engaging in the transaction.

I do believe that tracking your activity borders on an illegal invasion of privacy, and so I support blocking trackers. If trackers come disguised as ads, they should be blocked. That said, trackers are most often invisible, and a person is unable to make a decision about the agreement at hand. There, the transaction is unfair. Ads however, are immediately clear, and make the value proposition very easy to understand.

Take movies, for example. You used to buy a ticket, and watch a movie. Then theaters started running commercials (not previews) before a film. I stopped going to theaters that run commercials. I understand that previews are also commercials, but I've made an informed decision about which types of transactions I'm willing to engage in with theaters.

The same should go for websites. I'm very happy to be passively advertised to in exchange for content. (Same happens on TV while watching football on the weekends - I've accepted the transaction.) Ads that auto-play videos with audio turned on? Absolutely not. And so sites that do that have become sites I don't visit.

So, I am all for sites refusing to provide content without a value exchange. I remain against illicit collection of private information without consent.

Edit: the down-votes are silly. Try engaging in conversation instead.

> I understand that previews are also commercials, but I've made an informed decision about which types of transactions I'm willing to engage in with theaters.

You could also choose to "block" those ads by coming to movies late. That's what I do.. how is that different from blocking ads on the web? The theater is giving me advertisements + content, and I have the ability to ignore / block whatever I want by leaving / entering the theater. Until theaters stop allowing me into movies late and force my eyes open Lasik-style so that I _have_ to watch ads, I'm going to keep engaging in this perfectly ethical behavior.

It's a loophole, but you're also not getting to see a movie for free. You paid actual money.

You could also resize your browser to block ads in a side column, but it's not the same thing.

Let's assume movie tickets are free. Unless the ticket explicitly says, "You must watch the ads for this ticket to be valid", you're under no obligation to watch the ads before a movie, even if the theater's business model is dependent on your eyeballs actually seeing the ads. If that business model starts to fail because more and more people are realizing they don't have to watch the ads before a movie, you can't blame the people, you have to blame the business model. There's no reason to have a moral obligation to abide by some implicit non-legally binding contract, especially when that contract involves the invasion of my privacy and subjects me to potential violence.

ads during football cannot potentially harm people like ads on websites can, have and will continue doing. you can also change the channel or use a recording device to omit ads.

also, i think the person you replied to was speaking more in terms of technical capability rather than some notion of quid pro quo.

Besides non-direct harm like Quicken's "let's do the 2008 mortgage thing again" ad from last year's Super Bowl, a television ad can cause direct physical harm through flashing light (epilepsy) or excessive volume.

If you eat a meal at a restaurant, they also cannot dictate that you must tip the waitstaff. But if you don't, you're a jackass.

That's only because it's a nearly universal social convention in places where tipping is expected. We don't tip because the business is set up to expect it, we tip because society expects it. Businesses are set up to expect it because that's the universal social convention, not the other way around.

If suddenly a big social movement arose that condemned tipping, the landscape would shift, restaurants would stop accepting tips and start paying their staff more, and life would go on. It doesn't happen only because people are happy with the status quo.

That's not the case with advertising. There is no social expectation that you must watch ads. Quite the opposite, in fact: virtually everyone avoids ads when they can do so, with some interesting exceptions like movie trailers.

If you set up a business whose viability depends on your customers doing something they don't want to do, with no social convention to back you up, then you're going to have a bad time. And that's your fault, not your customers'.

In most places in the US, that is not true. The minimum wage of someone who receives tips is lower than the normal minimum wage, specifically because "the business" is set up to expect tips.

Now I don't know where you live, but. I was speaking from the US perspective.

Except some restaurants choose to include it anyway (especially for large parties).

And if you don't tip then employees at that establishment may not meet federal minimum wage. While businesses are supposed to make up the difference, in practice they don't. So there is considerable social pressure to tip because of this situation, and because many of us have worked in the restaurant business and appreciate how hard it is or know someone who has struggled there.

There is no such social obligation or shared experience when it comes to web content authoring and site maintenance.

Everyone I know who makes web content is doing it for free or even paying for hosting because they are pursuing it as a hobby. They all make money in other industries. Or they do web development in a traditional business for internal consumption and are on salary.

So blocking ads is natural to us all. We can't imagine the motivations of people making web content, freely viewable, with the expectation that they will be paid by ad revenue at some later time.

I don't know who these people are, but if they banded together and maybe formed a union or released a documentary, they could get the rest of us to start a conversation to move the status quo.

In the meantime I'll continue posting to sites like this for free without expectation of compensation for my time, and donating money to the running of sites I value if that option is made available to me.

This is a great metaphor and I'm totally stealing it. Ads are an expectation but not an obligation and by blocking them you are a free rider.

In many countries, tipping is seen as an insult and is something that should be avoided. In a global context (which the Internet largely is) it isn't the best metaphor. Entire countries wouldn't understand it.

Yeah, but you still have to pay for the meal. Once Google starts charging you a flat fee for every search and you can optionally choose to view an ad where the revenue goes directly to a customer support employee (customer support at Google, ha), then you might have an argument.

I think I agree with at least some of what you say. I feel bad viewing content from small blogs without "paying" for it. My current best compromise is that I run uBlock Origin with an exemption for Google, and then I use Contributor.

It's still not a perfect solution. I give up a lot privacy that way, and in order to use Contributor, I have to give up some of the other uBlock features that I really like (in particular, element-based blocking).

I will note, though, that I don't feel in the slightest bad viewing Facebook or Twitter with ads blocked. Facebook and Twitter survive by network effects; I couldn't reasonably opt out of using their services even if I want to. Since I'm forced to use their services, then, I think it's reasonable that I do so on my own terms.

I'm all in favor of ad-blocking, but how on Earth are you "forced" to use Facebook and Twitter?

I don't even have a Twitter account, and never did. I don't give two shits what some celebrity has to say in some 160-character burst of text.

I do have a Facebook account, mainly to keep someone else from making one in my name, and also because it's used as an authentication mechanism for some services (like Tinder), but I don't actually spend any time there at all. Why would I? I don't care about seeing family photos for distant relatives or people I knew in high school, and I sure as hell don't want to read a bunch of wacko political BS, which is what most people seem to use the site for. If I want to keep up with friends or family, I use my telephone, email, or I visit them personally.

I like your note at the end and I agree with you. If you are being used for some other form of monetary benefit then ads don't make sense to me.

I would apply this model to, if I pay for TV don't give me ads too. Either raise your costs, provide me with a higher cost version of TV as an alternative or don't run ads. I look at the Tivo as one of the first Ad Block devices out there and there was a REASON it was created, you've already got me paying for this service why are you taking someone else' money too?

Check out the site in my profile, would love to hear your feedback - I sell and self-host all of my own advertising. Because I have that control the ads end up being both high-quality and targeted to the content (and the reader by association).

Hey! This is great, although I imagine difficult to do when it's your business, and harder to do as a hobby. But I'd love to hear about your experience with this.

In any case, if I turn on uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger, I still end up with 15 things blocked: https://cl.ly/0l2r0d440G05

Some are recognizable - Facebook integration, for example. But I noticed that your domain is actually in the yellow for uBlock Origin! https://cl.ly/3v0f0h2K0a39

Looks like the naming convention of your ads is enough to throw up a red (yellow) flag: https://cl.ly/3N1x050G0Z0V

It actually is my full-time work and has been for 3-4 years now.

No idea what my domain being in the yellow means. Can you elaborate?

Is Framery one of your ads? The way you have it it feels like a link to another one of your own products. That's in part because you have content that is relevant and the layout gives the suggestion that they are tied to your product.

That's awesome. I like the fact that you are able to make this feasible and that you advertise based on your content and not your user. Kudos.

That fits my definition of acceptable. I, we, aren't blind to people's need to make money for the time and effort. But we don't want 50% clickbait video poppin up randomly. Same for battery life, etc etc. No JS.

With some fixed not too screamy image smartly positionned, I'd never block ads.

I don't get the logic behind these ads. They really think that shouting red stuff at my face will make me spend time and money ? If someone is looking for something he'll react to subtler cues. If the ad is really relevant (not just word match) to the content, it's even better. But that's a rare oddity.

> They really think that shouting red stuff at my face will make me spend time and money ?

Actually, yes, they do. And it scares me that they may be right. Ads are toxic. Why don't we ban them? I've yet to hear a sensible argument to keep ads.

The "sensible argument" is that ads allow small "content creators" to "monetize" their content.

I think this is mostly a fallacy. I know of many developers, bloggers, musicians, film makers, etc who put their content out into the public domain because that's what they want to do. There are "monetizing" opportunities above and beyond advertising that seem to work well, but the lowest common denominator, and by inference, the lowest form of media, are generally ad-driven.

People argue with "yeah, but what about game of thrones and silicon valley". I reply with "yeah, but what about keeping up with the kardashians, jersey shore and the latest CSI franchise".

The gold / dross ration is 1 / 99. We can easily lose most of the ad driven content in the world without losing entertaining content.

I may be a statistical aberration though. I'm obviously not the "target audience".

> "yeah, but what about game of thrones and silicon valley"

But these are subscription-driven? The Americans would be a better example. I get shows like that on iTunes, because if a show is good enough to watch, it's too good to watch with commercial breaks.

Well in the US we have this little thing called "Freedom of Speech", so unless you're prepared to push through a Constitutional Amendment, banning ads ain't gonna happen.

(Nor should it, in my opinion.)

Anyway, I can't give you a sensible argument to keep "brand" ads which strike me as ridiculous also. But if I'm an inventor and I invent a great new X, how the hell am I supposed to tell the world about it without advertising it in some form or another? "Hey, I have a machine that can make your life easier. But I can't tell you what it is or how to buy it, because ads are illegal. This makes sense."

> Ads are toxic. Why don't we ban them?

Because there's no way to do so that doesn't run into serious issues with Freedom of Speech, in both letter and spirit.

Who decides what's speech and what's an ad?

> They really think that shouting red stuff at my face will make me spend time and money ?

Much like SPAM, they wouldn't pay for it if it didn't work.


Yeah, stupid me, I bet the ROI is good enough otherwise they'd stop.

I'm pretty much in agreement with this. I don't want to be advertised to unless I'm specifically looking for something and the ad is relevant to exactly that for exactly the time I'm looking for it. At all other times, I don't want companies constantly telling me what they can offer me. If I wanted that, I'd go to the mall.

I agree! I appear to have formed selective blindness from long term exposure which is quite useful! My eye appears to skip over anything considered an ad on most static mediums. I just don't notice them and if I do, my brain appears to discard it.

Funny story about this: I was traveling back in February and returned home after about two weeks, during which my local Dunkin Donuts re-arranged their menu. I came in for my extra-large coffee but couldn't find it on the menu. I ordered a large, and mentioned that I used to order extra-large but it wasn't on the menu any more. The server pointed out that it was on the menu. I was bewildered for several seconds until I realized that the entire right-most column of the menu (the up-sell stuff) had a full-color background and different font. They did this in order to stand out, but now my eyes naturally skip over any such elements of a layout, apparently.

A lot of people think they can just ignore ads and that ads don't work on them.

But there are a lot of very talented and creative people, a ton of research, and a whole industry, really, fighting hard against people's conscious or unconscious attempts to ignore ads, and they can be very effective, even if you don't consciously realize it.

There's a lot of research showing that advertisement is effective. The point of advertisement isn't always to directly make you rush out and buy a particular product right away. So just because you don't do that doesn't mean the ad wasn't effective.

Many times the point of the ad is to make you have a positive association with a brand, or to make you remember (even merely subconsciously) the brand so that you recognize it among a lot of other brands you see in a store -- and thus be more likely to buy a product of that brand rather than that of a brand you've never seen an ad for before.

They don't work on me though. I cannot be sold unless I go looking and then it becomes about quality, and then it becomes about price.

It's ironic since I can't escape ads promoting Banksy exposition in one of the hgih porifle expo houses.

>> "I believe that advertisements are neurotoxins, and nobody has the right to poison me."

And you have no right to the content you're viewing but blocking ads on. If you really consider ads 'poison' surely boycotting sites that use ads is the solution or offering an alternative solution this is actually viable.

When watching TV, I often switch away when the ads come. Then after a few minutes I switch back to continue watching the program. Do you think this behavior is also unacceptable? Or how do you feel about people who throw away promotional stuff found in magazines and newspapers?

On U.S. TV you can pretty much watch the first 5 minutes of the show and come back and watch the last 5 minutes without missing anything of consequence... everything you missed was flashbacks, bullshit and advertising. This describes 90% of all American TV content.

Edit: I guess the truth hurts. Thanks for the downvotes. Whatever, I stand by my observation as a foreigner having watched TV in many other countries and I can tell you from first hand experience that U.S. TV is the worst offender by a HUGE margin.

Have you ever watched American TV? This reads like someone who turned on Bravo at 2PM one time and decided all TV must be like that.

I think what they're commenting on is the sort of editing time-line encountered on such shows in the genre similar to "greatest ice-road vintage trucker sale digger catch".

These tend to be, in a 30 minute slot:

<2 minute highlight reel>

<2 minutes of original footage>

<1 minute of "coming up next">

<5 minutes of ads>

<1 minute of "previously on...">

<3 minutes of original footage>

<1 minute of "coming up next">

<5 minutes of ads>

<1 minute of "previously on...">

<3 minutes of original footage>

<1 minute of "next time on...">

<5 minutes of ads>

Which gives 8 minutes of original footage stretched over 30 minutes, with 15 minutes of ads and 7 minutes of rehashing.

This format, although now popular in other countries, is a "modern-classic" of US television.

> "greatest ice-road vintage trucker sale digger catch"

You'd better get on the horn to Discovery, I think you've got a gold mine on your hands there ;)

> a "modern-classic" of US television

If by "modern-classic" you mean "beyond irritating" :P

Plus: You nailed that edit real, kudos - though, you missed the 1 minute "> Previously on...whatever show it is" at the beginning. 8 minutes of content on a channel you pay for, plus 15 minutes of advertising... so you're basically paying more for the ads than you are for the content... there's something really really wrong with this from a moral perspective.

If you pay for a channel, you should be paying for the content on that channel, not paying to be advertised to with some content as a by-product just to get money from both ends of the donkey.

Editors are cheaper than actors.

Obligatory Mitchell and Webb Gift Shop Sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MFtl2XXnUc

What's even more hilarious is when you watch these "documentaries" syndicated in Germany. Our usual ad format is one 7-minute ad break every 30 minutes instead of 2 minutes every few minutes. But you still have the artificial dramatic buildups before the missing ad slot, that you can see resolve into nothingness immediately.

Yeah, I get that, but that's a fairly small sub-genre of TV. It's a common stereotype, and I agree it's warranted because that style is obnoxious, but it's not actually a problem if you live in the US and want to watch something different.

They do the same thing with sports - cutting out action to cut to commercial breaks... and I don't mean during timeouts or whatever. They cut off soccer to go to commercial break during play! Soaps are the same... educational shows are the same. Commercials every 10 minutes. It's a joke how much advertising is done on TV you pay to watch content - not ads.

While the UK isn't exactly a model citizen in this respect, at least on the BBC which everyone (arguably) pays a TV license for, there is content wall to wall... because you pay for that. On channels you don't pay for, there is advertising, and I think this is totally fair. But why should people pay to (mostly) be advertised to and not to be delivered the content that they're paying for?

Which came first? This TV show format or the Listicle?

Either of which is beyond annoying.

Once in a while, I'll seek out a few Listicles with ad blocking off to see just what the state of the art of agressively deceptive advertisements is.

I have lived (and still do) in Canada and spent the past 18 years with access to the full suite of channels that American TV has to offer. It is largely the only TV I have access to (though not solely because I still have the internet after all). In the past couple of years I've limited my consumption to the point of avoiding it because it has become so bad.

Ok, your edit makes more sense. I agree that American TV has way too much advertising and is the worst on that front compared to many other countries. I think your original comment was downvoted because it was just a handful of stereotypes with not much relation to reality.

Also, the shows themselves are generally quite good, it's just the networks that suck. When many Americans think of TV they're thinking of HBO and Netflix and friends, so advertising isn't such a big deal.

That's a matter of interpretation. HBO and Netflix aren't TV, and while perhaps many Americans may interpret these as TV, my perspective is that they're not TV shows, but movie formats.

My main point is that with "regular" TV, if you removed all of the flashback reminders and commercials, you've basically got a 15 minute TV show stretched over the period of an hour with as much drama as can be thrown in so as to keep you sitting there in front of as many commercials as they can squeeze in during that time. It's a disgraceful waste of your time as a viewer.

One of the main purposes of Netflix is to show normal TV shows without commercials, though. And seriously, have you watched anything besides reality TV? The Office? Breaking Bad? Any decently reviewed show in the last 10 years?

Ok I know that's meant cynically, but watching is about more than determining 'who-done-it'? The journey is supposed to be enjoyable.

Which it totally would be if it didn't get interrupted for ads every 10 minutes and then have flashbacks to remind you what you were already told before the commercial break.

Yeah this recap dialog fad is going way too far.

My issue isn't really with ad-blocking. It's with people like the parent who act like it's a human rights violation but still take the content and don't offer an alternative. If you feel so strongly about it boycott companies showing you ads.

Speaking personally, I do. Internet ads are usually a sign of low-quality content, for instance they seem to have an incredible power to turn previously esteemed newspapers into clickbait factories.

The best content on the internet is ad-free.

Don't serve web pages to me if you don't want me to decide which parts are acceptable.

Stop responding with 200 OK then. Remote servers don't get to configure my user-agent, they can only control their response.

How do you feel if they respond 200 OK the first time, and then when the code detects that you are blocking ads, returns 402 the next time?

If they want to resort to that, they're entirely within their rights to do so. I have no right to demand they serve me their content. However, I have every right to make a polite request, and to download the response they send to me. They, however, have no right to tell me what to do with that response. If they want to give me a content-free response (your 402), they can do that. But no one does (the closest is sites like Forbes which use JS to block the content if you're blocking ads; personally I just don't go to Forbes any more).

This is an ad-blocking arms race for sure, but sites like the Washington Post and NYtimes have done a good job dealing with the new ad-blocking 'normal'. The point is that there _are_ things sites can do to deal with this situation. However, the status-quo is not an option.

>> "The point is that there _are_ things sites can do to deal with this situation."

I agree. But that's no excuse for someone getting on their high horse but not offering an alternative and still accessing the content.

And I respectfully disagree. I don't enjoy ads, I never click on them even if the item is something I'd use at the time, I will not click on it. I'll just go to amazon or whatever and get it there. I will never, ever click on an ad. So I'd rather not even see them.

Clicking on ads isnt necessary. A vast amount of ads are paid on an impression basis and I can guarantee that you've been affected by the advertising you've come across in your life.

This is one of the most data-driven industries on the planet and there are petabytes of data generated every day showing how well it works.

That's cool. I never said I wasn't affected. Just that I don't click on them. Ever. Like I said, I'd go to amazon or drive somewhere before I click ANY internet ad. And thus far, I have never clicked on one... willingly.

I have. Back in the days when Google had those little unobtrusive text-only ads to the right of the search results, I clicked on those once in a while, and they were actually really useful! If advertising were all like that, we wouldn't be having these arguments.

oh really? there are petabytes of data proving ads work?


It is not up to us to solve that problem.

That's not how we usually deal with a public health hazard. Usually the government steps in and forces the company to stop the harmful activity (or even shut down), and then face criminal charges.

I disagree with them.

To me, ads are unacceptable. They steal your attention and polute your mind with subtle signaling and behavioural patterns. I applaud iniciatives like São Paolo's outdoors ad ban [1], and wish it were implemented in many more cities.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cidade_Limpa

Sure, it would be ideal to live in a world without advertising. But if advertising is the cost we pay to monetize content like news, well, I'd rather accept that than other content models like paywalls.

There is way too much content. If your company can't turn a profit without selling ads and selling user data. Maybe it shouldn't exist.

Not every website is Forbes.

What about all the small websites, from creative to forums, that aren't big enough to graduate from ads but can pay their own rent with them?

Seems like a net loss for humanity to lose them from the internet while keeping only the large businesses online.

Are these sites a thing (small sites that can subsist on their ad revenue)?

If I couldn't pay the bills for one of my services, I would rather introduce a paid tier, or at least a paid ad-free version. Or I would ask for donations whenever the money runs out, like Wikipedia does.

Yes, I run such websites.

A paid tier is a surprisingly narrow business model. People aren't willing to pay for much, and not every website has such an explicit product. A lot of that is just conditioning, as people aren't used to having to pay for anything since ads. And most people see ads as zero-cost. The second you start charging a dollar, now you're the guy charging the dollar that nobody else is.

How many forums do you pay for?

And donations are almost always a joke. Else you wouldn't have to beg in a way that puts most ads to shame: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/spa/quq37nq1583x0lf/nv9ad0..., and that's for a website that brings value to just about everyone that touches the internet.

What do you propose - more sponsored articles and product placement?

Paying per site will ensure I hear fewer points of view on the news and other topics since it doesn't scale well currently.

Why do you assume you only receive accurate news if news agencies have a revenue stream? I would argue the opposite is true. Advertising increases the likelihood that your news in not honest and accurate.

what pays the salary of the reporters, editors, website designers, etc.?

How about we as a society have the balls to put faith in certain principles and remove money's influence upon the domain of those principles? The free exchange of information could be based upon this foundation.

I think we're sorely lacking in visionary utopianism and balls.

What about opt in subscriptions? I am seriously considering a Guardian sub, but I keep my ad blocker on for their site too IIRC

I think I browse and read too many different sources that I don't see myself subscribing to one in particular.

Another commenter below mentioned Google Contributor [0] which seems like an interesting take on a cross-site subscription.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Contributor

The question is will there be enough people subscribing to keep these content providers alive by subscription only?

I'm a huge fan of The Atlantic's work. I don't remember reading a single article of theirs that I wasn't blown away by the quality and interest of. But I hesitate to subscribe because there's such a glut of free content out there, growing larger every day as the barriers to creating that content lower, and I'm not sure how many hours I could devote to reading The Atlantic's articles, compared to all the rest of the free content consumption I do.

A lot of people perform a similar economic calculation and decide it's just not worth it for them to subscribe, so all that's left for them is the ethical question -- whether to effectively donate on the honor system (or at least not use ad-blockers, if they're aware of them and know how to use them), and it's pretty obvious that any ethical qualms some people may have about consuming free content don't amount to much income for the content producers or content distributors.

I like the idea of subscriptions to pay content makers directly, but I do see two issues that don't seem to have solutions right now:

1. Subscribing to every content producer directly will be extremely expensive for people. Advertising, on the other hand, spreads the costs across a large population with some amount of invisibility on who, in the end, pays for what. Only some kind of aggregation like on cable TV or others (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) have some potential to survive and pay content producers somewhat well. I'd be interested in any large scale aggregations that come at a not-too-high price yet provides an ad free and flexible experience (time shifting, place shifting, cross platform, cross device).

2. In your case, even if you were to subscribe to The Guardian, I seriously doubt if it would stop tracking you. Web sites that provide content always have analytics for their own site, but they're also interested in learning a lot more about the visitor so that they can get more data points on what their focus should be in order to maximize their impact and money making potential (not necessarily in this order). I'm guessing a lot of sites that offer subscriptions continue to track their users even without showing ads. The only difference then with a paid subscription is that they have a real name (likely), a real address (likely, depending on the payment method), and an email address attached to the subscriber that they can connect to the user's behavior. It actually seems worse, that you would pay to subscribe and yet still have to use a tracker block (like Privacy Badger) or ad blocker (like uBlock Origin).

A company called Blendle has started working on micro-payments on a per article basis across several sites, but I personally don't find it friction-less to use and see that the price per article is actually high (so I end up ignoring the email notifications with headlines).

I actually use Google Contributor for this. On many sites that I visit all I get is a simple thank you message instead of an ad. The creator still gets paid and I don't have to see as many ads.

I block ads because they're annoying and I resent being sold something constantly. I have no qualms doing it because what I choose to do with the HTML I freely receive from a server on my own private computer is no one else's business. If websites want to force me to view ads, they can get me to sign a contract and compensate me for it.

I block ads because my niches are small enough communities that I only see ads about the last thing I googled

And that's annoying in more ways than one, being reminded so blatantly that you are being tracked well enough to identify individually

Use startpage.com. I only ever use Google for image searches now.

I use startpage too, but it also has ads. It just claims not to log or track, which is better.

Separate from the ads I have zero trust in the networks serving ads not reusing and reselling information about what sites I visit. I doubt this change fixes that.

It is immoral of them to block the ads that are giving revenue to the creators of the content you're browsing and show ads that give revenue to themselves on that page. The only difference between this and malware is that you deliberately installed it.

If something can survive only on ads it deserve to die.

Do they actually have a concrete plan for ensuring no malware is served over their ad network?

Idk, i started blocking ads because i don't want to watch ads

People talk about the ad blocking arms race, but they forget that advertising itself is an arms race. Often it doesn't even benefit the advertisers!

For example, everyone would buy food even if it wasn't advertised, so the food industry as a whole might well be losing money on ads. (If you're feeling nitpicky, substitute "cheap food industry" for "food industry".) It's a kind of prisoner's dilemma situation where each firm keeps spending money on ads to avoid losing market share to competitors, but all firms together would be happier with a blanket ban on advertising. I suspect that many online ads are also fighting for a share of a fixed-size market, and would benefit from a ban as well.

Ad blocking is a gradual way to institute such a ban without requiring everyone's consent. It's probably already making many companies richer without them realizing it, by suppressing the ads of their competitors. In fact, these are the companies you want to get richer, because their products are spreading by word of mouth instead of ads.

Blanket bans on advertising favour market incumbents. It's true that some companies will prosper through word of mouth but in the early adopter stage you need to reach those early adopters. If you're small and your early adopters are distributed, you'll die before you catch on through people talking about you.

I'd wager the net effect would be to entrench big brands.

I could see that being the case where the little guys aren't able to get the word out about their product, but keep in mind that big advertisers like coke use the "brand awareness" aspect of advertising to get their brand in your mind.

I still don't see how this works out as an advantage for the little guy. At best, for every ad the new startup buys, the big incumbent buys two and you're back to more or less where you started. Worst case, the big incumbents and shady scammers buy up the majority of the advertising time, training consumers to ignore ads and making it even harder for a legitimate newcomer to get their foot in the door.

> At best, for every ad the new startup buys, the big incumbent buys two and you're back to more or less where you started.

Are you? Previously no one knew about the startup. Now one in three people in the targeted segment see it.

This is extortion, plain and simple. Essentially they're forcing advertisers to funnel all ad content through them.

Good thing for uBlock Origin because otherwise they should be indicted to anti-competitive behavior.

No, I don't like ads and I run uBlock Origin. I don't work for an advertising company and couldn't care less about ads.

But what Adblock Plus is doing here is illegal.

>But what Adblock Plus is doing here is illegal.

What law are they violating?

I'm a software lawyer.

As far as I know, nothing they are doing rises to violation of any law or regulation with regard to this particular move.

Is it unethical? Maybe. That doesn't mean it is illegal. It is certainly not coercive - you can freely install or uninstall adblock, and you are free to advertise or not advertise with them. They do not have a monopoly, natural or otherwise, and their product is wholly voluntary. If Microsoft were installing ABP as a matter of course in IE and they prevented you from uninstalling it - then there is an argument that this would be anti-competitive.

An independent third party distributing totally voluntary, uninstallable software? Unlikely.

Ok. I can't edit my original statement. I shouldn't have put it that strongly, I guess.

Heh, advertisers are getting what they deserve for ruining the internet. I worry it will escalate the arms race and ublock origin users like you and I will be affected, though I tend to avoid sites that are ad-heavy anyway.

As for being illegal? No idea, but Google are doing something similar - reducing the rank of sites that don't use Google as their source of advertising. More or less ;-)

Google frame it the same way as Adblock Plus - only sites with intrusive adverts are going to be punished, while those with Google adverts are wholesome and pure. But it is a very similar technique to AP. It's not quite the same, as the adverts are not blocked "merely" the whole site is downgraded in Google's search. Ouch.

Then there's Brendan Eich's Brave browser that follows exactly the same model as Adblock Plus. Remove sites' adverts and show Brave's in their place! It seems cheeky to me, but not sure what law it breaks. Is there are "don't be a jerk" law in the US? Maybe there should be :-)

How so? People have voluntarily installed Adblock Plus, viewers have no contract with publishers to view their ads, and ADP has no contract with publishers to keep their ads up.

Sounds like the analogy is gang "protection" money.

However here it seems to come with additional behavioral standards to the public.

How is it illegal?

Anticompetitive behavior, boy oh boy.

Adblock Plus sold out a long time ago. I switched to uBlock about a year ago, and haven't looked back.

Note the difference between μBlock and μBlock Origins.

Use uBlock Origin, not uBlock.

I'm still using uBlock for Safari until Origin is ported.

Don't, use an ad blocker that uses the native content block API, rather than JavaScript.

Such as?

Why, though? I haven't found any content blockers to have done even as good a job as the unmaintained uBlock, let alone a better job.

I get about two more hours of battery life on my laptop. My laptop doesn't get warm anymore, and fans don't spin.

What the diff?

uBlock was maintained by one person, but they wanted to move on to other projects, so they handed the project to someone else. The other person horribly mismanaged the project, and contributed essentially nothing. The original developer decided to return with uBlock origin.

The other person also begged for donations while contributing nothing.

One is in development, the other is not.

The dev of uBlock directs users to download and use uBlock Origin instead.

I can't understand why they couldn't transfer the name and put it all under uBlock again, that'd make it a whole lot easier.

> The dev of uBlock directs users to download and use uBlock Origin instead.

They do? still doesn't seem like that, e.g. https://www.ublock.org all links go to ublock, except for one link on the AMO site

Firefox Add-on page for uBlock says you're probably looking for uBlock Origin.

They've both dropped the mu have are now just uBlock/uBlock Origin

This is so confusing, why do ad blockers do that?

For adblock, there is "adblock" and "adblock plus"

For uBlock, there is "uBlock" and "uBlock Origin"

Are there similarities between both those cases?

Forks happen. Things don't always go as planned. The original author of uBlock handed over the project to someone else, who promptly contributed nothing to the project other than to slap a "Donate" button on the page. The original author then reasserted control over the project by making uBlock Origin.

So to recap, uBlock is a stagnant branch of the project that has not been updated in some time and has seemingly been abandoned by the maintainer to instead work on a paid adblocker for iOS. uBlock Origin is actively being developed, and helmed by the original author. Use uBlock Origin. In a perfect world you wouldn't need to, but, it is what it is.

It might be helpful to think of them both as open source projects (though it's slightly murkier) where there have been forks and drama in both codebases.

Which I hate — it was so much cleverer when it was μBlock.

Cute μs, but it was dropped out of the name a very long time ago. The official name is uBlock Origin with a u now.

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