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Pornhub Bypasses Ad Blockers with WebSockets (bugreplay.com)
873 points by mirceasoaica on Nov 2, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 575 comments

Looks like another example of porn companies pushing the envelope with technology.

They were accepting credit cards online before virtually anyone. In fact, I think most innovations in technology come from either the military, video games or porn.

I worked for a porn company for 2 years. I can say that the engineers and ad people there are probably some of the best I've worked with in my career. The company I worked for several years ago was eventually acquired by MindGeek (formerly Manwin) after I left.

It was one of the only companies where I truly felt that they would let their engineers experiment and grow. If an idea sounded like it could bring more traffic or increase the quality of traffic, they'd let you do it. If that idea didn't pan out in a short period of time (~3 months), then it was canned and they tried something new.

I work at a very large global corporation now and I'm shocked (and bored) at how drawn out their development cycles are, and at how little license they give their engineers to be creative. The risk averseness makes it almost impossible to bring anything into production.

I'd go back to porn if it weren't for the fact the industry as a whole seems to be very secretive and mafia-like.

Thanks for sharing your xp. I always thought that working for ManWinn (the proprietors of PornHub and Brazzer etc) in Montreal would be an interesting xp. Wasn't even thinking about the technical challenges but thought maybe in a business where you are selling a primal human desire, you cannot be coy and hide behind the usual BS startup-speak, "changing the world by bringing joy to the inspired accountants and internet markers of the world via artisanal book-keeping SaaS/AdWords campaign dashboards written in GoFluxReduxGoRustEmberElixir and handcrafted in California, lightly dressed with material responsive design"... "No, we're the proprietors of amateur and Brazzer Network-produced porn using PHP and web-design from the 90's (yes complete with the old plain pop-up's but none of that new subscription modal pop-up dark pattern), but our customers' penises do not care - in fact they love it."

When you're building software for a specialized field like finance, health care etc., the end-impact is always obscured by layers of product managers, business analyst and the domain where you have no knowledge - web development in porn seems like a good biz to be into where "I'm not only the Hair Club president, but also a client."

You're right. Porn sites in general are poorly designed from the UI side. But the fact is, porn users will go through hoops to find what they want. Eventually the porn companies got into analytics (I'd say in the mid- to late- 2000's), and the ones who used that data to improve their products took off.

One thing about being an engineer there was that you did actually own the product end-to-end. I remember taking systems from development to production without all the bullshit you normally encounter at large corporations. I would put something into production and my boss (the CTO) would leisurely say "Oh yeah, contact so-and-so in ops to have them secure the server." I would do that, and I didn't get a freak-out like you'd experience in more straight-laced companies: "YOU PUT THIS IN PRODUCTION WITHOUT FILLING OUT ALL THE REQUIRED JIRA TICKETS AND APPROVAL FROM 3 LAYERS OF MANAGEMENT?!?! WE'RE GONNA HAVE TO TAKE THIS DOWN AND HAVE A MEETING!" Nope, a dude in ops, who was usually stoned, would log in, add all the necessary protections and even redeploy the whole stack if he had to. No griping.

One thing about it was that you'd have to be okay with some unscrupulous/unethical practices. Copyright infringement is par for the course in that industry. Studios/companies stealing others' content is unavoidable (and encouraged).

I remember when I wrote a tube site and I was given a list of other tube sites to rip content from. For that particular project the product manager (who was also a high-ranking exec) strongly emphasized two things: every action had to be trackable, and it was a necessary requirement that handling DMCA take-down notices had to be a very streamlined and automated process.

Why? They would have people monitor which videos were heavily viewed and which were taken down frequently. If a particular studio's content generated lots of traffic but were frequently taken down, the sales/ad guys would contact that studio to make a deal. If no deal was struck, then an "anonymous user" would reupload the content to the site; starting the cycle again. Eventually that would wear down the studio into cutting a rev-sharing deal. Sometimes the company would buy the studio outright, if it made enough sense.

Actually the last part makes great sense - it pretty much is what allowed music platforms to proliferate. It levels the playing field where you no longer are fleeced mercilessly.

I mean, I use Libgen and usually get enough books to cost me 5k or 10k €. Hopefully it will bring sanity into that market (Even though it is already blocked in UK, for some obscure reason)

Take my Spotify away and I'll probably just stop caring about music that much at all

Here's what some UK users will see.

> Access to this website has been

> Blocked

> Blocking access to the ibgen.org and libgen.in website has been made pursuant to a Court Order dated 19 May 2015 obtained by the members of the Bloomsbury Publishing PLC and others.

> Any TalkTalk customer affected by the Court Order has a right under the Court Order to apply to vary or discharge it. Any such application must:

> (i) clearly indicate the identity and status of the applicant;

> (ii) be supported by evidence setting out and justifying the grounds of the application; and

> (iii) be made on 10 days notice to all of the parties to the Court Order.

http://golibgen.io/ works.

The UK's asinine policy in regards to the internet is why I no longer use any connection that terminate in the UK.

Or use http://aa.net.uk which does not have filtering at all and has native IPv6, is run by people who care for their craft.

I've been a very happy customer.

They unfortunately have datacaps and don't offer fiber only openreach FTTC style connections at best and at about 3 times what I pay for 1gbit up/down in London ATM.

What do you mean by "they don't offer fiber"? At first I thought you meant they don't offer FTTP but I checked their website and they do.

That's not fiber, that's Openreach VDSL (BT Infinitniy) over coper which only supports 70-80MB down and about 20-30MB down.

London and some other parts of the UK have FTTH now, and it's cheap I am paying 30GBP for a 1 gig symetric connection via hyperoptic.

Fiber to the curb is not fiber, anything below 300MBit should not even be considered broadband at this day and age tbh.

Does straight IP work?



Access to the websites listed on this page has been blocked pursuant to orders of the high court.

More information can be found at www.ukispcourtorders.co.uk


In Germany ibgen.org redirects to http://gestao.ibgen.com.br/aluno/ and libgen.in is just displaying a parked domin site. Or are those outdated domains?


This is totally OT, but during my training at a large corporation, I was building a very simple web application and found it desirable to access the corporate phone directory to augment some of the information I presented to the users.

I looked around a little and discovered that there was indeed an LDAP server that served the phone directory for the entire freaking company. It would even speak to me after I did an anonymous bind. ;-) So I wrote my web application, handed it off to the guy who ended up maintaining it (me being a trainee and all), and the I thought I'd be a good corporate citizen and checked what I had to do to "legally" access that LDAP server. Turns out I had fill out an application form that was something like six pages long.

Unfortunately, filling out that form and sending it to the designated address were my last actions as a member of that team, as my time with that particular team was up. So I never found out if "they" rejected the application or not. (I guess they approved it, because if it was such a big deal, they would not have opened that LDAP server for anonymous access, but you never know - could have been plain stupidity.)

That seems to be the entirety of the last two jobs I've had too - go and build something in dev that's incredibly useful but not signed off/uses APIs that'd need a 6 month review process for (did something similar with LDAP access, found an endpoint and used it for something infinitely more useful to the business), once IT finds out about it, I get my wrist slapped, but have built a fairly solid business case in only a few days, and get to fasttrack through sign off to production.

Ruffle a few feathers, but organisational inertia would kill off anything particularly useful for our teams that are 24/7 fighting fires.

Were the forms essentially a "Change Request" form?

No, the information they wanted was actually surprisingly reasonable - how many requests per day was my application going to make, how many concurrent connections, how many people would be using my app, what kind of information did I need, what did I need it for, who could they contact if my application turned out to be - intentionally or by accident - DOS'ing the LDAP server(s), and so forth.

I just found it kind of funny that I should fill out a six-page form to get information I could technically access already, anonymously. (Also, it was the first time I saw such a form, that might have been a bit of a culture shock for me.)

Granting anonymous access would be a matter of organization precedent, but I can imagine a world where it's encouraged to dev against these services and notify upstream service owners when stuff is about to change reasonably ahead of time (too soon and too many chefs might come, unfortunate reality).

I think every service owner should know who their 'customers' are, it's important because of things like Pager Duty rotations for example. Remember that scene from Hackers, "God wouldn't be on this late?"... in a sense, the 6 page form might seem like overkill but it beats sifting through a conversational email thread asking for all the same pieces of information. They could gamify the form I suppose, if that's better than a paper form... but on their end there should be a spreadsheet used for op budgeting etc and they need the info.

I see - at my work I'm currently encountering change requests and they are about the same thing. Papers/requests explaining in baby steps what is going on so it can be replicated.

It's my first time coming across them - I suppose it's a good idea, but slightly overkill since I write documentation for my code and it's in source control as well.

Nope, a dude in ops, who was usually stoned, would log in, add all the necessary protections and even redeploy the whole stack if he had to. No griping.

That made me laugh. The guy in charge of securing a production server is usually stoned...

It was amazing. Half of devops was stoned during work hours. I actually think it helped, because they usually had their hands full and probably needed stress relief. In spite of being stoned, they were far more competent and responsive than any devops personnel I've had to deal with since then. They really knew their shit, because porn sites are a big target for scammers, hackers, etc. They always knew about the latest exploits, backdoors and whatnot.

A couple decades ago, I worked support for a smaller national ISP (since swallowed and re-swallowed up), where at the time the "unofficial" drug test policy was, "you bring 'em, we'll test 'em."

I do think the porn industry by nature tends to push some limits in terms of tech... It's to the likes of the riaa, mpaa and LinkedIn to be the ones who push the bounds of unscrupulous tech.

I've been saying for years, eventually it will have to come full circle, that ad delivery controls will have to be first party, and that if they continue to push the overbearing, over the top ads, people will just not read the content and leave. That's what will start to come next. FTR, it didn't have to be via websocket, it could still be services, rpc, and other channels... though websocket to a canvas would allow for a different level of control, and less chance for adblock bypass.

All the same, it's interesting and somewhat cool...

Devops working for a porn company getting stoned because they are stressed... interesting you say they had their hands full. Maybe that's why they didn't get any work done? :P

In the places I've been, if they catch you stoned, you'll be out the door before the smoke clears (pun intended).

Impressive work perks.

If he was able to reduce his job to a handful of carefully crafted puppet scripts, he earned the right to do things as he pleased, and that was his motivation for working in porn. I knew guys in college who got baked every day and were in objectively hard majors like MechE. I've learned not to judge.

Deployments should be automated to the point where you can do them drunk / in a high-octane emergency situation. I consider "locking down a server" to be part of said deployment process.

Exactly, when I was Lead Dev on Pornhub, I had more than once a phonecall at 2 or 3am while out partying having to sort out problems and deploy. All streamlined, press button, deploy happens, almost null chance of fuck up and if it would, a simple button click for a split second revert.

Drugs have different effe ts on people. Weed usually makes me think slower and helps to concentrate on one thing. Great for debugging, for example.

I was once placed on a medication that went too far that direction... where I couldn't break out of the single thought path. Where driving was enough of a distraction, that where I was going would slip by, and I had to circle around multiple times. And I had once lost three hours of time and have a couple hundred tabs open in my browser as I started reading an article, then just kept stearing through, etc.

I was encouraged to stick with it for a month to see if it normalized, it didn't... I don't even remember the medication, but would never want to experience that again... I'll take the half dozen to dozen stray thoughts in my head at once... I'm far more effective that way. Though stress makes it hard to get/stay asleep.

Its worth pointing out that the effects vary by strain and some are better for some kind of work than others. For example, I don't think I could work well on most indica strains, but they may help me with creative problem solving (in smaller doses that don't make me too sleepy).

You guys are too funny.

Thinking slower will make me freak out. I need my mind to be clear and my brain going at top speed every waking moment.

If you were suffering from clinical anxiety as PTSD and ACE patients do then you might find cannabis to be the one thing that makes your mind clear of distracting fear and flashbacks. Assuming that all people and minds and drugs interact in the same way is a huge mistake.

Not in the context of drugs, but I find I am at my best when my mind is calm. I find it hard to be happy or productive when my mind is racing.

A clear mind and top speed thinking are things that contradict one another. The faster you think, the harder it is to concentrate on one thing.

As a person with Attention Deficit Disorder, I can attest. I am prescribed amphetamines to slow me down, not speed me up!

Some people I know only go to the porn sites to steal their code. I'm surprised you say that about the UX side because there is some nice libs in there and weird stuff with jquery. There is always that danger though that you might see something. So, not so great.

Some people I know only go to the porn sites to steal their code.

And if I send the former prince of Nigeria $5,000 he will unlock billions and send me half, lol.

There is a danger you might see something? What?

Nasty, nasty porn.

Oh, no!

Enjoy your bestiality, I guess.

You sound confused son. Who was talking about bestiality?

"Nasty, nasty porn".

Do try to keep up, uh... dad?

It just sounds like a casual small software business or something else that is startup-y, minus the casual copyright infringement

I'd define one of the dividing lines between small company and big company as "where you start needing to get approval to do the basic parts of your job". Not saying one is better than the other, just that all companies seem to go through this period where you start needing forms filled and approval E-mails to do more and more. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not.

It's when it takes weeks for something that should be rubber-stamp approved it becomes more of an issue...

For the record, I'm currently working at a financial institution, worked at another previously, and moving into a position with a medical industry company. It's a matter of striking a balance.. and there are others that cope with it far better than I do.

I still find it funny, when you have full github proper access, but can't access gists... and then when searching for things, a lot of programming examples, and even blog articles reference gists... that is painfully stupid.

Yeah i think all that red tape comes from appeasing the stock market, government agencies, and insurance companies.

Do not have the proper paper trail when shit hits the fan? Well there goes your share value, you get a hefty fine from government oversight, and the premium just went through the roof.

There's a great deal more than just regulations. I'd argue that for one line item of regulation in most poorly organized enterprises (most) you will get at least 10 jobs of bureaucracy to help track it not because of the regulation but because the culture of most companies is about disempowering employees from making decisions as much as possible. This is why the cultural definition of "devops" invoking Deming and empowering workers to make decisions closer to the problem site to me is literally against the existing company culture of Taylorism and sales where managers are worshipped for decision making.

Nobody really fined Target for its data breaches - pretty sure that PCI audits had passed repeatedly, in fact. Their stock easily recovered as well. So why are big companies so worried about security? Because breaches are a drag upon everyone and slows down features and improvements. I'm familiar with environments where change freezes are enacted for months after every critical outage, and nobody's regulations say to do anything like that. That's purely a belief in the false equivalency that stability and development velocity are antitheses. Gosh, someone tell Google and Amazon to fire their SREs and stop deploying any new code to get better availability numbers!

> the existing company culture of Taylorism and sales where managers are worshipped for decision making.

Is there an actual word for this type of management stupidity?

Banks get fined for data breaches. Regulators will also fine banks for not having clearly documented and auditable release procedures.

Precisely; in industries where a company can be fined megabucks per day, or be shut-down entirely, for non-compliance those layers of approval and review are unfortunately necessary. Though of course some of them are just jobsworthing by middle managers.

How do porn companies continue to handle credit card payments without complying with PCI standards and processes?

I don't have pr0n industry experience, but I worked for the largest merchant acquirer (MA) (the orgs that allow merchants to accept CCs) in the U.S. The merchant acquirer ecosystem has a pyramid structure where many Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs) service specific industries while re-selling CC acceptance from ~6 companies (~80%+ market share). These pr0n companies pay monthly rates that correspond with their chargeback numbers, etc and do not deal directly with the MAs.

Big porn companies are very serious about PCI compliance. They also closely monitor their fraud numbers. If a MID (merchant ID) goes above 5% (volume or cash amount) fraud, the processor could get fined by Visa/MasterCard/etc ($50k+) and lose the right to accept credit card payments for that particular payment network. Processors who handle porn (high-risk) accounts will often have a general, shared account they'll let you use, because they can take measures to average down and hide the fraud. However, they charge you a premium to use that general account, so you're better off using your own if you have other measures to control fraud.

My former company solved this problem by simply acquiring a payment processor company. They had total control over their processing that way. As a bonus, they had access to other porn vendors' account activities, since it was one of the 4-5 major high-risk processors used by porn companies. It was a win-win for them.

re acquisition of their and competition's processor

They just keep getting more clever, devious, and entertaining, don't they? Shit, I'd do my own Braintree for my porn company with the company's positive gains from legit customers covering the losses from the others. Who cares if my bottom line at my main company was good. Success of processor could even pay for better fraud management.

Of course, already having enough cash to buy an established one is always nice. :)

In my experience the overwhelming majority of process introduced in the name of PCI compliance are not actually required by any of the documentation.

Whether you can find an auditor that will let you get away with merely following the rules is another matter.

We don't handle the payments ourselves, they re all handled by high-risk merchants so we don't need to worry about being PCI compliant. Fees are bigger than the usual merchant ones though, lots of fraud and chargebacks.

> Porn sites in general are poorly designed from the UI side. But the fact is, porn users will go through hoops to find what they want.

Try finding porn while not seeing any male genitals during searching/browsing. It's virtually impossible, and it totally ruins the UX :)

Hey, I prefer lesbian porn myself because not into watching dudes but come on... Most porn is naked woman and men having sex so not seeing dick would be kinda hard. What's wrong? The penis to titillating for you?

So you're saying you want to make a clean porn site?

This also describes my experience in the online advertising industry. Come up with an idea that has a chance of increasing traffic or revenue, implement it within a few days, throw it into prod. Then you analyze the bejeezus out of it while tweaking/iterating (usually multiple times per day), but abandon it after a few weeks or months if it turns out to be a dud. Then move on to the next big idea.

It was actually really exhilarating, if you could overlook the fact that the work you're doing offered absolutely zero value to anyone involved except the bosses whose pockets you were lining if you succeeded. I don't work at a large global corp now, but at a small company (can't really call it a startup anymore, though that's how I would have described it a year or two ago), where there is still a relatively quick development cycle, but it's glacial compared to what I did at that last job. We are also trending toward much slower turn around times as we grow, which there was no danger whatsoever of at my ad industry job.

It's unfortunate that these developer-candy-store development cultures largely seem to be limited to get-rich-quick industries which can be unattractive from an ethical standpoint, or new startups which can be unattractive from a job security standpoint.

To have worked in both (Pornhub Lead Dev a few years ago when it took off, and more recently tech architect at some ad shop), advertising is wayyy shadier and scummier than porn, no doubt.

I lasted barely a year in advertising, the whole industry is a scam, top to bottom, big players and small, just scam and horrible people. Worked 5 years at MindGeek/Manwin, saw/did some dodgy shit but nothing that made me want to distance myself from the industry.

Could you shed some light about the shady practices in the Advertising industry?

I get the feel that we are seeing the same play out in online (and semi-online) video games as well.

Come up with a new "widget", implement, push it out there, monitor monitor monitor, if players don't embrace just leave it to rot while you push out the next one.

If you don't mind me asking, how does one re-enter "polite society" after working for a porn company?

(I'm not saying that working for a porn company is bad! Far from it. It just seems like it would be really difficult to break back into the corporate mainstream after working for a porn company due to the raised eyebrows during the screening process.)

Most corporations are so scared of violating employment law that they never ask for specifics. The last two companies I worked at had a third-party verifier who simply confirmed (by pay stubs, calls, etc) my employment history. I assume they don't share anything else other than that I worked somewhere for the periods I stated on my resume.

The more difficult part is tolerating the passive-aggressive culture of "polite society" that exists at most "legitimate" companies. Porn company culture is very aggressive. At my current dull-corporation job it's almost a weekly occurrence where I want to tell my manager or someone else up the chain to fuck off and get out of my way, in regard to getting work done. Porn is the only industry I've worked in where an aggressive (tinged with a modicum of respect) attitude is rewarded. I hate the hypocrisy at large corporations who encourage "take initiative/leadership, get-it-done!" attitudes, but then push back when an employee actually does that.

Trading industry. Lots of profanity in trading. It sounds similar in many ways based on what you said. Very much results oriented and not PC.

Thanks for the reply! Finance (S&T) is what you want to be in, by the sounds of it.

Give it a couple years. You will be assimilated and singing a different tune :)

I didn't really have any issues. I even went to an educational company serving the K12 vertical in a leadership capacity. It helped I knew the VPE there through other past colleagues but after my interview with the VP of HR it went pretty well.

The funny part was how curious everyone was about what went on there. I never really felt that much stigma about it from others...most of it was actually self generated. The other way I got past the potential stigma, though, was that I discussed how serious the business side was. The analytics we did, how much detailed knowledge we had about what downtime cost us, etc. Our HR training was done by lawyers, not consultants, because if the company got sued they were not going to get a sympathetic jury so I knew what what not to do as a manager there. That was actually pretty attractive to the VP of HR at my next company.

I'm not saying you won't find those that pass on you because of having porn on your resume but I don't think it's that big of an issue. As others have noted before most porn companies do business under a pseudonym that is innocent sounding and it's usually enough to get you past the screening that might filter if it said "Bang Bros" or whatever company it was.

The bigger issue is if you had school aged kids. They'd never have let me talk at career day. :-)

After school field trip is where it's at. You'd be the most popular parent ever!

I built a few small adult sites early in my career when I was more a designer than a backend / ops guy.

When asked by a recruiter for more portfolio I said "Well, there are more, but they're adult". Her response was "Wow, I've always wondered about who does those and how that all works!"


"That must be great, you'd have all the passwords!"

Mind you, this is in the more liberal Australia.

> Mind you, this is in the more liberal Australia.

My boss here in Brisbane keeps seriously considering getting into online adult services of some description. He also wants to build a weed dispensary web app, so we can launch the moment they legalise it!

I would leverage the fact that names like MindGeek sound innocent. I'd call it a content, distribution network for businesses that shares messages, images, and video. I'd point out our main advantages were massive capacity, responsiveness, and reliability. We pushed terabytes of data through our system world-wide for our customers. I did (activities here) to help make that happen. I'm happy to bring my skills to a new organization with new challenges that might benefit from similar capabilities.

Then cross-fingers hoping they find that description generic and boring enough that they don't Google it.

I worked for a big one years back, for several years (rev per year in the hundreds of millions). They had an innocuous alternative business name, that you could use for resumes. I think it may have been the parent company, while the porn-name was a subsidiary.. or something.

Either way, its turned out to be a total non-issue. I always used the innocuous name on my resume, but everybody generally already knew, and nobody cared. Seemed like most people I end up working with have worked there or have had a friend that did or hired someone that did at some point.

I was kind of surprised.

Nah, pretty easy. I actually deliberately put it on my resume to filter out companies that would probably be up tight about it.

Most coworkers at companies I have worked at know what I have done in the past. Never had an issue. You don't bring it up at the office and you use calibration and gradually give out details and judge whether coworkers would be cool about it when talking to them outside of work.

Funny you would say this. When I released from prison, I also put my criminal convictions on my resume to filter companies that would be uptight about them. I didn't want to waste time with interviews.

Turned out I only looked for 2 weeks before finding a good job.

I imagine it's more difficult for the actors themselves to transition out of the industry than it is for people in support roles to move on.

This. I work for a mid sized adult company for over 4 years now and it definitely feels like a start-up. We try new things a lot, very little bureaucracy and a lot of interesting challenges. The industry is indeed secretive because of the way outsiders see it. But that can also be an advantage, you don't need to worry about a VC funded startup that will kick you out of the market by burning a ton of money. Only thing I worry about is the label I'm getting but I guess I will find out later on about that.

Know of any opportunities in companies like this in NY?

Not really, I m on the other side of the globe :)

I've been curious about this - how is it to work for the porn company as a developer? Assuming you're comfortable with the X-rated content that is being distributed, any specific differences other than what you already highlighted? Was there any stigma when moving forward? Do devs meet/hang around with the production staff, or are distribution and production entirely separate? Compensations comparable? Anything else?

The only stigma I experienced was self generated. I wouldn't tell people where I worked for a while. However, after that period of shame, whenever I told someone I worked in porn, they had a positive attitude and dozens of questions. After moving to the Bay Area and going to several parties were Google/Facebook/Yahoo engineers were present, they would actually be very interested in what I did.

Devs rarely hung out with the production staff. I almost never saw the talent. The production was done in warehouses several miles from where the back office work was done. However, the owners occasionally threw parties where the talent would show up. If you wanted to fuck a porn star you met at these parties, you could, if you were mostly discreet about it. Devs would also go to tech conferences (flying first class no less), but we never shared the nature of our business with people we met (at least I never did).

Compensation was comparable/above average, perks were good (free membership at high-end gyms, fully paid health insurance), but bonuses were meager and there were essentially no equity possibilities. However, after 1.5 years working in the area of the country where I was, I had enough saved to put a down payment on a nice condo. I didn't, and I used that money to move to the Bay Area, where I had to start that process all over. And the Bay Area is definitely not a place where a developer can buy a condo after saving for ~2 years.

Sounds like a wild ride (no pun intended).

Fuck a porn star? There are few things less appealing than fucking a porn star. Not without a ten foot pole anyway...

drug use is highly, highly frowned upon and performers are tested very, very regularly. porn stars are a safer bet than Tinder.

Drugs are not prevalent in the porn industry? Are you kidding? I have never read a piece on a porn star where their drug use wasn't mentioned. How do you think most of them cope with their "career" and the "fame"?

Yes, porn stars do get tested for STDs regularly which I believe is generally twice a month. What about the period in between tests? You don't know who they just fucked yesterday or earlier that day.

You must realize for every porn star who has had a long career there are 50 who lasted a minute. There are reasons for that... Yes, many just can't hack it but drug use and STDs are high on the list.

Porn stars are nasty... Period.

Depending on where in the country they are, porn stars are frequently tested twice a week, and able to provide a detailed history of who they had sex with, when.

Not nasty - damaged.

I was a programmer and a photographer before I got involved with adult. My first real move into the adult industry was working at an agency in LA that represented porn stars. It was a small home based business and I lived with the owner and whatever models were staying from out of town as well. I answered phones, photographed the models, built the website, and created a custom CRM solution. The pay was absolute shit and was hard to get by but the perks were great. It was an amazing experience.

I shot on set here and there but the money was unreliable. I did shoot once or twice a week at the agency doing portfolio shoots of all the girls. That was a lot of fun. I couldn't believe I was getting paid to do it.

I had to eventually move into full time programming at various companies (pay wasn't good enough at agency) and they were completely separate from content production, they just bought it from someone else usually.

The vast majority of programmers in the adult industry have no exposure to the production side. An agency or production company is where you need to be at. The really small production companies that have production and programming at the same office would get you exposure to it though.

Everyone is completely open about porn and there's no hiding it. It's quite refreshing not having to worry about being PC about anything. There's porn on everyone's computer at work and nobody bats an eye. Surprisingly, there are about the same number of women in a porn tech office as there is in a typical Silicon Valley startup.

The technology is really archaic though. FTP, PHP, Apache, really? It drove me nuts that I wasn't doing anything innovative and I eventually moved back to Silicon Valley.

Would definitely recommend it if you ever get the opportunity though.

>> The pay was absolute shit and was hard to get by but the perks were great.

I wonder if you don't mind discolsing the perks? Just curious, not trolling.

Living in a house full of porn stars with different girls cycling through each week, photographing them, and hanging out with them. Not something most nerds like me get the chance to experience.

Working for a porn company isn't much different from working at Facebook or Youtube.

Your goal is to keep people jacked into their streams for as long as possible. To do that you basically take advantage of every human weakness ever documented. There are better things to do with your time and skills imho.

Be careful not to fall off that high horse.

There's irony in this: Do you think not judging other people for X or Y makes you better than people who judge other people? :P

Well said. It's why I have no respect for people who work in the porn industry, however successful they may be.

I've been thinking for a while that at some point in my life it would be nice to work for a porn site. High traffic and big challenges. Not so different from the ad or fintech, but I'd prefer porn over those two anytime.

My advice would be to either produce and distribute porn, or drive traffic to porn sites. Those are the only two roles where you bank. I wrote an analytics subsystem for my company's properties and I saw how much their affiliates make. If you were even partially effective at driving traffic, you could clear $75k/year. Their top affiliates would come closer to $1M/year. These were just individuals (sometimes they worked in pairs) who were great at SEO and building links mostly.

The drawback to driving traffic is that the porn companies are constantly shaving you. You had to track each of your referrals very carefully. Though generally, if the affiliates saw they were getting fucked over, they just switched off their firehose and directed it to another porn company. That always resulted in a face-to-face meeting with apologies and increased incentive to redirect the firehose.

More interested about the traffic and backend (pun maybe intended) challenges in a big porn site. Advertisement has the traffic but porn is more interesting :)

I worked in the industry as well, pretty much all angels (agent, photographer, webmaster, videographer, programmer). I second that programmers are given a lot of flexibility and that development tends to be much faster. There's a lot less overhead.

I don't agree with the fact that porn is a frontier of tech anymore. Just read some of the forums on GFY (NSFW). They are all using PHP still and are absolutely clueless about anything that was invented after 2004. Also, read through the API docs for some of the billers. It's amazing how bad the docs and APIs are.

And no, I'm not going to give you FTP access to my server to set up your "script" because I haven't used it in over a decade, and second, I'm not giving you access to my server period. Who the hell still uses FTP? LOL

The porn industry is like the Cuba of the tech world.

Lots of fun times. Lots of horror stories too. Very unethical stuff going on though. Funny thing is, the porn sets were probably more ethical than the programming jobs.

All kinds of shady stuff happen at porn tech companies. Making the favicon look like a lock to fool users into think it was a secure site. Creating fake sites en masse just to get credit card approval because the accounts got shut down so fast for deceptive hidden cross sales.

PHP is still the best for that type of website, I've done my fair share and that is an undeniable fact. Handles load perfectly, easy maintenance, works well with Redis/Memcached/MySQL, FPM+Nginx is solid, plenty of competent devs available and very very fast development times. What more do you want? It just work and it is not a clusterfuck of modules and libraries.

Front load everything with something like Varnish (Nginx can do some of it to a certain extent) and you'll be handling 15+ millions users a day on a skeleton server stack. Hell back in '09 Pornhub was running smooth on a similar stack with very few servers (when you consider the traffic).

If you ask me most of what was "invented" after 2004 is stuff invented by Google/Facebook who are realistically the only ones needing it, but they saw an opportunity to scoop up market share in dev so they marketed their stack as "bleeding edge". The only thing bleeding is my eyes when I see something that could be wiped up in a standard PHP/Python/Ruby stack but instead is made with so many dependencies and 3rd party library that you wonder if the dude who wrote it actually knows programming or if he just glued cool techs together because Techcrunch and HackerNews say they are cool.

But yes, the smaller players are usually using outdated stuff, then again 99% of the web is. Hence why Wordpress is still a thing.

And as a former Lead Dev of Pornhub, I can assure you that tech peeps definitely are aware of the bleeding edge of tech, just that most have a tendency to not buy the hype. My most recent experience still prove to me that 95% of the cool tech I see mentioned is pure mental masturbation, it makes life easier I keep hearing yet I've never seen it, always a mess, "Goddamnit Grunt!", "Fucking npm", 'Damn dependencies not resolving!", "npm is down", are so commonly heard nowadays I wonder if people who tout it as modern development practice have actually done any "old" school development and realised "modern development" is mostly vendor lockin and provides very little added value to a competent developer.


Yeah. It's almost laughable how little you need to process high volumes. Our stack was PHP/memcache/MySQL, a closed-source front-end cache/web server, and a custom mostly-MVCish framework.

I introduced Redis to the company after using it for a distributed system (the web scraper I built to suck down other tube site content). There was initially pushback from other devs on using redis, because it was new at the time. I ignored their concerns and used it anyway, then they started using it for future projects.

At my current company I feel that the leads are largely driven by articles and buzz they glean from Twitter. They'll make a technology choice on hearsay and then shoehorn it into a running stack. Or if they start a new project, they suck in a whole ecosystem of janky libraries and frameworks that are so abstract or unstable that they end up in a rabbit hole wasting time solving problems in their dependencies. "We can commit this to open source!!!" says the lead. No, you won't. That code is shit, your code is shit, and you're not being paid to solve other people's problems.

Development at porn companies is actually more like a sprint; development at most other companies is like old people shuffling down the nursing home corridor to get their weekly enema - you don't really want to get there, so you go slowly, only because you've got nothing else to do.

Good points. I've had similar feelings about node / react ecosystem. So much damn stuff getting in the way. Actually made the decision to move away from Node / React for my personal stuff. Looking into Haskell / Yesod for side projects. We'll see. Seems really fast for development once you get through the learning curve.

> Also, read through the API docs for some of the billers. It's amazing how bad the docs and APIs are.

I tried really hard to use Stripe to bill for an adult project I was working on (which was being built with Django so I could learn Python, which I needed to sharpen up on for my day gig), and Stripe wouldn't budge on it because it was an adult site. I was willing to hold excessive reserves, accept chargeback charges at a higher rate, whatever. Ended up having to use a well-known biller instead.

Some of the tools the adult industry ends up using is solely because there are limited options for that business avenue, and because of that, captive audience.

Yeah, have to use something like CCBill or Epoch but they charge way more because it is "high risk". Can't stand their APIs though.

This sounds like an opportunity, maybe? Stripe for Porn

It would be a welcome addition. Reputation is huge though. Customer must have confidence they are going to be able to cancel and not be charged for other things. Businesses need to know the company is going to be around and pay out in a timely and reliable manner. iBill was a company that stole a bunch of people's money a little over a decade ago and lots of people in the biz are extremely cautious because of it.

Why is it mafia like?

Well, they actually did have (veiled) connections to various mafias. They had associates who just hung out all day in strip clubs and solicited girls (with the consent of the owners). Where do you think all those eastern European and Latina chicks starring in porn come from? Strip clubs are an entirely different level of shady.

Also, at the company I worked at, they had a sort of level of employee where you were "made". You got to go on lavish trips (the owner had a private jet) and dinners with executives. At that point, you had a job for life as long as you didn't fuck them over.

I don't doubt (or endorse) claims of mafia connections, but I don't see how "recruiting at a strip club" is shady or criminal.

Two words: sex trafficking.

(To elaborate - strip club owners would often set up dorms where women hung out all day doing cam stuff. They would "import" the women, but eventually the porn companies came up with a less risky idea. They simply went to the origin countries and set up (with the help of the shadier people) these porn dorms. No need to illegally bring talent into other countries.)

What cerrelio is describing happens in my area, too. Another common technique is a modification of pickup-artist stuff where they make lots of fraudulent promises, push them into more risky stuff, often pressure them to do initial stuff in isolation, and/or use drugs for dependence. This is not to say that many women don't do it just for the money, fun, etc. There's groups that use those techniques to pull them. It's those that push them which we're referring to.

I don't know the ratio but there's a lot of pushers.

Makes me think of something i read a while back, about a "professional" (guy seems to have his own online show or something) pick-up artist. He claimed that he hated Nordic women, because his usual MO of offering economic support didn't work. This thanks to the Nordic welfare model.

Roosh is probably the most disgusting PUA I've come across. His nazi sympathies and tendency to quote Hitler as an authority doesn't help either.

"Where do you think all those eastern European and Latina chicks starring in porn come from"

In the case of Eastern European girls - the overwhelming majority are shot in Eastern European countries (especially Czech and Hungary).

More like Russia over Hungary over Czech and Romania. Russians have their safe heaven in Russia because there's no foreign competition, and the mafia-like connections do help. Hungary's golden age is over.

Have a listen to the Codebreaker podcast about internet porn. It's gives some pretty interesting insight into the internet porn industry, mostly from the social and business point of view.


I know that some companies are very secretive about it. One big company here in Montreal never advertise that they develop pornographic products. You kind of know it from word of mouth or it's a surprise during the interview. They also change name every other year.

They don't want they employees to be stigmatized for it, I would guess.

I'd be curious to learn more about that as well. I've had recruiters for MindGeek reach out to me several times and the whole "separate company but really just an arm of the porn company" thing seemed a little strange. It made sense when the recruiter explained not everyone wants a porn company on their resume, but they went so far as to have a fake company website and and everything to really sell it. What else do they do that's sketchy?

It's a fringe of society so people get abusive. I thought once you worked for a porn company you would almost never get out of the industry.

Usually. There were a lot of lifers there. I left the company about a decade ago and I'd say about 80% of the people I worked with are still there. However, my particular skill set is very adaptable and I found better pay elsewhere. Regardless, I very much miss the engineering culture I experienced there.

I suppose it takes some open-mindedness to work in porn industry, and apparently that is reflected in their technology too. Makes sense.

That's what I always suspected, the sheer scale at which those platforms operate is impressive by itself. Add to that the stringent standards that users have (in an industry where you are a google search away from finding a competitor).

I have a couple questions that I hope you would not mind answering:

- Is there a stigma to have such company on your resume? (for a technical position obviously)

- Could you elaborate on the engineering culture, the salaries and the general atmosphere? What do you mean by mafia-like?

No stigma. The company name is pretty innocuous/generic and most people interviewing you at large tech companies never dig further than your resume. They do ask about the projects I did though.

The engineering culture was great. Most of the engineers were genuinely about trying new stuff, improving the sites and were heavily into tech outside of the office. Every engineer who made it past the 90-day probation period was solid/competent. Management was very selective during the probation period. I would say about 60% of new hires left or were fired before probation was over. If you made it through, you really had to fuck up to get fired.

They were pretty conservative about their stacks. I see why, because it's hard to hire in that industry. They want to keep their stacks as uniform and simple as possible, so the skill requirements were easy to meet. However, no one was constantly vetting your projects. If you wanted to use something new, and it worked, they didn't care. You owned the whole process. Getting resources wasn't too difficult, if the project was desired by management. A fat pipe to serve content? You got it. Tons of storage for media? You got it. Servers to process large amounts of media? You got it.

There were never any meetings of any sort. I only attended 3 meetings in my entire time there. We had 10-minute scrum-type stand-ups now and then, but it wasn't religiously followed. I miss this aspect the most. I can't tell you, as an engineer, how resentful I am that managers take up 2-3 hours of my week because they need to fill slots in their calendar to prove they're "working."

Salaries were competitive with the area; at least 50% above the median household income. When I was given an offer, they gave me 10% more than I asked for, which has never happened to me before. I actually think I was underpaid relative to coworkers, and could have asked for 20-30% more and gotten it. Perks were okay; raises and bonuses were minimum. Promotions were very rare, but someone told me engineers, in general, don't often get promotions (this is my experience at my current company - one developer out of 20 in my department got promoted last cycle).

The general atmosphere is unlike anything I've experienced before. It's a boys club. The only women in the company were assistants/secretaries - of two types: related to their boss, or fucking their boss. There were women who worked in accounting and HR, but they were located away from the the rest of the company. All the engineers, QA, designers and salespeople were men. Surprisingly there were no real HR issues I heard of. I guess when you're dealing with all men, they tend to work out differences among themselves. I rarely got into the office before noon, because my boss wouldn't come in until after 2pm. Very relaxed and pet friendly. There was a little hazing of new employees, but nothing abusive. It's a culture you wouldn't find at a modern "let's be inclusive and supportive with hugs and validation of everyone's concerns" corporation.

It was mafia-like in the way that there was an inner circle of employees that didn't give you much regard. But if you proved yourself, they warmed up to you and welcomed you.

How do you feel about the sex-trafficking links?

It's largely the reason why I left. As I learned more about the industry it was less palatable. They do take steps to shield themselves and reduce their liability. Let's face it, if you're a top dog at a large porn company, you live a charmed life. These guys don't want to go to jail or have the government poking around in their business.

The whole industry is legitimized by one object: a camera. If you pay someone to have sex, it's prostitution. If you pay someone to have sex and you record it, it's business. This very fine line is one they constantly walk; they're always a step away from criminal behavior.

> These guys don't want to go to jail or have the government poking around in their business.

But they're okay with running a business that depends (in part) on some very bad people using trickery and violence to acquire and control new talent.

I'm not here to berate you. I worked on amusement gaming machines, but started to get cold feet when it would have turned into casino work.

I want devs considering working in porn to consider how their work contributes to human trafficking -- modern slavery.

Holy shit, this is horrible.

Thank you for your post

This reminds me when I once did a spot of consulting for a tobacco and cigarette company. Whilst I felt utterly conflicted, all the staff were pleasant, open and oddly conpletely honest about their situation in Australia.

Basically, tobacco is one of the most regulated, taxed and restricted products in Australia. The government doesn't take kindly to them, no matter who is in power, so they have to be incredibly careful to follow the rules as closely as possible. The company I consulted at decided that as they needed to do it anyway they decided to use that to their advantage and did something interesting: they tried to incorporate the regulations into their process improvement model and leveraged the regulations to, rather ironically, increase their efficiency and expand their market share in an increasingky shrinking overall market.

They used over-regulation to their advantage. I've never seen anyone else do this, and whilst I frankly find what they do deadset evil (hence my conflicted feelings on this job) I could not help but to be impressed by the most innovative response to a frankly impossible situation.

Maybe it has to do with the nature of the subject. Nobody is gonna get hurt if they go offline for a few hours (unless blue balls count). And customers will keep coming back if the ... product is good. They might not be so careless with paying customer info though.

silly question. what do you used to say when someone asked "Where do you work?". Were you always had to give explanations? did you avoid telling where you worked?

I would say "a social media site", because they had a few properties that weren't adult content. After I left, I contracted normal gigs for a bit to put some distance between me and the company. However, I was never asked in interviews about the nature of the company.

Most of them have innocent sounding names. You just give the name of the actual company. They don't have anything online that you can find about them. When asked what you do... "internet marketing".

just imagining the perks and benefits, free high quality porn for all employees!

joking aside, you never hear about porn companies hiring, how did you get in?

"It was one of the only companies where I truly felt that they would let their engineers experiment and grow."

It might have something to do with profitability and margins.

When you make a lot of money, it's easier to justify investments.

Ah the classic MVP

I knew Microsoft was involved somehow.

There are so many definitions of that in this context.

I regret that I have but one upvote to give to this post.

But it's completely true that those are the classic 3.

> military, video games or porn.

If only we could get them to all combine their powers. Sort of a DARPA-Psyonix-PornHub merger. I'll bring it up at the next G8.

Wait until PornHub get big into robotic. The army might be pushing big bulky robots but I bet that it's the porn industry that will get us great androids that will end up being used for everyday life.

think I can get YC to accept me based on a deck pitching a joint venture between porn and biotech on artificial skin?

I don't know but I accept you.

> biotech on artificial skin

I've got a bunch of projects on that kicking around. Wish I had more time.

> Wait until PornHub get big into robotic

Westworld springs to mind

> Wait until PornHub get big into robotic. The army might be pushing big bulky robots

Imagine... World War of Dicks.

gices a whole new meaning to the term "first person shooter"

Best pun of the week so far. ;-)

> In fact, I think most innovations in technology come from either the military, video games or porn.

Also, finance. Machine Learning for trading algos, Bitcoin/Blockchain etc.

And mainframe-driven batch processes.

Yeah, finance "innovated" itself into a recession.

Bitcoin is the exception, not the rule. And the machine learning in finance isn't very innovative at all. In fact, working in the industry I'd say they really don't know what they're doing! They just try stuff and see what works (at a glacial pace no less).

Also a large portion of the data science stack. Finance heavily contributed to the Scientific Python ecosystem for example.

It appears that this isn't one of those cases.

On June 27th, someone pointed out in the Chrome bug tracker[0] that an ad network called RevDefender started using WebSockets to deliver ads.

[0] https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=129353...

> [...] porn companies pushing the envelope with technology.

I used to work as the lead developer of a big adult online store and its associated social network website, at the beginning I was ashamed to talk about it with my non-coworker friends because talking about porn and sex toys is not well seen in my home country because there is a lot of religious people.

It was not until at year later that I realized that I was gaining more experience as a software engineer with the challenges in this project than in previous jobs. Now I am very proud of the work I did there, and although HR people still cringe every time I talk about it during interviews I always end up seeing a face of amusement when they hear about the challenges that my team had to face.

If it weren't because finding the careers page in these websites is difficult I would happily apply to work there. I understand that working in the sex industry is still a taboo (either as a model, manager, developer, etc) we have to agree to what my grandfather used to say: Sex and Food, that's what sells.

Porn company also invented the little video preview that pops up when you hover over the timeline of a YouTube. (sorry no source handy on mobile)

Could that just be fun to say, though? Why not extend the category to intoxicants? For example, the steam engine coming from refinements to distillation.

My point being that you can see technological innovation from the perspective of pursuing 'base' desires or as an outgrowth of intellectual curiosity or basic research, and make a good argument either way depending on what other points you want to make.

Your friend the chemist might seem to enjoy explosions a lot, but also be systematic and detail-oriented.

I wrote a longish (15 page) research paper on how pornography has driven/chosen new technologies since ancient times! It was interesting to see the many, many examples of it throughout so many different aspects of everyday life.

Is there anywhere online I can read your paper? Thank you!

The whole "mouse over a video and see 5 stills taken from the video" is a crazy good innovation first seen on pornsites (AFAIK) and it always blows me away.

Yea, I've been thinking lately that another avenue for Adult entertainment would be to create legitimate long-format (3-5 minute) commercials. Get sponsors and show products and actually make a good video with a script and actors and everything.

- Guy grabs a Magnum Condom and proudly puts it on while girl smiles. - A couple have a picnic lunch in the bed of a Ford F150 pickup truck and end up having sex - etc...

I'm sure you couldn't get a deal with every company (McDonald's probably wouldn't buy in) but there are quite a few adult companies that would work. As long as you could accurately track views across distributors you would be golden. :)

Just an idea.

This is a really clever way to effect this result, but still presents the two classic issues with anti-adblock methods:

1) distorts the ad marketplace, resulting in impressions that may be paid and not seen, or seen and not paid, and;

2) anti-consumer experience, as the consumer expects no ads.

Disclosure: Years ago I cofounded a company that offers a private ad exchange to large sites, and recently released a Subscriptions service that is able to blank out ads with good technical hygiene for paying subscribers. [1]

[1] http://subscriptions.publir.com/

Yup. I worked at a telecom hardware company a decade or so ago. Most of the telecom hardware boards that run today's call centers, were built in the early days to support phone sex lines.

The three greatest drivers of the human psyche, fighting, fun, and sex.

Also, those company invest their money into VR tech.

Ahhh "Middle Men" -- if you weren't thinking of that movie with this comment, I must suggest that everyone watch it. It's about (Hollywoodified) the two guys who created credit card processing over the Internet-- according to the movie, parts of their system are still in use today.

They really did push the envelope, but not always in a good way. I think it was not Wells Fargo that invented recurring cross-sales, adult sites have been efficiently doing it for ages. It s just that it s so tabu that people don t really talk so much about it and just swallow it.

Not really. Pornhub is very late in tech. Their website is a lot buggy. A lot of thumbnails don't load. They were very late on HD. And you can't even pay with bitcoin. It would be perfect for pornsite. And their is still no Netflix equivalent for porn which is very expensive when you compare to a normal show which is a lot more expensive to make

Pornhub doesn't generate most of their money from subscriptions. It was never their primary business model to do that. It's mostly ad and referral revenue. I also think most tube sites run on thin margins or even at a loss. And like a commenter below mentioned, you can't do recurring payments with bitcoin. It's strictly a push payment, and even if there were a third party or service that could effect a recurring payment model, it would be too risky.

A good chunk of porn site revenue comes from rebills to people who forget to cancel their subscription after they've joined at 2am Saturday morning, drunk/high, needing to pound one out before passing out. (This is literally the description of a typical customer a porn studio manager gave me.)

I'm sure they don't allow payment in bitcoin because they want recurring subscriptions.

How could there be there be a NetFlix for porn??? Everything is already available for free.

We launched "Netflix like" Pornhub Premium last year. We license thousands of scenes from all the top producers. It's $9.99 a month with a free trial (real free trial, not the normal porn stuff where they charge you anyway). It's closer to say Hulu Plus though because you also get the regular Pornhub content without the ads and better quality.

Personally I have two issues with subscribing to that: I don't want what I view traceable to me (hence I always use porn mode in my browser) and I wouldn't be comfortable handing my CC to a porn site, because I assume it would be very difficult to cancel.

Those are common stigmas we face with the subscription service. We are trying to leverage our brand to make it as trustworthy as possible.

"It's closer to say Hulu Plus though because you also get the regular Pornhub content without the ads and better quality."

That by itself could be a great market. Porn sites are notorious for inefficient, disgusting, and sometimes malicious advertisements. Getting the product without all that for low cost would appeal to many. I'm curious what the actual numbers are on one of the highest, trafficked sites. It could provide a nice, upper bound on what others might expect with their actual results being lower unless they're a niche operator like Kink.

I can't disclose revenue numbers but Pornhub Premium gets a few thousand new active members a day.

What are your hiring practices? Do you mostly work with recruiters?

Not often no. I posted in yesterday's hiring thread. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12846216

Not at all. Nothing is available in full HD. Torrent are hard to find and die quickly.

But everything for movie and TV show is available for free easily but still everything is working great for Netflix.

Not at all. Nothing is available in full HD. Torrent are hard to find and die quickly.

Actually they are available - including 4k, even VR - just not on public trackers :)

If you can't compete on price, you compete on service and quality

Yeah the free sites are owned by the same German company, they basically jack your material as soon as it hit DVD, now that doesn't happen because they destroyed 90% of the industry.

Just like TV shows..

Nah. TV shows can be hard to find (especially right after release) and of variable quality, plus the sites can be very shady with worse ads/adware than all porn sites combined [not to mention that they tend to be closed or ISP blocked fairly often].

Porn is reliably served by many _respectable_ sites.

'hard to find, as in, ' two second search on TPB or opening popcorntime'?

>And you can't even pay with bitcoin.

Sounds like a good thing to me.

Don't forget virtual reality. Used by military, videogames and porn!

Like that time they chose HD-DVD over Blu-ray.

The idea that the porn industry was the first to process credit cards online is a laughable fable peddled by the industry itself.

The first online orders were processed by Netmarket[1][2] which had nothing to do with the porn industry.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetMarket

[2] - http://www.nytimes.com/1994/08/12/business/attention-shopper...

While I'm sure there is some perverse way of defining "innovation" that can muster up enough factual basis to count as a half truth for some drunk in a gutter, I suggest you consider the less extreme position that technological development is driven by a multitude of factors and towards equally diverse goals.

First off, we can dispense both porn and video games as important technological drivers since both are realms of extremely narrow focus compared to the breadth of the military; neither can for instance be credited with driving development of automatic telephone exchanges.

The military has much more diverse needs, and could therefore plausibly drive "innovations in technology" over a large enough breadth of technologies to count. Still, the technology the military directly develops or pay for being developed is of a decidedly military nature, and as we all know the civilian sector of society is quite sizable and contains a multitude of technology unique to it, none of which are directly developed by the military.

Frankly, the fact that the Board of Longitude lead to portable timepieces does not mean the military can be credited with all advances in timekeeping henceforth.

For anyone who uses uBlock Origin (and if you don't, I highly recommend it), there is a companion plugin for WebSockets that I recently stumbled upon and am enjoying https://github.com/gorhill/uBO-WebSocket

The article also notes that uBlock and ABP have both shipped "workarounds", in the typical cat and mouse fashion

Maybe try paying for the content through their plan that allows you to pay without seeing any ads?

I get that this is a porn site we are talking about here, but why is "just pay for it" never discussed in these kinds of submissions?

Why is it always "how do we keep getting all this content for free without paying" and not "why can't they make it easier to pay" or "how else can I pay for this without losing security or anonymity"?

Because that's a totally separate discussion. Blocking ads is about controlling what code runs on my machine, not about trying to obtain content without "paying" for it. There has been a nightmarish amount of malware served through ads and so blocking ads (and external JS content) is a security concern. After the fact, once all ads have been blocked, there can be a discussion about creators getting money for their content. In that conversation I am happy to talk about paying for Youtube Red, supporting people on Patreon, and sponsored segments in podcasts, all of which I am in favor of.

But don't try and turn a security issue into an ethics issue.

But it is an ethics issue.

They have a way to pay and get ads 0% of the time, guaranteed. If you really cared about your security, you would both block ads and pay for the subscription to ensure you never get served the code in the first place.

And even if that weren't the case, why is it okay to just take what you want without paying just because you don't approve of the security.

Often times I don't trust a website with my credit card info, the solution is to not use that website. The solution is to not try to hack in and take what I want without paying...

Edit: i've now had threats sent to the email I had listed in my user profile about this. So i'm done talking here.

> But it is an ethics issue.

Hardly. Taking what you want? Hacking in? What in the world are you talking about? Nobody is hacking into their systems.

They are willingly serving up a page to my computer for free. This has absolutely nothing to do with payment. Whether I view the entire page, or only the part of the page I want to see, is none of their business. What scripts I allow to run on my computer, what content I allow to be downloaded to my computer, is also none of their damn business. All of this happens on my own private property.

Personal security easily trumps whatever ethics concern you have.

> They are willingly serving up a page to my computer for free. This has absolutely nothing to do with payment.

This seems self-servingly reductive. It sure would be convenient for people who don't like paying for content if the Internet was an amoral technical automaton, but in fact there are human people on the other side of that HTTP request. Your your interactions with them are subject to moral and ethical considerations just like any other, even though they are mediated by automatic mechanisms.

note: I don't think PH is a particularly sympathetic example since most of the content is probably pirated in the first place, but your argument bumped me.

> Your your interactions with them are subject to moral and ethical considerations just like any other, even though they are mediated by automatic mechanisms.

The moral and ethical considerations are simple - you sent data to me, I get to do whatever I want with it, subject to legal limits. I can view the whole site in my browser. Or half of it. Or view it in Emacs. I can run scripts. Or not run them. This is my machine, my execution environment. If you want to dictate how I consume the content, then you have the right to present me with the option and let me agree or disagree. If I disagree, don't serve me the content. Talking morality here is just trying to guilt-trip people into compliance with crappy money-making tactics.

Is it, then, also immoral to fast-forward through TV ads on your DVR? Or perhaps to change the channel when an ad is on? Or go to the bathroom / fix yourself a snack in the other room / do anything else aside from watch the ad while it's playing?

If you also believe that's immoral, then I really think this thread is going nowhere, as it's unlikely we'll find common ground. If you don't believe TV ad-skipping is immoral, then what's the difference between that and web ad blocking?

Because it's automated? Why does that magically change its morality? Does that mean a self-built DVR that automatically skips ads is immoral? You and others are arguing "just because something is technically possible, it doesn't mean it's moral"... but you can't have it both ways. The technical ease (or lack thereof) by which you do or don't avoid seeing ads should have no bearing on its morality.

It always amazes me how readily people defend ads on moral and ethical grounds, without ever considering the moral and ethical aspects of dictating how people should consume content. It's always a useful exercise to try to imagine this same business model and same practices on another medium. Every time I do, it freaks me out. Here's what it looks like:

I enjoy reading sci-fi and fantasy, but it's getting harder and harder to pick the next thing to read, because I'm getting pickier with age. It would be great if I could find a source of information about new sci-fi and fantasy books, so that I didn't have to pick my books blindly and get disappointed so often.

Fortunately, I've discovered a printed magazine being sold at a store a few blocks away from my home. The greatest thing about it is that it's free of charge! I don't have to pay for the magazine, I just have to go to the store and pick up the copy.

However, it's peppered with ads. Some are annoying because they're placed in such a way that I don't realize they're ads. Instead, I think I'm reading a book review and I don't realize my mistake until I'm almost a full paragraph into the ad. Others are clearly ads, but they're a whopping four pages and they interrupt my reading flow because I have to skip them. Others are just half a page in size, but the paper for those pages is much, much thicker than normal, which makes turning pages awkward and cumulatively adds to the weight of the magazine -- so much so that some issues weigh close to an old-school telephone book!

But hell, it's still a good source of information, so I use it and grumble, until one day one of the other readers gets so fed up, that they lock themselves in their home for a couple of months and invent a machine that can examine the magazine, cut out all the ads from it and assemble what remains into a smaller, nicer-looking magazine. So now I can go to the store, grab a new issue of the magazine, come home, feed the magazine into the ad-cutter and then enjoy reading all the information I wanted without any ad-related annoyance.

This works fine for all readers, but not so much for the ads industry. Naturally, something's got to give, so new technologies emerge. The ads industry designs new ads for the magazine to print and these ads have tiny cameras that observe what the reader is doing and tiny wireless components that report what the cameras observed. That way the magazine publisher and the ads industry can know whether I'm actually reading the ads or not. Not only that, they can also know which ads I look at longer, which ones I skip faster, which ones I come back to look at later and they can even know other things about what I do at home, including what other magazines I like to read.

Of course, I don't like that at all. It's my home, you know? Maybe during the summer I like to get up and walk to my coffee-maker clad only in an old T-shirt I slept in -- family jewels hanging freely -- and read the new issue of the magazine while sipping my morning coffee, before getting dressed. Only now I feel uncomfortable because there's a fucking camera catching glimpses of my danglies and sending them to some ad executive up there. Or maybe I'm not that gross, but I still object to intrusive shit being forced on me.

And then it gets worse: the magazine publisher starts complaining if I use my ad-cutting machine. They don't stop me from reading their magazine -- still free, mind you! -- but they send me passive-aggressive letters whenever I put an issue through the ad-cutter: "Ads pay our printing costs and allow us to pay our authors and editors. We're not charging you for any of this. Won't you reconsider reading our ads?"

Since I'm not the only reader and this magazine isn't the only one to use the ads to sustain themselves, things get complicated. Huge discussions erupt about ad-cutting: readers just want to read their stuff without annoyances and creepy surveillance, writers and editors just want to produce content and get paid for doing the stuff they love, publishers just want to retain their readership and keep making money from putting content in their hands, and the ads industry just wants its profits and the rest of us can get fucked, thank you very much.

It's clear that there's a problem with ads, though, so different magazines try different solutions. Some band together and spin off ad companies that promises to serve only "nice ads" that aren't annoying or intrusive. Others say "Fuck it, this didn't work, we're charging you from now on." Others get rid of ads and try subsisting on donations and patronage. Some others get rid of ads by forming a group that charges you a monthly submission and distributes that money based on what magazines you get more frequently from the stores. Still others decide to offer premium content that you have to pay for and don't care whether you cut their ads as much. Some even decide to give you a choice by offering a free ad-ridden edition and a paid ad-free edition for each issue. Not to mention those who go the other way and work as hard as they can on injecting their ads into content in such a way that your ad-cutter can't get rid of them easily.

How does the story end? I don't know, we're all still trapped in it. But it still boggles my mind whenever someone tells me that I have a moral and ethical obligation to leave the ads intact in the magazine that's in my hands, in my home, just because I got it for free and the publisher expects me to use it in a certain way. To me, it's not me who's at fault for "stealing content" and "getting something for nothing"; it's the publisher and the ads industry who are overstepping their boundaries and crossing several lines, just because they don't want to change their business model. Every time someone berates me for cutting ads from my magazines and telling me I can't eat my cake and have it too, I can't help but wonder why they don't think of the publishing industry and the ads industry in same terms.

They gave it to you for free on the assumption you would look at the ads. They didn't have to give it to you. You didn't have to take it. It's called freedom.

But because I have it, I have the freedom to use it how I want.

That freedom was confirmed in the EU for cars, and some other personal devices recently.

If its in your control, its yours to use.

I request a webpage, and receive back text data.

My browser parses and manipulates it into a visual form.

If I want, I can discard any piece of the data before displaying - and browsers frequently do this when syntax errors occur.

Is a browser obligated to serve the user an error if the data is incomplete?

Why is the browser then obligated to display another page in its complete form?

Especially if said complete form contains software designed to break the security of the browser?

Its just not an ethical issue. The ad industry needs to pivot. They've lost their credibility that they can be trusted.

Visiting Forbes today may be as dangerous as visiting a torrent site in the early 90s.

You don't know till you execute the code, so why not stop treating the browser like a sex partner who might just have HIV, but you're not sure, and start wearing a little protection?

So, they have given you the magazine. You don't distribute it to anyone. You now own the physical medium, but not the rights to reproduce the content, but if you want to cut out the article and stick it on your refrigerator door should they be able to stop you from doing this?

Is this magazine "The Fish Wrapper"? It's one of the free ones around me.

"They are willingly serving up a page to my computer for free."

No they are not. They are willing to serve you pages with ads. Not pages without ads.

The logic that you guys use is pretty twisted.

These companies exist because of ads.

No ads = they don't exist = no content.

In the long run:

A) They will find a way around it in which case you will see ads.

or B) They will all be about of business, in which case you get no content.

Nothing is free, everything takes time and energy from someone else.

"is also none of their damn business" obviously it's 'their business'. It is literally their business :)

My bet is that companies just find a way around ad-blocking.

It'll be interesting to see just how.

They are willing to serve my general-purpose computer a stream of data over the wire. What I do with that stream of data is none of their business. It's as simple as that. If they want me to view that data only if some conditions are met, it's their right - but they have to enforce it before sending the data, and not retroactively complaining afterwards. There's no moral issue here, except publishers trying to guilt-trip people into viewing ads, because they're too scared of actually asking for money[0]. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

[0] - rightly so, but that's a feature of capitalism, isn't it?

Even getting entirely away from the argument that ad networks can host malicious code, it's quite simple. I send a burst of information to a server. The server sends a burst of information back. I then decode the information to reveal a set of instructions.

Demanding that I execute all these instructions without exception is like a subscription service sending me a newsletter in the mail and demanding that if I pick it up, I've somehow agreed to read the whole thing, beginning to end, out loud. Absurdity.

>No they are not. They are willing to serve you pages with ads. Not pages without ads.

This is an out-and-out lie. They are willing to serve me pages without ads, because they do it every time I browse there with an ad-blocker. I make an HTTP request, their site responds. The HTML code asks me to download an ad, and I, through my ad-blocker, decline. That doesn't stop their server from sending me the content.

If they don't like that, they're perfectly free to design their site to force me to download ads in order to view the content. They have every right to, for instance, show me a video ad, and then have me take a quiz to demonstrate that I viewed the ad and remember it, before continuing on to the rest of the site. If they don't want to do this, that's their problem, not mine.

>No ads = they don't exist = no content.

It's not my job to worry about their business model.

>My bet is that companies just find a way around ad-blocking

Well, they could just embed the ads into the page, such as by serving them from the same domain and making it non-obvious which images are ads and which are not. People have been proposing this for ages. But the ad companies don't like it because they don't trust their own clients to accurately report ad-servings. Again, not my problem. They need to fix their own business model. If they can't do that, and go out of business, that's their problem. They should have done a better job coming up with a viable business model.

This may sound greedy to you, but for you to have the absolute gall of telling people that they need to expose their computers to malware is purely asinine.

"This is an out-and-out lie. They are willing to serve me pages without ads, because they do it every time I browse there with an ad-blocker"

You people are naively deluded.

" No ads = they don't exist = no content. It's not my job to worry about their business model."

You don't seem to grasp the realpolitik here.

No ads = no content - in the long run.

Get it?

You don't seem to grasp the math here.

If there are no ads, they, and all their peers cease to exist.

Or else they go full paywall.

I'm not even making an ideological statement - although I could very well do that, I don't need to.

Do you know the reason that there are maybe 1/3 the number of foreign correspondents for major news networks - and why there is so little coverage of Middle East etc? Because CNN now competes with click-farms like Buzzfeed. Less revenue = less product.

So it's the 'choice' consumers make.

These things don't exist in a vacuum they are real.

You don't want ads, you don't want to pay - they you are 'de facto' saying you don't want the content in the long run.

There is no argument against this - you can rant and rave as much as you want about side issues such as 'the http stream belongs to me' yada yada yada - it's totally irrelevant.

No ads (or pay, or donations) = no content.

It's as simple as that.

"This may sound greedy to you, but for you to have the absolute gall of telling people that they need to expose their computers to malware is purely asinine."

No - I am not exposing people to malware by suggesting that they 'not use ad blockers'. Because 99.9% of the world does not use adblockers and don't face such malware problems. I'm not even suggesting they 'not use ad blockers'. I'm merely pointing out the reality of the situation.

Denying reality is the only 'asinine' thing going on here.

If there are no ads, they, and all their peers cease to exist....Or else they go full paywall.

You didn't mention the other options -- publishers could get together and come up with a micropayment standard so users can pay the few cents for each view that the advertiser would have earned from ads.

I use an ad blocker, not because I am opposed to paying for content I view, but because ads are annoying and distracting, and I'd be happy to pay them the money they are earning from ads.

But what I'm not willing to do is pay "just $3.99 for unlimited access to our site!". I'm not going to pay $50/year for access to a site that I might only visit a couple times a month or less.

But let me fund $10 a month into a micropayment account, and then dole out payment for each page view, and I'll gladly sign up -- as long as it's an open standard so with one funding account I can visit pretty much any micropayment site.

You literally just described Google Contributor:


They show cat pictures instead of ads, while still letting you pay a couple pennies to the publishers.

If it was just paying publishers a portion per page that would be okay. I don't like this setup of trying and sometimes failing to outbid ads at whatever price that keyword is this second.

It still fails the 'open standard' test.

What makes you think they're bidding against ads?

It allows you to do what you described as wanting for most sites, and you're not going to use it because it's not perfect? You should try it.

> What makes you think they're bidding against ads?

"Here’s how it works: when Contributor users visit a site in Google’s network, their monthly contribution is used to bid on their behalf in the ad auction—so they, rather than an advertiser, end up buying the ad slot."

> It allows you to do what you described as wanting for most sites, and you're not going to use it because it's not perfect? You should try it.

Someone being able to pay extra to get past my ad blocking is not what I want. Nor do I like the way money is allocated from such a system. But beyond that, being adsense-only means it doesn't affect the worst quarter of ads, and I can't even lobby those sites or ad networks to join the micropayment system. Also the system I want has a "this site tricked me, don't give them money" button.

If it could merge with flattr and invite other companies, then it would have a real path forward toward an ad-free landscape and I would be much more willing to use it.

And anonymity would be nice too, or at least opacity. I don't need my payment provider knowing exactly which content I'm reading.

Patreon has a lot going for it in the sense that if you support stuff you like, you will see more of it.

Do you at least utilize the Google contributor network, which is just such a micro payment system?

> Because 99.9% of the world does not use adblockers

Who's naively deluded now?

Thank goodness for the open web and that publishers can't force me to download things I don't want to.

Most of the content in 'the open web' depends upon advertising.

No ads = not much for you to download.

Realpolitik will very quickly trump any ideological arguments.

> Realpolitik will very quickly trump any ideological arguments.

Waiting for it. Because I predict that with ads gone, the content that will be gone is the worthless kind. People are fine with sharing stuff for free out of the goodness of their heart, and they're also fine with asking for money for their services.

The problem with ads is that ad-driven sites serve content created only to support their ad-driven business model.

I always think it's funny when people point out that all the ad-driven content would be gone if nobody viewed ads. So what? I'd pay for the few things that were really worth it, and the rest would be provided by people who just wanted to share. That would be amazing.

Meh. Some of this "content" doesn't really qualify as content, though. I suspect a lot of sites on the bubble of being eliminated by ad blocking are just derivative, reposting sites, and should probably be culled from the herd anyway. For example, how many "Apple news" sites do we really need, posting and reposting the same dubious rumor eleventy-seven times?

It seems fairly easy. Even when ads are being blocked, images on the page are not blocked. So the content creators will need to dump the ad networks and host the ad images on their own servers. If it is impossible for the ad blocker to tell the difference between a content image and an ad image it can't block the ads without blocking all the images. Of course I realize that this is far from ideal. Now there is no ad tracking. And each content creator has to roll their own ad image system (including hiring sales people to get companies to purchase ad space, handling the payment system, etc.). And so forth.

I'm entirely willing to see business fail until we get to a place where ad-based revenue models are no longer financially viable.

>My bet is that companies just find a way around ad-blocking.

No they won't. The entire way the web works gives far more control to the client with regards to what they do and don't see. There will never be a way around ad blocking.

To repeat: It is not about paying. I do pay for a number of services that do me right (Steam games, Google Play music, Netflix, others) and would pay for services if i could (Youtube Red). Personally i have no stake in pornhub since i don't use it.

It's still, and entirely separately from payments, a very important issue.

The real context here is:

Controlling what my own mechanical device does with the information it receives from other people's machines.

Even if the internet had no ads and no tracking code and no malware anywhere whatsoever, there would still be a need for the technology to block and change the way in which my computer handles the things sent to it by other computers before showing them to me. I have a myriad blocks and css modifications and even site additions and other things set up that have absolutely nothing to do with ads, and being able to do that reliably is important.

Totally agree, and I try to explain this whenever possible. I am not blocking ads. I am blocking 3rd party content. I wish publishers would change their nag message from "we see you are blocking ads" to "we see that you are blocking third party content and scripts". Perhaps if they did, they would realize how absurd is their proposition.

> Controlling what my own mechanical device does with the information it receives from other people's machines.

"receives from other people's machines" makes it sound like PornHub is seeking you out and sending you stuff you didn't ask for. If you visited their site, you and your computer asked for whatever they sent. If you don't want parts of what they send, they offer you a convenient way of stopping that by paying for their content.

Similarly, if they don't want me viewing their content without paying, they can setup a pay wall.

In today's world, running a business on an ad model is just one step above asking for donations. If you want people to pay, make them pay. It really is that simple.

    > Similarly, if they don't want me viewing their content without paying, they can setup a pay wall.
Well, you don't pay to walk in the store.

You do when that 'store' is an art gallery or something similar and the purpose there is to view the wares.

I've never seen an art gallery that required you to pay for entry.

I have seen museums, however, that require a paid ticket to see their artwork.

You're not going to sell a lot of wares of any kind if you require potential customers to pay just to come in and look. Even "membership club" places like Costco let people come in and look for free, though they have to ask permission.

I may have asked for content, but that doesn't guarantee to them how I render it or what requests I make or don't make because of it. Because I get to render it with my hardware, and I own that hardware and I exert control over it.

There's an even more convenient and much cheaper way called an ad blocker. It also works on just about every site around. Show some control.

I understand you were in a hurry to get your incredible iceburn in, but did that really preclude you from reading the part where i mentioned i don't use it?

They're referring to the argument you made for the internet in general, pornhub being the contextual example. No need to split hairs.

"Controlling what my own mechanical device does with the information it receives from other people's machines. Even if the internet had no ads and no tracking code and no malware anywhere whatsoever, there would still be a need for the technology to block and change the way in which my computer handles the things sent to it by other computers before showing them to me. "

This is not true at all.

You see ads all the time in apps you have on your mobile device (i.e. non browser) - and there is nothing you can do about it. Is the world freaking out over the consumers ability to 'control which ads come up in a specific app'? Not really.

> Is the world freaking out over the consumers ability to 'control which ads come up in a specific app'?

They should be. Unfortunately, most people don't understand what a Turing machine is, and so it is difficult to explain why it is important to fight back against the people - like you - who are waging a War On General Purpose Computers[1].

I'm sorry if your business model relies upon most people not using all of the capabilities of their General Purpose Computer. I suggest updating to a business model that is more compatible with modern technology, because trying to prevent people from controlling their own devices is a civil war[2] that will cause increasingly worse problems into the future.

[1] http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/lockdown.html

[2] http://boingboing.net/2012/08/23/civilwar.html


We've asked you enough times to please stop this, so we've banned this account.

Ad hominem is against guidelines.

A few recommendations for you:



Never seen an in-app ad on mobile personally. No one is freaking out because it's a solved problem already.

If those don't do it for you, write an Xposed module to strip it like http://repo.xposed.info/module/ma.wanam.youtubeadaway

Don't underestimate people who hate ads, especially video ads.

"Don't underestimate people who hate ads, especially video ads."

If you don't want ads - then you have to pay for the apps.

Get it?

This has nothing to do with technology, ad-blockers, advertisers or anything else.

It's not even at the level of 'economics'.

No pay / No ads = no content.

None of you teenagers have been able to counter that point yet.

> 99% of Apps and Websites with content would disappear if there was no ad revenue or payment.

I can't believe that any of you are finished school and have jobs, because all this talk of 'turing machines' is laughable and incredulous.

> If you don't want ads - then you have to pay for the apps.

Some apps don't even offer an ad-free option. I'll pay if they provide me value, I won't pay if they don't, simple as that. This used to be a more standard model called shareware, but it kind of died out in the mobile app decade.

> No pay / No ads = no content. > None of you teenagers have been able to counter that point yet.

Why can't I pay them just as much as the ad-revenue they'd earn from me? It'd be fractions of a penny per page, nothing like the cost of most of these sites paid models.

If they offered a reasonable payment model, I'd be much more open to it. But until they're willing to accept their real value per page view, I'm not interested in paying $10/mo for everything I use, when I wouldn't even provide them with $0.10/mo in ad revenue.

For now, blocking ads is the only option if you want to get a full internet experience without the ads, if enough people block ads that advertising is no longer a viable model and more viable models become available, I'm more than open to them. But we have to get the industry to that point where they're at the consumer's whim and not like it is currently where the consumer is at the advertiser's whim. The advertisers having all the power is not a good solution here.

No, if I want to support the creators i'll pay for the app. If I don't want to see ads, I'll block ads. It's a false equivalency to conflate support with willingly subjecting yourself to ads when other options exist, and as you can see here most people are rejecting it

Ad blockers are a thing on mobile, too.

This is incorrect. A primary motivation I have for asserting ownership of my mobile (aka rooting) is system level adblocking. Adaway is what I use for this BTW.

Apps are free to work or not if I kill ads. I just shrug and either buy the app or use something else. I absolutely do not put up with the interface of my mobile looking like the Vegas Strip.

To repeat: It is about paying.

If you paid, this would be a non-issue, as you would never be served the ads in the first place.

If you are okay with ads instead of paying, this is a non-issue as you would be served the ads anyway.

Sorry, i edited my reply a little late:

Even if the internet had no ads and no tracking code and no malware anywhere whatsoever, there would still be a need for the technology to block and change the way in which my computer handles the things sent to it by other computers before showing them to me. I have a myriad blocks and css modifications and even site additions and other things set up that have absolutely nothing to do with ads, and being able to do that reliably is important.

That is why this matters:

Controlling what my own mechanical device does with the information it receives from other people's machines.

Besides, as i said, i don't even use pornhub.

Heck, a number of sites i use this stuff on are sites where i pay profusely. My steam expenses are 6000$ at this point, and i block a lot of things there, primarily because they actually make it more difficult for me to find the things i want to spend money on.

If sites made it clear that your patronage while stripping out ads was unwelcome, would you voluntarily stop using all those websites...? Or would you hide behind the "running on my machine" argument while gleefully skimming their content?

I stop visiting websites that prevent me from seeing any content if I'm using an ad blocker. Wired, for example. I was never an avid reader of Wired but they do publish some interesting content and I would find myself reading maybe three or four articles a month. Since they made it clear that people blocking ads are no longer welcome on their site I stopped clicking on Wired links.

I know there are ways around such blocks but I don't bother using them. If a site prevents me from seeing its content if im blocking ads I close the page and make a mental note to not click on links to that site anymore.

I'm not "hiding" behind anything, and trying to imply I am doesn't help your argument.

I probably would stop using that site, I think it's important to support sites that make meaningful progress possible. But again, that doesn't really have any impact on my decision to make sure foreign code doesn't run on my machine.

If a bus made it clear that not reading every ad on it to its fullest extend was unwelcome, would you stop riding the bus?


If sites make it clear, i stay out or pursue alternatives they offer. For example i don't use bild.de. And for other sites i've started contributing to payment schemes like Patreon. Mobile apps i often by the upgrade to remove ads, even though i can just block them altogether.

That's good for you! The truth is that most people don't do that at all. I feel that either we need to pay for content or ad companies need to sponsor us for the content. If some sites have terrible ads it's really not that hard to just not go there.

I think that'll come over time. Right now the problem is that the "value" of a page view is far below a single dollar, and paying so little in a way that isn't negated by the costs is very hard to solve still. At the same time full-on subscriptions often don't make sense if you're just gonna look at a certain site a handful of times per year.

Patreon is a big step towards fixing that, since it allows me to pay small amounts to people whose work i enjoy very occasionally. It is however not the end game yet, and i think if that path is pursued further, ads can become a part of the past.

Also the "just don't go there" thing is hard to do in reality. If only because to find out that a site is bad, you need to first go there. Then there's the cost of remembering in the future that the site is bad. Then there's the social cost of getting linked to a thing. etc. etc. etc.

Am I supposed to find every single website I might ever visit in the future and preemptively pay for their no-ads plan? How is that the answer? What about sites which don't offer such a plan?

And why should people who can't afford to pay, or wish to not have their money benefit someone, be forced to be opened up to security exploits?

"Am I supposed to find every single website I might ever visit in the future and preemptively pay for their no-ads plan? How is that the answer? What about sites which don't offer such a plan?"

Honestly this really is the problem and honestly when I first read it I thought you were arguing against ad blockers. Having to have subscriptions is ridiculous, which is why ad supported really is the only currently realistic model for the majority of the internet. Everyone seems to be so concerned with security so instead of reaching for the nuclear option of just not paying people who provide us content why don't we actually think about how to make them safer? What would an ad network have to do to make you allow them through an ad blocker?

> What would an ad network have to do to make you allow them through an ad blocker?

There's absolutely nothing they can do. If I can hide ads by any means, I will do so. I absolutely hate them. They slow down page loading and rendering, they slow down my browser, and they're tacky and distracting. I a few options:

1. A system of micropayments so I can pay cents or fractions of a cent for page views, ad-free.

2. Blocking content as well if an ad blocker is detected. I'm fine with this; my stance is that if you send me data in response to a GET request, I can do anything I want with that data, including stripping out portions I don't want to see. If you block the content when detecting I'm blocking ads, that's fine; I'll accept that and not try to circumvent it (and will likely just do without your content).

3. A general (monthly-subscription-type) paywall. I'm unlikely to pay for this, as there are few (no?) sites I read often to justify the expense, so I'd again just do without.

And I think that's the thing: there are enough people who don't block ads that they're apparently still profitable enough that sites that would prefer to charge for content can't see doing so as a viable business model. I look forward to the day when selling advertising is no longer viable, and something like my #1 idea takes hold.

Suggesting that it's immoral or unethical to block ads is just hogwash.

Stop trying to make "allowing ads" equivalent to "paying creators". It's not in any way the same thing, and it's just an attempt to paint everyone who disagrees with you with a big brush of "asshole".

I have criteria for this:

1. No videos, flashing animations, pop-overs, pop-unders or audio. Ever.

2. I WILL tolerate text, links, and moderately sized images.

3. No building a dossier on me. I may allow tasteful ads but I will still block trackers and analytics with extreme prejudice.

Google Contributer lets you do that given they handle the micro payments on your behalf to publishers. I would definitely subscribe to it and at least not block double click': network if you are annoyed by ads like I am.

Who are these people being "forced" to use pornhub?

I don't remembering mentioning forcing people to visit particular sites, I remember talking about telling people they weren't allowed to ever block ads. I also don't remember saying this was unique to pornhub, or mentioning pornhub in any way.

You'd be served ads before you logged in.

You can serve the ads all you want. You're trying to make people _display_ them. There's a huge difference.

> But it is an ethics issue.[...]And even if that weren't the case, why is it okay to just take what you want without paying just because you don't approve of the security.

You're off track. A server sends your browser what it would like you to display. It's not required to be displayed in any sense. Why is not displaying all of it stealing / not ethical? The way advertising is typically constructed gives all of the power to the client.

Not sure why you're getting threats over email for this comment though. I love HN for its comments but sometimes discourse can break down hard for issues people are passionated about.

What if you allow ads but dont click on them and dont buy their products ? Then you're doubly cheating, because the poor advertiser paid for those ads when you know very well you will not give any business in return. At least with the ads blocked, the advertiser can pay less for the service (ads), which more accurately reflect their true value.

But advertising isn't just about clicks, hell it hasn't been about clicks except recently in history. It's about getting your product out there.

And to be completely honest, I don't really have an answer why it's okay to do something like look away from ads, but it's not okay to block them.

That's just how I feel, and I know that might be hypocritical, but it is what it is.

That's an incredibly strange viewpoint. Would you get mad at me if we were watching TV and I muted it when a commercial break came on? Would you demand that I watch closely?

I dont think anyone is saying you need to watch closely or even look at the ads?? Somehow a lot of people have come to attack a straw man regarding control of your eyeballs/behavior. Dont look at the ads if you dont want.

The issue here is payment to the content creators. If you mute your tv, the actors/writers/producers/camerapersons/tv station employees/etc get paid. If you block ads on the internet, then the writers/journalists/photographers/sysadmins/etc dont get paid, even though they made you happy, or provided something you obviously valued. I mean, you spent your valuable time consuming it, it must be worth something.

No, I wouldn't demand anything, and there is nothing wrong with any of that in the slightest to me.

But if you setup a program to explicitly skip every commercial break without any interaction from your part, then it would be a problem to me.

So it's the automation itself that bothers you? If I kept uBlock origin installed but told it to block nothing by default and then went through and manually clicked block on every ad on a new page you'd be okay?

So as long as you either see the ads, or are inconvenienced by them, it's OK?

How about if my friend hits the mute button for me?

How about if my friend is an android?

a while back I had an idea for an "auto-muter", which would look up audio fingerprints for commercials like shazam does for music. When it identifies a commercial, it emits the MUTE button from an IR transmitter for the prescribed duration of the commercial. Like a poor-mans TIVO. I never built it but all the pieces are already out there.

That's the thing I don't get. Automating an action does not in any way take a previously moral action and make it immoral. That's not how ethics and morals work.

I get that you _feel_ differently about it, and that's totally ok, but the idea that you feel the need to suggest that those feelings are "right" for others baffles me.

> It's about getting your product out there.

This is admittedly an extremist view point on my part but If I even detect a hint of advertising, I am extremely unlikely to ever consider a product. I detest advertising in any form. So in cases like mine, the advertiser is better off not showing me any ads.

That's what everyone who's super susceptible to advertising likes to claim.

I think maybe it is the automation.

Looking away from ads, or hitting mute, or fast forwarding through them all require effort and time on the viewer's part. A small effort, but effort nonetheless.

As an advertiser, I can grudgingly accept my ad being skipped, because I know its costing the viewer to skip them. Since its not free to them, I can assume that one day, or every so often, they'll end up watching my ad because they can't be bothered to skip it.

I experience this myself. Much of what we watch is free to air recorded on the tivo. Sometimes (not often), if the couch is comfortable and the kids have moved the remote out of arm's reach, I just can't be bothered skipping ads.

But ad blockers remove the small effort I must make to skip the ads. The automation they provide makes it effectively free, so there's no reason why I would ever watch an ad again.

I feel that's one aspect of why looking away or muting feels OK but ad blockers are not.

Nah, the problem is elsewhere. Not looking at an ad on tv doesn't result in anyone not getting paid, because that stuff isn't tracked. It's all based on incidental measurements after the fact, and selective sampling.

Now on websites EVERYTHING is tracked, and advertisers are seeing it in their face every single day how many people skip their stuff, so they get upset.

Besides, automation for TV exists as well.

They just could take the payment to view an article. Getting upset is not a valid reason to restrict consumers' rights.

> As an advertiser, I can grudgingly accept my ad being skipped, because I know its costing the viewer to skip them.

Nope, I don't buy it. The publisher doesn't get anything by causing you to do work to avoid the ad (as in, you doing work vs. not doing work to avoid the ad is exactly the same from the publisher's standpoint, financially). Ethics and morality are not about whether or not you "paid" with inconvenience or effort. This is just you feeling like you should be watching every ad put in front of you and assuaging your guilt in different ways depending on the medium.

"I don't really have an answer why it's okay to do something like look away from ads, but it's not okay to block them"

Payment for services provided. If you dont look at the ads, everyone still gets paid. If you block them, then the people making something you like dont get paid.

I'm under no obligation to allow network traffic someone wants me to allow, even if that's how they choose to make money.

You are obligated to if you want to access their content, per the copyright on the website. You are not obligated to their content, copyright free.

No, they strongly desire that I make the requests, because that's as much as they can do. The legal fiction they attempt to impose is trivial to ignore, and so the obligation is also fictional.

>obligation is also fictional.

You're the one who introduced obligation as a premise. Copyright law is not fictional.

Websites are copyrighted works of art, and you are not obligated to use them copyright free. If the copyright holder intends for their content to be consumed with ads, that means you are obligated to consume it with ads.

>If the copyright holder intends for their content to be consumed with ads, that means you are obligated to consume it with ads.

Citation needed, because I think the caselaw disagrees with you. See the ruling in Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. v. Nintendo of America, Inc. or ClearPlay's exemption in the summary judgement in Huntsman v. Soderbergh.

In short, so long as you're not making a permanent derivative work out of the material, but instead changing the way by which you view it, then it's not copyright infringement.

If you want me to cite copyright law, then the section that covers it best is: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#501

Those cases you cited don't apply for specific reasons:

- For Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. v. Nintendo of America, Inc., it was premised with consumers having already paid for their game, giving Nintendo a fair return for the copyrighted content. This was clearly stipulated by the judge in her ruling. With websites, you haven't paid a fair return for the content you're consuming so the case isn't relevant.

- Clearplay was only exempt in Huntsman v. Soderbergh because they were purchasing a 1:1 copy of every DVD that they were modifying. This isn't relevant because, for example, Adblockers are not paying publishers for every piece of content that they filter on.

Was not copyright law intended to protect publishers from unauthorised redistribution of their work? How blocking an advertisement can be a redistribution? That is just restricting the rights of a consumer that has paid for content (either with money or with time).

Using AdBlock is more like turning off a TV on commercials break. But I won't be surprised if copyright and ad companies would push some kind of law against it after they have adopted DMCA. Unlike consumers they have money and lobbyists.

> With websites, you haven't paid a fair return for the content you're consuming so the case isn't relevant.

One pays with his attention: he could spend time browsing any other of millions of websites. If the publisher doesn't like users with adblock he might not serve pages to them. Or require a payment. Or he might not use the Web at all.

First of all, I disagree with your assessment of these cases, especially Clearplay in Huntsman. The reason why they were excluded was not because they were purchasing copies of DVDs 1:1, Clear View required this as well. The difference between Clear View and Clearplay was that Clear View created new DVD-Rs as an output product and thus was creating derivative works without permission, as did nearly all other named defendants. Clearplay did not produce any derivative works by it's operation, which was entirely in memory in the player as an edit list. This is why it was specifically dismissed as a defendant.

The Clearplay technology was almost identical in function, implementation, and spirit to an ad-blocker. The same could be said in less specificity to the Game Genie in Lewis Galoob.

Now I understand the underlying frustration expressed in what you are saying, but you are assuming that there is some sort of contract (explicit via TOS or implicit) between the content consumer and the content provider that stipulates that you are receiving the content for free in exchange for also viewing it with advertisements inline.

I have not seen such TOS before and I don't think they are enforceable. At least it hasn't been tested in court in the states.

This is complicated by the fact that most websites do not host ads but merely provide a mechanism by which 3rd party networks' content alongside, and the only concrete business relationship exists between the website and the ad network, where the profitability of it is reflected in the ad network's perception of performance.

It is the responsibility of the ad networks and the content providers to use psychology, technology, tricks, etc. to increase the performance of the placed ads; the consumer has no obligation here. The ability for a consumer to ignore or block an ad must be factored into the numbers or the strategy.

One method that can bypass all of this is to use ad-block detectors that annoy or block viewers not seeing ads, or to self-host adnetwork content and adjust TOS accordingly. This is not popular, more complicated, and reduces overall impressions, but I think it's the right way to go if you want to lean on an interpretation of copyright law.

I still don't think people are violating copyright law if they choose to use technological mechanisms to try to suppress what they don't want to see, but it's a lot harder to implement in that case since you can quite easily change it in ways to increase impression rates.

how is blocking a part of a copyrighted work (ad blocking) *copying" it ? It's still their IP, I'm just only interested in a particular fraction of it.

You aren't entitled to consume copyrighted content any way you wish if you haven't paid a fair return for it.

For example, you can flip through a book if you want to, because it's already been paid for.

That is completely incorrect; copyright has nothing to do with payment.

Copyright is about distribution and nothing else. It allows a copyright holder to decide if, when, and how his/her work is distributed (which might be payment-free!). It does not govern what you do with the work once you've obtained it, as long as you do not try to redistribute.

Copyright governs distribution. Once you have something in your possession, you may do whatever you want with it as long as you don't distribute the result.

The DMCA and similar laws attempt to get around that allowance by making it a crime to distribute tools for circumventing copyright protections. It's telling that no one has succeeded in a DMCA complaint against ad blocking software.

I'm not sure if "obligated" means what you think it means. It certainly doesn't have definitions that cover the way you're using it.

You requested the page though.

I requested the page, I got the page. How I render it is a completely separate issue. If I choose not to render some of the data, or not execute some of the code on my machine, that's up to me.

>What if you allow ads but dont click on them and dont buy their products ?

Irrelevant. That's like saying you can't click on a billboard so what's the point?

Not all ads are direct response. Many display and programmatic ads are awareness plays, which pay publishers by the impression or thousands of impressions.

That's the nature of advertising. They bombard everyone with their shit and some people buy it.

You are making very strange false equivalencies the likes of which I haven't heard since those MPAA ads telling me not to download cars...

Are you saying that blocking ads on a website is somehow the same thing as hacking the website and taking material?

They offer the content for free, I choose not to show the ads that come with it on my machine. It's not up to me to make sure their business model works.

But it is an ethics issue.

The other day, on my phone, I used an ad-supported app and I got malware on my phone (5x, latest Android 7.0). I went to the Play page for that app and many other people complained of the same thing.

So, it's not just an ethics issue.

I chose, when I got this phone, not to root and run software that prevented ads from being shown. I'm wishing I had done that, because my likely course of action will be to reset my phone and spend many hours getting it setup like it was before the malware.

Its easier to simply not go to websites that serve you malware via ads and go to websites without the ads and malware.

Can you please provide me a list of malware-free sites ? Or is this a thinly-veiled "blame the victim" attack because its funny to shame people who watch porn ? I've heard that sophomoric attack so many times when talking about malware: "oh, malware ? I've never had any. I'm not the kind of person who goes on __THOSE__ sites, hurr hurr!"

My point was not about porn at all. The discussion was opened up to a wider context about all websites with ads. Purposefully misconstruing what I said to make it sound like I'm "blaming" someone is quite dishonest of you.

I didn't purposefully misconstrue, I asked you if that was your intention. But there's no doubt that you purposefully blame the victims of malware instead of blaming the criminals who purvey it.

Again, I'd like your List of Malware-Free Sites, so I dont get anymore malware.

Your style of asking seems to be assuming something ridiculous and putting it as a question. You'll have to find someone else who will entertain your style of writing. This is my last reply. Bye.

How are you supposed to avoid sites with malware unless you know about it beforehand? How are you supposed to do that without some sort of list? You don't appear to have thought through your own suggestion.

No one is talking about specific malicious sites, people are talking about entire ad networks being infected, something that has happened multiple times in the past.

When every site gets their ads served from the same central location and that location is compromised, everyone is at risk unless they have strict anti-ad rules implemented.

Every site doesn't do that, though. Almost B2B (non-consumer) sites sell their ads directly to clients (major companies) and don't have malware come through. It's only the ad networks that really are guilty of selling ads to people they don't know and getting the bad creative. If ad blocking software was really about stopping malware they would recognize this and have a way of certifying sites that do business directly and don't allow ad networks.

My point is, if you don't like ads, go to websites without ads. That way you reward websites who have found alternate means of compensation.

Its as simple as if you don't like games/songs/media with DRM, buy the non-DRM ones and reward the authors.

Why are you trying to bring about change with one hand tied behind your back? If there was a public vote about whether to outlaw the use DRM software would you vote against it on principle because, "if people really didn't want DRM, they wouldn't buy products with DRM"?

If a large enough segment of the population uses an ad-blocker it signals a clear and direct message to site-owners and ad network's wallets that you won't put up with ads and that they won't make money from you until they come up with a different business model. What could be better? It's way more effective than just leaving, emailing the webmaster, or writing an angry blog post.

I long for the day when I don't need an incredibly aggressive content filter on the web for it to be usable, safe, and private.

>If a large enough segment of the population uses an ad-blocker it signals a clear and direct message to site-owners and ad network's wallets that you won't put up with ads and that they won't make money from you until they come up with a different business model.

They're going to take the 'easier' route of trying to keep bypassing the blockers than changing the entire revenue model. That's why supporting websites which are founded on a non-advertising revenue model is crucial.

>It's way more effective than just leaving, emailing the webmaster, or writing an angry blog post.

What argument do you present for this?

The fact that we're talking about adblocking instead of the other countermeasures he listed.

I don't frequent sites with lots of ads, but that doesn't preclude me blocking any and all other ads.

I thought I didn't visit sites with lots of ads, until I saw what one of the sites I used looked without my ad blocker on. It was horrendous.

You claimed you were for people getting rewarded for their work, just not by using methods that you don't agree with.

If you are truly principled then you would avoid going to websites that have those ads and only go to websites whose revenue model is aligned with your interests.

I try in all possible situations to only visit sites that I think aren't causing damage to the landscape of the internet but again, that is a separate issue to me choosing to block all ads. When I browse a content aggregator or a friend sends me a link I'm not going to research each site before clicking the link, I'm just going to click the link if I think it will be interesting. And I'm not going to be okay with exposing myself to security vulnerabilities. Browsing the web I have a right to protect myself, and I'm not going to be somehow guilted into removing that protection.

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. So what do you do for a website that doesn't have ads? That website could still attack with you JS bugs, HTML rendering bugs, JPG/PNG rendering bugs, etc.

You're still not really completely protecting yourself. So it seems to me like you're hedging your bets by assuming that primarily websites which have ads are a liability, but websites with no ads, but with equal opportunity for exploiting vulnerabilities are not.

To be fair, there's good history of this to back his assertion. Ad networks have frequently had exploit kits dropped on them.

Not only that but the ad networks also get all your details which makes Internet advertising quite unlike other advertising.

If the ad networks have no "ethics" I see no reason to feel an ethical obligation back. Sucks for content providers, yeah, but if they have to die to get rid of the sketchy ad networks so be it.

I'd be willing to whitelist ad networks which were sandboxed and could only show me straight up images proxied through the first party site. Anything more than that and I'll show some control of my own hardware and block it. Ultimately, it's my hardware, if it does anything I don't like, I have a right to fix it.

It's easier to not live in countries with a lot of racists, duh.

You make little to no sense. We're talking about voluntarily clicking on a link.

The similarity lies in that, just as with deciding to move into a country, it's hard to find out in advance whether bad factors are there and how bad they are; and once you actually like it there, relatively pricey to give up on what you like just to avoid the bad factors. Plus, just like almost every country has some racists, nowadays almost every website has ad software that can be a potential vector for malwaare.

>nowadays almost every website has ad software that can be a potential vector for malwaare.

If you're concerned with what's possible then any website that has JS is a potential vector for malware. Then you can just disable JS and browse the web that way. But wait, websites can also attack you with HTML browser bugs with malformed HTML, or PNG or JPG renderer bugs with malformed images, etc etc. At some point, you're going to have to be practical and compromise or something. My point is if you want to be principled, then reward websites with no ads by visiting them and don't reward websites who have ads.

I do block all JS content by default and have to whitelist individual sites. I consider that in tandem with my adblocking. I'm not going to give up either.

Yes, thank you, you accurately recognized the ridiculousness of your initial proposition.


I'm amazed that "don't go to sites with malware or malware ads" being the same as "don't live in countries with racists" is hard for you to understand, and i feel sorry for you.

I suspect you are a minority ad block user, most block ads to not see ads. I agree with your sentiment but frankly it comes off with the same amount of credit as I only torrent content I already purchased. I don't dispute what you do and don't pay for or why you block ads.

I don't understand what you're trying to say. My reasons are irrelevant because you disagree with the outcome?

> Blocking ads is about controlling what code runs on my machine,

Blocking ads is about blocking ads because ads are horrendous.

Sibling comments made the security argument at length, but I'll add another aspect: one of sovereignty.

I'm displaying content on my screen. It's my screen, and my computer, and I don't see a difference between an ad blocker and, say, putting post-it notes over the screen to physically block the space the ads are appearing in.

In the same way, I can control whether I watch a video muted or at 100% volume. I can control what font I use, whether my browser is fullscreen. I can modify the displayed content so all instances of the word "millennials" read as "snake people". I can choose not to display ads.

I'm not articulating this well, but I hope I got my point across. I view anti-adblockers like I do DRM - it's a program or piece of data (edit: ...that is running on my computer, not remotely) that is causing my computer to behave in ways I do not want my computer to behave, and so fits the definition of malware.

There's a difference between encroaching on your sovereignty (i.e. Making a law against you blocking ads, which I strongly oppose) and what you're doing being unethical.

Do you really think everything you can do that takes advantage of legal rights you should totally have is ethical? If that's the case, which of the following do you agree with:

A. It should be illegal to cheat on your significant other.

B. It is totally ethical to cheat on your significant other.

Their argument is pretty silly. If I close my eyes and mute my TV when commercials come on am I ripping off TV networks?

No because they get paid to show you the ad, not make sure you watched it. Adblockers prevent the ad from being shown which is fundamentally different.

On recording and fast forwarding later since it's a closer analog, the network is being paid to show that ad to people during that time period - generally the numbers used to sell ad space exclude people recording for later (they are broken out). So that is also not ripping them off since the ads are part of the "cost" of watching the show at that time, not in general.

So would it then be okay by your logic to load the ad in the background and just hide it from the page like muting a radio ad? Old school Adblock used to do this in the early days.

I guess, I mean this is just based on my personal world-view, I'm not an ad ethicist and I don't run any sites that depend on the revenue - I just personally don't run an ad-blocker because I feel it breaks the "social contract" that in return for someone providing me content I give up some screen real estate for an ad.

In your case, what's the point? Even though I feel like it's hyperbolic, one of the main arguments is that they are an attack vector - so if they are still running/displaying then it seems pointless. It's not that hard to ignore ads, there are a few sites I don't really go to because I know they have annoying ads (and I don't feel entitled to their content for free, so I just don't go) but otherwise I have never had any issues with ads that are difficult to ignore.

> It's not that hard to ignore ads

Speak for yourself, especially after years of having them blocked I find them incredibly distracting when I look at someone else's screen.

> I don't feel entitled to their content for free

I don't either, but if your server will give it to me, I'll take it. If they wanted it secured, they should have used a pay wall. That's their fault, not my problem. If you give it to my computer, I get to decide how it's displayed. Ultimately, it's my hardware, if it does anything I don't like, I have a right to fix it and that right of ownership trumps any non-existent contract in my book.

It's just an honor system thing. If you feel entitled to consume their content that they pay to host while making sure they don't get paid for it then that's how you feel and just like you said you fully have that ability and control.

They do offer a way you can pay to not have ads, and they offer a way for people who don't want the hassle of a paywall to consume their content by viewing ads.

There will always be people who just don't feel others should be paid for the services they offer.

In my opinion this is just like grabbing a big handful of Halloween candy that was left out without a sign saying "take one", there's nothing preventing you from taking all you want but the expectation is that you just take one so everyone can have some.

It's not so much entitlement as it is possibility, if I didn't have the possibility, I wouldn't demand it or feel like I deserved it. Because I have the possibility, I can do it. So I do.

> In my opinion this is just like grabbing a big handful of Halloween candy that was left out without a sign saying "take one", there's nothing preventing you from taking all you want but the expectation is that you just take one so everyone can have some.

Not really, I don't own the candy or anything about it. I do own my computer. Maybe it's just interacting with a machine that you own like that I've heard it makes most people more utilitarian.

Is being able to do it without breaking any laws (which I assume is what you mean by possibility) really your criterion for ethical behavior?

Nah, the legal thing doesn't even come in, even if it breaks laws I'd still do it.

The possibility means lack of preventative measures on their part, like a pay wall or allowing only some custom TPM-based browser which forces the viewing of ads.

I own my hardware, it does what I tell it. That's about as far as the ethical side of this goes. Ad companies getting to invade my privacy and send me malware is certainly not ethical. Especially if they use my own hardware against me to do so. If they don't play by any rules, neither do I. So when it comes to getting annoying ads and their related problems out of my face, anything goes.

Ah, so if for example your neighbor leaves his door unlocked, you think it's fine to steal his stuff? I'm not saying that's the same thing as blocking ads (not even close) but it sure seems to fit your "lack of preventive measures" criterion for ethical behavior.

You're ignoring that the web server is configured on purpose to give these things away without asking for payment. If your friend is standing there in his house, and when you ask to borrow his stuff he says yes and hands it to you, that's a lot closer.

It's not just a lack of prevention. It's a purposeful, deliberate choice to send this content even if you're not paying or loading the ads.

"If your friend is standing there in his house, and when you ask to borrow his stuff he says yes and hands it to you, that's a lot closer"

Closer. Its more like if your friend says you can use his car, but you need to pay him $x per mile. So you use an odometer changing device to make it look like you didnt actually use it.

Nah. The sites are very deliberately not charging because they want more users. An analogy that involves a bill isn't appropriate.

True. But they can only afford to not charge because of the ads. I guess we will see how this plays out :)

Stealing his stuff results in a direct loss for him, rendering a page you were already given without a few components isn't remotely comparable.

Maybe a better analogy would be to walk through his lawn if he didn't put a fence up. This probably does about as much damage to his lawn as bandwidth would be wasted on you as an ad blocker.

I'm not saying they're comparable (in fact I explicitly said they aren't), I'm just saying that there's either more to it than "they didn't stop me" or you're applying your criterion inconsistently.

And wasted bandwidth isn't the real issue, unless the business in question's only expense is bandwidth.

> And wasted bandwidth isn't the real issue, unless the business in question's only expense is bandwidth.

Well then what's the issue? Bandwidth is the only thing I'm costing them really, the only difference between me going there and me not going there is bandwidth. If I legitimately couldn't use the site due to a pay-wall I wouldn't go there. Unless there's some secret way to make me pay for content that I'd only consume if it's free?

> In my opinion this is just like grabbing a big handful of Halloween candy that was left out without a sign saying "take one"

No, that would be a DoS attack. Browsing without ads is taking the same amount of candy anyone else does. At worst it's ignoring the stack of flyers next to the candy bowl.

That's actually a really good comparison, blocking ads doesn't prevent anyone else from viewing the content, which is really the problem with the taking all the candy. At worst, it's like the candy owner sitting there saying "if you don't pay for this free candy, I'm going to take it away".

Agree. I think the consumer should have more rights:

- a right to freely inspect and disassemble the software before running it to make sure it doesn't have any malicious or tracking functions and disable the code one doesn't want to be run on his system - a right to make any modifications to one's legally obtained copy of software (but not redistribute it) - a right to distribute tools necessary for disassembling and modifying software - a right to decide what information can be collected and sent from his device. For example, many smartphones today have preinstalled software (like Google Play Services) that sends data to Google and to manufacturer. The consumer is unable to inspect or disable this unless he is a computer engineer having a lot of free time. Even if it is anonymised data they should not be sent without owner's consent. If you are unable to control this you are not the real owner.

The digital techologies are a new thing and are not yet covered fully with laws so large corporations (and their friends at NSA) try to make the rules beneficial to them. We have a laws like DMCA that restrict the rights of consumer to repair a tractor but we have no laws protecting consumer from spying on him by Google. Large companies just want to have as much authority over consumer as they can.

Maybe it's not worth it? Maybe the value add just isn't there? I don't know how much Pornhub charge (I checked, £9.99/month, joys of working from home), but I do get harangued every once in a while for newspaper sites. "Only £x/month!", problem is it's not worth it for me. I generally don't consume one newspaper, I don't read articles from one place, I read them from multiple places. I pick and choose. I follow links on Twitter or Hacker News.

I see these sites more like buskers than businesses. Perhaps if I could drop 10p in the pot with zero effort I might. I don't know. I'm certainly not going to go through the hassle of digging out the the first, third and eighth digits of my credit card 3dsecure passcode for it. Perhaps if they had a zero effort way of charging 10p every time someone used the site they'd get more people paying.

Also, just comparing specific examples here. The Guardian ask for £5/month to become a supporter. It's almost tempting at that amount. For that you get stuff they've actually created. Pornhub want to charge £10/month for content they've basically stolen from somewhere else and are now serving with a simple tag based categorisation and video player.

> "how do we keep getting all this content for free without paying"

Maybe this is what people are saying, but not what they actually mean. Almost without fail adverts are intrusive, obnoxious, sometimes disgusting, CPU spinning malware delivery vectors.

Perhaps the lack of middle ground between that, and paying more money than we think something is worth, is non-existent, and therefore filled with a workaround; adblockers.

I think it's been done (micropayments), but perhaps being able to pay for a fraction of something is needed these days. Not one whole newspaper (the past) but one article (the present)

Leaving aside that some people feel that ads are an imposition: we are not obliged to see ads, nor to execute code delivered by a website.

The web is a public place where the majority of content is free to consume. Those publishers who wish not to provide content for free are free to demand payment for it. They're free to raise revenue by delivering ads too, but we're not obliged to see them.

The problem isn't (at least with me) not that I have a problem with paying for content, but with opening and attack vector that isn't even controlled by the primarily visited outlet (be it porn or journalism).

It wouldn't (at least in my case) be a problem with advertisement per se.

Adservers with additional adservers behind them (and cascading further down) where only one would have to be compromised to infect my machine is what makes me use hard rules not to let (unknown) third party requests on any page pass.

I try to minimize my flank surface in regards to such online attack possibilities. In my case it is with adblocking, a curated and regularly updated host file, 3rd party request blockage and so on...

OK, the net is mostly unusable and painful nowadays, but that is the price to pay.

Why do these topics always come up? Because places overcharge, make things too complicated or use insecure services...

I don't block ads to stop creators from getting paid... I block ads because 99% of them are irrelevant, waste my time and are a massive attack vector.


Then don't use the site.

When people make this argument, it sounds to me like they are telling me to just steal my food from a restaurant if I don't think their payment processor is 100% secure.

I know that digital != physical goods in many ways, but the point is why does you not approving of their process, security, or price give you the right to just not do it?

That's not how the web works. Websites give you their website for free. Your web browser does a GET / and their server responds 200 OK with some content. How you view that content once it is transferred onto your computer is 100% up to you. You can block ads, you can make plugins click-to-play, you can change the styles using Stylish; whatever you want. For your own viewing purposes, it is now yours.

Websites are not giving you the content for free, they are giving it to you with an expectation that you take the ads along with them, or you pay for the subscription.

This excuse is so played out it's annoying. You could say this about anything:

That's not how the real world works. Stores offer you things for free on a shelf, you walk up and take the item, and the store responds by letting you have it. How you pay for that item is 100% up to you.

But that's not true. Just like how a store expects you to pay for something, the website expects payment in the form of a subscription/payment, or by running the ads. (and i'm just using the comparison as an analogy, I know digital vs physical is a whole other discussion, and i'm not implying that viewing a page without ads is the same as stealing physical items)

Where do you draw the line there? Is it okay to flip some bits in your bank account and give yourself money because the computer responds letting you? Are you allowed to download paid software for free because someone somewhere served it to you?

> Websites are not giving you the content for free, they are giving it to you with an expectation that you take the ads along with them, or you pay for the subscription.

No they aren't, if that's what they were doing they would present you with a contract stating that. A contract is not something that happens secretly or implicitly and putting a "terms of service" link in small print at the bottom of your website is not a contract. There has to be a meeting of the minds [1] where both parties understand the arrangement.

That's not what happens with ad-driven websites.

> Where do you draw the line there? Is it okay to flip some bits in your bank account and give yourself money because the computer responds letting you? Are you allowed to download paid software for free because someone somewhere served it to you?

No, that would be exploiting a bug on their server, knowingly. Blocking ads or changing styles with Stylish is not exploiting a server bug; your browser says GET / and their server says 200 OK. It really is as simple as that.

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

Does the situation change with HTTP2? When your browser says GET and the server responds with not only a 200 and the HTML, but also the JS, CSS, images, and more all pushed to your machine?

Their web server can just as easily send a 401 if you haven't logged in with your account after paying for access. They don't have to give you a 200 when you GET /. Nothing is forcing them to give your browser the OK just because your browser requested their site.

I don't think that it does; why would it? You can send me scripts but I don't have to run them.

I don't feel any more guilty blocking ads then I do throwing away the advertising brochures unread that bookstores often put in your bag when buying a book.

"Expectations" don't inherently generate revenue. Performing activities that generate revenue... generates revenue. Put another way: expectations don't entitle you to revenue.

On the legal side, the store gets paid when I buy something because I risk arrest if I don't pay. On the ethical side, I don't steal because doing so deprives someone else of the good I have stolen.

You claim "I know digital vs physical..." and yet you still trot out that tired analogy... because yes, you are implying that viewing a page without ads is the same a stealing physical items, and suggesting that you aren't is just intellectually dishonest.

> Is it okay to flip some bits in your bank account and give yourself money because the computer responds letting you?

Again: adding money to your account necessarily deprives someone else of that money, so, no. There's also a legal deterrent (a fuzzy one, but a bank could probably get a CFAA violation to stick), and just the futility of it: the bank will notice the error and claw the money back anyway. If you spend it, you're still on the hook for it.

> Are you allowed to download paid software for free because someone somewhere served it to you?

If the creator of that software is the one serving it to me, sure! (Just as is the case with ad-supported web content.)

It is just completely baffling to me how people can equate serving up ads with any other form of, y'know, actual payment, and suggest that it's somehow unethical to avoid seeing ads.

If you put stuff up on the web, you should expect people to view it however they like. That's what the web is for; in the early days commercial content wasn't even allowed there.

I'm happy to pay for things, even digital files. But my browser is mine and it will do what I want with the content you put on the web.

Maybe because me clicking some link and getting loaded into a site is in no way a tacit agreement to be exposed to security concerns? I don't owe the creator of a site anything by default.

> steal my food from a restaurant if I don't think their payment processor is 100% secure.

restaurant payment processing is regulated by ACH/PCI/banking regs and I'll get my money back if their systems are attacked, up to and including a lawsuit if they dont act in good faith.

How about this, I allow ads to be served if they sign a contract making the advertiser liable for any and all damages incurred by the installation of malware ? Oh yeah, and I run Linux so the repair bill for a qualified Linux sysadmin to fix my system could easily run north of $200/hr (double the standard PC repair house rate, since fewer people are qualified to fix it)

If your business cannot survive my ability to have my computer render any given piece of HTML as I see fit, your business is doomed.

If everyone thought like you, then I might be forced to guarantee my business's survival by assuming the worst of every user - that instead of using a web browser, they're sucking down my content using a bespoke client that strips out all of the advertisements that I get my revenue from.

My response could be to stop using web protocols and force my users to consume my content using my own thick client.

That might be economical for me.

It would be if my site offered tomorrow's stock prices.

It wouldn't be if my site streams home renovation tips.

So if your assertion is correct, it would result in the decimation of large parts of the internet - which seems unlikely.

If your model is restricting how people view content, then yes, using an open platform like the web is not a great choice. Instead try delivering your content as a native app. There you can do a much better job of preventing them from interfering with how content is displayed. They might still be able to disassemble the binary and modify it, but that would be quite a lot more work and would need to specifically target your app; whereas browser ad blockers use features built into the browser that work globally.

Of course, by not using the web you are putting yourself at a disadvantage as far as customer acquisition, but if you think you can compensate for that, then go for it.

You can actually do both. I have a subscription to lemonde.fr and I also block ads (which are particularly aggravating on mobile); that is simply good hygiene

Because I really enjoy not getting malware installed on my computer. As long as ads are one of the major vectors for malware installations, and ad networks barely vet the ads they publish, I will be doing everything I can do to block them.

If that were really the case, wouldn't paying the price for their premium package that has a 0% chance of having advertisements be better than using an adblocker which clearly has a greater than 0% chance at seeing ads?

Paying someone to not install malware on my machine makes it closer to protection money. Ad blockers do a pretty decent job of preventing ad-network malware, without me having to buy subscriptions to every website I visit.

You can't just distill the argument down to that any more than I can say "going to the doctor is paying someone to not kill you"...

I'm going to add content to my website that, if asked, nearly all of my users would prefer to be absent, and then charge those users to remove that content.

The pattern is, intentionally make a service worse, and then charge to 'make it better'.

The doctor analogy would be, "for an extra $1000 fee, your surgeon will wash his hands before the operation".

> The pattern is, intentionally make a service worse, and then charge to 'make it better'.

Agreed; in the tech world, I'd call this the difference between buying a faster processor—the analogue of going to a doctor—and paying to avoid intentionally slowing down a processor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_80486SX).

I'd wager that even with a paid subscription they utilize JS-based tracking that ad-blockers block.

They need a cookie to know that you paid, don't they? So they can track you anyway.

JavaScript analytics are a completely different animal compared to session cookies.

Of course not. Using an ad blocker means that ads are blocked at all sites. Paying for content at one site clearly doesn't affect the ads delivered by other sites.

the 2 aren't mutually exclusive. You can have an adblocker, and still pay for content...

Correct. People using ad blockers want to block ads. They don't necessarily want to pay to avoid seeing ads. They may still wish to pay for content they like. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

But in this case, it's pretty black and white.

If you wanted to block ads, paying for the subscription is not only the ethical thing to do, but also much safer as it brings the possibility of being served ads to 0%

If you are okay with viewing ads instead of paying, this is a non-issue, as you will be served the ads just like before.

How does paying website A keep website B from serving me ads? This is why I run an adblocker.

I disagree that paying for the subscription is the ethical thing to do.

The publisher expressly allows the content to be consumed for free - they don't require payment for the content. Therefore it is not unethical to consume that content for free.

That they desire us to view ads is beside the point: we're not obliged to view them, nor is it unethical to choose not to view them.

They aren't expressly allowing the content to be consumed for free any more than a store-front that shows off products is allowing them to be taken for free.

There is the expectation that you serve the ads along with the content given, and violating that expectation is an ethical issue. It might not be an issue for you, but to pretend it doesn't exist is ignorant at best.

> They aren't expressly allowing the content to be consumed for free any more than a store-front that shows off products is allowing them to be taken for free.

False equivalence. Further, they certainly are allowing the content to be consumed for free.

> There is the expectation that you serve the ads along with the content given, and violating that expectation is an ethical issue.

We violate nothing by choosing not to abide by the wish that we view ads. There is no obligation to do so. It has nothing to do with ethics.

> It might not be an issue for you, but to pretend it doesn't exist is ignorant at best.

I think you mean "ignorant at worst". At best, we are ideologically opposed. :)

> We violate nothing by choosing not to abide by the wish that we view ads. There is no obligation to do so. It has nothing to do with ethics.

Similar to how choosing to not abide by the wish that you pay for products.

>I think you mean "ignorant at worst". At best, we are ideologically opposed. :)

I mean ignorant at best. Pretending that there isn't even a discussion to be had about ethics in this area is just shoving your head into the sand.

There isn't much of an ethical discussion to be had if we consider advertising in any other medium. I've never heard it argued that muting the TV during commercials or skipping commercials by fast forwarding is unethical. Similarly, I've seen pizza places include flyers with ads and coupons with the pizza they deliver, and I don't think anyone would argue it's unethical to throw those printed ads away.

So why when I click a link should it be wrong for me to ignore or block the advertising that is sent along with the content. When I clicked the link, there was no contract signed, nor was there any price communicated to me.

If I walked up building advertising "get food here" and asked "may I have a loaf of bread", and the person at the front just hands me a loaf with no other interaction, have I done something wrong? What if the business model of that store is to give the food away for free but allow other companies to place salesmen in the lobby, does that make me a bad person if I just breeze by the salesmen, ask for food, get it, then leave? Or has the person done nothing wrong and what I've described is just a terrible business model?

> Similar to how choosing to not abide by the wish that you pay for products.

It is not a "wish" when payment is demanded for a product. You violate a social contract and a legal statute when not paying for a product for which payment is demanded. This is nothing like the situation here where the content is absolutely available for free. This is beyond question.

> I mean ignorant at best. Pretending that there isn't even a discussion to be had about ethics in this area is just shoving your head into the sand.

Perhaps you might advance a rational argument for the viewing of ads as an ethical decision.

what if I'm okay with being served ads but I completely refuse the tracking that comes with ads ?

Then what if I'm okay with ads as long they're not intrusive (no animation, no sound, no video, no lightbox trickery,...) ?

And there are half a dozen of what if that makes this not so black and white. And whatever way you look at it, the global effortless solution is install an ad blocker preferably ublock origins and forget about it.

"Your failed business model is not my problem"

Actually, it is the other way around, paying for content has a high chance of being exposed to ads. Think of how candy crush adapts its difficulty the instant you pay for it.


I note that many of the "free" porn sites are in fact copyright infringing; so even if you do pay them for it, it doesn't go to the people who actually made it in the first place.

Because I've no expectation for the adverts to go away. Slightly fewer adverts and "that one isn't an advert its a promoted link" lies don't cut it.

(also: because they're shady as hell popunder scam ads, so this is by definition a shady actor, and shady actors don't get my financials)

And for all the talk of innovation, they keep putting terrible adverts up. Seriously, porn industry, mistargeted kinks are a turn-off that drives customers away, surely?

Facebook doesn't allow you to pay, and that's normal.

Cat and mouse was mentioned, so maybe it's the game?

The workarounds are reliant on filter lists to remain up to date. You can also just block websocket completely by adding the following to your filters (provided you're not using websockets for anything else):

You could actually use this method to create a whitelist by removing the "important" argument then creating a whitelist using the correct syntax.

Yep an "Off by default: This site is requesting to use WebSockets" approach would be the best solution.

The problem is that non-techie users have started to use adblock (even my grandma had adblock on her laptop). Obviously HN users would be able to look at a page, think "Oh, a websocket could be used to provide real-time updates on vote counts" (for example), and allow it. But a regular user would see a scary warning and just close out of it.

Is it correct that the Firefox uBlock Origin doesn't need the companion as it already supports WebSockets filtering?

Yes, this appears to be correct - the Firefox API supports filtering out of the box. If you check the readme on the WebSocket companion, it specifically mentions Chromium based browsers, assumedly indicating it's intended for them.

There is also a note on the normal uBlock repo that says that Firefox has an extra feature with a link to inline script tag filtering, which says it does not work on Chromium based brownsers: https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/Inline-script-tag-fil...

To be sure there is no confusion, it's possible to block inline scripts with Chromium, but not on a per-inline script tag basis.

Per-inline script tag filtering is possible for Firefox, but the feature relies on "beforescriptexecute", which is planned to be deprecated in Firefox as well[1]. As a result I have ceased to create "script:contains" filters and favor filter solutions which work on all browsers.

[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1286822

Thanks for the confirmation. I expect new engines like Servo to support content and request filtering at a lower layer for efficiency reasons, while of course still exposing it to JavaScript as needed. Opera already does this out of the box, though I don't know the internals and it's not as full featured as uBlock Origin. Without uBlock Origin and uMatrix, the web would be unusable from a UX perspective. thanks gorhill and friends!

I would really like to know the answer to this question.

On the Chrome Web Store page for that extension[1], it mentions:

"UPDATE: since this companion extension was published, uBlock Origin has itself gained the ability to blanket-block all websocket connection attempts for specific sites using a new filter syntax."

[1] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ublock-origin-webs...

Was wondering why it's only available for Chrome; after researching this more, it looks like Firefox version of uBlock Origin shouldn't need any extra addons to block websockets.

Note that this this only intercepts websocket requests in the DOM window context. It could be potentially be bypassed by using workers which have access to websocket APIs.

The real solution is for chrome to add support to their request filtering.

Filters such as `*$websocket`[1] should also work in workers as well, since such filter syntax causes a CSP directive to forbid websocket connections to be injected into a page.

[1] Used for Pornhub and many others.

Or just disable WebSockets on about:config, which should be done anyway.

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