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[dupe] There are no acceptable ads (fivefilters.org)
51 points by bigbugbag 371 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 106 comments




Wait, I'm really confused. They took this quote: "A big part of the web is paid by ads. Lots of websites rely on (non-invasive) ads to sustain themselves and provide content to anyone for free." and literally only addressed the "non-invasive" part.

1. Obviously other people out there don't agree that all advertising is "invasive", and their assertion otherwise is nothing but semantics.

2. More importantly, the core part of the statement is that "A big part of the web is paid by ads." and they seem to have completely ignored this fundamental issue. But instead they just transition from painting advertising as some malicious evil into various ad blockers.

So what is the solution they are proposing? Most of the internet is paid for by ads. Are people going to switch to a paid version of Facebook? Twitter? Is everyone expected to get Youtube Red? And are we only supposed to look at the few news sources that we can justify the subscription cost for?

All they are advocating is to just piggy-back off of the people that are willing (or unaware of the alternatives) to deal with ads while blocking it for yourself. This is not a solution, this is just taking advantage of a technical loophole in advertising in order to make your own experience better. How exactly do they envision an Internet without advertising?


Isn't non-invasive advertising just non-functional advertising? As soon as advertising is noticed it has distracted from the content.

The solution they seem to propose is: block ads and see what happens. I don't think one must propose a specific solution in order to advocate ad-blocking.

Regarding piggy-backing they seem to be trying to spread the word to everyone to do the same as they do. I think they want to see advertising go away, and piggy-backing off people who are unaware of ad-blocking is not going to lead to that end result.

Personally I block ads and have no solution or alternative for them. I even dislike billboards and physical ads in my town. They make the place ugly.


>Regarding piggy-backing they seem to be trying to spread the word to everyone to do the same as they do. I think they want to see advertising go away, and piggy-backing off people who are unaware of ad-blocking is not going to lead to that end result.

So how do they expect the Internet to exist afterwards?


They don't know. They just don't want ads to exist on whatever the Internet looks like in the future.

I believe that if you eliminated ads the Internet would be better for it. Advertising is just so backwards and nonsensical. It is analogous to screaming for attention in an overcrowded market. To think that our future Internet is stuck with this is a depressing thought.

Personally I'm okay with the following forms of advertising and would like to see them more widely adopted:

Podcast-style ads: getting the narrators and writers of a podcast to promote your product in an amusing way consistent with the theme of their show and in a way the user can skip if desired. (Same applies to YouTube video creators advertising within their show.)

Affiliate links: sites like The Wirecutter doing all the research and leg-work on a product category to find the best. Then making money through affiliate links to those products.

Small ads that have been vetted by the writer of the article / website are okay too. If I enjoy reading an author's content, and that author has personally approved a product ad on their site because they like it or think it would be good for their readers, then I'm okay with that.

Basically, any advertising that is explicitly acknowledged and approved of by the content creators is okay with me. It means they know what their readers will see, they know whether the products are good, and if they start recommending shitty products then they are putting their own reputation on the line.


Basically what you say is that online advertising networks are ruining user experience and you should not rely on a third party to provide ads to your website.

There's a couple guy who thought along these lines when time came when costs of running their website grew and investors required ROI and that's how google got into the advertising business. They kinda invented the acceptable online ads and transitioned from being a search engine to being an advertising company specialized into acceptable ads then came the tracking invisibly turning acceptable into unacceptable.

What I'm trying to say is that explicitly acknowledging and approving do not scale well. As operation scales up it becomes a time-consuming and tedious process which wears you rather quickly. To be viable long term, the website has to keep a low resources consumption and not draw too much traffic, If your website suddenly gets hugely popular it will cost you money, possibly a lot. Maybe we need to changer how those who owns the internet infrastructure charge for using it so as to avoid this.


> What I'm trying to say is that explicitly acknowledging and approving do not scale well.

Why do we need to scale? Many authors are self-hosting and self-publishing. I love reading, but I don't wan't my favourite content to be aggregated by some huge service which sells ads on-top of it indiscriminately.

I'm sure there are hosting services which will handle traffic spikes and charge accordingly.

I'm not advocating for no large services on the web. Obviously infrastructure-heavy services will be large (AWS, Google Search, Netflix, and so on). But two of those examples charge directly, and Google Search ads aren't particularly bad because they show up during a search and not on top of content that I want to read.


The web hand may change quite a bit, webpages would load faster, it would be safer (malware would lose an entry vector), many shady practices would cease to exist (Linkfarms, DNS parking, DNS redirect, dark patterns, browser start page and search engine hijacking, click bait, ...), tracking and user profiling would lose justification, centralizing everything in the hands of a few would become expensive, and a few other things.

But the internet? I guess it would be unchanged and unfazed.


> Isn't non-invasive advertising just non-functional advertising? As soon as advertising is noticed it has distracted from the content.

It worked for decades (centuries?) in newspapers and magazines.


That's orthogonal to the previous argument.


1. Obviously some people don't agree with fact or scientific truth, to each his/her opinion but it seems to me advertising is invasive by definition.

2. "your failed business model is not my problem" seems right. Could it be that most of the web is using an ad based revenue model because the guys who sell ads also happen to run the most popular web services at no monetary cost for the user and it's hard making a revenue while competing with gratis.

The expected solution to this conundrums would be to stop doing the internet wrong (centralizing everything) and start doing right (p2p, self-hosting, federated). The day may come when we have an affordable appliance you just plug in your network which will allow this.


> Obviously some people don't agree with fact or scientific truth, to each his/her opinion but it seems to me advertising is invasive by definition.

I would have liked your comment more if you wouldn't passive-agressively dismissed the people who disagree with you as anti-science and anti-fact.

For a sufficiently rigorous definition of "invasive", I (like you) find it pretty obvious that ads are invasive by nature, but the disagreement is whether or not the invasive nature of ads is a bad thing. (I'm torn on this, but it doesn't matter. I have plenty of other reasons to dislike ads.)


The thing is, advertisers need the web - it's rendered nearly all prior advertising and media paradigms obsolete, or at the very least, less cost effective. But the web doesn't need advertising.

So the solution is simple - businesses advertising online that fail to convince users to opt in to paying for their content somehow will lose revenue and die. The free market at work.

>Are people going to switch to a paid version of Facebook? Twitter?

Maybe, maybe not. The web will survive without both, however. But I suspect that enough people would be willing to pay for Facebook, at least, to make it viable. Not viable at its current scale, perhaps, but something is better than nothing.

>Is everyone expected to get Youtube Red?

I honestly believe the answer is yes, eventually, everyone will be expected to get Youtube Red, because paid, licensed content makes more sense for Google than the morass of illegal and non revenue generating fare that is currently the bulk of Youtube content.

>And are we only supposed to look at the few news sources that we can justify the subscription cost for?

That actually sounds like a good idea, given the quality of most news sources. They should have to work harder to earn their bread.


I think a good alternative to ad driven sites like Facebook and Twitter would be to not have those sites.

The parts of the Internet which are paid for by ads have a net negative impact on humanity.


> their assertion otherwise is nothing but semantics

Given that what counts as "invasive" is a semantic question, I'm not what you're trying to say here. You seem to be using this as a dismissal, without any justification.

They didn't ignore the fact that the web is paid for by ads. They stated that they expect other models would come about, and that in any case, ads aren't an acceptable price to pay.


And I was using this as a dismissal because the only part of the statement that they actually addressed was the unimportant semantic part. Not the core issue that was being raised. The quote would be just as valid without the parenthetical "(non-invasive)" and if it wasn't there, how would they respond?

What they did is sort of like correcting a grammar mistake that their interlocutor made, but ignoring the actual argument. It is a sham deflection, not a response. Their argument holds no water until the issue is addressed.


I interpret the parenthetical as meaning the feedback they received sometimes contained the "non invasive" precision and other times it didn't and they're addressing both at once.

So my guess they would respond the same and you already their response.

To be brutally honest it is your point that I don't understand. What is the core issue being raised that wasn't addressed and why would it matter so much that it invalidate the whole thing.


I disagree. The entire point of the post is that it challenges a background assumption that most people don't even realize they're making. You might find the question of business models to be more of interest, but if the feedback they need to respond to shows a lack of awareness that an invasion is even taking place, they need to establish that fact before anything else about the issue could be fruitfully discussed!


>They stated that they expect other models would come about, and that in any case, ads aren't an acceptable price to pay

Totally reasonable. But the fact that they don't seem capable of even beginning to suggest alternatives makes what they are saying completely useless. It would be like saying "we need to solve global warming, so we need to end all coal mining and oil drilling". Ok... but you can't just do that. You have to have alternatives and a plan to transition a society utterly dependent on fossil fuels onto something else. We do have some answers to those questions, and any useful attempt to address climate change will go over that.

This is just saying "turn off the pumps, and it will work itself out" without even attempting to explain what is supposed to come next. It is pure whining, not anything more.


Or, it's saying "turn off the pumps, and if it doesn't work itself out, that'll be okay."


The way the author addresses number 2 is by claiming that businesses need to focus on a different way of earning money than just clicks and page views. It's a sort of view that the web is already too inflated with unrealistic expectations of what's valuable, and I somewhat agree. Maybe when you start a company, focus on how to make a product instead of how to gather attention.


>businesses need to focus on a different way of earning money than just clicks and page views.

This is a complete non-answer. Where is Facebook supposed to get its revenue stream? It is monstrously expensive to maintain.

>Maybe when you start a company, focus on how to make a product instead of how to gather attention.

What kind of condescending crap is this? Getting attention is literally how they make money. It is their product. What product are they supposed to be focusing on to make money if not advertising?


Facebook or any other website for that matter are supposed to get any revenue, the web was thought and designed to be non commercial.

It is monstrously expensive by design, a deliberate choice as it chose to be a central intermediary point between as much people as possible to sell ads to make money. "your failed business model is not my problem".

Make the service based on p2p and the monstrously expensive maintenance bill is gone (along with the opportunity of being an intermediary and making piles of money with ads out of it)

Facebook makes no product, user provided data is their product and they sell it to advertisers. You got it right: facebook would disappear with advertising and exists only for the sole purpose of advertising.


> [Facebook] is monstrously expensive to maintain.

It would be interesting to find out how much of this operational cost and complexity could be removed if they didn't depend on collecting as much data about users as possible for the purpose of targeted ads.


"A big part of the web is paid by ads."

But is it the good part?


I hate this shit. Between adblocking and piracy, people are just going to push publishers into a new form of advertising where they don't even know they are being advertised to. This is going to mean more "sponsored posts" on sites you love and less authentic content. Its going to mean your favorite movies crammed with product placement ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfHuZ5qrYX4 ). Its going to mean a distrust of anything you see on the web much greater than exists today. Its going to mean every product review you read about will be 90% about the affiliate payment they get and 10% because of the product itself.

Ads suck, I agree. I think the major complaint is malware- But that doesnt explain blocking google adsense, which doesnt allow offsite javascript, or facebook ads, or other 'trusted' ad networks. People just remove those ads because "Fuck ads" - Well, thats fine. But those decisions will obviously not just be candidly ignored- Publishers and content producers will react and find new ways to generate revenue where they lost it.


> I hate this shit. Between adblocking and piracy, people are just going to push publishers into a new form of advertising where they don't even know they are being advertised to. This is going to mean more "sponsored posts" on sites you love and less authentic content. Its going to mean your favorite movies crammed with product placement ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfHuZ5qrYX4 ). Its going to mean a distrust of anything you see on the web much greater than exists today. Its going to mean every product review you read about will be 90% about the affiliate payment they get and 10% because of the product itself.

If this'd happen en masse this allows competition in the market of reviewers, news sites, and social network sites. It also allows for fact checking (which perhaps even gets automated). The model which works is akin to seed fund, or open source development by contract. There'd be say a review in the make of a product X. In order for it to be made, Y USD is required. This is then gathered via crowd funding. Then those who paid get early access, week later its in the public domain. The model isn't even new. LWN uses it, to name an example.


> push publishers into a new form of advertising

Its such a new form that it is already illegal in most places, and common not taxed properly. If publishers are going the illegal route, there are better ways than illegal ads. Many sites with "sponsored posts" have been fined for doing this, and more sites likely will until the risk of doing so is higher than the profits.


I'm pretty sure advertising has been doing, expanding and seeking the "they don't know they're being advertised to" for quite a while. IIRC it was developed after people being exposed to ads over time learned to recognize them and put up mental filters to filter ads out as a very efficient workaround that block, more recent developments include neuromarketing in the early 2000's. Point is this trend exists because it is the path of evolution of advertising, and I personally doubt adblocking has enough impact yet to push the established course of advertising in a different direction.

Publishers are encouraged to find new ways to get revenue preferably outside of advertising so their revenue would not be at risk. You can only put so much sponsored content on your website before you start losing traffic , i.e. ad revenue and need to resort to shadier practices and this cycle continues until the website dies.b


There is already progress being made toward stopping that kind of advertising too.


And yet this company's blog post has two ads blocked by AdBlock and runs Disqus as its comment section which is a web-wide data collector and ad service.


Which probably means are they are being pretty brutally honest as they are attacking their very own business model.


There is a spectrum, for people with a certain belief, between 'hypocrisy' and 'principled', which describes how much their actions are in conflict with that belief.

There is a conservation of expected probability thing happening here, so if 'hypocrisy' is more trustworthy than not knowing how someone acts, then 'principled' must be less trustworthy.

But if you said someone was obviously being dishonest because their actions match their words, you'd make no sense.

I am almost completely certain your statement is similarly absurd.


Sure, maybe they're untrustworthy, but we don't need to trust them to believe what they say in this case. We can evaluate what they say independently of their trustworthiness, using logic and experience.


Considering their absolute lack of a real alternative to advertising, this doesn't seem "brutally honest" at all. Simply hypocritical. Using adblockers only works because most people don't use them. If what they are advocating actually caught on (which they know it won't, making them disingenuous) then they would have to shut down their own site.


Strange, using ublock origins there no ads blocked. There's three tumblr trackers blocked though. Could it be related to using pictures hosted on tumblr ?

I also noticed they have addthis for facebook and twitter.

Maybe someone should point them to discourse as an alternative to disqus[1].

[1]: https://www.discourse.org/


Just because someone is a hypocrite doesn't mean they're wrong. Nobody lives up to their ideals perfectly.


> ‘Non-invasive advertising’ is an oxymoron. Truly non-invasive advertising would be no advertising at all.

You can't be taken seriously if your argument is to loudly change all the definitions to fit your worldview. Show me a better world that actually works.


I don't take this as an attempt to re-define anything. It's a pretty clear statement of a (admittedly strong opinion): Advertising is, by its very nature, an intrusion.

I don't think that is completely out of line. An ad's purpose is to convince me to part with some amount of my time or money. And even when they don't managed to do that, they still have an impact on my environment. It ends up cluttered with animated banner ads and auto-playing videos and tasteless billboards and sudden jumps in the audio volume coming out of my radio. It fills my mental space with memes that are deliberately engineered to harm my mental health by convincing me that I'm too hairy and smelly and old and bald and bored and overweight and under-penised and any number of other things that I wouldn't be the slightest bit worried about otherwise.

Which isn't to say that there aren't ads that I appreciate (shout out to Metromile for running the most recent subway ad to get me to buy a product), but they do seem to be a relative rarity in the grand scheme of things. That's coming from someone who deliberately tries to occupy a low-ad environment by avoiding things like live TV, though, so there's my bias.


What definitions are being changed? It's pretty reasonable to claim that if you don't want to see any ads (which is clearly the position in the article), then any ads you do see are invasive.


Because you don't get to just chose the content on a page you load that you want to see. A news article with ads is paid for by those ads, and if you want to go to their website to read it you are implicitly agreeing to see those ads. If you don't want to be "invaded" by ads, then don't go to pages with ads.


> Because you don't get to just chose the content on a page you load that you want to see.

What do you mean? Of course you get to do that. That's exactly what ad blockers do.

> A news article with ads is paid for by those ads, and if you want to go to their website to read it you are implicitly agreeing to see those ads.

You have no case to say I'm "implicitly agreeing" to see ads when in fact I am explicitly running software to prevent me from seeing them. This "implicit agreement" argument is the worst anti-adblocking argument. It would be like me ordering a pizza, picking off the olives, and being told that I have to eat those since I implicitly agreed to olives when I ordered the pizza. Nope, the act of picking off the olives is as explicit as I could possibly get that I don't want the olives.


>That's exactly what ad blockers do.

That's the same thing as saying that buying a lockpicking kit is the same as being given permission to enter private property. You are using an outside exploit to get around the terms that the provider laid out in order to see their content.

You are confusing the ability to filter the content with the right to filter that content.

> It would be like me ordering a pizza, picking off the olives, and being told that I have to eat those since I implicitly agreed to olives when I ordered the pizza. Nope, the act of picking off the olives is as explicit as I could possibly get that I don't want the olives.

This is a completely ridiculous and useless analogy. You bought that pizza, and you own it. Period. When you go to a website, you are not buying or owning anything. You are requesting a set of data and refusing the price that comes along with it.

>You have no case to say I'm "implicitly agreeing" to see ads when in fact I am explicitly running software to prevent me from seeing them.

This completely disregards the fact that the website has little or no power to stop you from doing so. You are implicitly agreeing to it, and then you are failing to hold up your end of the deal. If you cannot see that, then you are just being self-entitled close-minded to the obvious truths that inconvenience you.


> You are confusing the ability to filter the content with the right to filter that content.

What about parental controls, schools and libraries filtering proxies, corporate firewall and proxies and all other kinds of filtering software ? what about services such as readability ? Is there a difference between using flashblock so flash ads will only load after being clicked and not having flash installed preventing flash based ads altogether ?

There's a whole industry or two based on filtering internet content.

I have every right to put a firewall on my network to filter out all that I want to keep out, I could even mangle packets, replace words, remove or add content or turn the whole thing upside. There's even a browser provided user style mechanism that has precedence over the author's.

> You bought that pizza, and you own it. Period. When you go to a website, you are not buying or owning anything. You are requesting a set of data and refusing the price that comes along with it.

Now the pizza joint has one less pizza in stock made from materials that costed money, hence the attached price tag. When I visit a web page it doesn't disappear from the website because a digital copy is transferred to my computer at close to zero cost and this copy is mine to do whatever I want with it. If this webpage is not monetized or monetized with ads it is gratis and has no monetary price attached to refuse other than of having a computer and network hopefully not of metered kind or you would actually pay to be shown ads quite ironic isn't it ?

As much as you would like it to be true, it is a wrong assumption expecting an imaginary implicit agreement to hold true. Your ethical conundrum is actually the other way around:

…the question should not be whether ad blocking is ethical, but whether it is a moral obligation. The burden of proof falls squarely on advertising to justify its intrusions into users’ attentional spaces—not on users to justify exercising their freedom of attention.


>What about parental controls, schools and libraries filtering proxies, corporate firewall and proxies and all other kinds of filtering software ? what about services such as readability ? Is there a difference between using flashblock so flash ads will only load after being clicked and not having flash installed preventing flash based ads altogether ?

Yes, there is an obvious and fundamental difference. Those are filtering and modifying the product, not the "cost". If you don't want to load explicit content, that is fine. If you want to change the formatting, so what?

But what you are talking about is cutting out the cost. It is like eating at a restaurant, and "customizing" your experience so that you never receive the bill.

>the question should not be whether ad blocking is ethical, but whether it is a moral obligation. The burden of proof falls squarely on advertising to justify its intrusions into users’ attentional spaces—not on users to justify exercising their freedom of attention.

I'm sorry, what? You CHOSE to go to their website. If you don't want "intrusions" onto your "attentional space", then don't go to their website. They are the ones paying to provide the service. They are not "intruding", you are.


> You bought that pizza, and you own it. Period. When you go to a website, you are not buying or owning anything. You are requesting a set of data and refusing the price that comes along with it.

I bought my computer and my internet access. I then sent a request to another computer on the internet, and the owner of the other computer had every right to instruct the computer to either deny or fulfill my request. The request is explicit and the successful response is explicit, without any condition that I go on to make other requests that may be described in the response body. These network interactions are well-specified and explicit. The computer fulfilled my request, period, and I have no reason to believe the computer was unintentionally programmed to fulfill my request. I am fairly certain I have violated no laws (unlike your poor analogy to trespassing), and even more certain that I have no moral qualms over my actions.

To say that my initial request for an HTML document constitutes an agreement on my part to parse the response body and make all subsequent requests and execute all code described within (recursively, perhaps) is frankly ludicrous. The response body could contain descriptions of requests for unwanted, offensive, dangerous, or even illegal content. It is ridiculous to claim that I have agreed to these things, especially when I couldn't possibly know what I was "implicitly agreeing" to.


I did not and will not agree to see ads, nor am I obligated to clutter my mind with crap just because I viewed a webpage. You can't just claim that people agree to things because it's convenient to your business model.


What kind of bullshit self-entitled nonsense is this?

You are starting from the premise that you have some inalienable right to view a webpage, and no one including the legal commercial owners that provide that webpage are allowed to determine the way in which you do so.

You are using their resources for a service that someone else is providing. And you are acting like a petulant child when they attempt to provide this in a sustainable way. Grow up.


No, I'm not claiming I have an inalienable right to view a webpage. People are free to put up ad-blocker-blockers and I'll happily leave them alone. I'll even leave a site if they simply request that I view ads to use their site, because I won't view ads (although this rarely happens).

I'm old enough to remember when people put things on the Internet because they wanted to, and people still do that. I'm also happy to pay for services. But until I view a webpage, I have no way of knowing whether it's one of those pages, or whether it's one that's going to ram a bunch of crap down my throat. The idea that I can agree to a business transaction without even knowing it just by viewing a page is ridiculous.

Let it be noted that only one of us has resorted to name-calling in this conversation.


>Because you don't get to just chose the content on a page you load that you want to see.

Of course you do. That's a big part of the success of the web. curl + grep for a very basic example, wallabag, hosts file, firebug, flashblock, disabling images, disabling scripts, disabling animations, opera's content blocker to cite a few others.

You can't tell if a page has ads until you get there, and some ads may be injected in every pages by your isp, your browser or various malwares so basically what you're saying is do not surf the web at all. Sorry, not sorry the actual solution to not be invaded by ads is to use and adblocker.

It is a very broken assumption that people implicitly agree to see ads. It is actually the other way around historically, when reading a newspaper or a magazine and encountering ads I can skip them without even looking, I could even cut away the couple pages that I've interest in. Actually it's not even limited to ads, it applies to the whole thing. If an article doesn't interest me I will just turn the page.

As you said the news article is already paid by ads so there's no need to see them. Until you factor in tracking that is. In a newspaper the advertiser paid the newspaper to print ads along with articles and that's about it because there's no way to track what user look at in a newspaper. On a website, advertising is just the visible tip of a huge tracking iceberg.

Once again "your failed business model is not my problem". If you hoped you'd make money and you don't because you made bad assumptions, how am I concerned ?


Note that BookmarkSaver isn't merely claiming that you are obligated to curl a URL without grepping the output. He/she is claiming that after you curl the URL you are obligated to parse the response and execute all code and make every request described in the document (recursively, perhaps). It's a more laughable (or horrifying, or some combination) position than you are portraying it to be.


Just taking this argument to its logical conclusion: Can I be held liable for theft if I load an article on my smartphone, and it loses connection before the ad can be requested and loaded? :)


How the hell is that a "logical conclusion"? That is a ridiculous and completely unrelated point, and the fact that you somehow think that it is the "logical conclusion" just shows that you have no objectivity in the matter.


Thanks for making an idiotic and blatantly incorrect interpretation of my statement.


But that's not what he's doing. The entire purpose of advertising is to put ideas in your head--that's invasive. That's not changing the definitions of words, that's what those words mean in common parlance.


That's also the purpose of an editorial.


The purpose of all communication really.


But I seek out communication with people whose ideas I care about. That's very different from having someone shove their self-serving ideas in front of me.


But you have a choice about whether to read that.


Dunno about you, but I like having ideas in my head.


I like having ideas in my head that come from sources I respect whose opinions I valued enough to seek out.


Epistemic closures are nice this time of year.


You don't have any preferences regarding which ideas to have in your head?


Well, isn't advertising invasive by essence? The point of advertising being to enter and occupy a part of your mind in order to persuade you.


> Show me a better world that actually works.

Try teleporting back to the 20th century and experience the internet in its full glory. Without advertising.


If you think there was no advertising on the internet in the 20th century then you probably weren't on the internet in the 20th century. If anything it was more obnoxious back then with poorly animated flashing banners on every page.


Its not obnoxious now because uBlock and spam filters works so well, and HTML5 killed Flash. If you don't take such quality filters into account, advertising is far, far worse nowadays.

We're talking about everything before the dotcom boom here. The internet was a lot bigger than WWW, and Macromedia Flash (and Doubleclick) were initiated in 1996. That covers less than 5% of the 20th century. Also, Flash wasn't (ab)used right away for advertising, and if one didn't have it installed not much was missed. Perhaps an online Flash game or two didn't work. No big deal. There was spam on Usenet (the first spam coming from Digital Equipment Corp or was it SUN in the early 80s) and IRC, but it wasn't acceptable.


We're talking about 5% of the 20th century because for most people the internet was only available for around 5% of the 20th century. Doubleclick wasn't the first ad network.

There was acceptable advertising on usenet too in the form of signatures.


Not for the first couple of years of public early-adopter access during the mid-90s.

The first couple of years were a glorious outburst of creative kookiness and cultural insanity.

Then the spammers, scammers, and MBAs moved in. And here we are.


Spam goes back to the 70s.

On the web side I remember back to at least 95 pretty well and there were banner ads everywhere. I had a homepage with like 3-4 web ring banners on it + the ads from Geocities themselves.

A quick look says the first banner ads appeared in 1994 and the first paid ads in 1993.

I think you're probably looking back with rose tinted glasses.


Well yes, there was a period of time during the 20th century when all commercial activities were banned from the internet, until around 1995 IIANM. Basically Internet was non commercial from about 1978 to 1995, though I think the first banner ad came to existence 1 year before in 1994, that's still a longer period without ads than with.


If you look at archives of USENET from those time periods plenty of people had ads in their signatures for example and even if you don't count that the first spam message was sent in 1978 so that whole time period is post internet ads.


What happened with the idea that ads were a means you had to get to know useful products?

If all ads were banned forever from existence, how would anyone discover anything new?


What happened with the idea that ads were a means you had to get to know useful products?

Tragedy of the commons. That idea was OK when the state of technology placed a limit on the amount of advertising, on its psychological impact, and on its externalities such as erosion of privacy and malware.

I discover new things all the time without being exposed to ads. I also have a modestly successful side business. Its advertising is limited to identifying my business when I participate in certain web forums, and maintaining a frightfully ugly web page.


Well I think it could be more of a "pull" model instead of a shove down your throat model. People would research their options when they're in the market.

Plus you'd have more word of mouth and thought leaders.

Perhaps we'd even start expecting our friends and family to routinely talk about products they like. We'd develop new customs living in an ad vacuum?


When I have a need, I go looking for it, and I find it. I want that part of my life to be strictly pull, no push. Advertising is one of the things I hate most about the commercial world.


What do you pull on?


People with expertise in the area, ideally.


I'd hear about it from a friend, family, on reddit/hn. I'd find it when I googled for "how to do X", or was browsing a store or Amazon.

I.e. the exact same way I heard about 99.9% of products I actually use today.


    > What happened with the idea that ads were a means you had to get to know useful products?
The internet.

    > If all ads were banned forever from existence, how would anyone discover anything new?
What would happen for existing categories of products is "pull" instead of "push." And if it's an entirely new product category, word of mouth and news articles.


Exactly. I don't think the author of this article would be opposed to googling [0] "best microwaves" and finding articles from sites like wirecutter [1] or even articles written by manufacturers about why their microwaves are the best.

[0] Okay, maybe not Google, but a hypothetical search engine with a different business model

[1] They may not like wirecutter's affiliate links either


The Wirecutter has a good business model here. Do the leg-work and review and compare the products to find the best. Make money on affiliate links for those products.

People who go to that site to research a product want to be sold to. They want to give their attention and money up for a product. Advertisements on websites are completely backwards from that model.


Most content cannot live out of affiliate links, unless you want your website splattered with bullshit product placement everywhere so content creators can earn a dime.

Affiliate marketing is a niche and bigger joke than traditional ads when content depends on it. Wirecutter just happens to be really good at what they do, but their business model can't be used by most of the web, not to mention ad blockers often block affiliate links too.


I agree that most affiliate link systems are abused and lead to a mess.

> Wirecutter just happens to be really good at what they do

By having automated software to block the bullshit, we might end up with an Internet where the people who are "really good at what they do" get more attention.


There's no software that "automatically blocks affiliate bullshit", there are tens of thousands sites similar to Wirecutter with the exact same business model. Some of them are just bullshit, some of them are not.

On the other hand, sites whose content doesn't work well with affiliate links are getting screwed by people blocking their only source of revenue, which is ads.


> There's no software that "automatically blocks affiliate bullshit"

I'm not claiming that there is software for that. But if it becomes annoying enough I think there will be software written to filter it. Even if it needs to make use of deep learning or some other more advanced mechanism just to detect.

> On the other hand, sites whose content doesn't work well with affiliate links are getting screwed by people blocking their only source of revenue, which is ads.

This is short-term thinking. The people who block ads will not be making purchasing decisions based on ads they don't want to see. So by showing ads to them all you are doing is devaluing advertisements and driving down the cost of advertising placement in the long term.

The only way around this is to make people enjoy ads. This is possible, but it requires work to integrate them with the content and you need the content creators actually making the ads, and they need to enjoy doing it.


> I'm not claiming that there is software for that. But if it becomes annoying enough I think there will be software written to filter it. Even if it needs to make use of deep learning or some other more advanced mechanism just to detect.

No, that won't be possible. You can't make a bot that discerns between "good" content like the Wirecutter and a site that's exactly the same, except with top 10s that are paid for.

> This is short-term thinking. The people who block ads will not be making purchasing decisions based on ads they don't want to see. So by showing ads to them all you are doing is devaluing advertisements and driving down the cost of advertising placement in the long term.

That's not how advertising works and the concept that freeloaders who block ads would somehow be more immune to advertising that people who don't is laughable.

> The only way around this is to make people enjoy ads. This is possible, but it requires work to integrate them with the content and you need the content creators actually making the ads, and they need to enjoy doing it.

Let's make content tailored around advertising, that's quite the way to make the web a useless place where there's no place for content that can't be used to sell something.


> No, that won't be possible.

We have computers automatically labelling complex images, deep learning is doing all sorts of things we once thought only humans could do. Detecting shitty websites seems pretty trivial by comparison. If I can easily see the difference, I bet we can train a network to detect the same.

> That's not how advertising works and the concept that freeloaders who block ads would somehow be more immune to advertising that people who don't is laughable.

Nonsense. Even my kids know to avoid advertising when it inadvertently pops up on YouTube. They mute the audio and go do something else while the ad runs. People develop an ability to ignore banner ads on websites, the impact of advertising lessens over time, which leads advertisers to try more and more invasive and repulsive techniques.

> Let's make content tailored around advertising, that's quite the way to make the web a useless place where there's no place for content that can't be used to sell something.

You misunderstand my point.

Tailored advertising is fantastic. Listen to a Podcast. 95% of the Podcast is still original, non-advertisement content. The 5% lead-in advert is original, funny, and read by the creators of the show that I want to listen to.

More advertising should be vetted and created by the content creators who want the support of those advertisers. It makes better advertisements, it increases trust, and it's far more pleasant to read, hear or watch.


> What happened with the idea that ads were a means you had to get to know useful products?

It died a long, long time ago.

This guy, Freud's nephew, is what happened: Edward Bernays [1]. As covered in Adam Curtis excellent documentary on the subject of the history of propaganda and advertising "The Century Of The Self" [2].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_of_the_Self

> If all ads were banned forever from existence, how would anyone discover anything new?

By word of mouth. I know, not a novel idea, but it seems to work quite well on this very website!

The fallacy is that ads were never informative anyway.


For one example, I discovered Joule (new immersion circulator from ChefSteps) when they appeared on Cooking Issues. While they've since taken advertising from ChefSteps, I'm pretty sure the initial appearance was Dave Arnold chatting with Chris Young(? I think it was him) because he (Dave) thought it was an interesting product.


That example doesn't work, though. Follow the chain back to its source: how did ChefSteps get its first customers for its first product? And that question ends up being critical because it's kind of silly to use as an example a product that is from a company with existing direct-marketing channels with existing customers and existing relationships with what are functionally marketing venues (and while I like Dave Arnold and Cooking Issues a lot, it's in many ways a marketing venue--mostly for Arnold's own stuff, but for the occasional interesting-to-him product too, ChefSteps's guy wasn't going on there just to chat).

Advertising can and regularly is done well; Giant Bomb, a CBSi joint, never takes ads for games or game-related accessories on their podcasts and the hosts don't endorse the product when they do the ad. I don't think an astroturfed universe (which is the inevitable end result of "oh, no advertising"--see the profusion of "native advertising" for similar) is a better universe.


That's a false dichotomy. The options aren't advertising or astroturfing (which is just advertising). My goal is to not look at ads, be they pop-ups or sponsored Reddit posts.

It's true that companies won't be able to saturate markets quickly without ads, but I'm not sure why we want that. I'd rather see small businesses grow slowly based on the quality of their products than see companies with the best advertising grow, crushing competitors with better products. Every dollar spent on advertising is a dollar not spent on developing a good product.


By searching for things we want instead of waiting for things other people want us to want to be shoved in our faces.


The elephant in the room: a large majority of sites just don't have good enough content to support themselves through reasonable advertising.

Too many have it 180 degrees reversed: instead of trying to support their content with advertising income they are trying to supporting their advertising income with content.


> Some people commented that they don’t mind ads, but object to the spying, malware, intrusive stuff that is often hard to control when the site publishing the ads isn’t in control of who produces and serves the ads. That’s a very good argument in itself for blocking ads. But even if that were dealt with tomorrow—if we got ads that didn’t spy on us, didn’t introduce malware into our machines, weren’t 'obnoxious'—we’d still be blocking them. Why? Because we’re not interested in being advertised to. It’s that simple.

> We have a visceral dislike of advertising. We don’t think there’s such a thing as a 'good’ or even 'acceptable’ ad.

Yes. This cannot be repeated enough.


Why don't ad based agencies allow users to opt out at 2x whatever they would have earned from the ads?

Seems to benefit all involved, the content providers get the money, the users who are willing to pay a few $0.01 don't see ads, and the ad agency makes more money. Doubly so because the remaining ads will be worth more.


A slightly naive message. Until more than half of the users become willing to pay for information, this will never be viable.


I'm not sure what you mean by "this will never be viable". If you mean that many content providers' businesses will never be viable without ads, good. Content providers that serve advertisers rather than their users should go out of business. That would be a great benefit to humanity if content was geared toward the needs of humans rather than companies.


I really, really wish that uBlock origin had a Safari version.



No, it doesn't. That's "ublock" and not "uBlock Origin." They are not the same, and uBlock is not even being developed anymore.

https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/4bbuf3/whats_the_bes...

gorer 371 days ago [flagged]

I use uBlock origin, the problem is I don't like tone of your article. Advertising is site owner's decision. If you don't like it than don't visit that site. So go and fuck yourself :)


Please leave things like "go and fuck yourself" out of comments here. We ban accounts that continue to post like this.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Everything anyone does is their decision. That doesn't put them above criticism. Lots of people make shitty decisions.


Advertising is regular part of site content owner decided to show you. What comes next? Blockin unwanted article content on someone's blog? It's not criticism it's fascism. Do you like ads on the street? Are you destroying them? Not? Why? Aha you can't you don't have balls to do it :)


The ads on the street haven't teleported into my private property, so I can't do much about them.

The web content that my browser fetches and displays is a different matter, obviously.




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