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Advertising is devastating to my well-being (briancarper.net)
96 points by kunley on July 7, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 46 comments

Dupe. This was discussed at length (144 comments!) back in March. I remember because a) I mocked the pathetic "It so happens that advertisements are devastating to my well-being." statement and got voted up, and b) a swarm of pro and anti ad blocker posts hit HN over the following 24 hours. It was almost as fun as the iPad launch.

Added: Aha, here it is: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1172302

Does flagging even work on HN? This seems a prime candidate so I'd have assumed it'd have picked up a fair number by now. We're seeing not only a dupe link, but a dupe discussion too!

Businesses exist to milk you of as much of your money as possible.

How sad. I wonder if OP actually believes this or if it was just part of his rant. Or maybe he didn't get enough hugs from his first boss.

I'd like to think that there are still many of us who need to earn enough to insure continuation of business without sacrificing our souls or the original purpose of all our hard work.

Are you perhaps unfamiliar with capitalism?

I do not think it is somehow a controversial statement that employees of a corporation have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to maximize profit. He may have stated it in a controversial or misleading way, but it is not untrue.

Additionally, it seems you have interpreted it as some sort of polemic regarding work/life balance, an interpretation which I do not believe is supported by the text.

To be fair, there's a difference here between a publicly-traded corporation and, say, a mom-and-pop hardware store. A publicly-traded corporation can be sued for not extracting the most possible money, which is in line with the OP. A smaller store with few or no external investors can run itself as it damn well pleases, assuming it stays solvent.

My understanding is it applies whether the company is private or public so long as there are any external investors involved.

Capitalism is not about "milk(ing) you of as much of your money as possible." Yes, maximize revenue within the context of the law and ethics. His comment about milking people of all possible is the hallmark of charlatans and con men.

Well, "maximize revenue within the context of the law and ethics." leads to a standard of manipulating legal policy however possible and defining subjective values like "ethics" in the a context favorable to an organizations motives.

Any company that can't or won't do these things is at a severe disadvantage to the competition.

If you do something for "ethics" in a corporation, you have to be able to show that it is visible to the outside world and that in the end it will thereby increase your profits. For instance, envision an executive at a company giving an anonymous donation (of the company's money) to a charity with no conceivable connection to the business itself. There would be an immediate shareholder lawsuit.

The only places where the courts are touchy on this is religious-y things, like a policy of closing on Sundays.

Have you been paying attention to the sorts of people at the top of our capitalistic society? There are precious few who are notable for not being charlatans and con men.

Ethics are for the poor, and laws can be circumvented, re-written, or present only minor speedbumps (profit for law-breaking = $100; fine = $10 => BREAKIN' THE LAW!)

Hrm. Not voting this one up.

His suggestion (don't know if it's facetious or not) of requiring a 'contract' is obviously a non-starter. Any site that tried that would lose visitors to non-contract sites, and since most people don't block ads, the contract site would simply be losing revenue.

> I run my own website(s) at a loss specifically because I'd rather pay out of my own pocket than force people to look at ads. Admittedly my sites are so small that it's not much money. But there you have it. If I had to generate revenue to keep my sites going, I would find a way other than advertising to do it. Or I'd shut them down.

"Find another way". Uh-huh. Like? And, if you think the content is good, wouldn't shutting them down be a loss for the world?

To hijack the thread for something more useful, a concrete example I'm wrestling with is http://langpop.com - people like it a lot, but programmers are also adept at ignoring advertisements, so it doesn't get much revenue. Now, it's mostly a fun project - it wasn't something I ever created to make money on, but I'm getting to a point in my life where it's time to do more things to make money and do fewer "let's see where it'll go" fun projects. (This saddens me, because I love to explore and play and create, but c'est la vie). In any case, people like it, so there must be some value in it, and I've certainly invested some time in creating it, but so far I have not really found a way to capture some of the created value for myself.

I don't think he intended the suggestion of requiring a contract to be a "starter." Although he'd love internet content providers to take a realistic assessment of what their content is really worth (My favorite movie critic put ads on his site a few years ago and I read it much less frequently now, even with adblock) what he reasonably expects is for companies to stop whining about adblock.

I'm not too worked up about adblock - the people who use it likely dont' click anyway. However, were the internet to move to an equilibrium with adblock as the norm because of massive adoption, it would cause serious problems for many content providers.

Hmm, what you want isn't so much for people to see your ads as to capture their purchasing intent.

In your case you are going to have too kind of people comming there:

1* people who are in love with a "small" language, and want to see it grow. 2* people who are loking for a language to learn.

The people who fit in the first group are likely to be very good programmers, so you could have a set of premium job ads there.

The second set of people are in need of tutorials or books about how to program in that language; they would be good candidates to refer to some Amazon books.

>(By contrast, books (for example) are awesome. I pay for a book, and then I read the book start-to-finish with no ads, no distractions. A few pages at the back maybe, but I can ignore those. Books are nice.)

This reminded me of a line from Neil Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death:

>Imagine what you would think of me, and this book, if I were to pause here...and then proceed to write a few words in behalf of United Airlines or the Chase Manhattan Bank. You would rightly think that I had no respect for you.

That sums up my opinion about the article as well. What I wonder though, is why people don't relate their distaste for online advertising to ads via conventional media. Advertisements are equally frustrating regardless of medium, and are by definition disrespectful to any half-educated person (ie. not a "consumer").

It sounds like the author does relate his distaste for online advertising to ads on conventional media. He notes that he doesn't listen to commercial radio or watch commercial television.

Yes, by grossly overestimating the ratio of content to ads, and ignoring the fact that they can be ignored in those media too. My newspaper ads can be removed and thrown away - the first thing I do. My radio station is 50 minutes of music per hour (or 100% if I listen to public radio). Tivo solves the television problem.

He's a precious fusspot.

If you don't want to look at ads, just be prepared to pay subscription fees for everything.

If only this were an option!

Wow, an entire blog post dedicated to a straw man argument.

The opening sentences of the linked article:

There's an interesting article on Ars Technica about how blocking ads is somehow unethical, and "devastating to the sites you love". The idea that I have a moral obligation to stare at an advertisment, the thought I have an ethical obligation to voluntarily annoy myself for the sake of a company's profits... it would be hilarious if it wasn't so repugnant.

Now, from the Ars Technica article referred to:

My argument is simple: blocking ads can be devastating to the sites you love. I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical, or makes someone the son of the devil.

Whether OP's response was emotional or not, it touches the matter.

Note it's very easy to look for fallacies when you are detached from the subject. The question is if the person doing this wants to make the world a better place in his way or is just a policeman for the sake of verbal purity..

It touches a matter, but not the matter of the article he thinks he is arguing against.

The OP is against advertising, on two grounds: 1) that he doesn't want to be exposed to things against his will, and 2) that business is by its very nature unethical.

You're right when you say that these are emotional arguments, and not logical ones.

The fact that the OP "wants to make the world a better place in his way" isn't comforting to me; as Shaw pointed out, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

My point isn't one of "verbal purity"; rather, I'm just trying to take the words seriously enough to follow through their implications.

(I assume, by the way, that the OP would be upset to find that his post was linked to on HN, because that link could be viewed as a form of advertising for the piece, and we know how he feels about advertising....)

> (I assume, by the way, that the OP would be upset to find that his post was linked to on HN, because that link could be viewed as a form of advertising for the piece, and we know how he feels about advertising....)

I'm not in love with the OP's piece myself but I think this is being unfair to it. There's at least a quantitative if not a qualitative difference between informally posting a link in a forum designed for it and the sort of weaponized mass psychology modern day advertising has (d)evolved into.

The piece is wooly and rambling and not a particularly coherent argument, please don't sink to its level when criticizing it.

> It touches a matter, but not the matter of the article he thinks he is arguing against.

So what? He still can have some good points, which you seem to refuse to consider as he "broke" your rule of being strictly consistent.

Btw, with your last sentence you clearly put yourself on a side of a policeman..

[edit] I forgot to mention that this 'good intention' vs 'policeman' was about you not the OP. You falsely assumed that I want to attribute everything right to the OP and everything wrong to you, making another fallacy btw. Not at all. I hoped you with your comments want to make it all better and not just be a nazi here.

Please also don't underestimate the power of motivation. I personally find Shaw's famous cite intellectually witty but not wise. Motivation is a primary source of what we do.

Billboards actually break my train of thought when I'm walking around. I hate that.

I remember reading that they're illegal in some south american countries.

     Stop trying to track my every move online. How many    people understand tracking cookies? How many companies make it clear that every click is being recorded and data-mined? How is this ethical?  
This is ethical in same way that some one can record information about you walking down a private street. There is nothing un ethical about data mining

On the internet at least the solution is simple. It's called Ad-art (http://add-art.org/). Advertisement elsewhere, such as on billboards is more problematic to deal with, but if you are at the cutting edge of augmented reality this is not necessarily a problem either. http://blognostic.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/what-augmented-re...

This simply rehashes and old and badly made argument from months ago...

I mean, the Ars article was a bit "out there" but he clearly hasn't really read it (e.g. The idea that I have a moral obligation to stare at an advertisment, the thought I have an ethical obligation to voluntarily annoy myself for the sake of a company's profits... it would be hilarious if it wasn't so repugnant.)

You realize this IS months old, dude? :-) It's a dupe, as is this discussion.

Heh, oops.

Oh well; I saw another post from this blog earlier in the day and never really considered that it was an earlier entry :P

In a twist that the author certainly did not intend to happen, his description of books as an ad-free medium led me to think of a model where out of copyright books are printed with in-page ads and distributed for free. Would that work? :)

Once upon a time, ads in books were extremely common. However, writers hated this, and many of them forcefully opposed the practice during contract negotiations.

One publishing house made the mistake of violating a contract provision against ads by putting a cigarette ad in one of Harlan Ellison's books. Harlan responded in his own inimitable way, as described in the "DID HARLAN REALLY MAIL A DEAD GOPHER TO AN EDITOR?" section of http://harlanellison.com/text/newsfaq.txt .

That's basically the model for magazines nowadays. Subscription fees pay shipping costs and not much else.

I've actually seen books with ads before, it is not a new concept. Those were rather old books, too (pre-internet). Only very few ads, though, maybe three pages in the whole book.

I like your idea with the out of print books!

Filling covers of the books with ads is very common (I can find them in many books printed in the last 100 years, mostly textbooks, technical manuals and paperbacks, of course), but I haven't seen ads anywhere else, yet.

Lots of paperbacks have ads in the last few pages (other books by the same publisher, order forms, sample chapters for the next book in the series, what have you). The difference is that these ads are after the main portion of the text, not marbled into the text itself.

Anyway, reading a book requires a completely different mindset from reading a magazine/ watching TV/ browsing the web. So I guess that's why ads "work" in one medium and not the other.

I disliked this article the first time and I still dislike. Tears from crying don't solve problems, busting your ass and coming up with innovatives solution do. I agree advertising sucks... a lot, but we can fix it. If there is discussion here, I hope it's on how to fix the problem, not cry about it.

I guess he doesn't use Google

The very big difference between buying a book and listening to a tv, radio programme or reading a website is that for the former you actually pay about £10 or £20, for the latter you do not.

As for the contract point, I think there is an implicit contract between the publisher and the reader that they can access the content for free as long as they are willing to accept the slight intrusion of the ads.

As for the ethical matter, I do think that he is being a free loader, accessing content which is free only because of the many who do not use an ad blocker. In one way therefore he is cheating and that is unethical. It is perfectly fine, selfish and normal behaviour, but hardly angelic or ethical simply because he is not fulfilling his part of the bargain.

If he hates adverts so much and a significant minority acts as he does then publishers will either be forced to start charging for their content as Times Online has began to do and as they do for books, or valuable information will stop being generated, thus, making us all poorer.

Finally, this is capitalism, if you do not like it, you might be welcomed in North Korea or at least in China.

Pretty sure I pay for my cable television, and for magazines, which are nothing but ads. I'm aware of the business models behind these, but unfortunately I'm not given a choice to pay more for completely ad free media.

Depends what magazine you read. Speaking of the ones I buy occasionally I actually like their advertisement and in some way to me it is as valuable as the content. How else would I find out of what to do on a Saturday night or which firm to send an application to for a job, or which college is better, or about the new cool car that has come on, or the very cool new iphone etc.

They do not annoy me. Adverts become annoying when they are repeated on and on and besides adverts are easy to ignore in most cases.

Isn't the price of a magazine more a filter of intent than something to cover costs? That's why if you cancel your subscription they'll offer to renew you at a fraction of the advertised price.

Thats why forced adds in a DVD you bought so annoying!

Ridiculous, ignorant, and a repost from months ago.

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