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Pale Moon blocks AdNauseam extension (palemoon.org)
111 points by 4bpp on Aug 27, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 246 comments

I hear a lot of people in here saying, "Yay for AdNauseum, they are fixing the broken ad system! If sites start charging instead of ads, I'll totally pay!"

Let me add a little perspective. A long time ago at reddit we launched reddit gold. At the time, one of the biggest benefits was that if you had gold you could turn off ads. This was in direct response to people saying, "I would rather pay you then use adblock".

You know how many people running adblock started paying? Not a lot. Sure, some did, but there were still a whole bunch of people who just wanted a free experience. The ads on reddit weren't even all that heavy CPU and bandwidth-wise.

My point is, I don't think a lot of you are being totally honest when you say you'd be willing to pay if the site removed advertising.

In a lot of cases, those sites get a lot more money from the advertisers than you would ever be willing to pay, because they simply don't provide that much value to you.

Ad networks don't follow the same laws which all advertisement companies have to follow in all other form of media, so why should people have to pay in order to get rid of them? This is the wild wild west, and paying the bandits to go away is always a bad idea.

What would happen if reddit had to use a ad network that vetted every single advertisement they displayed and took legal responsibility that local advertisement laws was followed? In my case there would be no advertisement towards children, no tobacco or alcohol, and no drugs or medical advice. There would naturally also be no scams or misrepresenting information. If we go as far as to the same standard as advertisement in a news paper, we also get no tracking. How much would reddit users have to pay in order for reddit to live on only the same rate as a printed paper get from advertisement?

Advertisement supported news papers are generally free so would it be possible that the reddit price would also be free?

In addition to that, digital advertising is different from all predecessors in a couple of ways which make it very unpalatable to the target users.

First off, it's the target who wears the majority of the costs. Extra bandwidth to serve the ad, extra cpu/battery resources to display it, extra exposure to trackers and malicious js - all on the target.

Then there's the tracking. You don't just get shown an ad, your browser receives a huge payload of javascript intended to track your behavior on and off the site where the ad was shown. This allows large ad networks like Google to track you virtually everywhere you go online - the ads shown are almost irrelevant compared to the value derived from this data.

And finally, as parent post mentions, there's a complete lack of checks and balances. Anyone can advertise anything, which is why a huge portion of ads are for scams, and most of the remaining portion are for products and services that one cannot legally advertise on traditional media.

Given all of the above, I don't think it's at all unreasonable for consumers to block and continue blocking digital ads as long as it remains technologically possible. There is no legal recourse here - visiting a website doesn't imply consent to downloading and displaying that website how the owner wants.

There's this persistent sentiment of 'oh but if users continue blocking ads then these websites will go out of business'. Yeah? Then so be it. If their business model is only sustainable through fucking their users in the ass, and they will go out of business if consumers don't bend over, then they shouldn't exist in the first place. The internet was just fine before it was taken over by corporate interests, and it will continue being just fine if most of them stop operating there because they're can't monetize it. It's an information sharing platform, there was never a promise of it being a profit platform.

And it only gets worse with time. Over the past decade, I went from no adblock, to a blacklist, to a whitelist, and finally to just blocking everything except a very very short list of sites I consider trusted (Reddit being one of them) that I no longer update. If a site doesn't let me view content without ads, I don't visit it. I have yet to run into a situation where the content was worth the exposure to risk and the financial cost of ads (mobile data caps).

Ad networks consistently shit in the community well, and act outraged when people sell bottled water.

Anyone arguing against AdNauseum is totally missing the point here. We, as users, could not possibly care less if your site goes out of business because you are unable to come up with another form of monetization. Something will rise up to take your place that is more user friendly. The market will find a way.

I somehow strongly doubt that if the current paradigm of ad based revenue were to disappear overnight, that no one would figure out something to take it's place and that the internet would become a barren wasteland devoid of content. As it is now, there is zero incentive for content developers to look for any other solution because the status quo is so ingrained in people's minds that we have just accepted it as "the way things are". This is very clearly starting to change, and so yes, there will be collateral damage in the mean time. But the Web that emerges from this change will be better for everyone involved.

> We, as users, could not possibly care less if your site goes out of business

Reddit users wouldn't care if Reddit went out of business? I find that hard to believe.

> Something will rise up to take your place that is more user friendly. The market will find a way.

Got any ideas? Nobody has come up with anything that works so far.

> I somehow strongly doubt that if the current paradigm of ad based revenue were to disappear overnight, that no one would figure out something to take it's place and that the internet would become a barren wasteland devoid of content.

What is this suspicion based on?

>Reddit users wouldn't care if Reddit went out of business? I find that hard to believe.

Sure they would. But if Reddit went out of business, a new Reddit would immediately take it's place. The value to be extracted from such a large user-base is too great for this niche to go unfilled. How that value would be extracted in an ad-free system is yet to be seen. But I have faith in human ingenuity.

>Got any ideas? Nobody has come up with anything that works so far.

That is precisely my point. No one has come up with any ideas so far because there is not sufficient incentive. The model that now exists makes money, so why would anyone try too hard to rock the boat? Sure there a few small bit players trying to change things. But these limited ideological efforts are completely different from the full brunt of a capitalist market seeking profits under constraints that completely disallow advertising.

>Got any ideas? Nobody has come up with anything that works so far.

I believe snowdrift.coop has a chance. (I'm a volunteer on the team).

Digg users didn't care when that site committed suicide. K5 users too moved on.

Myspace, anyone?

It's just a matter of time before reddit dies as well. Unlike google or facebook, there's not much value that a user can extract from reddit.

Google with all their services still provide value to users.

Facebook, despite their privacy issues, still provides something of value to their users.

What does reddit provide which can't be done by an alternative?

Sounds like you've identified an opportunity to make billions of dollars.

> We, as users, could not possibly care less if your site goes out of business because you are unable to come up with another form of monetization.

Exactly this. The entitlement jedberg shows here, to be able to show ads on a link aggregator (of all useless things) is astonishing.

> The entitlement jedberg shows here

This crosses into personal attack and namecalling. Those things are against the HN guidelines. Would you please (re-)read them, and follow them when commenting here?


I've read the guidelines. It is neither.

Use of AdNauseum is more of a "fuck you" to companies like reddit or google who have turned the internet from a forum for free expression to a tool for censorship and social control.

This makes no sense. Have you ever used a web forum before reddit? People get banned all the time for arbitrary reasons on forums all over the web, why should reddit be any different? "The internet" has not been turned into anything, it remains the same as it has always been, a place where communities of varying interests can interact at their own discretion, a freedom which includes the prerogative to exclude anything the administrators deem off topic, offensive, annoying or even boring.

The internet gives everyone the freedom to create a community of their own, and it's easier, cheaper and the experience is better than ever when doing so. There are already popular "anything goes" discussion forums (e.g. 4chan, voat) that give much wider room to "freedom of expression", so how have companies like reddit or google prevented others from operating in any fashion they find acceptable within the confines of their own communities? The answer is they haven't.

I've used Slashdot before reddit. Nobody got banned for anything except spam.

I've been on BBSes and various forums since 1987.

Reddit is the only site where I've been banned off a single sub. And this was to correct an error referencing my own work and expertise.

As far as I can tell, they've gone overboard on their censoring, marketing and propaganda.

If you don't like the rules, you are welcome to not participate. But that's a terrible excuse for knowingly causing damage.

Or do you also think it's ok to steal from Walmart because you don't like their corporate policies?

> If you don't like the rules, you are welcome to not participate.

Playing your ads in my browser is "the rules" now?

If you want to claim it's "the rules", you need a paywall.

Oh, you're not putting up a paywall? Fancy that.

Do you offer legally enforceable indemnity against people getting malware from ads you serve? If not, then you can't really tell them not to block the ads.

We're talking about people who install a program to defraud advertisers. The complaint was, "we're sticking it to people who censor and use social control."

"The rules" in this case are that censorship and social control (presumably) exist on the platform. If you don't like that, don't participate.

But don't say, "OMG censorship" and use that to justify defrauding advertisers while continuing to use the free site that you deride.

Whoa! It's not defrauding advertisers, unless you want to claim that clicking a link on the internet without intending to purchase something is considered fraudulent.

Actually, a court of law take into account intent. Misclicking on a link is not fraud, but intentionally misclicking is indeed fraud, if you know if had an intended effect on the budget of the advertiser.

Is it? The user would have to be making a misrepresentation by doing so. Is clicking an ad link really a statement that meaningfully communicates anything? Or is the advertiser merely inferring a meaning and getting it wrong for that user?

That has no bearing here because it's not the user mis-clicking on the link, but the app in question deliberately following a link on behalf of the user with the stated goal of causing harm.

I would think there's a much stronger case for fraud against people who put misleading advertisements on their websites. Visiting a link automatically demonstrates an intent to protest advertisers, not defraud them.

False advertising is already against the law.

You can protest legally by blocking ads, but there's such a thing as too much civil disobedience. Its a slippery slope, because this argument can be used to justify DDoS.

You didn't answer the question: Do you offer legally enforceable indemnity against people getting malware from ads you serve? If not, then you can't really tell them not to block the ads.

I don't work for reddit anymore, so I don't offer anything. But no, I don't think reddit offers that, as no site does. That's a perfectly fine excuse to run adblock, but my original thesis was that people say, "If you let me remove ads I'll pay" and those people are being disingenuous when they don't pay.

It still doesn't justify the topic at hand, which is a program that attacks the ad networks and defrauds the advertisers.

No. The topic at hand is whether or not I'm allowed to run the program on my computer. And regardless of what argument you or any other business man 2.0 can proffer, I am. Because it's my computer.

As I understand it, the issue is whether you can run AdNauseam on Pale Moon on your computer. Are there other browsers that allow you to use AdNauseam?

Yes. Thanks to this HN post, I just started using it on Chrome.

To paraphrase a wise person, I can install what I want on my browser, and if you don't like it, feel free to shut your website down and do something else.

That's like saying if you don't want to get raped don't book an uber. But if you have then you have to play by the rules.

My feelings about reddit gold:

I subscribed to reddit gold for a year. Removal of ads wasn't a big benefit to me since, as you know, I could achieve the same with or without reddit gold with ad-blocking. There was obviously no point in me whitelisting reddit and then toggling the ads off in the settings. I was, however, happy to be supporting reddit.

However, in the end I've never purchased reddit gold again. I have been gilded a few times. I did whitelist reddit in my blocker again.

The reason for this was because I didn't see reddit improving much. No visible features were being launched (gold gated or general) that improved my experience, so it was hard to see what I was supporting. So I stopped.

On lots of others sites, it's clear that a subscription is for the content. Reddit is just the platform, though. In that case, gold was touted as additional features, some of which would be eventually be released for every user. I'm not sure how many features that happened for, but I can only recall hearing about one.

To be fair, this was years ago. However, nothing since has tipped me towards supporting reddit again and I don't think I'm likely to hop back onto gold anytime soon. Only recently has reddit started to appear to launch some stuff that would have kept me supporting reddit through gold. I'm sure I've been missing things as announcements these days seem to be spread out across many different subreddits that rarely hit the front page.

New major things that come to mind are, New modmail experience made by google's inbox team, I think that's about it.

They are working on a site redesign though, so that is something

People have incorrect idea about intrusive surveillance by ads companies and its purpose. Personally identifiable data is of little importance to Goog and co. today, but is for arbitrage guys and other bottom feeders.

I worked for years as a webdev with mid-tier ad nets until last ones of them either went out of business or turned into niche players. We worked with "cube data" of people that had over 160 different parameters back in 2012-2013. The amount of data about an average internet user is huge, but nearly all of it is useless for a top tier ad player.

Google and few remaining top tier players take their "tax" on all kinds of ads that go through their platforms regardless of targeting efficiency and conversion rates. That is a lion share of value you can squeeze from a click. They let other "platform partners" to fight for remaining scraps. If DSPs and SSPs bring more clients and clicks or can somehow improve on the process, top tier players will only benefit from higher volumes.

However, the personally identifiable data sold by data vendors is of immense value to people running arbitrage schemes on ad exchanges. See, if you can price shows just few percents better on average than the rest of the ecosystem you make a lot of money. You bid for "garbage impressions (that's the industry's term)" in hopes to get expensive clicks for stuff like financial crap, RX, lawyers, amazon, "quasi-CPA" tagged clicks, and so on.

This type of business attracts a lot of rich "idle rentier" types. Naturally, those guys tend to "vote with their money," if they see that a certain arbitrage scheme is no longer profitable, and another one is. This is why there is so much of contention about such data, and cutthroat efforts to get it. I knew not one, but two RTB arbitrage collectives in Russia that had their RTB trading servers stolen from secure datacentres.

The only way reddit gets paid through advertising is if it has an effect on my purchasing decisions. Are you insisting that I consent to that? I don't. Are you insisting that I let you try to manipulate me into that? I'm clearly allowed to defend myself from such manipulation. Adblock is an effective way of doing that.

Can you charge people to use reddit? Not if you want to make money. I don't think people are willing to pay to use reddit. especially after the exodus that follows.

Some people consent to being manipulating into buying things, and reddit profits off of those people. Some people don't consent to that, but we still add value to the site by simply visiting, writing comments, voting, etc.

The math is clear. As long as enough people are willing to look at ads, you can't go to a paid only site without losing money.

The adblock users of the world thank those people, I guess, but that's just what it is.

Too bad you can't adblock the bought top posts and shilling

> My point is, I don't think a lot of you are being totally honest when you say you'd be willing to pay if the site removed advertising.

This is quite an extreme conclusion to draw, as you seem to be overlooking one very large assumption: value.

If I say "I'd be willing to pay if a site removed advertising", that statement is still contingent on that payment providing me with value in return. I do pay for many sites and services on the internet. Reddit is not one of them. It's not a bad site, but for me, it's largely served as a distraction and hasn't really offered me anything I consider worthwhile enough to pay for. This does not equate to me being dishonest because implicit in that is your (incorrect) assumption that Reddit offers every visitor significant value.

I bought reddit gold for ~10 years. And how was I repaid? I was shadowbanned, and when I went to check my old comments that I contributed over the 8+ years I was on reddit most of them were gone.

You coopted the world's conversation into a private space where you could profit from it. This might seem OK in lala-land of silicon valley, but what you have done is horribly horribly wrong in that you've moved millions of people into a place where political views can be easily censored, and where groups like The Cabal can gain power over what is and is not seen by millions.

Reddit is broken. Everything about it is broken, the ad model, is broken. It is damage to humankind so large that routing around may not be enough.

To add to your point, I gleaned this from the Economist:

" Consumers tend to respond much more strongly to “free” offers than to prices that are only fractionally higher than zero. When Amazon first offered free shipping in European countries, orders surged—but not in France, where by mistake it charged around ten cents.

Researchers talk of the “privacy paradox”: when asked, people say that they care much more about their privacy than their actions would suggest."

This leads to another issue. If governments and companies are making important policy decisions based upon data, is it fair or right to access their online behavior in addition to surveys, as people often lie in surveys to project a better image of themselves.

I agree a lot of people are not honest, but some are. I bought Reddit gold, for example.

Sure. Like I said, some people bought it and then disabled ads, and that's cool. Some people even bought it and left the ads, that was even cooler! But a lot of people, people who directly said, "I will pay you if you let me remove the ads", did not.

Then that tells you that the content you are providing isn't worth much.

I think I said as much above. That most people don't get the same value that the advertisers do.

So, how much ad money does each user actually bring you? 5€ doesn’t seem like a realistic price.

According to https://www.reddit.com/r/modnews/comments/6pxyvy/traffic_pag..., about half of your users are mobile users of the official app, which does not support ad blocking, so at least half of your entire userbase either pays for gold, or has ads. Official statistics you’ve published put reddit at a reach of 6% of US internet users, which would be over 234 million users.

This would mean 117 million monthly users at 4 USD pre-tax each, which would be a monthly revenue that’d rival Google or Facebook. And this is completely ignoring any and all desktop users. So either your user statistics are wrong, or you don’t even get close to the 4 USD revenue per user in ads.

Based on the fact that Reddit officially isn’t profitable, and has 230 employees paid at Silicon Valley wages, and assuming reddit has a factor of 10 less users (so ~11 million mobile users per month, which would assume half of the subscribers to AskReddit would be active mobile users), the actual money you’d get per mobile user per month via ads (again, assuming all desktop users use adblock), would be around $0.21. This also matches much more closely the usual per-user ad revenue statistics.

And $0.21 per month is a price that also is a lot more affordable for people outside of silicon valley. Even a buck a month is still within of affordable range, although less so if you use many different sites. If you visit hundreds of pages per month, paying $4 each would bankrupt people. And no, you don’t get the same revenue via ads either (as explained above, or can be determined via the simple equation that the entire revenue sites you’re visiting make from ads has to be less than the disposable income you spend on products per month).

> Official statistics you’ve published put reddit at a reach of 6% of US internet users, which would be over 234 million users.

The population of the U.S. is about 320 million, including children and non internet users, so how can 6% of US internet users equate to over 234 million users?

> The population of the U.S. is about 320 million, including children and non internet users, so how can 6% of US internet users equate to over 234 million users?

Reddit operates in many countries, but the data Reddit published on their blog a few months ago named both of these numbers. Which is... interesting.

I don't think it tells them that. There is not much incentive to provide any vendor with a special altruistic dispensation when you're already getting the desired experience at no cost. This is the case regardless of the value or importance of the experience provided.

The simple fact is that if people don't have to pay for something, most of them won't. And that makes plenty of sense.

Or, and that’s the other option, if you can get the same offering at a lower cost.

For example, for me, as a user, IRCCloud is far too expensive, because for half the monthly cost I can run a Quassel core (an open IRC bouncer with similar functionality) for 10 users.

So, to me, I have a choice between 4 bucks a month for a product, or 0.20 bucks a month for the same product.

A big issue with this are the silicon valley wages. Most of these services are priced for users in Silicon Valley, where 5 bucks a month are nothing.

But out in the rest of the world, money is worth a lot more, and as a result, the entire cost/use equation changes, making many of these products impossible to afford.

reddit gold _has_ to be one of the better "replace ads with subscription" offerings out there. It's $2.50/mo which is far more reasonable than NYTimes' $9.99/month.

Not that running a news organization is inexpensive. But I'm extremely skeptical that any one site is making $9.99/month off of my ad impressions.

This is true; however, some people (me included) think that the harm ads do outweighs the benefits of free services.

>In a lot of cases, those sites get a lot more money from the advertisers than you would ever be willing to pay, because they simply don't provide that much value to you.

90% amateur blogs make no money what so ever over the cost of running them. Smart bloggers switched to affiliate schemes ages ago. Amateur bloggers making money of ad shows will go out of business sooner or later, regardless of adnauseam or adblock. Running ads is simply not a suitable business model for such guys.

I now log into reddit very rarely and only to correct errors in comments where I am actually somewhat experienced.

I've been gilded more than a few times and I've never come to know until the expiry notice shows up.

So it's actually hard to tell what the reddit gold buys one, apart from virtue signalling that one is a "supporter."

Now if the gold bought me to ability to turn off all comments, see what the mods have censored off the various subs, and actually extract some value off the site, I'd pay up in a flash.

But as it stands, reddit has lost any credibility that it ever had, and logging in that toxic mess provides no value to me and too much value to reddit.

In short, not a site worth supporting in any shape or form.

for what its worth, there are over 220 subreddits which have their removal logs made public, via this account: https://www.reddit.com/user/publicmodlogs

You can turn off comments by not visiting comment pages

Well, I do run a content blocker on macos/IOS which turns off all comments on all websites, but that's a trifle limiting.

What annoys me about reddit comments are the pun "trains," endless reruns of old reddit jokes. Every conversation is swamped with these comments, perhaps deliberately, to drown out unpopular opinions. No wait, the Pao era introduced mass deletions instead.

the general consensus nowdays is that it was Pao being used as a scapegoat more than anything (I think knothing also straight-up admitted to scapegoating too? I can't remember off the top of my head)


> scapegoat

I wouldn't be surprised that happened ultimately, but I really don't think that she was hired with that role/goal in mind. No one could be that evil. Could they?

If you look at the history of reddit over the years, they've always lurched from one crisis to another. An absence of adult supervision. Reactive solutions.

I would bet that reddit was under pressure to monetize somehow and ads (a la Facebook) on that "community" wouldn't cut it. I believe that they had an influx of funds around the same time, and the investors were looking to start getting some returns.

Their various stealth marketing schemes were suffering at the hands of the entrenched trolls. The unsavory subreddits were probably putting off established customers.

Maybe Pao just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

yishan's comment is interesting, thanks for linking to it. I didn't follow the whole Pao affair, but I do remember someone telling me that yishan might have been trolling reddit.

One thing jumps out at me from his comment. He calls Pao "the only technology executive anywhere who had the chops and experience to manage a startup of this size, AND who understood what reddit was all about."

Technology executive? Really? That's news to me. I thought she had spent her pre-reddit days in finance.

And she definitely did not understand reddit.

>My point is, I don't think a lot of you are being totally honest when you say you'd be willing to pay if the site removed advertising.

Well why would I do it if I don't have to?

I'm happy to pay for Netflix because there are no ads and it's just a better more convenient product than torrenting is.

> Well why would I do it if I don't have to?

You absolutely don't. But if you say, "I would pay you to get rid of ads", and then I get rid of them and you don't pay, that makes you a bit of a hypocrite, no?

Maybe. To me it simply shows that removing ads is not a big enough benefit make people pay. Which makes sense because people are now used to ads. They will consume the content either way.

But we're talking about people who install a program that purposely defrauds advertisers.

There is no fraud, people running the websites have zero say in how I choose to browse the Internet, even if it means automating ad clicks as a means of protest. I could be doing the same manually, but why bother?

Im not disagreeing with you. All I'm saying is that the benefit you offer by removing ads as a feature is not big enough to get them to pay.

Yes, they do it on purpose. Have you researched why? Is this a symptom and not the problem itself?


Well maybe. I think the implication there is 'I would pay a subscription to use this service if I had to, and would prefer that than an ad-supported service'. I don't think it's 'I would pay money for no reason rather than using an ad blocker'.

The motto of Pale Moon is "Your browser, Your way". But apparently not very so...

The current ad system is broken and, although I understand Google decision to protect its own profits, I don't see why an open source project that aims to provide an unbiased browsing experience would follow suit.

You're hurting the publishers. I'm a software developer at a local newspaper. We've been dealing with floods of fake ad clicks for about a year now, and they severely hurt our bottom line. We don't even use an ad network a la google, we sell our own ads to local businesses and such. You're not sticking it to the man, you're punishing me and my colleagues and friends for writing content that you wanted to read. You're directly hurting us.

To be clear, I'm not sure a browser should have a say on this in general, but I understand the argument they make on a personal level.


1. I misread OP

2. I don't work directly with our ad handling, as I work with the editorial team and generally advertising and editorial are separate for a reason, but I went digging just for fun. We sell our ad space to individual businesses. Our ad sales team does approve every ad we run. We use Google Analytics and Chartbeat, and both the newsroom and ad team have access to those analytics. The ads we serve vary - one ad from a housing complex down the street is literally just an image with an affiliate link, but one ad from our the ASU Foundation appears to load content from doubleclick.net.

On the one hand, I agree with your sentiment in general. However, it's a double edged sword here. LOTS of people are so sick of advertising networks, tracking, privacy invasion and malware from compromised ad networks that the underlying issue, the idea that click and impression based advertising is fundamentally flawed, is something that people are going to continue to protest. If the system is so broken that it's susceptible to this kind of click-jacking, then it was never a really good system to begin with.

Do I think this is the right way to go about it? Probably not. But I do think the long term solution needs to be for publishers to move away from the third-party advertising banner model. While forcing your hand isn't the right way to do things (and will, you're right, cause more harm than good) if nothing else AdNauseum has sparked a much needed conversation about ad-based revenue, one that we as a publishing and content consuming internet community desperately NEED to have. Because content isn't free, and publishers SHOULD be compensated for their work. We need to develop a better system to take the place of the obviously flawed model we've come to rely on, so that everyone comes out on top, publishers included.

"publishers SHOULD be compensated for their work"

with respect...

_employees_ should be paid for their work

_businesses_ OTOH are not entitled to ANY income regardless of the cost to create their products or anyones opinion on how valuable those products are.

Those people are free not to visit our website. Or even to block all ads if the site gracefully allows it (most do, mine do).

> Those people are free not to visit our website.

If you meant that, you'd have a paywall up.

Do you offer legally enforceable indemnity against people getting malware from ads you serve? If not, then you can't really tell them not to block the ads.

Even though i hate advertising, I'm against weaponizing clicks on ads to punish sites. Boycott, or block ads.

My understanding--and I pretty much hang out in the virtual duck blind studying vile people as a hobby, this isn't second-hand--is that this is largely being pushed by the 4chan/alt-right/white-supremacist crowd that's mostly mad at Google for not partying down with them. (People in the comments are referring to 4chan's /g/ board in that thread.)

You are right that we need to figure out how to evolve advertising--which is never going away--to a better place, but reactionary destruction does not seem like fertile ground for "y'know, ads kind of suck, how do we make this work better for everyone?".

How come?

The originator of AdNauseum is https://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/

I didn't say that the writer of AdNauseam was of that crowd, but the folks pushing it sure are.

Only some of them are. There is a very broadly diverse resistance to Google's influence on terran politics.

I think Pale Moon in particular was at least in part marketing itself, whether deliberately or inadvertently, to people who take objection with browser authors presuming to make this sort of moral decision on behalf of the user, independently of whether it is right. More generally, hardware and software being neutral tools in the hand of the user rather than forward-deployed submarines for the vendor's agenda (a morally righteous agenda is still an agenda, no matter how negative a sound that word has acquired, just to be sure) has been a sticking point for the Free Software movement pretty much since its conception.

People installing AdNauseam probably want to hurt you and your colleagues, so it's working as intended.

That is, there are people who believe ad-supported publications on the web should die. If their choice causes your ad-supported publication to die, mission accomplished.

Nailed it. If your business doesn't have a product so you only profit through advertising, you shouldn't be trying to make it a business.

Good, if you don't like fake clicks you should fight for it. Me on the otherhand don't like ads so I will too fight/support ways to avoid it.

Irrelevant of OPs point. Disallowing an extension that a user might want doesn't seem like "your way"

True, I misread OP. I don't know that I think the browser should have a say in this discussion.

It isn't "disallowed". You make a change in about:config.

What's the point at which it can be said to be disallowed? Editing a file with notepad? Editing it with an hex editor? Compiling from source?

The change is to allow addons marked as malware to be installed. So you are opening yourself up to real harm if you do that.

But thats just it. The extension, by trying to provide a "unbiased browsing experience" to the user but sending false clicks to the networks, is punishing the author/publisher in the middle.

This is a bad analogy but the closest I can find: Its like saying I don't like big book publishers so I'm not going to pay for the book at the independent book store.

Again, that analogy quickly falls apart but the initial point is similar.

The the larger thread on the page they talk about Google etc issues refunds for false clicks etc. Thats not quite true, that was more for brands that had their ads run on fake news sites.

It's more like when the book store asks you for your phone number, home address, and driver's license before they will accept your credit card, and so you simply pay them with cash.

After giving them a fake phone number that costs $5.99 per minute, a home address on the top of Mt. Everest where shipping ads to costs them hundreds of dollars, and a fake credit card numbers.

And yes, this cost is one that they should simply accept, if they want to ship malware. You try to destroy my system, I’ll try to destroy yours.

What's your phone number?

The analogy falls very quickly apart since if a website uses a ad network that don't track users, then AdNauseam extension does nothing.

Its like saying I don't like big book publishers so I'm not going to pay for the book at their stores, but i will pay for the book at the independent book store.

It goes without saying that big book publishers are book publishers because they can out compete the independent book store, like using vendor lock-in.

So, 99.9% of small websites with ads. Meaning, yes, this is harmful to small websites.

This is harmful to small websites with ads, not to small websites. Big difference.

analogy: intentionally spending counterfeit money at a favorite bar

How is "modify about:config" not having it "your way"?

You already got to decide which extensions you install. Making them disappear by default is a clear attempt to prevent people from installing an extension they may want.

OK, and? "Your way." Modify about:config. (Or, yanno, keep shitposting on /g/, as the complainers are wont to do.)

> OK, and?

Most people view attempts to manipulate others as bad. Especially in the context of free software that has "Your Browser Your Way" as a tag line.

> Modify about:config

I don't use Pale Moon, so I don't have too :)

Might as well use Firefox then, you can always modify the source.

I think PaleMoon is largely silly, but we aren't talking about having to modify the source to use the silly clickjacker. We're talking about typing a URL and changing a number. Which is why the angst being demonstrated is bonkers (and largely ideologically motivated, not to put too fine a point on it).

Of course it's ideologically motivated. The whole point of using Pale Moon is its ideology - represented by the motto "Your browser, you way". Ideologies are at the core of humanness. Using it as an insult is just sad.

And it's exactly because the ideology that the browser represented, and for which many people switched to it, is seen as having been betrayed that people are criticizing it. Whether the roadblock is easy to surmount is irrelevant.

I think angst is primarily for classifying AdNauseam as malware, which it clearly isn't. At least, that's the primary reason of angst for me.

It's a matter of degree, not kind. It's much more of a hassle to compile a custom version of the program than to modify the default configuration, but the point is that in both cases there's a default that does something that the user doesn't want.

Personally I can't tolerate for too long a software that I have to fight with everyday to make it work the way I want.

With Firefox it started with a few small changes but in the end I have found myself working on an userPrefs.js with hunders of lines, compiling the source with custom build flags and patches just to have a browser that doesn't spy actively on me.

I really hope it won't happen with PaleMoon too but this isn't a good sign.

I can't believe you went through all of that when you could have just used Wireshark to find out where the browser was phoning home to and blacklisting the IPs in your router or HOSTS file.

> After investigating the AdNauseam extension's behavior and the results for web publishers, the extension has been added to the Pale Moon blocklist with a severity level of 2 (meaning you won't be able to enable it unless you increase the blocking level in about:config to 3).

They block it by default but you can still disable the block manually. Its hardly an unreasonable form of protest.

Frankly, I always thought that the Pale Moon project had more attitude than rationale.

You've really got to have a decently sized team to assure that the changes you've made aren't going to cause security holes in the browser.

The things that they rip out of Firefox also doesn't make much sense to me... Australis is such a weird thing to get rid of, especially when the compact theme is pretty similar to the original, except even more minimal. Not to mention you can customise the theme all you want.

I'm pretty sure this moves comes from the fact that Pale Moon gets revenue from ads on the default start page, which is totally fine in and of itself; but having an extension blacklist for any other reason other than to prevent end-user exploitation is a perfect indicator that the judgement of the development team is not to be trusted.

The whole Pale Moon project doesn't even make sense to me. They could have just broken the browser toolkit out of comm-central (SeaMonkey) and built on top of that if the 'Classic' interface is what they are looking for. This solves the problem of the classic interface, current security patches, and modern Firefox HTML5 support.

There is no way that their tiny team can resurrect all of the old APIs that Mozilla has been decimating recently (XUL/XPCOM extensions/add-on SDK, complete themes, non multi process extensions, unsigned extensions, etc.)

With all of the talk about breaking Thunderbird (and, ostensibly, SeaMonkey) out of the core Mozilla infrastructure, the future does not look bright. I am honestly unsure as to what I'll do when SeaMonkey finally dies. I use an xpfe complete theme, maintain a SM/Thunderbird add-on that directly modifies the browser XUL to display picons/X-Faces/Faces/X-Image-URLs/etc, maintain an add-on that loads the old add-on manager in a separate (non-incontent) XUL window, etc.

Never heard of adnauseam before, the developers deserve a Nobel Peace Prize. The argument saying that it damages the publishers and not the ad networks is pure nonsense. By damaging the publisher's ability to make money of ads you also damage the ad network - how is this not clear?

ALL and I mean all advertisers can die a slow agonising death as far as I care. They are adding nothing of value to the civilisation. And if your reply is "well, how about I start charging you for my website?" then I'm absolutely fine with it. Please do.

The ad industry stops at nothing to force themselves in front of our face and ears. The notion that a completely legal counterattack is somehow unethical is profoundly absurd.

>Generating this kind of traffic does not achieve its intended goal (providing protest against ad networks or causing advertising to fail for ad networks) since the ones punished are the publishers (those who rely on this revenue) and not the ad networks.

I don't think I follow? People don't like the ad networks and want them to change or fail. That's achievable by forcing change at either the advertiser, the network or the website owner. Decreasing the usefulness of ad networks to website owners accomplishes the same thing as hitting the ad effectiveness: it takes away business from the ad network. Which sounds exactly like the intended goal.

Yeah, no. This sort of purposefully doing fake clicks at websites you're a fan of thing ups the chances of that website of getting banned from their ad network. Which is paying their hosting bills. Which simply puts them out of business.

Yes, it might put those sites out of business - the websites which rely solely on web traffic use fake titles, sensationalist headlines, click baits, troll baits, fake news i.e. most of what is wrong with the internet. It harms them in the short term... and the most evil company in the history of the world in the long term. I see it as win-win.

Again, no. How do you think nearly all small legit websites that aren't being bankrolled by a single passionate person stay up? Ad revenue.

As an example, PortableApps.com isn't exactly small, but without ad revenue I'd shut it down. It doesn't make enough in donations and a handful of drive sales to survive.

Ideally we'd find other ways to bankroll websites. Obligatory snowdrift.coop plug here (best intro, though with outdated visuals, remains https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/about/intro )

Ideally. But everything has failed so far except donation-style things for a handful of specific niches.

Why not sell display ads that are relevant to your target audience? Use pay per impression instead of pay per click. (To the extent AdNauseum succeeds, pay per click won't pay well anyway)

If there were an ad network or agency that did this with a similar level of revenue (or even just close), I'd switch. There isn't. I've looked. For years. I wish there were.

If everyone was using AdNauseam, there would be one.

That's exactly my purpose. I want all ad supported businesses to die.

Stop visiting sites that use ads you don't like. "Vote with your feet"

Why should I do what you tell me? I have other options too, and I can do those too. One of them is ad nauseum.

It doesn't quite work that way.

Yes, it decreases the usefulness of ad networks and hurts them - hopefully inciting change eventually.

But between the reader and the ad network is the website owner. They typically have no say or control over the ad network. As fake clicks are detected they are the ones that will get punished.

Their CPN can drop meaning a real hit in revenue.

If fake ad clicks add up they may be booted form the ad network and then they lose all ad revenue.

That is real harm.

We can all agree that ad networks can be invasive and we need real change. But lets be honest that there is real collateral damage and this does cause it.

>They typically have no say or control over the ad network

It's a free market. They have full control over their choice of ad network.

In fact they are the ones who have the longest lever for forcing change in ad networks. If everyone goes to an ad network that serves non-tracking, non-distracting, non-scamming ads that don't deliver malware, then only ad networks that deliver that survive.

And there are so many ad networks out there that don't do tracking and have revenues high enough to keep a website afloat. I can think of exactly zero that fit that bill.

Then maybe ad networks aren't the solution. Maybe it's Flatr or a browser like Brave that automatically pays websites you visit a few cents worth of Bitcoin. The current solution of creepy privacy-violating ad networks must go, and alternatives won't develop organically until there is pressure on publishers to find alternatives.

Flattr failed and is relaunching as a content-backing site for journalists. Brave requires a whole new browser with no extensions support and no online sync and doesn't support actual fees or payments, it's an optional distributed tip jar.

You want to put pressure on publishers? Refuse to visit their site if you don't like the ads.

> You want to put pressure on publishers? Refuse to visit their site if you don't like the ads.

Visiting their site with AdNauseam might put an even bigger pressure on them than not visiting their site at all.

They typically have no say or control over the ad network.

How so? They chose the ad network, no?

So what? What happens next? Do I have to ask every creator of ad attacks extensions like AdNauseam if the ad network I wanna use fits in their definition of "good" before adding it to my site? Do I have to ask them for permission about what HTML/JavaScript can I place in my website?

Worse, what happens if they think every ad network that fits my user-base is evil? Then what? I still need to make ends meet so should I try to bribe the AdNauseam devs into whitelisting my site?

That's the thing about attacking on the basis of having the moral high ground, you are very likely to end up becoming the thing you hate.

EDIT: (cause HN doesn't let me reply)

Answer to @icebraining

It's way more like, what if I'm pouring red colorant to the rivers, and I know the colorants make absolutely no damage to the river but activists still try to destroy my business because they strongly believe so.

So yeah, I find your counter-argument depressing as well; because its not about who is right or wrong but the one who believes themselves in control to determine being both the judge and the executioner.

Answer to @wongarsu:

After installed this extension silently attacks networks, and you think people is gonna care enough to jump to the next best one... because you think they are constantly reading about the moral basis of the blacklisted ad networks? ...right? You are more delusional than expected and I hope ad networks start pouring money into permanently banning users of this extension from all major websites.

I don't even use Adnauseam, but I find it a bit depressing that you don't see the flaw in that argument.

Let's leave ads aside and think of something else. Say businesses were dumping toxic chemicals into rivers, and activists were plugging those pipes. Would "I still need to make ends meet" be a valid excuse for those businesses?

Now, I'm sure you don't consider online advertising to be the same as dumping toxic chemicals. Like I said, I don't use the addon either. But for those who do, your argument is simply invalid. And the claim that they become the thing they hate makes no sense.

It's way more like, what if I'm pouring red colorant to the rivers, and I know the colorants make absolutely no damage to the river but activists still try to destroy my business because they strongly believe so. So yeah, I find your counter-argument depressing as well; because its not about who is right or wrong but the one who believes themselves in control to determine being both the judge and the executioner.

Well, I'm not going to argue the merits of civil disobedience here. I'll just point out that while "innocent" ad networks might be affected, it's factually indisputable that the vast majority heavily spy on their users and occasionally serve them malware, and that there has been zero legal consequences for that. It's easier to convince people to not be "both the judge and the executioner" if the actual judges and executioners do their work.

Civil disobedience is never about products you don't like, its a tool when society doesn't work not when you don't like the inside of a store (analogy of store == website); you don't start throwing rocks at stores because when you entered you found some announcements you didn't like; that's not civil disobedience, that's just assault at private propriety and sociopath behavior.

AdNauseam has a clear definition of "good" ad networks [1]: with default settings it allows ads that obey do-not-track headers, as tracked by the EFF.

Of course in theory they could become some kind of evil authoritarian censor board. But that would cause a lot of users to jump to the next best extension. It's not really a big threat.

>what happens if they think every ad network that fits my user-base is evil?

That sounds unlikely, but if that happens and you are too small to manage your ads yourself, you should find a different revenue stream. Or start an ad network, since you've obviously just found an under-served market niche :)


After installed this extension silently attacks networks, and you think people is gonna care enough to jump to the next best one... because you think they are constantly reading about the moral basis of the blacklisted ad networks? ...right? You are more delusional than expected and I hope ad networks start pouring money into permanently banning users of this extension from all major websites.

What's good and bad is decided by each individual user, not AdNauseam. They chose AdNauseam because they agree with whatever it does and whatever kinds of ads it targets. It doesn't matter if you agree with it or not, or even if it's hard for you to figure out what "color of water" they don't like. That's what market research is for.

So if all your users decide you're doing something bad, and that puts you out of business, then you probably should be out of business. This isn't unfairness like being arbitrarily banned from Google search or getting fake reviews on Yelp. This is your own users telling you they don't want what you're offering for the price you're charging (having to view ads they don't want).

No; this is like stealing the product. If you don't like a product you just don't buy it (meaning, don't go to their website), you don't go to the their publishing agency and throw rocks at their windows just because you don't agree with their profiting methods, it's really simple.

False, it isn't at all like stealing, because there is an infinite number of 1's and 0's, it just so happens that your personal arrangement of those 1's and 0's was found to be unfavorable and discarded, and now you're mad about it. What you advocate is the same illogical idea the big content companies all have, the idea that your arrangement of 1's and 0's is somehow special from anyone else's arrangement and only you can say what happens to it (especially once it is put out in "public"), and that it is somehow scarce (when none of this is at all true in any real sense).

It all boils down to control - you (and people like you) want all of it, and other people have other ideas contrary to your own (and are willing to do whatever they feel works to achieve what they want).

> That's achievable by forcing change at either the advertiser, the network or the website owner.

...Or the user; you see, if people starts getting blocked for using this extension you know what's going to happen once word gets around? That's right, users start avoiding the extension.

At best, people would selectively disable it on some websites like they currently do with regular ad blockers.

you are underestimating how lazy users are; many people disable right away ad-blockers or any extension as soon as it starts blocking any website that matters to them; I'm not really sure if its the majority or not; but its not a minority.

That AdNauseam causes potential damage to people running ads and generating revenue from ads by devaluing clicks is a feature, not a bug.

My understanding of the plugin is that it views advertising as universally bad, and that if a site cannot survive without ads, it must not be worth much at all, and deserves to die.

I wholeheartedly agree with this view.

So Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat have no value? Because those aren't just little sites, but entire companies that have value solely because of ads. Take away ads and they don't exist.

it may surprise you to read but there are a non-zero percentage of people out there (inclusive me) who believe exactly the statement you just phrased as a question.

these are companies which actively take advantage of the worst in all of us to deliver products that monopolize our time at the cost of calm, concentration, and patience.

Companies that violate my privacy, track me and harvest my data to sell to advertisers so that Zuckerberg can buy all the mansions around his to protect his privacy?

I would be completely fine if Facebook and Google and whoever else ceased to exist.

>So Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat have no value?

No, not value-less, but I didn't agree to pay for their services with the total loss of my privacy on-line. (and one doesn't have to use any of those services in order to be spied upon by them)

One might argue that you do agree, when you make use of their services.

No, Google terms of service does not forbid you from blocking Google ads.

And no free rider argument please, I am perfectly willing to pay for Google's service. If Google wants to get paid, they can make Google Contributor available in my country. I already pay for YouTube Red.

Blocking is much different than fraudulently clicking.

Google terms of service does not forbid users from producing invalid clicks either. (Point 1, it's called invalid, not fraudulent. Point 2, Google does forbid website owners, but not users.)

I am just objecting to your statement that when one uses Google's service, one is making any sort of agreement that one wouldn't block ads or produce invalid clicks. There is no such agreement.

Google implicitly forbids users by holding the website owner liable.

Years ago, I had a small site that ran banner ads. A couple of users found the site really useful so they clicked on lots of ads thinking that it would help the site. Unsurprisingly, I got banned, even though my visitors had the best intentions.

No, I'm sticking with fraudulent. The intent is to defraud. Even if you say there is no specific agreement, there's the morality issue. Your morals may allow you to essentially vandalize, mine do not.

The agreement may not be written down, but I think it's covered in the 'don't be an ass' part of the social contract.

It's not on me that clicks are considered meaningful—that's the site owner's problem.

"I did it, but it's not my responsibility." That's what I read from your reply. Suffice to say, we have different morals.

And no, I don't have anything that is ad supported. I dislike the tracking and security implications, but not enough to alter my morality. This is morally similar to vandalism, in my opinion.

If your okay with that, don't let me tell you how to live. I just can't justify harming people for something I can just block or ignore.

>So Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat have no value?

I don't see anything wrong with this statement.

Why? I work at a newspaper, we've survived on ads for decades, the way we deliver them has just changed.

Most newspapers are like this, are you saying we should not exist?

Newspaper ads are a great model for how internet ads should work: Not overly distracting, properly screened and targeted at the general readership of the newspaper. Almost every internet ad fails in at least one of those three categories.

And here I thought newspapers were sold via subscriptions and at a per-issue price.

Still costs me around $2.50 for a Sunday issue locally.

And that cost is subsidized by ads. Otherwise it'd cost $10.

I can only speak for the newspaper in my country. I never had a newspaper which had ads that

- track my reading habits - were blinking trying to catch my attention - started played videos I didn't want to see

If a news website wants to make money off advertising, just host simple images on your own sever. No need to load stuff from shady companies which try to grab as much information as possible.

Respectfully, if a Sunday paper has a cost of $10 apiece, you have a major cost/value ratio mismatch. No paper that reposts AP articles, 1-2 local interest articles, and a ton of user generated content is worth anything approaching $4, let alone $10.

And this is why SPIEGEL and Süddeutsche have few problems with funding their papers, and why papers just copy-pasting stuff without any actual journalistic effort do.

(And why the second category might die anyway, and ads just prolong their suffering)

So why can't they produce content worth 10$?

I think our content is worth $10, but of course we're a small paper, and very few people would pay $10 for it. If we paywalled our website, we'd just turn readers away and it would go counter to our mandate to inform the public.

I don't like ads, and I use an ad blocker (though with very permissive dynamic filtering rules), but we gotta pay the bills and pure subscription models rarely make sense.

Afaik, the only news agencies that work on subscriptions alone are the massive New York Times, which paywalls more than like 2 or 3 stories per user per week. Wire services like the Associated Press and Reuters make most of their money from member papers that pay into them to get access to content they otherwise couldn't afford to make. Some publications sell specifically to niches, Bloomberg has a public facing website but most of their content is only available for consumption via the infamous Bloomberg Terminal, a very expensive dedicated workstation they develop in house so people who trade, say corn futures, can access extremely realtime information and reporting on hyper specific corn stuff.

All this is to say that selling subscriptions to the general public only works if you're the New York Times, and even then they still sell ads in print.

EDIT: hey look the times does have ads. They're pretty unobtrusive but they're there.

I don't mean to disparage your content or get into an argument over the 'worth' of an infinitely reproducible good, or even the labour theory of value - but is your content really 'worth' $10 if such a small number of people would pay that much for it? Usually you'd have people offering more than the actual value and also people offering less than the actual value, but it seems that nobody is offering more than the purported worth of $10.

There isn't a way I can see around this problem short of abolishing the requirement to fund journalistic investigation and reporting and hosting.

They do. Part of $X is paid by advertisers.

Why can't you sustain your business from subscription fees?

It just doesn't work. Most of our readers don't pay for news, and if they did, they'd probably pay for larger national papers.

Back in the day of paper newspapers, our subscription fees had to be augmented with ad revenue as well.

Sounds to me like a business model failing to adapt.

The same phenomenon is occurring with car dealerships facing Tesla.

Yeah if we stopped selling ad space we'd be a failing business model, but we are selling ads, we are making money. It's a working business model right now.

There's also the philosophical argument, our mandate is to inform the public, how can we do that if we paywall everything? Not everyone can afford the paywall, and even if they could there's still the UX friction of handling payment.

The bottom line is we need to pay people to keep track of local government full time. It truly is a full time job. If we don't, who else will? In order to do this and allow concerned or interested citizens to share the things we learn on Facebook, ads make a lot more sense.


Slightly off topic, but I find the implication made in the image you linked that Google, a company which profits via wage labour, which owns property, is a "Communist" organisation to be absolutely hilarious if it wasn't a sincerely held view by some poor souls.

Google's wage-fixing practices do remind me of "planned economy". [1]

[1] https://pando.com/2014/03/22/revealed-apple-and-googles-wage...

4chan is not known for intellectual prowess.

This is especially frustrating because we don't use an ad network. We have an ad sales department that sells ad space directly to local businesses. They're not hurting google, just us.

Are your ads on the Adnauseum lists?

I might agree with you if we were in a world in which there is little cost to provide lots of high quality information, or maintain a digital library etc.

I think it's needlessly dismissive to say that a website deserves to die just because it can't survive without ads. Many very niche but high quality websites can't make enough money to support curation and hosting fees, and as such turn to advertisements.

I've heard that the default settings for the extension were not as aggressive in what they 'click' but have not had a chance to check out out.

From a quick glance at the thread it seems this "extension blacklist" can be quite easily disabled, and the discussion centers more around the position of the author. Perhaps he has a stake in ad companies too? It's not as if it's difficult to revert the change itself either, fork the project, and keep going:


Because this extension causes direct and indirect economic damage to website owners, it is classified as malware, and as such blocked.

The same argument has been applied to adblockers...

But it's distinctly passive with ad blockers. Sure, you want to read my content without supporting me (some publications prevent you from doing so, but mine does not). You're just affecting you. With AdNauseum, you are actively attacking our ability to make money off of other users. You're punishing me for writing content that you want to read.

I'm not trying to punish you for writing content I want to read, I'm punishing a horrible and unethical industry that you've chosen to profit from.

The current state of online advertisement is an absolute blight on the internet.

Online ads are the primary source of malware among anyone I've spoken to, and online advertising standards are atrocious.

Just because someone uses the profits of a Ponzi scheme to support the creation of free content doesn't give you the right to complain when that Ponzi scheme gets busted.

I wish you all the best in finding a way to support the creation of your content.

How is advertising a ponzi scheme? (genuine, earnest question)

We don't buy from an ad network, we have an ad sales department, the same people that used to sell print ads to local businesses now sell online ads to local businesses.

There may be big systemic problems with practices of the big ad networks, frankly I haven't looked into it enough to have an opinion, but we don't use these big networks and we still have to deal with the fallout

Apologies, I didn't mean to say that online advertising is ponzi scheme. I used ponzi scheme as an example of an illicit practice.

When I was in a high school physical education class, if one member of our class wasn't ready (changed into p.e. clothes and standing in a line) 5 minutes after the bell rang, then the whole class had to do ten push-ups. I remember thinking how unfair it was for the whole class to be punished for the actions of one individual. But I'm sure the P.E. teacher's response to any mention of unfairness would have been something like, "Tough. Life is unfair." And I completely agree with that.

I don't; the fact that life is unfair doesn't mean we shouldn't push for better conditions, and in fact, this is the entire reason why we live so long, have worker rights, etc.

It sounds like you do agree that life is unfair, though. At least, you call it a "fact". I think it is a fact, as well, because "fairness" is an ideal that we strive towards, and ideals never exist in reality. I don't disagree with you that we should strive for better conditions.

In the case of chuckdries being financially punished by a swath of users choosing to install AdNauseam or similar plugins, I think we might agree that it isn't fair for his particular case, but it is fair in the aggregate, or more general case, due to the reprehensible behavior of "big ad networks", which created the impetus for the development of these types of plugins in the first place.

I'll admit to being in a negative mood, which is why my mind went immediately to gym class. :( I just don't see a sensible way out of this situation that will both castigate the bad actors in the advertising space, while simultaneously allowing for these small "home-grown" ad networks to escape the castigation.

We've got to find a better way of supporting websites than selling out our visitors, though. Some revenue models that worked for traditional print simply won't work for the web. I think the sooner we find that out and adapt our models, the better off we'll all be.

I am also attacking your ability to track and infect other users with malware, so I am doing a good thing.

And no, I am not punishing you - I am punishing a shitty industry for wasting millions of hours of time globally and causing damage with malware. We've seen that pacific methods do not work so the only way to drive change is to actively fight back until the lowlife either adapts (by becoming better) or dies.

I can't speak to the general case here, but after reading Chuck's other comment, I think you may be mistaken about his website specifically:

> We don't even use an ad network a la google, we sell our own ads to local businesses and such.


In this case, I really doubt this extension would hurt him - how the extension works is just like uBlock uses lists to hide things, AdNauseam uses the same lists to explicitly click on those items. His own ads wouldn't match any of the rules in those lists and unless they are extremely obnoxious nobody would bother adding his ads in there.

If he does get on one of those lists it's quite easy to change the markup of the page (class names, etc) to stop the rules from matching. If you're doing the right thing by hosting your own ads you fully control the markup and layout and it becomes extremely easy to protect yourself from this.

I can't speak to adnauseum specifically, but a lot of ad blockers use a combination of techniques to detect ads that are surprisingly hard to circumvent.

But just in general, I don't believe I should have to spend my time cat-and-mousing ad detection. It's not sustainable, especially for a paper that only employs 2 developers, which is rare. Most papers don't have developers in house, they contract out this work, or if they're owned by a conglomerate like Gannett, their owner handles it. It also feels sketchy, circumventing ad detection sounds like something obnoxious malicious ad makers would do.

EDIT: having just tested it, Ublock Origin does block the ads on our website.

You are punishing me and only me. We don't use an ad network, we sell our ad space directly to local businesses. Fake ad clicks have been actively hurting our ability to sell ads for about a year now. Our ads are pictures. Pictures are not malware.

Also what ads cause damage? Like sure the ads on porn or piratebay are cancerous but no reputable newspaper will have anything harmful, just potentially annoying.

Your story doesn't add up to me.

> We don't use an ad network, we sell our ad space directly to local businesses.

Fine, so you either (a) tell a business that you have XXX page views per month so they'll get YYY impressions (which may be blocked, but that you can try to make non-intrusive); or (b) you let the advertiser track the value they receive from ads placed on your site.

In the (a) case, there shouldn't be any difference between adblock and a fake clicking blocker. In the (b) case, a sensible advertiser should be able to weigh the value of the add they placed on your site no matter what mix of real and fake clicks they get: I ended up selling X USD to visitors coming through that place's ads, which amounted to Y USD in profit. Y > cost of the ads? Keep the ads going. Y < cost of the ads? sorry but we're out.

The only situation where fake clicks are bad is that where the advertiser suddenly realizes that "hey we sent you XXX people" is just a meaningless figure from which you just cannot infer a proper value metric to decide whether that ad is worth its cost or not. Which is another way of saying that it gives ad purchasers a reality check that can only be positive in the long run, disregarding the short-term loses of people who were selling inflated ad spaces until now.

As I understand it, what we do is closer to B. I'm not on the ad sales team, but the way it was explained to me, our ad partners have analytics on their website like everyone does these days, and they generally give us a link specific to our website that they can look at the analytics on and tell how many people visited that page, therefore how many people clicked the link. I'm told they see huge spikes in traffic that looks fake and get angry, threaten to drop us, etc. Basically they accuse us of artificially inflating our numbers, and without super detailed analysis it's hard to tell what is and is not fake. If you compare the traffic coming in to their affiliate links to the traffic we record on our own analytics, I'm told it looks super suspicious.

EDIT: apparently some advertisers have ad content prepared they give us that uses common advertising tools like doubleclick.net and such.

no reputable newspaper will have anything harmful, just potentially annoying.

That is, unfortunately, very incorrect: https://www.cnet.com/news/new-york-times-bbc-dangerous-ads-r...

That is appalling

That's why ad blockers are essential for normal people just to have security. We literally can't trust newspapers not to serve up toxic waste.

Perhaps you can be trusted! But nobody knows that, and it's reasonable to presume otherwise.

Put it this way: do you offer legally enforceable indemnity against people getting malware from ads you serve? If not, then you can't really tell them not to block the ads.

Forbes was running malware ads at least once in the last year iirc. Additionally, most places have ads from an ad network so it isn't like they are specifically choosing ok ads or anything. While porn and pirate sites have some of the worse ads, that doesn't make the rest of the ads much better.

I'm curious why you would feel The Pirate Bay is any more cancerous than a "reputable newspaper".

I just disabled uBlock and checked TPB. There were no ads on the landing page, and after using "search", had to scroll right to the bottom to find one small ad, for a reputable web hosting company (Siteground).

I opened our local news - smh.com.au. At the top of my page there's a similarly sized ad. There are also ads the full vertical length down each side of the page, which due to broken text rendering is just a picture of a man and I don't know what is being advertised.

If I scroll down a bit, there's a horizontal ad consuming roughly a third of the screen for American Express.

Most news articles have an auto-play video, and usually starting with ads. Several pages have ads with embedded sound, making this particularly embarrassing to test in the office.

I get that it's reasonable to have ethical issues with TPB. I wouldn't agree that reputable newspapers have a moral high ground on advertising.

See my other response above ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15112864 ) about why this extension wouldn't change anything for you.

> no reputable newspaper will have anything harmful, just potentially annoying.

Please look up "malvertising", install an ad blocker if you haven't already then come back and feel free to revise your statement. ;)

I personally use ublock origin in dynamic filtering mode, I use it like a blacklist, where I allow ads on all websites by default but block them selectively on particularly bad websites.

I can't seem to find which comment of yours you're referring to, I know that our ads are still blocked by most ad blockers and we've seen fake traffic and fake ad clicks in our analytics before.

I've edited my comment with a link to the response. Again, if your ads are actually safe and not obnoxious you could potentially just alter the markup every time you end up on an ad blacklist so the selectors no longer match.

No, i'm punishing you for only providing ads as a form of payment.

Or in the new york times case, for getting ads in spite of paying. Ads are a fucking poison; i will do anything i can to destroy them.

Some websites don't care about users, and push malicious and obtrusive ads, I don't see a problem in users trying to sabotage their income stream. It's a free web. You are free to serve ads, I'm free to use an extension to spam them.

A linguistic excursion not related to the substance of this controversy:

I'm looking for a term for "jokes or puns where the morphemes between which a clever relationship is drawn are actually true cognates, but the connection is no longer apparent to native speakers". Here that's true because English ad < advertisement < Middle French advertissement < advertir < Latin advertere 'turn towards, notice' is the same ad in "ad nauseam" 'to the point of nausea', both meaning 'toward' in Latin.

Does this kind of situation have a well-established name? (There might be subcategories for the case where the cognate preserves a connection in the meaning that's part of the joke, and the case where it's just coincidental, like here.)

Even if you reuse the same word it's still a pun. I don't think there's a different name for puns on homophones, cognates, or homonyms.

The idea that ad networks don't care about click rates and clicks generated by bots seems very incorrect and false on even a surface glance. The revenue from ad networks is based on advertisers getting purchases and through that validate a marketing budget. It would be crazy if the networks did't already have several system to handle bad data and clicks generated by bots.

In addition, the argument is that the extension is only punishing the publishers. What it really do is to change the balance between unethical ad networks and ethical alternatives. By only punishing networks that automatically track users, the more ethical networks become better in comparison and will give better returns for each dollar spent on marketing. One could call this strong arming the publisher to chose more ethical, but an other way to see it is to eliminate the race to the bottom and discourage a lemon market. We currently have networks that have no problem with infecting peoples machines with malware, advertising products to children, or target the sick and vulnerable. If I ran AdNauseam and it causes a single website to consider an alternative ad network, I would consider that a major win for the Internet, even if that meant a few % less revenue.

Considering that some site has already gone over to more ethical alternatives in order to resolve the problem of ad blocking, it seems we are already making steps towards this future.

How is it that Target will infer that a teenager is pregnant based off the items she has bought over the past few weeks at their stores, but ad networks won't infer which of their potential customers are likely to serve up malware over their networks?

They make money directly off of one? Whereas the other they potentially can maybe avoid losing some theoretical business or avoid having to pay fines in the future. Probably there's no one who's clear job responsibility is to ensure security.

If a program does as it states and allows people to consent to its effect on them it isn't malware. I don't see how they can class it as such in good faith.

I don't know if anyone has been arrested for "click-fraud" yet, but we have seen an attempt to use the DMCA to force people to view adverts, under the theory that the adverts are part of "a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected":


If the terms of use of a website forbid you accessing that site with an ad-blocker installed, then arguably a user could be guilty under something like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act if they did not comply. Rather than going after the individual users, though, (a tactic which was largely abandoned for dealing with torrenting), the publishers of a website could potentially try suing the makers of an ad-blocker.

Under theories of "vicarious infringement" and conspiracy (such as is used against sites like The Pirate Bay and other search engines which ISPs are required to block in some countries), I wouldn't be surprised if we one day see browser makers liable for the extensions they "allow" to be installed in "their" browsers, and then OS distributors held liable for browsers that they allow to be installed on "their" OS.

It is worth noting that ultimately it will be hardware-enforced TPM / Secure Boot technology that makes such laws and injunctions feasible. We need to be careful what precedents are set by projects like Pale Moon, and the sort of technological ecosystems we are building.

Then they should allow an http header saying "if you're going to serve ads, don't bother, i'd rather look at nothing".

I wasn't convinced if I should install AdNaunseam, now I am. thanks Moonchild :)

It only hurts pay-per-click advertisers. Ones whose ads directly lead to a sale are unaffected.

I feel like most people here are missing the point.

The question is not whether it is proper to use AdNauseam or not, the question is whether it should be a personal choice or one imposed upon by the browser.

In this case, PaleMoon was championed as the "freedom browser" as opposed to the "designed by a committee" Firefox. If this passes, does it actually mean it will simply be a fork of Firefox that keeps XPCOM support but with the same overall attitude?

What a perfect Streisand effect. I am going to check that so much polarising AdNaus...thingie.

It'd really be no big loss if every site that relied on ad revenue went under because of this. It'd be a net positive actually. No more Content Trough? No more Socialworthy? No more Reddit? Sign me up. There will always be personal sites and phpbb forums run out of pocket for passion not profit.

I use Ad Nauseum not because I think "the current advertising model is broken" or whatever. I'm not interested in reform. I'd like people to stop treating the web as a business opportunity. If this extension actively harms the bottom lines of the most shameless sorts of profiteers, then that totally rules and I support it 100%.

I think most people would agree that non-consensual profiling / tracking of users is immoral. AdNauseum directly breaks most business models that rely on that. I don't see the problem.

Want to support your site using ads? Why not use display ads? Sell space next to high quality content to advertisers with relevant products. Problem solved, and it puts bottom feeder ad exchanges and content spam websites out of business. (And it probably puts a big wrench in the fake news industry as a bonus)

> Want to support your site using ads? Why not use display ads? Sell space next to high quality content to advertisers with relevant products.

The hard part is that most sites don't have high quality content, and there are no relevant products..

I can see why people want to damage these sites.

I don't understand what the fuss is all about, last time I tried AdNauseum it barely detected and clicked very few Ads, maybe one or two on really ad-heavy popular websites, and many issues on github confirm that its detector is quite finicky.

How does the efficiency/ad coverage compare to uBlock Origin? That's all that matters to me.

Virtually identical in my experience.

Oh! I'm dumb, I just noticed that it's a fork. Sweet :)

AdNauseam is foolish because if this is a success adnetworks go back to the good old days of the ugly in your face ads to ensure they count you as seeing there ad on each impression. Remember the exit ad that loaded after you left the page? Remember the expanding full page banner? They will be back.

Better than tracking and auto-playing videos.

They never went away?

Can't people just compile their own version sans-censorship?

You only need to make a single change to about:config to allow you to use extensions on the restricted list.

I don't know about Pale Moon, but at least Firefox was well-known back in the day for being extremely resource-intensive to compile (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Developer_g...) - I vaguely remember somebody talking about how they had to cross-compile to obtain the Raspberry Pi build, for instance.

Either way, per the developer's post, you can in fact just flip an about:config switch to disable the addon blacklist (not sure if this would also leave you susceptible to actual malicious addons); it's more of an issue of compliance budget/trivial inconveniences, and the implicit message of the action. (Note how the developer is very insistent about referring to AdNauseam as "malware"; if we go with the conventional definition of malware as being harmful to its user, this may paint Pale Moon as perceiving the website and/or ad network operators as being its clientele, rather than the person using the browser.)

(not sure if this would also leave you susceptible to actual malicious addons)

If you want the extension without flipping the about:config entry. You can open up the extension in something that can handle zip files, edit install.rdf, and change the extension id to something else. Of course that will need to be done for every update of said extension.

Seems like the block isn't hardcoded, so you don't even have to do that.

It looks like it is not even "blocked", just placed on a list:

>"Probably the biggest issue is (as Grainfrog said) one of word choice, that using the word "blocked" in the title was less constructive than, say, announcing "AdNauseam moved to malware list", and then explaining what this feature is (before now I was not entirely aware of it, personally) and that users may choose to opt out of this feature if they wish to install any of the items listed therein."

The reason people use a fork like pale moon is because they want the changes that the fork provide. If that is no longer the case, they can just go back to Firefox and modify that version to their heart's content.

Sure, but then it won't auto-update, requires the user to make more than a minimal effort to install, etc.

That's a lot of effort. Most people would either switch browser or choose a normal ad blocker instead.

Yes. But the whole point of having a free (as in freedom) browser in the first place is so that the user controls it, and not google, apple, microsoft, 'Moonlight', etc.

You can remove the "censorship" with a 30-second config change. I don't understand why the people on that forum are so up in arms about something this trivial.

It's more about the position of the Pale Moon maintainer in making this change, than the (lack of) difficulty in reverting it.

Even Mozilla currently allows it: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adnauseam/

Google, quite understandably, didn't: https://adnauseam.io/free-adnauseam.html

For a similar reason people get mad about telemetry and other features being opt-out rather than opt-in.

I think the more overarching point is that many people went to palemoon in response to actions they viewed as harmful for the web or for browsers, from mozilla and Google. For many people this establishes that it is not the ideologically pure browser they (mistakenly or not) thought they were getting.

>Yup. you can all calm down and take some time to educate yourself about the damage this can and will cause to small-website owners

You can all calm down and take some time to hear me tell you you have to believe in what I believe.

You guys do realize what's going to happen as soon as a webpage can detect you have AdNauseam installed right? They gonna block you completely from their websites -I mean IP-tables blockage- and rightly so. If you don't like a website just don't use it; it's really really simple; when you start attacking every ad network the creator of the extension deems "evil" you are basically just another bot in his botnet attack; you didn't were part of the committee that heard both parts and made a rightful judgment in a case-by-case basis, you just decided "yeah this random guy who created this extension probably picked the bad ones, lets hurt them"; so you don't even have the moral high ground you pretend.

Agreed. AdNauseum has no more of a fair trial system, ability to be held accountable, or potential for appeal than the SPLC hate group list. I met a group of nuns listed by the SPLC, and they were a very racially diverse group of exceedingly kind people. Their group was listed in the 80s because a male bishop associated with their convent recommended some books with anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. He is dead now and our local paper did an investigation this year on the listing and found that the nuns are on good terms with local Jewish congregations with whom they respect and accomplish good in the community. The local Jewish groups couldn't get the time of day from the SPLC to reconsider their listing of the nuns, even though the SPLC explanation of the listing doesn't cite evidence of anything done by a woman or by a human currently living or done before the 1980s. And yet the SPLC is gaining more power to censor than most governments on Earth as some tech giants experiment with giving them powers to secretly make content disappear.

I've never heard of this fork before and Im not sure why its on the front page of HN.

My impression has been that it has commanded somewhat outsize (to its actual utility/userbase) attention ever since its conception, because the promise of an "optimised, bloat-free, classic" version of Firefox clearly is attractive to many outspoken technologists. It gets mentioned on HN periodically: https://www.google.com/search?q=pale+moon+site%3Anews.ycombi...

Biggest fork of Firefox, apparently not anymore community driven, they tried to "unfuck" Firefox by removing enabled built-in google trackers, business decisions made by Mozilla that community didn't like because they were financially or ideologically driven (like Pocket or Telemetry?).

I don't use Pale Moon but it has been around for a while. It got a boost when Firefox switched to the Australis interface and people who didn't like it switched to Pale Moon. And it has been getting another boost because of Firefox getting rid of the old extension model.

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