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AdBlock-Plus has made ads virtually irrelevant for me. Sometimes I forget that people are even subjected to them.

Last year, while traveling through eastern Asia, I would occasionally drop by an internet cafe. I couldn't believe the amount of ads non-ABP users had to see. It still baffles me.




Getting content for free because advertisers are paying for it is pretty great, though, right? As Heinlein would say, there's no such thing as a free lunch...


I turn ABP off for domains that have made it a point to never have abusive ads (popovers, moving, flashing, expanding, generally being a nuisance). I'd highly recommend this to others. The advertising economy is crucial to maintaining free (as in beer) access to information on the internet, and complete rejection of it is just going to mean more paywalls in the future.

I don't mind banner ads or text ads so long as they are neither deceptive (mixing ad content with real content or masquerading as such) nor abusive (flashing! look at me! you're the 1 millionth visitor! tiny dismiss buttons, or worse, no dismiss buttons!)


I don't think it's my responsibility to ensure third-party companies' business models work. I have a TCP pipe open to a remote web server; however I manipulate the data after it has come out of that TCP pipe is up to me, providing I don't violate copyright etc. Trying to prop up businesses in spite of economic forces - free-riding in this case - is usually pointless. Economic forces are too powerful; it's a waste of effort. It's better to work on more sustainable models that aren't as weak.


Even in a completely self-serving frame of mind you may want to "prop up" a business model.

The idea is that either you look at some ads, or you pay directly for content. Moral or issues of principles aside, that's simply the way it will go. Personally, I choose to look at ads instead of paying for content, but that's a personal preference.

If you don't like paywalls it would benefit you in the long term to turn off adblockers for sites that "behave".


Really? There's a "third way" to pay for content... reputation. This, in fact, is how the original article was paid for, I think. The author felt the value added to his reputation was greater than the value of the time spent writing.

This is also how most technical books are paid for. Most technical book authors make a small fraction of what they could make as contractors from writing technical books; yet the books still get written... why? Reputation. Nothing improves your reputation quite like being a widely read.


I don't think this scales to any large fraction of the content that is being created right now, though. It does work for some, but I doubt this will become the way things are done on a large scale.


Reputation is the primary means whereby creators of nearly all the content I consume on a daily basis are remunerated. Blog posts? Tech books? I doubt very much that there are many people who do either for the money directly earned through ad or book sales.

Now, I agree that this model doesn't work for, say, big-budget action movies and for many (maybe, as you say, most[1]) other media types.

But, these people working for "free" have always been a big part of the press; I don't think that writing has ever paid particularly well, except for a few at the very top.

Edit: There is a corporate equivalent to this that dominates the trade magazine industry. Corporations write something very much like a press release advertising their new product, and send it off to a writer for the magazine, who publishes it, perhaps with a few changes, as if it were a story. Hell, speaking of high-budget action flicks, BMW did something similar a while back; they released a series of short action films[2] that featured their vehicles. Being something of a fan of action films myself, I rather enjoyed them, even though they were obviously commercials.

[1] Thinking more on what "more media" is, I'm starting to come around to your position. Now, I certainly spend /more time/ consuming media like blog posts or technical books where the author was primarily remunerated in terms of an increased reputation compared to media produced for the money.

However, even if you say I spend 100 hours reading tech books or blog posts for every 1 hour I spend watching big-budget action flicks, that one hour of action movie probably took more human hours to produce than the 100 hours of tech book or blog post. Of course, if you measure the the cost of production divided by the number of people watching it, then it's possible that the flashy action movie was actually cheaper to produce than the tech book, I mean, per human hour spent watching the thing.

[2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hire


Indeed, your first footnote is more in line with what I was thinking of. If everybody blocks ads on the things that are expensive to produce (The Atlantic's website, NYT/WSJ/WaPo/CNN/etc, pro-videos, whatever), I doubt that they can just switch to a "reputation" type of model.

Fine for small blogs who don't make much money from ads anyway, but won't work for pro-site with big teams and big expenses.


>If everybody blocks ads on the things that are expensive to produce (The Atlantic's website, NYT/WSJ/WaPo/CNN/etc, pro-videos, whatever), I doubt that they can just switch to a "reputation" type of model.

Eh, I think that what value the newspaper houses will have going forward mostly has to do with their reputation, and how they can give legitimacy to a story or author, and how they keep the worst of the dregs out so that us consumers don't need to see them.

As for video news content, last time I was in the cafe with CNN that I frequent, the story (a missing white girl puff piece) was cut with shots of a video camera focusing on a computer monitor that was reloading twitter. I guess I'm not really a video news kind of guy, but I'm not really seeing how an enthusiast could do worse than that. Maybe I haven't spent enough time watching TV news to see the good stuff, but as far as I can tell, it's a wasteland.

Now, video entertainment? the commercial publishing houses still have that sewed up tight.


> Eh, I think that what value the newspaper houses will have going forward mostly has to do with their reputation, and how they can give legitimacy to a story or author, and how they keep the worst of the dregs out so that us consumers don't need to see them.

I'm not sure I follow you. How is reputation supposed to pay the bills? If the newspaper/site can't sell ads anymore, how do they make money?

> As for video news content, last time I was in the cafe with CNN that I frequent, the story (a missing white girl puff piece) was cut with shots of a video camera focusing on a computer monitor that was reloading twitter. I guess I'm not really a video news kind of guy, but I'm not really seeing how an enthusiast could do worse than that. Maybe I haven't spent enough time watching TV news to see the good stuff, but as far as I can tell, it's a wasteland.

Sure there's tons of crap, but that goes for everything. 90%+ of anything is crap, including books, etc, but what about the good part? How do they make money on reputation? That's what I still don't understand. If you are a consultant with a blog, that makes sense, it drives other business. But if your main business is content creation, how does it help if nobody can sell ads and very few can make a living with high subscription fees.


>I'm not sure I follow you. How is reputation supposed to pay the bills? If the newspaper/site can't sell ads anymore, how do they make money?

there are all sorts of ways to earn money from reputation, some being more shady than others.

One path is the public broadcasting model. accept donations from people who support the work you do, and the low cost of distribution becomes an advantage rather than a disadvantage. (would this be sustainable without the government support that NPR gets? I don't know. I'm given to understand that we may find out shortly.)

Is there a conservative equivalent of NPR?

There are all sorts of other ways you can transform reputation in to money. For corporations, the line between buying advertising and giving to charity is quite blurry; there are all sorts of underexploited opportunities along those lines. Sure, people block banner ads, but the 'paid for by corporation X' link or announcement? I think that can create real credibility and real goodwill. My company has spent more money supporting things I want to be associated with than on banner ads because I think it's a more effective way to advertise.


I agree that this can work for some things, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree on whether it can work on anywhere near the scale that ads work on.


Rewarding companies that behave or provide a valuable service is "voting with your wallet", which is the backbone of capitalism.

By using an ad-blocker, offensive websites become less annoying.

Let me put it into context: for every website featuring offensive ads you can find well-behaved websites with similarly or even better content (expertsexchange versus stackoverflow). By using an ad-blocker, you're rewarding the websites with offensive ads or business models - your traffic is still valuable as (for example) you may pass links around, or they may just serve you with commercials hidden in the actual content.

Personally, if a website bothers me that much with ads, then I stop using/reading it. Made me find better content too. That's why I won't be using an ad-blocker any time soon.


I don't consider exposing myself to ads to be a payment. It's more like getting some sand in one's eye, or being stuck in a queue. It's an irritant, a distraction, an annoyance. I loathe animated Flash ads, and that disgust infects my perceptions of brands associated with them. I have never bought anything via a display ad link, ever. To be frank, I almost believe I'm doing the advertisers (in contrast to the content providers) a favour by not letting their ads into my consciousness.


You're taking that statement too literally.

By giving traffic to an ads-based websites, you're generating revenue for them even if you block their ads.

Even if you're not paying them directly, that's "voting with your wallet" in my book.


What about terms of use for sites where they specifically disallow the use of ad blocking software?


I'd take terms of use more seriously if they were presented as something resembling a real contract with a choice to accept/decline, e.g. they showed me an up-front page with the terms, and made me check that I agreed to them before letting me view the site. Obviously sites don't do this, because they would lose a bunch of readers who would just close the window.

I don't consider fine print buried in a footer that I "implicitly" agree to to be an actual contract.


Such as?


That's the exact reason I don't use an ad blocker at all. I use the internet with such frequency that I know what is an ad and what is not, and as a result I am pretty much ad-blind with or without an ad blocker. It's been years since I've clicked on an adsense ad for example, but I don't use any adblockers because they provide essentially zero benefit to me but I know they take away a lot of benefit from other people (the people that make money off the ads and use that revenue model to provide free content).


However in this case the missing free lunch may be for anyone with an expectation of making revenue off ads, rather than the people who won't even notice when site X happens to not update too often anymore due to decline in ad revenue, because sites A, B, and C came along and filled that attention gap nicely thankyouverymuch. (And if people do actually care enough to notice and care if site X stops producing, then X doesn't need ad revenue to make content creation profitable)


You do know that there is a special place in hell for ABP users?

On a serious note, I've also pulled out my hair waiting for TechCrunch to load. My solution is to hit Esc as soon as the main content is loaded (or use RSS instead).




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