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AdBlock Plus will soon allow "non-intrusive" ads by default (adblockplus.org)
241 points by chaud on Dec 12, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 165 comments

It is unfortunate that many people commenting here didn't bother to RTFA. In particular, from the FAQ:

Are you stupid? Nobody wants this!

The results of our user survey say something different. Only 25% of the Adblock Plus users seem to be strictly against any advertising. They will disable this feature and that's fine. The other users replied that they would accept some kinds of advertising to help websites. Some users are even asking for a way to enable Adblock Plus on some websites only.


That page is the real article, linked from the first paragraph of the submitted article, which is more like a changelog.

Please also note that Wladimir has been talking about this for years and didn't suddenly get this into his head. From a 2009 post:

As I stated many times before, my goal with Adblock Plus isn’t to destroy the advertising industry. ... So the idea is to give control back to the users by allowing them to block annoying ads. Since the non-intrusive ads would be blocked less often it would encourage webmasters to use such ads, balance restored.


I've "read the fucking article", and my take-away is that Wladmir is, in effect, selling ads.

In return for some sort of consideration and a pledge to only provide "acceptable" advertising, Wladmir will unblock your ads by default in AdBlock Plus:

> We have agreements with some websites and advertisers that only advertising matching our criteria will be used, their ads will be unblocked then. We hope to grow our list significantly over time.

Given that selling advertisements runs entirely contrary to the purpose of "Adblock", and that Wladimir's incentives are now inversely aligned with the user's incentives, I imagine we're going to see the same descent into increasingly obtrusive advertising that you almost always see once an organization heads down this path.

Actually, Wladimir's incentives are now aligned precisely with mine - to provide a means for me to not have to see all the noisy, obtrusive crap but still support websites providing me with free content in general (note: this means whitelists are -not- sufficient for me, and blacklists would be overly irritating to maintain).

In fact, as a result of this article I've just installed AdBlock Plus for the first time since it now does, by default, exactly what I've always wanted in a blocking tool - and I appreciate as a feature the fact that it required exactly zero configuration to do so.

I think you misunderstand incentives. If Wladmir accepts money from advertisers, there's an innate incentive to accept more money from more advertisers, and to lower his standards for what makes an acceptable advertisement. He might want to support non-obtrusive ads, but the major incentive (money) is entirely contrary to that goal and your own preferences.

That aside, I wish to address the "free content" dichotomy (either we accept ads, or we lose free content ).

First of all, the content is not free; there are both tangible and intangible costs to you; advertising is funded through higher prices on the products we buy, and there are the intangible costs to being inundated with ads.

Second, advertising is surely not the only viable model. If adblocking were to actually succeed in undermining the web advertising industry, it would also provide impetus for the development of low-resistance web payment mechanisms, similar to the app stores and in-app purchasing that have revolutionized content purchasing on mobile devices.

In other words: 100% blocking of advertisements would not lead to the loss of "free" (but not really free) content, it would merely lead to the establishment of a more direct and efficient mechanism for funding that content.

I don't see any evidence that he's being paid to whitelist ads on various websites. It could simply be that the site operators are agreeing to meet certain criteria for 'non-annoying' ads, and will be de-listed if they breach that agreement.

You argue in absolutes. That's - difficult.

First of all: You can opt out of that feature with minor hassle. I usually don't like opt-in by default features, but here he has a point, imo.

Now - if you opt out, where is your problem with the change? If he would break future versions of AdBlock to force ads on you, someone would step up and make sure that there's an AdBlockBlock plugin.

Are you, by chance, using applications on the mobile OS of your choice that displays ad to gain revenue?

I'm not actually sure if you intended to respond to my post, or another one in the thread. I've only addressed incentives involved, and the inexorable conclusion of misaligned incentives.

Whether that results in Adblock plus plus or not isn't something I tried to address, though the eventuality seems likely.

> Are you, by chance, using applications on the mobile OS of your choice that displays ad to gain revenue?

No. Few apps of any quality push ads, as they're incredibly detrimental to the UX on such a small screen device.

Yes, I wanted to respond to your post and the subthread that you started with 'he is selling ads'. I think that gives your position away.

Now it's fine to be critical and to dislike that change, but I considered your 'he takes money (according to another subthread that's planned but not the case just yet) and that will lead to more and more ads being "okay"' too - simple.

Mobile apps w/ ads: Angry Birds on Android?

> Yes, I wanted to respond to your post and the subthread that you started with 'he is selling ads'. I think that gives your position away.

Well, the fact that he plans to financially benefit from displaying advertisements (or allowing them to be displayed) is key to understanding the alignment of his incentives: money for ads, insofar as his userbase will put up with it.

> Mobile apps w/ ads: Angry Birds on Android?

Haven't played it; I'd assumed it was a paid game. It's 99 cents on iOS. Unclear why it's free on Android.

I'd be really interested in knowing whether Wladmir benefits financially from these agreements.

Some users are even asking for a way to enable Adblock Plus on some websites only.

I'd actually use a blacklisting mode for ABP where I could use the regular lists, but only for selected websites.

I encourage people to also RTFS (read the survey). Because there's more to it than just "only 25% of the Adblock Plus users seem to be strictly against any advertising"--which Wladimir Palant gladly ignores:

* 43% (agree) to 70% (somewhat agree) believe ABP should block more ads

* 54% (important) to 82% (somewhat important) use ABP because they care about privacy. Yet they do not require the whitelisted parties to have "Do Not Track" support because they "are not yet in a position to enforce that requirement"--of course they wouldn't because the first thing they whitelisted are Google Ads which will never support "Do Not Track".

* his assertion that it needs to be default because the majority of users "never change any settings" is simply false: 63% of users already sometimes disable ABP all by theirselves on a website, 56% manage their filter preferences, 63% change the blockable items list and 60% adds or removes filter subscriptions.

Really, I think it's absolutely awesome that a software developer holds a survey to find out which way future development of an open-source project should go, but he might just as well saved himself the trouble if he's just going to ignore the data he doesn't agree with.

Finally, the result that "only 25% of the Adblock Plus users seem to be strictly against any advertising" is mentioned nowhere in either of the three posts about this survey. So there's no way to tell what question(s) this number is based on, what the alternative answers were or whether these other 75% of people consider SEDO domainsquatting ads "acceptable" or not.

Finally there's Wladimir Palant repeatedly asserting he doesn't actually have any experience conducting surveys, as evidenced by the lack of methodology (while taking a rather negative defensive heels-in-the-sand position towards anyone who questions him, or comments on the survey), and especially the nearly unreadable pie and stacked bar charts (only the two worst choices for pretty much any kind of data visualisation and they make Edward Tufte cry). And then there's the "mysterious" case of the non-English users that got a translated survey selecting the "I don't know/What is this?" option much more often! Gee ..

This comment says all I want to say in reply: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3342514

edit: This comment wasn't supposed to come over as rude, but given the downvotes and rereading it, I guess it probably does. Apologies.

your comment, being a link to another comment, added absolutely nothing to the conversation. therefore, it was downvoted. if you don't have anything to add, don't comment.

(and yes, i'm aware that this comment adds just as little or less to the discussion as its parent does.)

Beginning of the end. It's nice that the developers are giving users a choice, even if it's opt-out not opt-in. But AdBlock Plus is a tool to remove ads- that's it. And they're extremely good at it. The moment they become politicized and try to be "a tool to support small websites" or whatever nonsense, marks the beginning of the end.

The problem is that AdBlock Plus is becoming popular.

Advertisers are noticing it too. And it will become a whac-a-mole game, in which advertisers will come up with creative ways to get around ADP or publishers will just block users with ADP enabled, or just setup a paywall.

We are indeed tired of intrusive advertising. But some websites are good citizens and shouldn't be punished for the mistakes of others. It wouldn't be in our long-term interest.

For example - Reddit is a good citizen. It only has an image in their right toolbar. Many times they just advertise for other reddits you might be interested in, which is also cool. I even clicked it a number of times.

So why punish websites like Reddit for the mistakes of others? We shouldn't. Reddit provides a valuable service too and the developers working on it need salaries too. And there are other websites like Reddit, also good citizens. It is in our interest to reward these websites - this way advertisers will start getting a clue.

  * It's not becoming popular. It's about 1% of users.
  * It's trivial to get around. Other options would be for
    webmasters to give Adblocking users a watered down
    version or just serve them up crapply encoded
    videos/images etc
    If adblock ever became popular, webmasters would quickly
    work around it, and you'd have an arms race, with the
    webmasters winning.
  * Adblock probably blocks 50% of adverts. The other 50%
    people don't realize are adverts.

It's not becoming popular. It's about 1% of users

One percent of whose users? That fails to account for the audiences of specific websites. If it's 1% for all browser users, I bet you that tech related websites are seeing much, much larger percentages.

I don't think it's related to how 'techie' you are. It's more to do with culture.

Let's not pretend this is a "early adopter tech people know how to block ads, the masses will surely follow in time" thing. It's not.

You'd find similar massive disconnects if you asked who has a TV, who loves "Transformers" movies, and so on.

Frankly, I find that hard to believe. Tech people are much more likely to follow tech news and be informed of addons like ABP than the majority. If you look at the Firefox and Chrome adoption, for example, that certainly happened, so I don't see why would this be any different.

I'm not saying every tech people uses it, of course (I don't), but without data I think the existence of a strong correlation between the two is a fair assumption.

I just think anecdotally and based on content on here, that the majority are far removed from "mainstream". I'd expect people here to not hang out at the mall, watch american idol, eat at mcdonalds, own a TV, watch fox news, click on ads, and so on. The recent poll showed 65% or something to block ads which demonstrates what a niche/bubble HN is.

AdBlock filters and censors content. Personally, that's why I don't use it. I don't want to see a censored internet, I want to see it as it was intended to be seen. If that means I get pissed with a website doing intrusive advertising and never go back there, then that's a good thing, as it's good feedback for that website. There is more than enough choice on the internet which means I will go to websites that play nice.

Adblock usage has been around 1% for the last few years, so I don't see any sign it'll increase.


It's not becoming popular. It's about 1% of users.

The problem is that this 1% aren't evenly distributed -- some websites are inevitably going to have more Adblock users than others, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that some large sites (reddit?) are hitting 20%.

It's trivial to get around.

Being hostile to their users/customers doesn't seem to be working all that well for the music industry, and just adds to a general feeling of resentment. It is not clear that the result would be any different in another content industry.

Very true, but IMHO That was Reddits own making. Had they put up advertising at the start, they wouldn't be stuck with such an anti-corporate non-marketable audience.

I don't think you can compare to the music industry. Blocking all 'advertising', regardless of whether it's intrusive, useful, etc, is a stupid and naive move by adblock users. Not to mention bad for the free open internet. Thankfully though most people agree that blocking all advertising is not the way forward.

You are right, however if you love a website, you should tolerate monetization attempts, because websites like Reddit have costs to operate and can't survive otherwise (and if advertisement on a website is very obnoxious, then by definition you cannot love it).

Which is why I don't understand the "anti-corporate" attitude of redditors. I've seen few commercial ads on Reddit because they do a lot of self-promotion. They only have a single box in which ads happen. Those ads are also tasteful and relevant to the subreddits involved. Sometimes they are useful.

I understand being annoyed of ads, but blocking Reddit is a political statement. It's as if you're saying that you want all ads to be completely gone from the net. But seriously, the only general-purpose alternative that would work as a replacement are paywalls. I doubt many redditors have thought this through.

Which is why this move by the AdBlock+ developers surprises me - suddenoutburstofcommonsense (as Slashdot would put it).

Sometimes I wish PG had a few sub-editors that would go and ban people from having down-vote privileges. IMO you've been down-voted only for saying something (arguably) negative against reddit.


It seems pretty clear that in general redditors are anti-corporate and tautologous that the crowd at reddit would be different if ads had been there from the start.

I think some of the same culture Reddit has, unfortunately spills over to HN. But what do I know....

"...a watered down version or just serve them up crapply encoded videos/images etc"

That is actually a REALLY good idea - serve up smaller, low resolution content and let me easily BUY the higher resolution content (as a download, not some kind of time-limited thing) via a micropayment scheme.

That sounds better than an ad-supported model to me. However, I disagree with the idea that webmasters will "win" this battle - filtering proxies will just get more prevalent, smarter and easier for the average user to install and run. All my LANs already use Privoxy and I'm toying with enforcing it via Group Policy / WPAD / PAC.

I don't think micropayments will ever be a viable alternative to advertising. The internet started free. The cat is out of the bag. Most people won't pay for access to websites.

The distinction between ads and content is one that is ridiculously easy to close if needed.

The only reason that adblock works on a good number of adverts is that they're usually served from an external source. If you serve them from exactly the same place the content is coming from, and make no distinction between the two, then filtering becomes more problematic.

Ok, where are your references for these statements?

I'm especially dubious of the 50% figure.

This is the beginning of the beginning for me.

I've never used AdBlock despite being aware of it from the start because I've always felt it breaks the economics of the web. If it becomes a tool to weed out the bad apples while not punishing the rest, I'll actually start using it.

You could always a) white-list pages where you do not want ads to be blocked and b) decide on the ads to block yourself.

Yeah, that's true, but the less I have to think about the issue the better.

I totally agree. It doesn't make any sense from a marketing/branding standpoint. The company is called "AdBlock" not "SomeAdsBlock".

Lots of people still have no clue about this company. How will new users perceive it moving forward?

Think of it as "block of ads"

This is basically what happened to Readability.

Stick a fork() in it. It's done.

It is a tool for blocking ads but is there a reason why it should be the nuclear option of block all ads everywhere, instead of a block the ads users want blocked, leave the ads the user wants left. If anything this just makes the tool more usable and configurable.

I don't think there's anything wrong with being a little socially considerate. Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.

But I guess Jedi are still allowed to speak absolutes, if not think them. Anyway, I'd rather see an option for an in-page popup asking to donate to the arbitrary website you're on, with AdBlock as an escrow where site owners can collect their donations.

Edit: just saw https://flattr.com/ linked below. The problem with their execution (unless they do this already and I missed it) is that they don't stick a flattr button on every site. They should do this, and if a site isn't registered with them alert the donating user of the fact. If the donating user cares enough to contact the site owner in question they can sign up and get their money, otherwise at the end of some period it goes back to the user.

Edit2: Ah, looks like they do have an unclaimed feature. Yay! Everyone who uses the excuse of allowing ads to support the site should use flattr and make a direct known contribution instead of an unknown one. https://flattr.com/unclaimed

One of the "non-intrusive" ads on the whitelist are ads on sedo domain-squatter pages. That really says about all I need to know about how thoroughly he's vetted the "non-intrusiveness" of these ads.

That's exactly the kind of "useful content" that I think most users would be happy to see killed off by ad-blocking - companies that buy up domains which used to have actual content on them because their owners let them lapse and then stuff them full of ads.

You're making a distinction between judging ads and judging the advertiser.

Sedo may be a crappy company, but their ads are not intrusive (no popunders, no auto-play videos).

When a domain doesn't exist I get redirected to Google search and can find something relevant there. Thanks to Sedo I get a page full of spam (or until the Adblock change, an emtpy page) instead. I'd call that intrusive.

That's subjective - please note that.

If a domain doesn't exist, I don't end up on any site. In fact, for me it's natural to see either "Nope, doesn't exist" or ~something~, even if it's a squatter. Redirecting requests for non-existing domains would be far more distracting and insulting for me.

I understand that there's room for both and for discussion, but please understand that your use case is not 'the one'.

I think you misunderstood me: The redirect is done by my browser because I want it to be done. I could just as well set it to "not end up on any site" like you prefer.

My point was that domain squatting sucks. Both our expected outcomes (Google search, no page displayed) get replaced by some page full of ads for very vaguely related topics.

I am actually working in my free time on creating a database of such domain squatters and on better ways to combat them ;-)

And I think it is clear he made a deal with Google, with or without monetary compensation I do not know.

Please slap me with proof that I'm wrong, I so wish to be wrong.

Guilty unless proven innocent?

Google's text ads certainly aren't intrusive.

I thought about that before commenting. And yes I was being unfair to him.

But still I stand by previous comment, it needs to be said and from his blog entry and reply to inquiry in the comments section, the collaboration between him and ad providers is clearly implied and if true, conflict of interests is a glaring problem.

Depends on their content:

An ad for a local garage? Fine. But I would class "Mom discovers new TEETH WHITENING solution! Don't listen to your DENTIST! CLICK HERE TODAY!" to be pretty distracting and intrusive.

Those ads are usually not allowed on the networks they run on. They're often posed by affiliate's as the original companies have long since been blocked. Unfortunately finding the article on this is harder then finding a real teeth whitening product...

Maybe you're way too easily distracted and should solve that issue.

Edit: Come on... life is full of distraction. When you go shopping do you shut your eyes in case you see "SALE AT PENNYS!!!", or do you just ignore things that don't interest you? Jeez

Maybe Mozilla encouraged him in this direction, since they're friendly with Google?

I don't know how friendly they are now, given Chrome and Google apparently declining to renew its payments to Mozilla that were a big chunk of Mozilla's budget.

Citation needed

Is Googling that hard? http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Search-Engines/Google-Mozilla-Still... or https://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9222404/Update_Mozil...

> Confidence is good, because there's no understating the importance of the deal for Mozilla. The search deal with Google accounted for roughly $100 million of Mozilla's $123 million in sales for 2010. That's a whopping 84 percent.

The Googling I did, as well as your quote, seem to disagree with your assertion. You say that Google have apparently declined to renew the deal, while those two links say that we don't know, but (per your quote) it's likely that they have. The fact that I couldn't find a link which conclusively states that either party chose not to renew the deal is why I asked for a citation.

Gee, thanks for explaining what you wanted the cite for, the part of my comment that presupposed the most in-depth knowledge of the issues and so is the least likely for any random commenter to drop a snarky {{fact}} on.

That made it very easy for me to understand which claim you were questioning, and so either correct myself or provide further information.

Sorry about that. My comments aren't all winners.

One of the authors, Ares2, gave some details on how it works technically. https://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8872&#...

There is a whitelist, mentioned in the FAQ, which lists a few companies which made it there: https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules.tx...

Additionally (but the FAQ omits to mention it), a business partner of ABP can obtain a key - adding <html data-adblockkey="XXXXXKEYXXXXX_XXXXXSIGNATUREXXXXX"> to his page, which will whitelist the content.

The main author Wladimir Palant then replies to the transparency concerns raised on the thread about this solution:

"Adding each domain name to the list individually simply wouldn't have been possible. The implementation is pretty complicated to make sure that this feature doesn't get abused - only one company can use this filter (because they have the corresponding private key) and we have a contractual agreement with them concerning how they can use it."

"We hope that the demand will be high :)"

That is incredibly interesting. That essentially boils down to "make ads that don't piss off users, or be blocked".

I think this is a viable truce between people who hate ads and people who make ads. The only people who suffer from this on-going war to increase the snr of the Internet are website owners themselves.

I read that as "Make a contractual agreement with us or be blocked".

The contractual agreement is mainly "don't piss off users, and we WILL enforce this if you fail".

I asked the author to know if this would be a source of revenues for Adblock, and why they did make this a default choice rather than a yes/no question:

1) Does AdBlock developers get, directly or indirectly, any benefits from a third party because of this change? (Including, but not exclusively, money/donation/jobs/whatever by an entity supported by ads like Google, continued inclusion in the Chrome store, etc.)? Or any negative consequences if the change wasn’t implemented?

Wladimir Palant: I don't think that we get anything yet but we indeed hope to get some income this way to make the project sustainable. This doesn't mean that paying us is the requirement to be added to the exceptions list - the requirements a formulated here and they will probably become more precise as we gain experience (suggestions are welcome). As to Google: no, they have nothing to do with it. We didn't talk to Google, we didn't take money from them, there is no conspiracy here. We did look at Google Ads as a typical example (unblocking them is the most common request we get yet most people lack the knowledge for that) but they don't meet our requirements at the moment. Google's search ads are a different thing and they can meet our requirements depending on how the website configures them - and we did add an exception for them on one particular website.

2) If the goal is to allow people who would like to see ads to see them, why not have asked if people wanted to see them (ie, neutral “yes/no” question), rather than pushing a default setting which shows those “non intrusive” ads?

Wladimir Palant: We made some bad experience when asking people to make a decision, quite frequently people would ignore the question on the first-run page for one reason or another and then wonder why Adblock Plus "isn't working". In fact, that's the reason why the first-run page was reworked - rather than asking, we now subscribe people to a filter list automatically and allow them to revert the decision easily (simplifying Filter Preferences dialog was an important requirement for that). It's the same with "acceptable ads" - asking people to make a decision when it might be a wrong time, when they don't know what we are asking about (I tried to keep the explanation page short but it certainly isn't) etc. isn't going to work well. Instead we focused on making opt-out as simple as possible at any time.


> We made some bad experience when asking people to make a decision, quite frequently people would ignore the question on the first-run page for one reason or another and then wonder why Adblock Plus "isn't working"

...sooo, instead you default a feature that WILL make people go "it isn't working!!!", really?

I am sorry, this is way too much polit-speak and shows that they have just become too big, too popular. But this should change sooner or later now.

I use AdBlock on Chrome (which is fine, coincidentally). When it's installed, you get one question: do you want Google's text-only ads. This is less broad than what AdBlock Plus is suggesting, but it's of similar intent.

It works. I have no complaints at all. If I ever want to block those ads, I can just check a checkbox.

If AdBlock Plus also offered a choice when installed (I don't know if it does now), it would not be an issue at all. If they instead hide the option away, a lot of nontechnical--and probably some technical--people will be confused about why the behavior changed.

I think that the ultimate quality of the change depends on exactly how they handle the UX behind.

As for the intent and general idea, I support it entirely. As others have said, I do not hate all ads, just annoying, distracting, loud, obnoxious and sometimes vulgar ads which some websites employ.

A footnote: AdBlock for Chrome is a completely different project created by Michael Gundlach (who also created AdBlock for Safari). I happen to know that he doesn't have any deal with advertisers; he just thinks that users should be able to allow non-annoying ads to be shown.

From their FAQ on the subject:

>Starting with Adblock Plus 2.0 you can allow some of the advertising that is considered not annoying. By doing this you support websites that rely on advertising but choose to do it in a non-intrusive way. And you give these websites an advantage over their competition which encourages other websites to use non-intrusive advertising as well. In the long term the web will become a better place for everybody, not only Adblock Plus users. Without this feature we run the danger that increasing Adblock Plus usage will make small websites unsustainable.

Part of me is extremely disappointed ABP made this change, but part of me knows there's got to be some compromise between absolutely no ads and annoying, intrusive ads. Not every website can offer a pay service. I'm happy they're making this change with small website owners in mind, and I'm also happy they're allowing users to turn off all ads by going in to settings.

Why does there have to be a compromise? Please don't take this as some sort of flame bait. Instead it is a serious question about why some advertising must exist and be tolerated.

Why does there have to be a compromise?

Running a website costs money. Some people also want to make profit, but that's beside the point. Micropayment solutions at present are sadly lacking - especially for international audiences. Don't forget also that you and I are a technical audience; I know at first my mother thought that websites got a split of her ISP bill when she viewed their pages. So advertising bridges a lot of these gaps.

Instead it is a serious question about why some advertising must exist and be tolerated.

I don't believe anyone is saying that you must tolerate advertising :-)

So ... why not integrate a micropayment solution into the adblocker extensions. Bootstrapping problem solved!

I don't believe advertising itself is necessarily evil, and it provides an easy way for website owners to fund operations. You're provided a service for no monetary cost but, in return, you must requite some of your focus to an advertisement. This seems fair to me.

There is no answer to why advertising must exist aside from it being the best answer we have to a growing problem of who's going to pay for the Web. I'd rather have a few ads than fork out money on a package-basis a la cable channels.

I very much doubt that this is the best answer. We are using a model that pre-dates the Internet to cover the expenses of site content. Given how unpopular it is for the readers of print publications and viewers of television, it seems a mistake to consider something so obtrusive the best available solution. While I don't as yet have a better solution, the fact that no real research into alternatives has been done makes me believe that there has to be a better available model.

Nearly every website would happily have a pay wall if advertising didn't exist.

If the majority of people with internet access preferred to pay directly for every website they use, advertising wouldn't exist. But they don't, so it does.

I think many people would be happy to pay if the payment method was easier and less intrusive. If there was a method for sending a few cents for a pageview without a credit card or permanent account, I would use it , constantly. Such a payment method does not presently exist, paying for stuff is hard and there are fees and fixed costs severely limit making it easier.

> If there was a method for sending a few cents for a pageview without a credit card or permanent account, I would use it

What about https://flattr.com/ ? It seems to be exactly, what you're looking for but haven't really taken off.

On one hand, I applaud this. Ads aren't evil, and rewarding ads that play nice would benefit everyone involved. And, it's just an option that can be disabled.

All that being said, I see this ending badly for ABP. It won't be long until someone creates a version that blocks all ads again by default.

"It won't be long until someone creates a version that blocks all ads again by default."

This version will still be able to block all ads. By does it matter if it's by default?

Because the vast majority of people never stray from defaults, and will think that it's just bad at doing it's job.

Does that really apply to most ABP users?

Yeah, I would assume so. Its name certainly implies that it's meant to block all ads. If something called AdBlock was letting through some % of ads, the Occam's razor explanation is that it's just buggy/imperfect, since it's actually a hard problem to get 100% coverage of anything.

How are those 'non-intrusive ads' selected? Is there a global white list, which is maintained by the author?

Just recently I had this idea that there should be a independent organization or work group which maintains this kind of white list, and websites would gain a badge if their ads are non-intrusive and polite. There would also be an agreed standard which all ads should comply to gain the badge.

This way it would be easy to implement in ad blockers, and it would be clear to website visitors what kind of ads they would see. Being an independent organization, the motivation should be just to make web a better place, not to benefit a few specific companies.

From https://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads :

* Static advertisements only (no animations, sounds or similar)

* Preferably text only, no attention-grabbing images

* At most one script that will delay page load (in particular, only a single DNS request)

I decided to dig up the whitelist to see who has already been unblocked: https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules.tx...

All German sites and then... Sedo..

Edit: and it would have helped for me to read further down; someone has already posted this!

Rick Patnel, creator of AdBlock Plus died two years ago. I don't think he would have approved this new development.

Just saying.

According to wikipedia, Rick Petnel is the creator of EasyList and ABP was created by Michael McDonald.


I think he would have. He added the multiple lists feature, and the new non-obtrusive list is effectively just another list. The end user is free to use it or not use it, by default will simply be display those ads instead of block them.

The vision of the initial creator often needs refinement to achieve its highest impact.

"We have agreements with some websites and advertisers..."

Uh huh..

Cannot upvote this enough. I think that's actually the whole point. ABP was always "impartial": all ads were blocked. Deciding which ads are blocked, and which ones aren't is already a subjective decision. BUT, knowing that you can make agreements with ABP folks to get your ads through is insane. Makes all other arguments moot.

I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until the point where an actually intrusive ad (according to their criteria) gets the green light based on making a payment. Until then, it's just conjecture.

As a publisher, I say bring it all on. The reducing effectiveness of display advertising online has forced publishers to find different, and more profitable, models. Some have gone the 'payola' route (tailoring content to advertisers' whims - whether discree or not), and others, like me, have started to produce products that can be directly promoted within our content.

Happily, these techniques are far more profitable, better tolerated by users, and not affected by ad blockers at all :-) So block ads all you like - the agile publishers will adjust and the ones relying on garish display ads will go under.. which means more opportunities for the agile ones.

The ads are distracting (period). That's why I use blockers or disable javascript, but the latter breaks many sites these days.

Some tech sites (/.) have ads that show attractive women with large breasts wearing tight t-shirts. The ad is printed on the t-shirt so I'm forced to stare at her boobs to read the ad. That's distracting to me. I can't focus when boobs are popping-up in ads.

So I want all ads disabled. Even pure words with no pictures can be distracting while glancing at a page if it has the right words in it.

I'm sort of torn on this.

On one hand I do want to support sites that I like and I know that for many this occurs through advertising.

On the other hand, I am honestly confused by what the web looks like with ads. Its been so long since the very first thing I did on any new computer, vm, or even non-technically inclined friend's machine wasn't to install ad block.

In many cases this wasn't really to not see the ads, but rather to make things appear where I'm used to seeing them. While I probably wouldn't find the "non-intrusive" ads themselves annoying. What I would find annoying is that the removal of the ads in many cases changes the layout of the page. All of a sudden what used to be the top right "module" maybe with recent posts or something is now the middle right module with an ad above it. Or even worse, some div that i'm used to seeing 'above the fold' now requires scrolling to see. All of a sudden my intuition and learned behavior for the interface has changed.

But your initial decision was to turn off ads, in opposition to your desire to support sites you like, which led to your current notion of where things should be on the page.

> But your initial decision was to turn off ads, in opposition to your desire to support sites you like, which led to your current notion of where things should be on the page.

Basic sanity determines where things should appear on the page. Ads, by definition, try to draw your attention from useful content. If they provided the content you wanted, we wouldn't call them ads.

Allow me to offer a different take on this. I spend a lot of time looking for companies who will fabricate printed circuit boards for my small business. So much time, in fact, that I often see ads for circuit board companies.

And these are actually welcome! I click through, check their prices, and sometimes in the course of doing so I find good deals on other related products (business cards, shipping materials, etc.) How else would I know where to find some of these things?

I'm not saying that all ads are good, but that I sometimes benefit from companies advertising to me for services which I am actively looking to purchase. Sometimes, when I don't hit an exact search query, ads are indeed content I want!

Only by chance, though, not by design. The ads you see don't represent the most relevant results; they represent the results provided by someone willing to pay for an ad. Given the choice, I'd prefer to see faster-loading pages and no extraneous paid listings rather than seeing a sea of ads in the hopes that one of them might prove relevant. And thanks to Adblock Plus, I have that choice.

Regarding companies who can do small-run circuit board fabrication, I highly recommend Screaming Circuits: http://www.screamingcircuits.com/ . They do both fabrication and assembly. Also check out Sunstone: http://www.sunstone.com/

Indeed and the reasoning was mentioned in another poster's reply to this thread. There are sites which are simply obnoxious in terms of their ad usage and I'd prefer to avoid it initially rather than opt-in to avoiding it on each site. There is, of course, always was the option to disable ad-block on a particular site but the reality is that I frequent lots of web sites, many from when I was younger and didn't care at all about how the site made money thus would never consider allowing the ads. Now I'm trained to not see the ads, not to say I can't change but I think the take away here is that the addition of ads, even if 'non-intrusive' has a significant impact on the UX of a site.

In no way trying to say my view point is 'correct', completely rational or that I'm the best 'web user' for dealing with it the way I have, but rather simply pointing out a contingent impact on the change from my perspective.

It should've been neither an opt-out nor an opt-in. Since it's a one-time notification, it should've explained the rationale behind this feature and asked for a decision. That would mean treating users as intelligent adults. Pre-selecting a good-deed option for them is annoying and insulting. I know that I don't like a good Samaritan behavior stuffed down my throat, so I would've gone and disabled this feature just as a matter of principle (even though I agree it is reasonable).

> Since it's a one-time notification, it should've explained the rationale behind this feature and asked for a decision. That would mean treating users as intelligent adults.

I disagree. This is the cowardly and helpless solution to the problem: When in doubt, throw Yet Another Dialog or installation wizard page in the user's face.

Programs should confidently do Something Sensible by default, and instead let the 25% who want something different be able to easily change it.

Less choices makes more happy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice:_Why_More...

Huh? Cowardly? Are you serious?

If I am installing Ad Block, I quite naturally expect it - surprise! - to block things. It is double more so if I am already running the AdBlock and just going through an upgrade. So for all intents and purposes the Sensible Thing to do is to opt users out by default from this new feature. This however would provide zero traction to the feature as it needs an exposure. Now, do tell me how the hell one would let discerning users know and opt-in without throwing yet another dialog at them?

You are yelling angrily. Stop that. It is annoying.

> Huh? Cowardly? Are you serious?

Yes, if the developer knows at least 75% of the user base needs and wants A, but still gives the choice between A and B, it is just because he is afraid of dealing with the noisy minority afterwards.

> If I am installing Ad Block, I quite naturally expect it - surprise! - to block things.

And it does block things. Whether it blocks all the things, blacklisted things, non-whitelisted things or whatever is another discussion.

> It is double more so if I am already running the AdBlock and just going through an upgrade.

A completely valid concern. The behavior of an existing product should not change during an upgrade.

> So for all intents and purposes the Sensible Thing to do is to opt users out by default from this new feature.

No, that would be an Insensible Thing, because 75% of users want the other thing.

> Now, do tell me how the hell one would let discerning users know and opt-in without throwing yet another dialog at them?

There's nothing to opt-in to, because the partial block isn't a "feature". It's now the core functionality of AdBlock.

The Hell A) The Block Everything feature could be available in happy colors in the first page of the options.

The Hell B) The AdBlock plugin blurb could say "The entire purpose of AdBlock is to block the "bad" ads [feasability of deciding badness is another discussion]. If you want to block all ads, consider installing NameOfTheAdBlockFork instead."

A compromise: Make the choice for new installs, ask for upgrades.

I think this is great! I've got no problem with reasonable and discrete ads, particular if it helps support sites I use and like. I'd prefer not to have to run an ad blocker at all, but frankly I've been forced into by the number of obnoxious ads out there. My personal pet peeve are ads that play music, sound or video. Damn it, I don't need the tab I loaded in the background to suddenly start blaring some obnoxious ad pitch at me! :-(

No reason for me to enable ads, as long as they have a huge impact on my privacy. I don't intend to send a list of every single site I view to Google.

Make a sane ad system, where ads are proxied through the same webserver as the remainder of the page, and I would have no problems with activating them.

If ads were proxies through he content site, the site would still send your ID to Google to personalize the ad, but you would be unable to block it.

If ads were proxied through the site, the site would have no way of giving Google the information that would allow them to tell you from Adam. The entire purpose of externally-served advertising is cross-site tracking and correlation.

I suspect most people who install adblock plus, aren't the kind of people who click on ads. So I suspect, even if (theoretically speaking) blocking ads was made impossible, the net impact would be much smaller than imagined.

This will just impact those people who had it installed for them, and who happen to update. I doubt that will be the saviour of many small sites - if adblock plus was killing them in the first place that is.

I know Google Adsense pays out a bit for "impressions", just displaying their ad on the page. I'm not sure how much revenue this really generates for very small sites though.

Google Adsense doesn't pay at all for impressions ... at least I haven't ever received money from them just for impressions.

the standard adsense doesn't, but the publishing network does (with doubleclick)

They do a lot of CPM now.

Theoretically speaking, blocking them is completely impossible. Websites aren't spam, they have structure and content, and ads are obvious. The ads have similar sizes, positions, elements, cookies, yadda yadda.

This is about money.

So what is a good alternative to AdBlockPlus ? (that blocks everything and doesn't play these "non intrusive ads" games EDIT:adding ' by default.' ).


I did read the article and I know it is an option but making viewing ads of any kind opt in vs opt out is (imho) dubious. When the user installs an extension called ad-BLOCK plus, explicitly to block adds, just block them by default dammit and let any users who want to, opt out selectively.

I also don't want a situation where a user has to opt out with every upgrade and so on. Nutshell, I don't trust the devs anymore,who seem to be selling out the users.

I don't know much about ad networks or javascript so on Hacker News I am asking for alternatives, from those who are experts. Why the downvotes? wtf?

If AdBlock Plus goes evil, another option might be AdBlock (not sure what they block, but it is an alternative.)

And I think both extensions are open source so somebody could just fork it.

Er, the article says it's just an option that's enabled by default, and that you can disable it if you want.

Did you even read the article? AdBlockPlus blocks everything - just not by default.

The problem I have with this is not the display of some ads; it is the tracking that advertising networks perform. I would love to support some smaller sites, but not at the expense of my privacy.

In that case, maybe ghostery.com is more suitable for you.

For all the people complaining: this will encourage websites to use less annoying ads.

I cannot tell from the announcement whether ABP is now getting paid to allow some ads, but if it is, that looks like a textbook conflict of interest. Wikipedia has a list of ways to mitigate such conflicts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_interest#Ways_to_mi... , maybe adopting some suggestions from there would help?

Also I'm a little confused by the talk of "making small websites unsustainable". Do ads really make small websites sustainable, or is the mention of "small websites" just an applause light?

It depends how you define "small".

My company runs a few content sites that are primarily monetised through advertising. They're not small as in "some guy updating them in his free time", but they're small as in a few paid members of the editorial team, a few million pages a month. For us, yes, advertising is the difference between us being a profitable company and us not being a company at all.

That said, a.) we are doing OK before this adblock change and b.) our adverts don't fit what are being defined as "acceptable" here. We do make sure we never get too obtrusive, we don't do automatic playing videos, we don't do roadblocks, we don't do anything with sound, we don't do anything that covers content or expands when you mouseover... but some of the banners we serve are flash with basic animations. We, and the majority of our users, are happy that this is a good way to advertise without letting it become an annoyance, but we wouldn't make it onto ABP's whitelist.

I don't run AdBlock Plus, but I do use FlashBlock, mainly to cut down on fan noise.

I also have a few entries in my /etc/hosts ...	googleads.g.doubleclick.net	ak.p.openx.net	tags.expo9.exponential.com	resources.infolinks.com	resources.intextscript.com	kona.kontera.com
Google ads was simply responding too slowly. Too many pages were not rendering correctly or at all, pending a response from them. That's probably the fault of web authors not embedding the Google ads correctly. But not to worry. Now I just see error IFrames.

As for the others, the damned double-underscore spam links were getting to be just too annoying while reading text — especially the ones that would react to mouseovers.

Not sure about the first half of your question, but on the second part, it would probably depend a lot on your definition of a "small website" (as well as abp's)

Personally, I've always used AdBlock not because I hated ads, but because I hated distracting ads. In fact, I remember when I first installed AdBlock being sad that text ads might get blocked as well. I especially want to support those website owners who wish to have ads but are respectful to their readers by not making them distracting ads.

Regardless of if money is changing hands as a result of any agreement, I think this is a great move that will be able to positively affect the web advertising landscape.

Is there any risk of a bidding or lobbying war between advertising firms trying to coerce the list maintainers into marking their ads as "non-intrusive?"

Sounds like a great idea. I'd love to allow ads like The Deck and Fusion ads, but my Ad Muncher (on Windows) practices a scorched earth policy where everything is hidden. If I had my own site, I would probably not even be able to see them.

This sounds perfect, and it's more in line with a cogent policy of rewarding good ads and punishing bad ones.

All I can think is... whatever happened to the good 'ole days of top quality advertising? There was a time, I'll admit - before I was born, that the population was excited for the next Coca-Cola ad. It was artistic and unique. It was something to look forward to. What happened to those days, and how can we get them back?

In the age of the internet, you have to grab the viewer's attention in mere seconds. A lot of marketers don't know how to do that without being annoying.

That still happens with Super Bowl ads, and occasionally with clever billboard campaigns.

Good work & excellent timing. I've been relying on Flashblock to disable the most intrusive ads, but Apple's success in killing off Flash has meant that non-Flash ads are getting more intrusive. I will be installing ASAP.

The current non-intrusive ad list so far: https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules.tx...

I wonder how to get on that list.

It looks like all German web sites, except for the last one.

! Text-based search ads on suche.netzwelt.de ! Static image ads on t3n.de ! Text ads with small static images on focus.de ! Text ads on Sedo parking domains

In other words, they're not whitelisting Google or any other major web sites, so the vast majority of people won't notice, even with the white list turned on.

Wow, lots of doom and gloom on here. As someone who doesn't use AdBlock Plus (not particularly to support websites, but that does factor in) I think this is move should be applauded. They continue to serve their customers with the same product they always have (an adblock list manager) and might be able to pull in some money from it as well.

The obtrusiveness of the ads they let through will directly affect the number of users they have, so their interests are still aligned with their users. But they are simply more aligned with the 75% who don't blanket oppose all ads.

Honestly, I'm not sure what the big deal is. Ads that do not distract from the content I would not mind being displayed.

Notice, however, "display" does not equate to "I'm actually looking at it, reading it, and then clicking on it", my mind's own ad blocker will happily ignore it.

I am not someone who believes in website ads as no one seems to have gotten rich advertising their product with website ads; I am not opposed to putting them on my own website, of course, advertisers are welcome to pay me, I just don't see the point in becoming one.

The list of exception filters in question -


Someone got a call from Google :)

On a serious note, this is a great move. I will finally install the plugin because I do believe advertising, if done right, keeps the internet free (as in beer).

Very good move, this way it is a deterrent for sites that use "bad" advertising, and not an economical problem for sites using ADs reasonably.

I mostly block ads due to speed, usability, and privacy concerns, and if this results in advertisers delivering nicer ads that aren't privacy risks, then I am perfectly OK with that. I think a lot of people agree, and mostly block all ads because it's not yet technically feasible to block only the worst. This should change that.

Also don't forget security concerns. Ads are a common attack vector when new exploits surface.

I'd also like to be able put any ad that doubles+ the load time of a page in a penalty box for a day.

if they're doing what they're saying they're doing (only one DNS request allowed) your concerns will be met by this product. most modern display ads use many, many more than that.

Unfortunately it's still not available on Chrome (at least the beta install for it didn't have it?).

I think this is a good step in the right direction though I'm not sure entirely if its a great idea to have the developers decide, maybe a wiki-style process?

I already exempt some small sites that I want to support, mostly webcomics. Looking at their current list of exemptions, this change won't make me see any more ads than I already do. I have no real problem with it.

All I can see is confusion about what is deemed "non-intrusive" and by whom.

This is unfortunate. It is not the obtrusive ads I find most annoying, those I can filter out mentally with no difficulty. It is the non-obtrusive ads that masquerade as content that I dislike.

This sounds like a good change to me.

As someone who never run Adblock for the past two years, I can't see how is this a big deal. IMHO, if what you want is a distraction-free reading, Readability/Reader is the answer. Maybe it's because the kind of sites I often visits, but situation on ads has improved a lot in the past few years.

I've clicked a lot of ads in the past year, some even led me to actually purchase something. Recent ones I can recalled from memory are Parallels Desktop $20 off deal (bought second license for my notebook), GraphicRiver's bundle pack (which led me to know the site and bought a ton more stuff from GR) and few books via Amazon affiliate links.

Apart from privacy concern, I can't see why someone always think ads are evil.

anyone who is using AdBlock, will be changing that option right away...and since this is obviously a money grab, you can bet that option gets turned on every time they release a new update

"you can bet that option gets turned on every time they release a new update"

That's a rather unfair assumption.

All you have to do is look at Facebook and privacy settings.

And here there'll actually be extra revenue at stake, so there is more incentive

You're ascribing Facebook's tendencies to someone else. Why?

I like this. I've been toying with the idea of turning it off so that my favorite websites can get a bit of revenue from it, but I like this option even better.

Who decides which adverts are "considered not annoying" ?

Just another data point that's quite happy with this. I only installed an ad blocker after years of happily accepting the advertising because a few sites I didn't want to stop using started running ads that were actively annoying and / or offensive. Most sites aren't a problem though and I'd happily enough see their ads, and a refinement to permit this more easily would be good for me.

So much crying and boo-hooing over having to change a config setting? Can we imagine for a minute what the Internet would be like if everyone used an ad-blocker?

It would be freaking awesome!?

First of all we don't have to imagine that scenario. Going back to the beginning of the internet there weren't really any ads to speak of. Secondly, using the Internet Wayback Machine we can actually see what that internet looked like back then. And because the Wayback Machine doesn't save most images, you can get an even better feel for what the internet would look like if everyone used an ad blocker.

So where would the websites whose business depends entirely on ads get their revenue from? It's not like companies are blindly going to pay them to host ads which they know no one is going to look at. Perhaps you would prefer to pay an Internet fee? Of course an Internet with no ads seems great, but it's not something that would be sustainable, at least not the Internet we know today.

There are some sites which I feel are worth paying for, and others (particularly news sites), that which I don't yet I'm still willing to wade through the non-obtrusive ads in exchange for keeping it free.

If you're asking me that question I have to say that for the most part I don't care about the ads one way or the other. In the second paragraph I pointed out that we don't have to imagine your scenario because there was a time with no ads in the past and we have a method to see that history.

Perhaps you would prefer to pay an Internet fee?

I feel dumb for needing to point this out to you but...I already pay an internet fee. Everyone I know pays a fee to access the internet.

Maybe your Corporate Overlord Internet Dream can't be sustained without ads but I know my internet can. I connected for years to BBS's that were free and maintained by volunteers. To believe that the internet can't function without ads is shortsighted.

Hah, looks like they got bribed by google to start running ads. Never mind that ABP breaks google's business model David and Goliath style. FF should add ABP or similar as default and destroy 20% of google's ad-revenue, that would be the day. (just in case you forgot the 2038 cookie thing & all of googles other privacy abuses.)

Why would FF do that? They get funded by Google.

To be fair, it would ruin the business model of Google's competition too.

That would be terrible for the internet.

Somewhere somebody is updating a product/marketing guide to add an example of how something can be mind-bogglingly counter-intuitively named. A poster boy for how to do it wrong.

Where is AdBlockPlus2? The fork?

While the title is as usual, crap and misleading: - i think adblock makes the hard, but right decision - ill switch it off

And finally, I do think ads are evil because done wrongly - spammed. (Even thus the decision is right, because I also accept that our society works like that and DNT needs to be respected.)

I do not recall ANY ads that brought true value on the Net to my purchasing needs.

They're bad.

Examplification: I browse review for the latest phone. It looks cool. If ads aren't blocked, I get hundred of "buy this phone here and there" "get cables for the phone" yada yada and some random totally unrelated ads.

I don't care for any of those. Why? Because If I wanna buy the phone, accessories, or related stuff I'm not just going to click on the first link and click buy. That's dumb.

I'm going to go to a price checker online, and decide which one has the best price/shipping/quality/rating/etc ratio!

So instead, if the ads would link me to that, and refer the review site if I do buy, I'd be much happier.

Of course I realize this cannot be because, the comparison site would be corrupted eventually, as we're talking big amount of moneys here.

My 2cts as usual. ;-)

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