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Oh look, this again.

1. The internet was already a pretty neat place before online advertising became ubiquitous. There was lots of good content online, lots of curated databases of information, lots of good reference sites. If a bunch of blogs gradually dry up and blow away because they can't be profitable enough through advertising anymore, fine. They'll be replaced.

2. AdBlock is not destroying the internet. The internet was destroyed by advertising. AdBlock became popular as a direct result of the proliferation of websites that were 20% content and 80% advertising, fluff, and nonsense. It became popular as a direct result of blinking, jumping, moving, popping-under advertising elements. It became popular as a direct result of users having their browsers (and machines) compromised and infected by ad networks that did not vet their advertisers correctly. Content owners were perfectly willing to let the administration of advertising be somebody else's problem, and when that somebody else decided not to do their job either, users got screwed and they turned to AdBlock.

3. AdBlock does not, to my knowledge, block most donation requests, so I don't get where he thinks it's hypocritical that AdBlock is donation-supported.

4. AdBlock also recently rolled out a by-default "non-intrusive ads are OK" setting for all Firefox users. This led to quite a bit of controversy, which I think mostly illustrates just how sick of advertising a lot of people are. But, it stuck. So, now you can't even argue anymore that AdBlock is terrible because it's blocking all of your revenue.

5. Users may not be entitled to your content, but you aren't entitled to your users' attention, either. For instance: more and more sites lately seem to be using a Lightbox on page load to ask you to sign up for their stupid newsletter, or follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook. As a content owner, you're certainly allowed to do that. And, users are certainly allowed to install an extension that will block that, too.

6. I happen to agree that NoScript does more harm than good, as a practical matter, given current standards of web development. However, again, I fully understand why it exists: a huge number of attempts to compromise web browsers, track users against their will, or otherwise abuse their trust, is done through Javascript. Back when compromised Wordpress websites were a serious problem, every single one I saw -- not a small number, cleaning them up was something we did at the time -- used Javascript in the footer of one or more files to attempt to hit the browser. NoScript protected against that.

7. I didn't think Ghostery would be a very big deal, but I installed it a while back and have been completely flummoxed at the sheer amount of stuff blocked by it on websites. Loading a site and seeing a 20-deep list of social network buttons is merely visually annoying; having them all load their own little scripts and other bullshit is enough to incentivize me to block them.

AdBlock, Ghostery, and NoScript aren't ruining the internet; uninhibited commercialism and a complete lack of respect for users is.




I was also astonished at how many ad profiling companies Ghostery revealed.

It's not necessarily targeted advertising that people should be concerned about; it's gradual profiling by companies that have the potential to affect insurance premiums, mortgage applications, and a whole host of other real-world interactions with corporations who profile using data sourced online.

This article from 2010 in the WSJ is revealing; it hints at how companies have long been itching to use online data -- such as which articles you read -- to categorise populations into neat pigeonholes: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870464860457562...


True, before this article I had no idea how much tracking is done. I knew it is done, but did not realize the extent of it. Now after installing Ghostery I see that I'm being tracked by 10+ different trackers on almost every page I visit (except HN which has just one as it seems :) So this article helped me a lot, though not in the way they intended.


Any complaints about NoScript are completely unfounded, (unless they are addressing that stupid update page). Why on Earth would I want you to use full percentage points of my CPU time to shuffle divs around and report back to the server everything I'm doing with my mouse?

I feel the same about Ghostery. There are a lot of Facebook/G+/whatever buttons on websites and I don't particularly want them to be collecting data points for every page I see.

Blocking ads does suck for websites that are being respectful about it; but surprise, there's a whitelist for that.

I checked MakeUseOf with adBlock off and there are ads in the middle of the article, which I think is disrespectful to the readers. Maybe respect is a two-way street?


>The internet was already a pretty neat place before online advertising became ubiquitous.

It was already a very neat place when it tolerated almost no advertising at all.

Under the restrictions on "commercial use" that were in place until 1993 or so, although it was allowed for a job hunter to post his resume (to a newsgroup like ba.jobs whose purpose was to connect job hunters and employers), looking for contract work rather than permanent employment was not allowed because it was considered advertising of consulting services and consequently a commercial use.

I liked the internet of 1992 a great deal. I couldn't use it to buy nutritional supplements or shoes, and I couldn't use it to reconnect with old friends from high school (since those old friends were not on the internet) but it was a better tool for learning than the community college I was attending at the time.


Really? You were happy without search engines, without google maps, without Microsoft or Apple download pages, without any social sites, without wiki? Maybe you were, I was not.


Well, gee, did you take me to be advocating that the internet should go back exactly to where it was in 1992? How about putting a little effort into finding an interpretation of my comment that doesn't make me that dumb / perverse?

The context of my comment was advertising. In particular I was presenting evidence against the OP's assertion that things like Adblock Plus might ruin the internet.

In an alternate universe in which advertising had never been introduced on the internet, someone would probably have made maps available through the internet by now (Nokia had online maps for their phones that were probably (I am actually not entirely sure) not supported by ads), Microsoft and Apple would have download pages (why would they depend on ads?), and all the wikis I care about (the original wiki, namely http://c2.com/cgi/wiki, Wikipedia and various small or smallish wikis created by specialized communities) would have developed more or less like they actually did.


Wikipedia and OpenStreeMap would actually be possible since they are not commercial...


I so agree with all this. I'm not a Noscript user but I install Flashblock, Adblock, Ghostery on all my computers and i find the web to be an awful experience without at least Adblock.


As demonstrated by the existence of all these things, ads are hardly uninhibited commercialism - smart business doesn't piss off users.


Thank you. You saved me some typing. :)


i wish i could donate some karma right now... very good answer!




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