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Google paid AdBlock Plus to get its ads whitelisted (translate.google.com)
426 points by cowchase on July 5, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 233 comments

I was thinking about this further, and while it comes off as fairly irrelevant to start with, it's actually an extremely bad thing.

In essence, this has set up two tiers of advertising: those we have paid for white list privileges, and those who haven't. This is heavily in Google's interests as they are the only advertiser powerful enough to get by with only text adverts - nobody else has a platform like Google search where text only adverts are enough to overcome costs and provide viability.

By using Adblock Plus as a weapon against non-Google adverts, Google is removing the ability for other players to compete on level footing. It's very similar to the idea of paying AT&T for prioritization for Google traffic, and it destroys a lot of the foundations that the web is built on. It definitely crosses into 'evil' territory for me, in the same way as paying AT&T to slow down access to Bing would be.

While it's just an add on, it's a bad precedent to set.

It's interesting that people are upset about Google being able to pay to get their content around certain barriers, when this is essentially what Google AdWords is: a system for advertisers to pay to get their content displayed in prominent locations rather than relying on position in organic search. And yet nobody really takes it seriously as a Real Problem.

Not trivializing your complaint, btw... just pointing out that using money to get your message to the forefront is kind of the point of advertising itself, so the fact that Google is paying to get their advertising displayed is kind of... meta?

I'd love to have a discussion on HN about the necessity of advertising in the Information Age. I think we would all like to live in a world where purchasing decisions are based on reviews from people that have actually used a good or service, and I would think that the ubiquity of the web has made this kind of crowdsourced intelligence quite feasible.

Does advertising provide a valuable service beyond subsidizing information flow? If not, are there alternate viable strategies for subsidizing information flow, such as Wikipedia's donation model? Is a post-advertising world possible, or even desirable?

I don't want to live in an ad-free, review-only world myself. Advertising and reviews serve two different purposes. The one gets the word out about a product or service and lets the creator point out why their audience would like it. A review's purpose is to let others know if the product or service lives up to the advertising and lets you gauge how good a fit a given product is in relation to competitors or on its own.

We need both. Advertising can be unethical at times but its no reason to do away with it all together. Reviews cAn be flawed too.

As far as AdBlock goes, I'm still uncertain of why people dislike advertising so much to begin with. Okay, they collect information about you. I understand the desire to not want to be tracked like that. But lets imagine for a moment that advertisers are collecting your information but they're not doing anything unethical with it. They're just trying to show you add that are relevant. In that situation I really don't care if I see advertisements online at all. I also think the definition of unethical comes into play here too though. For me, advertisers sharing my data with each other is something I don't see as unethical. Others I suspect do. Living the lifestyle I live, I can't think of anything advertisers could know about me that would be at all harmful. I suppose everyone's mileage may vary.

My question is, in the end, what part of online advertising is so distasteful to everyone? Is it the data collection or is it seeing the ads?

>The one gets the word out about a product or service and lets the creator point out why their audience would like it.

I've heard this argument countless times but I'm fed up with it and I want to call it out: the constant and worldwide glut of Coca-Cola advertising suggests this is not primarily what advertising is about.

Advertising never tells me about a new product that I care about and I'm not already aware of: in an age when I can research what I like on the internet and I hear about interesting new products through curated content such as this forum.

If you can, please come up with a better argument in favour of advertising.

Until then, I will continue to believe that modern advertising is perhaps the biggest waste of our greatest minds and resources.

Coca-Cola advertising isn't product advertising, its brand advertising. The intent is to keep their brand in your mind when you are shopping so when deciding between two essentially equivalent products you will lean towards the one you remember better. This sort of advertising tends not to have a strictly measured ROI in my experience since its hard to measure the "value" of wrapping a subway car in Jameson ads.

Product advertising is advertising a specific product and the ROI on it is usually closely measured when it comes to channels that can do that such as banner ads. While you are quite well informed and get information about all the new products you care about via other channels, most people are not hence the need to make people aware.

Without making "the masses" aware you end up with product usage/growth spreading virally which while it might be "better" is a lot harder to predict or model production levels or possible ROI on an initiative. For example, the Taco Bell Doritos Taco would have probably become popular after a while but that would lengthen the payback period for redesigning the menus/training staff/etc, alternatively you could do partial rollouts but that defeats the economies of scale.

While its not perfect, or anywhere near, advertising does serve a useful purpose and until the economy changes to not reward advertising initiatives we will sadly have to deal with it.

Well, in their defence, Facebook appear to have made an attempt to measure brand advertising: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2013/03/...

Its an interesting approach, but that might just be because I'm a data nerd.


> Advertising never tells me about a new product that I care about and I'm not already aware of.

Even if it does that, it does so by interrupting me when I'm doing something else - which is not acceptable to me. Considering that we have search and social recommendations, advertising is not "beneficial for the user".

A very nice consequence of rejecting interruptive ads is that marketers won't need to collect data about me and build huge behavioral profiles. I'll come to you when I need you. And when I knock on your door, you would be certain that I am interested in talking to you. So there is no need to track/profile me.

Sincere question: do you feel that you, personally, have gained useful information from advertisements? Was it about a new kind of product or service that you didn't previously know about, or just a brand that was better than the ones you currently knew about?

Your point about product discovery is well-taken. In the case of discovery of new product types, it seems to be a valid issue. For product types that a person already has knowledge of, however, I would think it would be preferable to skip the ads and simply compare reviews. In other words, if I'm searching for a hammer, looking at ads for hammers will not give me the best information.

I do wonder if there are other ways to enable product discovery besides paid placement, but I'm not sure.

I think that's a difficult question for most people but I can honestly say yes. Sometimes its hard to tell what exactly motivated you to buy a certain thing. My first car was a Volkswagen Jetta. The advertisements made me aware of the brand and its personality. That sounds superficial but its a real part of the appeal of a lot of products. It's hard to be zen and take your ego out of buying decisions. Sometimes it can be one of the few differentiating points of a product. For me, a car is made to drive from point A to point B. I don't care about performance or most tech specs. So to me, without the advertising there's no difference between a VW, Chevy, or Mercedes. They're all cars that'll get me where I want to go and all 3 have some model that looks nice to me. So I identified with the brand personality of VW and chose it. Reviews came into play in the one area where the ads were, to me, misleading: reliability. I heard great things about the reliability of VWs from reviews and that clinched it.

I learned about DigitalOcean from advertisements. I saw the ad, read the site, and their advertising convinced me to try them. They were much newer at the time so I didn't have anything else to go on and never heard of them before. To me, for my preferences, DO is a strong competitor to Linode but what kept me from moving my important projects to DigitalOcean was the reputation of the Linode brand. So its hard to separate the advertising from other information from other sources.

Apple's "it just works" campaign led to me getting my first Mac. I identified with the issues they brought up in the ads, switched, and found out I really did like Macs better. Now, Macs aren't without their own set of problems so when it comes to what would make me choose a Mac over a Windows PC, those intangible, marketing-speak little things is what gets me.

A lot of people try to act like they're above all that but I can't believe that. I know we all hate to think we're swayed by advertising because we want to protect our individuality. I feel like I can still be an individual even if I buy into some marketing.

I see vary few advertisements and as a result I don't buy much stuff. Sure, I have missed out on say video games I would have enjoyed playing, but at the same time it's also removed a lot of disappointment and stress from my life. Generally, when I walk into a store brands mean nothing to me so I make some random choice and then decide to either stick with it or try something new. And honestly most big brands are good enough that there is not much difference between them so avoiding the cognative overhead of playing all those advertizing jingles as I get groceries is a great thing.

I also tend to buy brands that spend less on advertizing because they end up as a better deal for your money.

You're kind of implying that being advertised to means you automatically end up buying more than you want it need. I think that can be true but not necessarily. I see tons of advertisements but buy very rarely. For example, I see tons of advertising for tablets. As a developer and the owner of the iPad 1 I don't feel the need to upgrade at all. Mine still does what I want it to. When I find it becomes a nuisance then I'll be glad for the ads. Clothes are another example. I happen to buy somewhat expensive clothes. But I've found what I like (via advertising) and I stick with it. I don't buy more when I see there's a sale, only when they get worn out.

My point is that I don't relate to the stress that people feel from advertising. I'm definitely swayed by it but only when it lines up with a real desire I have. The desire comes first and the advertising shows me the way toward fulfilling it. It doesn't both create and satisfy my desires. Well, not always. For example, after I saw iOS 7 I totally wanted it. Luckily I will but if I had to pay for it I might. Now, I'm wondering - did the advertising create the desire for that or did I just see something I liked and it happened to be a good match? Is there always a difference?

Perhaps the point is...you have an ipad 1.

Thanks for the honest answer. Definitely food for thought.

> (Advertising) gets the word out about a product or service and lets the creator point out why their audience would like it.

The problem is that it does this by interrupting users when they were doing something else. Ads, except those that are shown when the user is explicitly performing a search, are not "relevant" enough - because they ignore the user's context. When I'm reading guitar tabs for a song, I do NOT want to see ads for guitars. Interruptive ads can never be relevant enough.

From my point of view, search and social recommendations are enough to hear about new products and services which might be useful to me. "Interruptive advertising is beneficial for the user" is just advertisers trying to give an ethical justification to the fact that they are basically being jerks.

The second part ("lets the creator point out why their audience would like it") is easily solved by maintaining a landing page. Be accessible when I search and have enough information for me to learn more about the product.

(I had written about this on my blog a few years back: http://www.nileshtrivedi.com/search-results-are-the-only-rel... )

Is it really fair to complain about ads not being relevant enough when we're all doing so much to not allow them to track us?

Relevant ads or privacy, choose one.

I am saying that ads can never be relevant or useful "enough" (because they interrupt). Product discovery is now solved because of search and social recommendations. So there is no need to give up on privacy.

Perhaps. I think it's a naive point of view, though.

Search is terrible still, the other day I searched for "cheap mechanical keyboard" and the first two results were basically pure spam. Even then, only the first 5 results get any decent traffic and results on the 2nd page get almost none.

Social recommendations work only if your product is either really damn good or you play unfair and game the system. People are designed to not care about things they haven't heard of before.

There's a saying in selling that says a person needs to see your brand/product 7 times before they're ready to buy. As a new person on the capitalist market I don't see how I'd do that while playing fair and without going bankrupt in the mean time.

But that has nothing to do with this. Reasons don't matter here. If someone is using Adblock Plus, it's because they made the choice to use their technical knowledge to not see ads. There's no question here that by doing this, Google and the extension maintainer knew full well that this was going against user wishes.

They are a distraction. I feel annoyed when they appear. If I want looking at a particular web page and 30% of the web page is filled with useless/unnecessary ads then I'd be annoyed big time. I have been using internet since last 9+ years. And I haven't found a single useful advert since then. I think that would be the case with most of us.

You said advertising can be unethical at times. Can you illustrate your point with an example of advertising being ethical ?

Advertising is fine so long its an opt-in model. Advertising that goes in the physical mailbox has for quite a while become an opt-in model (Sweden), and that system is working fine. Companies with "membership" cards has been also using a opt-in model... for as long as I has lived. There people accept advertising in trade for special offers.

Sending advertising to people who actually want advertising is perfectly fine way. Sending advertising to people who do not want advertising, has ended in intrusive, tracking, bandwidth wasting, and CPU hogging mess that people want to escape. If I see advertisement being thrown in my face against my will, I instantly gets a dislike for what ever company/product being displayed. I would never, EVER, click or buy it.

Does advertising provide a valuable service beyond monetizing other things? My guess is mostly, no.

In a world with search engines that know everything about you and can recommended great products and services for you, there's no need for wrong incentives in the form of money to be part of this recommendation process.

And regarding brand advertising : some marketing people say that advertising do offer people some psychological value that gets implanted in the product., which makes them enjoy the product more. For example the axe deodorant ads causes some people to wonder whether using axe did helps with attraction, which changed their internal experience.

The problem again with such claims is the perverse incentives that money play here, which we see in the effects of advertising on female body image.

Really the only case I think ads are usefull are in cases they are used by non profits or the states to achieve public goals, like anti smoking ads.

"I think we would all like to live in a world where purchasing decisions are based on reviews from people that have actually used a good or service, and I would think that the ubiquity of the web has made this kind of crowdsourced intelligence quite feasible."

Would you really like all advertising to move in that direction? You should realize it's impossible to know if a person really owns and likes a product or it's just a sponsorship. Nobody would be trusted anymore.

That's a good point to raise. Two questions:

Would you agree that opinion manipulation in online reviews is already taking place?

If so, would reducing the presence of explicitly-labelled advertisements result in an increase in covert opinion manipulation?

I'm pretty sure there are already issues with regard to the trustworthiness of online reviews. But if we define the value of testimonial by impartiality, then ads are pretty worthless by default. It could be better to rely on sources that at least have the potential of impartiality. I admit this is definitely a complex issue.

I can also understand the ethical argument that it's better to allow sponsored content because otherwise companies would resort to more illegal methods. It's sort of like the drug legalization argument: companies are going to market anyway, so we might as well focus on harm reduction. But it still feels suboptimal in this case. I guess I'd prefer if we focused on preventing misinformation rather than a strategy of appeasement.

Yes and yes. That's why I often look not at reviews themselves, but about questions that asks about problems of the product. Reading the answers you can tell if a problem is real or not, removing the possibility of fame questions about non-existing problems, in case this strategy ever would become widely used.

I think the damage this causes is far greater than setting up two tiers of advertising.

This is a shining example of how those with money are able to influence the system by corrupting the very mechanisms that were implemented to protect the "regular people" in that system.

If Google had paid a politician to exempt itself from certain laws, we would call it bribery. For the exact same reason, we should take issue with them paying Adblock Plus to whitelist their ads.

I think this is exactly reversed. Adblock Plus is helping people to be exempt from certain "laws", and Google is paying Adblock's extortion fee.

Remember, people have no inherent right to the content they are consuming it, they are getting it because Google is presenting it to them with some expectation that it will benefit Google. That benefit is usually revenue through advertising, in the cases where it's present.

The TV networks tried to make the exact same argument when they sued TiVO, but got shut down by the courts.

Bottom line: nobody can be forced into seeing ads.

I can't find anything about the Tivo case being settled. On the wikipedia page for commercial skipping, the only court case is one with ReplayTV, which didn't finish due to the company going bankrupt.

I can't seem to locate this lawsuit. Do you have information on it? I'm interested in seeing exactly what the decision was.

And no ad blocking service can be forced to block all the ads you want them to.

I'm finding your argument to be a bit on the ridiculous side. There are no "laws" that state that you should consume ads with the content. You are free to ignore ads in any way you like.

I can't find these "laws" that you mention, do you have an URL?

"Laws" was in quotes to insinuate it may not be an actual "law", beyond the implied social/moral/ethical/(legal?) contract you enter when retrieving content from a site.

Beyond the ethical considerations, which I think can be clear but aren't always (depending on the type of advertising, such as pop-unders) I'm not convinced there aren't legal considerations as well, which is why elsewhere in this thread I asked for more information when a lawsuit was referenced.

Beyond pop-unders and similar advertising that I think can be clearly defined as outside the bounds of acceptability (see my other post that mentions pop-unders for details), I think this is very clear. When media is presented to you under the condition that you view their advertising, whether inline or before access, refusing to do so clearly removes your rights to the content as well. You have no implicit right to the content, only what they grant you, and under their conditions.

I have yet to see an argument otherwise that sways me in the slightest.

P.S. To be clear, I also occasionally do and have bypassed ads, circumvented authentication to content, and used copyrighted material without right. This doesn't negate my argument, it just makes me a somewhat of a hypocrite when I do so, which everyone is at some point in their life. I just refuse to bury my head in the sand and act like I'm entitled when I do, and I feel bad about it (to varying degrees, depending on circumstances) when I think about what I'm doing.

The bad precedent was when Adblock introduced the concept of "acceptable ads" in the first place.

I think the bad precedent is that AdBlock didn't make this distinction in the very beginning. I believe that requiring ads to be interspersed in the presentation of the information is a right of the entity presenting the information as part of an implicit contract through your request for that information.

I believe requiring authentication, or requiring performing some prior action (such as watching/seeing an ad for some time period) are also examples of this.

I do not believe pop-under ads are subject to this. They try to force behavior (viewing of an ad) after the implicit contract is concluded (you are done consuming the media presented) through altering the state of items outside the presentation experience.

I think with the proliferation of ad blocking software, we've only allowed bad behavior to go unpunished more often by continuing to use resources that behave in irritating ways because a large portion of people get to skip the irritating behavior entirely. I think this has the dual negative consequences of not causing feedback for the behavior to reach the originator, as well as causing them to increase the behavior to capitalize more on those that are not immune to it.

I believe you're wrong. There's no implicit contract, and I'm free to view or not view anything I feel like. I'm also free to refuse to use my resources (bandwidth) in the furtherance of your flawed business strategy (ads)

I'm a good citizen, in that when I'm offered the opportunity to fund resources I enjoy through means that don't involve advertising I do. Often this comes with extra benefits to entice me. That's why I pay for Reddit Gold, and Strava Premium.

If you as a business owner have decided that advertising is the only way you wish to fund your business, I'm not going to feel like I'm slighting you by refusing to participate any more than I would by muting my television and getting up to grab a snack when commercials come on.

> I'm free to view or not view anything I feel like

You are, and that's your choice. You always have a choice whether to pay attention or not. To have a third party remove that choice entirely, I believe, is different.

> I'm also free to refuse to use my resources (bandwidth) in the furtherance of your flawed business strategy (ads)

Why is it flawed? It has worked for print media for over a century. It's worked for television for decades. It continues to work, to various levels of success, on the internet. I think the onus is on you to prove that it's flawed (it may be, but I don't think stating it like fact is enough for it to be accepted in this argument).

> If you as a business owner have decided that advertising is the only way you wish to fund your business, I'm not going to feel like I'm slighting you by refusing to participate any more than I would by muting my television and getting up to grab a snack when commercials come on.

> If you as a business owner have decided that advertising is the only way you wish to fund your business, I'm not going to feel like I'm slighting you by refusing to participate any more than I would by muting my television and getting up to grab a snack when commercials come on.

Those situations aren't equivalent, and I think that's the crux of my argument. The television ads are still there, you choose to ignore them, but must still deal with them. Would you feel the same way if someone recorded those shows, removed all the ads, and redistributed them for free without consent? What if ads could be removed automatically by a box in your home (beyond Tivo's fast forward, or ReplayTV's 30-second skip). Are your answers to those different in any way?

> There's no implicit contract

Is the problem that it's implicit? Would it make a difference if all page loads went to a landing page that said that said "This page is funded by in-content advertising. If you choose to opt-out of this you are not licensed or permitted to view this content." and required you to click to accept make a difference? Because at that point there IS a contract if you continue, and it's not implicit.

Are you saying that avoiding ads is fair game only if you use the resources that Nature has given us (i.e. your brain noticing them and moving your attention elsewhere) while any other "3rd-party" resource that helps in avoid ads is a violation?

Just apply it to every other area of you life and see how it goes.

> Is the problem that it's implicit? Would it make a difference if all page loads went to a landing page that said that said "This page is funded by in-content advertising. If you choose to opt-out of this you are not licensed or permitted to view this content." and required you to click to accept make a difference? Because at that point there IS a contract if you continue, and it's not implicit.

Would you agree, that as long as it is implicit I'm free to filter out ads in any way I like? And use any tools that can do that for me automatically?

And made it opt-out instead of opt-in, making a sizable amount of its users unkonwingly accept it.

Of course, some of us still consider "acceptable ads" to be a big, big oxymoron.

In the long run, acceptable adds will make advertising more "user friendly", while removing adds altogether makes them more aggressive and deceptive, because user does not expect for them to be shown. Control better than ban.

nobody else has a platform like Google search where text only adverts are enough to overcome costs and provide viability

Without endorsing the 'payola', something to bear in mind that Google chose to go with text-only ads instead of allowing advertisers to control the format. At the time people thought they were crazy and that text-only ads would not last very long for them. Turns out google was correct and its critics were wrong. Any of the other major search providers could have done this, but they didn't try it - and as a result their brands became hopelessly diluted by the garish advertising content, instead of the ads being part of the branding.

I manually enable adwords and google tracking on things like Ghostery and other software because adwords is the only platform that I don't find obnoxious and ugly.

I see the point you are trying to make, but Google has no special privileges here. They had to submit their ads to Adblock Plus' public forum for review to determine that their ads conform to the 'Acceptable Ads' guidelines -- just like everybody else. What is encouraging to see happening is that the success of Adblock Plus is actually reforming the entire (online) advertising industry: just make your ads non-intrusive and informative and you can ask for your ads to be whitelisted. I don't quite agree that Google is the only platform where such non-intrusive ads can work. Take for example the Reddit community, where ads are also non-intrusive and therefore whitelisted by Adblock Plus. I guess you can say that Adblock Plus has effectively created a marketplace bias the favors acceptable ads. But isn't that the whole point? The economic model of the Internet is allowed to work, but you and I are not accosted by truly intrusive and annoying and unethical ads. It's a perfect balance.

You really equate paying a third party to reduce their negative impact on your business to paying a third party to start negatively impacting a competitor?

One takes advantage of market conditions their benefit, the other changes market conditions to the detriment of the competitor.

You can just twist the words a bit then - instead of Google paying for Bing's traffic to be reduced, they could simply pay for their traffic to always be sent first. Not affecting anybody but Google then, right?

Also, sponsoring Adblock is changing the market conditions. Adblock can use the money provided by Google to make sure any non-Google ad is blocked more efficiently. They can also advertise their addon better, provide better support, etc. Google sponsoring Adblock directly affects Adblock's ability to block the adverts of other companies around the world.

To me, this is changing market conditions in the same way as my AT&T example. Google paying AT&T enough money for priority could allow AT&T to build new 'Google only' cables that Bing couldn't use. Google paying Adblock enough money to whitelist their ads could allow Adblock to grow enough to block Bing ads on a large percentage of user's browsers. Very, very similar.

> ...they could simply pay for their traffic to always be sent first. Not affecting anybody but Google then, right?

As long as others have the same option, what's the problem? The article specifically says "Google is not the only company." (at least the Google translated page does).

> Also, sponsoring Adblock is changing the market conditions

Sponsoring? Maybe you can parse the original article in the language it was written, but I cannot and the translated article doesn't seem accurate enough for me to make assertions as to exactly what Google is and isn't doing, or more specifically, what Adblock Plus is or isn't doing when Google, or possibly many others, give them money.

> To me, this is changing market conditions in the same way as my AT&T example

How is this different than Google taking out a full page add in the New York Times? In both cases Google is paying a third party which does not have complete control of the marker for some advantage (exposure in the NYT case). It's not as if they are paying for nobody else to be able to do as much (and even if they were, that's not a problem as long as a competitor could outbid them for the same right)

So is Google's altruistic alternative to find ways to sabotage Adblock so it won't block anyone's ads? To create their own adblocker that doesn't block Google ads? Or just to pay Adblock to go away and stop blocking all ads?

Is there any action that Google could take that would appear ethical?

I do see your point that other advertisers are unlikely to have "acceptable" ads because they rely on flash and images, but shouldn't they have to make themselves competitive if they want to maintain a level playing field?

If this pushes advertising further away from flashing, shouting, animated ads then it sounds like a brighter future to me.

Critical distinction, people freely choose to install AdBlock Plus. There are already alternatives, and the barrier to entry for new competitors is pretty low. This is unlike the ISP market, which is not meaningfully competitive in a good chunk of the world.

In my area, if Charter and CenturyLink both chose to de-prioritize Netflix traffic, that would be the end of it. I would have no economic alternative. But if AdBlock Plus[1] started showing me ads that annoyed me, I could just go download a different adblocker.

[1] I don't actually use AdBlock Plus. I use AdBlock for Chrome, which is a separate product.

The parent comment I think captures my own initial thoughts on the matter. If anything, it seems to me that the root cause of the issue is that AdBlock has the option for some websites to be whitelisted and allowed to show ads provided AdBlock deems them to be "acceptable" based on their own criteria. Even worse, this criteria includes whether or not a said website is paying them for the whitelisting privilege.

If AdBlock didn't accept payments in part of considering whether a site's ads are to be whitelisted, then Google or any website for that matter couldn't use their monetary assets to give them themselves an apparently immoral advantage over their competitors.

Well by funding, they are helping adblock. And, assuming its true that their(Google's) own ads are NOT blocked, it means adblock(and by extension Google) is negatively impacting only the competitors. So in this case, the comparison is very valid.

Obviously they(Google) can't outright put out an adblocker of their own, but if someone else puts it out and they support it, and it just so happens to whitelist their ads, you must admit its definitely worth at least questioning. Plus Google is not the stellar company it pretends to be, with the recent news about its tax evasion in Europe and PRISM participation.

> Well by funding, they are helping adblock. And, assuming its true that their(Google's) own ads are NOT blocked, it means adblock(and by extension Google) is negatively impacting only the competitors. So in this case, the comparison is very valid.

If you want to go by that meaning of "funding" then any use of a service is "funding" that company that provides it. While technically true, I would argue that most people would think "funding" to mean "provide capital to an entity without expectation of a service or item which that entity sells as a normal mode of business, and to use it in a different manner without explicit note of your meaning is to invite a misinterpretation of the facts, on purpose or otherwise. I don't believe that leads to rational discourse.

> Obviously they(Google) can't outright put out an adblocker of their own, but if someone else puts it out and they support it, and it just so happens to whitelist their ads, you must admit its definitely worth at least questioning. Plus Google is not the stellar company it pretends to be, with the recent news about its tax evasion in Europe and PRISM participation.

Of course it's worth questioning. But if someone someone states that paying a company to get a benefit yourself is the same as paying a company to cause a detriment to another, a lot of evidence is needed to back that up, otherwise we aren't questioning anything, we are making assumptions.

While I kind of agree with your point it's worth noting that Adblock Plus can still disable the non-intrusive adverts (in fact the second that you can't do that a new Adblock Plus will appear).

The ethics of disabling advertising and non-intrusive advertising are another thing entirely.

As long as their ads are not so obnoxious that I want to block them, I am personally ok with this.

Adblock was created because advertisers got greedy and took it too far, not because advertising is bad.

Quick ref to get rid of Google Ads (and some others too) on Adblock Plus:


Go to "Settings"

Find Extensions in the list on the left

Find AdBlock, select "Options"

Click the tab "Filter Lists"

Uncheck: "Allow some non-intrusive advertising"


Go to the Firefox menu in the upper left corner

Select "Add-ons"

Select "Extensions"

Find Adblock Plus, select Options.

Find the "Filter Preferences" Button

Select the tab "Filter Subscriptions"

Uncheck: "Allow some non-intrusive advertising"

For those curious, AdBlock Edge is a fork of ABP before they decided to add 'Acceptable Ads'.

And what is the point if you can just disable acceptable ads in Adblock plus? Doesn't it use the same list?

No, its a different list - I just looked.

Thanks for posting this. Much better than adblock plus I.e. Much faster and more moral.

And that's why I used adblock-edge as well :)

On the other hand, I'm really pleased to find that they're whitelisting some ads by default, although I'm disappointed that money factors into it.

I use ad blockers, because so much of the web is a hideous mess without them. But I'm somewhat conflicted about it, because I know that a lot of sites depend on ad revenue. I see this as a kind of collective agreement with advertisers: I don't mind adverts, but I don't want them flashing all over my screen when I'm trying to get stuff done.

I don't think that you have any reason to feel disappointed, unless you have donated a significant amount of money to Adblock Plus. And even then, just disable that feature.

After all that's the way Adblock Plus makes most of its money, needed to develop the browser extension, port it to new platforms, maintaining and hosting the filter lists (which by the way are also used by every other ad blocker). I doubt that if Adblock Plus wouldn't have done this step, it would have ever been ported to other browsers and platforms, and that the filter lists (as mentioned, also used by other ad blockers, like AdBlock), would have been that well curated as of today.

So I don't see anything wrong with that. Or does anybody complain, that most free Android apps show adds, and you have to buy the paid version, to get rid of them? No, everybody understands that this is the way they make money. The only difference in case of Adblock Plus is, that you don't actually have to give them money, but just have to disable a checkbox in the options.

By disabling that feature, he would block all ads. However, he did say that he wants to support sites who rely on ad revenue. I don't think supporting Adblock Plus was what he was really concerned about.

I might got his message slightly wrong. However white listing is is a feature in the filter list format itself, that is used ever since by every ad blocker. So you can include third-party white lists or maintain your own with every ad blocker, already before Adblock Plus introduced "Acceptable Ads" and its own white list.

The important point for me is that one of the major adblockers has enabled a whitelist by default, and is curating it to allow non-intrusive adverts. That can affect enough users to make a difference, which my setting up a whitelist myself wouldn't.

Can advertisers tell whether their ad has been blocked via Adblock, et al? Because, if not, you really shouldn't worry about using a blocker.

Yes they can.

Very true. Imagine every commercial entity that delivered something to your place - would plaster some sort of advertisement poster.

Completely unacceptable. I think the answer is a permission based advertising. have a button on every website that turns on Ads. this way engagement would be higher at least IMO.

I add the websites I care to the whitelist so they can benefit from the ad revenue.

Still shocks me that people on this site uses those lame extrensions (which are a security risk no less)


Save this hosts file in your house's router and be safely free of advertising, shock sites, tracking.... On ALL devices

With no added attack vector as with an extension and not limited to one browser in one device

How exactly are ad blocking extensions a security risk?

Blocking at the domain level gives you no control. What if you need to see what a site looks like without ads blocked? I have a few of my own content sites that use ads. By blocking outside of the browser I wouldn't be able to see what they look like to other users.

Because they could be updated and now your whole browser is pwnd.

This is how sites like Compete.com get their metrics.

  > Because they could be updated
So, this is a rally against all extensions? Expanding this argument, we basically get to a point where we don't trust any software:

  1. No more browser extensions.
  2. Want ad-blocking in Firefox? Request feature.
  3. Feature request denied.
  4. Fork Firefox.
  5. Add ad-blocking to Firefox fork.
This leaves us with a couple of issues:

1. The bar to adding functionality to a browser has now been raised significantly. With a larger barrier to entry, we will see fewer extensions for trivial things like 'adding collapsible threads to HN', which can make your life easier, but isn't worth a fork of the entire browser to achieve.

2. Trust. You still have to trust the developer of the browser fork that same way that you have to trust the developer of the browser extension.

>So, this is a rally against all extensions? Expanding this argument, we basically get to a point where we don't trust any software:

Yes. So DON'T expand it. The thing is, third party updatable extensions are far less trustworthy than Firefox.

This is true, but to only trust Firefox means that you only get features that Mozilla adds to Firefox.

> this is a rally against all extensions?

No it is a rally against extensions which have a non-risky (and arguably) superior alternative.

Risk is a gradient and cumulative. The more risky things you do, the more at risk you are.

Yes. As it always been for any software.

Host files: as secure as you can get. Whole network.

Browser extension: remote code exploit possibility. Probably not available for mobile. Trusting someone who takes money from Google...

FYI, on mobile, Adblock Plus and Adblock Edge (among others) are available for mobile Firefox.

For how many browsers?

And then they have even less community validation, rising the security tradeof even more

There's nothing different from any other extension, so what you're saying nobody should be using extensions in their browsers. Good luck with convincing people not to do it.

Well, I for one don't use any extensions with Chrome. And not even from security concerns. Just from lack of any interest to do so. Why should I? For some marginal utility?

I'd take it more average people don't use extensions either -- if they know what they are in the first place.

Well, Stallman browses the web by sending emails[1], so he still has you beat :)

But you must realize 99.999% of the population would never do that, and for most people extensions are vital and useful. So giving them such security advice is like saying "oh, personal security is simple - just never have any money and anything valuable and never leave home". Not very practical.

[1] http://www.stallman.org/stallman-computing.html

>Well, Stallman browses the web by sending emails[1], so he still has you beat :)

Well, I browse with Chrome Canary (and when it's in it's weird days, Beta), so I'm not any kind of Luddite.

I just don't see any extensions that are that useful. After all, we managed to get by without extensions in the "not using Firefox" camp for ages, until Safari/Chrome introduced them and we could get a taste.

To me they are more like the BS browser toolbars of yore.

>But you must realize 99.999% of the population would never do that, and for most people extensions are vital and useful.

Most people? If anything I'd say most people don't use extensions. From those that use a browser that doesn't support them, to those that couldn't be bothered or don't even know what they are.

Do you have any numbers that "most people" use extensions?

While I'd agree that many plugins have marginal utility, some like Firebug or Lastpass I find to be invaluable.

That's an exception. But I use Chrome, where the "Firebug" kind thing is already installed. If it wasn't, I'd install it as an extension too.

> For some marginal utility?

Yes, this is the point of extensions. Extensions are help you and others do things with the browser that the vendor shouldn't really spend time on. Approaching them with the idea that they're useless doesn't really help your argument.

For example, I once wrote a browser extension that extracts class calendar info from the school website and automatically syncs it to the calendar application of your choosing. It turned my class scheduling process from an error-prone 2 hour process to a 3-click 10 minute step. You can label that as a useless, marginal utility, but that's being facetious at best.

Disable automatic updates and review the code before installing any updates manually.

I agree with "disable automatic updates," unfortunately.

But "review the code"? You have no chance.

Although I don't do this on regular basis, but I happen to read many browser extension sources. They're mostly relatively easy to understand and contain no unconventional clever hacks or obfuscated parts. The only obfuscated code in most extensions are minified third-party libraries (like jQuery).

Won't say ABE's code is compact or easy to read, but it's fairly comprehensible and reviewing it in reasonable time feels possible. It is well possible that some tricky security issue will slip under the radar, but code contains no tricky math or crypto stuff where every single point is crucial for security, and spotting malware/spyware code should be possible.

Maybe I'm wrong about this.

This doesn't however block things like google ads inside Gmail, which ad blocker browser extensions typically can and do block.

Would you also be shocked if there are people who make no attempt to block ads at all? I would not be shocked by that, but I'd guess not blocking ads at all is a greater security risk than running ABP.

also people who don't try to mitigate the effects of Facebook iframes

Could you please tell a bit about that? What's wrong with them?

I use this but it does have the disadvantage of being difficult to disable when you are getting issues because of blocked ads.

I also use Fanboy's adblock list ( https://www.fanboy.co.nz/ ) in Opera which requires no browser add-on, it's a feature of the web browser (RIP).

I use a browser that blocks nothing and one that blocks almost everything. (when something breaks, sometimes it's easier to load it in a stock browser)

Many thanks for the hosts file. I always prefer a DIY solution as opposed to trusting others.

I'll pass this on.

it's useful to have extension if you want to disable it and temporarily see ads; also it's easy to whitelist ads on particular sites/pages - there are non intrusive and useful ads.

Combined with AdBlock, I use Ghostery[1], which is a nice add-on (Chrome/FF/Safari/Opera/IE) : it blocks any javascript from ads networks, but also from analytics, trackers, socials plugins (and more) , and also cookies from the same trackers. Everything is configurable per-tracker and per-website.

It's quite a must-have if you don't want to be the product on the Internet. And a good failover over Ad-block.

[1]. http://www.ghostery.com/

The Ghostery extension tracks you and sells the data to ad companies, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5897682

Agreed on Ghostery. I have been using it for quite a while and it seems to work well.

And don't forget to support the websites that you visit the most by whitelisting them.

Um, that's dumb unless you plan on clicking their ads. Seriously, just showing a CPC ad doesn't help them. Showing a CPM ad doesn't help much either if they are getting $5-10 CPM. You literally could just pay them $5 or $10 and be more valuable than whitelisting them.

Yes, and some sites do charge $5 or $10 for access or for additional features. But I'm glad the whole web doesn't work that way.

If a site can show they have a lower percentage of adblock users than standard, it's a boon for them.

If I am not blocking their ads, there is a chance I'll see something that interests me and click on it.

You don't need to explicitly state "I will click ads every day" to make it not "dumb".

Just to clarify, on chrome if you're using AdBlock (vs Adblock Plus), there is no such options. :)

Another alternative is blacklisting sites via your hosts file, which means it applies to all applications and not only the browser. Also, it works in any UNIX-based OS: http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/

I think it was immoral and dishonest to sneak in a whitelist feature into AdBlock, which is in direct opposition to the core product value. Imagine a firewall that whitelists certain networks. And background updates add more networks that bought their way into your machine. Not a product I'd be willing to use.

1. There was a user survey in 2009, whether users would like to have every ad blocked or would accept some ads to a certain degree. And the result was that around half of the users are fine with getting some ads: http://adblockplus.org/blog/adblock-plus-user-survey-results...

2. Adblock Plus has announced on their website that they have introduced "Acceptable Ads", and that it will be enabled by default: http://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads

3. It isn't even a secret that they get paid from larger companies, for putting them on the whitelist (they though have to conform to the guidelines for "Acceptable Ads"): http://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads-agreements

4. Plus the source code is open source, that everybody can read it: https://hg.adblockplus.org/adblockplus/

So Adblock Plus couldn't possibly be more honest and fair about its "Acceptable Ads" feature. If you don't like it, it's just 3 clicks to disable it. I don't get why lately, everybody is so surprised about thatfeature and feels betrayed.

The German media went completely insane over the past two weeks, and made a scandal out of that feature in Adblock Plus, which exists for quite a while now and was clearly announced and documented from the beginning by the AdBlock Plus Team, and can easily be disabled.

It's #3 that is evil. Unless there's a large print disclaimer sayong "notice: ad networks pay for whitelisting" in the extension description and next to thethe acceptable ads checkbox, Adblock Plus is being deceptive. The ad networks themselves should never be paying an ad blocker for special treatment. It's either bribery by the networks, or extortion by ABP.

Ad networks doesn't pay for white listing! The article is little confusing (typical for German press). Certain ads on certain websites can get into the white list. So if somebody pays it is the company running the website. And smaller websites like Reddit got their ads even white listed for free. See my reply to Karunamon [1].

However the comment you replied to was about the accusation that Adblock Plus would be dishonest, which just isn't true.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5996565

This is basically the same industry spawned by spam. You pay to get your mailserver whitelisted, or risk it getting blacklisted (even if it's legitimate).

In other words, extortion.

wallunit's response was in direct response to someone who claimed this feature was "snuck in".

I feel some charge is acceptable as the ad network needs to be assessed against the whitelist criteria.

But having the ad networks (or sites hosting ads) pay a charge creates misaligned incentives.

It can. Arguably however if you agree with the premise of the whitelist as beneficial and there is a fixed schedule of charges (ie no company is preferenced in charging) then to me it seems OK.

You can't have the whitelist without having ads/networks assessed to see if they meet the criteria. Even if you crowdsourced that [which probably wouldn't be objective enough] you'd need to administrate the whitelist and so you need some revenue to cover the overheads at least. Even automating it there's a cost in creating the code. It seems right to pass that cost on and the networks are the ones holding all the money.

You could have users pay for the whitelisting to avoid "misaligned incentives".

Indeed charging the companies for assessment gives an incentive to reject them so you can charge to assess them again ... 4) profit.

Your comment sounds like astroturfing as it uses company talking points whether you intended to or not. An astroturf account was unconvered on reddit recently using nearly the same language.


> The German media went completely insane over the past two weeks, and made a scandal out of that feature in Adblock Plus, which exists for quite a while now and was clearly announced and documented from the beginning by the AdBlock Plus Team, and can easily be disabled.

If you refer to the blatantly immoral and possibly illegal Amaxon referral substitution, that invalidates your entire comment. But I see that even the shills can't even bring themselves to actually describe the indefensible thing they are trying to defend.

"Easily be disabled" they say, safe in the knowledge that most don't know how.

What? It's not immoral and CERTAINLY not illegal to add referral tags to Amazon URLs, lol.

And stop calling people you disagree with "shills", it's obnoxious.

I installed AdBlock Plus because of the addition of the whitelist.

I want to encourage sites providing me with free content to show me adverts that don't annoy me.

And it was announced well enough that I, a non-user, heard of it, so I think 'sneak in' is frankly disingenuous.

You aren't helping them unless you actually plan on clicking on the ads. Seriously, if you want to help out sites you like, pay them money.

That's not always true. Some ad models just care that a user may have seen an ad. A lot of sites you can't just "pay them money."

Some ad companies pay per view

Yeah but CPM (cost per impression metric) is not a scalable business model alone -- CPC (cost per click) or CPA (cost per acquisition) metrics have arisen because sites will spam impressions to people in Malaysia who will never buy anything...cheap impressions don't power a site for very long unfortunately.

Many sites in the news media are still primarily on impression-based ad revenue. Often, a print advertising purchase comes with a certain number of impressions on the website.

Where did mst say that they didn't plan on clicking on any ads?

I'd imagine that most of the time people would only consider clicking on ads they found "not annoying" in the first place.

Impression-based costing isn't unheard-of, even today.

The whitelist feature isn't the issue here. You have always been able to whitelist sites in the "Custom Filter > Exceptions." The issue here is the addition of a built in whitelist subscription to a list controlled by the developers.

The problem here is that the definition of annoyance is the amount of cash paid to AdBlock Plus, not the actual annoyance from user's perspective.

Do you think Google ads are invasive or annoying? No sound ever, a limited amount of times they can be placed on the site, and they are obviously ads (unlike the "Download Now!" ads on download sites). Perhaps there was more to the transaction than money. You are jumping straight to a conspiracy that you have no proof of. Like the OP, I don't use ad block software because I, as an adult, know what it's like to pay bills and feed myself and I don't mind people who provide me with free services paying their bills and feeding themselves.

Not that the '"Download Now!" ads on download sites' ARE published by google. Google text ads are just one part of Google's inventory.

The scammy fake-Download links on this famous page, for example, are provided by Google AdChoices


I am using AdBlock with whitelist enabled, and I don't see any scammy ads on this page. So whatever Google and AdBlock agreed on, it does not include those scammy ads.

I'm not using any adblocker and I see no scammy ads either.

Has there been any work done from an information-theoretic perspective on the effect of sponsored information added to a page of search results? There's gotta be an academic paper on this somewhere...

I'm particularly interested in the implicit information conveyed by the mere position of a search result on the page, and how that compares to the implicit information contained by the presence of sponsored content. I would think that sponsored content would on average contain maybe half the amount of information as an organic result, since the presence of the ad is partially a function of its relevance but also a function of the amount paid for its placement, whereas organic result position is a purely a function of relevance.

Then again, perhaps the amount paid could also be considered an implicit source of information on the content being offered, but that seems less reliable.

Having to pay bills and feed yourself is not a justification to do anything or to compel someone to do something.

It certainly isn't a justification to coerce people and even less so to demand that people allow themselves to be coerced.

it doesn't have much with "being adult" so "copping with the crap". It has to do with:

- morals. I don't think unsolicited ads are moral. I'd rather pay. But I generally don't get that choice without an adblocker.

- More choice and ethics. Again. I'm the one to decide what I want to see, not adblock people using a revenue model where they're in a position to force companies to pay them to be on a whitelist. That's extorsion.

And.. I'm pretty sure you get revenue from adverts.

Are text ads on Bing and Yahoo searches invasive and annoying? The article appears to say they're still blocked by default while Google's are not.

That hardly seems relevant. The fact that they do not unblock every ad you consider not to be invasive and annoying is unsurprising. They entered into an arrangement with Google where Google agreed to meet certain standards and be vetted; Bing and Yahoo have not.

That is very relevant here.

chez17's comment implied that the whitelist applies to non-invasive and non-annoying ads, while there are a number of new qualifiers here, including a payment which you have omitted from your post.

>They entered into an arrangement with Google where Google agreed to meet certain standards and be vetted; Bing and Yahoo have not.

..and perhaps most importantly, have paid for it.

The whitelist standard is not just about non-intrusive ads as the title of the setting implies to users, it's about a payment too.

> chez17's comment implied that the whitelist applies to non-invasive and non-annoying ads, while there are a number of new qualifiers here, including a payment which you have omitted from your post.

Because it is not relevant. What you said here is true, but no bearing on the thing chez17 and I are walking about (that the ads are not invasive or annoying). I don't have anything against them making money. As long as they are not letting through bad ads, why would I object to them profiting?

> ..and perhaps most importantly, have paid for it.

> The whitelist standard is not just about non-intrusive ads as the title of the setting implies to users, it's about a payment too.

And the relevance is…? Nobody said the transaction did not involve money. A whitelist can only include unobtrusive ads and also charge money for inclusion — those ideas are not at odds. The statement "they are charging money" is 100% compatible with "they are only whitelisting non-invasive and non-annoying ads."

While there is certainly a conflict of interest here, it doesn't mean that Adblock Plus wouldn't have whitelisted Google's ads anyway. The whitelist program has been going on for a while AFAIK.

It's not immoral and dishonest to have a different idea of the core product value than you do. Personally, I run AdBlock not because I break out in hives in the presence of advertising, but because a lot of advertising on the web is just awful, makes sites harder to use and wears down my battery. Whitelisting advertising that is actually consumer-friendly is not at all against the core value I derive from the product. (Though I don't think my AdBlock extension does this, honestly, but I wouldn't mind if it did.)

Sneak? I don't know was for upgrading, as I've been a user on and off, but I can tell you that as of a few days ago it asks you upon installing if you want to turn this option on. It does so in clear language, and on a page that is not full of confusing options.

Exactly. It prompted about it, and users had a clear option to disable or enable this feature.

Agreed completely.

For what it's worth, on Firefox anyways, there's a fork of Adblock Plus called Adblock Edge that has no such ethical issues, and as far as I can tell, works with all the addon plugins that worked with ABP like the element hider and popup blocker.

Why does somebody fork ABP, just to strip out a featere which can already be disabled in the options?

Because that "feature" existing points to a serious ethical failing and conflict of interest on the part of the author (namely, taking money to help advertisers bypass the plugin)

Firefox plugins auto-update, who's to say the next update won't have something more objectionable?

I just noted that Adblock Edge is still based on version 2.0.4 of Adblock Plus, which is outdated for a while. It seems that Adblock Edge isn't maintained anymore and probably never was.

So Adblock Edge will probably get incompatible with future versions of Firefox, anyway. And if there are security issues in the code, it is rather unlikely that they will get fixed, as fast as in upstream Adblock Plus, if at all.

On the other hand I think it is way less likely that Adblock Plus will add a lot of features that wouldn't be in your interest, in the near future.

Sure it is a change in the ethical background of the product. Adblock Plus isn't a hobby project anymore. It's a business now. That means that it has to be profitable. But on the other hand that also means that there are more resources available. So the product can be properly maintained, further improved, and ported to new platforms.

I think this "ethical failing" (as you call it), isn't more or less serious, or unexpected, than when Google introduced in-app ads in Android. In the case of Adblock Plus, as well in the case of Android, I'm happy that the company behind the product found a way to make the product profitable. So they can maintain and improve the product.

Few companies take money to help bypass the function of their product!

This is analogous to an antivirus vendor taking money from malware authors to avoid detecting the worm of the day, the only difference being that a text ad isn't as likely to frag your computer.

But hey, in both cases, they're getting money to "maintain and improve the product".

This comparison implies that everybody can get their ads on that white list, for money. But that isn't true. There are guidelines that define what is acceptable ad and what not. [1] Everybody that gets on the white list has to conform to that guidelines.

So it would be rather like an AV software that lets by default, installers still change your default home page (or stuff like that), if the installer is fair enough to ask for, but would still block any real malware.

[1] http://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads

So great. I download a product who's stated purpose is to block ads, and I have to worry about their author's dealings with ad companies to decide if something will or won't be blocked.

You have a disturbing amount of trust for someone with such an amazingly blatant conflict of interest.

Adblock Plus doesn't deal with ad companies. But with websites that have ads on their site. So if the kind and placement of ads on their website is "acceptable" they can get on the white list. The article in the link of this thread is a little confusing. It's not true that all Google AdSense ads are white-listed, but the ads on the Google search page are.

By the way Adblock Plus has put Reddit and some other smaller websites on the white list for free to support them. But unfortunately Adblock Plus has also to cooperate with larger companies to make some money, themselves. But still, all ads that are getting on the white list are mild, and not the kind of ad that made once everybody of us that pissed off, that we started to use ad blockers.

Another thing I would like to mention is that, around the same time Adblock Plus introduced "Acceptable Ads", a lot of websites at least here in Germany started to detect ad blockers and asked the user to disable his ad blocker. Otherwise the website refused to deliver content or provide functionality. With the increase of popularity of ad blockers, the people running websites driven by ads will no longer tolerate that their ads are blocked. And there will be probably nothing you can do against that. Considering that, it is actually great that those websites can just get on a white list used by the majority of AdBlock Plus users. So the websites can continue to make enough money from their ads and people that are smart enough to disable "Acceptable Ads", like you and me, still get all ads blocked.

I realize this is a bit late, but ABE is not unmaintained. It is based on an older version of ABP, yes, but it is under active development.

Last commit was in May, and besides, the nature of the product (single purpose app) is that it won't have a lot in the way of code changes aside from the odd bug fix. It doesn't need any other feature.

Most of the busywork is being handled in the block lists, and ABP and ABE use the same source (EasyList and others)

I have been using AdBlock for years, and I have no problem with this feature, provided that they select their whitelist carefully and enforce the rules aggressively. I wouldn't have any problem with ads if they weren't such a disaster. If there are providers that can do ads responsibly - no animations, no sound, no taking valuable space where content should have been, then I have no problem with giving them the edge. I'm not opposed to the idea of advertisement in principle, I use AdBlock because otherwise bad ads (which are on 99% of sites) make using the web extremely tiresome and annoying.

If the Google leads the fight in making ads good citizens on the web and profits from it - fine, all power to them. If they would start abusing it - I'll turn off the whitelist and all their money would be spent for nothing.

This is AdBlock Plus, not AdBlock. They are not the same.

Actually I don't mind the feature existing. Small clearly labeled text ads don't add much to the page loading time and can be clearly seen as ads.

However I still normally disable the ads as I really enjoy the increased screen space gained by removing the ads.

Asking for money to whitelist ads it rather poor policy however. If an ad is small and clearly an ad then whitelist it. If it's not then blacklist it. Having to pay to have your non-intrusive ads whitelisted is shitty. I hope they didn't have to pay very much.

"Imagine a firewall that whitelists certain networks." er, you mean like a firewall? or is there some amazing new type of firewall that blocks ALL traffic, that I'm missing out on?

Since it seems to be a common misconception, I'd just like to point out that "Adblock" and "Adblock Plus" are two different extensions made by different people.

Yeah, for the longest time I thought the latter was an enhanced (paid?) version of the former. I can't believe naming browser extensions in a similar manner like this is allowed. It causes nothing but confusion.

I feel really old now, but Adblock Plus was actually forked from the original Adblock. The "plus" part implied it was supposed to improve on the original project.

As long as they're only whitelisting text ads, I don't think I mind. Even image ads that aren't animated are okay with me if they aren't offensive. The only reason I have AdBlock plus installed in the first place is the really vile shit - noisy SWFs, scantily clad women, drive-by PDF 0 day exploits, etc...

Well, what others find offensive, you find funny and what you find offensive, other people don't even notice. It's a pretty subjective thing no?

I'm pretty sure it would require an extreme amount of subjectivity to find random noise blaring out of your speakers or drive-by trojan installs acceptable. But sure.

I think you missed his point. He was referring to the fact that you don't mind the ABP policy, while you may find some images offending.

Those ads aren't vile specifically because they have an image of a woman in them; they're vile because they're psychological manipulation primarily based on the objectification of women and intended to funnel clicks to shady online game websites that basically operate as a mechanism for scamming as much money out of gullible players as possible.

Or to put it another way: Typically the ads that do the most annoying stuff are from advertisers that obviously aren't particularly legit. Microsoft and Apple aren't blaring noise out of your speakers or shoving pictures of scantily clad women in your face to get you to play microtransaction games and Amazon doesn't do it to get you to buy books or movies.

Of course the definition of taste and acceptability is subjective, but there is definitely a line between legit advertisers that aren't hostile to web surfers, and the advertisers who will do absolutely anything if it increases revenues - including tracking users or outright lying to them.

Fine, get rid of the image ads that offend even 0.1% of people. The general idea is that some people want to block 'ads', and some people only want to block 'harassing ads'. An ad being a clean, non-blinking, PG etc. experience is mostly objective.

Personally I want to try an ad blocker that only blocks video ads, that works in tandem with click-to-play flash, but I haven't found one.

This whitelist was highly publicized, I even listened to a segment on NPR that interviewed an Ad Block Plus employee about it(Link below). For all you outraged individuals this was a very openly communicated addition and comes by default, but it can be easily turned off. Oh the outrage...


Just uncheck the Allow non-intrusive option and this becomes a non-issue.

With recent onslaught of attack on Ghostery and Ad-block, I wonder if these two tools are doing exactly what they're supposed to do: help people.

What attack on AdBlock? I've heard of issues with Adblock Plus, but not Adblock.

What were the attacks on Ghostery? I seem to have missed them.

Text version, at least until Adam says something more popular: http://www.reddit.com/user/dudethatsmeta?sort=top

I imagine it has something to do with the fact Ghostery is owned by an advertising company. Not sure if that is this particular "attack", but a lot of people use it without understanding why it is made and it periodically gets widely reported to some backlash.

That they were/are being paid for sending analytics to ad companies. I actually don't mind, but it should be in red blinking 20 point script on the page where you download it.

I can't find the news.ycombinator threads, though.

It is opt in. However they named it pretty inconspicuously ...

Ghostery was in news recently, there was also a big thread here on HN. Sorry, don't have links handy right now.

Although the ethics of paying as the method for being whitelisted can be subject to debate, IIRC Adblock states that whitelisted ads could be those that aren't animated, block access to content or distract the normal flow of browsing.

Adwords are just blocks of text. Ugly blocks of text, but they don't distract too much. And promoted search results are a fair tradeoff imo.

Anyway, disabling the display of whitelisted ads is not a complex task.

As others noted, AdBlock and Adblock Plus are two different companies.

I donated to AdBlock a couple years ago. Should have earlier. And should do again. Not claiming to be a saint. But I gave them some actual money. I'd like to think that enough people doing this, makes it possible for AdBlock to avoid doing what AdBlock Plus did.

I think this is a variation on the theme, "If you're not the customer, you're the product." Usually we talk about this WRT free web services. In this case it applies to what, back in the day, some of us would refer to as "shareware".

I thought this was assumed to be the case when AdBlock added the "Allow non-intrusive advertising" feature?

It's not just advertising that Google stands to benefit from.

The Google Ads also help them keep a track of where the person has been around the web and also acts as a proxy site stats data for Google (irrespective of whether you use Google Analytics or not).

I was always curious as to how they made money. He used to ask for donations. Asking for money in exchange for not taking actions that will harm another person's business (i.e. blocking their ads) seeing seems awfully close to extortion. Yelp was sued for extortion, and their conduct was far less egregious than this. Google probably couldn't handle the PR hit after the NSA stuff, but I'll bet their first inclination was to sue rather than write a check.

Adblock and Adblock Plus are different.

I changed it to "they". It doesn't change the fact that someone managed to extort money from Google.

I suspected something like that when I realized Google Ads were now showing up on my screen a few weeks ago. I went to the Adblock Plus forum and all it said was that those ads had been added to the list, no reason why. I personally find it appealing and hope everyone switches away to an Adblock fork, if only by principle. Sure it's the extension' maintainer's right to take bribes, but the consequence should be that no one trusts the extension again.

The other day I was thinking about how Google keeps printing "download button" traps [1], despite it being in clear conflict with their TOS [2], for obvious reasons (abnormal high revenue from clicks).

Now, they "bribe" the author of AdBlock to keep a flawed model alive.

Advertising is a shitty industry, but boy, is Google taking it to the next level. And the nerds are too distracted with their shinny things and job offers to notice.

[1] http://www.ghacks.net/2012/06/17/how-deceiving-ads-trick-you...

[2] https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/topic/1308149

Looking at your [1] link I don't see any "download traps" there being served by Google. (No "ad choices" triangle in the upper right.)

Here is the "non-intrusive" filter https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules.tx...

It does seem to have a lot of google.

  It does seem to have a lot of google.
Google's a rather large advertiser, and put a good deal of work into ensuring their ads behave better than most.

"...[P]ut a good deal of work into ensuring their ads behave better than most."

It's more like they have a lot more data and scale to target better ads at individuals. And when you have many many ads competing for X amount of spots, the average ad quality increases. Google doesn't really need to do anything other than create the platform that gathers lots of data on individuals and allow for appropriate targeting.

Is this a bad thing? AdBlock has made no promises to me, and it continues to be useful. The day it doesn't, I uninstall it and find an alternative.

I defined an exception for AdWords when I first installed an ad blocker. I just want to block the annoying ads, but I understand that many sites have to advertise to stay online. I can live with text ads, but not auto-start videos with sound, animated banner ads, pop-ups, etc.

It doesn't help a site if you show text blocks from AdSense since they get paid only when there's a qualified click.

The first step in getting a click is gettin an impression.

On the other extreme, I've actually found myself right clicking into an organic search because I feel bad for charging UPS for my laziness.

(Yes I do realize how ridiculous this is on so many levels. However, do not assume that well plassed text ads do not get click thrus)

I did notice this recently and have been having to uncheck the box on all the new PCs I install it on. While the ads are "unintrusive" I have a media PC where I've turned the font up to huge to be able to read from the couch. Some search terms will cause maybe up to 4 different text ads to show up and that will effectively block out the actual search results when your font is large.

I'm glad I found out about this though. I always felt vaguely guilty unchecking it, because I thought it was maybe AdBlock trying to support the "Good Guys" of online advertising, but if Google themselves are paying for it, I no longer care.

I understand the apprehension in this community about ads in general but when it comes to search engine ads, it does add value (and relevance improvement) to many "commerce" oriented queries.

Google also already knows categories that generally don't get high ad engagement and doesn't show them for those. An example would be "chuck norris biography" - the intent is clear that you're looking for information primarily and even though I'm sure Amazon or others buy tons of ads against "chuck norris movies", etc. Google is smart enough to know not show you those irrelevant ads.

I don't believe that I've ever clicked on a text ad. (That is to say, I had never clicked on one prior to starting using an ad blocker two years ago.)

If I'm attempting to research a product or product category, I'll go to an aggregator like Gdgt or an editorial site like The Wirecutter.

I can't comprehend why one would ever click on ads when intending to spend money. The last source I would ever trust to recommend how I spend my money is an advertising platform.

[chuck norris] won't show any ads either -- and Google will show you Chuck's knowledge graph entry, including a random Chuck Norris Fact :)

Use AdBlock Edge instead of the normal ABP, you'll have no further worries.

Ad blocking should be a core feature of web browsers.

Web browsers developed by advertising networks or funded mainly through advertising networks aren't likely to consider it a wise addition to the core features however.

Most sites would go down this way. Very few sites could survive purely on donations or tiered pricing.

It is in Opera (or was, rather, until version 12).

That explains Google sponsored links showing up again. Oh well, that's just another filter I'll have to add.

There is a setting to disable whitelisting ,so you don't have to add the filter manually.

And it is in a very obvious place, even though I dislike the whitelisting, they did tell me about it and make it clear how to change it. I see it as the adware installers in legit software you can uninstall, it is there to catch the unwary and make money off of them.

Although I can understand the need to whitelist non-intrusive or "acceptable" ads, it seems shady to base the list on who pays the most. If adblock plus is a community plugin, the list of acceptable ads should be voted on. I have switched to Ghostery (after reports of adblock plus injecting referral tags), so can someone clarify if whitelisting is enabled by default?

Despite ads being the main source of revenue for Google, it is really cool of them to allow ad-blockers on the Chrome extension store (although Andriod is another story). However, paying to be whitelisted puts the rest of the advertisers at a disadvantage. It is a very well known fact that there isn't a good alternative to Adsense and things like this will only puts a dent into the remaining competition.

I can understand google trying to protect their revenue source, but actions like this undermine the openness of the platforms that they are trying to promote.

Open and free platforms need to allow people to say no.

Adblocking it self is evil. The current ecosystem where users get contents for publishers for "free", advertisers pays publisher for producing content and viewing it to users and last users pay advertisers (buying there product). If users dont see advertising, advertising has no interest in paying publishers and then publishers gets no money. Not many people understand the ecosystem and I have seen developers living of advertising and still blocks ads online. That is crasy if you think about it.

Many people love AdBlock being free (incl. myself) and many people would admit Google's Ads are comparatively less intrusive and comparatively more relevant.

I assumed this was the case when I installed it, similar to the situation with Firefox using Google search by default while being compensated to the tune of $1B[1]. Why is this surprising or upsetting?

[1] http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2398046,00.asp

Solution: Use AdBlock instead of AdBlock Plus. You can add your own whitelists if you want but it doesn't have any itself.

Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/adblock/gighmmpiob...

Source: https://code.google.com/p/adblockforchrome/

Mozilla's main source of revenue is from Google, as well. Are many of these non-profit entities dependent upon Google funding?

Except Mozilla doesn't try to hide that fact, and it can be argued to be in users interest by providing a search bar, instead of no search function at all. Here, someone who uses Adblock Plus decided to block ads. Adding them behind their backs is dishonest.

Funny that people would focus on google in this case. It seems to me adblock plus is the culprit here. First it gained a much significant footprint, then added the whole "acceptable ads" concept, then got paid by advertisers to be whitelisted.

Seems like adblock plus is abusing its position of power to extort money and doesn't care about the user.

So what is the alternative, in the comments two of them have stood out: http://www.ghostery.com/ & AdBlock. Any prefrences or any other good ones, I'm going to get rid of AdBlock Plus right now so looking for a solution.

I personally use a commercial ad blocker - AdMuncher. Blocks more ads than ABP and I know I'm the customer, not Google. Only supports Windows unfortunately, but on Linux I run an XP VM and proxy through it.

The whitelist also allows ads for Reddit and Amazon.

time to dig around in the Adblock Plus source and see what's behind that "Allow some non-intrusive advertising" checkbox.

There's no need to dig around in the source. AdBlock Plus is setting certain ad providers on its whitelist. In theory, the decision of who is whitelisted should be made by the community. But as a German blogger recently found out, Adblock plus owners and investors have connections to some AdProviders, and those are favored, while others are still blocked. The article in question: http://www.mobilegeeks.de/adblock-plus-undercover-einblicke-...

Right next to it, there is a link to whitelist. You won't have to do that much digging :)


Saw the same thing with AdMuncher, I believe, and was wondering whether they had entered the same sort of agreement.

I know the founder of AdMuncher. Pretty sure they don't whitelist.

Replace google with any other major company.. let the real unbiased discussion begin.

The question to ask is does google allow you to make informed and rational decisions.

I would have thought Adblock's userbase too small to be of concern to Google.

The Evil just keeps on coming from the googleplex lately, doesn't it?

Paying was easier than obfuscating the js.

Disabled AdBlock Plus. Added Adblock Edge.

for some reason I am thinking that how smart peoples are making money with his hack-ish idea.

I don't run an ad blocker right now, but I'd totally run one that only blocks advertisers who have paid AdBlock Plus.

if they are doing so , well we have to lookup for another adblock option

Yeah, money talks, bullshit (you, the product) walks.

All it takes is one click on a checkbox.

Anyone is free to fork AdBlock Plus' codebase and prepare a version that doesn't require that checkbox.

I, for one, am happy that AdBlock Plus is being funded (and will continue to provide a great, reliable product) at the expense of users too stupid or ignorant to click on a single checkbox.

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