I'm most certain that there are people out there who would call this business model "blackmailing", but I could also be wrong.
Source (in german): http://www.welt.de/wall-street-journal/article124441049/Goog...
AdBlock Plus is installed on an extremely large sum of devices in Germany. I read somewhere close to 25% with non-technical users (!) and 50% among technical users.
What they basically did is to approach companies like newspapers (Spiegel Online) and told them: Look, if you pay $LARGE_SUM, we will whitelist you. Otherwise, since 25-50% of Germans use our software, your advertisement won't make you much money.
I'm not a law expert and I guess technically, it isn't called blackmailing, but then it is, sort of. It's a dark-grey zone which discriminates against smaller companies that can't afford to pay and heck, who gives Eyeo the right to decide over the business models of other websites?
If nobody was shown ads, then all would be in the same boat again. But this way, there's a privileged class of companies that may have ads enabled.
The amazing thing is that this business model continues to operate reasonably successfully and that more people aren't actively working against it. On the other side of this, I think the "extortion" business model is limited because there'll be alternate providers of ad blockers. To some extent we've seen similar tactics in the TV world with digital video recorders that allow you to mask/fast forward through commercials.
Now one might argue that the way content providers can fund good content is through advertising, which is true to some extent but it's not a very fair or reliable business model.
* The Mafia like protection racket scheme
AdBlock Edge is the only true ad blocker:
EasyList and other filter sets work on most AdBlock versions. I also use the social filters to speed up page load since most pages are waiting on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc auth & cookies before they can finish displaying.
Is this true? After disabling the non-obtrusive ads, I don't see any ads anywhere. Can you give an example of an ad bypassing this feature entirely?
Ads aren't inherently "wrong". people tend to block ads because many are unsightly, bandwidth consuming, etc.
Simple ads that don't have JS, don't have trackers, and blend with a site should be encouraged. But making beaucoup money on extortion payments is pretty bad.
If I need computer repair services, then looking through advertisements for shops that can offer that service is not a detriment to me, or a distraction. The reason we block them is that they are being implemented in an antagonistic way. You can have a beneficial ad.
I don't really understand the part about "looking through advertisements". If you're actually doing a web search, what you're looking at is a list of web search results, not ads. Any ad that is inserted in that list is there by virtue of that shop having paid for that privilege, which does not necessarily mean it's relevant; it just means that its ranking got artificially boosted.
On the other hand, if you're not looking at a web search, then you're probably doing some other kind of research on computer repair services, such as looking at reviews, blog posts and such. In that context, ads are being displayed based on the context of what you're viewing, as determined by a computer algorithm, but you're already actively looking for human recommendations, so ads won't benefit you either.
The way I see it, ads fall into two categories: 1) artificially boosting the search engine rankings and 2) do-you-want-fries-with-that offers based on what you're currently doing. Most of the time, that doesn't seem to add any special value to the consumers.
The only situation I can think of that might be helpful is when you're not already looking for a solution to some problem and an ad suggests something you didn't even know existed. For example, you're looking at cooking recipes and an ad shows up for a kitchen gadget that would really help you cut down the preparation time in half. Even then, the rational choice would not be do go buy that particular gadget, but to do some research on gadgets of that type in general and choose the best one.
All in all, I agree with GP: ads are neither information, nor decoration, but an obstruction.
I was driving at that, though on review I realize I wasn't clear.
There's nothing stopping an ad from being useful, it can be an option you didn't realize existed, or it can be an option you might not of considered for review (number 2).
Neither of those are an obstruction, so:
>All in all, I agree with GP: ads are neither information, nor decoration, but an obstruction.
This is where we disagree. They could be information, they could be useful, it's just that their current implementation is not like that.
Ad Block Plus used this argument to set up their payment scheme. Which is a shame, but just because an idea is used for slimeball tactics doesn't mean the idea is wrong.
Yes, psychologically manipulating people and lying to them for money is wrong.
modern advertisements are making an effort not to sell you their specific 'ProductX', but to sell you products that you desire/need from their outlet. That feels more honest than advertising did in the past, at least now they are assessing the relevance of the ads you're exposed to and making efforts to target.
I will, however, agree that relying on the needs of others to fill your coffers is probably immoral -- but that condemns most of marketing, and I don't know how well that opinion will fly here.
Adblock Plus (and similar add-ons) were not created because of such a business model but because of annoying and sometimes even dangerous ads.
They would be wrong. It's not a great practice, but it's certainly not blackmail.
Blackmail: pay us or we will cut your advertising revenue.
Tortious interference: Your company counts on (double_digit)% ad revenue. We're going to harm you in significant ways... unless you pay.
As others have said, not blackmail, but extortion. Blackmail would be the threat of revealing embarrassing or financially harming information.
>Tortious interference: Your company counts on (double_digit)% ad revenue. We're going to harm you in significant ways... unless you pay.
Another name for that here in the US is racketeering, or running a protection racket. It's the classic "pay us X dollars or we'll destroy your store/break your kneecaps/kill your family" only with a digital/financial threat.
"Adblock Edge is a fork of the Adblock Plus version 2.1.2 extension for blocking advertisements on the web. This fork will provide the same features as Adblock Plus 2.X and higher but without "acceptable ads" feature. Adblock Edge was primarily branched off from Adblock Plus 2.1.2 source code package "http://adblockplus.org/downloads/adblockplus-2.1.2-source.tg... created by Wladimir Palant."
But in the end, it's all still malware.
In other words, it's a pretty massive conflict of interest.
If I wanted to look at ads, I wouldn't have installed an ad blocking plugin. Combined with the "private" list that nobody can see, there is plenty of reason to use a fork that has no such conflicts.
For these people, your malware example falls flat. A more accurate example would be a firewall whitelisting known non-malware software. At least in theory, that's how the acceptable ads feature works.
> So in fact there is really a public list and a private list it appears (through the x-adblock-key header), while the public list is presented as all there is to "acceptable ads".
Nowwhere did I say pages with the x-adblock-key were not respecting the "Acceptable ads" setting.
I said that there are more whitelisted sites than just what is presented as the only list in the section titled "How can I see what you are allowing?" on ABP's reference page regarding "acceptable ads" .
If you're ok with blocking ads, I don't see how allowing companies to pay a fee to have them unblocked hurts anyone. If it feels icky then maybe ad blocking is icky.
> If you are a large company (how exactly that's defined isn't clear), you need to pay to get your unobtrusive ads whitelisted.
Yeah that's a pretty clear conflict of interest, isn't it?
And it's violated right there with Google because the type of tracking ads that Google Ads are shouldn't have been allowed. For a non-paying party. As long as they stay true to their self-imposed rules for "acceptable ads".
Or perhaps the ads themselves are the icky part, and internet complacency in finding other business models is the problem
Couldn't be further from the truth. Ad revenue is icky by itself, in nearly any form. The fact that an industry sprung up to counter it (ad block software) points to the fact that the general public likely agrees with that.
If you don't feel that the psychological tracking and trickery of John Q. Public in order to sell him a new toilet paper holder is 'icky', then I don't know what to tell you. I do, and it seems many others share my feelings.
Some people make it out to be something sinister, potentially because "show unobtrustive ads" is on by default. Given that most people haven't even noticed that they're seeing these ads, I'm not convinced it's a big deal.
There is a huge conflict of interest with what you described.
Adblock Plus is 2.6.4 (July 22, 2014)
I really want to use Adblock Edge instead of just unchecking the "Allow non-instrusive advertising" option, but I somehow doubt they have still the same features.
I just prefer the "original" addon. There are a lot more differences than one small setting.
> "Adblock without the plus" isn't the original Adblock (from which Adblock Plus was forked), it's an extension created for Google Chrome once Google Chrome enabled support for extensions. Very disingenuous name. It piggy-backed on the work already done for Adblock Plus (for Firefox).
> Adblock Plus for Google Chrome came much later.
Nowadays, I use and recommend HTTP switchboard. It's fully open, and offers very powerful customization on what exactly to block on a site.
Edit: relevant issue: https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard/issues/86
Firefox does have Adblock Edge (open source adblock without the silliness).
The raw data is published at the top as a spreadsheet, and from it you could see what one blocks that another didn't block or vice versa.
So using the raw data of the latest benchmark, here is the diff:
Of course, this is for the lists and settings used for the benchmark. More lists can be selected, and settings adjusted one way or another.
Edit: Just to clarify, this shows what was not blocked.
You certainly appear to have a winner of a service. However, it already appears to be complicated to go through the list of options in uBlock (what is checked and not checked by default - I will need time to understand).
I like how uBlock is running and your efforts, but it can possibly use some help in simplifying for typical average users, who should also use this (Ghostery is a winner in this regard with their wizard and simplified setup).
Edit: The two things I like in Ghostery: ability to selectively enable the individual blocked item; and be able to see the list of items being blocked.
From an average user perspective, I tested both uBlock and SB. I used uBlock with Ghostery. They both seem fine and easy to work with. I then installed SB on its own (disabling uBlock and Ghostery). I did not like the results. Out of the box, without changing any settings, I was seeing Ads images on Facebook and other places.
I am going to stick with uBlock and Ghostery for now. I am happy to see your efforts with uBlock/SB. I hope you get to a point where you can have single product in a simplified manner so even an average user could use it without worrying about anything technical.
Anyone have a better adblocker than Adblock Edge for PM?
Have a look at https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard/wiki/HTTP-Switchb...
If you just want Adblocking functionality check out https://github.com/gorhill/ublock
Same author as HTTPSB.
Edit: I personally block domains in global rules which are rather ubiquitous: `google.com`, `twitter.com`, `facebook.com`, `linkedin.com`, `gravatar.com`, etc. I enable these narrowly using scopes only when on a related web sites. I am pretty confident this cripples severely the ability of these ubiquitous servers to track me, regardless of the browser used.
But I also have one problem regarding Adblock Plus' "acceptable ads" openness.
When I read about their "acceptable ads" approach, I am led to believe the "acceptable ads" list contains all the sites which are whitelisted for purpose of "acceptable ads". I am invited to consult the list to see for myself which sites qualify.
Problem is, many web sites are not whitelisted through that publicly available list, but through the x-adblock-key HTTP header (which is not something disclosed up front to users).
So in fact there is really a public list and a private list it appears (through the x-adblock-key header), while the public list is presented as all there is to "acceptable ads".
> clear tendency to trade performance for memory use
This has been a pattern with Wladimir Palant with regard to my work. Outright misrepresentation , or criticism through vague statements while never specific enough to understand what part of the code he is referring to.
Nowhere in the code did I trade memory for CPU, both have always been of highest concern. Given that my benchmarks show µBlock does significantly better than ABP on both memory and CPU count, vaguely stating that "clear tendency to trade performance for memory use" is just plain nonsense. 
I did ask him to be specific about his statement regarding how I implemented element hiding without injecting gigantic CSS stylesheet in every page and frame, but never received a response, and it is understandable why: he was misrepresenting. 
 https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard/wiki/Adblock-Plus... (bottom of the page)
Edit: added reference to CPU/mem benchmarks
Thanks for recommending this - looks a little less shady than some of the AdBlock variants.
Doesn't even matter if they've told me if they have Adblock installed. I just assume if some random functionality is broken on my single-page site, it's Adblock's fault.
I suppose I should look for a way to identify if a user is using Adblock, though I bet they've made that as difficult as possible. And if I identify a user using Adblock, I should let them know it's the cause of any bugginess.
It's a really shitty game they are playing, because content providers can't win, but they can make the internet much worse.
I'll have to remember to disable it on newsblur.
Haven't looked at that code in a while. It probably needs some updating, but the core idea is simple: create something that looks like an ad and then check if it's still visible.
I specifically wanted a self-contained solution, but assuming your site has ads in the first place, a better approach would be to see if your actual ads are loading on the page or not. http://www.Fark.com/ does this (load the page with adblock and then wait a few seconds)
Some sites I visit detect that I am running Adblock and ask me nicely to disable it because they rely on advertising for revenue. I'll try to post which sites do that and maybe you can work from there.
Maybe there should be an Internet Ads Protocol RFC or some HTTP header or I don't know, something anyway...
- ads are an important revenue stream on the web, so allow unintrusive/inoffensive ads by default
- to do this, companies need to agree to keep all ads under a certain URL pattern "unintrusive" by ABP's definition
- investigating and enforcing the nature of the ads in the whitelist costs money, so make this service free for "small to medium" businesses but charge large ones.
Companies may be hurt by people choosing to block ads, but they're not hurt by Adblock Plus offering them a chance to have their ads unblocked. And users aren't hurt either, as if they don't like the whitelisting they can simply turn it off. It seems to me that if you're ok with adblocking, there's no reason to protest ABP's whitelisting practices.
People use adblock for different reasons though: some are actually against advertising as a concept, full stop.
 Hmm, I'm not just talking to myself here, the post I replied to is gone. Not sure how that happens, but in any case I was responding to a comment about how ABP whitelists certain ads (such as those from the companies that support the ABP servers, apparently.)
I actually have pretty strong opinions on the matter, but they're entirely tangential and irrelevant, and not really in the spirit of HN, so I'll keep them to myself.
I actually agree with the downvotes, as my comment was mostly off-topic, but I felt it needed to be said.
It's also preferable, in a moment of egotism, to get 3 downvotes on that comment, rather than the torrent of dozens of downvotes on the ensuing potential conversation. I've recently lost all faith in this community to respect an attempt at an honest debate.
Which is why you can opt in/out of things like Google Adwords.
Adblock Plus has created a group of 'guide lines', companies who agree to follow their guide lines will have their ad's hosted.
The problem is every company does not want to work directly the Adblock Plus. So a company (Pagefair) created adblock plus get around as a service, where if you work with them they get your ads around adblock by registering with Pagefair and adblock plus signing off on 99.5% of all all pagefair ads.
Basically adblock is attempting to create a standard for ads, or at least sells that they are. The problem is the volume of ads that PageFair hosts are beyond the review of single entity. There is no intensive to review these ads, as it would hurt their income AND require more labor (or at least require an analytic investment).
Ultimately all that Adblock Plus does is give Eyeo a monopoly on ads.
I'd never use Adblock Plus, that's more than shady
"whitelisting websites if they serve only acceptable ads turned out unrealistic – nobody would do that right now. There needs to be more incentive to use acceptable advertising first."
Besides blackmailing advertisers into whitelisting their ads for money, last year it added a "typo correction" feature that would intercept "mistyped" url's and redirect you to the correct one.
Except it blatantly redirected existing domains to that of competitors, and added referrer affiliate ID's to the URL so Palant could cash in.
Despite claims to the contrary, that "feature" was initially on by default. That is pure malware, it has nothing to do with blocking ads.
Palant is someone who's words should not be trusted. He's basically a successful malware blackmailer.
Conkeror has a neat little feature called content-policy. I can block kinds of crap per session or site (Flash, JS, Fonts, Object tags, Images, you name it). I use this and by default all our blocked completely. I can reload a buffer when I need it (even on HN I leave all this crap off). I used NoScript before and I like this as more basic and defensive tool built into the browser core. Check it out.
The end result, now I open up JS when I need, and like 100,000 domains are blocked. I check when certain shady domains are mentioned to look for stones unturned, and I rarely see exceptions that are not listed (by default even no cookie YouTube domains are blocked, so JS-less pages give you a blank YouTube box on sites a lot).
So why all this effort? Because this is the second or third time I read "ad-blocking company not as dedicated as you think to your principles" articles. And people who argue "my website needs your ad revenue" you ask? Honestly, fuck 'em. I can't be bothered. Be adults, as you do not believe in legislation on Minority Report-like ads following me around in realtime while I walk in public or forcing my eyes open to read newspaper and billboards just for ads, I think I have the right to voluntarily ignore them as I will not buy your shit or shill for you anyway and it is waste of both of our time. I do not mandate everyone look away, but give me the privilege too thank you very much. And I know a company cannot be trusted long term to defend this right as it is not in their interest, especially if it is their core model ad companies (all mentioned here Adblock, Ghostery, disconnect.me will change their tune if they have not already say).
In short, do not use corporate-backed tools for this. Said companies always change their mind.
 More info here: http://jasonwryan.com/blog/2013/12/28/hostsblock/
UPDATE: Fixed cue typo. Thanks for pointing it out, Thomas, whoever you are.
I currently use the list provided here  which is pretty comprehensive, and just append it to my /etc/hosts file manually; updating it evry now and then is good enough.
My question is, why do you need dnsmasq (other than for speeding up dns queries), and why do yo need to serve a blank page instead of simply redirecting network requests to /dev/null?
And I use uzbl  for browsing, which is a neat little webkit based browser, with Vim like controls, and stripped to the bare minimum, thus the need for an alternative to adBlock.
So, it sounds like we are in a similar boat, so I thought I would let you check out my rig. I tried to get into uzbl, but Conkeror and LuaKit were more my style. I kept adding and removing LuaKit, because there is something I feel at home with in Conkeror (I think it is the Xulrunner/Firefox core, so I have been deploying custom kiosks in computer labs with auto-login and heavily modded Firefox instances with crazy user-pref for ages now).
Of course the mileage of others will vary.
The upside here is it becomes an effective adblock for iOS when on the local network. I'm not sure how to extend this so that it will work when my iPhone is on an LTE network.
Was probably a year since i last touched it, so it could probably use some updating.
Good tool for adding lists to your hosts file.
No whitelisting, and no corrupt companies behind, doing the whitelisting.
The changeover to canvas ads is happening quickly and that may bring back my need.
When I don't want to be tracked I rely on incognito mode.
There are also a few scripts around that will fetch AB+-format lists and convert them into privoxy lists. Here's a decent intro: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/privoxy
On a router: http://blog.vanutsteen.nl/2014/01/05/installing-privoxy-with...
Neither of these tools take that much effort to setup on a linux machine if you know what you are doing and have a rough idea of how the internet works.
Consequently, for people that cannot be bothered to invest the 10-20 minutes to get privoxy working, the less than perfect solutions offered by the adblock-whatever freebees are okay by me.
It's worth at least knowing about because of its generality: it filters and transforms the incoming data before it gets to your browser, so it's irrelevant which browser you're using. It can run on your local machine or you can put it on a server and connect through an ssh tunnel, bypassing web filters and snooping (very good for frequent travelers). When used remotely it can compensate for slow local connections by, for example, compressing images.
Here is AdBlock's response to Wladimir's post: http://blog.getadblock.com/2014/07/adblock-and-privacy.html
I have never ever seen ads since then
I think I'm going to abandon both of them and try out some of the alternatives listed here (ublock, http switchboard).
There are plenty of guides - google it!
I imagine you must have never ever used a google product then?
Or for that matter, how would HackerNews itself exist (without a YC parent) if getting users to subscribe was not an option?
Probably like that...?
Saying all sites can follow this model is not feasible.
Ad blocking is textbook prisoner's dilemma. As long as it's only being done by a minority, it's no big deal - but if we all do it, we're fucked.
anyway the main point stands - if you publish an ad blocker it should block ads.
suddenly a simple concept gets really complicated when there is an "application process" and set of "criteria" by which ads can be whitelisted -- who defines this criteria? is it always published? am i donating to a project that is actually commercially supported? etc
also was anybody else confused by this (from https://adblockplus.org/blog/acceptable-ads-by-the-numbers):
"Over 50 percent [of applicants] rejected because ads not acceptable.
In all, we accepted only 9.5 percent of applicants."
That math seems weird...
The ABP developers define and publish them here: https://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads#criteria
The "acceptable ads" whitelist is accessible here: https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules.tx...
> That math seems weird...
From the page you linked:
The actual acceptance rate is only 9.5 percent – there are a good amount of fake applications or communication breakdowns that account for this discrepancy.
Blocking ads is such a dick move. This should be made illegal. You are not entitled to change a website to your contempt and cut their main revenue source. If you want to use a website/app and it was made available with the Ad, then just suck it in or use a different one.
To my eyes this is not very different than piracy. Where you use a software without paying for it's price.
Advertising is the price you pay to use a service. Targeting is a technology to make that Ad as much relevant to you as possible. And yet there's a lot of negativity in here towards both. It's supposed to be a win-win-win solution for advertisers, publishers and users and yet are met with negativity and FUD.
If you are here in HN you should think the same, because advertisement is what funds the industry you are in.
A law to enforce one very specific business model is a terrible idea.
If only I could tip $2 the author for that video I watched and liked (like say, 10,000 other viewers) with as little overhead as possible... No donations, no subscriptions, just a tip with no further obligations. You think ad brokers would welcome this business model?
You are not entitled to require my HTTP agent to request assets I do not desire. I GET your HTML and I request the additional files I want. I override your CSS with user stylesheets if I'm colorblind or I just like seeing ponies in the background. I write my own custom JS to run with your page if I want. I'm a free user of the web, and you're operating under the wrong paradigm. Heck, even newspaper readers are entitled to use scissors.
If you don't want to serve content to the general public, use a paywall.
Say, modifying page source acquires questionable legal status (like port scanning or jailbreaking) and is removed from every major browser. Sadly, to me personally this doesn't seem too unlikely to happen in near future.