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Which is better, Adblock or Adblock Plus? (palant.de)
336 points by XzetaU8 on July 29, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 184 comments



He surely just forgot to mention that Google allegedly payed 25 million € to Eyeo GmbH, the company behind Adblock Plus, in order to participate in the "acceptable ads" program, a "feature" which is turned on by default and allows users to "surf more comfortably". And that he is (or at least was) one of the directors.

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...


Story behind it:

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 problem is that advertisers' business model essentially relies on the silent cooperation of the consumer. The ads are rendered on my device which is under my control. I'm under no obligation to render any content from anyone who buys ads from anybody. Not to mention the advertisers are using my $'s to push content to my device.

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.


Not blackmail (threatening to reveal a secret, esp. to the police) but more like extortion.


This isn't blackmailing or extortion. This is what monopoly on a group of users looks like. Apple also charges 30% for anyone allowing in-app purchase on their devices. Is that also blackmail or extortion? Sure made Amazon drop in app purchases in a hurry (and yank them from comixology after Amazon purchased them)


This is not blackmailing but a mafia-like protection racket scheme: They create a problem (ads not showing up) that they offer the solution for themselves as well (white-labeling).


Cool, this is the best description of the business model that I've read so far. White-Listing doesn't nearly sound like what you described.

      * The Mafia like protection racket scheme


AdBlock Plus sold out. Google's Sponsored features continue to be automatically white-listed as part of that deal, even when "acceptable ads" is not selected. You can't block them using Element Hiding Helper.

AdBlock Edge is the only true ad blocker:

http://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/1mcsko/adblock_edge...


I use Adblock Plus based on EasyList and I do not get any ads from Google. But that might be my custom configuration …


Not ads - Sponsored listings. A good example is the YouTube video feed; the first video is usually a Sponsored video. I wouldn't care so much except they're usually link bait videos with hot girls or people getting hurt in "funny" ways. Don't want.

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.


If you're seeing ANY YouTube ads something's wrong. Report it on ABP's forum or issue tracker: https://adblockplus.org/forum/ https://issues.adblockplus.org/


I mentioned this on wladimirs blog a few hours ago and he's yet to approve my comment. I asked if he knew about it and what he though about it.


He approved it and wrote a snippy comment about how Adblock Edge is just stealing their work and introducing bugs.


> "even when "acceptable ads" is not selected. You can't block them using Element Hiding Helper."

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?


I wouldn't mind unobtrusive ads to be whitelisted, were the man not charging money for the service.

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.


There's no such thing as "unobtrusive ads". If they weren't obtrusive, they would be either decoration or information, not ads.


There are the ads that feel totally out of place and are animated near the text that make it unreadable. I call these obtrusive. And then there are the ads that kind of fall into place on the website and while they attempt to get your attention, they don't cause epileptic spasms and mostly can be scrolled out. I tend to accept the later ones on sites I frequent often so that they get a revenue for their effort. The earlier type makes the sites totally useless, so I fail to see the point in them.


That's not true, you're equating how they have being practically implemented for their definition. There's nothing stopping ads from being useful and beneficial to society at large.

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.


> 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.

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.


>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.

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.


> Ads aren't inherently "wrong".

Yes, psychologically manipulating people and lying to them for money is wrong.


the key to current and future advertising is not manipulating the person, but rather taking advantage of the fact that everyone wants something.

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.


usually bandwidth, or unsightliness is not the main problem... they distract so much from the content that sometimes it can be almost impossible to differentiate the two.


I wouldn't call it blackmailing. It's flat out extortion; they build a script that blocks ads for specific domains then tell the owners they can pay to have it removed.


To be fair: Adblock Plus does not simply block ads on some specific domains, EasyList and other filter lists are pretty extensive. I do not like the business model either but how else could they make the necessary profits?

Adblock Plus (and similar add-ons) were not created because of such a business model but because of annoying and sometimes even dangerous ads.


I don't think Adblock Plus is worthy of revenue - their "business model" is to squash other companies revenue then make them pay to get it back. Sure, they block a lot of super annoying and even some potentially dangerous ads, but most of the time they're blocking harmless banner ads on small sites that need the revenue to stay online. This obviously isn't just Adblock (Plus)'s problem - there's always going to be someone trying to remove ads from websites, I just wish those creating the scripts would apply their talents elsewhere.


> I'm most certain that there are people out there who would call this business model "blackmailing", but I could also be wrong.

They would be wrong. It's not a great practice, but it's certainly not blackmail.


Free Alternative that exists since since 1996!!! It's much faster and browser independent. Based on "Proxy Auto-Config". It blocks most ads really well. Having a referrer- ,cookie- and ua-srting blocker also comes handy. Ad-Block Plus or anything else won't hide your personal details that your browser submits.

http://www.schooner.com/~loverso/no-ads/


I think there are people out there that would call this business model "finding the least objectionable and most useful way for users to fund the development of the tool they value".


Corrupt, yes, but blackmail isn't quite right. More like private security offering to look the other way if you can pay enough to make it worth their while.


It honestly looks like a mixture of blackmail and Tortious interference.

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.


>Blackmail: pay us or we will cut your advertising revenue.

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.


With more than 17 million users and their mafia-like business model (i.e. protection racket), they have been able to pay for at least 15 employees. Not bad for a free browser add-on. German source: http://www.mobilegeeks.de/adblock-plus-undercover-einblicke-...


Adblock Edge, since it doesn't contain the 'paid for exemptions' (aka ads).

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-edge/

"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."


There's a setting in Adblock Plus that allows you to turn the "unintrusive ads" whitelist off. You don't need a separate add-on. I haven't felt the need to change the setting.


As far as I'm concerned, this is like a malware author asking an antivirus company to not detect some things. And the company acquiescing, because there's no real harm.

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 your use case, acceptable ads definitely doesn't fit but a lot of people justify what they're doing as not-unethical (getting content without compensating creators) by saying that they're only protecting themselves from abusive ads, and blocking all ads is basically the only way to do this.

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.



There are two "allow" methods, one from the acceptable ads list, which is public, and another via an "x-adblock-key" that can be provided in an HTTP header. There is no list of which sites use the key.


as wreegab pointed out earlier

> 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".

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8103119


No, there is no private list, it's just the public one. You can check out the key header whitelist here: http://cheme.com/ Visit this site with "Acceptable Ads" enabled and disabled and you will see the difference. Notice the "data-adblockkey" in the source. This was publically announced in their "Acceptable Ads proposal" forum here and later added to the public list: https://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=17699


> Visit this site with "Acceptable Ads" enabled and disabled and you will see the difference

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" [1].

[1] https://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads#list


That's right, you didn't say that. You said there is a "public" and a "private" list. To me this sounds like the "private" one is somehow hidden from the public and cannot be seen which isn't the case.


I don't necessarily trust the adblock developers. The whitelist can say that a sitekey is only used on certain sites, but how can I know it isn't also being used on others? If sites want to have their ads white-listed, they should be less sneaky about it and just add `ad` to the class, making it possible for the users to prove that only that ad is whitelisted.


There is no list of sites which utilize the header and do not appear on the main allow list.


It's a whitelist for parked domains...


In what world is a page full of nothing but advertisements considered "unintrusive" and deserving of whitelisting?


Ya, I'd rather not give them money if their policy is to allow some ads if given $.


ABP's free. Getting on the whitelist is also free for "all small- and medium websites and blogs". https://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads-agreements

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.


Yes, but whitelist is supposed to be for unobtrusive and not tracking ads. Then Google pays and… it is on whitelist! I cannot help but think that by using ABP instead of Adblock Edge you are giving ABP developers means to blackmail advertising companies. And not getting the protection you want in the first place.


That's not my understanding of how it works. You cannot pay to get obtrusive or tracking ads on the whitelist. If you are a large company (how exactly that's defined isn't clear), you need to pay to get your unobtrusive ads whitelisted.

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


Google ads are tracking ads, and the ability to track is not listed as an unacceptable criterion.


> You cannot pay to get obtrusive or tracking ads on the whitelist.

> 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".


> If it feels icky then maybe ad blocking is icky.

Or perhaps the ads themselves are the icky part, and internet complacency in finding other business models is the problem


> 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.

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.


So are you saying that adblock allows certain publishers to pay them to have their ads go through adblock? How is that anything other than a extortion racket?


Adblock maintains a curated whitelist of approved, unobtrustive ads that most people don't mind seeing (text ads, etc). Last I heard, big companies wanting to submit their ads to the whitelist pay a fee, while small companies can have theirs added to the list for free - presumably this is justified based on the volume of ads that would be added to the list. There's a setting in the Adblock preferences to block even ads on the whitelist.

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.


It's sinister. Sorry. Even as you describe it.

There is a huge conflict of interest with what you described.


Adblock Edge is 2.1.3 (June 12, 2014)

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.


what feature is missing from Adblock edge?


You can actually compare them:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-edge/...

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/...

I just prefer the "original" addon. There are a lot more differences than one small setting.


Does anyone have any evidence against Adblock Edge?


I've posted this on previous ad blocking threads, and I'll post it again because I think it's very relevant—

> "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[0]. It's fully open[1], and offers very powerful customization on what exactly to block on a site.

[0] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/http-switchboard/m...

[1] https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard


I highly recommends HTTPS Switchboard or uBlock (same author). They are both faster and better than any Adblocker out there.


Giving ublock a try. Going to turn off Adblock Plus while I run it. Will see how it goes.


This looks like something worth playing with. How does this overlay with other tools like Ghostery? Are there any other tools worth mentioning?


In my experience, you wont need other privacy/ad-blocking tools. See here:

https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard/wiki/How-does-HTT...


That looks amazing. Is there anything similar for Firefox?

Edit: relevant issue: https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard/issues/86


No. They're working on a firefox port, but it will take some time (you can checkout the github issue). It's the only extension I really envy.

Firefox does have Adblock Edge (open source adblock without the silliness).


I this point, I am pretty much the only developer (there are contributors for translations, issues), and working on this more as a hobby (I do not want this project to be more than this). As much as I would like to, I just don't have the time to work on a Firefox port for the time being.


Has anyone here replaced Adblock+ and Ghostery with only uBlock? I'd prefer least minimum extensions when possible. Does uBlock provides what Ghostery does? Or do I have to get SwitchBoard to have the Ghostery alternative?


I run benchmarks to drive development. So you may want to look once in a while at that page:

https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/%C2%B5Block-and-other...

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:

http://www.diffchecker.com/ibszp9gf

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.


Hey, thanks for your comment. You are the author of both of these extensions. Nice.

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.


Some updates ..

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.


If either HTTPSB or uBlock had a version for Pale Moon (Firefox derivative) I'd use it.

Anyone have a better adblocker than Adblock Edge for PM?


Does it come prebaked with categories of URLs?


Yes.

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.


But HTTPSB is only for Chrome? If so, meh.


Yeah, why would I go through all the effort to block advertising, tracking, and other ways of monitoring what I'm doing and then after all of that, use Chrome? I don't try to hide myself from Facebook then make a post about it on my friend's wall...


Chromium doesn't have any disadvantages in terms of privacy and security compared to Firefox and other open-source browsers. In fact, it has much more focus on security including a robust sandbox implementation and features like JIT hardening. Can you elaborate on the point you're trying to make?


HTTPSB is for Chromium, but I expect it to work on most Chromium-based browsers (Chrome, Opera, Yandex, Maxthon, etc.)

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.


I pretty much all agree with all of Wladimir Palant's post.

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.[1]

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".

[1] https://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads#list


No, there is no private list. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8104070


I see Wladimir Palant has again commented on µBlock in his comment section [1]:

> clear tendency to trade performance for memory use

This has been a pattern with Wladimir Palant with regard to my work. Outright misrepresentation [2], 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. [3]

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. [4]

[1] https://palant.de/2014/07/29/which-is-better-adblock-or-adbl...

[2] https://github.com/gorhill/httpswitchboard/wiki/Adblock-Plus... (bottom of the page)

[3] https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/%C2%B5Block-vs.-ABP:-...

[4] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=988266#c39

Edit: added reference to CPU/mem benchmarks



I really wish this was available for Firefox.


That looks pretty interesting, but Holy Options Batman! There are almost 50 filter lists plus a bunch of other settings.

Thanks for recommending this - looks a little less shady than some of the AdBlock variants.


Sounds interesting, might check it out tonight.


really do, I've found it's the easiest to use, and lightweight too.


Adblock is the #1 culprit for bugs on NewsBlur. I get at least one report a day where some functionality is broken (sharing stories, saving stories, loading a user's feed list, etc). First thing I do now is ask them to disable Adblock.

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.


As an Adblock user, I always assume that any errors on any site are the result of Adblock, and my first troubleshooting step is to turn it off. It almost always is.


I'd recommend against this strategy, in general, why would some core functionality of a website depend on the ability to contact ad servers? Sounds like a way to pressure people into not using ad blockers, and the threat needs to be responded to (and can be responded to) by that ad block.

It's a really shitty game they are playing, because content providers can't win, but they can make the internet much worse.


Adblock doesn't just block ads, it blocks based on a blacklist that sometimes is a little overzealous. For example, I could block images.yahoo.com, but that would block all images from Yahoo. Maybe that's fine, since I never go to Yahoo. Then a blog post I'm reading has a picture that is hosted at images.yahoo.com, and suddenly Adblock is hampering my viewing of a site that I want to see. I disable Adblock, find out what was being blocked and why, and edit the filters to fix that (or completely whitelist the site, if the ads are non-existant or non-intrusive).


My assumption was not that the site depends on contacting ad servers, but that the Adblock extension is interfering with normal browser functionality.


I use AdBlock Plus and Disconnect Me on Chrome and my first step is to whitelist the site in Disconnect Me when it fails to work correctly.


It hadn't even occurred to me that it might be causing my issues (minor annoyances so I didn't even think to report them, as a pentadactyl and vimium user I'm used to stuff randomly breaking).

I'll have to remember to disable it on newsblur.


I wrote a quick and dirty AdBlock detector a while back: https://github.com/elidickinson/ad-block-test

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.


Doesn't seem to detect ABP 2.6.4 on FF for me.


EDIT: I think it just needed the name of the dummy ad updated. Try it now: http://esd.io/blog/detecting-adblock-javascript.html

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)


Still fails.


Huh, works with AdBlock Edge. I'll take a look tonight. Are you subscribed to the standard EasyList filter?


> I suppose I should look for a way to identify if a user is using Adblock

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...


Ooh, whitelisting of ads via partnerships. That's shady as fuck for an ad blocking company.


It does feel shady, but on the other hand I can't really argue with their logic:

- 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.


Agreed. Most countries have an organization to regulate broadcasts, removing advertising that is too obtrusive, obscene, or otherwise unfit for mass consumption. Likewise, filtering malware sites, porn ads (in improper places), and flickering banners seems like a win to me. I am in favor of Adblock Plus' mission, I just wish they were more transparent about their business practices and revenue. This seems like the purpose of a non-profit organization moreso than the job of a few developers.


It'd be a shame if anything were to... happen to the ads on your site.


I think it makes sense, though the fact that the whitelisting costs money creates some perverse incentives.

People use adblock for different reasons though: some are actually against advertising as a concept, full stop.


I don't like it either, but on the other hand, ABP works pretty well, and I can uncheck the "allow unobtrusive advertising" on the main settings page. Is it worth making a stand on this issue? What should I do or use instead?

[edit] 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.)


Well, I'd suggest using nothing (or noscript if you're actually just concerned about exploits), but if this Internet community is like any other Internet community, I'm probably in a very small minority.

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.


FYI you're being downvoted because your comment basically amounts to, "I'm not going to contribute to this conversation," which is self-admittedly worthless.


Heh, if you look into my comment history you'll see the community much prefers I not participate in these long and drawn-out conversations.

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.


The argument is that they're not blocking all ads, but they're blocking ads of poor quality, are overtly disruptive (ostensibly the name of the game in advertising) or are potentially harmful to users.

Which is why you can opt in/out of things like Google Adwords.


They aren't is the problem.

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.


Presumably if Pagefair, in their role as curator, allows too many shitty ads under their wing then Adblock Plus will block Pagefair, and pretty much destroy their business. They do have an incentive.


As Pagefair pays Eyeo its would be easier to issue a notice of issue, citation, or reprimand, then it would to kill them and their revenue.


If Adblock Plus's users start noticing obtrusive ads, they will leave ABP and destroy all its power. That's a pretty clear incentive.


see http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adblock_Plus#Controversy_over...

I'd never use Adblock Plus, that's more than shady


Adblock Edge is a fork of the Adblock Plus version 2.1.2 extension for blocking advertisements on the web, without sponsored ads whitelist.


Not sure why you were downvoted. Assuming that wikipedia entry is correct (which is sometimes questionable) then it looks like both AdBlock and AdBlock Plus are being shady as hell with their "strategic partners".


Reply from Wladimir Palant:

"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."

https://adblockplus.org/blog/acceptable-ads-by-the-numbers


What I've wanted for some time, and it seems hard for me to find, is a good ad blocker that only works on blacklists. I don't mind ads on some sites as long as they're non-intrusive. Once they start getting in the way of the content though, I want to blacklist the site. Everything I've seen so far (although I haven't put a LOT of time into searching) only works on all sites by default and you have to whitelist the ones you want to have ads enabled on.


This is the feature I'm missing from the Firefox Adblock Plus. One of the Adblocks for Chrome has this (can't remember which one) and it was great. I only blocked ads on the site I wanted to. Hopefully they'll make it for Firefox.


You can do this with AdBlock for Chrome - just unsubscribe from all the lists and add your own custom filters. The simplest way to block something yourself is just to right-click it and go through the menu.


Adblock Plus is malware. Period.

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.


If people prefer more extreme solutions:

I eventually moved to Conkeror (think Firefox, but with Emacs bindings and Emacs-like extension via javascript; I know cue the egg throwing). I was looking at other browsers to replace Firefox, as I got sick of it, and I picked Conkeror.

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.

For when I do use Javascript (this is on Linux of course), I uses hostsblock[0] to redirect all blacklisted sites in /etc/hosts to a local DNS proxy on 127.0.01 on my laptop (dnsmasq, which we all probably know, and you could set it up upstream on a router or server for a group of people). Then I use kwakd as recommended to serve white space for all these redirected domains.

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.

[0] More info here: http://jasonwryan.com/blog/2013/12/28/hostsblock/

UPDATE: Fixed cue typo. Thanks for pointing it out, Thomas, whoever you are.


That's a really unfortunate name for a browser given that Konqueror already exists (and is a really good, underappreciated browser).


More on this: "At the heart of Konqueror is the KHTML rendering engine (which was chosen by Apple to create WebKit, which today forms the basis for modern browsers like Safari and Chrome)."

http://www.konqueror.org/features/browser.php


Haha. Well if you check out the wiki I think it was not intentional (they name it after a local beer IIRC).



Lots of info here thanks!

I currently use the list provided here [0] 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 [1] 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.

[0]: http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/

[1]: http://www.uzbl.org/


Well, the dnsmasq I can use for other things. I think I read on the Arch Linux BBS it would improve performance and speed, but I am claiming empiricism on someone else's behalf which is the descent into a badly administered computer.

The blank page serving is one parth aesthetic, one part performant. It looks better, and also certain Javascript items (for instance very persistent stuff like Google CDNs and the other players) time out even with this sometimes. Without, many pages would take ages to load with timeouts in HTML, CSS, JS, you name it.

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.


DNS based Adblock, profile and Malware block. Make your Internet Faster and Safer with free http://BA.net/adblock


You do realize given what I wrote I would never use that, right? And for others, if we cannot trust their ad-blocking, why we would trust them with our DNS? If I wanted badly implemented filtering I would stick with: my own ISP, OpenDNS, this, in that particular order.


Too bad they don't make the DNS entries they block public.


I have a long /etc/host file with many of the worst tracking/ad services that i have found. Blocks of a very large portion of the stuff that i do not like.



I've been tempted to one up this approach by running a local DNS server that will direct all those ad hosts to a local server, then write a simple web app that will handle all those requests by serving up motivational quotes instead of ads.

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.


I think you could set up a proxy server and use Apple's iPhone Configuration Utility to load a proxy for cellular data use. If you're jailbroken, you could also put a host file directly on the device, but it does slow it down a bit.


Sadly, that wreaks havoc with zsh autocompletion.


I would love to see this list! Could you post it in a Gist or somewhere?



https://gist.github.com/callesg/fd9fd96a741da5e779be

Was probably a year since i last touched it, so it could probably use some updating.


http://www.abelhadigital.com/hostsman

Good tool for adding lists to your hosts file.


Isn't Disconnect.me broadly, another "tracking-blocker"? How would Adblock be able to 'monetize' through installing it?


"Privacy Badger" is the only option nowadays.

No whitelisting, and no corrupt companies behind, doing the whitelisting.


Since a lot of people are running out to download Adblock Plus, you guys might want to contact Google to try and get the spam app "Adblock Plus" from exgam.com removed from the store. Apps typically show up above extensions, so I've already seen several people download the wrong one :/ .


I keep seeing people complaining about some ads being not filtered by ABP...why not just right click those ads and block them. No more ads. Haven't had any with it on for some time (except on some sites where I want to see the ads to help those specific communities)


Although the naming of the two projects appears to be problematic at first, I'm guessing that many users will pick the Adblock PLUS over the Adblock, simply because 'Plus' feels like a superlative.


Adblock Edge is the better version, since it genuinely blocks ads, whereas Adblock Plus still lets some through by default.


AdBlock Plus also increases the amount of memory used by Firefox, to the order of 60–70 MiB + about 4 MiB per iframe.

https://blog.mozilla.org/nnethercote/2014/05/14/adblock-plus...


I wouldn't mind ads if they didn't completely destroy the viewing experience on many sites. From the long load times (oftentimes the browser rendering will hang because some stupid JS from an ad server has trouble loading), to the distracting ads, it's a huge mess. That is why I use Ad Blocking.


Since Chrome added "click to play" in plug-in settings I haven't used an ad blocker. With Flash ads no longer playing, my need for the blocker went away.

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.


Privoxy.


I run privoxy locally on OSX and I like that it runs in a separate process (AB+ with a few dozen tabs open really sucks up RAM) and blocks ads on other things too (twitter clients come to mind) when set up as a system proxy. It's not the most straightforward thing to configure, but once you figure it out it's pretty great. I've never seen it donk up my pages like some of the old proxies used to; this stuff has come a long way in the past decade.

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

Also https://hackage.haskell.org/package/adblock2privoxy

On a router: http://blog.vanutsteen.nl/2014/01/05/installing-privoxy-with...


I think you are right. However not a lot of people use privoxy compared to the many users of adblock-whatever. Also there aren't many people putting together their own squid3 build with custom list of sites to block.

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.


Everything you say is quite sensible. I mentioned privoxy here because obviously a large fraction of the HN audience would be comfortable setting it up.

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.


Privoxy can not remove content Ads from encrypted sources. For example, the Ads google places before and after search result content.


i havent used Adblock Plus in some time. A combination of Noscript blocking third party js (with some domains/cdns whitelisted) and Ghostery takes care of 90% of annoying stuff without bloating mem usage and improving page load speed drastically.


Gabriel from AdBlock here.

Here is AdBlock's response to Wladimir's post: http://blog.getadblock.com/2014/07/adblock-and-privacy.html


Use HTTP Switchboard. Faster, more powerful, and honest.


Maybe it sounds stupid, but I have both on my Chrome so whichever whitelists the other will remove. Problem solved!

I have never ever seen ads since then


Are there any other reason to use Ad Block software other then privacy and speed of surfing the internet?


I don't have this problem because I just choose not to use sites that have disrupting advertising.


Changing your hosts file will work great.

* http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/hosts


Oh, I heard something like this on Reddit and I still got them confused because I started using "Adblock" instead of "Adblock Plus". Reading this today I realize that I should have been using "Plus".

I think I'm going to abandon both of them and try out some of the alternatives listed here (ublock, http switchboard).


A great solution is to run DNSMASQ on your local network, and configure it to block unwanted domains. That way it works on any connected device automatically, with no plugins or browser overhead.

There are plenty of guides - google it!


[flagged]


>>and guys cut the "internet needs ads" crap

I imagine you must have never ever used a google product then?


perfect case in point. generating all this revenue for google based on basically tricking and redirecting old people into shit they dont need. i think ads are easy and successful and wrong. you cant imagine any other way to pull off popular internet services without ads? shit son


Of course I can and I am not saying that everyone should use ads. I am saying that the biggest internet company on the planet built its entire empire on ads - I think that in the light of that, saying that the "the internet doesn't need ads" ignores this huge oil-tanker sized elephant in the room.


How exactly would a website like reddit monetize itself without ads? Donations?

Or for that matter, how would HackerNews itself exist (without a YC parent) if getting users to subscribe was not an option?


https://ssl.reddit.com/gold

Probably like that...?


but my point is that hackernews does survive. its not a pipedream


HN survives because it is a tool to recruit high quality people/teams to YC. There have been articles saying YC is worth $1billion so running HN with no revenue is worth it.

Saying all sites can follow this model is not feasible.


I wouldn't go as far as to say "the internet needs ads", but clearly if you're running an ad blocker, the sites you visit do need ads.

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.


i was harsh.. i do in fact know some people who depend on ad revenue to keep servers running. but ads on the internet are generally out of control and i think its a huge bubble, even the ad revenue that my friends rely on is just garbage that i would never want anybody to click on...

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...


> who defines this criteria? is it always published?

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.


Without a doubt, Adblock.


I use both of them so i wont care reading this post. All that matters to em to me is the I should not be wasting 15 seconds of my life in watching ads on youtube videos and the combo of ad block and ad block plus does it well for me.


<rant>

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.

</rant>


> Blocking ads is such a dick move. This should be made illegal.

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 probably were implying this, but just in case you didn't, this might actually be quite possible right now through crypto currency.


> You are not entitled to change a website to your contempt and cut their main revenue source.

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.


While I agree that ads are a good thing for the internet as a whole, I certainly have the right to change what my computer does and shows me. The idea of making it illegal to block ads and modify webpages locally is so absurd I can't wrap my head around it. I don't even see how that could be enforced.


> The idea of making it illegal to block ads and modify webpages locally <…> I don't even see how that could be enforced.

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.




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