Fresh from a bizarre food fight with rival Giorgio Maone of NoScript, Adblock Plus developer Wladimir Palant has offered an olive branch to publishers - and along with it, an opportunity for his users to show that they're not a bunch of parasitic freeloaders. Essentially, Palant is offering up a dialogue where publishers first …
I don't want to pay for ads!
I know I'll get shouted down for being a freetard, but I don't want adverts. I pay my ISP for internet access, and I pay BT for the wires that it runs on, and I have to get a new mortgage every quarter to pay my electricity bill for the PC. Why, then, should I have to pay on all these three fronts again for web content that I actively don't want?
There are a few sites that I would happily make micro-payments to for viewing certain content, but if I ended up having to take a subscription out to view a site because they were making no advertising revenue then I would sooner curtail my internet use (and get some of my life back in the process). Would you pay, for example, to use Facebook? I certainly wouldn't. I don't mind messing about with it when it's free, but I certainly wouldn't pay to use it.
Anyway, that's my two cents.
wow only 5%?
I'm always stunned when I use a browser without adblocker and I'm like "why does this site look like turd? And why the f--- is it making noise. Oh ads... fail" installs adblocker plus.
The worst are those stupid f------- ads that move, the reg used to have those, it was the straw that broke my none ad blocking back. So distracting, anyone who puts those things out deserves to go bankrupt.
As an ABP user I (one among many) have already told Wladimir Palant that I don't think it's a good idea, that advertisers will just abuse it. He's listening, though I'm not sure he understands it yet. Fair enough that he's trying to work out how to make some money, as he deserves to out of such a good bit of software.
At least he's asked. I, like many others, have already deinstalled NoScript and won't be putting it back.
One man's intrusive...
...is another man's subtle. Anything moving is too damn intrusive for me. The good ads - like Google's ones and some of the ones on el Reg - are hard to block anyway because they're just bits of text.
I remain curious as to how a website can know if an adblocker is being used. The simplest method of ad blocking would seem to be searching for the offending tags in the browser and removing them from the DOM. No requests would then be sent for content to the advertiser's webserver. All this would be client side and the origin website should know nothing about it.
If the adblocker is being detected, how is it done? Does the browser leak information about its currently loaded plugins to any website that asks? Sounds like a damn silly idea if so. Explanations would be most welcome.
waits for the ....
... "why should web developers add another tag, its not standards complient etc etc"
or maybe that won't happen cause its not ms adding a tag!
So, instead of being harassed by ads I get harassed by messages asking if I want ads. Yeah, big improvement.
Well, here's another solution. I don't block ads unless they get in my way, are brutally irrelevant or are so untargeted that they really waste my time. In other words, I start with a blank blacklist.
If there is a site I visit often I accept they serve ads, and hey, I may even click on them. Serve me a popup or a popunder or (major sin) play music/video the moment I land on the home page and it's zap - either you're off my visit list altogether or that's what I like to block. It would be nice if the website owner got that as feedback because then he/she will know what pisses off users and what is acceptable.
The whole problem with ads is that they are similar to spam: the majority is wasting your time (and steals your bandwidth and IT resources) to try and sell you crap. Well, no - that's what created AdBlock. Do it sensible and there can be some sort of balance. I have a business too, but I won't serve ads. Maybe I should, but it's not how I envisage making money.
Advertisers killing the goose that laid the golden egg
I have no fundamental problem with the idea of advertising on web sites but I got so sick of the bandwidth hungry bilge with which I was being bombarded that I now block all advertisements and my browsing experience is incomporably better as a result.
When the adverts on a web page started to take 5 times as long to load as the content and resulted in popups, popunders and all the rest of it, I lost patience and so now I block everything.
Perhaps the developer could bring in some functionality that loads adverts in the background and doesn't display them so the web site still gets its money and I don't have to see them. I don't suppose the advertisers would like that much, but I cannot say that I really care.
Sometimes I yearn for the days when you had to be clever just to be able to connect to the internet at all and there were no adverts. I suppose I must be getting old.
That's why you block advertisements with a blacklist, not some silly add-on that gets pschyzophrenic.
What a bizarre 'plan'.
That word is open to interpretation. I have no qualms about blocking ads being served on under-performing servers that cause the page to take ages to finish loading. These are actually more annoying than sites that have popups - at least you can close down the popup - or use badly coded flash apps that fill up your available RAM.
How about having an option that puts a non-animated image, sourced from the same place as the ad, in the place of the banner? If no banner was available, it would just blank it out.
This idea would open no more security holes than having a title-banner image, allow advertisers to advertise and wouldn't be appallingly annoying (noises, grabbing the mouse input, growing to cover the screen, or just flashing away like an animated gif).
Plus, with static images rather than flash and so on, "mobile" devices would be able to use a similar bit of software to quickly load pages. Or browsers that wanted to give you quicker page-loading times could load an 8kb jpeg rather than (or before) loading the rather larger flash file.
How many webasters have control?
How many sites out there are serves banner ads served from a third party site? They have no idea if the adds are going to be discreet, tasteful things or fluorescent, flashing things.
If web developers want to make money from advertising they _can't_ shit on their users. That includes anything that moves, whether it is a simple animated GIF or some contraption that unfurls itself over the page content. Video is a definite no-no: few people are on genuine unmetered packages and so why should the user pay through the nose indirectly to be presented with something that they didn't want in the first place?
Focus instead on quality instead of quantity. Who makes the most money out of online advertising? Google, of course. Their ads are discreet, visually separated from content and actually useful to users in many cases. What users don't want is a flashing garish monstrosity pushing some scam and is actually deceptive. That reflect badly on the site itself and ads like that _will_ be blocked.
Giving websites a "non-intrusive" tag is a bad idea - the very same companies that use every trick in the book will use that too along with blatant lying, visually intrusive ads and everything else. The honest guys wanting genuinely intrusive ads that complement the content are these who will lose out. What is needed is some user input - if the user base of an ad blocker votes that ads are not overly intrusive, allow them based on some threshold that the user can set according to how sensitive they are. Don't give the control to web site owners.
Just remove subscriptions
If Adblock Plus removed the ability to subscribe to someone else's block list, that would go a long way to achieving these goals already. That would require positive action on the part of the user to block annoying ads, which would naturally pre-select the most intrusive ones without any action required on the part of publishers.
As it stands, if you subscribe to EasyList, for example, you get force-fed someone else's idea of "bad" advertising, and I suspect this will always tend towards blocking anything that's even vaguely ad-related, irrespective of merit.
Someone had to build that list in the first place, so why should users then have to poke holes in it? Just require each user to build their own list and be done with it.
I'm sure there are other ways but that's the first thing that springs to mind. You then get an arms race between the checkers and the blockers as they try to out-smart each other.
I use Firefox and ABP and a few weeks ago found myself on a website that displayed a blank page save for a large notification. It was worded along the lines of "You appear to be using ad-blocking software of some kind. We rely on ads for our revenue, please come back when you've disabled it or added us to your whitelist."
Didn't bother going back. Can't even remember what the website was.
The truth is that most popular websites do rely on advertising. However, I'll start respecting their need to advertise when they start respecting my need to browse the web without ads that move, wiggle, strobe, play sounds or inflate to the size of my f**king desktop every time I accidentally move my mouse over them.
Re: How many webasters have control?
Actually most outfits big enough to have their own sales operation have a reasonable amount of control over the behaviour of the ads on their site. The reputable ones will also have dos and don'ts and red lines (we certainly do), and you've even got some control of what comes in from ad networks, in that if you find an ad unacceptable you can tell the network you don't want that ad again, or maybe you just don't want that advertiser again.
What you can and can't tell them to do, of course, relates to what they want and what the market as a whole is prepared to accept. And what you might deem acceptable doesn't always match what the readers deem acceptable. Bandwidth is a trickier one to define rules for, and I doubt very much that the advertisers are currently prepared to accept limits, although some of them will listen to arguments about massive loading times. But I don't think anybody's whacking you with 40 gigs per banner, so it's seem to me it's a loading time issue, not one of cost.
Google makes the most money because of huge volumes, incidentally. Its ads are actually pretty inefficient by everybody else's standards, and while I hear and agree on quality, Google really isn't the benchmark.
As for the lying publishers that several of you have touched on, it seems to me that this assumption is built into the proposal. Practically all publishers will say their ads are not intrusive, sure, but if you disagree you block them. The point of the proposal is you are presented with the choice, not that the publisher gets a get out of jail badge. It really is not the guy's intention to give site owners control, quite the reverse.
You can do it with the same code that blocks all content to people using ad blockers, but there's no that many sites doing that right now. You can also do it via the ad serving company, so yes, you can find these things out if you want to.
So the next FF plug-in will be...
.....something that blocks annoying AdBlock Plus pop-up dialogues.
If the guy really thinks that a significant number of users will do anything other than keep clicking 'no' he's insane.
But he probably doesn't really believe that - he's just trying to put off the day when his plug-in will be killed off by YourArse and TubeFace.
i can understand the label for naughty people downloading free movies and music, but blocking ad's?!?
I am not stealing anything by blocking the shitty ad's that infect most of the net (this site included!). Seriously, find some other way to make money rather than trying to force me into reading spam.
didnt everyone decided that spam is bad, no matter what level of intrusiveness you care to assign it? grrr
If a site is good enough it will get subscribers
The idea of the browser deciding how to render the page was part of the architecture of the web from day 1. I subscribe to a technical news site (lwn.net) that, based on insufficient advertising revenue was going to close down, but enough readers including myself persuaded the providers to open it for subscriptions that it now continues on the basis of these. Non subscribers can still access the content, but they can only obtain premium articles on the site after a delay of one week.
Step in the right direction
and micro payments, if that could be sorted out as well that would be good.
Publishers pay to publish, they pay for the content and they also pay for the connectivity and electricity, that is a utility that is nearly paid for mid route on average.
The free stuff is actually a bit detracting, if Facebook didn't exist then you may go to another place and pay. Free is used as a lure, to gain critical mass to move to payment, but it is a gamble.
Most things are ecosystems, a lot of IT bods like to think it is black and white, 1 and 0, true and false, and at base it is, but it is abstracted very quickly into degrees and relationships. This two state thinking is quite prevalent in most IT circles, and it does hold IT back a bit. Remove Facebook and you will change the ecosystem, it won't just be the same with the absence of FaceBook, a lot of the system will alter.
As to adblocker detection, well it works this way:
Don Draper's view
I for one am looking forward to seeing how this plays out in season 49 of Mad Men.
Combine ABP with WOT?
Perhaps another approach that could work would be to in some way combine AdBlock Plus with the Web Of Trust extension so that visitors can optionally rank sites on how annoying their ads are; and then use this to determine whether ABP blocks the ads on that site.
I guess webmasters could 'game' it, or give that job to Conficker, but that aside it could perhaps work?
know a few people who have sites, the ads pay for the upkeep of the site (server hosting , storage, bandwidth that sort of thing), so he simply changes what site gets shown to people blocking adds, you block his ads you get less of a experience (or in some cases a message saying , you want to use this feature , unblock the ads)
"I am not stealing anything by blocking the shitty ad's that infect most of the net (this site included!). Seriously, find some other way to make money rather than trying to force me into reading spam."
Your right your not, you are being a bit of idiot tho, if said site went into a subscription model instead you would be whining more about having to pay to see the content!
I have worked on sites that use ad brokers to serve their ads. These people are like estate agents in terms of the amount they care about the user. We even had to track our own ad clicks so that they could not scam us saying they had served less ads.
Also it is normally a part of the contract that the ads are not loaded last as this gives users too much time to see the content and navigate away before seeing the ads.
Ads are served from 3rd parties of 3rd parties, one bit of JS in a page can lead to up to 4 or 5 hops through other servers to get the ad content... also the load on those machines is often high as tehy are serving so many sites.
Lastly, the bigger the ad and the more intrusive, the higher the conversion rate.
So... a site that adds a pop-under for a loan will get a lot more money that if they just have a skyscaper banner for the same loan company.
Basically, the honest and understanding site admins (such as those who run El Reg) are in the minority. Check out Free-ads.co.uk for an ad heavy site with little concern for user experience.
Oh how the advertizers like to move the debate (and the goal posts too)
So, I'm a freetard if I;
a) pay my ISP a not inconsiderable sum each month,
b) pay my telco and equivalently not inconsiderable amount,
c) get pissed off by the dumb-ass intrusive ads on the internet and the malware infested banner ads and other malware infested advertizing
d) take the time to install a slightly more secure browser than IE,
e) install an ad blocking application because of all the times that c) is triggered by the morons who make site design/advertizing choices
and f) install noScript or similar script blocking in order to actively prevent malware in the form of scripts hi-jacking my PC?
All that makes me a freetard? Presumably my freetard status is meant to shame me into allowing malware ridden, annoying and frankly pointless distractions into my web browsing experience? Nope, don't see that happening. What, is this some kind of attempt to make it somehow immoral to block the Internet's ads? Put using an ad blocker on a par with drunk driving? What a load of piffle. Was this article sponsored by the Registers marketing boffins? Time to polish up your tefal heads fellas, because that's a steaming pile of phail.
I'm far from being a freetard, I pay for all the music, movies and games I ever purchase. I don't share or upload anything, no hacked game systems running downloaded backups around here. Stragely enough though, very few ads in my browser. Those that are there are very subtle, and are not served up from potentially compromised ad servers. Don't ask me to change that, because I won't.
If a website wishes to partner with an advertier and host the ads directly, that's fine, go for it fellas, but don't try to serve up third party applets, pop ups, pop-unders or those intensely annoying floating animations that play some stupid music/sound and I can't easily or quickly kill. I work in an office environment and when I'm browsing for information I can't be constantly clicking to kill stupid intrusive, and loud, ads all day.
Either way, it's my browser and my computer and I'll damned well decide what crap does and does not run on my computer - that goes double for Microsoft. Honestly if those clowns enable fraking Microsoft Messanger one more time after I have disabled and de-installed it I think I shall spit nails.
Ding ding ding
Clearly, this idea wins the "Dumbest Thing I've Heard This Week" award. I cannot ever imagine having that much trust of websites, even those I adamantly support. Why not just place the label on the top of the site in large friendly letters with a message, "Don't Worry"?
Mine's the one with my wonderful towel in the side.
Am I the only one who's never bought because of a web advert?
I know everyone says that, but when I look at my purchases I find that most things I buy aren't advertised. I've probably bought from subsidised reviews though ,and through recommendation -- I take it the reg gets a kickback for every review you do?
Re: Am I the only one who's never bought because of a web advert?
You take it wrong. We do not accept payment for any review, nor would we ever.
It won't work...
If you read the article from Wladimir Palant, his intention is to "aid" those users who would gladly accept ads from their favorite sites, but who are too stupid or lazy to add the sites to their whitelist, or modify their EasyList filters. He claims that these users account for the majority of AdBlock users, though he later on admits he has no way to quantify this, and that even those who comment on his blog are not necessarily representative of the full set.
I personally think that Mr. Palant is succumbing to the pressure put on him by the Internet community and the IT media. He thought he scored big when Mozilla took his side of the argument between him and Mr. Maone; however, some well read publications, including El Reg, have shone some not-so-positive light on his behaviour, in essence calling him a mere facilitator of freetards.
His proposal, though well intended, is thus reactionary and has been prepared in blind haste and is, frankly, naive and prone to abuse and ultimately, failure.
This is all a load of ball-cocks
I understand the whole advertisement / fee / subscription argument. However anyone of you that's followed tech news for a couple of year or more should be aware of a quite large number of compromises to ad serving sites that have led to banner and pop-up ads that contain malware. There is no argument any of the apologists for advertising can use that will convince me, or anyone else with a modicom of common sense to unblock these potentially dangerous services.
I don't pretend to have an answer, however, if I buy a print magazine, there are print ads in there that support the publishing of the magazine. I have no issue with that, but you know what happens in print (take a lesson Internet publishers)? With a print magazine ads are not a problem when they are facing pages or half page ads that are clearly deliniated. When they become an issue is when frak-wit advertising geniuses start making their ads look like mock articles with very small 'advertisement' banners to set them apart, or the classif special feature that's really a 12 page long commercial. My least favorite print ad tactic is the one that killed publications such as Byte which is when a two page article ends up getting scatter-gunned across 8 pages with a piece here and there hidden among the ads. That tactic really pisses people off because it makes it a chore to read the article. In the end I'm buying a magazine to read the articles not the bloody ads. Once the ads take up more space and are more prominent than the actual content, things have crossed the line.
Sadly the marketing geniuses who rule on the Internet appear to believe that they can do no wrong and intrusive advertising is the rule. Had Internet ads not been the animated, multi-media floating image fake content malware ridden crap that they are, then I could have put up with them. Web sites that use static images in a side column or banner are acceptable for advertisements, but clickable images with some hacked ad server along for the ride are not. I understand that it's easier for advertisers and google to count clicks and that clicks mean fees. Fine, I get that. Perhaps it's just Web 1.0 of me to think that an ad image with a clickable link in plain text at the foot of the image is just as effective as any number of highly intrusive and annoying pop-ups? Certainly folks who use ad blockers would be less inclined to block a static image. The use of static images to the side of the main site's content would mirror the way in which print ads work.
Either way, don't expect anyone to give up control of their computer or browser any time soon, for every counter measure that advertisers come up with, ad blockers will become more sophisticated and block even more.
Does everyone REALLY use Adblock?
Heh, am I the only one on the net who really isnt phased by the presence of adverts in any form? Are people these days really so twitchy that anything that isnt content puts them right off? Or is it the whole concept of 'Adverts are evil' that makes people just on the blocker bandwagon?Just curious, as its something I've never really been bothered by, and probably never will be.
If the websites would just like to add a tag at the top of themselves marked <safe> that would be perfect thanks. My browser can tell me which pages are safe to view. And I can throw out that clunky old AV software.
Some classic responses here... those people who are using the "I pay my ISP and telco so all internet should be [ad] free" are right up there with those people who said "I can't get the swine flu coz I'm vegetarian". These people must be trolls, surely? Or just no idea about the supply chain?
And I really have to agree with AC; ad brokers are no better than real estate agents. Anyone who runs a small-to-medium sized site would LOVE to have an alternative to putting some of these crap ads on their site. I personally had a coronary back when they tried to dump Crazy Frog ads on my site and fired my supplier post-haste, but not everyone has a tech team so responsive they can do so.
Unless someone comes up with something, the Web2.0 revenue model (listen, you can hear it coughing) will continue to die fast and we can expect more subscription models or a reduction in quality of the sites we visit.
So instead of moaning about how you have to look at ad-supported sites, do any of you have any constructive criticism on how small-to-medium sites can afford to put beer on the table without serving crappy ads?
Totally agree with you on the problem of "quality control" on adverts, but what if someone used this "bypass" to spread malware ?
If someone had their machine hosed by a dodgy "Antivirus 2009" advert, and they found out that ABP let it through because someone had persuaded Wladimir that they were "clean", then he's toast. It would be such a breach of the trust that people put in Wladimir and his work, that people would think twice before ever trusting him again.
I don't see ABP and NoScript as the tools of freetards - I use them because some parts of the internet can't be trusted to play nicely with others.
I'm with Cameron
If you care enough to install ABP you're not going click on any of the ads that do get through are you?
I do the following: Install Flashblock and set "image.animation.mode" to "none" in about:config.
The way these two things work means that I don't have to see those annoying ads, BUT the website still *thinks* I've seen them. Flashblock, for example, doesn't block FF from downloading the flash object, but instead replaces the downloaded object with a placeholder. So the server logs show I've downloaded the SWF file but I don't have to look at it. And disabling animated GIF files has the same effect.
We do not accept payment for any review, nor would we ever.
But do you accept the items you're given to test or are those given back?
Re: We do not accept payment for any review, nor would we ever.
We send them back. I understand that there is a class of reviews operation that takes money for reviews and gets kit in exchange for favourable ones, but I do not see that as a legitimate approach. When you get on to question three, we don't promise favourable reviews in order to get access to the kit in the first place, either.
You have reached this web page by typing "example.com", "example.net", or "example.org" into your web browser.
These domain names are reserved for use in documentation and are not available for registration. See RFC 2606, Section 3.
Curious what, if anything, example.com was and got that :P
Oh alternatively instead of having the site CHECK to see if your running an ad-blocker why not have the ad-blocker check for a little tag and then go "Oh ok I need to display this now" Might make more sense.....
@ Ad Fundum
What do you mean "pay for ads" The advertiser pays for the ads, you simply view them.
In my opinion...
The two key problems here are irritation, and bandwidth / loading time.
I disable animated JIFs, web sound, and flash (i.e. plugins) by default in Opera, that still leaves me with a number of adverts with their opening image. Sometimes thay are actually interesting!
Can't ABP be set to do the same for Firefox?
Those who make adverts that are relavent and fit the allowed 'static image pattern' will still get viewed, and the sites hosting them will still get the revenue from it.
Don't mind short text ads
I block all graphical adverts using a combination of Proxomitron and ABP. Bandwidth is extremely expensive in the African country I work in, so I will decide what I pay to download.
Textual adverts are much harder to block and yet strangely more effective.
If a web site had something like the following I might even take a look:
Advertisement: This web site is associated with XYZ company who make such-and-such a product. If you are looking for something like that, please take a look at their website http://www.example.com
I will never click on any ads, so I block them all. Anyway I think this new "feature" will not be intrusive in itself. It just shows a "yellow bar" at the top. The tag doesn't seem to break any standards. If unblocking the ads can bring money to the sites I find this a friendly reminder for users to support their favourite sites.
My 2 cents
The concept of ads on information sites in my opinion is entirely legitimate. Those of you who state that you pay for your phone line and ISP seem to have little understanding of the commercial model. You are not paying for "The Internet"
The closest analogy I can think of would be paying for petrol and car tax and expecting the bookshop you drive to to provide you with free books as a result.
I hate to say it (and I will probably get flamed as a result) but there seems to be a loud minority of commenters on El Reg that consider anything on the net should be some sort of hippy hand in hand free for all. That we should all have access to as much music, software and information as we can cram down our connections. These same people seem to have a warped view of any reasonably large software corporation. As if somehow their success automatically makes them worthy of derision.
I don't know what most of this group do for a living but I can take a guess at some sort of development or administration role. Would you do it for free? Or worse would you mind people stealing the product of your work.
Why not go the full hog and never buy a newspaper again. Just read them in the magazine stand or over someones shoulder. Why should you have to pay?
What difference does it make?
Of course I do use ads, but then if I want something I'll go and look for them. I'm not going to buy something just because it's shoved in my face.
I use AdBlockPlus...
...even on The Reg (sorry, but true).
So yes, let me join the groups which understands that Ads may be a necessity for keeping a website afloat... but refuses to cater to the "bigger, flashier, brighter is better" advertising crowd. Bring back relevant text ads and I'll unblock you; keep feeding me pictures and flash and you'll stay in by block list. Frankly, pictures in HTML are supposed to have an "alternate" text tag (supposed to, but often web-sites forget about them) - why can't *responsible* adverts do the same? (and no bleeding <blink> tags!)
El Reg ads
I've been reading El Reg for close on 8 years now and I'm quite happy to pay for it by viewing ads - no freetard principles here. I might even have clicked on one occasionally. But recently I've been forced to install adblocker, as the flash ads are killing my CPU.
To back this up with numbers: 6 tabs of random stories opened in Firefox with flash blocked, and it's taking 3.7% of my CPU time. If I then activate the flash ads on each of those 6 panes, Firefox varies up to between 18% and 30%. This on a dual core 2.6Ghz Macbook Pro with 4GB RAM! It starts up my fan, kills my battery and with 10 or more tabs open makes it quite painful to use.
Such a large chunk of resource use is madness. If adblock had some sort of utilization cap (so I would see flash ads up to, say, 10% of my CPU) then I'd take it. Or perhaps El Reg could suggest to it's advertisers they tone it down a bit - this is the online equivalent of turning the volume up on the adverts, and adblock is the mute button. Make them a little less intrusive and I won't need to.
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