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Author Topic: Adblock Plus: the nuclear plug-in (nice blog post)  (Read 7570 times)
mouser
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« on: September 03, 2007, 01:14:11 PM »

Interesting article and blog essay on Adblock Plus, a FireFox plugin to remove ads from web pages.

Quote
Adblock Plus: the nuclear plug-in
Adblock Plus, the Firefox browser plug-in that erases advertisements from web pages, is a killer of a killer app - or at least it would be if it became widely popular. Right now, it sits like a coyote at the edge of the net, quietly eyeing all the businesses it would happily devour.

The plug-in, writes Noam Cohen in today's New York Times, has the potential to be an "extreme menace to the online-advertising business model. After an installation that takes but a minute or two, Adblock usually makes all commercial communication disappear. No flashing whack-a-mole banners. No Google ads based on the search terms you have entered. From that perspective, the program is an unwelcome arrival after years of worry that there might never be an online advertising business model to support the expense of creating entertainment programming or journalism, or sophisticated search engines, for that matter."


Adblock Plus: http://adblockplus.org/
NY Time Article: http://www.nytimes.com/20...03/technology/03link.html
Blog Essay: http://www.roughtype.com/...07/09/adblock_plus_th.php
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icekin
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2007, 07:57:43 PM »

Its not a bad program, but Firefox is a memory Hog. I personally found AdMuncher (http://www.admuncher.com/) to be far better, even though it does cost some money. It filters from everything that connects to the internet.

Customize Google (http://www.customizegoogle.com/) is another extension that can remove the Google Text ads on Firefox.
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Tekzel
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« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2007, 09:00:28 AM »

They can moan all they want, but if they had kept the online advertising to a SANE level, there may have never been a reason for an adblock.  However, they had to go and make huge flashing banners, annoying whackamole ads.  Put ads in to the point that they overwelm the content many times over.  So, you do what you do, and I do what I do to put a certain amount of sanity back into my browsing.  Frankly, it doesn't really matter to me, I am not the advertisers target audience.  I am less likely to buy your crap the more you put it in my face anyway.
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Lashiec
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« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2007, 11:31:59 AM »

The irony is that the guys at the New York Times achieved what Nicholas Carr feared, exposing AdBlock Plus to the mainstream. Next thing we'll hear is sites either blocking Firefox, or blocking those users with the installed extension (so far, I think there's no way to query the extensions used by Firefox). I saw in another forums how the threads related to ad blocking were immediately closed. And AdBlock Plus it's easier to use than before.

At least they didn't mention the real usage of Opera's content blocker...

About ads, I don't mind seeing them, but it really bugs me to see ads loading first, Flash-based ads 'flashing' me all the time, ads with sound disrupting my music (HATE IT), and those new Flash ads that appears in front of the text. You click the 'close' button and... surprise! You've launched the ad site, because greedy authors made the button in such way that you have to press an exact zone of the button to close it (and a small zone to make things more difficult). If they make ads to be less intrusive, I'll gladly deactivate the content blocker, but this is not happening soon. Last thing they did is add ads to Ubi Soft games, you get them for free, but you have to withstand ads everytime you save or you enter the menu.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 01:03:07 PM by Lashiec » Logged
f0dder
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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2007, 06:05:05 PM »

There's already tricks to detect if a user is using an ad blocker... I've seen it here and there.

<3 AdBlock pluy anyway.
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wreckedcarzz
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2007, 06:15:15 PM »

I have been using AdBlock Plus since I got into FF addons a few months ago. Best ad blocker ever.
Next thing we'll hear is sites either blocking Firefox, or blocking those users with the installed extension (so far, I think there's no way to query the extensions used by Firefox).
People running those sites can then say bye-bye to my traffic and any activity I may or may not have had there. It's my computer, and if you have a problem with it, thats too bad. (Isn't that also an intrusion of not only your computer, but your privacy as well? undecided)

EDIT: The irony- I just finished reading the article, and re-read the 2 last sentences, "Microsoft kows that ad blockers pose a far greater threat to Google than to itself. As they say: The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Directly under that is an ad...
For Google AdWords
 Grin
« Last Edit: September 04, 2007, 06:24:20 PM by wreckedcarzz » Logged

New website! With a fancy domain name and everything! *gasp*
http://www.wreckedcarzz.com/
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« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2007, 06:18:16 PM »

By visiting their site, you agree to their advertisements. Most sites offer a subscription for ad free viewing, if you truly like the site, you will let the ads show. I do it on sites I support. If DC had a way to force ads to show for charter members, I would enable it. This is why I like ad muncher, I can support sites I like and find useful. Its only right that a site I use all the time get some sort of recoupement for my constant usage.
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wreckedcarzz
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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2007, 06:27:49 PM »

By visiting their site, you agree to their advertisements. Most sites offer a subscription for ad free viewing, if you truly like the site, you will let the ads show. I do it on sites I support. If DC had a way to force ads to show for charter members, I would enable it. This is why I like ad muncher, I can support sites I like and find useful. Its only right that a site I use all the time get some sort of recoupement for my constant usage.
True, and very interesting point. But I cannot afford $5 a year here, $15 a year here, $2.50 a month here, and so on. It adds up. And besides, the first time I visit a site that I might like (and want to subscribe too) its a pain in the *** to go around the 15 different flash banners making my computer look like the NASA space station just to get to a link (that often times turns out to be an ad).
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Tekzel
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2007, 10:36:50 AM »

By visiting their site, you agree to their advertisements. Most sites offer a subscription for ad free viewing, if you truly like the site, you will let the ads show. I do it on sites I support. If DC had a way to force ads to show for charter members, I would enable it. This is why I like ad muncher, I can support sites I like and find useful. Its only right that a site I use all the time get some sort of recoupement for my constant usage.

I never agreed to any such thing.  Show me where I accepted one.  Oh, its an implied agreement?  By the same token, by me visiting their site they accepted an implied agreement to not annoy the heck out of me, which they broke with their intrusive flashing ads.
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Josh
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2007, 11:12:48 AM »

Thats just it, you are visiting something THEY own, not the other way around.
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Dirhael
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2007, 12:08:34 PM »

Thats just it, you are visiting something THEY own, not the other way around.

It still doesn't mean that you've agree to their terms by visiting their site. As long as I didn't sign any legal contract, or at least had to press "OK" on some form of EULA before entering the site, I most certainly have not agreed to anything. I understand that they have them and need the revenue, but if I block them I'm fully within my rights to do so. If it is a site that I really enjoy and would like to support, I'd much rather prefer them to have some form of donation system where I can just give them money directly. If I dislike ads enough to block them, white-listing them on some site I enjoy wouldn't help as I still wouldn't click them. Because of this, they would be nothing more than unnecessary visual (and even audible) distractions and in certain cases, a potential privacy and security risk.
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Josh
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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2007, 01:43:36 PM »

Well, on the same note, they are well within their rights to block you from accessing the site if you choose to block the ads. Its a two way street. I am a firm believer that if you utilize something enough, and its provided for free or offers an option for some form of reimbursement, you should reimburse the author (be it donations, subscriptions, etc). If an ad makes your favorite site free, why shouldnt you support them and let it be shown?
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Dirhael
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« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2007, 02:03:14 PM »

Well, on the same note, they are well within their rights to block you from accessing the site if you choose to block the ads. Its a two way street. I am a firm believer that if you utilize something enough, and its provided for free or offers an option for some form of reimbursement, you should reimburse the author (be it donations, subscriptions, etc). If an ad makes your favorite site free, why shouldnt you support them and let it be shown?

Oh they certainly are, but by doing so they are really just shooting themselves in the foot. At the moment there are no reliable way of detecting adblocking software (and really, there never will be) so the choice they are left is blocking an entire browser. While this might seem unproblematic to some, you should remember that adblocking is possible, for free, with all major browsers and you can't very well block everyone (well you could, but then what would be the point of having a website at all). Even if you factor in that most people blocking ads are using Firefox, and that they represent perhaps 10-20% of your audience you also need to remember this; The people competent enough to install an extension blocking adverts are also most certainly able to install another extension faking their user agent string being passed to the web server as well. As such, no matter how you look at it, it would be a waste of time and resources to try combating this.
Now I don't make a point of blocking every ad I ever encounter, but I will remove the distracting and intrusive ones. Keep the ads relevant to your content, and don't ever try forcing me to install/enable plugins just to view your ads. Text adverts like the ones Google offers are fine, flashing ones telling me that my computer is at risk because I'm not using some very questionable "security" software is not.

When it takes longer to download the ads than the content of a website, you are clearly doing something wrong. Good look trying to read up on the latest news using dial-up in this day and age. Let me tell you, it's a pain...and expensive.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2007, 02:06:17 PM by Dirhael » Logged

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Tekzel
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« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2007, 02:51:26 PM »

Well, on the same note, they are well within their rights to block you from accessing the site if you choose to block the ads. Its a two way street. I am a firm believer that if you utilize something enough, and its provided for free or offers an option for some form of reimbursement, you should reimburse the author (be it donations, subscriptions, etc). If an ad makes your favorite site free, why shouldnt you support them and let it be shown?

Absolutely, we are in complete agreement there.  If they choose to block my access on the basis that I am using an ad blocker, they are completely within their right to do so.  I will then decide whether the site is worth me viewing the ads and either disable my ad blocker or not go back.  BUT, for them to just assume that by my coming there I am agreeing to view the ads is ridiculous in the extreme.  I agree to nothing that I don't actively accept.  There can be no assumed anything.
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Mark0
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2007, 05:53:30 AM »

Am I the only one that isn't annoyed at all by most forms of online advertising (except the most obstrusive ones, that open windows above what you are reading, obviously)?

Bye!
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f0dder
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« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2007, 07:12:32 AM »

Am I the only one that isn't annoyed at all by most forms of online advertising (except the most obstrusive ones, that open windows above what you are reading, obviously)?

Really depends on the kind of advertisements and how many there are. On some sites, advertisements aren't the pop-over/under kind but simply make the page layout distracting and stressful; other sites have porn ads, which I'd rather not have show up.
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Tekzel
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« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2007, 08:53:20 AM »

On some sites, advertisements aren't the pop-over/under kind but simply make the page layout distracting and stressful; other sites have porn ads, which I'd rather not have show up.

Heck, thats the only kind I DON'T mind! smiley

In all seriousness, I don't mind google ad words at all, and never even try to block them.  Because they don't get in my way, they don't overwhelm the content I am trying get to.  I despise ALL forms of Flash ads.  They are of the devil and as such should be sought out and destroyed, along with their evil creators.
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Renegade
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« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2007, 09:02:14 AM »

... At the moment there are no reliable way of detecting adblocking software (and really, there never will be) ...

Kind of true and kind of not... It boils down to it all being a game of cat and mouse.

There are ways to defeat adblockers. Especially ones written in script that expose code (trivial at that point).

Just for example with image ads - You request a page - I prioritize how I want to serve it to you - ads first... (this is on a 1 page visit)

You get some content like layout and the like, but no 'real' content until I see that you've asked to have the ad downloaded. When I see there's no request for it, I dump you and serve up a message saying that ads pay for the content of the site. No ads. No site.

Ok - that briefly describes special web server system that's much more than just your average site. However, that kind of thing - the streaming of content - has been done in the past and there's no reason why it can't be done again. But most people can't afford to create that kind of technology as there's a significant amount that you need to know to do it. Knowing how to write a PHP script isn't going to cut it at that level. However, on a more than 1 page visit, this all becomes very easy to do even in script.

Now, you could simply download the content, then display black shapes over the ads to cover them. The system above would think that you're seeing ads. For their CPM ads, they'd still get paid. But they'd never make a dime off of CPC. Soon, the CPM advertisers would drop in favor of CPC. Guess what. The site would never make any money then. They'd drop like flies and your favorite sites would slowly disappear as adblocker software gained popularity.

Be careful what you wish for. If you don't want ads, then you may end up throwing the baby out with the bath water.

But really, getting around ad blockers isn't that hard to do. There are a trillion tricks you can do. But it will always be a game of cat and mouse.

Ok - here's another off the top of my head...

You request a page. I've got ads on it. Instead of directly serving the ad to you, I subsitute in all my own URLs and serve the content from there. Now you can't tell whether or not it's from an ad server. When you click on one of the ads, I simply redirect to the URL from the real ad.

I'm sure others can come up with more cat & mouse games for defeating adblockers.

As for my sites - I don't have any ads on them at all. None. I might change in the future, but I don't need to serve ads. (I really should though as I've got a lot of highly targetted traffic that would be valuable.)



For the whole ad blocking thing, I'm going to have to side with the 'let the ads display' side. I think I've got some pretty good reasons for it - content - GOOD content is expensive to produce. Somebody needs to get paid for that.

For me just to quickly look at a short 400 word article and make minor corrections costs $16.00 to start. That's just for a quick proof & edit and only takes me a few minutes. Now, what will it cost to write and create the content for a major web site? A lot. Graphic designers cost money. Flash animators cost money. Programmers cost money.

When you block their source of income, you're effectively freeloading in a purposefully mischevious way.

Now, some people give out content for free. That's fine and that's their choice. I give a lot of things away for free because I can. Those things I do give away don't contribute to my income. Others give things away for 'free with ads'. I don't think that it's necessarily always honest to take that source of income away.

Then again, there are a lot of sites that I wouldn't have a problem stealing their income source away from them. Warez sites. MFA sites. etc. They're just bottom feeders and I have less than zero respect for them.

I would not want to block ads at a site like http://www.codeproject.com though. I love that site and want it to prosper. It's a truly fantastic site that I get a lot of value from. For me to take away ads there not only hurts them, but hurts me as well.

Well, I suppose I've blathered enough.


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Dirhael
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« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2007, 09:35:34 AM »

While some of the methods you mention could work, it would be as you say a game of "cat & mouse." You should also be very careful by going overboard with that, because you will end up blocking a lot of "legit" visitors that aren't using any form of ad blocking. Also, just like when it comes to software copy protections, they all get broken at some point. The ones you usually end up hurting are the paying customers, and the ones that just might click your ads but are getting falsely accused of blocking your advertising and as such aren't allowed to visit your site.

I would also like to point out once again that ads aren't "evil" as long as they are relevant to the content of the website, and don't distract me from reading the content. If the ads aren't relevant, there's no difference for a website it I block them or not, because there still is absolutely no chance that I'll ever click any one of them. The same thing goes when the ads becomes overwhelming. This is one of the reasons I never visit sites like IGN anymore. Their ads are usually relevant to the content, but there are just so many of them and they take up a whole lot more bandwidth than their content do so it's just not worth it. After all, you need to have some pretty damn unique content to make me put up with that behavior, because otherwise there are tons of other sites I could visit that offers me the same...just without all the trouble.
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uryan
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« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2007, 08:23:28 AM »

In the end, ad supported websites is a business model. If it works, it works. If not, then a different business model will have to be used. There is nothing morally wrong about this - it is simply a part of the free market economy. Business models in many industries are being constantly forced to change.

Personally, I don't go out of my way to blanket block all ads, but if one is annoying me I might block it. I don't remember ever (intentionally) clicking on an ad. I guess my immediate response is cynicism when I think someone is trying to sell me something.

In my mind, ad supported websites can be basically divided into 3 categories:
1. Sites that put up content in the hope of attracting visitors so that they can make a profit off the ads. I don't feel particularly sympathetic for these. If the content is truly valuable then they will be able to find a way to make money off it. If not, then they probably dont deserve what they're getting now. (But they are perfectly entitled to it.)
2. Sites that use ads primarily to recover costs. These are the ones that are most likely to suffer from ad-blocking. Still, there are other ways to recover costs, and if people value the site then it should still remain possible for it to continue.
3. Sites that do not need the profit from ads, and just throw them in to make a bit more on the side. These are the sites I couldn't care less about. OTOH, they are also probably the sites that don't particularly care if the ads are blocked.

In the end however, you will probably just see the ads getting more and more integrated with the sites content until it is impossible to seperate them. Like the way tv shows are getting in-show overlays and product placement to combat ad-skipping.
Some sites will continue to grow, some will fall. Some will become too annoying and push all their traffic away. In the end that's life. It's not up to the general public to babysit the webmasters.

P.S. Renegade: that system you describe would potentially deadlock. You would get browsers that hold off requesting the ad because you haven't yet served them what they have requested, and your server holding off serving the content because they haven't yet got the ad. Unless you used scripting to post-load the real content (also asking for trouble IMHO)
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« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2007, 05:46:55 AM »

Quote
(Isn't that also an intrusion of not only your computer, but your privacy as well? undecided)

How can it be an invasion of your privacy when it's on their server?  You choose to go there.  They don't come calling.

Personally, I think we should eliminate all advertising.  That would enhance the quality of the Net now, wouldn't it?

Silly whining.  If you want to use other people's sites for free, install an ad-blocker by all means, but don't try to justify it by implying that the site owner is infringing on your rights.
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« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2007, 06:05:49 AM »

I agree, whole-heartedly. No one forces you to visit a website. If you don't like their choice of advertising, by all means, stop using the website, but don't claim an invasion of privacy.
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« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2007, 11:11:28 AM »

Some pages I visit regularly have self-placed ads , and other links in which I have no interest. Usually these unwanted links are in the same location every time you visit the site. Unfortunately, AdBlock cannot block these.

However, they are easy to permanently remove with the FireFox extension, "Remove It Permanently"
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/521
kk
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mouser
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« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2007, 08:09:16 PM »

nicholas just posted a longer follow up, which is entertaining reading:

http://www.roughtype.com/...07/09/adblock_plus_wh.php

Quote
What happens when the advertisements are wiped clean from a Web site? There is a contented feeling similar to what happens when you watch a recorded half-hour network TV show on DVD in 22 minutes, or when a blizzard hits Times Square and for a few hours, the streets are quiet and unhurried, until the plows come to clear away all that white space.
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« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2007, 02:26:46 PM »

Let's do some thread necromancy, as I found two articles on the same site about the morals of ad usage and ad blocking, from both sides of the fence, content providers and readers. Most of the points mentioned had already been discussed here, but maybe you will find them in a new light or show something you missed. As for me, I'll continue using ad blocking, but Opera 9.5 can't get released soon enough Wink
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