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Ask Slashdot: To AdBlock Or Not To AdBlock? 716

conner_bw writes "Is there an acceptable compromise to behavioral targeting? On the one hand, I don't want to be profiled by unscrupulous advertisers. On the other hand, I feel that the advertiser is the middleman between the things I care about (content) and the dollars that support those things. My compromise is to take a page out of BF Skinner's book, Walden Two, and view the situation as a sort of absurd behaviorist experiment. Basically, I Adblock everything, but whitelist the sites I support. Is this too much? Not enough? What should individuals do protect themselves, if anything at all?"
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Ask Slashdot: To AdBlock Or Not To AdBlock?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:06PM (#41075805)

    Advertising is evil. No need to rationalize ad blocking. Kick the marketers to the curb and move on. If the site needs another source of revenue, they'll find it be it micropayments, subscriptions, etc. And if you really care about the content you can then pay to get it, and if not, nothing of value is lost.

    • by JosephTX ( 2521572 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:20PM (#41075929)

      If you're one of those weird people who visits more than 3 or 4 websites a month, that model would get very expensive very quickly.

      • by Qwertie ( 797303 )
        What we really need is a micropayment system that makes it feasible for consumers to spend one cent per page or less, to avoid advertising without "subscribing" to a website, without the inconvenience of getting out their credit card, without having to share any private information with websites, without age restrictions (did you have a credit card at 13?). A system in which websites do not have to implement complicated paywall, billing, or log-in infrastructure, do not have to subject themselves to caprici
        • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:29PM (#41076529)

          1 cent per page? I would owe $10 a day with that model. $300/month and close to $4000 a year. No. I much prefer the advertising that gives me free internet (also TV and radio). The alternative would be something like the BBC, where I'd have to pay $230 a year to watch NBC. $230 a year to watch ABC. $230 a year to watch CBS. And on and on and on. Pretty soon I'd have a $2000 bill just to watch television I currently get for free. (Add another $1000 to get cable.)

          No I prefer the ads. And believe it or not some of those ads are useful.... like the one that told me Dominoes has 50% off pizza. Or the one advertising the "Grimm" DVD. I discovered a new show. Or the one that informed me Volkswagen has finally released a diesel-powered Beetle. I was looking for a car and now I'll have one.

          • by BeShaMo ( 996745 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:54PM (#41076735)
            The advantage you have with something like BBC, which might not be so obvious, is that when it doesn't rely on ads, you, not the advertisers become the customer. That allows for the possibility of a much broader appeal in programs and importantly (if done right) and independent media that does not have to worry about advertisers opinions, or what market segments a particular program should fit into to maximize profit.
          • BBC Model (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @11:28PM (#41077327) Journal

            The alternative would be something like the BBC, where I'd have to pay $230 a year to watch NBC. $230 a year to watch ABC. $230 a year to watch CBS. And on and on and on.

            No the BBC model is far better than that: you pay £145.50 each year to watch the BBC. This consists of multiple channels of high quality HD content plus an online service that lets you download content to watch offline later. You then get ITV, Channel 4 etc. thrown in for free with ads.

            If they would let me do that from Canada I'd take them up in a flash. As it is my only option for anything close is to pay $880 (~£550) per year for cable to get the same amount of quality content split over 100 channels and interspersed with ads and low quality rubbish. The only channel that comes close in terms of quality is the CBC but it only provides one english-speaking channel and is severely hampered by lack of funding.

            The BBC is by no means perfect and the funding model certainly has its flaws but the end result is something with a higher quality and lower cost than anything I have yet seen in any of the countries I've lived in.

            • Re:BBC Model (Score:4, Informative)

              by SeanDS ( 1039000 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @04:09AM (#41078559) Homepage
              I've used the BBC news website as my main and often only source of news for years. However, I am still consistently amazed every few months when I discover yet another service that the BBC has been modestly offering in the background.

              A couple of years ago the Tory government in the UK were trying to reduce the BBC's budget dramatically, arguing that it's lost focus on its core objective of news. In particular, they wanted to scale back the websites to just basic news, arguing that the real content should be provided by newspapers' websites. The reality is that the public love and defend the BBC's diverse range of services, and in the end I think the bill was scrapped. Now, with the recent Olympics, the BBC successfully (without a hitch, from what I saw) broadcast web-based feeds of 30 sporting events simultaneously, to tens of millions of viewers at once. Not only that, but you could rewind and seek within the live stream videos to rewatch notable events. They've recently extended the same functionalty to their iPlayer (catch-up TV) service, allowing me to rewind a programme that's currently broadcasting if I've missed the beginning.

              The licence fee is an absolute bargain. I'd happily pay twice that amount. The only comparable website (and there are no real comparisons) would perhaps be the Guardian newspaper's website, which at least competes for news content. It doesn't make a stab at history [] sections, archives [] of old film footage (such as the Titanic launch), learning/revision services for school kids [], a news service entirely aimed at kids [] (and toddlers []), science []...
          • by crywalt ( 2426042 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:14AM (#41077529) Homepage
            There's the obvious point to make here that advertising doesn't make things free. It just hides the cost from you. Chances are you're paying well over $4000 a year in increased costs of everything from Coca-Cola to cars to support advertising.
          • by Dexter Herbivore ( 1322345 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:09AM (#41078285) Journal
            Who cares about the advertisers? The less knowledgable users of the web can subsidise everyone else (at no cost to themselves) by viewing the advertising. I have the means to avoid it. If I want something then I'll go and look for it and do some independent research, if I don't know about 'it' then chances are I didn't need it and would be wasting my money buying it.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @10:16PM (#41076883)

          My guess: such a system would gravitate toward the cable television model in North America. You pay for the cable, *and* you get to watch commercials. Never underestimate their desire for more money.

        • by mianne ( 965568 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @11:26PM (#41077315)

          But if such micropayments were automatic, then you can bet there'd be plenty of unscrupulous webmasters embedding thousands of 1x1 iFrames into their sites, Javascript auto-refreshes every couple of seconds, botnets and so on. It'd become more profitable to wring lots of loose change from unsuspecting web users than current phishing scams.

          If you have to authorize micropayments to each website you read on a regular basis, then we're back to square one, and we already have systems like the PayPal Donate button or the Amazon Tip Jar in place.

    • by laxr5rs ( 2658895 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:20PM (#41075943)
      I'm not sure advertising is "evil," but I agree that a person should do whatever they please, as they wish, just as advertisers do.
      • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:40PM (#41076123) Journal

        I'm not sure advertising is "evil,"

        It doesn't have to be evil to be bad.
        Instead of binary good or evil questions, we should be asking if it's in the public interest
        and whether or not the benefits outweight the negatives.

        Don't forget that advertising is commercial speech, which can be limited.

        • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:09PM (#41076353) Journal

          we should be asking if it's in the public interest

          This is a nitpick, but I'd rather ask if it's in any individual's interest.

          I like to differentiate between "marketing" and "advertising." If you'll bare with me for one second: marketing, as I see it, is about trying to develop relationships with customers, present or potential, and provide them a solution to a problem they have. Advertising is one single tool that can be used as part of a marketing campaign.

          As long as there is more than a single monopoly providing a given good or service then individuals really do need a way to become informed about alternatives and make decisions. I think that's where marketing comes in. And it doesn't have to be the company jumping in front of you, interrupting what you're trying to do in an attempt to get your attention. If you are, for example, shopping for a laptop you might ask your friends. If they have had a good experience with a given company, that's a form of marketing (marketing isn't trying to make a sale, it's trying to keep customers as well and get them to speak highly about their experiences). If you google "laptops" and read user reviews, maybe even go to a consumer review site, that's also marketing. And a good consumer review site will realize that people are there looking to buy things and instead of shoving ads in their face, will provide affiliate links in appropriate places so when someone decides to check out, say, "Dell Computers" the link they click on will provide a track-back to the consumer review site and the user will never think that they've just earned someone some ad revenue.

          I think there are a lot of crappy ads out there and companies that haven't the first clue how to market properly. I also think that advertising is necessary and "good." And us having this debate right now, and using ad block software etc. is also a "good thing" because it's how our opinions get shoved in the faces of advertisers. The good marketers will take notice and respond. They'll realize that making people happy in some way is the whole point of a business and that marketing is about informing choices. Not informing people who don't care, but people who are actively seeking that information.

          • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @10:22PM (#41076929)

            If you'll bare with me for one second

            I'll keep my trousers on for now, if you don't mind.

          • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:23AM (#41077875) Homepage Journal

            Well, there's a marketing aspect that's definitely not in my best interest, and that is google analytics and other trackers. Combined with data from, or any participating merchant site, It can tell a marketer not only what I bought and how much I paid for it, but more importantly which sites I went to before I pulled the trigger. It can tell them exactly what searches and browsing patterns led me to this decision. If I searched for "water heater 50 gallon warranty sucks forum", attempting to find out what people think when they have warranty troubles, then read they'll happily sell that data to an SEO marketer who then salts the top listed forums with shills posting useless crap like "My 50 gallon WetWillie 2000 water heater has a great warranty, and it doesn't suck." It poisons my ability to do a search I can trust to be somewhat independent of the planted lies.

            So I use NoScript, Ghostery, and AdBlock Plus to block scripts, trackers, social networking links, flash, and ads which all serve the same purpose of assisting marketers to anticipate my moves. I won't even consider IE or Chrome, as neither offers effective privacy extensions. And I've even stopped using Google as my primary search engine, instead preferring As far as I can tell they're trying to be honest, which sadly isn't saying much. But at least they're not Google.

            I used to care more about denying ad revenue to sites, but I got over it once crap like XSS and CSRF attacks started trickling through advertisers on otherwise respectable sites. Do I feel guilty? Well, I still tithe Slashdot a few times a year. I'll click on Amazon referrer links to buy books from authors I like. And I do not install ad blockers for anyone else, nor do I tell non-technical people how to do it. They can do all the monkey punching they want, go support the ad bandits, do whatever. I'll happily let them foot the bills I am no longer willing to pay.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:38PM (#41076601)

        Modern advertising is verging on evil. It's using more and more sophisticated psychological tools to manipulate masses of people into doing things detrimental to themselves and their loved ones.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:50PM (#41076195)

      In my opinion, I think advertisers (and other personal data-gathering companies) need to be more transparent and open about what info they collect.
      What I want:
      - Let me know EXACTLY what you collect about me.
      - Let me choose what you collect.
      - Let me know how you process that data (e.g. if you use my data for personality tests and such that tells you more about me than I've told you myself, and what you learn about me this way).
      - Let me have you delete my personal data at anytime after you have collected it.
      - Let me know who you share all that data with.
      - Let me make you not share my data with specific groups, people and companies.

      Advertisers could set up a website where we volunteer personal data and retain full control over it. Targeted advertising can be good for customers, hey I'd love to know about products that might interest me. The issue is the control I retain over my data.

      But somehow, advertisers collect data about us behind our backs and work hard to keep us from knowing about it - this is suspicious. They can claim targeted advertising is good for us, and done properly I'm sure it is, but as long as they refuse to be open and co-operate with the customers then I will doubt that they really have our best interests in mind.

      Now what does this have to do with Ad Block?
      I realize websites rely on ads to keep running and I want to help. However, the way advertising is done right now, it does not satisfy me at all.
      I could suck it up and unblock ads anyway, for the sake of the websites I like, but that will never solve the problem. On the other hand, if enough people block ads, advertisers will be forced to change their methods. And the innocent websites who suffer while we block ads? Well they should be pushing for advertisers to be more transparent.

      • by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:01PM (#41076283)

        If sites need advertising dollars, let me just run a bot that keeps clicking that ad 24/7.

        Back in the day, that's how a lot of sites made money.

        If you want me to read the ad -
        Don't make it move
        Don't make it flash
        Don't make it obnoxious and obvious
        Don't play a sound
        Don't make it a clickthru
        Don't Block Content until the ad is done
        Allow a video choice
        Allow a bypass choice
        Do not open pop ups, Pop unders
        Do not stay frozen on a page while you scroll

        (list goes on for another 1000 things advertisers have done to force me to adblock)

        And finally, nothing is stopping the poor sod who is upset about adblocking everything and writing a check to the web site and popping it off in the mail.

        • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @02:31AM (#41078129)

          Totally agreed.

          Over the years I now and then upgraded my system, getting a cleanly installed OS, with an extension-less Firefox.

          Pop-ups/unders are nicely taken care of by FF and are not an issue. The somewhat sensible pop-ups (link that legitimately opens a new window) are pushed into tabs, and that's fine.

          Yet it's the ads that always make me install FlashBlock very soon. Flashing, jumping, hovering over content (those are maybe even the worst): they irritate me, they distract me from reading the actual content, sometimes make it near impossible due to being so distracting flashing or moving around and blocking text that I want to read. Get rid of those Flash ads and my life improves a lot. And no I'm not going to uninstall Flash as too many sites depend on it, and I don't want to mess around with workarounds to watch a YouTube video or so.

          FlashBlock is mostly enough, it blocks the vast majority of irritations.

          Though when I'm busy installing extensions, I'll get ABP too. Unfortunately it has no general option of "allow non-intrusive ads" that I know of. Static images or text ads, those are OK. OTOH I don't exactly miss them either, so I can't be bothered too much.

    • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:52PM (#41076207)

      So you're subscribing to /. then?

      • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:50PM (#41076703)

        So you're subscribing to /. then?

        I'm not, but Slashdot gave me a little checkbox to hide the ads anyway :)

        I don't know what all the fuss is about. Advertising is a perfectly legitimate way to fund a site if there is no other way. People will grumble about having to view ads, but most will flatly refuse to pay even a few dollars to fund the site.

        It does go too far sometimes though. I've had friends complain that they mentioned the word "diet" on a (seemingly) unrelated forum and then suddenly facebook is bombarding them with weight loss products. Targeted advertising should at least have the decency to be sneaky, not obvious. I use adblock though and have never, ever, seen an ad on Facebook. I started using adblock when all the ads made my dialup connection too slow, and have never bothered turning it off even though i'm on a much faster connection now.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      Advertising is evil. No need to rationalize ad blocking. Kick the marketers to the curb and move on. If the site needs another source of revenue, they'll find it be it micropayments, subscriptions, etc. And if you really care about the content you can then pay to get it, and if not, nothing of value is lost.

      So are you a slashdot subscriber? It's easy to subscribe and as a subscriber you'll see no ads. Do you put your money where your mouth is, or do you block ads and let other people view them and pay for the sites you use?

      I fail to see what the big deal is about standard banner and text ads. The most annnoying ads are the ones that take over the browser window and you have to click to dismiss them, I rarely go back to sites that have those. I block all flash (not just ads) because flash is annoying, but I do

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

      Advertising is evil

      That's a significant overreach, you can't know to buy a product without some advertising to tell you it exists.

      But if an ad is worth hosting, you can host it yourself, not have some 3rd party ad company do it for you, that's rife for abuse. If you want to have advertising on you can host the images text etc. on servers, and that means I hold you responsible for those ads. If they're sketchy, have pop ups or whatever, you approved it, you host it, it's on you. If some compan

      • by starfishsystems ( 834319 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:07AM (#41077499) Homepage
        You can't know to buy a product without some advertising to tell you it exists.

        That's not a claim that can withstand much scrutiny. It's simply, comprehensively, untrue.

        People can, and routinely do, live perfectly well without any advertizing at all. They buy things they need, having noticed a need for something. It's rarely in their interest to buy something merely because some stranger happens to tell them that they need it.

        If I need groceries, I know how to visit a grocery store. If I need a box of M10x40 socket head cap screws in type 316 stainless steel, I'll go to a fastener store. From the mundane to the exotic, it's simply not a problem. No advertizing is required.
  • I just block (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TrumpetPower! ( 190615 ) <> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:09PM (#41075833) Homepage

    I hate advertising in all forms, including that from vendors whom I might otherwise like. I'd much rather live in a world without advertising than one with one. So, for me, that's basically the world I live in.

    No, I don't care that your revenue depends on advertising. I don't want your buggy whips, even if they're "free," even if you won't give me stuff for "free" unless I take a buggy whip. Find some other way to pay the bills.

    And I don't think my attitude is at all outrageous or selfish. Would you accept "free" cake that came topped with "free" output from the sewage plant because that was the only way they could dispose of the waste? Would you feel guilty about decontaminating the cake before eating it? If you couldn't decontaminate the cake, would you still eat it anyway?



    • Re:I just block (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stevedog ( 1867864 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:26PM (#41075997)
      Things of value require money, and money has to come from somewhere. Are you really saying you would prefer to pay for content directly, rather than to have an unobtrusive and moderately relevant ad that you can easily ignore?

      Here on Slashdot, we have the alternative option to give our own contributions + good behavior, measured in the form of karma. That doesn't work on all sites, though, and even Slashdot would be unsustainable if no one viewed the ads; the only reason their model is sustainable is because positive-karma contributions presumably increase the value of the site, thus increasing its viewership, thus increasing the total number of ad-views enough to keep the site afloat. If everyone on the Internet adblocked, Slashdot would lose that revenue stream.

      There's no such thing as a free lunch. If you don't want to be profiled by having your online behavior tracked, and you don't want to pay for the product (see outrage over NYT paywall), and you don't want to view ads... what of similar value would you prefer to give?
      • Re:I just block (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jmerlin ( 1010641 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:53PM (#41076727)
        The problem is that getting revenue from advertisements changes who your customer is. No longer is it your viewers and website visitors, rather the people paying you the big bucks to violate the privacy and potentially security of your visitors. It also gives advertisers the power to control your business since they pay for it.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        "Things of value require money, and money has to come from somewhere. Are you really saying you would prefer to pay for content directly, rather than to have an unobtrusive and moderately relevant ad that you can easily ignore?"

        Absolutely. If we all just paid for things that are currently ad supported, and got rid of all the gratuitous advertising, EVERYTHING would be cheaper, we'd all come out ahead, and all the people wasting their lives trying to manipulate us into buying things could do something usefu

  • Everything (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:11PM (#41075849)

    I AdBlock everything. One, I dislike looking at ads. Two, I dislike business models that are based on ads.

    I don't care if AdBlock destroys the Internet as we know it. The Internet as we know it could use a little constructive destruction.

    • Re:Everything (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:35PM (#41076087)

      "I don't care if AdBlock destroys the Internet as we know it."

          For the first few years that I was on the Internet, I never saw an ad. That's because _There weren't any ads_!
          Now I AdBlock, Flashblock and do whatever it takes to keep me from looking at ads. If ads went away, and we lost Slashdot, TheRegister, the IMDB... well not much would be lost in the Grand Scheme Of Things. If the Internet shrank to 1% of it's present size because of a lack of advertising, it would be a much more pleasant place. I would still get my literature, my Fine Art pix, my music, just as I did over 20 years ago. From sites run by enthusiastic, decent, intelligent volunteers. (Well, decent except for the Fine Art bits...) After all, enthusiastic, decent, intelligent volunteers created the Internet in the first place.

          Advertising just appeals to the stupid, and the even more stupid who actually base purchasing decisions based on ads.

      • Re:Everything (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:54PM (#41076231)

        Way back in the day, some legitimate companies tried to use newsgroups to advertise. It did not go so well. They underestimated the concept of unmoderated uncontrollable feedback.

        About the OP question, should he unblock ads from companies he likes, my answer is no, cut out the middle man and just buy their products. Seeing their ads means nothing to them if you are not actually buying their products.

    • Two, I dislike business models that are based on ads.

      Therefore, you routinely visit websites whose business models are based on ads?

  • Advertising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:13PM (#41075867)

    I fully support adblock plus - It's a fully transformative experience compared to browsing without it. Pages load quicker, load without the random long-pauses from faulty ad servers, and from not having to traverse dozens of servers just for a small amount content.

    That, and your view is uncluttered with intentionally misleading images, many kinds of annoying sound and images, and countless script-based frustrations that advertisers are ever-increasingly willing to push on their prospective customers.

    Simply put, AdBlockers do an amazing job at helping me retain some minimal level comfort that humanity can sometimes retain some motivations greater than misleading manipulation - even if you have to filter your view to extensively to see that sometimes.

    Ryan Fenton

  • No bad conscience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by allcoolnameswheretak ( 1102727 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:16PM (#41075885)

    It's not like I would ever click one of those ads anyway.

    • Re:No bad conscience (Score:5, Interesting)

      by trawg ( 308495 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @11:07PM (#41077177) Homepage

      We run a website about video games. 100% of our revenue comes from online advertising. From our statistics when using Google AdWords, somewhere between 1-3% of users on a typical day will click on an ad.

      Just like spam, there is a tiny percentage of people that do see some value in whatever is put in front of their face. There's this overwhelming trend on Slashdot that goes "well, I've never clicked on an ad, therefore, noone else has". People click on ads. People buy products based on ad clicks. This is how Google make money. This is how Google's ad customers sell products.

      Just because you don't click on an ad - IMHO - doesn't mean you should just block all ads for ever. Small sites like us that work really hard to provide useful content and services that depend on advertising depend on these ad delivery numbers to drive ad sales and generate revenue.

      Why haven't we got a system where people can pay to opt out? Well, we're working on that. But I want to keep the website free. I think the tradeoff - a few hundred milliseconds of page load time, a few hundred KB of bandwidth, plus maybe the tiniest percentage of your attention possible (maybe even zero) means we can continue to deliver stuff to you and other users, for free.

  • by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:19PM (#41075919)

    ... it's that so many times ad-serving networks end up being compromised and send ads that end up installing malware on your computer: if sites ran their own SIMPLE ads (plain images, served by their own website, no flash/iframe/... crap) there would be a lot less problems.

    Unfortunately that kind of ad-serving costs more money to do (easier to farm this out to an ad network) and since there are no penalties for doing so (if your ad provider is compromised and thousands of your users get hit by drive-by malware you say "sorry, not responsible, it's the ad provider's fault") that's why we're in the situation we're in where most tech savy people adblock as much as possible to reduce risks, which unfortunately hurts the content providers...

    I honestly wish there was some sort of scheme where you could have some sort of microtransaction way to give $$$ to websites you use. Say you like /. a lot, you could decide that every time you visit, you'd pay $0.01 with a maximum of $0.25/day, say you don't like as much another site but you don't want to completely freeload, you could decide you still give them $0.01 but only with a maximum of $0.01/day. It might seem low, but with a lot of users it could add up quite a bit for sites, and I think more than the current ad-based approach.

    Yes, this could probably add up to $50-100/month, but I'd be totally willing to pay that because I'd be supporting the sites I chose to, and sites wouldn't have to deal with subscriptions, they'd just get paid by the microtransaction provider once a month (minus of course a flat fee of some sort). The microtransaction providers could compete on fees etc. as long as there was interoperability so users wouldn't have to worry...

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:19PM (#41075925) Homepage Journal
    But I do disable animated GIFs, flash and Javascript in my browser. If you can't convey your ad to me in a single static image, I'm not clicking on it. I click through a fair number of Google ads. Often they're exactly what I'm looking for, anyway. The more obnoxious an ad is, the less likely I am to click on it. The more obnoxious a page is, the less likely I am to hang around for very long.
    • On my website I run Google text ads. They (Google) keep suggesting that I upgrade to what they call "rich media ads", which I'm pretty sure are exactly what you're describing. But since I don't like to see them myself, I don't want my website visitors to be subjected to them.

      Sort of an odd spin on the Golden Rule, I guess.

      And to reply to an earlier question... websites running ads don't get paid for your eyeballs - they only get paid if you click on an ad.

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:22PM (#41075961)

    I would not block any ads at all if they were static images. But they almost never are. And I CAN NOT STAND trying to look at the screen or read something while there is ANY type of movement or animation at the same time. It is just too distracting. So, greed has done them in.

    I won't even mention crap like hyper mouse-overs, SOUND, and other extremely annoying "features" because just the animation is enough.

  • by synthesizerpatel ( 1210598 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:23PM (#41075967)

    Either they're so lazy they don't care or they don't know how to get rid of them.

    If you feel bad about circumventing their terrible business model, just wait until they're broadcasting commercials directly into your dreams.

    And they laughed at me for wearing the tinfoil hat! Who's laughing now!

  • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:23PM (#41075969) Homepage Journal

    I react very negatively to adverts. The more a company puts it's message in front of me, the less likely I am to buy from them. I instinctively avoid products with heavy TV marketing campaigns, because they can't represent good value for money, given that the cost of the campaign comes out of the price I'm paying.

    So I adblock everything... and by doing so, I save advertisers from getting filed under 'I hate those irritating people and won't buy anything from them'. I'm more likely to buy from a company if I don't see their ads than If I do.

  • by manicpop ( 1342057 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:23PM (#41075973)
    ...doesn't understand how the Internet works. On a simpler level, there is no reason that just because I load file A (content I want), I also have to load file B (advertising). My downloading article.html does not make me obligated to download advertisement.png just because there's an image link to it. I will not feel guilted into using my bandwidth to download a single byte I'm not interested in downloading. If I'm stealing, am I also stealing when I use a text mode browser like lynx? Are blind people that use text browsers and a screen reader stealing? If I set Firefox to not download images or turn off JavaScript, am I stealing? If you feel passionately enough about a site that you want to support their ad business model, go ahead and whitelist that site. I feel no need to support any site by downloading things I want. If a site goes out of business because no one looked at its ads, well I'm sorry to hear that, but I'm sure I can find the content I want elsewhere.
  • TOASTY (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:24PM (#41075981)

    When Flash, and flash based advertisements, stop turning my MBP into a toaster. i'll turn off AdBlock.

    The End.

  • Don't block (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:30PM (#41076029) Homepage

    I've never blocks ads. However I do block scripts and trackers, which as a consequence blocks a lot of ads anyway.

    I don't see why I should open a security vulnerability (client side scripting) just to read a webpage. However I don't have a problem with ads that aren't malicious but those seem to be getting fewer and fewer.

  • by countach ( 534280 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:30PM (#41076031)

    Why bother blocking ads, or making their targeting any worse than necessary? Is your self-will so weak? I very rarely am influenced by or click on ads. But if I have to see ads, I'd rather they be well targeted to my interests. And the ads are not particularly bothersome. What is the big deal really?

  • not a question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:30PM (#41076039) Homepage

    (a) This is posted to Ask Slashdot, but it's not really a question, it's a plug for the author's answer.

    (b) The slashdot summary is incoherent.

    (c) TFA consists of an incoherent intro followed by a description of what the author does. To save you the trouble of wading through the incomprehensible text, here's what he does: "#1 -- Disable third-party cookies [...] #2 -- Use Ghostery to block everything indiscriminately, but whitelist the sites I support."

    A typical piece of bizarre reasoning, incoherently expressed, from TFA:

    I want to reinforce myself with content that makes me a better person. If an advertiser uses a technology of behaviour on this type of content, I agree.

    This whole thing about the morally correct response to internet advertising has been rehashed over and over on slashdot. Over and over, people have made the same point: internet ads wouldn't be objectionable if they were like ads in a newspaper or magazine, but because they aren't like that, any user with enough know-how is going to block them. I'm sorry, but I just can't read an article while an animated monkey is jumping up and down next to it on the screen.

    Text-oriented sites like slashdot are relatively cheap to run, on a per-user basis, so as long as some percentage of their users don't use ad blockers, these sites are viable.

    I asked someone I know, who works in online advertising, whether ad blocking is an issue for her company. I told her I never saw ads on the internet and was surprised that anyone was ... well, dumb enough ... to fail to install ad blocking software. Her response: "Do you use Hulu?"

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:31PM (#41076051) Journal

    Imagine you are a bee, or a hummingbird. There are all these delicious flower full of yummy nectar... but around them is this icky, nasty, yellow pollen. The flower needs the pollen to be carried around to propagate the species... but you still don't want to get plant jism all over yourself. So you develop strategies to get the nectar without getting pollen on you. The plant, in turn develops strategies to get more pollen on you while not wasting as much precious nectar. No morality about it, it's just nature.

    (For the slow: the user is the bird or bee, the flower is the content provider, the nectar is the content, and the pollen is the advertisement.)

  • meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LodCrappo ( 705968 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:41PM (#41076131) Homepage

    I care about my time far too much to spend much effort on such trivial matters.

    If spending time thinking about/taking steps to categorize and block sites brings you some pleasure in itself, fine.
    Otherwise the fact that you seem to have nothing more important to worry about may be a problem needing more urgent attention.

  • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:47PM (#41076177) Journal

    ... is advertising that doesn't come across as advertising.

    People who say they loathe advertising in any form actually just loathe the bad advertising; the advertising that detracts from what you're trying to do and immediately screams "this is an advertisement, I'm here to interrupt you in some way in the hope that somehow it will get you to buy something even though I've pissed you off."

    A few years ago I received an unepxected phone call on my wife's cellphone from a company offering a CDN service. At first I was really pissed off that this company had reached me in such an inappropriate manner ... but the guy on the other end didn't try to sell me anything and the conversation was unlike any telemarketing call that I had ever received. It was personal and appealed to my geeky curiosity (CDNs were very new at the time, the only companies that were using them were heavy traffic movers like Yahoo, so I wanted to know how it worked), it was offering me a solution to a problem I had at the time and the conversation was very informal. Within a minute or two I was actually asking him questions, and that's how it works. And to top it off when I told the guy I wasn't going to buy from him he chuckled and said "I'm not trying to sign you up today, don't worry." It kept me on the phone. I didn't buy but I was impressed enough that if I had chosen to purchase a CDN service within the next little while I probably would have given them a second look.

    I still don't like people phoning me, and I think there are far better ways to reach out to people, but everything that transpired within that phone call was an example of marketing done in the right direction.

    I'm self-employed, running a high-traffic web-site that generates money via ad revenue for 11 years now, and the people who visit my web-site have no idea that the entire site is one giant advertisement; in fact, people have complimented and praised me for not having any ads on the site. And yet when fellow webmasters in the same industry as myself share their sales and conversion stats I always get a big smile on my face. Their sites are crawling with blatant advertisements and they need 2 to 5 times the traffic to generate the same revenue. I've never understood how pissing off your customers can be regarded as any form of business model.

    I think the best well-known type of advertisement that's going in the right direction is product placement. It can be done poorly, yes and I know I am about to get a bunch of replies from people telling me that they always notice it and it ruins the program etc. But it *CAN* be done in a subtle way that blends with the program and does not detract, to the point where the viewer does not notice or care.

    But I think the real way to do "advertising" is provide a value to the viewer as the advertisement itself. Imagine an hour long infomercial on television that was entertaining and/or informative enough to get you to watch it for it's own sake, with no intention of buying anything. Remember that "punch the monkey" ad that was on every single web-site a decade ago ? Imagine if that had actually been a real game that you could play. No pushy-ness what-ever. Not shoved in your face and not done as a banner / flash ad. Instead, something people genuinely wanted to play, with an entertaining sales pitch as part of it. Good advertising can be done, and occasionally is. We just don't notice because we're too distracted and pissed off at the "BOO!!! HAHAH! THIS IS ADVERTISEMENT! YOU WILL BUY NOW LOLZ!"

    I've practiced "magic"/illusion-performance as a hobby for a few years and in reading/studying I've learned that corporations will often hire magicians at trade-shows to pitch new products to retailers. Some of the better magicians have crafted entire 20-minute magic routines around the product they're hired to pitch. It's entertainment and people want to watch it for that purpose alone, but it's also an advertisement.

    • by Mandrel ( 765308 )

      I think the best well-known type of advertisement that's going in the right direction is product placement. It can be done poorly, yes and I know I am about to get a bunch of replies from people telling me that they always notice it and it ruins the program etc. But it *CAN* be done in a subtle way that blends with the program and does not detract, to the point where the viewer does not notice or care.

      What sort of disclosure do you display on this sponsored content? Are users clearly informed they're ads? This suggests not:

      ...the people who visit my web-site have no idea that the entire site is one giant advertisement; in fact, people have complimented and praised me for not having any ads on the site.

      As long as I'm told that certain content has an agenda, I agree that a coherent article or whitepaper is a much better ad than a banner.

      The problem is that if I know it's an ad, I may as well read it on the company's own website, which I can be made aware of through a search engine ad or organic result (which requires me to be actively looking, and only search engines get paid),

      • What sort of disclosure do you display on this sponsored content? Are users clearly informed they're ads? This suggests not:

        I was intentionally vague, because I'm not here to pitch my web-site or talk about what I do etc. But you did hit on something:

        Much better would be if I could learn about things through unbiased content written by you and your users, and you get paid through affiliate-like mechanisms.

        That's a pretty accurate description of what I do. I don't work for anyone or promote one given company. The ads that people are there to see is the content of the site, and it is a subset of what it's trying to sell. But you can't get it on the "manufacturer's" web-site without paying for it. My site provides free samples. Think of people who might go to Costco on Friday just for t

  • by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:59PM (#41076265) Homepage
    That I pay for the bandwidth, so how dare they usurp and use it to serve ads. So I aggressively adblock.

    I've almost got all of hulu's ad servers blotted out. And then for standard web browsing I use AdBlock Plus.
  • by Deathlizard ( 115856 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:07PM (#41076331) Homepage Journal

    I block ads, but I leave the option to allow non-obtrusive advertising on.

    I'll reward sites that promote responsible advertising, the rest of the ads can get bent.

  • by anlprb ( 130123 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:13PM (#41076379)

    Honestly. Look at the agreement between you and them. You are providing eyeballs for a product. When they believe they can track you beyond your eyeballs, there is an issue. You don't HAVE to look at billboards as you drive by them. Why do they think they can throw a GPS tracking device on your car as you drive by? All business transactions are based on equal standing. Especially contract law. You need to be on equal footing for contracts to be honored. That is why some jurisdictions don't see Shrink Wrap EULAs as valid and enforceable. You have no equal footing with something that you already purchased and cannot return, since the package was opened.

    When the equation is equal again, you can walk back and deal as an equal, until it is an equal equation, the only way to win is to not play.

    Kobayashi Maru

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what is for dinner.

    Liberty is a well-armed lamb.

    AdBlock Plus just give us lambs better arms.

  • will (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:19PM (#41076449)

    It's all about respect for the free will of the consumer.

    If I want to look at ads, let me. If I want them out of my sight, so be it. It's my eyeballs you're trying to market, so you do so on my terms or not at all.

    Seriously, nothing pisses me off more than popups or "forced ad views". They get between me and the content I seek to read.

    Also, because I never click on ads anyway, it's a waste of CPU and screenspace to show them.

    By blocking ads I'm actually saving the site on their bandwidth bills.

    Ads should be clearly labeled as ads, stay the hell out of my way when I'm using a site, and if I'm to click on them they also need to be relevant to my interests.

    If you want to profile me, and you're willing to respect my privacy, go for it. Pull any underhanded tricks and I'll ditch you so fast your head will spin.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:50PM (#41076693) Homepage

    The big problem with ads is that sites keep increasing the number of ads per page or per unit time until the number of users drops off substantially. CBS actually admitted that they cranked up the number of commercials on their on-line shows until the usage started to drop.

    There are limits to this, as Myspace found out the hard way. At some point, users revolt and go elsewhere. Facebook seems to be following Myspace in that regard, as "sponsored stories" and larger ads chew up more of the screen. Google started with small blocks of ads on the right of search results, but now there are ads at the right, top, and bottom of search results.

    As a counter to that, I did Ad LImiter [], which is a reaction to Google and Bing putting too many ads and paid results on search results. You get to select how many ads you want to see per page. The default is 1. You can set it to zero, but one Google ad is often useful. Think of it as moderation, applied to advertisers.

    I'd like to see more tools like that. It would induce advertisers to produce better, more relevant ads, if they were competing against other ads for some criterion beneficial to the user. Google selects the ads to show based on an algorithm designed to optimize Google's revenue. This is not necessarily optimal for either user or advertiser.

  • by downhole ( 831621 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @09:56PM (#41076743) Homepage Journal

    My default is to block or avoid all ads everywhere. I don't even have cable, and all of the TV I watch is either Netflix instant view or Torrent streams, so I never see any TV ads. I block all internet ads on all of my computers, plus my phone and tablet. About the only ads I see are on the radio while driving, mostly because I am too lazy and don't drive enough to bother with setting up audio CDs or getting satellite radio.

    On the internet, at least on computers, I sometimes whilelist sites I like and want to support, if their ads aren't too obnoxious. At least if I bother to remember about it. For internet ads, there's so much bad stuff out there - malware in ads, tracking systems, javascript that slows your browser to a crawl, annoying animations, and just plain ugly stuff, that it's much easier to block it all and not worry than to try and sort out what's what.

    For morality, I try to look at the situation in reverse to get a little perspective. How many internet advertising people are really worried about whether they infect our computers with malware, track us, slow our browsers to a crawl, etc? How much effort are they going to to make sure that those things don't happen? Yeah, I thought so. I think I'll continue to not care about any greater implications of being part of the 5% of internet users tech-savvy enough to block ads.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner