Saturday, March 19, 2005

Why Adblock is bad for the "free" Internet

I can understand and sympathize with the general distaste for pop-up advertisements. They are obstructive and annoying. But I do not sympathize with the distaste of standard banner advertisements that pay for all the free content we currently enjoy.

Again the idealists fail to understand how websites pay for their monthly server and bandwidth charges. For most "free" sites their revenue is generated through advertisements. Other sites use subscription services and the rest eat the cost. The ones eating the cost have another source of revenue usually not Internet based.

Since day one, I've understood the back end reason for banner ads. They are a necessity of free content. Lets be honest any web savvy user generally ignores all ads that they choose. So pushing features such as Adblock is harmful to the Internet, as we know it.

While Adblock is nothing new in terms of ad blocking software, it is significant in that it's current hype and price (free) is making it widely recommended and used as an extension to the Firefox Web Browser. This is a dangerous trend.

"Adblock is a content filtering plug-in for the Mozilla and Firebird browsers. It is both more robust and more precise than the built-in image blocker."

Adblock effectively robs these free sites of their revenue. If Internet Explorer came with a feature such as Adblock, you would effectively wipe out thousands of websites, maybe more. These are the same free sites users of Adblock frequently visit. The irony is how this is self-defeating.


The Future

If features such as Adblock become commonplace you will force an unnecessary outcome, one in which free sites deliver their content in a way that only disabling Adblock will display the content. Web Sites that depend on advertising as their primary source of revenue should take notice.


References:
www.FirefoxMyths.com
Firefox - A New Religion?

74 comments:

Continuous Life said...

Back in the old days when usenet was the common place and the WWW was in its infancy, advertisements online were limited if not non existent. With the growth of the web, developers were stuck with only a few ways to compensate for horridly over priced bandwidth (which i'm sad to say still happens today)

The unfortunate thing is i have noticed a large number of what i call "greedy" sites. I cannot tell you all how many times i have sifted through seemingly endless advertisements only to find the relatively small amount of information i'm looking for stuck in between advertisements for "Free IPods" and Viagra. Some sites (IGN Included) have even stooped so low as to have full page advertisements that show up every 5 page views on their site. Many we sites even use flash animations with noise and music that you MUST sit all the way though before they can be closed. The internet seems to have more "commercials" than even television.

The truth is, there are more polite and discreet ways for web sites to make advertising revenue (as google has shown). A large number of web sites now utilize effective text advertisements that are genuinely related to the web sites topic. Also, many sites now utilize donation systems which tend to be very effective in recovering hosting and bandwidth costs.

I dont think that adblock will be bad for the "free internet" as much as it will force some greedy or stuggling sites to rethink their marketing, and go towards more passive means of obtaining revenue.

My point is you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

Andrew said...

Pop-up advertisements were clearly noted as a nuisance. Whether you like moviing flash ads is a matter of opinion. I honestly don't care what kind of integrated nonpop-up advertisements a website chooses to use. It is their site and they have to pay their own bills. So long as I am choosing to visit their site and they are not directing me there (Spyware) I don't honestly care.

You are missing a very big problem, the internet is not just about recovering operating costs, for many sites it is way to make a living.

Adblock and similiar applications that block non intrusive advertisements will directly impact the economics of the "free" Internet.

Either way, if some years from now this becomes a problem you will be getting all your free content from large corporations who can afford to not put ads on their page and all the "free" sites will only be visible with programs like Adblock disabled.

Continuous Life said...

If a web site's owner is running the site to make a living, would not they want to attract people to their site rather than turn them off by unrelated and obtrusive advertisements?

Google is a good example for this discussion. Google has become one of, if not THE largest and most successful single web site on the net. It made it there for several reasons. Yahoo's main page is flooded with image advertisements. So is Excites home page...and msn...along with the majority of the popular search engines. There are tons of search engines out there, but the thing that set google apart was its unobtrusive advertising. This, i believe is one of the strongest contributions to google's success. They found a pleasent and unobtrusive way to pay the bills...AND their salaries.

The bottom line is that the banner and pop-up ad have put a foul taste in the mouths of the internets patrons for so long, that many of us are frequenting the less obtrusive sites even if they have less to offer us.

It all depends on how the advertisements are presented to us...but i guess thats just my opinion. =)

Andrew said...

No one is talking about obtrusive advertisements. For the last time this was made very clear at the begining of the article.

Q^2 said...

I agree, but I never click the ads anyway, might as well optimize load time by not downloading them; for those of whom that host the ads on their own site, I am saving them bandwidth, too.

FastGame said...

no no no, its the advertisers who'll ruin the "free" net, not adblock.

People are tired of all the popups and junk adds, adblock can be set to allow adds on the sites you support.

Ziadoz said...

adblock doesnt remove adverts, it simply hides them, so all adverts still register their views. i do believe that people who run websites have to make a living, but i disagree that we should all have to download them. what about people who are one 1 gig per month caps, downloading a useless flashing banner that runing their browsing experience it not desirable.

further more the internet isnt free, we all pay our ISP's for internet access, and i dont think we should have to be forced to view adverts whilst trying to find what we originally went to the website for in the first place.

i for one will still use adblock as i will never click an advert at all. i also notice alot of firefox negativity on this blog. whilst firefox is not infalable, it clearly is a superior browser in comparision to internet explorer and other ie engine based browsers.

Andrew said...

Very little revenue is generated from views, if at all. Click throughs are where the money is at.

Please you pay for Internet Access not the Internet. You meager Internet access fee doesn't even touch the basic costs the Internet's ifrastructure requires. Adblock robs revenue from free content sites.

Firefox is most surely not Superior to ANY Browser, including IE.

Scott said...

Wait until the Greasemonkey extension catches on. This this not only can be configured to block ads but even alter web pages.
I don't have a URL handy but if you search of r Greasemonkey you're sure to find some interesting things.

Joseph Huang said...

I'm not going to click the ads anyways, so why bother even downloading them?

There are ways of financing bandwith without eating up large portions of my screen space, such as Paypal donation, corporate sponsoring, offering additional content for a fee, etc.
Bandwith is pretty darn cheap, and if ads are the only/main way to generate revenue, perhaps the site owner needs to work on some thinking outside the box.

Joseph Huang said...

If ad free is such a bad idea, how the heck does this site survive?

Pers said...

The need for advertising is understandable. So is the desire to NOT view it. Some advertisers go out of their way to create annoying, flashing, blinking ads, no doubt in an effort to attract attention. For me, all they do is attract anger.

I have NO problem blocking them. If others, not so annoying, get blocked also, sobeit.

This is an advertiser issue, IMHO, not a user issue. If the advertisers see a threat here, they should adjust their methods to stop insulting and assaulting their intended audience.

It's not unlike clicking the "off" button on the TV when an annoying commercial comes along.

Andrew said...

"If ad free is such a bad idea, how the heck does this site survive?"
-> From Advertising. Blogger is owned by Google which generates revenue through advertising.

The average user will not take the time to custom configure ad blocking software and thus block all ads not just what some might find annoying. You can not blame the large amount of reputable sites for faults of the few who abuse things. In this way Adblock hurts the good sites.

Joseph Huang said...

Ads which take up a large part of the screen are unacceptable to me.

There is no need to custom configure Adblock, just use filterset G.

See my wiki page on Firefox extensions.

This particular site lacks AdWords ads, and it's still alive...

Andrew said...

This site falls under the "supported by a large corporation" reason, I already explained this.

The average end user will not custom configure anything.

Joseph Huang said...

See, there's more than one way to skin a fish.

If a site has ad banners, I will block them. The content is for the user, if it can only be supported by ads which take up a nontrivial amount of screen space, and compete for my attention, then yes, there is nothing wrong with blocking it in my book.

Perhaps the average end user will not custom configure anything, so they have to put up with annoying, attention hogging ads. A pity.

Andrew said...

I would find it embarrassing to admit that I could be so easily distracted and manipulated by advertising that the only solution would be to block it but hey to each his own.

"If a site has ad banners, I will block them. The content is for the user, if it can only be supported by ads which take up a nontrivial amount of screen space, and compete for my attention, then yes, there is nothing wrong with blocking it in my book."
->This sort of a selfish naive mentality is what causes these problems to begin with.

It will be a pity when free content disappears as we know it.

SomeInternetSurffer said...

The basis on the article is on if the concept of a web browsers can block individual elements such as banners and flash ads from sites.

Currently this means Firefox + Adblock. Unless IE adopts some similar feature or an add on for IE sweeps the net users as a whole, were only talking at most 10% of the firefox market (and ALL have adblock or a future version of something like it built in). It's not that big of an issue unless there is a big shift on the browser market.

This is a valid concern with the current system but web advertising has evolved with the way the web has changed and the way users have surfed the web. I currently think marketing like google's ad-sense are the current future for advertising on the web. If a current system is offensive to most users, the smart one's find away around it, others just live with it until it reaches a point where the mainstream is forced to adapt.

Josh said...

Broadband is not available where I live, so I have dial-up, and I pay per minute. For me, it is not a simple matter of being annoyed by banner advertisements... I am actually paying for the pleasure of viewing them. I will stop blocking ads when websites start reimbursing me for the cost of downloading them.

PenGun said...

You know I havn't seen an add for about a year. Long before addblocker there were user.chrome additions that pretty well wipe out adds.

I won't cry when the last leach gets tired and gets off our bandwith. If you want to set up shop on the interweb ... pay for it.

PenGun
Do What Now ??? ... Standards and Practices !

Ziadoz said...

Id personally say Firefox is a superior browser when compared to IE. Just tell me the last time you saw significant updates for IE, except for SP2 which can hardly be considered an upgrade. Microsoft are only rushing to get an IE7 beta out this summer because of fear of losing more market to a beta open source browser.

As for the internet infastructure being maintained, this is part of what the money I pay my ISP goes towards. If you live in Europe and see the internet prices here, you'd know we get robbed and these companies get more than what the should. And ads certainly do not help these companies maintain their infastructure, consumer demand does.

Andrew said...

"I will stop blocking ads when websites start reimbursing me for the cost of downloading them."
-> Ridiculous! Your choosing to go to free content sites, no one is forcing you too. All your paying for is internet access not the content.

"I won't cry when the last leach gets tired and gets off our bandwith. If you want to set up shop on the interweb ... pay for it."
-> No YOU will be paying for it if everyone thought like you.

"Id personally say Firefox is a superior browser when compared to IE."
-> A superior browser would not render incorrectly 15% of the internet.

"As for the internet infastructure being maintained, this is part of what the money I pay my ISP goes towards."
No it doesn't, you money goes to your ISP so your ISP can pay its own bills and make a profit for itself. None of which goes to the websites you visit or their support infrastructure.

"If you live in Europe and see the internet prices here, you'd know we get robbed and these companies get more than what the should. And ads certainly do not help these companies maintain their infastructure, consumer demand does."
-> Again Ridiculous! Your hurting good websites because because your upset with your ISP?

Ziadoz said...

15% of websites are coded very badly, hence they wont be rendered properly by a browser based on w3 standards.

as for free content websites, we all have the freedom to click on what ads we want to, i dont click on ads period. so its my right to remove them, as there no use to me.

perhaps you should stop critisicing 'popular technology' and actually see why some people embrace it. things dont become popular unless there is a demand for it.

and:
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet-infrastructure.htm

Josh said...

"Your choosing to go to free content sites, no one is forcing you too. All your paying for is internet access not the content."

No one is forcing me to download the ad, either. At best, I was asked nicely, and I chose not to. What's your point? Are you going to rant about people not donating every time they see a Paypal link?

"Your hurting good websites because because your upset with your ISP?"

I'm not hurting the websites. Perhaps I'm not helping, but I'm definitely not hurting.

I also block SPAM e-mail, fast forward through the previews and ads on video cassettes, and get up to use the bathroom during TV commercials. Oh, the horror!

Andrew said...

"15% of websites are coded very badly, hence they wont be rendered properly by a browser based on w3 standards."
-> And? This is the same old argument, no one cares. The average user only cares if the site renders properly or not.

You also have the freedom to not go to a website.

"No one is forcing me to download the ad, either. At best, I was asked nicely, and I chose not to. What's your point? Are you going to rant about people not donating every time they see a Paypal link?"
->No I was clearly discussing Ads not donations.

"I'm not hurting the websites. Perhaps I'm not helping, but I'm definitely not hurting."
->

"I also block SPAM e-mail, fast forward through the previews and ads on video cassettes, and get up to use the bathroom during TV commercials. Oh, the horror!"
->Spam is obtrusive and if you get up to use the bathroom for every commercial then you have a bladder problem and should see a doctor.

This is not about wether people should click on ads or not but wether they should be there at all.

Ziadoz said...

"This is not about wether people should click on ads or not but wether they should be there at all."

yes ads do have a right to be there, there is no dispute on this. the best analogy would be: there is a huge row of billboard down near my town centre, now i have the right to look at these boards, or ignore them. im not hurting any of these businesses by not looking. in the same sense im removing adverts from a page i wouldnt look at anyway, just like the billboards.

if we all stopped and looked at all ads life would be slow.

also:

"Spam is obtrusive and if you get up to use the bathroom for every commercial then you have a bladder problem and should see a doctor."

theres no need to insult someone for making an analogy, it doesnt do much for your arguement. he was making a point.

industro said...

why should anybody expect to make a living posting to a blog? just seems like a bad career move to me. free internet is and should be exactly that. free. nobody gets "paid" unless they provide a real service.. like selling a product. posting some pseudo-intellectual drivel to a web page isn't worth a damn penny in my book.

to "rely" on ad banner revenue as your main source of income is a really bad idea.

Andrew said...

"in the same sense im removing adverts from a page i wouldnt look at anyway, just like the billboards."
->It is not the same. You currently don't have to look at non obtrusive ads if you don't want to. I do it daily.

"theres no need to insult someone for making an analogy, it doesnt do much for your arguement. he was making a point."
->It wasn't an insult but a counterpoint.

"why should anybody expect to make a living posting to a blog?"
->For the most part you shouldn't but if some choose to it is there right. This has already been explained. Blogs are free because they are subsidized by companies like Google.

"free internet is and should be exactly that. free. nobody gets "paid" unless they provide a real service.. like selling a product. posting some pseudo-intellectual drivel to a web page isn't worth a damn penny in my book."
->Nothing is "free". Everything has to be paid for one way or the other.

Ziadoz said...

"->It is not the same. You currently don't have to look at non obtrusive ads if you don't want to. I do it daily."

yes it is the same. and again no one is losing business.

"->It wasn't an insult but a counterpoint."

a counterpoint would be a valid arguement against the original point, yours wasnt. you agreed spam was obtrusive and then made an juvenile comment.

"->and all the "free" sites will only be visible with programs like Adblock disabled"

these sites already exist.

Joseph Huang said...

Content can be paid for in much more effective ways than ads.

Joseph Huang said...

Oh yeah, feel free to be less 'selfish' by viewing ads which eat up your screenspace. So you aren't affected by ads at all eh? Even when you see them right there, and have to wait to download them? Why does the website's wishes dominate the viewers? Websites are not selfish but I am? Pfft...

Andrew said...

"yes it is the same. and again no one is losing business."
->No its not your not having someone physically remove the billboards as you drive, you are not looking at them.

The comment I made was clear move on. I'm not going to explain it twice.

"these sites already exist."
->Your missing the point. What will happen is if programs like Adblock become popular all sites will move to a similar model.

"Why does the website's wishes dominate the viewers?"
->Because they are the ones providing YOU with the content. Your wishes entail viewing the content or not, they determine how they want you to see it.

Joseph Huang said...

What do you think about using a text only browser? Then I would be blocking the precious image ads, denying people of their precious ad revenue, obiously. Or if I disabled javascript, to block those annoying intellitxt ads? Would that be fine? I guess not.

doogle said...

If you don't like my use of adblock, don't serve me content. If I don't like your use of ads, I'll use adblock.

Simple really. We now have an understanding.

If you don't like me, you are allowed to throw me off your site. I travel the net on _MY_ terms. There's more information out there than I can possibly absorb, so what's the big?

Andrew said...

Next to no one uses text only browsers. It is a non issue.

What is the deal? Simple if everyone moves to using Adblock software free content as you now know it will change.

Joseph Huang said...

Contnt is always changing on the internet, what is your point? There are much more effective ways to fund 'free' content than ads, if everyone used adblock it would be beneficial to the internet.

And do you only publish your first name? Have something to hide?

brijwhiz said...

Hey matey cool down. What you say makes teh internet look like a market place where you have to pay (in terms of at least looking at the ads) for what you get. Fair enough. Others see it another way as they feel it is a a Commons. That is just another fair opinion.
Now coming to point of it being a place where one needs to get paid you have to realise that as per capitalism consumer is king. And that consumer is me! So it is enitrly up to me to visit a page with or without Adblock. You are correct about the fact that many free sites may change their approach or go under. Well that is just the dynamics of the game. Sooner rather than later the only way sites can exist is because of their content. If their content is strong enough people will sit through ads. They may even remove the adblocks for that site and even-surprise,surprise- clickthrough. However most site which focus on ad pop-ups and such aren't really giving the content to warrant removal of the adblock.

And you are wrong about the cynicism of people. Lots of people make money out of adwords and ad block does not remove these adwords. So people do support the sites they like. Just don't ask them to support the whole Internet.

Lachek said...

Most of you are missing the point - Andrew is absolutely correct. Let's say a site op designed his/her site with contents and ads. The ads are there to generate revenue to support production of content and alleviate the fees for delivering that content. If you 'opt-out' of those ads, you are doing exactly the same thing as you do when you download an MP3 of a commercial song over a P2P network - you partake of the content, but 'opt-out' of paying the pre-defined fee for the production of that content.

(Actually, you're not quite that bad - because if you download an MP3, you're taking care of the distribution on your own, while you're still leeching someone's bandwidth in the first case)

The point where most of you are intuitively correct is in not considering this a major infraction. It is an evolution of the Internet, where the consumer (paying or not) determines what is appropriate in content production and what is not, given the state of the technology.

Scenario:
Hollywood spends a gazillion dollars to produce a mega-hit movie with famous actors and massive special effects. The movie fails miserably in box offices and DVD sales, because nobody paid the pre-determined fee - instead, they watched it for free. The movie studio crumbles to dust and the MPAA predicts the end of the moving pictures. Hollywood largely stops producing movies and for some time, consumers may only watch old content.
Suddenly, a tiny little group of unemployed actors decide to take an intelligent script written by a talented English student and published under a Creative Commons license, fine-tune it and shoot a movie using a couple of consumer-grade DV cameras. They edit it into a final product using open source software on their home PCs. They release the movie via BitTorrent on their web page, and ask for donations to fund their next film. Word of the movie spreads on blogs and by word-of-mouth - P2P marketing, so to speak. They don't get a huge audience by Hollywood standards, and they get even less donations, but enough to bring home some cash for something they did in their spare time.
Encouraged, other groups around the world do the same. They learn from each other's mistakes, and the process is refined. Eventually, one of the movies strike it big (by home-production movie terms) and make enough money in donations for the participants to quit their day jobs and work full-time.
They are the exception, and will always be the exception. The majority of content producers will continue without major financial success, because they enjoy what they do.

The same scenario is happening with almost all forms of creative expression today, and it's happening because people now have the choice given to them by technology to make their own decisions as to what they want, and what they don't want, to pay for.
Personally, I welcome this inevitable development.

Andrew, you're right. AdBlock will inevitably lead to a situation where those running free-as-in-beer websites, but expecting to make a massive profit and/or quit their day jobs, will either have to step down their expenses or disappear. The result of this will be leaner, more focused web sites, run by people in their spare time because they really, really care about their content or their audience.

I couldn't be happier. Block away.

Andrew said...

No one seems to read the article, which is not surprising. Validating using Adblock because your annoyed at Pop-ups is absurd. All Browsers have some form of Pop-up blocking or it can be added for free and very easily.

People will not be able to afford to run anything for free if they cannot cover the bandwidth costs. The more popular the site the more money that is required to run it never mind make a profit. Large free content sites require more work then most can do in their spare time, thus they need to make money off the site to be able to provide the continual free content.

Donations are a joke. You can not expect to survive off donations.

The more people try to push the web into something it is not the less you will find for free. Either accept reasonable advertising or deal with the fallout.

Jonathan said...

Andrew, you make some excellent points, however these are weakened by not accepting any of the critiques that were made with equally valid viewpoints.

It seems you distinguish between popup blocking and Adblocking. "No one seems to read the article, which is not surprising. Validating using Adblock because your annoyed at Pop-ups is absurd. All Browsers have some form of Pop-up blocking or it can be added for free and very easily."

The principal is the same in that, ads that are annoying can be removed. I know in your article you say you are not referencing the "annoying" ads. This is the beauty of Adblock, it works as a filter. I need to be motivated to go through the effort of adding the ad to my filter. For me that motivation is annoyance.

Lachek said...

Andrew, it might help if you read the comments and think about them before dismissing them as uninformed or ignorant because they don't agree with your points.

You say that people will not be able to afford to run anything for free if they cannot cover the bandwidth costs. Yet they do, especially on the small and/or focused scale. Empirical evidence is not in your favour.

You say that the more popular the site, the more money is required to run it. That is true, but popular sites also tend to have a larger number of financial supporters, be that in the form of monetary donations, hardware, bandwidth or labour. Many free Internet sites and services are run on donations of this sort. One that springs to mind immediately is RantRadio. There are many other examples of size and scale.

You say that large free content sites require more work then most can do in their spare time. That is true - and that's why the Internet is a breeding ground for collaborative projects, from "Free Software" to collaborative music, film and other arts production, to blogging. Traditionally, all media has consisted of a small number of producers and a large number of passive consumers. The Internet is changing this - the consumer can easily partake in production, and content can be produced cheaply using large quantities of donated labour.

You say that donations are a joke, and that you can not expect to survive off donations. That is true. Reading my comment, you will find that I do not think it a good thing that people make a living off a website alone.

You say that the more people try to push the web into something it is not the less you will find for free, and that we should either accept reasonable advertising or deal with the fallout. You seem to forget that what you call the web was originally a method by which you could easily disseminate text documents over a network between various computer platforms, used by the US military and a handful of educational institutions. Commercial interests took hold of the web when it reached a critical mass of consumers who did not yet know how to produce, and publishing costs decreased to where commercial startups could afford it. Now the consumers know how to produce, and publishing costs have now decreased to be within the means of the consumers.

We are not trying to push the web into something it is not - we are trying to evolve it beyond the commercial interests that has taken hold of it, into a future that is not controlled by monetary interests alone. We are able to do this because web based production is cheap enough that we can easily donate it, especially when we do so in a collaborative environment.

To reiterate, AdBlockers are the consumer's way of protesting against the commercial interests, by telling them that they are not willing to view ads. As I stated before, this practice is more heinous than any personal copyright offense, a brutal act of impoverishment by the dictatorship of the proletariat - but hopefully, this violent revolution will bring about an Internet more equal, creative and empowering than the last iteration, as the profit-mandated "free" sites leave the stage free for those with more ethical reasons for providing you with content.

Joseph Huang said...

Hardly anyone uses text browsers so that's not an issue? So Adblock would be fine if hardly anyone uses it?

Andrew said...

"The principal is the same in that, ads that are annoying can be removed."
-> No its not, Adblock is designed to block all ads. The people using it generally find ALL ads annoying. Thus the difference between that and a standard Pop-up blocker or a Flash Blocker.

"Yet they do, especially on the small and/or focused scale. Empirical evidence is not in your favour."
-> Small sites use next to no bandwidth because they get no visitors, usually because they do not have any good content. The sites I am refering to have a large audience, are completely internet based and generate all their funding through advertising.

"popular sites also tend to have a larger number of financial supporters, be that in the form of monetary donations, hardware, bandwidth or labour"
-> This is far from common. Donations are not what you are led to believe. Advertising pays the bulk of most purely internet based sites needs.

"Many free Internet sites and services are run on donations of this sort."
-> Come on, no one with any business or common sense would try to run a site begging for donations.

"into a future that is not controlled by monetary interests alone"
->This is just idealistic nonsense. The companies supplying the servers and bandwidth will never allow this. The infrastructure will always need money to be maintained.

If you really believe that using adblock is going to force companies to stop using ads, think again. I already explained they will simply move to a content form that requires the viewing of the ads to see the content. In the mean time what your promoting is damaging legitimate site's funding. The quest for everything free with no costs is unrealistic.

Andrew said...

Spamming is not allowed. If Children continue to Spam the Blog (which I'm sure they will) I will meerly lock the comments.

Plainsay said...

Pop ups intrude into your privacy. They are a nuisance everywhere. Some pop ups like selling banned drugs, viagra, drugs for penis enlargement etc. are annoying. But they find out some means to overcome technological methods of blocking up pop ups.

Andrew said...

Which is why I completely agree with blocking pop-ups. While they may find ways to overcome them, the pop-up stopping software has managed to keep up.

Lachek said...

You're continually validating your points by referring to large, free "portal" style web sites operated for financial gain by large corporations - see MSN, Yahoo!, Netscape, Google, About.com etc, and also online magazines and the likes such as Salon, Wired, Slashdot and so on. Yes, there are examples of smaller or more focused sites as well.

While I do recognize the services these sites provide, I must say that personally I could live without them, and I make a prediction contrary to yours - faced with more intrusive, no-opt-out advertisements many would look elsewhere for their information from a smaller, community-driven website before they give in and click through a dozen ads (Salon-style) to partake of the content. If the information is interesting enough, someone will be there to pick up the torch - chances are they already have.

Contrary to popular belief, "idealistic nonsense" is generally what creates new, breakthrough, disruptive technologies. Business imitates an already successful model - it is not in the nature of business to take risks. You may believe that the major pillars of the Internet was built on commerce - I am willing to bet most of them were caused by liberally mixing idealistic nonsense with computer science geeks and adding large quantites of beer. The fact that you don't hear about these phenomenon until they hit mainstream doesn't mean they had to originally make business sense to make an impact.

Perhaps the disappearance of these bigger sites would have an impact on you, though. It would appear that your browsing habits rarely take you beyond the major "Internet Superhighways" after having stated that small sites can be run cheaply since nobody wants to visit them, because they suck. Perhaps it's time to broaden your views, hmm?

I run a website out of pocket, on a Pentium 133MHz located in a different country. No, it doesn't have a lot of visitors, and it isn't well polished or updated frequently, but it is home to over a gigabyte of files (a self-produced radio show, primarily) and has a potential upstreams bandwidth of 10MB. Its DNS is handled by no-ip.org and the connection is home broadband, so already paid for. If I wanted to run a site of reasonable size, I may have to collect donations to the degree of $2000 for a new server and I'm done (Lokitorrent.com collected over $40k of donations in a months time - falsely, but still proves my point).

There is plenty of bandwidth in the world, it's just misappropriated, is all.

Andrew said...

"You're continually validating your points by referring to large, free "portal" style web sites operated for financial gain by large corporations - see MSN, Yahoo!, Netscape, Google, About.com etc"
-> Um no I'm not, do you read what I type? Large Audience can mean any site with a "large" audience. Numerous sites that are not corporate run fit this model. Examples: Anandtech, Toms Hardware Guide, Neowin ect...

"While I do recognize the services these sites provide, I must say that personally I could live without them"
-> Thats nice tell that to the millions of people who frequent these sites. The content provided by some of these sites is irreplaceable and can not be made up nor can the credibility that has been established just appear overnight by another site.

Salon is a horrible example and completely against what I am talking about.

Businesses constantly take risks. Idealism has nothing to do with innovation. Idealism leads to impracticallities which is the exact opposite of innovative ideas. Innovation is rooted in what is practical not how you wish it to work.

Considering Alcohol actually impairs the brain from functioning properly I don't think it has anything to do with innovation.

"There is plenty of bandwidth in the world, it's just misappropriated, is all."
-> Again Idealistic nonsense. There are alot of computers in the world, they are just misappropriated, is all. Please.

Andrew said...

Lokitorrent.com?

LMAO! http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2005/02/11/lokitorrent_shuttered_by_mpaa_lawsuit.html

They were shut down by the MPAA for what else? Pirating Movies. Good example there!

Lachek said...

Lokitorrent did not get shut down by the MPAA for pirating movies. Lokitorrent chose to shut down their torrent site and replace it with the MPAA notice as part of a settlement with the MPAA to prevent them from being dragged to court for failing to moderate away copyrighted material from their torrent tracker. The same settlement also involved paying the MPAA the money Lokitorrent had collected from its users, under the guise of a "legal protection fund". Like I said, they were collecting the money falsely, but I fail to see why that makes it a bad example. They collected over $40k in a month's time because people didn't want the site to go away. I think that's a perfect model for what I'm talking about.

Like I said, there are examples other than the huge portal sites, and the ones you mention are good examples of large quantity of content supported by advertising. However, there is no reason why "Tom's Hardware Guide" could not be replaced with a "Tom's Hardware Blog" or "Tom's Hardware Forum" - in fact, there are plenty of examples of such sites already.

What do you mean by "corporate run"? Tom's Hardware Guide is registered under "Tom's Guides Publishing LLC". Anandtech is registered by a "Network Solutions" in Virginia. Both these online magazines are large enough to have many regular contributors, possibly working part-time. Doesn't sound like they're just trying to recover bandwidth costs to me.

As far as credibility goes, I would sooner buy a deed for a beachfront property in Arizona from a guy in a trenchcoat than I would base a purchasing decisions on a review in either Tom's Hardware or Anandtech. The bigger these sites get, the less unbiased they become as the IT vendors literally throw stuff at them everywhere they go. It wouldn't surprise me to find a "Site optimized for ATI" logo on THG in the near future.

Andrew said...

"Lokitorrent did not get shut down by the MPAA for pirating movies. Lokitorrent chose to shut down their torrent site and replace it with the MPAA notice as part of a settlement with the MPAA to prevent them from being dragged to court for failing to moderate away copyrighted material from their torrent tracker."
-> AHAHAAAAAAAA!!!!! How naive are you? These sites are used to pirate copywritten material and the owners of the site knew exactly what was going on. You pirate stuff you get what you deserve. It doesn't matter your example is useless, the site is shut down, proving MY point.

"Tom's Hardware Guide is registered under "Tom's Guides Publishing LLC"
-> Do you have any idea how businesses work? LLC does not mean it is a corporation!

"purchasing decisions on a review in either Tom's Hardware or Anandtech."
-> You obviously do not read many of their articles. Technically they have always been sound and no they can not be replaced with a Blog, if you were in IT or an OEM such as myself you would be able to identify how accurate the reviewing is or not.

Lachek said...

Yes, of course Lokitorrent knew what they were doing as far as facilitating the downloading of copyrighted material, but your description of their activities is still incorrect. If you knew anything about BitTorrent, or about IP law as it relates to these cases, you would know that a BitTorrent tracker is as guilty of copyright crimes as a website that provides a link to someone else's external copyright-infringing material (without making any infringing copies themselves). They were not "shut down for being pirates".

Regardless, I don't see how their current non-existence, so-called criminal behaviour, etc in any way relates to their ability to, on demand, gather a considerable amount of monetary donations from its users.

LLC doesn't mean "incorporated" but it does refer to a "company" (Limited Liability Company) - ie, a legal person with a profit motive. From their About Us section:
"Tom leads a team of veteran journalists and technology editors who are committed to maintaining the site's no-holds-barred brand of technology journalism"
"Tom's Hardware Guide worldwide has achieved over 68 million page impressions and attracts an audience of more than 4.4 million unique visitors per month, making it the most popular independent hardware site on the Web."
"Having grown from humble origins into a powerful force in the PC hardware industry, Tom's Hardware Guide has expanded operations in the United States, Europe and Asia and features subsidiary sites in six languages."
That sound like a community-driven, non-profit, "just-trying-to-recover-our-bandwidth-costs" operation to you?

I'm not blaming Tom Pabst for trying to make a buck, but if the site has to shut down due to poor revenue or becomes unusable due to forced advertising, then it's time for Tom to move on. Your proposal to stop using AdBlock software to protect the revenues of such companies is nothing but corporate protectionism. If someone else can do it for free (and trust me, they can - how do you think Tom started out?) then let them.

I currently maintain 200+ Windows PCs and a few Linux servers in my current job position. I also assist with IT purchasing for anything from personal PCs to major research projects. I have previously been in computer sales for SMBs and education, and have had the misfortune of dealing with clients (frighteningly enough, often sysadmins) who get all their information from hype-sites such as THG and Anandtech - they tend to think they should get a GeForce4 video card if they do digital photography, or that their system would somehow be more stable if they got a $300 Audigy2 sound card in it. They have little or no concept of "value" and base most of their decisions on faith alone.

Please, spare me such advice.

Andrew said...

#1 I'm not going to continue tolerating long drawn out offtopic rambling responses.

You can play symantics games all you want. Lokitorrent was targeted and shut down for illegal activity. I'm not arguing technicalities. You don't like my response too bad. This argument is closed.

"Regardless, I don't see how their current non-existence, so-called criminal behaviour, etc in any way relates to their ability to, on demand, gather a considerable amount of monetary donations from its users."
-> Of course you wouldn't you don't get the article I wrote either. They were able to gather a one time amount of donations because all their users would not be able to pirate movies as easily without them. The fact that you seem so hung up on them suggests you did the same. This proves nothing and the fact that they are currently shut down makes your argument laughable.

"That sound like a community-driven, non-profit, "just-trying-to-recover-our-bandwidth-costs" operation to you?"
-> Look I am not going to explain everything over and over so you can spam long responses over and over. If you don't understand LLC go read up on it. I'm also not going to continue tolerating your lack of reading my responses and twisting what I say. Who the hell said Tom's hardware guide was community driven and non-for profit? If your responses continue to ramble offtopic or make implications twisting what I say they will be removed.

"they tend to think they should get a GeForce4 video card if they do digital photography, or that their system would somehow be more stable if they got a $300 Audigy2 sound card in it."
-> Anyway your claims against these sites are laughable and unfounded. Neither site would recommend a card for an application without providing test results and neither would claim a PC would be more stable with am Audigy2 sound card. The comment is idiotic. Your ramblings have worn thin, This is not the place to promote you idealogies.

Andrew said...

"Andrew, you continously say "Adblock" removes adverts. It is originally configured to Hide adverts, and only those going to extreme lengths will set it to Remove them."
It doesn't matter, if you are unable to click on them then the website does not get paid for them. The majority of payments are done with Click-through advertising.

For the last time I am not talking about sites that barrage you with advertising obscuring the content but provide it in addition to the free content. The world is changing and you are seeing more not less advertising.

Again this is not the place to discuss the validity of Torrent linking, I don't care I know what they are primarily used for, which is pirating media.

"I also noticed in this thread of comments that you do not once acknowledge anyones points as even legible."
Because they are not, they are all from people who leech off sites and have a very idealistic way of looking at the internet. They also don't understand the simple economics of how the internet works.

I am also not going to take personal attacks against myself. You comment has been removed.

Joseph Huang said...

I'd say it's analgous to the TV situation

Andrew said...

If you don't like the rules don't reply. Any personal attacks on myself will be removed, any arguments about them will be removed.

Glorious said...

I think Lachek's position would be humourous if it weren't so serious. I like to call the argument the "self-centered" argument. I'm not trying to offend or make a personal atttack, I'll explain my rationale.

He's arguing that since he doesn't care about the content on the other sites, they are irrelevant. "I must say that personally I could live without them".

Yes, so obviously everyone else should HAVE to live without them. That or it's inevitable that everyone will eventually see things his way. That's just so stunningly solipsist it's shocking. Is his reality the only reality?

His comments on lokitorrent are delusional, because the site maintainers got 40k in donations for a legal defense fund. In other words, his example is really saying that people have to face huge lawsuits in order to get funding for their website (whose only content is the tracking and discussion of where to get illegally copied materials)

For some reason, I don't think there are going to be many people who want to run site's off Lachek's "I'm getting sued for everything I own, so give me money" 'donation' model. I don't know what he thinks he's proving by the example, a legal defense fund isn't exactly the same thing as a tipjar for regular operational costs. In fact, I'm being kind, there is no similiarity.

I'm also amazed that he implies that it is wrong for people to want to make the living off the web, that they should only want to 'cover costs'. Why stop there? Why not insist that every business worldwide only cover their costs? What's the point of artificially stopping with just the internet?

Oh, that's right. Hardly anything would ever get made/done if people couldn't make a living off of it.

What is so fundamentally unreasonable to a social contract that says "If I put ads on my site that you ignore so long as you don't block them, then I will supply you with free content." Given his support for lokitorrent, a subscription model wouldn't work either because I doubt Lachek would do anything about people illegally disseminating the content the subscription provided.

Let's look at his example about people making a creative commons film using cheap camera equipment and bittorrent after the MPAA and big studios fail.

The thing about that example is that 1. It can happen now
2. It eliminates a lot of what people LIKE about movies.

Anyone can do exactly what he's purposing today. The thing is, no one cares because very, very few of those films contain elements that are popular. People like big blockbusters with epic scenes, famous casts, and neat special effects. Lachek is essentially saying that if we made it impossible to make cool films like we used to, people will watch amateur student films because there isn't anything else.

What a utopia.

steve poling said...

I hate blinkies.

This social contract between advertiser and viewer has always been an asymmetrical relationship with advertisers pushing things as much as they can. I recall hating commercials on television. In high school I learned that the more annoying the commercial, the more memorable it was and thus they designed ads to be annoying.

That was before television remote controls. After TVs got mute buttons, advertising changed became less annoying and more interesting.

If I'm reading something I don't want my eye wandering away to some distraction on the page. I don't want a pop up or pop-under cluttering my desktop.

When advertisers discovered flash animation I contemplating uninstalling the flash plugin.

I hate blinkies. And I never Adblock any banner advertisement that doesn't blink.

My likelihood to block an advertisement varies according to its annoyingness vs interestingness. The John Cleese ad for the backup solution captured my attention and I watched it closely. I'll return when I need a chuckle. (attention advertisers: this is a clue.)

Don't blink and flicker.

If you have some way cool flash game where I might win millions by shooting the monkey, put a static non-offensive image on a banner and if I want to give it a try, I'll click on it. If it's cool, it'll have a viral appeal and we'll talk about it over the supper table. (Like those United Healthcare ads http://www.adweek.com/aw/creative/best_spots_03/index_0703.jsp)

peter. said...

What is written goes under the assumption that the current "free internet" in the right internet. (I'm not particularily disputing this.. I'll return to it later).

Generally, the internet has been following the American business model. If you look at other mediums, such as radio and television, we have seen models that require fees or(as with the phenomenal BBC) taxes. In North America, we see examples with specialty channels, such as HBO. In the States, however, most profit comes from advertising.

Back in the day, I believe, development of a technology within a small country, could be handled by the government, due to less physical demands. In a country as large as the United States, however, it would be impossible for the government to put up telephone poles or cable lines all over the country. So, the responsibility is given to the corporations: and Adam Smith's philosophy that greed motivates the world is put to work. When profit is the motivation, and even more with the threat of a competing company getting that profit, a company will go as quickly as possible, and reach as many places as they can in order to capitalize on profits.

The business model stayed in place. As is well known, the United States still favours corporations as the building blocks of the company over the people. Once again, I am stating a fact; take it as you will, for this philosophy has progressed the US into the most powerful and rich country in the entire world. The truth is, once a people receive something for free, they will not want to pay for it, so you can't change it back. With the rise of the Internet, North America's dominant power resulted in this model growing, and spreading with the net.

Now, why does this difference matter? Well, when the people pay for it directly, it becomes a medium for the people. It is high culture, it's purpose formed to reflect the best of what society has to offer. Why else would it exist, if not for the people that are paying for it. However, by giving the power into the corporation, the focal point changes. Suddenly, it is not for the people, but for profit. Is that understandable enough? Rather than us having control, the idea is how to control us and get the most money out of us.

I agree with your title: Adblock does pose a threat to the free internet. However, it also gives the power back to us. Now, the corporations have to adapt to us. I don't know the solution. Since the internet is worldwide, a cost-structure will be negative for poorer nations. It's adapt to survive however, so you can be assured than many will use their minds to find something new that works.

As I said, once you get something free, you don't want to pay. This, while seemingly a bad thing, is beneficial in a situation like this, as adaptation to the new environment will most likely take costs into account.

Of course, some won't survive. That is unfortunate, but generally, still intellectually beneficial to society. We have seen truly important and stimulating projects, such as Wikipedia, swamped with donations to keep it going. Other sites, such as Flickr and Livejournal, promise eternal free services, making their pay services simply a product that they sell for advanced users (while the free version suffices for the laymen). In these examples, we see profit driven by need. At a go cart track, if some people go 1 lap and some go 10 laps, it's illogical to have a fixed charge for 5 laps.

So, maybe that's the adaption? Make money, for being effective (Wikipedia), or only pay for services you use (livejournal). The cost of running smaller sites, meanwhile, I still don't know. I guess we'll see.

p.s. I'm quite tired, so make sure to dispute all my flaws, so that I can later consider them

Thurston said...

As far as im concerned, smart people will not see a flashing ad on a page and think "oooh i should buy that without thinking about whether i want or need it". this is the domain of the common idiot. they're out ther right now, on their AOL accounts with a spyware-ridden copy of IE and an inbox full of penis enlargement ads (half of them will probably buy it). these people have no knowledge of adblock, and if someone told them about it, they would probably call them a nerd and then ask them to get rid of their spyware for them. smart people buy something if they want or need it, not just because they saw a flashing musical ad telling them to. this means that they usually arent clicking on the annoying ads anyways. so let us block the ads we dont want to see, because for every smart person who chooses what he wants to see on webpages, there are several thousand "consumers" on IE just sitting around with their credit cards in their hand and waiting for their chance to purchase the next "hot new product" so they can be unique, just like everyone else. oh well, at least the anti-adblock people arent going after bugmenot yet (or else i might have had to actually register for this site to post here)

Andrew said...

Instead your just a nobody posting, sad.

Andrew said...

Personal attacks will be removed. As for IE, it is elementary to not get infected with Spyware and Viruses. Look into it.

Go Go Chinchilla! said...

*shrug* How a website owner pays his bandwidth bills is not my problem, and I will not allow third parties to send unsolicited content to my computer. If I send my browser to www.foo.com, I do not want content from ad.doubleclick.net. If I wanted to view doubleclick.net's content, I would have directed my browser to that URL.

If you can't pay your hosting bill without advertising, then to the void with you. You don't matter, and the web is probably better off without you.

Jason said...

Just to point out to all the Firefox users out there, Opera is more secure and more standards compliant, and is a faster browser by far. So unless you are using Opera, you really can't say these are the reasons you use Firefox, especially since IE7 is about as equally compliant as Firefox.

Justin said...

If you chose to make your living through a website, I surely hope you didn't plan on your revenue coming from ads. If that's the case, I'll be glad to see your website disappear.

Tim Yen said...

To me this raises the question of what level of ads are good for the internet?

None or free for all! Neither policy will work. It has to be somewhere in the middle.

The net is not entirely run by advertising and it doesn't have to be, but clearly advertising supports a lot of sites.

Tim

Crackpot Conspiracy Theorist said...

The main problem with adblock plus is that it's too effective and it's free.

I run a small site at retrovision.tv. It gets a small profit and pays it's massive bandwidth bill for serving TV.

I just use plain old google ads. Not only does adblock plus kill simple Google ads, it especially kills Google ads.

If these blockers are adopted widely, the first casualties will be small sites like mine. You might not care, but 3000-5000 people a day like free TV.

I like an extra part time job.

100% adoption of this program tonight and I'm done tomorrow.

Ashwin said...

I have some ideas on how to prevent adblocking. The basic idea is to selectively encrypt a webpage. Please see:
http://www.killadblock.frihost.net/kab/

There is a live demo that encrypts your HTML!

Mikhail said...

None of you ad blockers own a website, do you?
Free content for user, but someone has to host it.
Ads aren't for profit, ads are for counter-expenses. I run a free game, but it's only free to the players.. it costs me over $200 a month to run it. And believe me... I don't get $200 in donations every month.

I dont even ask anyone to click on ads. The rare person that finds an ad honeslty interesting is enough. I also get paid per impressions. So by viewing my ads you pay back for the bandwidth that you use to download my content.

80% of my ads are text and links. Images are rare (comment to those who are on dialup)

I do not, and will never block ads. In fact I click an ad when it displays information that is relevant.

Celtic Badger said...

Andrew is 100% right!! You like youtube? You like free online games? you like free social networks? Then you don't block ads.

If you don't like the number of ads on a webpage, don't access it. Walk with your feet.

You don't see supermarkets giving bread away for free, so don't expect the same from webmasters.

If you don't like our ads DONT ACCESS OUR CONTENT!!! End of... use the little people who do it for a hobby instead!

Jeremy said...

I'm a webmaster and user. I use ad block. I know that there have been over 70 million download of adblock but there are sooo many webmasters that it will always remain competitive and I will never charge for my content. There will always be millions who don't have adblock plus so I don't really care.

maxi said...

Just now I’ve been googling anti-ad block scripts.
I’ve found some sites – http://anti-ad-blocker.blogspot.com/ .

I definitely agree that it’s not nice to force users to disable ad blockers.
On the other hands, someone has to pay for their hosting bills, part-time sharing stuffs which are all about costing time and money.
This should be returned in some forms. As for me, I have 10000+ page views per day for one of my freebie sites in my webanlyzers but in my adsense panel I get only 500+ page impression per day.

Mikhail said...

My coworker is a die-hard adblocker. He has confessed that some certain things make him turn the adblock off. I would like to share his story with you.

His typical site of choice includes absurd pop-up type ads, which forced him to start using an adblock to begin with. Since then he has blocked every ad on the web, kind of by "inertia" of ad blocking.
He says that there are 2 main reasons he disabled adblock for a website.
1) The website provides free content, and is overall friendly and it detects adblock use and disables its functionality.
2) Instead of the advertisement (behind the image/iframe) there's another image or a text that pleads for help.

I have implemented #2 on my website, so that when an adblock is used, the text behind the supposed ad is displayed: "By using Ad-Block you oppose our efforts to keep this game free" (and a drawing of a crying baby panda)

The use of adblocks has gone down from 24% to 19% (I've been tracking it for a while)

SuperHitAr said...

AdBlock Plus Is Evil form me .
I Use it by accident when I looked for plugin that block Porngraph .banner from some torrent site
After months from using it I notice some ads regularly see are disappear Like Adsens text ads etc .
Which Is not the reason I use that Plugin For .
I that's time know that plugin are far strong from being banner blocks
Specially whit EasyList That block all kind of ads .
For Firs comment taking about greedy site This plugin will not hurt that big sites that much like small sites ..
Because they have thousands way to make money other then ads you know nothing about it ..
This Plugin hurt small companies and small developers who can't pay for Others Ads material Like TV radio Magazine ads Street banners you name it .
^^ so do you have authority stop all that kind of ads you seen everyday ? of course not .
I ask you how you heard about "General motors" And "ford" "Nokia" "Samsung" "Apple" "Pepsi" "Mcdonald" "IBM" "Microsoft"
Back to web site owner side of story ..
I Had take about this Plugin in some Linux web form I register with in 2008 Before I think to build any web site that time .. I told everyone that plugin are hurting websites owner .
Now I have my own web site which provide free contents to users from all the web .
And of course I use ads on it .. from Page view analyses I count that about 20% from my site visitor use that Plugin .
although My ads are away from being buggy ads .
but are blocked because of EasyList That Installed automatically with adblock ..
I know that Most of plugin users are not care about EasyList or anything else they just see some banner or pop-up window on some web site and hit "block ads" on search engine and the the story begin .

Any way I'm not count on ads for living .And I can bug my site visitors with ads that they can't blck easier .
Or Show them Ugly Message to Disable Adblock from my site .
But won't do it because it's not their fault it's Adblock developers fault and EasyList team fault .