Regarding ad blocking

Recently two pieces of news surfaced on the net about the morality of ad blocking (1, 2). I do not personally use an ad-blocking add-on on my Firefox but I do use NoScript. This disallows any JavaScript code to be executed by the browser unless you mark a web site as “safe”. I will not remove NoScript because it indeed provides an amazing sense of security, as we live in days where naively clicking to a link can result in the exploitation of your Windows PC.

Unfortunately, by blocking scripts, it means that it also blocks ads — because these days ads come with script from a remote server. And many of these ads are known to contain tracking code, and so I will simply not allow them to run.

Back when I got involved with OSNews in Aug 2001, we had no ad provider yet, and so the OSNews owner and I would ask companies one by one to support us. I would specifically ask their marketing dpt for a no-js version of their ad to run on OSNews, and for that gif/jpeg ad image to not be bigger than 15-20 KBs. Eventually, OSNews got a contract with major ad companies a few months later and so the JavaScript hell started running in for us too. Which is why I created the no-ads version of OSNews — originally was only meant for me and my friends, but then it became a product.

I got to say this to all the crybabies at DailyKos and News.com: if you don’t want ME to block your ads, then strip out JS. Simply use an ad image at the right size with a link to your advertiser’s web site, and this will automatically display on my browser. How difficult is this to do? Even with the simple image you can track quite a few things (e.g. geographical details of the user who loaded the ad), why do you need all the extra detail, tracking and headaches (and often, broken JS code) that JS/flash ads bring?

In conclusion: go back to basics, as JavaScript ads are not welcome in this house. At least not for sites or remote servers that aren’t marked as “safe”.

3 Comments »

Luis wrote on September 12th, 2007 at 1:58 PM PST:

I’ve thought about ad-blocking before. It is an issue, since advertising pays many bills. It keeps the web free/gratis, it also helps Free software…

I’m all against abusive advertising, sure. But reasonable advertising is necessary. If we block it all, then it will bite us back.

I did use flash-block some time ago. Then switched to noscript. But soon removed it (it was too restrictive, I felt) and now I use nothing.

Google ads seem to need javascript to give a good service. Yes, javascript abuse is also a pain…

Sites should be responsible with advertising, with flash and with javascript or they will die eventually. And search engines (especially Google) should ban of its top 100 search results those that are not responsible. It’s the only way to regain a decent web that you can surf safely. I hope they start to take this seriously before it’s too late.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 12th, 2007 at 2:58 PM PST:

Regarding NoScript: it requires about 2 weeks of working with it to mark safe sites you usually visit, but after that it’s really nice.


mikesum32 wrote on September 12th, 2007 at 5:46 PM PST:

reposted from slashdot

With pop-ups and annoying flash ads that talk at you or play sound when I’m listening to music, I don’t see a giant problem with blocking these. I also hate the stupid ads that use javascript to float over the content I’m trying to read. Lastly the hyperlink-every-other-word has to go too. I don’t mind banner ads, text ads, ads between “the jump,” or ads along the sides a la fark.


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