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The Morality of Web Advertisement Blocking

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the can't-see-a-problem dept.

Mozilla 974

An anonymous reader writes "There has been some recent coverage of the over-hyped boycott of Firefox, in response to the rising popularity of the Adblock Plus Firefox extension. A recent editorial on CNET looks into the issue, and explores the moral and legal issues involved in client-side web advertisement blocking. Whereas TiVo users freeload on the relatively fixed broadcasting costs paid by TV networks, users of web ad-blocking technology are actively denying website owners revenue that would otherwise go to pay for the bandwidth costs of serving up those web pages. If the website designer has to pay for bits each time you view their website without viewing their banner ads, are you engaged in theft? Is this right? "

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Oh boo hoo (5, Insightful)

Trigun (685027) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555449)

If things weren't so horribly intrusive and capable of tracking a user's entire internet experience, for the sole purpose of selling you stuff, people wouldn't bitch.

Re:Oh boo hoo (5, Insightful)

ivanmarsh (634711) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555611)

Agreed... web advertisers talking about morality and ethics is a joke.

When you site warns me that it's going to resize my browser, install software and watch everything I do I'll stop blocking it.

Re:Oh boo hoo (-1, Redundant)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555833)

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Re:Oh boo hoo (0, Redundant)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555955)

Then take the 'moral high ground' and don't visit the site ... period.

Then don't go to the godammned site (0, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555717)

If things weren't so horribly intrusive and capable of tracking a user's entire internet experience, for the sole purpose of selling you stuff, people wouldn't bitch.

Don't go to the site then, and for sure, don't use their content!

What are you, like little mommy's boy waiting for the world to dance for you, for free, every time you simper and lose your blanky! Hey, people eat and want to send their kids to college.

Honestly, what they should do is make it so that a web browser / html protocol that is digitally signed so that ads -cannot be blocked-.

Re:Then don't go to the godammned site (1)

ShatteredArm (1123533) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555841)

But I am entitled to absolutely free content whenever I want it, and I deserve to have it exactly the way I want it! How dare the websites seek profit or reimbursement!

Re:Then don't go to the godammned site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555947)

What are you, like little mommy's boy waiting for the world to dance for you, for free, every time you simper and lose your blanky! Hey, people eat and want to send their kids to college.

Then I have a suggestion for you and it's really a simple one that applies to many different fields:

If you want to make money on your toll road, you probably ought to build toll booths in order to collect it.

Don't come to us crying about "mommy's boy" when nobody wants to punch your fucking monkey.

Re:Oh boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555953)

Since I browse with javascript disabled, I don't see half the annoying bullshit to begin with. Does this make me a "thief"?

The only ads I've ever clicked on were google text ads. The only ads I block are obnoxious animated GIFs; which is pretty much all of them (Nope, no flash either - not interested).

I don't mind advertising but I do mind ads stealing focus, taking up half a page or otherwise straining my eyes.

Oh my. (5, Insightful)

croddy (659025) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555453)

I'd like to live in a fantasy world where I'm simply entitled by default to ad revenue, and I only have to deal with insidious "users of web ad-blocking technology" who are "actively denying" me my solid gold razor scooter. Fortunately for users, in the real world, a webmaster has to earn ad revenue by finding content that users want and ads they are willing to accept -- not by taking it for granted that they will just gaze longingly into the CRT clicking on everything that swirls.

For a long time, advertisers were able to support a huge number of frivolous web sites, partly because they could bombard the user with page after page of obnoxious flashing garbage for which no technical countermeasures existed. The collapse of the dot-com bubble eliminated the most unviable popup-pushers, and the rest are beginning to get the message. Popup blockers are normal mainstream software, and Google has had significant success selling all-text advertisements.

The website owners seem to think that we've pushed back hard enough, and should just deal with the sea of repellant Flash banners they want to drown us in. I guess those website owners are wrong, because clearly there are plenty of people who are not willing to tolerate the barrage of useless ads. We'll find a balance eventually, somewhere in between no ads at all and the websites whose masters believe they are entitled to a tithe every time their server sends a 200 status.

next step? (5, Insightful)

mardin (976086) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555467)

What's next step? Forcing people to actually look at the adds? Or press at it? Or are you a thief if you don't buy a product of an advertiser of a web page you visit?

What about my bandwidth? (5, Insightful)

Erioll (229536) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555729)

What about my bandwidth? They're trying to say I'm OBLIGATED to take everything on their page, not just the parts I'm requesting. I can assure you that I'm requesting their content, not the ads. They're forcing unnecessary bandwidth requirements (and slow load times) upon me by their advertising.

With a pipe, there ARE two ends to it you know.

Re:What about my bandwidth? (1)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555881)

interesting argument.

ive used adblock with firefox for a while now, and ive made sure to only hide the ads rather than not download them. that way i dont have to see them (i dont want to see them anyway), and the webmaster still gets credit for the 'view'.

Use loaded questions much? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555483)

There's no promise when I visit a site I will download what you offer. Images, CSS, Javascript, Flash, etc are all OPTIONAL. If I choose to save bandwidth by not downloading them, there is nothing morally wrong with that choice.

Look at it this way: (4, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555691)

Let ad content consist of a bytes. Let useful content consist of c bytes.

When I transfer a + c bytes, that's OK. When I transfer only c bytes, I'm stealing. So in this case, it's stealing when I take less than normal?

I feel so... pink? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555485)

Hmm... Where have I heard about a site actively blocking users who hit it too many times in a given period?

Is it theft? (4, Insightful)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555487)

If the website designer has to pay for bits each time you view their website without viewing their banner ads, are you engaged in theft?

No more theft than it would be if you were viewing web content with a browser that couldn't physically render the content. What if everyone used Lynx, [] for example?

Re:Is it theft? (2, Interesting)

kavehkh (725943) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555625)

Seconding that: "Theft?" While you never pay attention to the ads and if you ever did, you never click on them anyway, blocking should not make a difference on the website owners(not designers really) expected revenue. The owners could similarly argue that, if the users don't care about the ads, they don't have to care about blocking them either. I guess this argument goes both ways, making the whole discussion "overhyped".

Exactly. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555649)

From TFA:

In the end, a few things are clear: Users of advertisement skipping technology are essentially engaged in theft of resources.

No. If you do not get the reaction you expected from me, then you have simply lost that portion of your investment. I have not stolen anything from you.

Next up on Slashdot, if she won't blow you after you buy her a drink, is she guilty of "theft of resources"?

Re:Exactly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555877)

"Next up on Slashdot, if she won't blow you after you buy her a drink, is she guilty of "theft of resources"?"
no that doesn't apply until 2 drinks and 3 shots of tequila

Re:Exactly. (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555937)

Interesting senerio: Imagine a world where she was guilty, and had to pay a fine. Every gift would come with fine print, and everytime two humans exchanged *anything*, they'd have to thumbstamp a contract. That's a plot right out of a "If this goes on" type of Science Fiction novel. We'd each have to carry an AI lawyer around, and rich people would trick others into signing away there organs. "I have 6 kidneys, 3 hearts and an extra spleen!" Society would grind to a halt, and eventually the last woman on earth (women live longer), wouldn't have anyone left to sign a contract with.

Re:Is it theft? (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555657)

I think of it as taking a magazine and ripping out the ads, then reading it.

I've never heard anyone ever call that immoral before.

Re:Is it theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555711)

Use the UserAgent plugin for Firefox and make it look like Lynx. Then everyone will be happy.

Re:Is it theft? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555821)

While I don't see blocking ads as theft, I do see the difference between using something that technically cannot render the ads and something that purposely removes them. It would be the site owners fault that they don't create the ad content that will display in Lynx.

The real question that I think should be asked is, giving the appearance of free and in beer websites, are we as users just getting too greedy? Should everything have no costs to it at all? Should someone who creates a sit that is helpful to you and me have to fork the funding over completely on their own and from their own pocket? Because we demand it? Ads, like it or not, go into paying for what we don't want to pay. If an ad blocker was the default, you might start seeing site that just won't render if it senses that the ads aren't being displayed. Or maybe it gives out different or useless content. I guess we need to ask if this is what we want or not.

differences in not dl ad vs. not seeing it? (5, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555491)

But is there a moral difference between not downloading the ad vs. not seeing the ad? For example, I use my userContent.css file to not display advertisements in older versions of Mozilla (I like the full suite of apps darn it!). *My* bandwidth is still used to get the file, *their* webserver still logs a request for /advert.php?foo.... but I never see the ad. As long as the request for the advert is made and it is sent, does it matter if someone sees it? Of course, if they don't see it they can't click it, but still...

Re:differences in not dl ad vs. not seeing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555757)

What do you think ads are for? If you download it but don't look the ad provider pays for both bandwidth and to the site owner; they get nothing for their trouble.

Re:differences in not dl ad vs. not seeing it? (1)

saterdaies (842986) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555843)

I think there is still a difference. A lot of web advertising is pay per click and not per impression so not seeing it does affect the site. There's also the fact that if users are blocking ads (yet they're still being downloaded), advertisers lower their cost per impression rates (at least in the long run).

Shift the example (4, Insightful)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555499)

Those poor innocent spammers need to pay (somewhere, at some level, be it money for bandwidth or time to write the virus..) to send you those viagra ads .. if we block those messages, and never see them, is it theft of some kind from the spammers or the viagra company?

A non-issue ... (5, Insightful)

Woldry (928749) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555505)

I fail to see how using Firefox to ignore the ad banners and such is morally any different than throwing out the advertising supplements to the newspaper without glancing at the ads therein.

Re:A non-issue ... (4, Informative)

truesaer (135079) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555765)

I fail to see how using Firefox to ignore the ad banners and such is morally any different than throwing out the advertising supplements to the newspaper without glancing at the ads therein.

You didn't even read the slashdot summary, much less the article obviously. The newspaper gets paid for including the ad, not for you viewing it. Websites often get paid by impressions, so if the ads aren't received by the customers then the revenue isn't received by the site. Totally different from the newspaper, who gets an "impression" with every paper sold guaranteed.

Still not necessarily wrong given how parasitic a lot of ads are now, hogging resources and making annoying sounds. But lets focus on the actual argument raised in TFA.

Re:A non-issue ... (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555853)

We not only throw out the newspaper advertisements at work for the single issue someone bought that morning, but its shared among about 100 people during the day. And we also use pens and markers to deface and editorialize the remaining ads. Its the community stealing back its own community!

I'm immoral for blocking ads??? (1)

BiloxiGeek (872377) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555507)

Well I guess better make my reservation for a nice room in hell since I'm so immoral. Because I run AdBlock Plus and I use it extensively. Not about to stop using it either. I pay for the bandwidth to download pages when I surf so I get to choose what gets downloaded and what doesn't.

Depends on what kind of ads they are (5, Interesting)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555509)

If the website owner feels it is necessary to use ads to support the cost of being on the internet, then the least they can do is avoid the flash "Bonk the _____ and get a ______" ads. If they aren't willing to do that then whether they like it or not I'm blocking their ads.

I go to websites primarily for content, and if thats disrupted by advertisement then I'm not getting what I went there for.

Re:Depends on what kind of ads they are (4, Insightful)

ericlondaits (32714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555889)

Yeah, but when we use AdBlock we block ALL ads, whether they're obnoxious or not.

What this might cause, eventually, is for ads to be served through the same server and directories as content (to avoid URL pattern matching), for content to be served through the ads (like a flash file that provides both the ad and text content) or that ads sneak inside content (which they already do, in the form of sponsored articles, sponsored tv shows, on-screen banners during shows, etc.)

It'd probably be in the best interest of consumers to find a good middle ground.

And (5, Insightful)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555519)

Going to the bathroom during TV commercials is theft!

Re:And (1)

athdemo (1153305) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555735)

I wonder if blinking during them is a misdemeanor?

Re:And (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555825)

Thats why adverts are louder. So you can hear them while taking a piss/making a cup of coffee.

No (5, Insightful)

cerelib (903469) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555527)

No, it is not theft. I ask a server for a page and it gives it to me. I control which parts of the page will load and which parts won't. If websites don't like it, then they need to find a better business model.

Re:No (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555597)

Then, should we not send advertisers a bill for computing cycles used to render the ads?

What was IBM's rate for on-demand computing cycles?

Honestly... (1)

MiKM (752717) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555529)

No. Did you honestly expect any other answer, especially from the Slashdot crowd?

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555949)


Ads? (5, Funny)

reaktor (949798) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555531)

What ads?

We're using their bits? They're using my CPU. (4, Interesting)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555533)

I'm using their bits, eh? Well, they're using my CPU with all their annoying flash ads.

As soon as people learn that annoying (and often intrusive) Flash ads aren't appreciated, then there won't be a major reason for adblock.

Ahem (1)

Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555537)

IIRC, one of the joys of FOSS is that the community creates modifications (or, in this case, extensions). Why aren't people talking about boycotting the maker of the extension rather than Firefox themselves? I don't think there's any blame to be placed here, but if there is, at least place blame where blame is due...

Don't care (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555541)

When advertisers stop thinking me as "a consumer who needs to be trained to consume more" - I'll start giving a damn about what they have to say.

It is worth noting... (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555555)

That they are providing you all of the bits, including the advertising ones. It is no more immoral to refuse to display them than it would be to simply cover them up with little bits of paper.

More importantly, this brings up a nastily annoying bug of mine:

Morality is simply motivation based on a sense of right or wrong.

Something is moral, therefore, if you do it believe it to be right, and immoral if you do it believe it to be wrong. Generally, therefore, people do not participate in immoral acts.

I am quite certain that most (>90%) if not all of the population who performs ad-blocking, therefore, considers it quite moral.

Re:It is worth noting... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555629)

I would consider ad blocking to be amoral, actually.

Re:It is worth noting... (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555633)

Er... damn lack of previewing.

"Do it believing it to be right", and "do it believing it to be wrong".

Re:It is worth noting... (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555873)

At the risk of going off-topic, you are incorrect with that statement. Everyone does things that go against their own set of morals. The proof is the feeling of guilt. If people were unable to act immorally, then there would be no sense of guilt.

Although, what you are most likely leaning towards is the difference between morals and ethics. Given that ethics are loosely defined as a set of morals shared by a majority of a society, then, I would also care to submit that there are more internet users than online advertisers, and we as internet users do not mind blocking ads on the web, then the advertisers are attempting to hijack and redefine the ethics of an online community. And for that, they should be shot and pissed on, or a similar punishment that most of us would not have a problem with.

Good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555561)

when the web first started there where no banners, dataminers, iframes, adware, spyware, mfa's
and yet there where websites by the millions all paid for and maintained by the users for the LOVE of it
much like open source is developed today

everything that is wrong with the web is because of advertising as "entrepreneurs" get increasingly more and more desperate to earn as much money as they can for as little effort as they can

i for one shall welcome their demise standing on my chair clapping

Sounds like the MAFIAA (5, Insightful)

kerohazel (913211) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555565)

"Our revenue model is broken, and exploiting said brokenness should be illegal."

Theft? No. (1)

Xonstantine (947614) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555571)

Morally dubious? Not really. It's not like you have a contract with the person serving up the web page in the vast majority of cases. The standard non-fee service model is "I present you information, my advertisers pay for that presentation", but the web page visitor is a guest, and the payment arrangement exists independently of anything the visitor has agreed to. Until there is an explicit arrangement that the guest agrees to, it's a bad assumption on the presenter's part to assume that the guest is going to be equally interested in the advertising.

Pay-per-view is dead, isn't it? (4, Insightful)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555581)

As far as I understand it, the pay-per-view advertising model has gone the way of the dodo, and they're all pay-per-click now. Telling me I have to let the ads through on a site, when I have zero intention of ever clicking on them, is pointless. In fact, since I'm never going to click on them, by not displaying them, I'm saving the advertiser bandwidth.

Theft? Immoral? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555583)

I would say no - there is no obligation on the part of any viewer to view ads - print, web, TV or whatever. Just as you are fee to discard, cut out or mark over any ads in a magazine (or have someone do that to you copy before you read it) you can block ads from web pages.

If that becomes widespread - several things will happen:

1. Websites will block certain browsers (can they tell if FF spoofs itself as IE?) and lose the corresponding web traffic; getting less revenue from advertisers
2. They won't block ads but advertisers will be willing to pay less since they will assume x% of their ads are blocked and adjust their payments accordingly.

Either way websites will get less money - a logical market response.

Companies will also find new ways to deliver ads - and those that do so in a way that results in more viewer ship will make money.

I think it's interesting... (1)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555609)

...that when we watch TV, we expect commercials. We think "public TV" is a novelty, so to speak. Same goes for radio. The same is even true for newspapers and magazines--which we even pay a subscription fee to read.

When we browse the web, however, commercials are an intrusion. We expect web sites to be free, and we think it's a violation if we see advertisements.

Why is this?

My guess is it's just a difference in the culture the different technologies grew out of. Traditional "mass media" grew out of commercial interests, the Internet grew out of the educational industries. I could be seeing things far too narrowly, though :)

Re:I think it's interesting... (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555829)

"Expecting commercials" on TV doesn't mean we wouldn't take the option to rid ourselves of them if we had it. (Which those that DVR TV do...) I find advertisements to be annoying anywhere they may be.

Re:I think it's interesting... (1)

BiloxiGeek (872377) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555831)

...that when we watch TV, we expect commercials.

When I watch TV I expect to hit the fast forward button on my Tivo remote to zoom past the commercials. Guess I'm also an immoral thief for that now too.

Correction: I fastforward unless it's a new Mac/PC or Caveman/Geico commercial. Those at least have some comedic value.

Flip this around on them... (1)

cavtroop (859432) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555613)

...what gives them the right to use my bandwidth to advertise to me? I whitelist sites that I visit often, and find useful - they deserve my revenue. the others? I surely don't care.

An analogy (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555615)

I rarely read ads in the newspaper, and throw away the glossy Sunday inserts. Am I stealing advertising revenue from the newspaper publisher?

The Morality of Brochure Advertisement Ignoring (1)

Blnky (35330) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555617)

If the building designer has to pay for utilities, such as air conditioning, each time you enter their building without reading their affiliated advertisement brochures, are you engaged in theft?

Does it matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555619)

Does it matter whether a bit-bucket "sees" the ads and doesn't click on the link, or a human sees the ad and doesn't click the link? Or another way, since ad revenue is meted out by click-throughs, what does it matter if he views or does not view the ad, if he never clicks it? (Popups disguised as modal dialog boxes notwithstanding, as those SHOULD be blocked)

No. (4, Interesting)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555621)

If the website designer has to pay for bits each time you view their website without viewing their banner ads, are you engaged in theft?

In order for me to view their banner ads, my browser must actively request the data for that banner in a separate transaction from the one used to get the rest of the contents of the page. I see no reason for me, as the computer's owner and operator, not to forbid the browser from doing so.

As a good citizen of the internet, I think it a good thing that I don't clog the tubes with advertising bandwidth which I do not care to see.

There will come a breaking point.... (2, Insightful)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555627)

and it's why I don't use AdBlock...

But people are going to be paid to write good articles about products, instead of advertising. Your beloved Engadgets and Gizmodos will write articles saying "THIS THING IS AWESOME", paid for by the manufacturer. They won't be making any ground with traditional advertising since we are blocking it all. Tivo removes the ads as well.

So you are going to have to make a choice... do you want simple ads on the side that accompany your article or TV show, or ones that are embedded into them, and influence them? You can't have it both ways, and at some point marketing/ad companies will realize they are losing money because of Firefox and try alternative methods of syndicating their content. Probably at our expense.

Re:There will come a breaking point.... (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555861)

Companies have been buying good reviews since before there was an Internet. Not blocking Internet ads won't stop them from doing so. YOU can't have it both ways, you can't have neither. But the advertisers can and do have it both ways, both ads on the side and embedded ones.

Oh-Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555647)

Surfing the web without ads like watching PBS without sending money.

Proof in the form of a Simpsons Transcript [] .

Why does adblock exist? (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555653)

That's the question they need to be asking themselves. We felt the need to use software like adblock because bandwidth-intensive and site-obscuring ads began to dominate the scene. They became so desperate for our attention that they resorted to noisy flash animations that actively get between web users and the sites they want to view. Of COURSE we're going to try to block ads after's like having a commercial playing DURING the big game.

Site owners have every right to deny Firefox users access to their sites on the basis of lost ad revenue. It's their server, it's their bandwidth, and it's their choice. But I'd suggest a better solution: establish a list of sites that do not host those ads that are a part of the problem, and work with the adblock staff to not block them by default.

Acceptable ads: banners, sidebars, and inserts that always stay within their defined borders, do not flash or otherwise use animation to overtly draw attention to themselves, do not use rollovers for more than highlighting, and do not play audio without being clicked. Basically an image or set of images that won't chew up large amounts of bandwidth and won't interfere with the operation of the site.

Re:Why does adblock exist? (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555775)

Forgot to put this as part of acceptable ads: does not use a global tracking cookie or any other means of tracking a user who has simply seen an ad that was on a random site somewhere.

Responsible advertising (1)

truesaer (135079) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555659)

I don't know if this would be a successful business, but it would be nice to see an ad serving company that is "responsible." I never used adblock plus until a month ago, I finally got fed up with flash ads that crash my browser or use 80% of the CPU, ads with sound like those buzzing bee ads, etc.

Ads more and more are like malware than a passive banner you might decide to click. If there were an ad company out there that vetted the ads they serve to ensure they weren't impacting performance and weren't unusually annoying, I would be perfectly willing to install a subscription that did not block those ads.

So....point here is maybe we can come to an agreement, a comprimise. Websites could choose to go with the responsible ad server, and fewer people would block there ads.

It would be illegal... (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555661)

It would be illegal if the website had a EULA that forbid me from blocking ads, that I explicitly agreed to. In that case I would be in breach of contract.

However, I have never entered to any such agreement, so I have no remorse or legal concern for blocking flash or anything else that I don't want my browser to display.

Next thing you know, some company will be whining because someone with poor eyesight has their font size cranked way up, which pushes content down the page, interfering with the company's high-dollar advertising spot that used to be visible without scrolling.

Dan East

Re:It would be illegal... (1)

colesw (951825) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555913)

Oh god don't give them ideas. I can't wait to start visiting web pages and having to agree to a EULA, verifying my age, in case they have a article that may talk about "naughty" things that people will be upset about letting minors see (talking about anything sexual/violent is evil remeber).

I'm not so sure. (1)

n2art2 (945661) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555663)

I'm not so sure it is theft.

Think of museums or state parks. You place yourself in a posistion that your doors are open for all to come in. Some charge admissions for enterance while other's do not. Maybe that park of museum decides that their method of paying for the services they provide is to put billboards up all around. Does that mean that if I enjoy the freedom of eating lunch under a shade tree in the park or I decide to walk through your "free" museum and look at all the paintings, that I also have to be forced to look at the billboard you placed there?

If you want to use that method of income then so be it, but don't expect me to look. There are other methods. You could charge a fee for access to your site. You could ask for donations. You can do all sorts of things.

then Quit screaming at me. (5, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555671)

If you want me to view your advertisement it better not.

1. Have sound. If it does your so forever block from my browser and wallet its not even funny

2. Overlay what I am reading. Having to click your ad away from the article text means I know exactly who I am never buying from.

3. Pop a window, over or under, its the same, your gone.

4. Any ad which causes my HD to spin up to load the damn support required for it, aka Flash and JAVA. If it pauses my experience it ends your chances.

5. Heaven forbid you dare ask me to download something.

You want might business. Then target those pages with simple and to the point banners and block ads. Do not animate my webpage. Put in bold letters why I should even pay attention to you. If you animate, make noise, or otherwise disturb my surfing you are intruding into my life and don't have that right

Theft? (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555689)

Bah, that's as bad as calling copyright infringement theft.

Are we going to start getting take down notices from ad agencies now too due to this twisted logic?

No guaranteed business model (3, Interesting)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555699)

There is no such thing as a guaranteed business model. Just because it would be convenient for the world to work a certain way, or because it has worked that way in the past, does not mean that it will continue to work that way.

These businesses (and many others) have been built on the assumption that in return for content, consumers are willing to be exposed to advertising. If that assumption proves to be false, then they are going to either have to find a new business model, or else convince the consumers that they should watch the adds. If the business is build on people looking at advertisements, and the consumers are refusing to look at advertisements, there is a basic disconnect there that does not bode well.

The other side is that if consumers as a whole refuse to support add supported business, we are going to have to pay in some other way. Figuring out the balance of this struggle isn't just important for websites. It is the same disconnect that we are seeing right now in television.

Yes, it's exactly right (2, Interesting)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555701)

Yes, it's exactly right to block ads if you like.
No one has to read someone else's ads.

It's obvious that some television ads are being made much more interesting and clever to combat the tivos. They have to MAKE you WANT TO WATCH THE ADS.
They have been succesfull. I watch more ads now than I did 2 years ago.
Largely gone are the brief playlets and illustrated lectures on the purchase of consumer goods.

If web ads were more interesting and less obnoxious perhaps they would be more successful.

The worst:
Intellitext popup ads.
Catch the monkey animated ads
Those ridiculous floating ads that sit in front of the site and scroll with you.
I put those in adblock right away!

The real theft is not that (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555703)

The real theft is the advertisers who take ***MY*** bandwidth, i.e. the one I pay for myself with my ***OWN*** money to deliver advertisements I do not watch in any case.

Freeloading TiVo users? (3, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555715)

You know, before TiVo people used to skip ads by (1) going to the bathroom, (2) getting a snack, (3) changing the channel, or (4) talking. Does that make OTA tv-watchers freeloaders too?

This attitude is irritating. Over the air content is provided for free. There is nothing that says "to watch this TV show you must watch the commercials." Same with radio. Radio content is provided for free. There is no implied contract that I must listen to advertisements to enjoy the content.

It is my choice whether to watch/listen to the ads or not. This isn't a question of morality at all. It's also my choice whether I buy a product or not. Does not buying mean I'm being immoral?

If a car dealer says "If you don't buy this car, I'll starve and you'll kill my family," would you still buy the car?

Re:Freeloading TiVo users? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555865)

If a car dealer says "If you don't buy this car, I'll starve and you'll kill my family," would you still buy the car?

If his wife was hot and the kids healthy (read: good workers) , I'd make an offer on his family.

I do not read newspaper's announcements (1)

pfortuny (857713) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555751)

Even though they are there.

Is this really scarily THE WRONG THING?


because obnoxious ads sure work well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555755)

people that block ads are less likely to but things because of an ad- in effect even if they did see the ads it would be a waste of money to show the ads in the first place.

pop-ups and annoying flash (2, Interesting)

mikesum (840054) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555763)

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.

online banks (1)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555769)

We're told the old line "we use ads to pay for this web site", but what about online banks. We pay for that service, yet their web pages are still riddled with ads for their own services. How is that fair?

that's not fair (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555771)

With TV, at least I know when there's an ad, and I can switch channels. Many web pages open too many ads. Pop-ups, pop-unders, ads with sound, animations, video, ads that jump to your face and you can't close nor read the website. I read this news site,, and I strongly advise you not to visit it without adblock.

I'm fine with a banner here and there, but things have gotten nasty in the past few years. And not only that: one thing I really hate is websites that show you so many ads, they won't fit in one page, so they chop the article in tiny pages with more ads than text. Even the menu sidebar has more content than the article.

Whatever, I'll just keep using adblock. I promise not to use adblock when you promise not to bother me with your ads. Sounds fair, right?

Oh no! (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555781)

Does that mean uninstalling spyware/adware is theft?
Quick, how do I reinstall my adware?
Because I do love the convenince of getting pop-ups without even having to visit a web site. What a time saver.

Don't really care (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555789)

Spin all you want about how it is theft or immoral, but the advertising industry can collectively kiss my shiny white ass.

So consider my ad blocking and commercial skipping as civil disobedience if that helps.

Speakers off = theft? (1)

echo465 (574642) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555819)

I normally use my computer with my speakers shut off, in no small part due to websites with advertising that makes annoying sound. I suppose that I'm guilty of 'theft of services' also? Aisle seat please.

It is not my responsibility... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555827) make someone's advertising effective. I'm not under any contract to view or respond to anything.

What if I change the radio station during a commercial break? Did I just STEAL some music? Can I expect the RIAA or ASCAP to kick my ass?

Printer friendly versions? (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555847)

Is it also immoral to link directly to a printer-friendly version of a c|net article that spans 20 pages consisting mostly of erratic ad insanity?

Maybe that's why they've made the "printer friendly" link impossible to find.

Message to arrogant spammers: (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555849)

You owe *ME* money, for all the bandwidth-reduction service I'm providing to you.

No Pleasing people (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555851)

First they complain about the ads [] and then there are people block firefox users because some people remove ads. Yes they are different groups of people but there is no pleasing everyone. The only thing that you can do is please the most amount of people without losing money. I personally use Adblock plus with the Filterset.G add-on but if I believe in supporting a website(such as slashdot) I will whitelist the site and voluntarily view the ads.

ipcop using urlfilter add-on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20555855)

i am a very happy ipcop firewall user and have over 10 ipcop's with the urlfilter add-on along with the shalla secure services. all ads are presented as blanks.

since it takes time for our employee's to read the ads (if i hadn't blocked them), then i should bill the sponsors for our time.

they are the ones that are stealing--stealing our time.

hmm (1)

Ryzzen (1078135) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555887)

What if web sites started using one-time ads, or timed ads? Then once you've seen the ad, it will go away and not reappear again (at least until you delete your cookies). Then you could browse the rest of the site without annoyance, and the site owners would still get their revenue. Also, instead of tracking your browsing history, why not just display ads that have something to do with the site? If you're on the site, you're obviously interested in what's on it, otherwise you wouldn't be there. I think the targeted ads are just silly, especially since they're so off most of the time. It'd be much simpler and more effective if all sites just displayed ads relative to their content without having a script do it for them.

Many analogies (5, Insightful)

J-1000 (869558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555899)

A casino has a cheap buffet because they *hope* you are going to gamble before/after you eat. You, being a clever person, attend the buffet and leave without spending a dime on the slot machines.

Arby's has a "five for five" deal where you buy five items for five bucks because they *hope* you will spend five dollars instead of, say, two dollars. You, being a clever person, realize you only want two of the five items, so you spend $2.50 on two items and leave.

Circuit City sells printers for only $30 because they *hope* you are going to pay $20 for a high-margin Monster Cable. You, being a clever person, buy the cheap printer and purchase a generic cable for $2 from Fry's. offers their content for free because they *hope* you will click on their ads (or at least glance at them) while you visit. You, being a clever person, ignore the ads or disable them outright.

The point is, any free or below-cost business model is a risk that the provider has accepted, and they are inherently providing these extra "benefits" at *no obligation* to the consumer. If the provider isn't willing to run the risk of people not following their suggestions, then it is time to turn that suggestion into an obligation (pay websites, or otherwise restricted-access websites). This is not a morality issue for the consumer, it is a business issue for the provider.

Those people would not click anyway (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555907)

OK, this is really over-hyped IMO too.

If your site is getting revenue from expressions, maybe you have a point, but then again, if you can make money on just expressions, then you run something big anyway.

If your site gets revenue after clicks or "per action" (signup, purchase) then you are not losing anything on these guys anyway:

Why ? Because they block your ad not to see it. If they block it, they would not click on it in the first place, thus you would not make a revenue wether the ad is displayed or not.

+ you save bandwidth for yourself and the ad network serving the usually large and annoying flash ads.

Just for the record : i do not use ad blocking, but some ads on sites my wife visits drive me crazy. Her unattended browser would constantly pull large images from sites even when the browser is idle ..... just plain stupid ..... honestly i am not sure if the ads or the site content does that all the time, but I saw ads do that. Also the constant pinging of browsers with timed ajax req-s can have the same effect when you have 10+ sitting in tabs....

just my 2c


I rarely adblock (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555911)

I generally leave ad's on, I don't care if there's a banner at the top of the page or somet stuff on the side, it doesn't make a difference to me and yes, hosting websites are never free, someone has to pay for the bandwidth and salaries of someone keeping the site up. If someone provides me a free service, and makes their revenue by showing a banner, so be it.

Only in cases where it is extremely annoying or in your face, stuff like popups, sound, or where the adserver is so slow it make an impact on serving (i refuse to sit and wait literaly a minute for each page load just so I can ignore an Ad.. let's see "open page" wait a minute "click search" wait a minute "search" wait a minute "find out it's not what i wanted, click search again" wait a minute yadda yadda) The morality of that may be questionable, but that's what I do.

hey advertisers, adapt! (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555919)

Maybe banner ads aren't the best thing. Maybe adds that move, flash, blink, block my mouse, interrupt my article, play videos, and use up my bandwidth are not appealing.

Maybe, just maybe, you can mention your product without annoying people. You might have to think on this one, and I know your ideas are usually bad based off the quality of advertising I see, but it might be a better use of those grey cells than calling people thieves.

Here's a simple idea. Put 'brought to you by Acme' in the Title of the page. That wouldn't annoy me. What's wrong with Slashdot: news for nerds, stuff that matters. (sponsored today by Pepsi).

A nice simple text line that doesn't make people want to destroy you, but gets their subconscious thinking about a delicious sugary drink.

The future of TV may be product placement and quick 'brought to you by' messages. Don't fight tivo and other improvements, It makes the medium you are advertising on more attractive

just my 2 cents.

Who will be the first... (3, Funny)

Forthan Red (820542) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555921)

Who will be the first to write a Firefox extension to block the Firefox blocking? Gentlemen, start your coding!

It doesn't matter (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555931)

Webmasters will simply start being forced to do the full content in a flash application, so that ad and content cannot reliably be separated. ... and it will become completely unreadeable for blind or otherwise disabled people. But hey, as long as YOU don't get disturbed, right ?

webmasters sniffle sniffle (1)

dkarma (985926) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555933)

Even if i do see the ads the webmaster doesn't get paid unless i click and i'm not stupid enough to click ads EVER.
NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO MAKE MONEY OFF ADS it is completely optional
What about the tons of sites that are 100% ad free.
Seems to me that if you run a site for the purpose of making money off of ads you're a scumsucking assbag.

low bandwidth... (2, Interesting)

cli_rules! (915096) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555945)

Currently, I'm forced use a low bandwidth connection (not dialup, but close). Not having to download all those adverts makes it *much* easier to get things accomplished. Firefox has been a godsend for me.

I hope they don't forget about bona-fide modem users, when banning Firefox and similar technology just to suit the marketers.

No moral obligation to view ads. (1)

Butisol (994224) | more than 7 years ago | (#20555957)

This has to be one of the stupidest discussions ever opened on Slashdot.
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