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Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

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Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby TheBookPolice » Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:11 pm

http://arstechnica.com/business/news/20 ... u-love.ars

Starting late Friday afternoon we conducted a 12 hour experiment to see if it would be possible to simply make content disappear for visitors who were using a very popular ad blocking tool. Technologically, it was a success in that it worked. Ad blockers, and only ad blockers, couldn't see our content. We tested just one way of doing this, but have devised a way to keep it rotating were we to want to permanently implement it. But we don't. Socially, the experiment was a mixed bag. A bunch of people whitelisted Ars, and even a few subscribed. And while others showed up to support our actions, there was a healthy mob of people criticizing us for daring to take any kind of action against those who would deny us revenue. Others rightly criticized the lack of a warning or notification as to what was going on.

We made the mistake of assuming that everyone who is blocking ads at Ars is doing so with malice. As it turns out, only a few people are, and many (most?) indicated you are happy to help out. That's what led to this hopefully informative post.


I think blocking ads is active laziness, verging on spitefulness. It's like picking up the piece of string that the vacuum cleaner won't suck up, and then putting it back down to give it another go. It's like getting up from the couch to grab the remote.

But that's not why I started this thread. You all know what you want!

Enter: jammybastard.
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby jammybastard » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:40 pm

epic fail
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby jjoyce » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:14 pm

It's a delicate genius who can't stand looking at ads for the Stoughton Opera House, local realtors or nightclub promoters.

Fight the power!
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby TAsunder » Tue Mar 09, 2010 4:41 pm

Seriously, jjoyce? Are you really going to deny that you have ever had inappropriate ads on this site? If so, I hope you deleted the lengthy thread(s) about them. Or is your point that we should tolerate the occasional inappropriate ad that upsets a fair section of your userbase so you can get your highly-desired revenue even from those?

I don't know what "active laziness" has to do with anything. Please elaborate, TBP. At least "spitefulness" makes some sense, although I strongly disagree. Your vacuum analogy fails because the choices (for me, at least) are: don't visit the site at all, or visit it with ads blocked. It appears ARS experimented with forcing the former. I'm ok with that. If you don't want me here because I don't want to risk inappropriate ads being viewed here, so be it.
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:14 pm

The problem for me is that I don't know which reason to accept:

-Ads crash my browser
-Ads are inappropriate
-Ads annoy me

I've never experienced a browser-crashing ad on any legitimate site. If I get bamboozled into clicking a bad link, or mis-type a URL and end up hip-deep in porn, then yeah, those are pretty awful. But never on ESPN or Hulu or, gods, TDP.

Are they inappropriate? That's questionable. I'd say that the nippletastic Alt.com guy was the closest this site has ever gotten to an inappropriate ad, and when complaints were made, it was replaced. But I guess I just don't (or can't, when at work) go to websites where inappropriate ads are prevalent.

So down to the annoyance factor: really? They're that annoying that their presence is impossible to ignore? And especially when their unblocked presence contributes to the health of the site you're visiting? (Assuming that you're visiting because you like the site, of course.) That just seems like you're asking technology to do what your eyeballs cannot. Thus, the "active laziness" part.

This isn't too far from the Ignore/Foe feature on phpBB, I grant, but if I block Flanders or Peanutbutter it's not harming the health of thedailypage.com (which is where the "cutting off your nose to spite your face" bit comes in). In contrast, I'd need to have a really compelling argument to block something to the detriment of thedailypage.com, and I haven't encountered such an argument yet.

(And in case Bill Lueders aka Peanutbutter v.2 is reading, I realize that this is dangerously close to contradicting my position on the Badger Herald issue, but I maintain that there's a significant, if small, difference)
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby TAsunder » Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:32 pm

First off, you appear to assume that there must be one single reason to accept in order for it to be reasonable. How about the fact that all of the above happen in varying degrees on varying sites, and therefore we distrust ads by default? Also, it has little to do with browser crashing and much more to do with browser hijacking. Maybe you've not been around long enough to see highly respected sites such as the new york times having ads that are serious abuses of user trust, but I have. And they still happen on some sites to this day, including sites like Ars.

Animated ads and certain other ads are designed with the very intent that they are impossible or very difficult to ignore for a second or two. I'm not sure what your contention here is. TDP does use animated ads, which are designed for this purpose, so I'd say they actually WANT to annoy me / distract me with them. Yes, I do have enough brainpower to disregard them and do not sit staring at them for hours on end, but I do resent them when they occur, much in the same way that jjoyce resents certain ads that occurred during the olympics.

I am not opposed to ALL internet ads. I am opposed to internet ads that: hijack the user experience, contain animations, contain sounds, contain large images, or contain inappropriate content. I am fine with text ads similar to google adwords, static images of appropriate size, etc.

I might have unblocked TDP by now if I trusted that they wouldn't fail on two of the criteria I mentioned above. But it is clear from the threads on the alt fiasco that they find nothing wrong with animated ads, and it's not even totally clear that they thought there was anything wrong with the alt one.

This is the same type of stuff that TV advertising, the recording industry, and others have to deal with. When technology empowers the customer in a way that makes old revenue streams obsolete, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to blame the customer.
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:38 pm

TAsunder wrote:Maybe you've not been around long enough to see highly respected sites such as the new york times having ads that are serious abuses of user trust, but I have. And they still happen on some sites to this day, including sites like Ars.

I don't know what you mean by "around," but I'm over 30 and have been a frequent internet navigator since, what, the mid-90s?

The multi-frame High Noon Saloon/Gomeroke ad, all .75"x2" of it, just doesn't get my dander up, I guess.

Ultimately, if I value the site I'm on, that implies that A) I expect trustworthy content and B) I want it to continue existing. Adblocking presumes the former to be false, and undercuts the latter.
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby jammybastard » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:06 pm

I should have the power to control what is viewed on the web browser running on my computer.

The way a web site is presented on my computer should not be under the control of the web publisher, regardless of how much some publishers would like this.

Furthermore:
Web sites sell ad space to advertisers to make money on page views (or clicks).
They are not *entitled* to make that money. If they *can* make that money, good for them, but there is no burden on the web site to provide content to anybody.
They chose to do so, nobody forced them, and the visitors to the site should not be held accountable if they don't.

If Jason and The Isthmus don't like this they have a couple of ways to change this:
1. They can make their site membership only
2. Attempt to detect if you are blocking ads, and kick you out if you are with or without an explanation or a clause in their terms of service stating such.

The bottom line though is that they have no legal recourse to force you to look at their ads.

:mrgreen:
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:12 pm

I could post a worthless comment like "epic fail" after that, but instead I'll say that you've taken my point and completely misconstrued it.

I didn't say anyone else should be controlling what you do on your computer. I'm saying that you're making a self-injurious decision by blocking ads on the sites you enjoy.

I didn't say that anyone's entitled to ad revenue. But if the website is one you enjoy, and particularly if the ads are predominantly local, then it is my opinion that you're being spiteful and silly by choosing to deny that revenue.

And it's Isthmus, not The Isthmus. Unless you're actually pulsewidth modulation and your post was a diatribe against people living between Broom and First.
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby jjoyce » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:14 pm

JammyBastard and his (former?) band Tangy have financially benefited directly from advertising revenue on this site. Indirectly, they have benefited from having Isthmus critics take him seriously as a musician and songwriter and this site has showcased his band's music on more than one occasion.

I can completely see why he takes such an ambivalent attitude toward our success as a local company that has done an immeasurable amount of good for musicians like him in this town. It makes all the sense in the world.
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby TAsunder » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:18 am

TheBookPolice wrote:
TAsunder wrote:Maybe you've not been around long enough to see highly respected sites such as the new york times having ads that are serious abuses of user trust, but I have. And they still happen on some sites to this day, including sites like Ars.

I don't know what you mean by "around," but I'm over 30 and have been a frequent internet navigator since, what, the mid-90s?

The multi-frame High Noon Saloon/Gomeroke ad, all .75"x2" of it, just doesn't get my dander up, I guess.

Ultimately, if I value the site I'm on, that implies that A) I expect trustworthy content and B) I want it to continue existing. Adblocking presumes the former to be false, and undercuts the latter.


If TDP didn't model their advertising methodology after invasive, virus-riddled, illegal advertising campaigns we see on the rest of the net, then I at least would be willing to whitelist it. Unfortunately they have demonstrated repeatedly that they think there's nothing wrong with things like animated ads (which I inherently mistrust), and I'm not even clear that they think the alt.com ad was inappropriate. So therefore TDP fails A.

As for B, I've said this before and I'll say it again... as the customer of TDP, I don't really feel any sympathy if they are modeling their business in a fashion that requires me to view ads that I find invasive. Who exactly is hitting themself here? Not me... I'm willing to pay subscription fees or "no-ads" fees, look at text ads, and a score of other things. TDP isn't willing to give up invasive advertising that is modeled after TV ads that blare out at 10db above the rest of the network content. Kind of ironic considering they are largely a print company.

ARS fails the same test that TDP does. Rather than acknolwedge that the ads should be toned down or updated to technology that's been around for 5-10 years, they choose instead to experiment with cutting off the customers who likely would be willing to view more innocuous ads. It's an experiment in stupidity and, though ARS backed down, I doubt they realized that their experiment proved that their reasoning was unsound, even if the technology was a smashing success.

I'm all for locally-targeted ads. I just want them to be modeled after reasonable advertising methods and not the kind of ads that made ABP necessary in the first place. ARS has too much of a martyr complex here.
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:26 am

TAsunder wrote:If TDP didn't model their advertising methodology after invasive, virus-riddled, illegal advertising campaigns we see on the rest of the net

What in god's name are you talking about? And where are you going on the internet that you seem to encounter this so frequently?

Or have you been blocking ads for so long that you're like one of those elderly Japanese fighter pilots--stranded on a remote Pacific island and still fighting World War II?

(seemed a less nerdy example than Desmond in the Hatch, inoculating himself against an imaginary contagion on LOST, but take whichever one you want)
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:29 am

Anyone thinks the ads here are so invasive they need to be blocked is a whiny bitch plain and simple. The larger discussion about ad blocking and invasive ads is fine but there's nothing here that any reasonable person would feel they had to block. There was 1 single ad here that I've had issue with in the past 6 years and it wasn't intentionally malicious just not functioning properly and it was dealt with.
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:49 am

TAsunder wrote:...illegal advertising campaigns...

Illegal? What law is being violated?
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Re: Ars Technica to adblockers: STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Postby jjoyce » Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:10 am

Hey TASunder: You're accusing this company of running "virus-riddled" ads.

That's a serious charge. Can you prove it?

As for "animated" ads, are you referring to the rotating frames in, say, the High Noon ad where they call attention to Gomeroke and private party catering?

Yeah, I can see how you'd be offended by that. A trusted local business trying hard to reach its market in trying economic times. It's really invasive. If more thought like you did, we wouldn't have to worry about local companies advertising on local websites like this one at all. Would you be happy then?

It's fine to not like ads. And it's fine to do something about it if technology allows. Good for you, you got over on the rest of us. I mean, you should be aware that efforts like ours have been built on an advertising-supported model and since you've been visiting this site regularly (and, presumably, reading the paper) for a lot of years now, you're in on the deal. But I'd recommend checking yourself before you start getting sanctimonious.

I don't know how you make your living, but I do know that jammy has derived substantial income from advertising-supported ventures, which makes him a hypocrite of the highest order.
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