A couple of weeks ago I started using the AdBlockPlus extension for Firefox. I had mixed feelings about doing it. I’m generally of the view that advertising has become ridiculously present in our lives; I came to this realization about ten years ago (or maybe more) when I first noticed that the plastic stick you use at the grocery store to put between your order and the next person’s at the checkout line had ads printed on it. I remember thinking, “Does every single area of blank space nowadays have to be seen as a spot to plaster advertising?” That’s why this blog doesn’t carry ads, and why I have no plans to ever carry ads here.

However, I recognize that websites have to be able to sustain themselves. This blog is a hobby of mine, and I use the free server space that Blogger (now Google) allows me, and it’s fine. Serves my needs and such. If I was a bigger blogger, getting lots more traffic, maybe I’d think differently of using ads here; maybe I’d want the blog to generate at least a few quatloos for my trouble. Especially if I moved it to a hosting company on my own, but for now, that’s not a problem for me. For other sites, it’s a real issue, so I’ve accepted the need for ads all over the Interweb, even though it bugs me quite a bit. In general, though, I just ignored the ads completely. On sites that had an advertising “splash page”, I would click the “Skip this ad” link as soon as it appeared. And I never click through on ads themselves, unless by mistake in committing an errant click of the mouse.

However, ads have become more and more annoying over the last year. More and more pages — still a minority, but enough that I notice — aren’t just running print ads or simple picture ads, but ads with lots of funky animation. Or ads that suddenly embiggen across the entire Firefox window if I happen to move the mouse over them. Or ads that automatically expand across the window until I track down the tiny, hard-to-spot “Close ad” box that banishes the ad back to the sidebar. I’ve also tired of something I’d noticed online a lot but never realized until recently was actually an effect of advertising: the way some content-driven sites will structure long articles to run across many multiple pages, so at the end of a fairly brief page, you have to click for the next page and load everything anew. This results in reloading all of the ads, and since “ad views” are basically functions of how many times ads are loaded, this translates to increased ad revenue for the site by forcing me to keep reloading the ads if I want to read the entire article.

I was able to live with all of this, even though it was getting more and more annoying. However, in recent months, some ads have actually seemed to grind Firefox to a halt — the program will just sit there for a few minutes, not letting me click anything, and then I’ll finally get an error message that “A script on this page has stopped working”. This, I don’t need. So once I realized that the ads were the problem, I took the plunge and added AdBlock to Firefox. Now, things are going a lot nicer — pages are loading more quickly and a lot less annoyingly. It doesn’t affect the way pages look to me, all that much, since I’ve conditioned myself for the most part to not look at ads at all to begin with. But ads that were almost antagonistically pushy in forcing me to deal with them, or ads that were actually bogging down my browser? Those are unacceptable.

Some sites have apparently started to notice adblocker usage and now post small disclaimers asking users to consider allowing their ads to be loaded, and I recently read of one site that actually experimented with a tech-trick to prevent their site from loading at all on browsers running an ad blocker. While asking to be whitelisted is one thing, that last is something else, and if some site did that to me, my response would be to simply stop going there at all. I don’t like advertising, but I’ll accept its presence as long as that’s all it is: a presence that I don’t have to acknowledge in any other way except to let it be there. But when ads force themselves upon me, that’s the dealbreaker.

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2 Responses to Blocked!

  1. émilie b says:

    Unrelated to ads (mostly), but about speed of the browser: I still like Firefox, but it has become slower in last versions. Chrome (Google's web browser), however, is really speedy, and renders web standards beautifully. So unless you're completely sold to Firefox, you might want to check Chrome out. (I don't know if it has an ads blocker, though… but they started supporting extensions (ie. plugins), so it might be available.)

    PS. That said, I realize that Google is gaining an enormous amount of presence into our computers. So far, they are looking to be the good guys (efficient and free services… tough to argue), but that omnipresence will bear caution.

  2. PALGOLAK says:

    IMHO, you are much too ad sensitive.

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