Ad-blocker-blocker links April 13, 2016 12:53 PM   Subscribe

These user-hostile links are unreadable unless you are willing to disable your ad-blocker and expose yourself to malware. Should we consider a policy regarding posting them to the front page?

Posts like this one: www.metafilter.com/158571/Im-glad-people-have-stopped-asking-whether-the-schools-are-better

If you're using ad-block (which is just good web hygiene), you can't read the article to comment upon it (unless you've also gotten an anti-adblock killer). I think it's worth a discussion whether we should be linking to sites that do this (wired and forbes being the most common offenders).
posted by leotrotsky to Etiquette/Policy at 12:53 PM (107 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I'm running AdBlock Plus for Firefox on a Mac and it loaded just fine?
posted by zarq at 1:06 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not to derail your pony, leotrotsky, which i think is worth discussing. I just didn't have a problem opening the link.
posted by zarq at 1:07 PM on April 13, 2016


I choose to use an adblocker despite any drawbacks there might be to me or the various content providers whose sites I visit. I still have the option of reading Forbes, etc. if I turn it off. I think that's fair enough. I can't have everything. Geoblocked content is much more of a problem for people who don't have access to ways around it, and I don't know if we have any policies about that.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:09 PM on April 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't think so. You click on the link, it doesn't work, so what? You want to require that all links are checked (by who?) before posting for compatibility, when the only problem is that you can't see a link that you wouldn't be able to see no matter what. I understand the "boycott companies that do this thing" aspect of it, but you can do that by just not clicking b the link.
posted by LionIndex at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


if you're using ad-block (which is just good web hygiene)

and also like the reason journalism is dying?
posted by kate blank at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2016 [20 favorites]


Yes, we should link to those sites. I don't think it should be on the poster's or moderator's shoulders to determine what optional add-ons others might be using to modify their personal browser.
posted by Static Vagabond at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2016 [24 favorites]


I think we can and should socially discourage it, but there shouldn't be any mod response.
posted by corb at 1:14 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I still have the option of reading Forbes, etc. if I turn it off.

Right, but if you turn off the adblock to view the article, you promptly get served with malware.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:15 PM on April 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Forbes and Wired profoundly irk the fuck out of me, because I do not, in fact, use an AdBlocker. I am perfectly happy to view ads in order to view content. I use a tracker blocker, since I don't want random third parties permanently tracking my browsing habits across massive spans of the internet. But their detection algorithm can't tell the difference between blocking ads and blocking trackers or they don't care enough to differentiate between the two behaviours in the message they throw up.

Having said all that, I don't think the onus is on Metafilter posters to determine whether other people can see content before they post it. How would someone who doesn't use an ad blocker even know this was a problem before they posted a link?
posted by jacquilynne at 1:17 PM on April 13, 2016 [11 favorites]


and also like the reason journalism is dying?

If they hosted unobtrusive static advertisements on their own domains, the ad-blockers wouldn't block them. Heck, Adblock Plus has even launched the Acceptable Ads initiative.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:21 PM on April 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


jacquilynne, I've experienced some "please turn off your ad blocker" messages even though I don't have any kind of ad blocker and I wonder if it's because I'm visiting from Canada? You are Canadian too, right? I know the "maybe it's Canada" theory sounds super weird, but some sites are so US-centric their system literally doesn't get ad impressions from IPs outside of the US and I think they are just like "we are not getting the right type of impression on this ad, you must have an ad blocker".
posted by kate blank at 1:26 PM on April 13, 2016


I use Firefox's Reader View when reading articles and the Adblock noticed never popped. I tried without using Reader View and it did come up after I scrolled down a couple of times.

There's a policy against paywalled articles because people can't read them. But articles on sites blocking Adblock are still accessible to everyone (even if you choose not to). So I see no reason for a policy against them.
posted by zinon at 1:34 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Heck, Adblock Plus has even launched the Acceptable Ads initiative

(and takes it's cut for doing so... adblock plus is a bit of a protection racket, even if a useful tool)
posted by aspo at 1:35 PM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I use uMatrix to simply block everything except the HTML itself and I'm able to read that example article. So in that case you might want to try going more restrictive and turn off javascript and/or CSS completely.

That doesn't always work, though; I don't know if there's a straightforward policy way to deal with this issue but it would be nice to know if a site is going to try to force you to run scripts, rather than having to find out experimentally.
posted by XMLicious at 1:36 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm another AdBlock Plus user who can see this link in Safari with no problem.

I think this would be a tough policy to enforce, given our disparate experience in this instance. I also think it is up to the user to decide for themselves whether to unblock a site or not.
posted by bearwife at 1:49 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think there is some inherent risk to all things internet, and I don't think this clears the "malicious intent" bar to actively ban these clunky-ass websites.
posted by Think_Long at 2:13 PM on April 13, 2016


These user-hostile links are unreadable unless you are willing to disable your ad-blocker and expose yourself to malware. Should we consider a policy regarding posting them to the front page?

I'm starting to get more sympathy for this suggestion. Given the ease of installing ad-blockers, I used to be against any kind of moratorium, but I use a few different devices to browse the web each day and maintaining a stack of up-to-date ad-blocker and anti-ad-blocker-blocker* plugins is turning into a real chore. Letting Wired and Forbes get their ad impressions from somewhere else perhaps seems like a decent idea.

* Which will soon include anti-anti-ad-blocker-blocker-blocker plugins, I'm sure.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:25 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I still have the option of reading Forbes, etc. if I turn it off.

Right, but if you turn off the adblock to view the article, you promptly get served with malware.

Ad blockers are not mandatory for browsing the web. Further, if enough people have a problem reading a particular link it'll probably get nixed / fixed on a case-by-case basis. I know I have problems with browsing Newsweek, but the last time we had this go-round, it was pretty clear that we weren't going to straight-up block Newsweek articles because some of us had issues with their paywall / meter. Occasionally even it is the best of the web, after all.

That said, if it’s true that some ad networks systematically serve malware, maybe we should block sites that use those networks. Maybe
posted by Going To Maine at 2:34 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I use AdBlock Plus, I was able to read that site just fine.

you promptly get served with malware.

That was a thing that happened in January. I'm not convinced that this specific incident is enough to create a carve-out for "sites that can't be viewed because I have an ad blocker running" It's not really a thing that can be policed. Right now there is a caveat emptor for region-blocked stuff, and stuff where you get a certain number of free clicks. I think that's how this should work as well. All of MeFi doesn't have to be for everyone, it already isn't. I know that sounds callous but talking about anything that needs to be moderator-or-technologically-enforced seems like it needs more of a reason than "I couldn't read this article this one time"
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:36 PM on April 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


I am running Windows 7, FF 45.0.2 and have AdBlock Plus and Ghostery running. I can see the linked article just fine. However, I'm in the US.
posted by Lynsey at 3:07 PM on April 13, 2016


Maybe just a way to alert users that some links may be a problem to access? A small-print alpha code for Ad-Block-Block (ABB), Regional Blocking (RB), Limited Site Access (LSA), etc. that the poster can add (yes, something more for pb to program in) and the poster OR a mod can add if discovered after the fact (which can help avoid comment thread derails about accessibility).

All of MeFi doesn't have to be for everyone, it already isn't.

But disclosure is a good thing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:08 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, being a defiant NO FACEBOOK FOR ME person, I'm getting a LOG IN message that crawls up from the bottom and covers the entire page if you scroll down past the top couple entries on a FB page. This is turning FB into a FULLY WALLED GARDEN which I consider the oncoming DEATH of the Open Internet. So a FACEBOOK MEMBERS ONLY pre-warning on anything in Zuckerland would be nice. But that's just me.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:17 PM on April 13, 2016 [10 favorites]


If you're using ad-block (which is just good web hygiene)

Yeah well some of us have never even heard the term "web hygiene" until this second and I already feel guilty for rarely cleaning my house so cheers for the heads up that I'm an Internet slob as well as an IRL one. Must I be punished by not being allowed to read some posts? It's like my Mum grounding me for not cleaning my room all over again.
posted by billiebee at 3:19 PM on April 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


aspo: “adblock plus is a bit of a protection racket, even if a useful tool”

Yeah, signal-boosting this: Adblock Plus is very sleazy, as they have a whitelist companies can pay to be put on. Wired probably isn't blocked for those using Adblock Plus because Wired paid the money to them. Adblock Plus should be avoided. (Just my opinion, but there it is.)
posted by koeselitz at 3:21 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also probably worth noting that you absolutely should not be able to visit Wired.com if you have an adblocker, because they actively and openly block all content to users who block their ads.

So: if you're using an "adblocker", and you're able to load any page of Wired.com – the conclusion should be: your adblocker isn't blocking ads, and you should get a different one.
posted by koeselitz at 3:24 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


>if you're using ad-block (which is just good web hygiene)

and also like the reason journalism is dying?


Ad / content blocking has NOTHING to do with the reason "journalism is dying." People rarely click on banner ads. And even if ad blockers were somehow responsible for the "death of journalism", what kind of user experience are you providing if people go to great lengths to block your content?

BTW, the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada is doing just fine. It has a paywall and also costs $300 a year for a subscription.
posted by My Dad at 3:29 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know that sounds callous but talking about anything that needs to be moderator-or-technologically-enforced seems like it needs more of a reason than "I couldn't read this article this one time"

*cries*
posted by leotrotsky at 3:44 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I switched over to uBlock Origin (Firefox, Chrome) a while ago and am very happy with it. It uses the same lists as the two variants* of AdBlock but has many more technical features (advanced mode in uBlock gives great control). The default configuration is fine for those who don’t want to bother with configuration. It’s also open source and without anything like the paid whitelist in others.


* Confusingly, there are also two forked versions of uBlock. “uBlock Origin” is the continuation by the original author.
posted by D.C. at 3:45 PM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


you can disable the whitelist - it's a checkbox in the options.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:16 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


"So: if you're using an 'adblocker', and you're able to load any page of Wired.com – the conclusion should be: your adblocker isn't blocking ads, and you should get a different one."

I'm using uBlock Origin and Ghostery and when I disable uBlock but keep Ghostery enabled, there are no ads but after about ten seconds the page locks to a non-view. With uBlock Origin enabled this doesn't happen and there are no ads. Note that some of the folks saying they are able to see the page may not realize that there's this delayed behavior with their configuration.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:35 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I can’t see parts of Facebook (I’ve never bothered to figure out what specifically), Pinterest (is that the one that won’t let you look if you’re not a member?) and have Vine blocked in so many ways there’s no chance of that getting through. Personal choices. Everyone’s got a different line.
posted by bongo_x at 4:41 PM on April 13, 2016


So: if you're using an "adblocker", and you're able to load any page of Wired.com – the conclusion should be: your adblocker isn't blocking ads, and you should get a different one.

How does that follow? I'm using AdBlockPlus which I can tell because ... I don't see ads. I can also see Wired. You appear to be telling me that I am not seeing what I am seeing. Which is all amusing and stuff because internet, but seriously I can see Wired. My AdBlocker is working. Maybe there are more use cases in the world than are dreamt of in your philosophy?

Or was that a joke? I am not good with jokes.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:51 PM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


Well, I don't know. In February, Wired promised they would block anybody with an adblocker; and Adblock Plus has a standing offer that, if a company pays them, they will whitelist their page. The most obvious possibility is that Wired paid to be on the whitelist. I call that "not working," but it might be within the realm of working in some sense.
posted by koeselitz at 5:06 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


So what you are actually saying is that if AdBlock+ allows pay-for-whitelist options then it's not functionally an ad blocker according to your definition?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:10 PM on April 13, 2016


wired blocks me (ff 45.0 on linux) both with and without the non-intrusive ads enabled. the exceptions don't appear to include wired.com.

what i can't work out is how jessamyn is managing to see it. do you have this installed, maybe? (also, sometimes it seems to take a lot of scrolling or waiting to trigger).
posted by andrewcooke at 5:12 PM on April 13, 2016


Yeah I don't know. I clicked through the read the article and went to the FF Reader View and it's fine. It may be because I have a big screen and it only shows up once you scroll on the original article in question? I have a few more add-ons installed but nothing like that one you linked to.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:14 PM on April 13, 2016


oh, the reader view! sorry, i missed zinon's comment. yeah, that totally works for me too (now i try it). and ghostery is giving a weird message saying it only scans http and https pages. so i guess internally the reader view is some other "type" and that's somehow affecting abp, or maybe it just stops wired's scripts from running.
posted by andrewcooke at 5:17 PM on April 13, 2016


I see wired fine. FF 45.0.1/uBlock/NoScript/Ghostery on Windows from Canada. I don't know what reader view is; maybe I'm using it.
posted by Mitheral at 5:20 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


noscript is likely protecting you from wired's detection script (reader view is what you get if you click the little book in the url bar, when it's present).
posted by andrewcooke at 5:22 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, on reflection that's probably not a very good definition, I guess.
posted by koeselitz at 5:40 PM on April 13, 2016


noscript is likely protecting you from wired's detection script

Totally possible but it could also be just uBlock/Origin and how it interacts with Wired's paywall. I'm using just FF 45.0 and uBlock Origin and I read the article just fine.
posted by librarylis at 5:53 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just want to point out how very technical this conversation has needed to get about our various browsing countermeasures in the context of the original goal, which is to read a simple text article on a webpage. It's really pretty depressing. Red Queen Hypothesis in action, I guess.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:25 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you use zero technical measures besides a browser, you get to read the article!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:00 PM on April 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


I am using uMatrix with the default "kill everything with fire" settings for Wired, and I can access the article just fine.

I know I've seen their anti-adblocker message in the past, though, and I don't think it was before I installed uMatrix... So either they've changed something, or they have random settings on different days, or it's just a big mystery.

So anyway, the conclusion seems to be you can see the article fine if you don't have an adblocker on, and you can see it just fine if you have the most restrictive possible adblocker on, but you might have problems if you are taking half measures. I think I'm okay with that.
posted by lollusc at 7:28 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, according to uMatrix, Wired is trying to serve 83 freaking unnecessary things on that page, which is just... no. (That's on top of the 45 allowed things it has served in the name of 'content'.) (By contrast, metafilter is right now serving 5 unnecessary-for-content things, and 19 things that are providing content and useful functionality like commenting.)

Adblockers4eva.
posted by lollusc at 7:33 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm against this proposal. People who customize their browsers (like me) can easily view any non-paywalled article if they want to.
posted by michaelh at 8:19 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, no matter how interesting the content, I am not getting into an intimate relationship with Wired.
posted by Oyéah at 8:23 PM on April 13, 2016


I can typically get past the anti-adblocker stuff on websites by blocking javascript for those pages. I'm sure there are other methods, but this has been fine for me.
posted by jeather at 8:37 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Wayback Machine is a way around adblocker blockers.
posted by homunculus at 8:40 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


On my tablet, which is just a basic FF, some sites are practically unusable, but at home I have all of adblock/NoScript/Ghostery installed, and it is lovely.

Sorta half agree with the idea, but not sure how this is going to work in practice.
posted by marienbad at 9:14 PM on April 13, 2016


I thought I could see Wired, but it kicked in the block after a while. I realized that’s maybe the first time I went to that site since the 90’s. This all fits them though, since they started out with articles in the print edition that you couldn’t read because of their color and type choices. I always wanted to like it when it came out, but they wouldn’t let me.
posted by bongo_x at 9:34 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Allowing websites that use ad networks to run ads on your machine is like going around parking lots in search of "lost" flash drives to plug into your USB ports.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:35 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've got uBlock Origin, on Firefox, on Linux and can view the linked article on Wired with no problems at all. Some sites put up a banner complaining if you use an ad-blocker, like the Guardian, but I can't recall ever being actively blocked from viewing a page because I'm using ad-blocking software. From my point of view, content that is blocked for viewers outside the US is more of a problem, and I've flagged posts in the past for containing such links. Going to the hassle of getting your browser to pretend it's in the US is far more of a pain than turning off the ad-blocker for a few seconds.

Publishers have a right to put whatever content, ads and trackers they wish on their web sites. I have a right to run, or not run, whatever software I want on my computer system and I choose not to run their ad and tracking software. Reconciling the two is hard, and that's why we're seeing the current battle of the ad-blockers and ad-blocker-blockers. I'm not sure it's something that needs moderator attention - the poster and the mods here can't tell in advance what software an end-user is running on their system, and there'll always be people using various systems that are incompatible with various sites.
posted by winterhill at 1:59 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's important to note, in the context of rights, that if ad blockers or some technology they incorporate were ever categorized as "circumvention devices" under the DMCA it would be illegal to use them, and presumably the TPP and other treaties have similar provisions.
posted by XMLicious at 2:26 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


We should avoid directly linking sites that employ ad blocker blockers above the fold. Actually I'd prefer no sites that block Tor users by using CloudFlare get linked above the fold, but probably not enough Tor users to sell that one.

Instead, I'd propose that Tor's approach to their CloudFlare problem can help here. If you experience issues, then complain in the thread, and a mod can insert "https://archive.is/" into the beginning of the URL.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:25 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


If Wired does not work, then check if you're running uBlock Origin or another uBlock. As some outdated ones do get blocked by Wired.

In any case, if you get blocked by an ad blocker blocker, or even if you see a link to a site that obeys this policy, then it's perfectly reasonable to post a comment criticizing that link, especially if it's above the fold. It's reasonable to do this if you use Tor Browse and site lets CloudFlare block Tor users, like say a link to Medium.

There is no way for people to learn about issues like this unless people discuss it when it happens. And maybe you'll learn your ad blocker is out of date. At the same time, you cannot expect posters to debug their posts in different configurations or for mods to fix it unless it's really extreme.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:58 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the discussion, everybody.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:11 AM on April 14, 2016


if you're using ad-block (which is just good web hygiene)

and also like the reason journalism is dying?


Since you phrased it as a question, I will answer: nope, not even a little.
posted by phearlez at 7:38 AM on April 14, 2016


In any case, if you get blocked by an ad blocker blocker, or even if you see a link to a site that obeys this policy, then it's perfectly reasonable to post a comment criticizing that link, especially if it's above the fold.

No, it's damned well not. If you have a problem with a link, take your complaints to metatalk. Don't derail threads, please.

I automatically flag any comments that derail my posts and strongly encourage others to do the same.
posted by zarq at 8:01 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think using an adblocker is wrong and I'm against any accommodation for them in any way on Metafilter.

I will vigorously flag any and all comments that I see along the lines that jeffburdges suggests. I'm happy for the opportunity to flag the one linked in this post, which I hadn't seen. Thanks.

I cannot imagine feeling entitled to make Metatalk post to complain about a link on Metafilter that is inaccessible to me because of software that I choose to run locally on my machine. To say nothing of writing posts and comments that specifically give the middle finger to Wired's eminently human and reasonable plea that I read their content in a way that supports the creation of that content, one way or another, please.
posted by Kwine at 9:10 AM on April 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Surprised that people are getting so upset about one web site politely asking you to disable your adblocker. They're not even asking you to click on the ads, just view them alongside your content which has been the case for many decades for print publications. (Yes, I acknowledge that ad people trying to give you malware are lower than the gum stuck on the sole of your shoe.) Disable the blocker for just that page, read the article, move on.

Journalism most certainly is dying due to lost ad revenue. Newspapers, while never a model of high profit-taking, were fairly self-sufficient thanks to classified ads until a guy named Craig came along. Get off your high horse, people.
posted by Melismata at 9:12 AM on April 14, 2016


When I was on Adblock I couldn't bring up jack squat on Wired. Now I'm on uBlock Origin and the page in question shows up fine.


Journalism most certainly is dying due to lost ad revenue. Newspapers, while never a model of high profit-taking, were fairly self-sufficient thanks to classified ads until a guy named Craig came along.


This is sadly and most certainly true.
posted by Ber at 9:28 AM on April 14, 2016


and also like the reason journalism is dying?

There is a thread open right now for that discussion. I don't think it's really germane here — I don't think Metafilter should make any policy decisions based on helping or hindering revenue generation for some other website.
posted by Kabanos at 9:30 AM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think using an adblocker is wrong and I'm against any accommodation for them in any way on Metafilter.

I suspect you are in the overwhelming minority with that opinion. Even the folks who don't agree with a policy change are generally running some sort of filter.

I will vigorously flag any and all comments that I see along the lines that jeffburdges suggests. I'm happy for the opportunity to flag the one linked in this post, which I hadn't seen. Thanks.

I cannot imagine feeling entitled to make Metatalk post to complain about a link on Metafilter that is inaccessible to me because of software that I choose to run locally on my machine. To say nothing of writing posts and comments that specifically give the middle finger to Wired's eminently human and reasonable plea that I read their content in a way that supports the creation of that content, one way or another, please.


I don't think I've ever seen moral outrage so fiercely summoned in defense of a group that has repeatedly demonstrated an absence any such moral compunction. You do recognize that there's a reason why, above and beyond irritation with ads, that people are running adblockers? Malvertising has its own wikipedia entry, for pete's sake.

I'm assuming here that, though I disagree with you, that you're making this argument in good faith, but you're certainly not showing me the same consideration.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:08 AM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Numerous(NY Times, etc.) other(Google) examples(Yahoo) of dangerous(HuffPost) advertising(Verizon)
posted by leotrotsky at 10:16 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I suspect you are in the overwhelming minority with that opinion.

I feel like this is testable. Based on this crowd I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people use ad blockers, but based on a lot of people browsing via mobile and the default being no ad blockers, I'd be very surprised if we had over 50-60% actual ad blocker users.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:19 AM on April 14, 2016


I hadn't considered mobile, which would affect the statistics.

Of course, usage doesn't reflect opinion, necessarily. I don't have a adblocker on my iPhone, for example, but I certainly don't object to their use.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:22 AM on April 14, 2016


No one here is arguing that malvertising isn't bad. That is not what we're saying. We're saying that honest ads which don't screw up our system (or even just slow it down a bit, which is also annoying) is a perfectly valid way to pay for our content, since we would never pay for it ourselves, heaven forfend.

I sometime use adblockers, and sometimes I don't. I don't think that's a minority at all; there are millions of computer users who are not as smart as Mefites and don't even know what an adblocker is.
posted by Melismata at 10:23 AM on April 14, 2016


Accessibility of the links is always relevant to the thread. It's less likely to be "best of the web" if a significant fraction users cannot access it after all.

If you've disabled javascript, then sure you cannot really complain about a site using javascript. If otoh you browser disables flash, like say Safari, then yeah you've every right to mention this fact. In particular, it's worth warning another user who installs Flash that it should be disabled or uninstalled after use.

If someone runs a strange ad blocker, like the aforementioned abandoned uBlock forks, then they should be pointed towards updated versions that defeat the ad blocker blockers.


I attempt to avoid retweeting, reposting, etc. links by sides like Forbes and Wired that employ ad blocker blockers. Anything on Wired always appears elsewhere, so rarely any reason to link them. It's harder with Forbes, but they've distributed malware through ads more often, so avoiding them is more worthwhile.

In fact, I do not always know though since my ad blocker tries to defeat those countermeasures. I'm happy to be told if I post a link to a site that employs an ad blocker blocker, well maybe I'll learn something. I'm far more likely to know if it's a site like Medium whose Tor users get blocked by CloudFlare. I'd avoid posting a Medium link above the fold. And I'd might wrap it in https://archive.is/ elsewhere since that's how I'd usually read it.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:25 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like this is testable.

If only we had MeFi Polls! Vote #1 and make democracy numerate again!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:28 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


No one here is arguing that malvertising isn't bad. That is not what we're saying. We're saying that honest ads which don't screw up our system (or even just slow it down a bit, which is also annoying) is a perfectly valid way to pay for our content, since we would never pay for it ourselves, heaven forfend.

I suspect the vast majority of us would agree with that, including me. I would happily welcome ads that help support content I want to see, so long as I don't get screwed in the process. I whitelist metafilter's ads from the Deck, for example, because I trust MeFi and I trust the Deck not to screw me over. But, that's not the problem.

The problem is separating the 'honest' ads from the dangerous ones is REALLY HARD almost everywhere else on the web, particularly with third parties serving ads on even the largest and most 'trusted' sites, like the New York Times.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:29 AM on April 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I suspect you are in the overwhelming minority with that opinion.

A minority (globally; not necessarily on MeFi) also seems to think that downloading movies and music from Bittorrent rather than paying a couple of bucks for them is ok. This is one case in which I'm pretty comfortable being in the minority. Creators deserve to be paid for their work. If viewing ads is how a creator has asked to be paid, and the content is something I find valuable, I am going to view the ads.
posted by primethyme at 10:46 AM on April 14, 2016


Newspapers, while never a model of high profit-taking

You really call anything you subsequently say into question with a statement this sweepingly, blatantly wrong. Unless you're in your early 20s you lived in a period when newspapers were hugely profitable, and by time the current situation is the abberation (though there's no way it's going to change without a major upheaval). They completely pissed away their advantages by failing to pay attention to the future and invest in it.
posted by phearlez at 10:54 AM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Accessibility of the links is always relevant to the thread. It's less likely to be "best of the web" if a significant fraction users cannot access it after all.

This may be something that reasonable people may disagree with but I think that hijacking words like accessibility for situations like this is maybe not the best way to move forward. Situations where people can't view sites because they are visually impaired and the site makes no accommodations for them are actually different from people who can't see things because they made affirmative decisions to employ software in an ideological butter battle regarding adware, malware, ad blocking, and advertising.

And I say this as someone who agrees with you in principle and practice. While technically this is what access literally means, in this context it winds up sounding a lot like people complaining about prejudice against rich people. Complaining that you configured your computer in such a way that you can't access a link in a single post on MetaFilter is starting a meta-discussion and should go here not there.

are there really no mods in this thread?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:55 AM on April 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


A minority ... also seems to think that downloading movies and music from Bittorrent rather than paying a couple of bucks for them is ok

Err, I got it backwards, but I think you know what I meant...
posted by primethyme at 10:57 AM on April 14, 2016


jessamyn, I believe some of the mods were currently travelling, which might explain their absence.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:59 AM on April 14, 2016


and also like the reason journalism is dying?

Journalism started dying well before the web came about. It started dying when the American Congress allowed companies to start owning television networks, radio stations, and newspapers. After that journalism started being about entertainment.

Not to mention that one can serve ads to a consumer without tracking them everywhere, yet serving ads wasn't enough.

In other words, the media made their own bed.
posted by terrapin at 11:09 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


For jessamyn's testing comment: I use Ghostery for my laptops and desktop. I use a blocker on my iPhone. I whitelist sites that I want to support, including MetaFilter.
posted by terrapin at 11:12 AM on April 14, 2016


Err, I got it backwards, but I think you know what I meant...

Not exactly. Which minority was supposed to be majority instead?
posted by ODiV at 11:21 AM on April 14, 2016


Sorry. My feeling is that a majority thinks it's ok to BitTorrent movies and music. A minority will pay. I'm happy to be part of the minority.

That's what I get for writing a comment while half paying attention to a meeting I'm in...
posted by primethyme at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2016


Aren't people paying you to be in that meeting? And you're sitting there with your MeetingBlocker enabled!
posted by Kabanos at 11:43 AM on April 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


No apology necessary, was just curious which way you meant it. I wonder what % it actually is. Probably pretty hard to quantify.
posted by ODiV at 11:46 AM on April 14, 2016


Feels like you guys have hit most of the high points, but kicking this discussion around with pb and everyone else, there's not a great solution on our end -- we can't know exactly what setups users are using, what people can see and not see. It's a good topic to discuss and definitely something for posters and mods to be aware of going forward when thinking about good content and less-desired content, especially as the ad-blocking arms race continues.

Personally I sometimes see anti-ad-block and go, "Oh, right, sorry, site that I value who has reasonable ads, let me get you whitelisted." And sometimes I go, "Okay, Forbes, I guess I can whitelist yo-- HOLY CRAP WHAT DO YOU NEED SIXTY TRACKERS FOR? Nope nope nope nope FLEE FLEE FLEE!" I've definitely been becoming more aware of the phenomenon and how some sites render themselves unreadable.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 12:23 PM on April 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Across the web overall the percentage runs around 9-10%, ODiV, but it climbs quickly towards 20% if you look towards skilled or technical audiences. I'd guess metafilter sees ad blocking rates like tech sites (18%) as opposed to general news sites (16%). And those numbers should've increased by now.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:40 PM on April 14, 2016


Also, those numbers were published by an organization that supplies "counter blocker block" services, so maybe they cannot really be trusted, i.e. measuring page views over unique impressions as estimated say by IP address.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:47 PM on April 14, 2016


Even leaving aside the malware serving aspects I'd be a lot more sympathetic to ads if they didn't consume so much bandwidth. Last time I went looking a couple years ago ads composed more than 75% of the bandwidth served on a lot of popular sites. Bandwidth I'm paying for.

XMLicious: "It's important to note, in the context of rights, that if ad blockers or some technology they incorporate were ever categorized as "circumvention devices" under the DMCA it would be illegal to use them, and presumably the TPP and other treaties have similar provisions."

And it would be illegal to start reading a magazine or newspaper without committing to reading every page. Or enter a movie theatre after the previews started.

Melismata: "Journalism most certainly is dying due to lost ad revenue. Newspapers, while never a model of high profit-taking, were fairly self-sufficient thanks to classified ads until a guy named Craig came along. Get off your high horse, people."

Craigslist doesn't have ads which is at least partially why people fled there from newspapers. But mainly Craig offered a paradigm shift in access to classifieds and as so often happens the thing being shifted away from does poorly.

Finally it would be really easy to serve mostly unprogrammically block-able ads but they'd have to be served by the people serving the content and the content providers and marketing agencies don't trust each other and they have written contracts. So why should we trust them?
posted by Mitheral at 2:11 PM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Craigslist doesn't have ads

Craigslist is ads.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:37 PM on April 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


And it would be illegal to start reading a magazine or newspaper without committing to reading every page. Or enter a movie theatre after the previews started.

I'm not a lawyer but I think you are imagining that the application of computer-related laws in this country is required to be much more reasonable and consistent and related to the real world than it actually is.
posted by XMLicious at 2:50 PM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I suspect you are in the overwhelming minority with that opinion.

I feel like this is testable. Based on this crowd I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people use ad blockers, but based on a lot of people browsing via mobile and the default being no ad blockers, I'd be very surprised if we had over 50-60% actual ad blocker users.

I think the rise in browsing via mobile devices must have been a huge boon for advertisers, given the higher degree of difficulty in customising how they operate.

The audience here in MetaTalk is unlikely to be anything like representative of the wider community, though. That people are casually talking about ad blockers and ad blocker blockers etc and nobody is going 'huh?' demonstrates this. In my experience, the bulk of the people 'out there' have no idea that ad blockers even exist, much less how to install them. These are the people who, faced with a solid wall of flashing, spinning, ads, half-a-dozen pop-up and pop-under windows and excruciatingly slow page loads, just accept this as normal. These are the same people that are mildly puzzled as to why their browser opens to strange sites by default and why the ads they see miraculously match exactly the search they just made on Yahoo or whatever search engine they started using in 1999 and still are. The same people who just accept that every computer they own will mysteriously get slower and slower until it becomes unusable and shuffle off to buy a new one. That moment when they first see the ad-filtered Web is something wonderful, really.

I suspect I'm like a lot of people here - I run ad blockers to protect myself but also because I am sick of the over saturation of everything in life by ads. I do understand that ads pay for the content, for the most part and, if I regularly consume content from somewhere, I happily whitelist the site unless they serve excessive (in my view) intrusive advertising. I've actually got pretty good at mentally blocking ads for the most part so, advertising people, you may get my page views, but you will never have my eyeballs.

But then, I also 'steal' television by never watching anything live and fast-forward through ads so maybe I'm part of the problem - every time consumers find a way to avoid ads, advertisers need to find a way to present them to us anyway. Hence the rise and rise of the level of intrusion.
posted by dg at 2:55 PM on April 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


What irked me the most about the Wired blocking was how it was obnoxiously phrased: "See, here's the thing about Ad Blockers..." like I'm their buddy.
I'm not your buddy, guy.
posted by NoraCharles at 5:25 PM on April 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


I’m not your guy, friend.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:51 PM on April 14, 2016


I'm not your friend, pal.
posted by Etrigan at 5:53 PM on April 14, 2016


I’m not your pal, cousin
posted by Going To Maine at 6:00 PM on April 14, 2016


I'm not your cousin, mate.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:16 PM on April 14, 2016


What’s this about Buddy Guy? Nick Charles is Buddy Guy? What?
posted by bongo_x at 9:19 PM on April 14, 2016


I'm the Dude, man.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:36 AM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:07 AM on April 15, 2016




I originally posted the link in question. I run uBlock Origin and NoScript (blocking javascript from wired.com) in my browser, and I never encountered any adblock-blocker stuff when I read it before posting.

One other tool that I'd recommend is Kill Sticky. I've found it can remove many anti-adblocker banners and other garbage without forcing you to disable your adblocker.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 7:15 AM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


The argument that you just use an adblocker to stop bad ads falls down when you start blocking adblocker blockers.

If a site blocks you if you are using and adblocker, or puts up a simple banner asking you to turn off your ad blocker you really have only two even remotely ethical options.

1. Stop going to that site.
2. Turn off your adblocker (or, if it's just a banner, keep going but feel the shame of having someone call out for using their site in a way they have explicitly asked you not to.)

That's it. Any more than that and you have lost ALL ability to claim that this is just about ethics in ad-serving.
posted by aspo at 7:41 PM on April 15, 2016


That's it. Any more than that and you have lost ALL ability to claim that this is just about ethics in ad-serving.

I don’t agree, at least not entirely. If you go to a site that says “please enable ads”, but you consider ads to be entirely unsafe and know you won’t enable them, then the nag/shaming message isn’t something you endure. On the other hand, if you go to, say, The Guardian and their nag message says hey, we see you're blocking ads so please subscribe to pay for this fine content, then maybe you should feel bad for not subscribing.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:57 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


If adblocker blockers and malicious advertising were never found together then I would be more comfortable with that line of thinking.
posted by ODiV at 8:01 PM on April 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


In the early days of mefi we started adding the SLYT tag to warn people about the huge bandwidth required to play a youtube link, I feel like we could now do with a similar shorthand warning about sites with 50+ advertising trackers.
Maybe MAAT for 'Multiple Advertising and Analytic Trackers'

It wouldn't be perfect because sites can add or remove advertising and tracking over time, but it would at least be a sign that; at the time of posting; the link comes with a bunch of extra baggage and you can proceed accordingly.
posted by Lanark at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2016


That might be misinterpreted as "watching this may result in your soul being judged ineligible to pass into heaven."
posted by XMLicious at 9:59 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the early days of mefi we started adding the SLYT tag to warn people about the huge bandwidth required to play a youtube link

I don't think it was ever a bandwidth issue. I think it was that at one point there had been some complaints about the proliferation of posts that were just a single YouTube video, and the SLYT warning was in response to that. ("Yes, it's yet another single video. If you don't like those, don't click this, sheesh.")
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:39 AM on April 18, 2016


Yeah, it was just that for a while a loud group really hated single-link YouTube video posts. Hated them. I think that part of the impetus was that a not-insignificant portion of the community genuinely had some trouble, in one way or another, watching videos. I mean, even now I, myself, absolutely hate actual content-heavy posts that are only viewable as a video. I read much more quickly than people speak and the post may be about a topic I'm very interested in but I'm not watching a twenty-minute video. Or a ten-minute video. Or five, honestly. But I don't mind cat videos or humorous videos or whatever that are less than a minute or a couple of minutes.

So there are still good reasons why some video posts are disliked, I suppose. That said, I've found the changing MeFi cultural shifts about video posts to be instructive. As the web has changed, at each step there've been complaints about X type of posts that, as that kind of content becomes more widespread, fade away because, of course, why in the world wouldn't a link to a YouTube video be okay? I pretty much figure this is the trajectory of all these kinds of complaints.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:02 PM on April 18, 2016


I gave up on NoScript since I found it too much of a pain in the ass to get all the fine-grained settings down. Is there an easy way in Chrome or Firefox to just block specific javascripts? Like, not return an event-listener for whatever Wired is looking for?

"Journalism started dying well before the web came about. It started dying when the American Congress allowed companies to start owning television networks, radio stations, and newspapers. After that journalism started being about entertainment."

…eh, kinda? They also had record profits because they invested in digitization for publishing and radically cut their workforce, and then were bought by conglomerates that expected that exceptionally high margin to continue. And consolidation hurting journalism was often less about turning things into entertainment as it was about trying to reuse the same content, cutting investment in the newsrooms (which were union and expensive). Then pretty much every major paper tried to simultaneously be stingy and sleazy about digital distribution (NYT lost a big court case about having to pay for republishing content online), while failing to recognize the paradigm shift of speed in news-gathering.

But so many print publications have narratives of unique stupidity behind their troubles — from Conrad Black's fraud to Sam Zell's insane leverage plan, or the collusion of both Detroit papers to break the local unions — that many of the failures look less like OH NOES AD BLOCKS and more like the hubris and looting of wealthy men blamed on a convenient boogieman.
posted by klangklangston at 6:05 PM on April 19, 2016


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