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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7149/whats-wrong-with-blocking-ads/

What’s Wrong With Blocking Ads?

September 15, 2007 by

Ever since the first banner ad found its way online, there has been a virtual arms race between ad placement technology and ad blocking.

The latest chapter in this ongoing saga revolves around Adblock Plus, an extension that can be integrated into the Firefox browser that essentially blocks all ads. And in short, due to the fact that tools like this exist, several webmasters are now refusing to allow netizens to access their respective websites via a Firefox browser.

The New York Times recently weighed in on the issue as did Chris Soghoian of CNet, who suggested in part that,

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

There is nothing ethically or morally wrong with an ad-blocker. It is no different than using any other technology to filter language or explicit content. No one is being harmed nor has property been destroyed or stolen (the owner was not deprived of their property).

Plain and simple: if you do not want to pay for the bandwidth and hosting charges, don’t put material online. Just because you are trying to make a living does not mean anyone should partake in your business model. After all, should everyone that visits your site be required to click on one of the ads?

Furthermore, if you can’t survive off an ad-based revenue model, try something else – like subscriptions – or perhaps find a different day job.

Addendum: I think there is a little confusion about my original post. I was simply criticizing the notion that content theft was occurring and not criticizing the practice of blocking those with ad blockers; there is nothing wrong with anti-blocker blocking. Therefore it would be fallacious to think either group has the moral high-ground for their specific actions.

See also:
What is click fraud anyways?
Hosts File

{ 61 comments }

Don Lloyd September 15, 2007 at 6:00 am

Tim,

With the words ‘blocking ads’ in the title, I thought that you were talking about the fairly recent phenomena that has large ads popping up and aggressively blocking the story that you’re trying to read.

Regards, Don

ktibuk September 15, 2007 at 6:44 am

I seems the websites found a way already and this posts advice to websites is somewhat useless.

Blocking people trying to acces their websites who are using firefox is an excellent way. It is much easier than changing the dominating business model of the internet.

Seeing ads are a way of paying. You dont want to pay, you are not allowed in.

Simple.

The market always takes care of itself.

Matthew September 15, 2007 at 7:35 am

What’s Wrong With Blocking those who are Blocking Ads?

Steven Horwitz September 15, 2007 at 7:50 am

Am I also guilty of theft when I DVR a show and fast forward through the commercials?

Brad September 15, 2007 at 8:45 am

Steven, I was going to say the same thing. If this is the way people are thinking, next thing we know, expect cable boxes to “lock in” to a channel whenever commercials come on so that we don’t thieve away more resources.

D. Greene September 15, 2007 at 9:31 am

The technology used to block ads is very simple. You simply identify a server ads are coming from and block it in your computers hosts file. Adblock operates on a similar principal – they identify servers or entire URLs where an image, flash banner, or block of text is coming from. So if you embed into your webpage a banner ad from ads.doubleclick.net, it is very easy to block it. Any ban list put out by adblock (like filterset.g) automatically blocks servers like doubleclick.net, and many others. Other than analyzing HTML, this is how adblocking software can quickly stop ads.

However, if you are serving the ads from your own website, say ads.mises.org, that makes it a bit harder to block all the ads, but once the user blocks that subdomain it’s over. There are a few tricks to solve this by serving every part of the ad through the same domain as your content.

Webmasters that simply block Firefox will automatically alienate customers. It evinces a high level of arrogance and technological incompetence to boot. When I visit any website, unless they have a pop-up window forcing me to read an agreement and click yes or no, then I have signed no contract vis a vis how I use their website. I am literally downloading their publicly available files from the internet to my computer. I can choose to view whichever files I please.

The best solution is to respect your user and serve ads that are relevant, not distracting, and do not pop-up.

Novus September 15, 2007 at 11:42 am

Steven and Brad, I agree entirely: I was going to ask ktibuk whether it should be considered theft to duck out of the room for a slash during an ad-break. Clearly that is a nonsense.

The model isn’t exactly the same, however, for internet advertising. AIUI, TV advertisers pay up front for the airtime, and the fee is dependent on the projected audience share and demographic profile. The broadcasting company doesn’t lose out if I get up and grab a beer in an ad-break. But internet advertising is bought after the fact, on a per-download basis. Crudely described, I access a page whose code calls the ad server; the ad server sends the ad and increments a count of the number of ads sent, ie the number of people who have seen the ad. The payment made is proportional to that figure, therefore if I block the ad I am responsible for that figure’s being lower than it otherwise would be, and consequently for the website’s earning less money in advertising revenue. I was recently kicked off an online chess site for this very reason: I was using their resources and they were receiving no money for use of those resources.

The other aspect, however, is computer security. Many ads contain spyware or malware in various forms and varying degrees of malevolence. If companies could guarantee that the ads they served were free of such code, we might be less inclined to block them out of hand.

Marc September 15, 2007 at 11:46 am

I use Ad-Blocker and as long as it works I will be using it. The reason is very simple: I don’t really mind ads, honest, I do mind when they take the majority of the content I download from a web page in term of kb, and I mind even more if that ad is flash based or java based. not only they are full of security issues with they are simply bloated.

TV ads don’t deter the content of what I watch and I do not get charged more if I watch them. Same thing for printed publication, I do not pay more if I watch them and I still get the content.

Internet ads most of the time result in me having to try to figure out where to click and they simply pollute the visual aspect of a web page. I could live with that, but I pay for my bandwith, for every kb I download, not everyone has unlimited bandwidth, in fact most people don’t. Therefore, no one, and I mean no one will be allowed to hijack my bandwidth without my express permission especially to shove me ads in my face.

Anthony September 15, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Personally, I think if certain sites do not want their ads blocked, they can inform users that to access them they must allow ads on that specific page, or to leave otherwise. The problem being, though, that this will reduce the traffic the site enjoys. That is the business’s problem though. I do not mind non-intrusive ads at all.

Francois Tremblay September 15, 2007 at 12:24 pm

I use Ad-Block mostly to block items or scripts that take a long time to load, not to block ads (although I also use it to block ads). Holding Firefox users hostage in the name of ad blocking is underhanded cowardice.

dfbraun September 15, 2007 at 12:48 pm

There are ads on the Internet? I don’t think I’ve seen an actual ad in three years. I thought that sites realized that advertising was a failed business model, and stopped using ads altogether.

Of course, Firefox is Adblocked six ways from Sunday, I have a large hostfile blocker, I use NoScript to block Javascript, and Firefox tells sites it’s actually Internet Explorer.

Sheesh, people still use *ads*? What is this, 1998?

Jack September 15, 2007 at 12:49 pm

I appreciate the revenue model argument, but that doesn’t mean I support it.

When surfing, I reach tens or hundreds of pages per day. If they all start shoving ads in my face, whether I like it or not, I’m constantly closing ads.

That’s not what I use the internet for. If you don’t want me to read your page, don’t put the content out there.

Usually, the first information that loads in a page is the banner ad. So I’ve seen at least one ad of the website. I can live with that, although some ads are exceedingly obnoxious, which is why I don’t want to see them in the first place.

The pop-ups though… bah. I don’t want them. Find another way to draw my attention. AND, because the website is doing this to me, I am -determined- not to buy the advertised product, specifically not to give these people my money which will only serve to encourage them.

It cuts both ways but in this instance I, the user, am in the more powerful position: I don’t live for your pleasure, I just don’t.

Josh September 15, 2007 at 1:15 pm

dfbraun wrote:

I thought that sites realized that advertising was a failed business model, and stopped using ads altogether.

Sheesh, people still use *ads*?

Yes, actually.

And the ads that other people see are paying quite nicely for the content that you enjoy. Fortunately there are not more people like yourself who block all ads, and thus interesting and insightful (or at least entertaining) content remains free for everyone (for now).

I understand people who block ads, I really do. I use AdBlocker myself – but only to block ads that detract substantially from the content that I am viewing. For I recognize the fact that the content that I enjoy is usually only there because advertisers pay for ads to be displayed around it.

I like the business model. I support it. I click on ads of products/services that I am mildly interested in if I’m patronizing a site that I like.

However, I do block annoying ads that repeatedly blast sounds, have annoying animations, etc. And I write the publisher about it in the hopes that they will stop using such ads.

What pisses me off about dfbraun’s attitude is the blithe ignorance (or facetious ignorance, for surely he knows that browser advertising now pays for everything that he doesn’t buy a subscription to) that all of this content somehow arrives in front of his eyes for free.

Sure, blocking ads is not morally wrong. It’s your bandwidth, your browser. However, when you do block ads, you diminish the value of a business model supported by ads, and encourage others to arise in its place.

Do you really want a significant portion of the content you now enjoy without paying to be locked behind a subscription wall? Then unblock the ads.

EP September 15, 2007 at 1:24 pm

ktibuk –

Blocking Firefox users would be a stupid decision. The Firefox browser has about a ~12% marketshare, and only around 1% of those users use adblock.

If you really think that blocking 12% of your users from accessing your site is a good business model, go ahead.

Fortunately, site owners are not short-sighted enough to do this.

S September 15, 2007 at 1:26 pm

What’s Wrong With Blocking those who are Blocking Ads?

Go ahead and try. Good luck!

Rick September 15, 2007 at 1:31 pm

I personally don’t think this will happen to a great degree because the people who use Firefox in conjunction with Ad-Block is just too small of a group to worry about.

I recommend Firefox to every person I know in my job as a help desk tech and to everyone in my personal life, including my grandmother.

I’ve never installed ad-block for a single one of them so it makes more sense to not simply block Firefox because you don’t want alienate every Firefox user just to stop the small subset of those who use Ad-Block.

EP September 15, 2007 at 1:32 pm

What’s Wrong With Blocking those who are Blocking Ads?
Go ahead and try. Good luck!

Yep, it is, as far as I can see, technically impossible. Even blocking Firefox users is not technically possible (No way to accurately tell what browser someone is using — the web server gets its information from the client, which can obviously be fake).

EP September 15, 2007 at 1:37 pm

By the way, there are ways to block ads with other browsers, so discussing Firefox is a moot point.

Nuke September 15, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Saying that using adblock is stealing is like saying that not clicking on at least one ad on every page is stealing. The people who use adblock and other similar software are the type of people who would never click on one of the ads anyways. If I already know definitively that I’m not going to click on any of your ads, no matter what they’re for, why should I have to suffer through staring at them?

Katrina K September 15, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Someone is being harmed when the ads are being blocked. The content provider whose content is paid for by the ads.

Why is this so hard to admit? Even if you don’t click on an ad, even if you try not to look at ads, they affect you and your perception of the products being advertised. The advertisers are paying for that effect. The content provider is making a living on that effect. Blocking it deprives the content provider of his or her living. Repeat after me: the content provider is being harmed.

Those are the consequences. Now if you contrive some hairs to split in order to rationalize away your responsibility of that, go forth and contrive.

However, you are absolutely right about one thing — there is nothing ethically or morally wrong with the piece of software called an ad blocker. There is only something “wrong” with using it on a page with ads. The exact same logic applies to serial keygens, and software cracks. And remember, it’s only very recently that such patently illegal techniques have been made strictly illegal by the DMCA. The law just hasn’t caught up to ad blockers.

By the way, the parenthetical “No one is being harmed nor has property been destroyed or stolen (the owner was not deprived of their property).” is an under-handed red herring to try to half-truth the issue. Shameful. And equating ad blockers with explicit content filters? Tanks and Toyotas are just as similar. A logical fallacy; you’re confusing the gears for the machine. This issue is about consequences of using the machines, not the shapes of the cogs.

Block malware? Let’s face facts and admit it’s pornography, piracy, or stolen content websites that threaten users with ads that peddle spyware and viruses.

Reddit readers, widespread use of a thing does not justify it. Just because everyone pirates music, movies, software doesn’t make that right or legal, despite the desperate wishing of bittorrenting computer whizes across the globe.

And the final line is no better than a catcall “we’ll pirate you out of business”. Some of the worst of the worst of self-justification.

“Plain and simple”: if something can be gotten for free, people will do what they can to get it for free, and justify it as best they can. Human enough, but not necessarily honorable, nor right.

Conrad September 15, 2007 at 2:09 pm

If you click on ads without buying, you’re just stealing from the advertiser rather than stealing from the original website operator.

If you have no intention of buying the advertised crap, the most ethical approach is to block ads so you’re not forcing the advertiser to waste bandwidth sending you ads that you’ll never buy stuff from. Advertisers should be *thanking* Adblock users for saving them bandwidth.

Anthony September 15, 2007 at 3:05 pm

If advertisers are really so concerned about lost revenues through ad blockers they can inform individuals with these that unless they disable the ad blocker, access to a website will be denied (assuming this is possible.) If the individual does not disable the device, the site can then be blocked. I doubt this happens in great enough numbers to even pose a problem, but whatever.

RWW September 15, 2007 at 3:09 pm

Someone is being harmed when the ads are being blocked. The content provider whose content is paid for by the ads.

Why is this so hard to admit?

The content provider doesn’t gain anything from my viewing the ads on his site, so your entire argument is contemptible nonsense. Please do try to think things through before you post them.

Glen Smith September 15, 2007 at 3:13 pm

If there was any theft in this scenario, it is on the part of the advertisers. Of course, none exists at all.

JS September 15, 2007 at 3:17 pm

And by the same logic, there is nothing ethically or morally wrong with blocking ad-blockers.

I’m not morally or ethically bound to show you content that I wrote with the intent of generating income from your viewing it.

Katrina K September 15, 2007 at 3:32 pm

RWW says, The content provider doesn’t gain anything from my viewing the ads on his site, so your entire argument is [unworthy troll]

It’s worth realizing that even if the content provider gets revenue based on clicks, the ad provider’s total value, while computed from those clicks, includes the views of the ad. You might not have clicked, but you have patronized the advertiser in some small or not-so-small way.

Here’s an easy-to-understand example: A hair salon might estimate the effectiveness of a newspaper ads by the number of appointments made through the number advertised in the print ad. Yet people on the street will say, “Oh, that’s the salon I saw in the newspaper,” and be more likely to choose that salon for a walk-in.

This is well-known phenomenon is called the Exposure Effect, and it’s valuable to advertisers and to ad-bearing vehicles.

JS September 15, 2007 at 3:45 pm

I don’t get paid per click. I get paid per impression. If my ads aren’t displaying, you don’t exist as far as advertisers are concerned, and my traffic report looks that much less impressive. The day my ads stop paying is the day I close my site.

The thing being lobbied for here is a free society, the notion that advertising-supported web sites do not deserve to exist, insofar as he’s happy to take the content and not give back by having the ads load in his browser.

Incidentally, half my ads are for nonprofit campaigns, so you’re hurting more than commercial interests when you block ads.

JFrame September 15, 2007 at 3:59 pm

This reminds me of the days kids were chased out of drug stores for reading comics and not buying them. How about instead of blocking people outright and alienating them from ever doing business with you again, you come up with a creative way to attract them back to viewing your ads?
While we’re at it, why don’t we put a sensor in your TV to make damn sure you sit through the commercials or NEXT time your program gets “blacked out”. That is exactly what you’re doing here. Hey, if you don’t want to let my firefox browser in to view what you got to say then I’ll just go to one of your thousand competitors who do. Lets see how fast you fade into obscurity alienating 15% of your online market base.
You’re kidding yourself if you, even for one milisecond, think you can control your customers. Besides numnuts, Firefox has user agent switcher which will keep you from even knowing its firefox taking a peep at your crap.

dfbraun September 15, 2007 at 4:03 pm

I have never bought a single thing from any internet ad. I have never clicked on a popup ad, nor any Google ad, nor any advertising of any form. Nor will I ever. I refuse to pay retail for something where part of the money I pay for it goes to pay for more and more and more ads.

Literally everything I have bought online has been through word of mouth, over eBay, or off of one of the deep-discount sites like slickdeals, steepandcheap, or w00t – at 50% or more discount.

“This is well-known phenomenon is called the Exposure Effect”

OK, so what about people like me that don’t see ads? I don’t subscribe to a newspaper, I don’t have a TV. Yet I still consume, and word of mouth and good ratings sites is how I get my information about products. Am I not being a “good little consumer”?

dfbraun September 15, 2007 at 4:14 pm

And another thing. I have bought skis, computers, bicycles, electronics and cars from places with *no advertising budget at all*. Wow. They got business (in some cases tens of thousands of dollars), and without ever publishing a single ad. How is that possible?

Answer: They ran community forums where they made sure that their customers felt involved in the product. They were well spoken of through word of mouth. They had good customer service and a good price.

To me, if a company has to *pay* for advertising so that people will buy their product, then their product is not worth buying.

Hear that? If I see an ad for “Company X’s Product”, then that makes me LESS likely to buy it! If your site runs ads for “Company X’s product”, then you are actually making people like me LESS likely to ever buy their product. Your site is actually driving negative revenue to the companies that pay you to advertise for them!

Willfe September 15, 2007 at 4:17 pm

Yikes, lots of nasty attitude in here :)

Let me start my mini-rant on this topic with a clear disclaimer: advertising (in any form) is a waste of resources and a true scourge upon mankind. The entire premise behind advertising (convincing somebody to buy something they would otherwise never buy, or spend money in a way they would never otherwise do) is broken and nasty. Any way you look at it, when you are trying to shove an advertisement down my throat or in my face, you are telling me that I am not qualified myself to choose whether to buy your stuff or not — you’ve made that choice for me and I should just shut up and pay you. Wrong. My money.

Right. Onto ad-blocking. This is a remarkably simple premise, and I’m stunned anybody is still even arguing about it:

1) There’s nothing wrong with blocking ad content. It is my computer (I paid for it). It is my browser (it was legally obtained for free). It is my broadband connection (I paid for it). I am in complete control of what is displayed to me by my system. I ask it to retrieve web sites, not advertisements. I am not interested in waiting for advertisements to load so the rest of the page can load. I am not interested in having someone try to sell me something while I’m reading or researching something. I write random missives on my own site and there are Google AdSense ads on one side. And I *actively* encourage my readers to block the damned things.

2) There is nothing wrong with trying to block those who block ads. To do so is very *childish*, because as others have pointed out, the percentage who actually filter ads is very small compared to the total installed base of the browsers capable of doing it, but it’s not “morally” wrong. In fact, it’ll accomplish exactly what you want — those who block ads will see a “unblock my ads or go away” blurb, and they’ll choose to go away, to find what they want elsewhere. This is completely acceptable and mutually amicable.

3) There *is* something wrong with banning a browser because it *can* block ads. A site that bans 12% of the world’s users because they run a browser that *can* (but does not, by default) block ads will quickly find itself with (many) fewer readers and an inbox filled with venom.

4) There is no legitimate reason to expect me to somehow “pay” you for the content you provide on the internet. The internet is a free-for-all — if you want to be paid for writing, work for a newspaper, publisher, or a web site that will pay you for writing. If you are using the internet to distribute something of a proprietary or especially-valuable nature, you should use some kind of system that requires users to identify themselves and pay you for access (or prove they already have).

This is the same nonsensical argument that gets thrown out about TiVos and other DVRs that permit their owners to skip the ads in television broadcasts. “You’re a pirate, man!” Bullocks — stop transmitting on an open frequency (remember, this stuff is still broadcast over-the-air, in the clear) if you think you’re being robbed. The entire argument is insane — there’s no damned “contract” between a television viewer and the broadcaster. As far as television goes, I solved that whole “ads suck” problem by not watching anymore. Those who still want to watch are completely entitled to switch channels when an ad comes on, or to time-shift broadcasts so they can watch them without ads. If you don’t like it, don’t broadcast.

It’s the same on the web. If you don’t want someone to read your stuff “for free,” don’t let them. Just don’t act surprised if the world tells you it’s not worth *paying* for by failing to produce teeming masses of subscribers. We’re all fine just browsing the free stuff, thanks.

JS September 15, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Nah, dfbraun, you’re just hurting home-based content producers who depend on ad impressions — images loading in your browser. I don’t care if you click. If you visit my site without loading the ads, you make me pay the bandwidth, reduce my site traffic statistics, make me less appealing to advertisers and if there are enough people like you, you silence me.

I can’t justify putting the time into my site that I do without having a sizable group of people show up in my traffic reports so that I attract businesses and nonprofits who have their own messages to get out.

Folks talk about how file sharing increases physical CD and DVD sales… and I believe it. But ad-blocking isn’t the same thing. You help contribute to a future where there are fewer content producers, or a future where web sites are locked up with registration screens. No one wants that, except maybe you.

A. J. September 15, 2007 at 4:51 pm

dfbraun wrote: “…and Firefox tells sites it’s actually Internet Explorer.”

Would you please let us all know how this is done? Is this done automatically by Firefox? If not, I, for one, would sure like to know how to get Firefox, which I love, to do so.

In my opinion, Ad Blocking is actually a service to the site you are browsing if you have NO intention of buy ANYTHING that ads show (like me). It saves the site bandwidth. When I want to buy a product, I go look for it. Not saying that others wouldn’t buy things via ads on a page; that’s fine for them. I just never buy anything because I see it advertised. If I am looking for something and I find it on sale, then great, but I NEVER buy something BECAUSE it is on sale.

Just my thoughts. Everyone should use their own. Mine are rarely as advertised. (grin)

RWW September 15, 2007 at 5:02 pm
Brent September 15, 2007 at 6:03 pm

I think there is a minority of us mass-media consumers who find ALL advertising intrusive and offensive; even though we understand it’s helping pay for the media we watch/read (television, magazines, the web.)

So we (or I anyway) go to great lengths to block ads from the media we consume. I use TIVO to record favourite TV shows, and FF through all the commercials; I tear out the ‘special advertising sections’ from my magazines; and I use AdBlock.

My rationale is that if I need a certain product or service, I have the brains to find a suitable one without being coerced by advertising.

But that’s just me.

And yes, I’ll pay a subscription fee for really good content on the web. (Just as I pay extra for some specialty, ad-free channels on my satellite TV.) Problem is, there are very very few sites providing content of such superior quality and veracity that I feel like paying for it.

IMO.

EP September 15, 2007 at 6:23 pm

Katrina K

Why is this so hard to admit? Even if you don’t click on an ad, even if you try not to look at ads, they affect you and your perception of the products being advertised. The advertisers are paying for that effect. The content provider is making a living on that effect. Blocking it deprives the content provider of his or her living. Repeat after me: the content provider is being harmed.

You are under the misconception — advertisers are generally not paying for ads that are “blocked”.

In simple terms, advertisers generally pay per click or view. An ad blocker will prevent the ad from loading and will not register as a “view”.

Francois Tremblay September 15, 2007 at 7:16 pm

“Someone is being harmed when the ads are being blocked. The content provider whose content is paid for by the ads.”

And I support that. Hurt the damn people who put ads on their sites! Heck, even I have ads on my sites, and I don’t care if everyone blocks them. It’s your right. Stop groveling at everyone else’s feet.

Anthony September 15, 2007 at 7:17 pm

“Let me start my mini-rant on this topic with a clear disclaimer: advertising (in any form) is a waste of resources and a true scourge upon mankind. The entire premise behind advertising (convincing somebody to buy something they would otherwise never buy, or spend money in a way they would never otherwise do) is broken and nasty.”

Now I agree with much of what you had to say, but I must take issue with this. A waste of resources? Which (credible) economist has shown this to be true? If anything advertising has been proven to be a valuable investment, as it does offer exposure of one’s products. Advertising alone can never convince me to buy something I wouldn’t otherwise buy – all it can do is alert me to the existence of the product. There is nothing pernicious about it, unless it is completely fraudulent.

Rich September 15, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Attention Site Owners:

Visitors are not responsible for supporting your business model whether it be ad-based or anything else. Business involves risk. If you decide to employ a poor model, such as requiring your visitors to view or click on your ads, and your visitors choose not to. Guess what. That’s called a bad business model.

If your poor argument was applied to other businesses, say, grocery stores for instance, it would be an act of theft to go into a grocery store and not buy something or view the in-store ads. By your reckoning, you should then be banned from entering that store. Stupid? Of course it is, but that’s your argument.

Here’s a tip. If you want to make money, why not offer something of real value to your visitors like a product or service. Provide content that is so good that people will want to pay for it. That’s called doing good business.

Begging people to look at your ads for junk they neither want or need is nothing but ad welfare.

Andy Freeman September 15, 2007 at 8:15 pm

> Am I also guilty of theft when I DVR a show and fast forward through the commercials?

At least one TV exec has been quoted as saying that people who skip ads with the DVR’s fast-forward are stealing.

I haven’t heard what he thought about folks who left the tv room during commercials.

llp September 15, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Katrina K,

You seem to be unfamiliar with the intellectual property theory which most of the users of this website accept. While I’m definitely no expert on Austrian economic theory, I will help you out here.

Austro-Libertarians, the group that is the majority on this website are strong supporters of property rights. However, we are against intellectual “property,” which we consider to be intellectual “protectionism.” Under Austro-Libertarian theory, patents are seen (as they were originally considered to be 400 years ago) as merely grants of monopoly to 1 inventor of a product which prohibit others who independently invent the same product from competing and are therefore incompatible with Capitalism. While admittedly, copyright contracts could exist on a pure free market, such contracts would only apply to the parties that agreed to them (therefore, only the original uploader of a pirated song, movie, or software program can possibly be claimed to have breached the contract), and therefore all non-parties would still retain the right to acquire the copyrighted work if either party breached the contract and uploaded it. Trademarks should be rejected because if JunkBurger calls itself McDonald’s and somebody is defrauded into eating there as a result, JunkBurger didn’t violate the rights of McDonald’s (as consumers have a right to choose either restaurant or neither), but it violates the rights of the consumer who was defrauded and got a JunkBurger instead of a Big Mac.

It is not stealing to “infringe” upon copyrights or other intellectual protectionism. Nor is it stealing to block a website’s ads. If it causes any harm to the web site operator (it can’t cause harm to the advertiser as the ad wasn’t sent in the first place), it is still perfectly acceptable to use Adblock or a similar program.

A website operator who chooses to block all Firefox users has a right to do so, as does one who chooses to block any AdBlock users. This is because they have property rights to their website. However, doing so is unwise (it is probably going to hurt their site more than help it). However, nobody has the right to ban AdBlock just because it might reduce the amount of people who see ads. Nor does an entertainment company have the right to sue somebody who pirates their songs, movies, or software or to forcibly shut down such web sites.

fark September 15, 2007 at 8:33 pm

You may as well try to hold back a glacier…

Look – when you read the newspaper or a magazine – do you go through and rip out all the advertising before you read any of the articles? No. Just accept that ads are the publishers way of paying to have the content produced. Ignore most of them and block the annoying ones.

Peter Cooper September 15, 2007 at 8:52 pm

No one is being harmed nor has property been destroyed or stolen (the owner was not deprived of their property).

That might make it morally okay, but it doesn’t, necessarily, make it ethically okay. There’s a pretty big gulf there. Ethics are a lot more personal than morals. I’d personally find it ethically wrong to block non intrusive ads as I feel ethically bound to respect the content producer’s rights. That doesn’t mean anyone else does.

Gwen September 15, 2007 at 10:41 pm

Posting your content on the Internet for people to see is an investment in your own effort, on the hope that in the future, someone will pay you to partake of it. Placing ads on your website is yet another hope — the hope that someone will see something they like and click on it, thus helping reduce the cost of doing business, the initial cost of your investment.

If you want people to pay you for your content, make your free content so good that people will pay you for portions that you sell outright. If you are that damned good, they’ll shell out real money to hear what you have to say. If you aren’t that good, they won’t.

Guess what? Sturgeon’s Law is right. 90% of everything is crud, including the content on the Internet. The reason so darned many people are so eager to put ads on their sites, and get so torqued off when you block them, is that what they have to say isn’t really WORTH paying for in the first place, and they know that if they slapped a price tag on it, everyone would scatter like roaches when the lights go on.

But if you are REALLY “all that and a bag of chips,” then put everyone else’s money where your mouth is — get rid of the ads, and put up a tip jar instead. Or put up a premium content section, and sell the stuff you don’t want to give away for free. But don’t be surprised if you don’t get rich from it.

I sent off a short story for consideration. It’s going to be a month, minimum, before I hear if the FIRST publisher wants to buy it from me. If they don’t, then it goes to the next, and another month or so. If I get another rejection, then another month or two. If I’m lucky, someone will tell me WHY they don’t want it, and I can try to fine-tune it and send it back, and hope they like the changes. Maybe I’ll sell it. Chances are, I won’t, not for quite a while.

But I also posted a short story to Scribd.com, with a Creative Commons license, for people to enjoy. Why? As an *investment*. To be heard. So hopefully, maybe, one of those editors will have seen my work before, and I won’t be quite as unknown when they see my other work come across their desk.

Same thing. Free content on the net is your investment in the future, for when you get good enough and are in high enough demand to charge directly for yourself.

Ads are hubris, plain and simple. We’ve already paid for our access, to our ISP. We don’t owe you anything for the bits.

—Gwen

scott t September 15, 2007 at 11:31 pm

i have used the opera browser for years which has a pop-up blocker and an option for ‘not’ displaying images on a website.
i dont design websites but when you select do -not- display images – some types of images still are viewable. (i dont know the mechanics behind the image blocking in the opera browser.)

perhaps the ad supported sites could imbed the ads within the text bypassing pop-ups altogether.

if some taxis use illuminated ads on the roofs of cabs – im pretty sure that helps keep cab fares down somewhat.

IvanK September 16, 2007 at 12:43 am

Now, all you people talk about is whether it is morally right or morally wrong to do something, but that’s not going to help here, at all. You see the internet, or all technology for that matter, is not based on morals, it’s based on convenience. The sole purpose of technology and internet in particular, is to make things simpler than they were before, therefore allowing you to make something different (more … advanced if you will). People always find a way to profit from this, and other people find a way to block things that are inconvenient to them.

The thing is – ad blockers (in one form or another) have been around for as long as there have been ads on the internet (well, for a couple of days less maybe – just enough to piss someone off ). It’s been a technology warfare all along, and the fact remains that only those on the cutting edge (read early adopters) have been able to stay ad-free, and that requires technical skill and willingness to lose functionality. The average guy doesn’t have a clue.

You may say that this firefox extension is easy to install, well that doesn’t matter at all. There are simple ways to bypass adblock, they just require some efferot. The ad-providers had become too lazy, so the got what they deserved, as they did with pop-ups – easy way to get attention, but easy to block. For now adblock is not mainstream enough, but when it is – they’ll figure out another way to send you those ads, and someone will figure out a way to block those too. There’s no morals involved in the process – just convenience seekers, and profit seekers – it only matter who has more technical merit.

ktibuk September 16, 2007 at 3:59 am

This post and comments are actually amusing in a way that shows how this anti-IP crusade brings out “the socialist” in people.

There are a lot of people who think the consumer is the king, and the producers have some duty towards them.

“Ok you have a right to bloc the add blockers but I wouldnt recomend it”.

Wow. Threats too.

Who gıves a f… what you recommend.

Internet doesnt mean millions of people who know how to use a computer has a right to enjoy all the content out there.

If producers doesnt produce, you dont have nothing.

This is a trade of equals like every other trade. One side can not enforce its own view to the other party.

Nothing is free in this universe. There are just different ways of paying.

If site owners think people who visit and block ads are problem then they can get try to block those people. They might not succeed 100% but adblockers are the same too.

In short nobody hasa right to anything in this life other than his poperty.

No right of surfing the web or education or health care.

So you socialists must understand if you dont want to pay you dont get to enjoy the products of the other people.

And since you refuse to be part of this business, your threat of taking your business somewhere else would just make people laugh and that would be all.

Mathieu Bédard September 16, 2007 at 6:48 am

There is one simple peaceful solution for websites owners to force you to allow publicity while viewing their pages; make the design insufferable without ads. And a few actually do it, voluntarily or not.

RWW September 16, 2007 at 10:01 am

There are a lot of people who think the consumer is the king, and the producers have some duty towards them.

The point is that neither has a duty toward the other.

“Ok you have a right to bloc the add blockers but I wouldnt recomend it”.

Wow. Threats too.

It’s not a threat; it’s an opinion about the efficacy of blocking viewers.

Internet doesnt mean millions of people who know how to use a computer has a right to enjoy all the content out there.

Their right is to do any nonviolent thing they want, and that includes viewing only a part of what is shown to them.

One side can not enforce its own view to the other party.

Exactly.

If site owners think people who visit and block ads are problem then they can get try to block those people.

Certainly. And I’m not so sure that’s a bad idea, either.

So you socialists must understand if you dont want to pay you dont get to enjoy the products of the other people.

Calling freely-available web content a “product” is deliberately misleading, but the gist of your sentence is correct, even if not in the sense you intended.

ktibuk September 16, 2007 at 1:04 pm

“Calling freely-available web content a “product” is deliberately misleading, but the gist of your sentence is correct, even if not in the sense you intended.”

See, it is not freely available. Not the ad supported sites anyways.

You just pay it differently than your are used to. It is a business model that lets you “pay” by the way of looking at ads.

The problem is perception.

First people think it is free. Then they think “since it is free it must be my right”. But infact it isnt a right at all.

And bad tasteless adertisements gets punished in the market. You dont visit sites that abuses ads. But using adblockers and bragging about it (and believe me people who use ff and adblocker think they are smarter and they keep bragging) is just silly.

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