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  1. #1
    SitePoint Co-founder Matt Mickiewicz's Avatar
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    Is Blocking Advertising Immoral?

    I just read a good piece on CNET called "Who blocks the (ad) blockers?" which discussed the Firefod AdBlock extension, its use, and a campaign by one website owner against visitors who use adblockers.

    The author states:

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


    Do you use adblockers yourself and how do you feel about website visitors who disable the ads on your site?
    Matt Mickiewicz - Co-Founder
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  2. #2
    Google Zombie ssandecki's Avatar
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    This was a great article, I personally do not block any ads, I only block pop-ups via Google Taskbar. I feel that the least a visitor can do is view my ads, I do not have audio ads or pop-ups and it shouldn't be a problem letting the ads be displayed. I can see a market in the near future for bypassing ad blockers.

  3. #3
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    People are not normally forced to view advertising.

    With road side advertising you simply ignore the billboards and you don't see the ads.

    With TV advertising you can leave the room while the ads are on or use a PVR to strip the ads out of the program so that you can view it straight through without it.

    If people were forced to view advertising then there would be no point in having advertising in the first place since forcing them to buy would be just as easy to legislate and then advertising would be redundant.

    The purpose of advertising is to try to try to convince people to buy a given product. Those who don't want to see the ads will be less likely to buy if you try to force them to view ads than if you don't.

    All browsers and most firewalls can block ads. Singling out one browser and not targetting all of them is just silly particularly since most browsers can easily masquerade as a different browser to start with.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  4. #4
    Ex-SitePointer silver trophy
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    Is Blocking Advertising Immoral?
    Yes.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard OnlineGuide's Avatar
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    I think due to the problems of obscene advertising, viruses, active-x, spyware, massive pops, etc. causes people to lean towards the firefox adblock.
    The Online Guide

  6. #6
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    I think it is immoral to use adblockers when you have a website of your own that you display ads on. I mean, how hypocritical is that? Yet I know tons of people who do it.

    I myself do not block anything but pop-ups. Also, I do not use pop-ups on my site, so I think that is fair.

    Blocking all ads is ridiculous. I mean, how do people think we (webmasters) have the money to host our sites? We have to make some sort of revenue to make up for it, especially if we have get many visitors that we have to get the very best (and most expensive) hosting in order to accommodate the load. The people who are coding and making these ad blockers really should stop already.
    My top 3: TheSkinnyWebsite, ChickLitbooks,TheSkinnyForum

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  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard OnlineGuide's Avatar
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    What makes you think web site visitors care about the webmasters who make the sites?
    The Online Guide

  8. #8
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    Users of advertisement-skipping technology are essentially engaged in theft of resources.
    I totally 100&#37; disagree (I was going to say "that's nonsense", but it would only be my opinion!)

    So sites use advertising to pay for the provision of content do they? They don't provide content to create a forum for display advertising?

    It goes both ways, and for a site owner to claim pure altruism - that they really just want to provide a service and only grudgingly have ads to pay for it - cannot be true; if their motivation was truly altruistic then they'd pay for it themselves.

    As I do - my site has been running for years, and it gets fairly decent traffic, which I pay for myself - I have never, and will never, have advertising.

    Now I'm not down on sites that do have advertising, that's their choice. But I reserve the right to block it if it annoys me.

    At the end of the day - ad blocking is part of a vicious circle, because a lot of ads are annoying and intrusive; same as popup-blocking. And it was the ad-providors who started this vicious circle, hence I have little to no sympathy for them.

    Is it immoral to throw away junk mail? Is it immoral to use a system like TIVO to remove advertising from TV programs?

    No, it isn't. And online advertising is the same. If revenue models fail as a result then they must adapt.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Immoral?

    Is it immoral to use the commercial breaks in a TV show to visit the bathroom? Is it immoral to watch the road while driving instead of looking at tacky billboards?

    I cordially detest all forms of advertising. It's an insult to my intelligence when people attempt to make me buy something I don't want or need.

    I don't use any special ad-blocking software, but I do use the 'Block content' feature in Opera to get rid of the most intrusive ads. At home, I'm on dial-up so I surf with images disabled. I don't have the Flash plug-in. I guess I'm a very immoral person, aren't I?

    Or is it that people who pollute the web with advertising need to find a better business model? Sure, putting up a website with tons of ads on it is probably a lot easier than actually working for a living, but should that be my problem?

    If you want to block ad-blockers, go ahead. But don't put up an open site and complain that people aren't clicking (or even looking at) your ads.

    And no, I don't have advertising on my own site, no.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  10. #10
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    I do have ads on my site.

    Google record about 1/3 the page views with the advertising to what I actually get and so I assume the other 2/3 don't see the ads due to having JavaScript disabled or some form of ad blocker.

    Of that 1/3 that do see the ads about 2&#37; actually click on them which earns me enough to cover only a small part of the time that I spend working on the site.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy DaveWoods's Avatar
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    I don't personally block ads but understand the arguments for doing it and if the horrible flash adverts that pop up over the content I'm trying to read become more common then I probably will block them.

    I have Google Ads on a few of my sites and if people want to block them then that's not a problem, the chances that they'd click any of the ads anyway is very unlikely from these users.

    My sites are provided for the content, creating a community or other reasons and the advertising is simply there as an extra source of income which is how I personally think advertising should be.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    People have every right to use whatever user agent they wish. They can disable images, Javascript, Flash, CSS, make custom CSS and make as many other changes as they wish to the received information. If they do not want to view advertisements, then they have every right to disable them. Boycotting them just shows that certain webmasters are completely clueless as to how to make money online, other than slapping some ads on their site, in that they are creating a bad name for their site amongst all users, not just Firefox users. Furthermore, I don't see anyone blocking Lynx, PDA and cellphone browsers or users potentially using screen readers, yet the main argument seems to be that of bandwidth.

    People who think that this is immoral are usually be the same people who have advertisements on their websites, and want to squeeze as much money out of their websites as at all possible. Many will then try to circumvent these blockers, making them little better than spyware makers (i.e. transmitting advertisements to users, knowing full well that the users do not want it).

    I remember a forum some time ago, where some webmasters were whining about noone clicking their ads and blocking their pop-ups. They went on to argue, that they then just had to make the ads more flashing - you know, the 'you're the one millionth visitor' and flashing 'system warnings' banners. In my oppinion, they are the immoral ones - tricking users into clicking the ads, rather than advertising honestly.

    For the record, I get the majority of my online income from AdSense.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    Or is it that people who pollute the web with advertising need to find a better business model? Sure, putting up a website with tons of ads on it is probably a lot easier than actually working for a living, but should that be my problem?
    Yes. If you object to advertising, then don't go to sites that have advertising. Don't waste the website owner's bandwidth and money sucking up resources. It costs him money with every page YOU view.

    I despise pop ups and pop unders, but I am not bothered in the least by ads. I've been to websites that have 10 or 12 ad zones on a page. I don't stay long and generally make a point not to go back. But if I do go back, I don't block their ads.

    Advertising is really the only business model available for most websites. You don't expect people to subscribe and pay money to look at a couple funny pictures, do you?

    TV exists because of advertising. No advertising, no TV. Many websites exist because of advertising. No advertising, no websites. If you find a website to be of value to you, the LEAST you can do is let some ads make it onto your screen. Consider it a 'thank you' to the webmaster whose hard work created the content you enjoy.

    By the way, I do not have any ads on my sites. Even before I was a webmaster I didn't mind advertising. Yeah, I hated advertising back in 1996 on dialup--1 kb/sec, or less download speed. But since I went broadband I don't mind them in the least. Pop ups and pop unders excluded, of course.

    Blocking ads is like going to a grocery store with no intention of purchasing anything and pigging out on the free samples.

  14. #14
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    Is blocking ads immoral? Well, that's subjective. We all have our own morals. My morals indicate to me that blocking advertising is not immoral.

    People who go onto the Internet to research information and to participate in communities do not do this for the purpose of viewing and clicking on advertisements. Thus, webmasters should not be placing such an expectation on their visitors.

    If the bandwidth consumed by your visitors is such a significant cost to you that every visitor needs to click on your ads, there is a simple solution - charge admission to your website. That way, there is minimal bandwidth cost to your "immoral" visitors, and you still get your revenue.

    Actually, have a think about the issue like this: I set up a brick-and-mortar shop, full of empty plastic cups. I get paid by a third-party for every plastic cup that I can give away. Does that make it immoral to walk past my shop and refuse to take a cup? The cups are empty and hold very little value (if any) to most of the people that walk past my shop, but surely it must be immoral, because those people who don't take cups are stealing from me!

    I think James Edwards said it best - "Don't make users take responsibility for [your] problems". If you can't afford to keep a website online, take it down.

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    If you object to advertising, then don't go to sites that have advertising.
    How do I know if a website has advertising without me going there in the first place?

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Don't waste the website owner's bandwidth and money sucking up resources. It costs him money with every page YOU view.
    Charge admission to view each page, or take the pages offline (thus removing that cost).

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Advertising is really the only business model available for most websites.
    1) Got a study or some sort of evidence to support that?
    2) If webmasters are so reliant on a single business model, they should have planned for a loss of income like this issue and accepted that risk. They have only themselves to blame, whether they accept that fact or not.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    cheesedude
    While I agree with you that pop-ups are annoying, and banners (static ones, that is) are not, I would certainly consider it very likely that there are those who are just as annoyed by static banners as we are with pop-ups, and there might me those who are not annoyed by pop-ups (though the latter group is probably quite small). Whose definition of annoying ads should then be used for a universally deciding what is acceptable, and what is not?

    TheAnarchist
    From personal experience, information websites generally have few alternatives to advertisements. There is no money in donations, and referral programs tend to pay very little, at least for some types of information. I agree that it's never a good idea to base all your income on one source, but when there are no viable alternatives, it's difficult not to.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
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    <>In Soviet Russia, website codes you!

  16. #16
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by csswiz View Post
    I don't personally block ads but understand the arguments for doing it and if the horrible flash adverts that pop up over the content I'm trying to read become more common then I probably will block them.
    I have Flash disabled in all my browsers. Firefox is the only one that provides a simple way to enable i on a case by case basis if I decide I actually do want to see one. All my browsers also have popup blockers enabled. The most annoying ones that still get through are the JavaScript based overlay in page ones and the most annoying of those are the ones that block your leaving the page. Must add creating an exit overlay add blocker to the list of useful JavaScripts on my yet to be written list.

    The sort of advertising that seriously interferes with the person's use of their web browser deserves to be blocked.

    I have no problem whatever with plain text or image ads in the web page itself alongside the content and just occasionally I see an ad for something that looks interesting enough to click on the link to find out a bit more about the subject of an ad. Never found anything worth buying that way though.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  17. #17
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    I have Flash disabled in all my browsers as well, because it may easily cause my browsers hang up.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Zealot Bannaz's Avatar
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    Very interesting read.
    Bannaz - Flash Banner Design
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  19. #19
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Yes. If you object to advertising, then don't go to sites that have advertising.
    Why not, when I can block the ads or simply ignore them?

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Don't waste the website owner's bandwidth and money sucking up resources. It costs him money with every page YOU view.
    With that line of reasoning, I shouldn't want any visitors to my ad-free site.
    If the website owner puts up a public website, he or she can't dictate who's allowed to visit. If you want to keep some people out, then you'll have to find another way to refuse them. If you want to make money, why not require registration and collect a fee?

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Advertising is really the only business model available for most websites. You don't expect people to subscribe and pay money to look at a couple funny pictures, do you?
    No, but I expect people who want to earn income from a website to provide worthwhile content.

    Putting up 'a couple funny pictures' on the web and fill the rest of the page with ads, and then complaining when some people don't see the ads … that's rich.

    I don't use ad-blocking software (other than 'Block content' in Opera, which I use only on a couple of news sites that have extremely large ads). On the other hand, I'd never click on any ad I see, either.

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    TV exists because of advertising. No advertising, no TV.
    Really? In this country we have at least two channels that broadcast without any advertising whatsoever.

    Do you stay glued to the screen during those commercial breaks, then? It must be immoral not to, according to your logic (as I interpret it).

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Many websites exist because of advertising. No advertising, no websites.
    Again, there are quality websites without any advertising. Some people are actually motivated by other things than greed, believe it or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Yeah, I hated advertising back in 1996 on dialup--1 kb/sec, or less download speed. But since I went broadband I don't mind them in the least.
    I can't get broadband where I live. Oh, I might be able to rig up some satellite stuff, but my yearly income is slightly less than that of, say, Bill Gates.

    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Blocking ads is like going to a grocery store with no intention of purchasing anything and pigging out on the free samples.
    I haven't heard of any grocery stores that prevent people from doing that. Have you?
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  20. #20
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    Got to say I've been enjoying this thread too.

    I don't use advertising on my personal site, although I have considered it. But then again I don't consider that I provide my site for altruistic motives either: I do it because I enjoy writing it. That enjoyment is worth my hosting costs.

    And the more people read it and give me positive feedback, the more enjoyment I get out of it.

    But I don't object to websites with ads on them. They get on my nerves a little bit in some cases (the more/larger the ads, the more they annoy me) but if the content is worth it, I'll either put up with them or I'll happily block them.

    Like Tommy and Brothercake say, I also think that it's no more immoral to choose to block site ads than it is to choose not to read junk mail or to choose to visit the lavatory during a commercial break...

    This is one of the reasons why I'm reluctant to have advertising on my site: I'd much rather be 'sponsored' by a company and have them linked in my footer which seems more intrinsically 'honest' to me than to use advertising (as I've seen googleads used to sell accessibility products on sites which the owner of those sites would decry as not of particularly good quality): I'd want to have control over which adverts/companies to accept and it simply doesn't work that way.

    Unfortunately, no-one has yet offered me millions (or even singles) of pounds to be sponsored by them, so it looks like it's going to continue to come out of my own pocket for the time being...
    Jack Pickard | The Pickards

  21. #21
    SitePoint Guru wii's Avatar
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    I don&#180;t like ads, I have a popup blocker enabled and that&#180;s it. I could disable ads completely in my Firewall, but that removes other stuff too, so I haven&#180;t done that. Is it immoral ? Of course not...why should it be ?

  22. #22
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    The one time when I'm sure that almost all visitors would be happy to view and even click on advertisements, is when they add value to the user experience.

    If it isn't of value to the visitor, why would you at all expect them to care about your advertisements?

  23. #23
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    It's as immoral as tivo.

    Which is to say, it's NOT

  24. #24
    SitePoint Zealot ejg's Avatar
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    If you think blocking ads is immoral then go ahead and block me from your website. Unless your widgets/content/funny pictures are unique to the internet (highly unlikely) I will be just as happy to go somewhere else.

    In fact, along with blocking ads, I block flash and if I go to a website that is all flash or has flash navigation I quickly leave and move on to the next site.

  25. #25
    Beer drinker Srirangan's Avatar
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    Of course not, it is not immoral. It may be illegal though if your website has a usage agreement which requires the visitor not to block any sponsored messages. But then, how would you enforce it?

    In short, get over it.
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