Ethics of AdBlock

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ucim
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:32 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:All websites need to make money. That's the whole point.
No, not all websites need to make money. There is a small subset of websites that need to make money, but many sites do not exist for that purpose. In fact, you're on one right now.

Putting up a website is cheap. Dirt cheap. Anybody can do it. Because of this, most of the web is rubbish. Do a web search for just about anything and you will still have to do some vetting to see if the information rabid squawkings of the ill-informed that comes back has any truth to it at all. In the paper publishing world, the mere fact that putting out content is expensive leads to vetting of content before it gets published. This has value, and that value does not appear on the internet, where anybody can put up a site. And the ad-supported and "commerce-integrated" free-for-all means that all content is rightfully suspect of being infomercial.

What makes the internet useful at all is the fact that there are so many sites to choose from that it's easy to pick out what is probably true confirms my biases.

Tyndmyr wrote:[Google is], however, pretty good with regards to security, which I think is a major point in their favor. They police harmful ads pretty carefully...
...except for their own use of the information they glean from visitors, which as an invasion of privacy is harmful to the visitor, and beneficial to google.

Tyndmar wrote:The fact that Jose has taken pains to avoid looking at a ad on a clock is sort of amusing
Truth in advertising - I actually did not do this (but might, if the ads were [s]annoying[/i] entertaining enough). I don't have an office that overlooks an ad-supported clock; there was an invisible "What if..." attached to the scenario. And I don't use ad-block (though I do use noscript, and have been known to position windows to hang ads off the edge of my monitor). But for the point of the discussion, it doesn't matter whether I personally do or don't.

Tyndmyr wrote:I don't think "kill half the internet" is a reasonable outcome.
Depends which half. :)

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 16, 2015 7:35 pm UTC

Twistar wrote:I can't think of any paywalls that I subscribe to right now.

But it's a really good question. It helped me clear up some of my thinking on the issue. I think a major point that hasn't yet been brought up is that I don't really care about the websites in question. In fact, of all of the sites on the web there are very very very few that I care about.


But you *do* pay for internet access, I presume? That implies a strong value on the internet as a whole, even if a given site is low value to you.

And you care enough to visit them. So, you care about what you get, you just don't care for compensating them. Given your proclaimed lack of caring, what's so difficult about the "just don't visit them" method of avoiding ad-ridden sites?

Tyndmyr wrote:I don't think "kill half the internet" is a reasonable outcome.


Because of the reason outlined in this post I am honestly perfectly comfortable with that outcome. If half the internet dies as a result of this sort of shift then in my mind it means that half of the internet wasn't really producing value for people so I don't care if those webpages don't get value (money) back.


Well, people visit them. They must find some value in them. As mentioned before, the vast majority of the top sites are ad-supported. Now sure, there are sites that don't care about money. Hobbyist sites. Various political crank sites. Personal sites, sometimes. Mostly small stuff. It isn't an even distribution. I can't think of a major video hosting site that isn't either paywalled or ad-supported. That whole aspect would just be...gone.

And if people preferred paywalls, we'd see people choosing paywalls now, but as you and I illustrate, we do not actually prefer paywalls.

ucim wrote:Putting up a website is cheap. Dirt cheap. Anybody can do it. Because of this, most of the web is rubbish.


This is true.

Supporting a large, successful site is not as cheap and easy. Yes, the rubbish will still be left if all act as you do. Some consolation, that.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:18 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Out of curiousity, how many paywalls are you subscribed to?

Why would that have any bearing on anything? Paywalling is currently a kiss of death because so much content is put into the public domain for free to build up loyal fanbases - think of everything from Twitter to xkcd. So chances are good that nothing he's interested in is currently paywalled because there are so many non-paywall equivalents.


When you say "public domain" here, I'm assuming you mean "copyrighted, ad-supported". Very little of the Internet is public domain in the strict sense of the term.

I'm curious because he said his "vote" is for paywalls rather than ads. I'm curious to see if his actions match his rhetoric.

One other point worth emphasising is just how small website costs are. Wikipedia costs less than one cent per reader per month to maintain. If your readership is so disloyal that you can't persuade them collectively to fork over that amount of support then are you really running a website that would actually be missed if one day it simply vanished?


As I've said numerous times already in this thread: Donations do not supply enough money to support the bulk of the Internet. The amount of revenue that donations account for in the economics of the Internet is a rounding error. The bulk of the Internet is supported by advertising.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:09 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Supporting a large, successful site is not as cheap and easy. Yes, the rubbish will still be left if all act as you do. Some consolation, that.
Will it? What definition of "successful" are you using?

If a site on the internet cannot be supported by advertising, then it is no longer subject to the advertisers' editorial pull. This is a plus.

If you're not the customer, you're the product.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:23 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Supporting a large, successful site is not as cheap and easy. Yes, the rubbish will still be left if all act as you do. Some consolation, that.
Will it? What definition of "successful" are you using?

If a site on the internet cannot be supported by advertising, then it is no longer subject to the advertisers' editorial pull. This is a plus.

If you're not the customer, you're the product.

Jose


Successful at present.

Plenty of sites that are wildly popular are currently ad supported. This system mostly works for them. If you somehow manage to axe ad support entirely, a good subset of those sites will cease to exist. The others will transition to some other model, likely paywalls.

This subset includes a huge amount of media sites. Newspapers in particular. Note that the ol' paper and ink model isn't doing particularly well for them, so this actually poses a threat to a good chunk of the industry.

Now, maybe you're cool with hobby blogs displacing journalism in large part, but I think there's at least some value being lost there.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:43 pm UTC

Twistar wrote:I can't think of any paywalls that I subscribe to right now.

But it's a really good question. It helped me clear up some of my thinking on the issue. I think a major point that hasn't yet been brought up is that I don't really care about the websites in question. In fact, of all of the sites on the web there are very very very few that I care about. So now talking about the advertising ridden webpages that we're discussing:

1) I don't really care about them. Their content is not that valuable to me.

2) If they put up paywalls I probably wouldn't pay. I would take my business elsewhere. If EVERY similar site put up paywalls I would probably just stop going to that sort of site and be happy for wasting less of my life on the internet.

3) In addition to points 1) and 2) I don't care if the content producer goes out of business because of this because again I don't think their content is very valuable to me. If it is valuable to others then hopefully the content producer can live off of contributions from those people. If it is not valuable enough to anyone for anyone to pay for a paywall then the content just straight up isn't valuable and I don't have a problem with people not being able to make a living off of it.

4) Since I wouldn't pay for it if it was behind a paywall I don't feel bad about blocking their ads. This sentiment requires justification. The points below are how I justify it.

5) All of the points made throughout this thread still apply: I have the right to use adblock, I never entered any agreement with the content producer or advertiser even when I visit a webpage. Basically repeating all of the points above. Basically I'm not doing something clearly or inherently ethically wrong by using Adblock.

6) But in addition to 5), I also justify 4) with the following. I have already, before I ever even go on the internet, decided for myself that I am going to pay 0 attention to any ads. I will close them as soon as possible. Turn off the sound as soon as possible etc. The advertiser never has and never will even get a chance to try to grab my attention because I ALREADY decided before turning on my computer that I'm not going to look at her ads. So then at that point the advertiser doesn't gain anything from me having wasted my time and getting annoyed looking at ads. The content producer has also lost something from me because now I am annoyed at their webpage. So what good did come of the interaction? The content producer got a fraction of a penny off of a crooked system. Why is the system crooked? Because the purpose of advertising isn't to make money. The purpose of advertising is to connect customers with valuable products. On the internet advertising is used to make money without regard for value to the customer. So if content producers are making money off of that I don't feel bad about not supporting that system. Hence:

7) I support a system where the internet moves over to a paywall model rather than advertising model.

I think some of these points have been brought up before, but I think taken together as I've presented them here sums up my and maybe others point of view on the issue pretty well. I think the point that I don't really care about the webpages is pretty key. There might be other people who do care a lot about these webpages (content producers themselves don't count) and would be annoyed by my behavior. I guess my stance is, and has been throughout this thread, that if they don't like what I'm doing they should do something about it. This sounds like a dick statement from me but I think it is justified because it is within my rights to use adblock, I am not infringing on their rights by using adblock, and it is within their rights and their power TO do something about it. If there wasn't anything they could do about it things would be different but we've already discussed that in this thread.
Their only alternative to "doing something about it" is whining about it and saying I'm doing the wrong thing but, while that sentiment makes some sense, I just don't think it holds any REAL SUBSTANTIVE water for reasons outlined above.

edit: Whoops a lot of posts went up while I was posting. First, Elasto hit the nail on the head with a lot of the stuff I was thinking.
elasto wrote:Doesn't mean he's not perfectly entitled to his opinion that he prefers making a direct contribution (subscription/donation/purchase etc.) rather than be advertised at though.


Also
Tyndmyr wrote:I don't think "kill half the internet" is a reasonable outcome.


Because of the reason outlined in this post I am honestly perfectly comfortable with that outcome. If half the internet dies as a result of this sort of shift then in my mind it means that half of the internet wasn't really producing value for people so I don't care if those webpages don't get value (money) back.


Just want to add, this reasoning is exactly why donations/merchandizing is such a shit business model. If your average customer retention is at the level of "If you charge for it, I won't pay", then of course they aren't going to voluntarily give you money for it either.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:38 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Now, maybe you're cool with hobby blogs displacing journalism in large part, but I think there's at least some value being lost there.
The cat's out of the bag long ago. Journalism doesn't really exist any more. TV news is under the entertainment division. Radio may be the same at this point. Online newspapers that are not just copies of the printed versions are very tied to their advertisers. Many magazines bend their content to satisfy advertisers.

Online content is pretty much just bait to capture web histories and address lists.

Does nobody remember the promise of cable TV?

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Twistar » Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:43 am UTC

First a note. I'm not talking about donation models anywhere in my posts lately (or really anywhere in this thread.) I'm only talking about advertising vs. paywalls. I'm also imagining an unrealistic world where paywall is not an instantly impossible business model due to everyone using crappy annoying advertising.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Twistar wrote:I can't think of any paywalls that I subscribe to right now.

But it's a really good question. It helped me clear up some of my thinking on the issue. I think a major point that hasn't yet been brought up is that I don't really care about the websites in question. In fact, of all of the sites on the web there are very very very few that I care about.


But you *do* pay for internet access, I presume? That implies a strong value on the internet as a whole, even if a given site is low value to you.

And you care enough to visit them. So, you care about what you get, you just don't care for compensating them. Given your proclaimed lack of caring, what's so difficult about the "just don't visit them" method of avoiding ad-ridden sites?


It really wouldn't be difficult to "just don't visit them" but it's also not difficult to get adblock and, as I've been arguing, I don't think there's anything wrong with using adblock so in the end, in my eyes, it's basically a wash and doesn't really matter.

And yes, I do care about the websites enough to visit them but not enough to take actions that ensure their continued survival. I am allowed to have this level of caring about something. I also don't owe it to them to take actions to ensure their continued survival. I'm open to the possibility that I'm being a dick with my behavior, but I'm not breaking any rules and I'm not acting unethically. You know, maybe if you were trying to convince me I'm being a major dick and should change my ways we could have a conversation in that direction, but the claim, at least earlier in the thread, was that my behavior is actually unethical.
Tyndmyr wrote:I don't think "kill half the internet" is a reasonable outcome.


Because of the reason outlined in this post I am honestly perfectly comfortable with that outcome. If half the internet dies as a result of this sort of shift then in my mind it means that half of the internet wasn't really producing value for people so I don't care if those webpages don't get value (money) back.


Well, people visit them. They must find some value in them. As mentioned before, the vast majority of the top sites are ad-supported. Now sure, there are sites that don't care about money. Hobbyist sites. Various political crank sites. Personal sites, sometimes. Mostly small stuff. It isn't an even distribution. I can't think of a major video hosting site that isn't either paywalled or ad-supported. That whole aspect would just be...gone.


Like I said, if people value them enough then that website would be able to survive on those people who value it more highly than I do and maybe they wouldn't have to deal with people like me taking up their bandwidth because I wouldn't want to pay for it. And also your 2nd to last sentence doesn't make sense. I'm talking in defense of paywalls..



And if people preferred paywalls, we'd see people choosing paywalls now, but as you and I illustrate, we do not actually prefer paywalls.


I'm illustrating why I do prefer paywalls. I think it's easier for sites to survive on an advertising model rather than a paywall model. That doesn't mean it's a better model and it certainly doesn't mean I prefer it.

LaserGuy wrote:Just want to add, this reasoning is exactly why donations/merchandizing is such a shit business model. If your average customer retention is at the level of "If you charge for it, I won't pay", then of course they aren't going to voluntarily give you money for it either.

2 things.

1) Clarification. first off, I'm not talking about donations in my post, only paywalls. When you say merchandizing do you mean having a paywall as well as trying to make money by selling other things/services?

2) To your post: So what? It's a shit business model now in the current environment but in the future if (when?) more people start blocking more advertisments it will probably become a more tenable model. Unvaluable sites would perish and valuable sites would thrive as people come to them realizing all of the valuable stuff is behind paywalls.

Just because their content has a hard time retaining me doesn't mean I owe it to them to give them the opportunity to advertise to me.

Repeating this because no one has responded to it. In particular the 2nd half about how the entire medium of advertising is being abused.

Twistar wrote:6) But in addition to 5), I also justify 4) with the following. I have already, before I ever even go on the internet, decided for myself that I am going to pay 0 attention to any ads. I will close them as soon as possible. Turn off the sound as soon as possible etc. The advertiser never has and never will even get a chance to try to grab my attention because I ALREADY decided before turning on my computer that I'm not going to look at her ads. So then at that point the advertiser doesn't gain anything from me having wasted my time and getting annoyed looking at ads. The content producer has also lost something from me because now I am annoyed at their webpage. So what good did come of the interaction? The content producer got a fraction of a penny off of a crooked system. Why is the system crooked? Because the purpose of advertising isn't to make money. The purpose of advertising is to connect customers with valuable products. On the internet advertising is used to make money without regard for value to the customer. So if content producers are making money off of that I don't feel bad about not supporting that system.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:06 pm UTC

Twistar wrote: I'm open to the possibility that I'm being a dick with my behavior, but I'm not breaking any rules and I'm not acting unethically. You know, maybe if you were trying to convince me I'm being a major dick and should change my ways we could have a conversation in that direction, but the claim, at least earlier in the thread, was that my behavior is actually unethical.


See, this is odd. "I'm being a dick and I should change my ways" seems to be an ethical statement.

I don't understand the distiction you're drawing here.

Like I said, if people value them enough then that website would be able to survive on those people who value it more highly than I do and maybe they wouldn't have to deal with people like me taking up their bandwidth because I wouldn't want to pay for it. And also your 2nd to last sentence doesn't make sense. I'm talking in defense of paywalls..


See, this is what it always comes back to. Being supported by some mysterious "other people". You talk of "defense of paywalls", but if you have NO sites you care about enough to pay for the paywall....then no, you don't support them.

1) Clarification. first off, I'm not talking about donations in my post, only paywalls. When you say merchandizing do you mean having a paywall as well as trying to make money by selling other things/services?


Merchandizing is the selling of stuff. For instance, here at XKCD, he's sellin' a book. Pretty common for webcomics, often there's books with this comics, various plushies or coffee mugs or whatever.

It's often blended with other models for people who make a full time job of it. Ads, merch, patreon, selling merch at conventions or stores, whatever. Usually, you need a blend to make a decent living from it.

I'm not against merchandizing, but I think it's highly product dependent. I will purchase precisely zero novelty mugs with characters on them, because that's not my thing. On the flip side, I own a pretty big stack of books put out by webcomic authors I enjoy. This also doesn't work for everything. I can't imagine a merch supported facebook, for instance.

And if people preferred paywalls, we'd see people choosing paywalls now, but as you and I illustrate, we do not actually prefer paywalls.


I'm illustrating why I do prefer paywalls. I think it's easier for sites to survive on an advertising model rather than a paywall model. That doesn't mean it's a better model and it certainly doesn't mean I prefer it.


You go to ad supported sites. You do not pay for paywalls.

Thus, no matter what you SAY, you actually prefer ad support over paywalls.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Thus, no matter what you SAY, you actually prefer ad support over paywalls.
...because I can ethically evade ads, but I can't ethically evade a paywall. (Not to answer for Twistar, just for me)

That said, extrapolating would be incorrect. What is actually the case is that on a site by site basis, I prefer that a site I would like to visit be ad-supported, because I can ethically get in. That one site being paywalled may or may not mean that the content ends up "better". And similarly, if the entire internet were paywalled, content may or may not get "better". Dunno. I would hope so, but I'm not convinced.

I'm also not convinced that paywalling the internet would keep ads out. See cable TV.

So, while that comment is an easy snark, it's not an enlightening one.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:05 pm UTC

ucim wrote:I'm also not convinced that paywalling the internet would keep ads out. See cable TV.
See the New York Times. And I pay for it.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:22 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
ucim wrote:I'm also not convinced that paywalling the internet would keep ads out. See cable TV.
See the New York Times. And I pay for it.
But the Times never claimed that paying would make it ad-free. Cable did.

Will you complain when advertising is stuffed into hard cover books?

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:22 pm UTC

Twistar wrote:First a note. I'm not talking about donation models anywhere in my posts lately (or really anywhere in this thread.) I'm only talking about advertising vs. paywalls. I'm also imagining an unrealistic world where paywall is not an instantly impossible business model due to everyone using crappy annoying advertising.


Not you specifically, but there has been quite an extensive argument advanced in this thread that donations are a plausible replacement to ads. That attitude that you described in that post describes precisely why such a model is doomed to failure, at least, if a large part of the population shares your view. In an advertising model (or, as I briefly argued earlier, a micropayment model), the fact that you don't care is largely irrelevant--you're paying because you have to, not because you want to. Paywalls obviously share this characteristic as well, but they require a much more active role on your part, and are actually much less refined because you're paying for a bulk set of content, some of which you might not want.

Twistar wrote:It really wouldn't be difficult to "just don't visit them" but it's also not difficult to get adblock and, as I've been arguing, I don't think there's anything wrong with using adblock so in the end, in my eyes, it's basically a wash and doesn't really matter.

And yes, I do care about the websites enough to visit them but not enough to take actions that ensure their continued survival. I am allowed to have this level of caring about something. I also don't owe it to them to take actions to ensure their continued survival. I'm open to the possibility that I'm being a dick with my behavior, but I'm not breaking any rules and I'm not acting unethically. You know, maybe if you were trying to convince me I'm being a major dick and should change my ways we could have a conversation in that direction, but the claim, at least earlier in the thread, was that my behavior is actually unethical.


As I have suggested earlier, what you are calling dickishness, I see as low-level unethical behaviour. Nobody is arguing that what you're doing is unlawful. I won't even argue that adblocking is socially unsanctioned behaviour. Neither of those things have particular bearing on the ethics of the situation.

I'm illustrating why I do prefer paywalls. I think it's easier for sites to survive on an advertising model rather than a paywall model. That doesn't mean it's a better model and it certainly doesn't mean I prefer it.


But you don't prefer paywalls. You've already admitted that if your favourite sites went to paywalls, you would just stop using them, or use a free (ie. ad-supported) alternative.

Twistar wrote:1) Clarification. first off, I'm not talking about donations in my post, only paywalls. When you say merchandizing do you mean having a paywall as well as trying to make money by selling other things/services?


Merchandizing I mostly mean stuff like this.

2) To your post: So what? It's a shit business model now in the current environment but in the future if (when?) more people start blocking more advertisments it will probably become a more tenable model. Unvaluable sites would perish and valuable sites would thrive as people come to them realizing all of the valuable stuff is behind paywalls.

Just because their content has a hard time retaining me doesn't mean I owe it to them to give them the opportunity to advertise to me.


Well, their content doesn't have a hard time retaining you, because these are sites that you visit regularly. It's just that given the choice, you'd prefer not to pay for things you can get for free.

Twistar wrote:6) But in addition to 5), I also justify 4) with the following. I have already, before I ever even go on the internet, decided for myself that I am going to pay 0 attention to any ads. I will close them as soon as possible. Turn off the sound as soon as possible etc. The advertiser never has and never will even get a chance to try to grab my attention because I ALREADY decided before turning on my computer that I'm not going to look at her ads. So then at that point the advertiser doesn't gain anything from me having wasted my time and getting annoyed looking at ads. The content producer has also lost something from me because now I am annoyed at their webpage. So what good did come of the interaction? The content producer got a fraction of a penny off of a crooked system. Why is the system crooked? Because the purpose of advertising isn't to make money. The purpose of advertising is to connect customers with valuable products. On the internet advertising is used to make money without regard for value to the customer. So if content producers are making money off of that I don't feel bad about not supporting that system.


This is exactly7 how I feel about music. I have purchased, I dunno, maybe 5 CDs worth of music in my entire life. Content providers--ie. professional musicians--will pretty much never get any money from me, because I don't care enough about their content to ever actually pay for it. There's no risk of a lost sale, ever. Given the choice between paying and not listening, I will always choose not listening. Does that mean that it is ethically okay for me to torrent music?

Internet advertising must be doing something in terms of connecting consumers to product, otherwise nobody would do it. The fact that there is an economy for advertising--quite a robust one--seems to suggest that somebody, somewhere, is buying the content that advertisers or selling.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:58 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
ucim wrote:I'm also not convinced that paywalling the internet would keep ads out. See cable TV.
See the New York Times. And I pay for it.
But the Times never claimed that paying would make it ad-free. Cable did.

Will you complain when advertising is stuffed into hard cover books?

Jose
I was supporting your contention. And I complain about whatever it suits me to complain about, whining never needs a reason. I'm not certain that cable ever made any such promise since initially its function was as a retransmitter of broadcast TV.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:17 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Twistar wrote:First a note. I'm not talking about donation models anywhere in my posts lately (or really anywhere in this thread.) I'm only talking about advertising vs. paywalls. I'm also imagining an unrealistic world where paywall is not an instantly impossible business model due to everyone using crappy annoying advertising.


Not you specifically, but there has been quite an extensive argument advanced in this thread that donations are a plausible replacement to ads. That attitude that you described in that post describes precisely why such a model is doomed to failure, at least, if a large part of the population shares your view. In an advertising model (or, as I briefly argued earlier, a micropayment model), the fact that you don't care is largely irrelevant--you're paying because you have to, not because you want to. Paywalls obviously share this characteristic as well, but they require a much more active role on your part, and are actually much less refined because you're paying for a bulk set of content, some of which you might not want.


Micropayments are interesting. They haven't really caught on as of yet...but maybe they could. I think there are some practical barriers in terms of hassle, though, as well as security. If you have to despite $20, and then it gets depleted a penny or two at a time, well, that's fine, I guess, but you've got to convince a critical mass to embrace the system in the first place. Kind of a chicken and egg scenario, and nobody seems to be rushing to embrace it.

And of course, if I have to manually authorize each tiny transaction, it's super tedious, but if not, various security problems present themselves. Clicking ok on a dialog box for every website is about on par with pop-up ads for annoyance, so it's probably not a viable solution.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby juancamilog » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:27 am UTC

Anyone with the technical abilities to set up ads on a website, can also write some code to detect when ads are being blocked. There are tools that allow any content provider (big or small) to detect visitors who use ad blocking software (unless the visitors disable all client side code and stare at a blank page). This empowers the content providers to choose not to show the content to visitors running ad blocking software, show them partial content, guilt trip them about the ethics of ad blocking or even (GASP!) show them the ads anyway! Now this is only applicable to people who host their own content. In the case where they are using a hosting service like blogspot, youtube, etc; they can quite possibly arrange something with their system administrators.

How about automating ad clicking(like adnauseam.io)? Will that be in accordance with the ethical internet media consumption guidelines? Or is this also taking food from the table of the employees of advertising companies (of from the companies of the advertised products)?

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 02, 2015 4:12 pm UTC

juancamilog wrote:How about automating ad clicking(like adnauseam.io)? Will that be in accordance with the ethical internet media consumption guidelines? Or is this also taking food from the table of the employees of advertising companies (of from the companies of the advertised products)?


That's usually banned as click fraud, and can frequently result in the content provider being denied payment for large chunks of advertising as a result. Google in particular is pretty good at detecting this.

So, probably not a good solution, no.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby jules.LT » Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:38 pm UTC

Ads are mind pollution.
Paywalls are usually overpriced for anything that you don't go to every single day (and even then...) because the paying customers have to bear the cost for all the non-paying ones too.
I can't wait for a micropayment solution that allows me to pay by the article for a reasonable price (<10c/text article, <30c/page of webcomic)
For comparison, Google's examples while explaining what "Revenue per thousand impressions" means are around 0.5c/impression.

I can't wait for Blendle to go global.
It still seems overpriced, but not by a crazy amount, so once it's scaled up significantly it should get better, and I'm prepared to support it a little bit until it gets there.

Another thing that would be sweet is a browser plugin that allows you to track what you consume, and make automatic voluntary donations to content creators based on your personal price scale.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Sun Dec 06, 2015 6:08 am UTC

jules.LT wrote:I can't wait for a micropayment solution that allows me to pay by the article for a reasonable price (<10c/text article, <30c/page of webcomic)
For comparison, Google's examples while explaining what "Revenue per thousand impressions" means are around 0.5c/impression.

I can't wait for Blendle to go global.
It still seems overpriced, but not by a crazy amount, so once it's scaled up significantly it should get better, and I'm prepared to support it a little bit until it gets there.

Yeah. Still seems awfully overpriced to me: "The prices are determined by the publishers and range between €0.09 (snippets) and €1.99 (feature stories) and are often around €0.25,30% of which is paid to Blendle."

I mean, for the price of a couple of articles here you could instead buy a whole newspaper. Yes, newspapers are ad-supported also, but, as I've said before, personally I don't have an issue with ads in theory. Non-jarring (text-only) personalized ads are virtually a utopia for me: If the product interests me (and the more personalized it is the more it is likely to) it can be a springboard to go off to review/comparison sites and find a competitor product of equivalent/higher quality at an equivalent/lower price.

Consumerism - when you control it as opposed to it controlling you - is something that can be a boon to quality of life.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 07, 2015 12:01 am UTC

elasto wrote:Yes, newspapers are ad-supported also, but, as I've said before, personally I don't have an issue with ads in theory.
I don't either. What I have a problem with is the idea that the mere presence of an ad obligates me to give it heed.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:17 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
jules.LT wrote:I can't wait for a micropayment solution that allows me to pay by the article for a reasonable price (<10c/text article, <30c/page of webcomic)
For comparison, Google's examples while explaining what "Revenue per thousand impressions" means are around 0.5c/impression.

I can't wait for Blendle to go global.
It still seems overpriced, but not by a crazy amount, so once it's scaled up significantly it should get better, and I'm prepared to support it a little bit until it gets there.

Yeah. Still seems awfully overpriced to me: "The prices are determined by the publishers and range between €0.09 (snippets) and €1.99 (feature stories) and are often around €0.25,30% of which is paid to Blendle."

I mean, for the price of a couple of articles here you could instead buy a whole newspaper. Yes, newspapers are ad-supported also, but, as I've said before, personally I don't have an issue with ads in theory. Non-jarring (text-only) personalized ads are virtually a utopia for me: If the product interests me (and the more personalized it is the more it is likely to) it can be a springboard to go off to review/comparison sites and find a competitor product of equivalent/higher quality at an equivalent/lower price.

Consumerism - when you control it as opposed to it controlling you - is something that can be a boon to quality of life.


A lot of this boils down to transaction costs. I mean, slapping on credit card processing is fairly easy, but most places are going to charge, say, 10 cents + some percentage for transaction(this percentage ranges from a fraction of a percent to several percent, depending on card type). And, of course, probably around $50 in monthly fees.

So, there's sort of a floor to what level of credit card payments make sense. If all your profit is going to the credit card company, why bother?

The services essentially offer bundling to circumvent this. But that requires a scale where the bundling makes sense. Do I wanna deposit $20 into a micropayment system that's only used by one service I care about? Not really.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby jules.LT » Thu Dec 10, 2015 3:35 pm UTC

The services essentially offer bundling to circumvent this. But that requires a scale where the bundling makes sense.
Do I wanna deposit $20 into a micropayment system that's only used by one service I care about? Not really.


That's why it's so encouraging that so many publishers from the countries where Blendle is launched are on there.
I remember reading them saying that literally all of the major publishers in Germany (or the Netherlands, can't remember) were on board.

Of course, I won't subscribe until there's enough papers and magazines on there that I want to read, at accessible prices, but I have good hope.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ☺☺☺ » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:11 pm UTC

One thing that might solve the problem (and make everything even more confusing) is to have second addon that simulates ad views and clicks on background, so that it actually seems you clicked on the ads - and therefore brings money to the website. I'd like that to happen, to everyone have that add-on, just to see what would the consequences be.
The fact that this site has password length limit kinda disappointed me. I would expect more after reading #936. Because I too don't like letter/number combinations. I usually use movie and game punchlines and song refrains for passwords.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:51 pm UTC

☺☺☺ wrote:One thing that might solve the problem (and make everything even more confusing) is to have second addon that simulates ad views and clicks on background, so that it actually seems you clicked on the ads - and therefore brings money to the website. I'd like that to happen, to everyone have that add-on, just to see what would the consequences be.


This has already been covered, and generally is logged as click fraud, and may result in the websites account being terminated, and/or other action being taken against them.

It is not really a solution.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Feb 09, 2016 5:41 pm UTC


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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Twistar » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:08 pm UTC



Yes that makes so much sense. I sometimes read wired. Now I'm forced into making a choice of either
1) Not using Wired
2) Using wired and turning off ad-block
3) Using wired and paying $1 per month.

I can tell you right now I'm not going to choose choice 3. I'll probably go with choice 2 but we'll see. If I go with choice 1 it means that the content just wasn't that valuable to me anyways. If they lose a lot of traffic and shut down because of it then it just means they weren't actually that valuable to any of their viewers anyways.

There's an argument to be made that they might just fail because no-one else in the market is doing this so they're just sacrificing themselves. Well if other websites are effected as much then it would be in their interest for all of them to take this business model otherwise the problem is just going to keep getting worse for everyone involved.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby HES » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:22 pm UTC

They aren't the first to do this. The net result for me tends to be:

1.5) Using wired about half as much as before and turning off ad-block
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ijuin » Sun Feb 14, 2016 2:34 am UTC

Beyond a certain point, advertising becomes so intrusive that it drives viewers away, and may even actually reduce demand for the advertised product due to backlash or just plain fatigue.

That said, having pictures and text as ads is fine, just like print ads, but if it hijacks the users' control of their computers by stopping or overlaying the content that they were already in the middle of, then it is NOT likely to convince said users to buy the product.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby mcd001 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 7:02 pm UTC

I just went to Wired's website and got a popup box about a page into the article I was reading that gave me the option of white-listing them in my ad-blocker or subscribing. The pop-up box assured me that the ads they presented would be tasteful and unobtrusive. Sounded fair. I whitelisted the URL, refreshed the page, and continued reading... until I scrolled onto a streaming video ad in the middle of the page. I immediately closed and exited their website. I did not finish the article. I will not be going back to Wired.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Coyne » Mon Feb 29, 2016 2:37 pm UTC

mcd001 wrote:I just went to Wired's website and got a popup box about a page into the article I was reading that gave me the option of white-listing them in my ad-blocker or subscribing. The pop-up box assured me that the ads they presented would be tasteful and unobtrusive. Sounded fair. I whitelisted the URL, refreshed the page, and continued reading... until I scrolled onto a streaming video ad in the middle of the page. I immediately closed and exited their website. I did not finish the article. I will not be going back to Wired.

See and that's the problem with advertising these days.

A friend of mine years ago used to joke about the computer screen command that would cause the screen to scroll up and a boxing glove to shoot out and hit the user. That's today's advertisements: "You will ******* watch this ad or else."

Yes, they have a First Amendment right to present ads, but then they gleefully deprive us of the right to ignore the ad. (To ignore something someone, using their free speech, says is as much a right as that of their right to say it.)
In all fairness...

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Zohar » Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:00 pm UTC

Um, what? You can employ your right to not see the ad by not going to the website. How are they forcing you to watch it? If they installed a piece of software on your computer that would pop up an ad whenever, then yes - that would be an issue. But you can just press ctrl+F4 to not see the ad anymore and you're done.

Not to mention a lot of readers and/or websites could be from outside the US and not subject to the constitution.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Coyne » Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:36 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Um, what? You can employ your right to not see the ad by not going to the website. How are they forcing you to watch it? If they installed a piece of software on your computer that would pop up an ad whenever, then yes - that would be an issue. But you can just press ctrl+F4 to not see the ad anymore and you're done.

Not to mention a lot of readers and/or websites could be from outside the US and not subject to the constitution.

Good point. Boycott.
In all fairness...

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby SuicideJunkie » Thu Mar 03, 2016 3:29 pm UTC

What if the internet were to operate more like the electrical grid?

Pay to consume as now, get paid (a smaller amount) to produce.
Websites then get paid based on demand, ads become irrelevant, and filtering focuses money towards the site you're actually visiting.

In case of abuse, follow the money trail.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Zohar » Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:05 pm UTC

Who would be paying the websites money?
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Mambrino » Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:21 pm UTC

Sorry, a bit of derailment (of whatever previous discussion there was going on). However, I think this recent text is relevant to the discussion in this thread.

By the way, I noticed that the Guardian now advertises option to become a "supporter" for about €5 (that's five in case you've confused by the yearly blessing of mod madness) per month to internet users who block ads on their website. In principle I might agree to it (in practice, I'm currently living on a shoestring student budget, so I wish I could at least haggle that price down), but the interesting thing is: are the ads they would normally show to me really worth of that much?

I wonder if people are undervaluing their attention when they agree to see ads in exchange for enjoying the content.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:58 am UTC

A number of major news websites have seen adverts hijacked by a malicious campaign that attempts to install “ransomware” on users computers, according to a warning from security researchers Malwarebytes.

The attack, which was targeted at US users, hit websites including the New York Times, the BBC, AOL and the NFL over the weekend. Combined, the targeted sites have traffic in the billions of visitors.

The malware was delivered through multiple ad networks, and used a number of vulnerabilities, including a recently-patched flaw in Microsoft’s former Flash competitor Silverlight, which was discontinued in 2013.

When the infected adverts hit users, they redirect the page to servers hosting the malware, which includes the widely-used (amongst cybercriminals) Angler exploit kit. That kit then attempts to find any back door it can into the target’s computer, where it will install cryptolocker-style software, which encrypts the user’s hard drive and demands payment in bitcoin for the keys to unlock it.

Such software, known as ransomware, is fast becoming the most popular kind of malware for criminals to install on compromised computers, beating out lesser threats such as adware or trojans. Earlier this month, the first Mac OS X ransomware appeared, as part of an infected installation of BitTorrent client Transmission.

While “drive-by” installations tend to only demand one or two bitcoins as a ransom, worth a few hundred pounds, more targeted ransomware attacks have demanded much more in payment. An LA hospital was revealed to have paid $17,000 (£12,000) in ransom to an attacker in February.

The vector of attack, through compromised ad networks, will also serve to inflame the debate around adblockers. The browser plugins have been attacked as a “modern-day protection racket” and criticised for harming the business model of free online publications, but users counter that they protect their devices from attacks of this sort, as well as making the web surfing experience faster, more pleasant, and less draining on mobile devices’ batteries.


Yeah. Sorry. Not going to browse unprotected to support your business model of choice. Nor am I going to completely avoid going online for fear being branded 'unethical'.

Find another way.

link

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby commodorejohn » Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:23 pm UTC

Yup. Been dealing with that shit on client computers for the last several months.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby SuicideJunkie » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:12 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Who would be paying the websites money?

The ISPs, and thus in the end, Joe Webbrowser.
Pay for data consumption, get paid for data generation.
Net metering, for those who have solar panels on their roof / a webserver in the basement.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby commodorejohn » Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:16 pm UTC

SuicideJunkie wrote:
Zohar wrote:Who would be paying the websites money?

The ISPs, and thus in the end, Joe Webbrowser.
Pay for data consumption, get paid for data generation.
Net metering, for those who have solar panels on their roof / a webserver in the basement.

That's just going to wind up with a situation like television, where ISPs buy exclusive "broadcast" rights to content in order to get people to use their services.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Gingercat » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:45 am UTC

I'm not sure how it works in the rest of the world, but here in Australia, I pay a monthly fee for a specific amount of data that I can download within that month. If I exceed that amount, through whatever means, then I either put up with severely crippled download speed, or I pay more money to maintain the original speed.

I don't have a problem with this. What I DO have a problem with, however, is the absorption of both my time and my paid-for data allowance by:

* Intrusive, autoplaying video ads that seem to have their volume ramped to maximum

* Ads that actively interfere with whatever it is I'm trying to do by overlaying the entire page or, even when hitting the "Close" button, act like I directly clicked them, spawning up to five(!) new pop-overs/unders and even redirecting me away from the page I'm on

* Ads that pretend to be system alerts ("You've got a virus, Oh me yarm! Click here to fix it!" "Your system has umpty billion errors! Click here for a free system scamscan!") or "optimiser" programs that demand a license payment to do nothing at all, or worse, cause even more issues

* Ads such as on iOS devices that attempt to automatically open the App Store

Essentially, in all these cases I'm paying for someone else to interrupt my browsing experience with their attempt to get me to pay them as well, either in time or in additional money. This is a disgusting misuse of available technology, and I guarantee that I will never be interested in what is being "offered" to me in such an intrusive manner. I liken it to the phone telemarketers who always call during dinnertime. I don't care if, figuratively speaking, you're offering to sell me the cure for cancer - your method of offer offends me. It is an unwelcome intrusion into my life in order to demand attention or income from me, and as such, I am simply not interested even before you make your pitch.

Adding to this, as has been mentioned repeatedly: "Malvertising is a thing". It's all well and good to claim that something is owed to a website operator if you've chosen to visit their site and consume their content (a dubious claim in itself; if they value their content so highly, they should paywall it); however I do not owe any site operator the privilege of allowing potentially destructive or larcenous access to my personal data just because their site displays ads.

Therefore, I feel that it is perfectly ethical to use AdBlock, as a pre-emptive measure of self protection, either against an assault on my senses (and yes, it is an assault; I liken autoplaying, full-volume video ads to someone getting in my face and yelling at me in the street simply because I happen to pass them by, ie. verbal assault), or an assault on the privacy or integrity of my data and systems.

Lastly, I'll respond to the many and varied claims of some sort of "implied contract" between the site host and the user: If a contract is "implied", it's not a contract, it's an attempted guilt-trip that I can and will choose to not partake in, in any method I see fit, since attempting a guilt-trip on someone isn't playing fair to start with. If a site explicitly tells me "Disable your ad-blocker or you can't browse this site", then I won't browse the site, due to the malvertising concerns listed above and because it's now been made explicitly clear that viewing ads is part of the requirement to use the site. If no such statement is explicitly made (and hiding it in the site's "Terms of Service" also doesn't apply, unless I am speficially directed to them as a condition of site entry), then I have no explicitly defined reason to browse the site (and put my systems and data at potential risk) with AdBlock (and JavaScript) turned off.
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