The Ads vs. Ad Blockers Arms Race

For the past month or so, Forbes has been blocking browsers with ad blockers. Today, I tried to access a Wired article and the site blocked me for the same reason.

I see this as another battle in this continuing arms race, and hope/expect that the ad blockers will update themselves to fool the ad blocker detectors.

But in a fine example of irony, the Forbes site has been serving malware in its ads.

And it seems that Forbes is inconsistently using its ad blocker blocker. At least, I was able to get to that linked article last week. But then I couldn't get to another article a few days later.

Posted on February 23, 2016 at 12:18 PM • 73 Comments

Comments

Bob FFebruary 23, 2016 12:22 PM

With Wired, if you use noscript in Firefox and don't authorize wired.com you can see the articles.

You can't access or port comments though.

CuriousFebruary 23, 2016 12:32 PM

I use no-script, ghostery, and uBlock origin on Firefox. Most of the time it works, but it can be hassle when I have 25 (!) sites to determine temporary whitelisting on some news sites.

Aaron BFebruary 23, 2016 12:39 PM

Ad-blocker-busting sites will lose.
Particularly Forbes' site, which I learned a long time ago never to click.
I'll google it instead and read the highlights there.

Nobody is offering anything unique enough for me to wade through the sea of noise.
And if they are, it will get picked up quickly in other channels.
Good riddance, I say.

today is tomorrowFebruary 23, 2016 12:45 PM

Bill Hicks said:
By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising...kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: 'There's gonna be a joke comin' up.' There's no fuckin' joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself...borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something...rid the world of your evil fuckin' presence.

How To Guide: Hardening Mozilla Firefox For Privacy & Security
https://vikingvpn.com/cybersecurity-wiki/browser-security/guide-hardening-mozilla-firefox-for-privacy-and-security

DavidFMMFebruary 23, 2016 12:47 PM

I understand that ads make the site free to view. However, in the current landscape of ad serving, the reality is that many of today's ads are dangerous and proven to contain malware. Wired (and Forbes) doesn't seem to be doing anything significant to clean up their web pages.

If they can't guarantee non-obtrusive, malware free ads then they need to close up shop and go home.

So, after a week of Wired blocking my access because of my ad blocker, I have removed Wired from my routine and stopped going to their site. As far as I am concerned, I can live without them. I won't lose one minute of sleep if they disappear from the web. The same goes for Forbes.

UthorFebruary 23, 2016 12:53 PM

I noticed earlier this week that Wired lets you read the first paragraph or two before blocking the page, so I did a Crtl+A/Ctrl+C and was able to paste the text of the article into a new document and read it just fine. Seemed really trivial to bypass the block.

Bill Hicks Was Too Nice About ItFebruary 23, 2016 1:04 PM

Armored-up Linux and a 17MB hosts file. Asshole problem SOLVED.

PeterFebruary 23, 2016 1:14 PM

I white-list a few sites on my ad blocker... a very, very few. If I go there all the time, really want to make sure they're supported financially, and trust them to do their due diligence on the ads they host, I'll let them in. For most sites though, I simply don't trust them. If they want to put text-only ads on their sites. Fine. If they want to put a static header image ad on their site, fine. Beyond that, no way, no how. Sites that go to the extent of blocking me end up on my no-go list. I don't need them. Especially a site of only marginal interest like Wired. They're fine for when I'm bored, but I can really live perfectly fine without an over-the-top review of some ridiculously expensive tech product I don't need or a breathless article about the way we almost certainly won't be solving cities' issue du jour.

SpartanusFebruary 23, 2016 1:16 PM

While I can sort of understand business sites like Forbes or video streaming sites trying to block ad-blockers, I find this behavior repugnant in an IT-oriented site like Wired - they should simply know better!

I was so infuriated by this recent move by Wired that I just stopped going there. Maybe it will help me save a few valuable minutes to live my actual life instead of reading things online. :)

Brent WFebruary 23, 2016 1:17 PM

My company has configured its firewall to block advertisements. As a result, nobody in my office can Forbes or Wired (among others). It actually took me a while to figure out what was going on since I don't have any ad blocking software installed.

AdblockerbusterbusterFebruary 23, 2016 1:18 PM

Or just use an instagram bookmarket or readability on wired.com and it works just fine. They can suck it. If they hadn't been part of the obnoxious ad crowd in the first place, they wouldn't be upset about it now.

SpartanusFebruary 23, 2016 1:20 PM

PS. Also, it's not just about ads per se. For me, it's more about trackers and other nasty things. What infuriates me is not so much that Wired tries to get me to see their ads (a dead-end approach in today's world, I think, but still understandable), but rather that by forcing me to white-list them in my ad-blockers they expose me to tracking by all sorts of parties (see Bruce's books for specifics).

So for me it's not an issue of ads generating revenue for sites, but a security issue.

Brian BaskinFebruary 23, 2016 1:25 PM

Not exactly. I'm the one who took the screenshot in that picture. It is not malware. It is a link for crapware, a stupid pop-up. One that didn't actually have a payload to drop anything.

It was amusing and flippant, but Forbes got right onto it to investigate. Then someone at Engadget wrote an inflammatory article, greatly stretching the truth, and then everyone else started doing the same. I posted multiple follow-ups with details on what it was, how it came to appear, but somehow they never made it into any of these articles.

CraigFebruary 23, 2016 1:32 PM

My ad blocker gets turned off for nobody, at least for now.

I would not mind ads if a few simple common-sense rules were followed:

1. All ads must be hosted and vetted by the site that displays them

2. All ads must be in the form of common non-animated still image forms (JPG, PNG)

3. Ads must not include any active content such as Javascript, Flash, Silverlight, or QuickTime

4. Ads are not allowed to be animated or to play sounds

5. Ad content should not increase page load time by more than 50% (arbitrary but reasonable number)

6. If a site's content is safe for work, all ads served by that site must also be safe for work

7. All ads must clearly be ads

But they won't do this, so my adblocker will stay on.

scpFebruary 23, 2016 1:51 PM

I think the Brave browser's ad replacement scheme might fundamentally change the incentive structure. https://www.brave.com/about_ad_replacement.html?brave_placeholder

It will block intrusive ads, malware & tracking, replace them with agreeable advertising, then make bitcoin micropayments to the user, advertiser, and publisher for the ads that get through.

No one has suggested this (that I know of), but eventually, I imagine that someone will figure out a way to enhance the scheme by letting users and publishers automatically negotiate the price to let an ad through by setting price thresholds on the web site and in the browser config.

NobodyFebruary 23, 2016 1:53 PM

My own experience with Forbes has been that they only flip on the ad-blocker blocker when I click on links in Google. Without the referrer, I don't get sent to the "Welcome" page. This is probably intentional?

ChrisFebruary 23, 2016 2:01 PM


* I am philosophically opposed to ad blockers, because every one who uses a web site while blocking their ads is a freeloader. (who do you think pays those peoples' salaries if not advertisers?)

* I am philosophically opposed to advertising systems that can potentially include enough code that they could be classified as malware. (flash, etc)

* When I watch broadcast TV, I am exposed to advertising in two ways: interstitial ads and product placement. I usually skip the interstitial ads by skipping TV entirely and going straight to netflix or a similar service. There, I pay for the streaming service and also have the product placement. I don't feel too bad about that; in fact I'd happily pay more to improve Netflix's catalogue.

* I won't pay a single cent to view a web page.

Adding all those up, I won't block ads because they pay for the sites I enjoy. I am very unlikely to directly pay a web site, so the only way I can access their content without being a freeloader is to leave their ads up. Sites with ads that are subjectively irritating will quickly lose me as a visitor.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 23, 2016 2:13 PM

It appears there might be another way to get what you want without the add-blocker detectors or having to pay to get through a firewall.

I posted a link on the Friday Squid page to an article about how to do it, and although I've not tried it myself the concept behind it made me laugh as you are hanging the site by it's own venal behaviour...

Put simply a site gets many of it's views through search engines (or that's what the sites believe). Now the likes of Google and other search engines robots / crawlers will drop a site dead at a pay-wall or shove it way down the rankings if it sees to much in the way of adds (that aren't associated with the search engine in some way).

The site solution is to detect the robot / crawler from the search site and let it through the paywall and also remove rank reducing content...

So by a few tricks and changes you make your browser look like a search engine robot / crawler...

Now whilst it apparently works currently I'm sure site admins will catch on and use stronger checks. But there is only so far they can go before they block the search engines they want to let through...

So as they say have fun, or just get what you can out of the search engine cache etc. Either way count it as a point towards democratising the web each time you do it.

Because by doing so you cut the gross markup Conde Nasty et al get on their "rate card" for being large and demanding. Thus the Conde Nasty mark up is very much at the expense of the little more interesting sites that need the money to stay open.

If you want to guess at just how big the Conde Nasty markup is it's going to be comparable to the 52USD/annum the likes of Wired are otherwise going to charge you... Oh and remember if you do pay to go add free Conde Nasty will probably sell all the details you enter plus browsing habits for around another 125USD/annum irrespective of what they might say (remember that change in US legislation, as long as they give it to the US Gov you can not legaly touch them...).

WilliamFebruary 23, 2016 2:44 PM

If they would drop the autorunning ads and the animated jumpy ones adblockers would be so needed. Those ads are distracting, hog bandwidth, eat up data, and can deliver viruses. If sites want to block me that's fine. I understand, just don't expect me to take up subscriptions at a bunch of sites I rarely visit. If they decide to become civilized and block the offense classes of ads, then maybe the blocker will get dropped on their sites.

MaxFebruary 23, 2016 3:37 PM

First, blocking people who use adblockers is pure nonsense. Assuming they comply, you are basically telling them, "warning, you are going to see an ad-filled site". The point of ads is to be disguised, once you know they're ads, they lose their power. I guess it's all about numbers in the end, having "real pageviews", regardless of conversions. After being singled out and targetted because I have an adblocker, I rarely react well. Which leads me to the second point:

how much do I care about a site like Wired? Maybe 1 out of 100. How much effort would I take to be able to visit their website? Maybe click one button. Or two. Not more. I certainly wouldn't turn my adblocker off. For me there is no arms race, only sites I stop visiting, I never cared about them that much anyway. Especially after they show me how misguided they are about ads. Revenge is sweet.

FlorianFebruary 23, 2016 3:38 PM

When 25-50% of people hate ads so much that they install software specifically to block them, and probably another 25% would do so if they were tech savvy...maybe it's time to finally admit that the advertising model of content delivery is dying. If I get redirected to Forbes, I close the window. Very few people I know EVER liked the ad model, even on UHF and VHF TV.

Dr. I. Needtob AtheFebruary 23, 2016 3:57 PM

A long time ago I was introduced to the concept of an externality when Bruce Schneier mentioned it here. It occurs to me that advertising in general is a type of externality, in that when it irritates and inconveniences a huge number of disinterested people to produce one single sale, it's still cost effective for the advertiser.

Yet people are brainwashed into accepting advertising as it continues to spread to every communication medium known to man. There are even some who consider it immoral to bypass ads, claiming that one is somehow obligated to read them.

There has to be a better way.

SocraticGadflyFebruary 23, 2016 4:21 PM

Chris, per other commenters, if the content is that valuable, Forbes can paywall it.

I agree on blocking cookies. That said, Ghostery has its own issues, namely that it resells lists of who's blocking what, as noted on a link posted above.

Toy SoldiersFebruary 23, 2016 4:24 PM

Max is right. Forbes is marginal crap which I have no need to view. Didn't realize it, though, till they came at me with their ad enema.

If you want to interact with Forbes, the best way is how city kids did it - throw rocks at the Highlander.

DaveFebruary 23, 2016 4:46 PM

The question is why are these sites so keen to show me their adverts, when it is obvious that I will not buy anything they advertise? I tell them this by the very fact that I am using an ad-blocker.

Lawrence D’OliveiroFebruary 23, 2016 5:05 PM

Lately, when I follow a link to YouTube, and it wants to play me an ad before showing the video, I let it play the ad, with the sound off. When that gets close to done, I refresh the page, and let it play me another ad, and another, and another. Then I view what I came to view.

Am I good or am I evil?

GrowingUpUnderSurrvalienceFebruary 23, 2016 5:23 PM

Privacy Badger
I found it works great.

Actually, nothing in the Privacy Badger code is specifically written to block ads. Rather, it focuses on disallowing any visible or invisible "third party" scripts or images that appear to be tracking you even though you specifically denied consent by sending a Do Not Track header. It just so happens that most (but not all) of these third party trackers are advertisements. When you see an ad, the ad sees you, and can track you. Privacy Badger is here to stop that.

JimFebruary 23, 2016 6:00 PM

I was blocked at Wire this morning as well. I was running Chrome with ABP. I disabled it for the Wired site and it kept on blocking me. Guess I won't be going back to Wired anytime soon.

BadtuxFebruary 23, 2016 6:01 PM

I've added Forbes to my blocked sites list (in my hosts file) because they've served viruses in their ads too many times. I view them as a virus site, no different from those drive-by virus hijacking clickbait sites. I've managed to bypass their ad blocker blocker a few times, after which they twiddled their ad blocker blocker again breaking my ad blocker blocker blocker (ugh), until finally I said f*** it -- if they want to serve viruses and refuse to let me read them without allowing them to serve viruses, well, they're just a virus distribution site. BLOCK.

It's not as if there's anything on Forbes that won't be carried elsewhere eventually anyhow, news sites being incestuous and all that. Any story that gets carried in one place will eventually be carried elsewhere. So. Forbes. BLOCKED. The proper resolution to sites that spread viruses anyhow.

CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 23, 2016 6:13 PM

Heh! Your ExtremeTech.com link serves me a dark gray background and then falls down.

PrivacyBadger lists eight (8) "potential trackers". I already had all eight blocked, which probably explains something.

BadtuxFebruary 23, 2016 6:26 PM

But more seriously, this points out a major fail for most large sites on the Internet: they don't vet or sell their own ads. Instead, they sell space to ad networks, and the ad networks then sell ads (generally with little or no vetting) to whoever bids highest for a particular "bundle" of space. 5000 impressions on sites with more than X visitors or whatever. In most cases the ad bidding and submission is done entirely via automation, no human being ever looks at the ad or verifies that it is virus free and only rudimentary automated checks are made, spending a lot of time scrutinizing the content of ads is not the business model of these ad networks. It's all about volume, in the end, and filling those blank spaces in the margins with as many ads for as much money as possible regardless of the quality of the ads.

In short, these big news sites have sold their souls, and their reputations, to bottom-feeders with no morals and no scruples.

Ed HurstFebruary 23, 2016 6:44 PM

I suppose it depends on what you think you need. I have a problem reading if anything on the page is moving.

For quite some years I've been a fan of crippled browsers. I used Lynx an awful lot until recently. On Windows the best way to get Lynx is install Cygwin, and it's a better Lynx than you get with Linux. When sites reject Lynx, I use Elinks, but it's showing its age and lack of recent development. For sites where images are critical to the information, I like the graphical version of Links2 (http://links.twibright.com/). You really need to examine the settings before you use it much. This also works better on Windows than on Linux. The only drawback is the sites like Forbes let me see their landing just fine, but the actual text of articles is inaccessible. Sites that use a lot of JScript to deliver content often don't work at all on those kinds of text-mode browsers. Still, most of the big sites cooperate. If I take a notion, I can read ZDNet or Ars Technica with Links2.

When I actually need a full-service browser, I like Slimjet. One of it's settings allows killing animations. With uBlock Origin installed, I can actually select to block those floaters (modals they call them) that cover the page, as long as I can discern the name of the beast. For me, it's not just advertising but the stuff that moves, so I block parts of the site itself. Between each site I run Click&Clean for the sake of privacy.

Sally ShearsFebruary 23, 2016 8:28 PM

OK, ads are annoying.

But to me the real, current, ethical reason for blocking ads is the cess-pool which is the current on-line advertising industry. Use an ad-blocker to avoid the malware served up there by all the sites, including major sites that ought to know better.

bkd69February 23, 2016 10:52 PM

I saw an article a couple months back detailing all the players (except adblockers) in the advertising ecosystem, publishers, agencies, networks, etc, and examined how none of them had any particular financial incentive to do any policing of online advertising. Which made their omission of adblockers quite noticeable.

I tried finding it again, and I thought I saw it linked on bOING bOING, but I find these items of note instead:

http://boingboing.net/2015/11/08/the-economists-anti-ad-block.html
http://boingboing.net/2015/10/05/botwars-vs-ad-tech-the-origin.html
http://boingboing.net/2015/09/23/how-to-save-online-advertising.html

and, not strictly advertising, but advertising adjacent:
http://boingboing.net/2015/06/08/internet-users-care-about-thei.html

NotsobadFebruary 23, 2016 10:56 PM

There's one big difference. Wired offers a $1/week paid no ad, no tracking option. They need to get paid for their work, and I don't begrudge them that. So for 1/3 the price of a cup of coffee, I can read a good site, that's fair,

Forbes forces ads, so I simply don't visit any longer.

Citizen AFebruary 24, 2016 12:48 AM

@Notsobad: $1/week is indeed a very reasonable price. Sadly none of the few pages I visit regularly make such a good offer. The prizes for articles and tests are ridiculously high and are often above the prize for the whole magazine!

Stuart LynneFebruary 24, 2016 1:43 AM

While there are sites that are must read where I would turn of ad blocking if necessary (e.g. https://www.schneier.com), simply put forbes and wired are not on that list. Can't remember the last time I visited either, apparently no fantastic and unique reading there to speak of. If I can't read them that is OK.

tyrFebruary 24, 2016 3:16 AM


The way to get people to look at your site is to
have something on it worth wasting their time on.

Popping windows, sound and animation will not save
you if the arid desert of your ideas is all that is
there. One other trick that a lot of sites fail on,
put a street address where you can buy the material.
I see far too many sites that have forgotten they
are supposed to exist in the real world as well as
in the magic of cyberspace. You would think that is
so obvious no one would need to tell you to do it.

I had to connect the Erfworld site owner with a
noted hacker because he was so tired of the ads being
served by his own site annoying him to distraction.
The moral is don't blame the site, sometimes they are
just as pissed off at the annoying ads as you are.

I started running adblockers when I had 56 trackers
left behind after my under 5 year old granddaughters
had visited a supposedly innocuous kiddy site.
That is what's wrong with the whole surveillance and
advertising model of the net. The kind of people who
are that interested in little children should be run
out of town on a rail right after the tar and feathers
are applied.


MarkFebruary 24, 2016 4:50 AM

Personally I use ad blocking on all websites, no exceptions. I am tired of my personal data being treated as if it's a commodity. I don't want to be tracked across the web. I don't want to see ads, either They're annoying, and they carry malicious software often enough to turn me off.

If you want me to read your content, then it needs to be ad free. I don't care that you expect to make money from your content. That's not my problem. Don't like it? Then I'll find another website with the similar information.

The ad companies seem to fail to realize that they're my devices, and I'll install whatever I want on them.

JohnFebruary 24, 2016 6:10 AM

Clicked on a link in a dutch news article earlier this week - one that said Bill Gates was supporting the FBI against Apple - that surprised me enough I felt I should read the original article.

Not sure were it was, I think Forbes, but I got the "you naughty adblock user" nag.

Went to news.google.com, typed "bill gates", and presto - ten other sources with the same news, and no blocking me.

So, ehm, Forbes.. what *are* you trying to accomplish, really?

Declaration of WarFebruary 24, 2016 6:13 AM

“The ad companies seem to fail to realize that they're my devices, and I'll install whatever I want on them.”

This declaration of war is why Microsoft believes YOU are the enemy and must be stopped:
Morphed Windows from and operating system to a service like Facebook
Took away citizen rights against unreasonably search and seizure on their computers
Made updates mandatory
Made updates secret to allow countermeasures against ad-blocking
Made updates secret to data-mine customers
Made updates secret to install backdoors
Made Trusted Installer the new System Administrator
Lobotomized Bill Gates sides with the government
Microsoft CEO only offered weak support to Apple

These manipulative government sponsored corporate power transfers explain why Americans can’t stand the 0.1% establishment candidates. They don’t trust the ad-supported corporate press either.
Time for some bold, brash truth, transparency and even outlandishly symbolic entertainment?


Gerard van VoorenFebruary 24, 2016 6:55 AM

Of course the whole discussion wouldn't have taken place if DoubleClick had lost the court case in 2001.

CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 24, 2016 8:07 AM

One would think the ad business is competitive and that the various actors in it would be answerable to the web sites that take their money. But the system is broken: web sites seem not to care that their pages cough up all manner of detritis; readers seek relief through technology, and web sites punish or otherwise chastize those readers instead of sanctioning the ad servers who fuel the whole mess.

Over the years I've tried to have a conversation with several sites about both this upside-down problem and my reason for blocking all cookies and some trackers, but all of those sites were effectively high-walled fortresses with nobody tasked to answer a knock on the drawbridge.

Read the text under the About tab and the Contact Us tab and try to find a webmaster or, better, an ombudsman, a person or persons who cares about the quality and readership of that site. Try it! Communication nearly always flows just one way: from writers to page to readers. Want to buy ten thousand of our widget? Here's our Marketing contact. Want a job? Apply here. Want to share feedback on our operation or web site? Well, that's not important; we already know we're great.

Fred PFebruary 24, 2016 9:40 AM

From the article: "...politely asking people to turn off ad blockers has a response rate of less than 1%"

I have some evidence that it can be a lot higher, at least in some circumstances:

"On an AVERAGE day…we bring in about $40 in ad revenue...But yesterday. Simply by you wonderful people unblocking the ads for our site... We earned over $300 yesterday in ad revenue."

Source: http://www.thedreamlandchronicles.com/comic/page-1209/

MarshallFebruary 24, 2016 10:00 AM


Wired appears to block me because I won't let Safari use Flash. I don't block ads other than that.

JdLFebruary 24, 2016 10:12 AM

I'm confused: how does Forbes or wired.com know an ad-blocker is installed? Couldn't an ad-blocker be written that accepts everything and swallows the ads? I know that doesn't deal with reducing bandwidth usage, but it would get past the ad-blocker-blockers. Unless I'm missing something.

Ads? What ads?February 24, 2016 10:29 AM

Using standard FF with numerous add-ons, about:config changes & hardened options settings, I don't remember seeing ads for years.

The fact is no site is so valuable concerning info that it can't be found anywhere else in two seconds flat. Further, as already pointed out there is too much risk with tracking, malware, viruses and an all round shitty web experience if you allow it.

The basic set up that works nicely is:

- HTTPS everywhere
- No Script (remove all white-listed sites & enforce clear click protections) - only allow javascript judiciously
- Privacy Badger
- UBlock Origin (download all available files under the dashboard)
- Random Agent Spoofer (spoof everything and set whitelist for youtube)
- Canvas Blocker (block all HTML5 canvas extraction tracking attempts - they are everywhere these days)
- Disconnect (set it in your address bar for search)

Then follow the guideline linked earlier re: FF options changes, except it is also safer to remove caches completely.

About:config changes - you must create a new user.js file with 100s of changes as the new FF profile for it to be useful. There are far too many ways to track you with normal settings.

Start here: https://github.com/pyllyukko/user.js/blob/master/user.js

Better than all of this is just running Tor browser hardened version in the highest security position & no javascript. Let the corporate and government creeps try to work out who you are instead.

Fuck with them just because you can. Bill Hicks would love this totalitarian shit we have going on today in America:

Oh, there's a threat to America! Yeah, yeah, yeah … back to that fucking COPS show. 'Cause I'll tell you who the threat to freedom … no, no, not to freedom. I'll tell you who the threat to the status quo is in this country: it's us. That's why they show you shows like fucking COPS. So you know that state power will win and we'll bust your house down and we'll fuckin' bust you anytime we want. That's the message.

Anonymous CowFebruary 24, 2016 10:31 AM

@JdL: I've seen websites written - poorly in my opinion - whereby if an ad fails to load the entire page cannot continue to load because it's waiting on that one ad to finish loading. Many such ads are actually third party sites and the 'coder' doesn't think a site can go down and be unavailable for whatever reason, so has no timeout spec to continue. A blocker will have the same effect as an unavailable website.

Dirk PraetFebruary 24, 2016 10:40 AM

@ Bill Hicks Was Too Nice About It

Armored-up Linux and a 17MB hosts file. Asshole problem SOLVED.

Huge hosts files are not recommended as they cause a serious performance hit. You may wish to use something like Privoxy instead.

@ Clive

It appears there might be another way to get what you want without the add-blocker detectors or having to pay to get through a firewall.

Clever little trick. Added it to my tools arsenal.

@ Chris, @SocraticGadfly

That said, Ghostery has its own issues, namely that it resells lists of who's blocking what, as noted on a link posted above.

As per @GrowingUpUnderSurrvalience's advice, you may wish to consider replacing it by EFF's Privacy Badger.

@ BadTux

In short, these big news sites have sold their souls, and their reputations, to bottom-feeders with no morals and no scruples.

The nail on the head. However much I hate ads, I do understand that commercial content providers depend on them for their revenue streams. But which is not an excuse to blindly outsource the entire thing to dodgy ad networks that aren't exactly known for scrupulous ad vetting or other forms of due diligence. I will allow ad blocker exceptions if a site's content is really worth it, but the moment I get half a page of animated and blinking stuff popping up everywhere, it's pretty much game over and I move on. Any site delivering malware gets permanently blocked.

CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 24, 2016 11:47 AM

Fred P quoted: "From the article: '...politely asking people to turn off ad blockers has a response rate of less than 1%""

I would point out to web sites and to whoever wrote that, that they should expect a similar yawn rate if they try "politely asking" people to enable Javascript. They should also try imagining how they themselves would react to being "politely asked" to put themselves in danger, e.g. leaving their homes/cars unlocked or holding a pistol to their own heads.

albertFebruary 24, 2016 1:41 PM

To paraphrase Abby Martin: Fuck Forbes, fuck Wired, fuck the NYT, fuck the WP, and fuck all those other MSM 'websites'. They don't see 'ad revenue'; they see checks from 'script providers' who don't give a RSA about malware and 3rd-party websites. Run FF with NoScript. I've seen sites with 25 separate scripts. I don't mind ads at all, but no one can possibly vet all ads and scripts, so it's an impossible task.
.
I've learned more here than a hundred Wired or Forbes articles could possibly provide. Very few websites/blogs are run by experts (Like Bruce), and those that are take donations, not subscriptions. Ad revenue = censorship, in one form or another. MSM generally isn't worth shit, except to see the latest gov/corp spin.
.
That's the nice thing about the Web; there's always another place to find it, for free.

That said, I offer my sincerest apologies to anyone I offended with my foul language....but NOT my cynicism.

------------------
P.S. Does anyone have a list of news sites that have reasonably intelligent comments sections? And don't be messin' with me, man.

P.P.S.
Is it 2016, and I'm still writing raw HTML ?????
. .. . .. --- ....

tyrFebruary 24, 2016 4:52 PM


"To many of us, the greatest attraction of social engi-
neering and antisocial demonologies is that both, at
bottom, promise a quick fix. That has always been the
dark side of the American dream, the search for an easy
way out, a belief in magic. The endless parade of prom-
ises that constitutes the heart of American advertising,
one of the largest of our national enterprises, testifies to
the deep well of superstition in our national foundation,
which has been institutionalized in the advertising busi-
ness. Easy money, easy health, easy beauty, easy
education — if only the right incantation can be found.
Lurking behind the magic is an image of people as
machinery that can be built and repaired."

John Taylor Gatto from Dumbing Us Down

Like I said, the kind of people who put 56 trackers on a
5 year old child are busy with their feather merchant
business model, promising to give the average web site
some magic advertising money while siphoning off data
from the unsuspecting visitor. I was around when Cantor
and Seigel spammed the entire Net for their Green Card
law business with predictable results. Using adblockers
is the way to put these crooked scum back in he garbage
where they belong. Old John was an advertising man before
he went off to teach school so that isn't a non experts
opinion.

CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 24, 2016 8:48 PM

No... wait... WHAT? You two need to talk.

NYT CEO: "trying to use and get the benefit of the Times' journalism without making any contribution to how it's paid is not good."

NYT feature article: "When browsing the web, your smartphone also burns through power when it downloads mobile ads on websites," the guide says. "Installing an ad blocker will greatly extend battery life."

"NY Times recommends ad blockers after CEO mulls ad-block ban"
http://arstechnica.com/business/2016/02/ny-times-recommends-ad-blockers-after-ceo-mulls-banning-readers/

Clive RobinsonFebruary 24, 2016 11:19 PM

@ CallMeLate..., Dirk Praet,

The last paragraph of the ARS link on Mark Thompson[2] of the NYT and the apparent "two minds" on add blockers, made me laugh yet again :-) Because it shows that there is yet another way to hang the Mega-Corp publishers by using their venality against them,

The [NY] Times began requiring paid subscriptions to access more than 10 articles a month in March 2011, but crafty users have since found ways to get around the requirement. In particular, the 10-freebies-per-month limit doesn't take a hit when articles are accessed through shared Twitter or Facebook links.

So that's another technique to add to the armory to use against those Major --propaganda-- Media Organisations who want to Balkanise the Internet at the expense of smaller web sites and the traditional "Open and Free"[1] ethos of the Internet.

[1] The one about "Free Beer" you might have heard at some point ;-)

[2] Mark Thompson is "cloud aware" though perhaps not the Internet form of cloud. He used to be incharge of the UK's Public Service broadcaster the BBC and "left under several clouds" and other scandals. Though it's far from clear how much of it was political mischief by the UK's current political incumbents (Conservatives) who have shown a clear prefrence for Rupert "the bare faced lier" Murdoch and his News International mess.

DuffFebruary 25, 2016 1:21 PM

I ran into this when I was directed to a Forbes article last month. It led me on a small journey that ended two hours later, with Ghostery replaced by uBlock Origin and Disconnect. I was then able to view the Forbes article (free of ads) and I remember thinking "Well, that was a waste of 30 seconds of my life, but at least I seem to have a better ad blocking solution now."

It's one thing to put up a message along the lines of "we depend on ad revenue to survive, please consider allowing ads to display on our site," but it is another thing entirely to tell me "You're running a blocker. You're going to disable it right now...we'll just wait here while you do it." It projects arrogance and entitlement that leaves a long lasting impression.

Ads don't bother me if they're not intrusive, disruptive, annoying, sometimes creepy to the point of making me feel stalked (I'm looking at you, Amazon) or sometimes downright dangerous to even load.

Bill Hicks Was Too Nice About ItFebruary 25, 2016 4:14 PM

@ Dirk Praet:

"Huge hosts files are not recommended as they cause a serious performance hit."

Really? I even use the same 17MB hosts file on an ancient Latitude D610, and it's fast as a snake. YMMV.

T. HarrellFebruary 28, 2016 11:12 PM

Forbes? Even content-farmers are doing it.

I actually wouldn't mind throwing prestigious(?) article publishers an ad-revenue bone if I wasn't also fighting the force with the content-farmers who seem to make up most of the search engines these days..

Waaayyyy too many people trying to make money off what use to be considered black-hat SEO practices.. Entire sites top of indexes that are mostly A.I. spun content and just plane scrape&post etc..

satiperaMarch 3, 2016 8:37 AM

if i go to a site that will not allow me access because i block their adverts then i forget about that site and move on. i could not care less if there is a work around i would not waste another second on them

EdwardApril 7, 2016 12:59 AM

There has to be a way for websites to make money while preserving User's right to control their privacy. After the promise of an "Ad-light" version, Forbes actually is allowing over 50 data brokers (web beacons) hidden in plain sight and allowing them to tracker users. This is not the right model and doesn't benefit anybody. I wish I could post the Spyderweb image here. Quite alarming.

Also Wired does the same to its user. Even paid subscribers like myself. Its not right.

PaywallJune 11, 2016 3:11 PM

I feel bad for publishers, but using an Ad Blocker is so much more convenient. In the future, I think there will be a new business model that lets people have a good experience while still letting publishers get paid.

Russel F.January 15, 2017 2:18 PM

Ok, it's 2017, and I found this info via the requisite google search, after Forbes hung me up because of my Adblocker running. Crazy. Found the info (on the new module nuke reactor design just submitted to NRC for approval - on the NPR site, surprisingly. Don't need Forbes, of course.) But I wondered - how does a MSM site like Forbes know I am running adblocker? Answer here is because Firefox tells them, of course. "Noscript" will nuke all functionality for banking/trading websites. But "uBlock Origin" and "Disconnect" seem to be useful. But it brings up bigger issue. Browsers suck now - they are basically owned by advertisers, and built to track and watch you. "Tor" is an alternative - but how about someone just building a browser that gives 100% control to the client who owns the browser?

Seriously, this is a real opportinity. Take the FF or old Mozilla code or Tor code as a starting point, and hack the thing down to its bare essentials, and then build it to provide *full* control for the client-owner. The browser needs to be designed mil-grade - where every single quanta (bit?) of data that is *returned* is under the explicit control of the client owner (notice that I don't say "user". Only telecom companies, IT-shops, and drug pushers call their customers "users"!) The owner-operator of a web-browser can be seen as a "client", and of course, the client has to pay some real money to get a quality product. Don't be satisfied with oats that have already been thru the horse.

That means, you actually *pay* to purchase your web-browser. But it becomes your product - like your house, your car, and your .357 S&W. You want a good one, with proper features, which offers safe, helpful, effective operation.

How much would you pay? 20 bucks? Maybe 100 bucks? Hell, given the time I spend on the stupid internet (where most business is done now), I think I would pay somewhere between 100 and 200 dollars for a *good* web-browser. Maybe more. It should send ***zero*** information back to anyone, other than those whom I explicitly authorize to receive the information. And it should be fully auditable - every single packet should be carefully checked, if you really want to do that. And why not? This is just the Sandvine or NetApp appliance stuff, right? Isn't deep-inspection a completely known and worked out thing now?

Lately I am astonished at how awful and crappy most interaction with most sites has become. I have to update Firefox all the bloody time, and update Flash as well. The entire design model is just completely bloody broken.

Someone (or some company of clever folks) who can redesign the existing model, and make a decent browser that gives full control to the client-owner, might find they have a nice little money-maker on their hands. I would really, really like a browser that was built to give me, as the client-owner, control of the website interaction process. If the browser was built right, it would be *completely* impossible for a website to know what I was doing with the content I received from them. And it seems it would also be completely impossible to drop a payload of malware onto your own box. The browser would just not be the security sh*t-hole like it is now. Hell, we built milspec VAXes back in the old days, which could connect to the internet, and not get compromised every second day. If the browser was made right, security should be airtight, and there should be *NO* tracking execept that which the client-owner authorizes and enables. Done, problem solved. We just need to build it.

It really should be possible to do this.
- Russel Future

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