I see that OS News is having some issues with their ads. This brings up a set of peeves I have about advertising on websites. I hate visiting websites that spawn popups, use Flash to serve ad content that slows down my computer, use animation where none is needed and where I don’t want any, and that otherwise reroute content in such a way that browsing on older computers is a chore.
Before I go further, please don’t tell me that I’m preventing someone from making a profit. That’s crap. The example I give below about popup workarounds involves the website of a service run by my ISP, which is also my cable provider. They’re still a very profitable company without the fractions of pennies I might deny them by keeping ads from their own sites out of my face. My service from them isn’t “free” at all and they shouldn’t expect users to both pay for service and experience the indignity of their popup ads, of their crazy flashing advertisements, or of anything else that detracts from finding news articles. I would go with one of the “free” dialups if I wanted to be bombarded with such advertising.
I’ve written previously about FlashBlock and NoScript for Firefox. These are excellent tools to help conform websites to a user’s standards. Sometimes, though, they’re not enough.
Most browsers now allow users to block popups universally. I have popups blocked universally. Always have since I’ve been able to do that (and haven’t given up using text browser yet because of that and similar issues). Some sites, though, resort to workarounds that ignore what the user wants. An example of this is one of my local news sites, which is operated by my cable provider/ISP. Their news site — not the ISP’s, but their local news channel’s — spawns a popup from casalemedia on every fresh hit. I already blocked images from casalemedia. I still had the @*#$ popup every time I hit the news site, it only included scant text.
That isn’t acceptable. I should be able to control what I load even if I hit someone else’s website. I’d already done that with OS News because some of the ads served were a total abortion. I tried to do the same with the aforementioned news site. I also wanted to do more and conform websites more to my tastes than to someone else’s revenue streams.
I looked around and found another Firefox extension called Block Site. This one lets the user designate site blocking as the user sees fit. This is excellent for blocking sites that do nothing but serve ads for other sites. It also is able to block sites (like casalemedia) completely. It runs both whitelist/blacklist so a user can designate sites according to his or her desires. My blacklist is growing. I’ve blocked casalemedia, as well as the ads from yimg (Yahoo), and even Google Syndication.
Now I hit a site and I get more content than ads — I have more control over what loads and what doesn’t. I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I know there are people, including the operators of my favorite sites, who think it’s not a good thing. Maybe if they’d exercise more control over what appears on their sites people wouldn’t take such actions.
Are there any drawbacks, aside from screwing a few websites out of a few cents? The download page for Block Site says there can be issues of speed if your sites list is large. I think, though, that’s a fair trade off. After all, it takes time to load http://www.whatever.com and its ads from adservers like http://www.a-holeadvertising.com and then display them in Flash, popups, etc. I haven’t experienced any noticeable delays yet and my blacklist is getting quite large.