Don't Blame Your Community: Ad Blocking Is Not Killing Any Sites

from the get-over-it dept

Every so often we hear about a random blog or website that freaks out and claims that ad blockers are "stealing" or somehow damaging websites. But it's quite a surprise to see a similar argument from a site like Ars Technica -- one of the top techie sites out there, which is now owned by Conde Nast. Over the weekend, Ars wrote an odd post claiming that ad blocking "is devastating to the sites you love." Ars decided to run an experiment where it blocked access to its content to any user using an ad blocker (with no warning or explanation). Not surprisingly, this pissed off a bunch of readers, and Ars now admits that it was a mistake in how it was handled -- but that it still believes ad blockers are harming sites.

Frankly, such a position is insulting (though, even more insulting was the way Ars staff responded to complaints in its comments, dismissing people who don't like their ads as not adding anything and actively telling them to go away). If you're reading Techdirt, and the ads we serve are not good, you have every right to use an ad blocker. It's your browser, do whatever you want with it. I, personally, do not use an ad blocker because I don't find most ads annoying -- but if you do, more power to you. You're absolutely welcome here on Techdirt.

If the ads are bad, it's bad for the advertisers

Back in December of last year, we signed an experimental ad deal to run a series of ads on the site, where a single advertiser would effectively have all the ads for a 24-hour period. As a part of that, there would be an ad at the top that temporarily "pushed down" the content for a few seconds, before pulling back up. Nothing was covered. Nothing prevented readers from getting the content. And the "pushdown" ad only showed once per visitor and never again. We went back and forth about it, but decided it was worth an experiment -- especially since no content was blocked or covered. I won't name the advertiser who was in the first test... but many of you did notice, and did not like it. We got a lot of complaints. So we killed the additional tests. I won't lie: these deals were for quite a bit of money -- a very large premium on the amount of money we typically make from advertising. But when we saw how annoyed our users were, we realized immediately what a bad idea this was and told the others who were scheduled to run similar campaigns, "sorry." We gave up a lot of money to do so, but what it came down to in our mind was that it wasn't worth it.

And when I say "wasn't worth it," I don't mean just to us or our community -- but to the advertiser. Most of the anger we saw over the original ad campaign wasn't directed at us -- it was directed at the company doing the advertising. So we told a bunch of companies willing to pay us a lot of money not that we didn't want their money -- but that they didn't want to buy that kind of advertising, because it would only damage their own brands.

Advertising that works, not annoys

Now, compare that to another "project" that we did late last year. As you may recall, UPS sponsored me doing a series of "whiteboard videos" about topics that we regularly talk about here -- one on the economics of abundance, one on the innovator's dilemma and one on the difference between innovation and invention. Before releasing these, I was actually a bit nervous about how people would respond. But these videos, which were clearly labeled as being sponsored by UPS, actually were a huge hit, and we received lots of compliments about them. Even more interesting? Numerous comments on the videos thanked UPS for sponsoring them and making them happen.

A similar thing happened when we launched our IT Innovation website, sponsored by Sun and Intel. In that case, those two companies were sponsoring us to develop more general content around a topic that we (and many of you) found interesting. The editorial control was still entirely our own, but Sun and Intel received branding on the website, and the ability to offer up some whitepapers to download in the sidebar. The end result has been wonderful, and we'll likely do similar projects in the future. Rather than annoying readers, we lined up everything in a way that benefited everyone. It really was a win-win-win sort of setup.

Those types of projects are the kinds that we love to do, and which add real value to the community and to the sponsors. Those are the types of things that we think all media publications should be looking at doing. Things that add value, not take it away. Oh, and if you're a company that wants to do a project like this that gets people excited, rather than annoyed by your brand, feel free to contact us.

Don't blame others for your failures

Mike Markson recently wrote up a blog post for entrepreneurs, talking about how every entrepreneur needs to learn the lesson that, whatever doesn't go right is your fault. It's a tough lesson for people (especially entrepreneurs) to learn. If you can't raise money, don't blame the investors. You were the one who failed to convince them. If you can't make sales, don't blame the sales people. You either hired the wrong sales people or didn't put together a compelling enough pitch or didn't have a good enough product. It's your responsibility as an entrepreneur to fix things. And I'm not saying this as a third party: I've been in both of the experiences discussed in this paragraph, and had to learn not to blame others, because that is the natural tendency. But it's not productive at all.

Along those lines, if you are running a media site, if you're having trouble making money, it's your fault. Don't blame your readers. Don't blame your community by telling them they're "devastating" a site by blocking ads or failing to pay for a paywall. As the producers of that site, it's your responsibility to do things to get that site paid for. If you don't like what we're doing on Techdirt, go ahead and block our ads. Sure, just like Ars, many of our ads are paid for based on impressions and we may make less money from those ads, but that's our problem and the problem of advertisers who aren't willing to do more unique, creative and compelling projects that benefit the community rather than annoy it. We want the advertisers, sponsors and partners we work with to get the best results possible in a way that everyone wins. And that's not by forcing people who don't want to see their ads to see them, or by pissing off our readers by blocking them if they use ad blocking. It's by taking on the responsibility ourselves to put together compelling programs that make everything more valuable for all participants.

There's lots of ways to value a community

And we value you as readers even if you're not seeing any ads at all. That's because you take part in the community. You share links to our posts. You comment. You tell others about what we've written -- and that's all incredibly valuable to us and the rest of the community -- much more than any CPM value we'd get from a few extra ad impressions. If you don't see an ad, that doesn't mean you have no value. Quite the opposite.

Claiming that ad blocking is harming sites is like the recording industry claiming that piracy (or home taping) is killing music. Or it's like the newspaper industry claiming that aggregators are killing them. It's passing the blame. If you run a company, it's your responsibility to put together a business model that works. And if people are somehow figuring out ways to do what they want where you don't get paid, then it means you're doing something that needs to change. A good business model is one where everyone is happy with the transaction, not one where one party feels forced or coerced into accepting something they don't want.

So, let's get past this idea of blaming others, and focus on building business models where everyone benefits.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    Privacy and security.

    "I, personally, do not use an ad blocker because I don't find most ads annoying"

    As many already pointed out on the Ars. article, one of the most common reasons for ads not being delivered is the use of privacy and security extensions such as NoScript. While adverts don't really bother me and I don't specifically block them if they aren't causing specific problems, I do not enable Javascript for any unrelated domains unless I require a specific function (such as embedded videos).

    Given the amount of unknown domains that show up on average, even if I were interested in enabling code from advertising sites, I wouldn't know which ones to trust. Techdirt has cross site requests to five domains according to RequestPolicy, two of which are Google and one of which is Facebook (most likely merely an off-site image). None of the domain names give an absolute indication as to their purpose, and the website is not designed in a way that gives any indication as to what other sites may be requested and why.

    Ars. doesn't only have to fight against those, like me, who don't care that advertising might fail as a business model; it also has to fight against those who value their security, their privacy and their sanity when faced with a web designed around the notion that the place your visiting has more control over what your computer does than you do. If they are serious about the subject then they should concentrate on convincing people that their advertisers can be trusted as much as they can. I can't say I've looked, but some sort of code of practice and industry self regulation would be a start.

     

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      I agree, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

      Re: Privacy and security.

      Well said.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 9:28pm

      Re: Privacy and security.

      Absolutely spot on comment. I fall into this category of user; I specifically ALLOW advertisements from domains I can trust so that I do support the sites I trust...

      If I don't trust the domain serving the content, I don't load it... period. I could care less whether that hurts the site I'm visiting. They should be doing business with well known and trustworthy advertisement serving domains, and clearly indicating what and why the content is being fetched (by using obvious URLs I can recognize).

       

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      Rooker, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:35pm

      Re: Privacy and security.

      Same here. I don't have an ad blocker, although I do use Firefox's pop-up blocker and NoScript.

      I don't consider pop-up ads to be legitimate and would prefer to see them outlawed entirely.

      I run NoScript because somebody rickrolled me a couple of years ago. It was a nasty one; it kept opening pop-up windows and reloading the video and the windows opened at random positions so that I couldn't hit the close button. I had no idea it was possible to make Firefox do something so obnoxious, so I started using NoScript to prevent it.

      Now I'm on satellite internet, which has a daily bandwidth limit. Every time I turn off NoScript and forget to turn it back on later, some damned advertisement tries to download a video or something and it puts me over the limit. That effectively destroys my internet connection for the next 24 hours.

      If NoScript blocks somebody's advertisements, that's just too damned bad. It's advertisers' own fault for creating ads that automatically download videos and waste bandwidth.

      Ars Technica used to be one of my favorite sites. But if they're going to cap an attitude like this, screw them. I won't be going back, whether I'm blocked or not.

       

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        Brent Johnson, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 9:35am

        Re: Re: Privacy and security.

        No kidding, I really dislike what pop ads have come to. I didn't realize that you could download enough data through a pop up ad to go over you internet limit though, Wow. Just curious who is your satellite internet provider?

         

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          Rooker, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 5:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: Privacy and security.

          Hughesnet. Search for "Hughesnet FAP" and that'll explain all you need to know.

          And I didn't mean specifically pop-up ads that use up all my bandwidth. I just hate pop-ups. What I meant was all ads waste bandwidth, but especially the flash ads that play videos.

           

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    yozoo, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:16am

    Tivo

    DVR is killing television, that why we only get reality shows now!

     

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      PRMan, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:32pm

      Re: Tivo

      DVR is killing television, that why we only get reality shows now!


      No, it's because gritty crime dramas and shows full of sexual situations that push the TV-14 line only have a very limited audience. There is no "I Love Lucy" or "Happy Days" or "Dukes of Hazzard" or "Brady Bunch" for this generation, family shows that everyone can watch together. By extension, this means that half of the television audience is completely unserved.

      By contrast, the hottest shows on cable are shows like True Jackson, VP and iCarly on Nick and Hannah Montana on Disney. These shows are made for families and routinely destroy everything on cable, including special events. If CBS/Viacom put these 2 well-written but low budget Nick shows on regular TV, I imagine they would kill there as well, but they don't.

      As it is, there is nothing for families on the broadcast networks, and it's been that way for many years.

      THAT is why you only get reality shows like American Idol or Amazing Race... Oh wait, those are safe for families... What a coincidence.

       

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        paperbag (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:16pm

        Re: Re: Tivo

        sure there is... it's called Disney Channel or the early morning education tv shows. ... and yes this is sarcasm.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:37pm

        Re: Re: Tivo

        "Dukes of Hazzard" or "Brady Bunch"

        You can't be serious. Those shows were horrible.
        Did you also watch Hee Haw ?

         

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      PRMan, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

      Re: Tivo

      Oh, and speaking of TiVo, at one point they got the hair-brained idea of popping up their own ads on top of the actual commercials in a stream. On the first trial an ad popped up for a movie that wouldn't go away. There was no way to see the content!

      I will NEVER see that movie. EVER!

      I don't care if it was a glitch that was some TiVo employee's fault, if your ad obscures my content, I don't buy your product. End of discussion. You're not that important that you have the right to get in the way and people that think they are that important need to be punished.

      I was keeping a mental list of companies that abused Flash, but then I got NoScript.

       

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    dave blevins, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Bad ads

    I don't use an ad blocker either. But I do stop buying from those who use overlay ads and, if it keeps up, stop going to the sites that continue to sell them.

     

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    william (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:25am

    I am a regular reader of ars too and I was very surprised to read that article. It sounded like a pastor in a church telling the congregation to donate more money in the sermon... Not sure why but that was the feeling I get.

    I don't personally use any additional ad blockers, yet. IE8 and Firefox's own ad blocker so far is good enough for me.

    Generally I like how techdirt and ars handle ads, pull down anything that annoys. However, I agree with vivaelamor that javascript/flash security issue is worrisome. I know you guys don't manually pull ads but use a script. There is no way of knowing if one day someone injected a bad ad in the bunch and this worries me. This is a trust issue.

    anyways I am just seemingly rumbling on... must be monday...

     

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      sirlivealot (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:45am

      Re:

      With the added fun of implying we are sinners for using noscript or adblockers on that website as well.

      I was very disappointed with Ars.

      First time posting here :-)

       

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    Ryan (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    I typically run my browser with no-script. This is done for security not to block the adds. Thus I can't stand the few sites that block me because I have an 'add blocker' just because I don't trust their java or whatever they are running.

     

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    lavi d (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:54am

    Zero Tolerance for Adimation

    I only block animated ads. I can't stand reading when there are things dancing around on the periphery.

    However, when I do block an animated ad, I usually go for the whole domain - *.doubleclick.net, *.yieldmanager.com, etc.

    So when I venture to a new site, if they have ads from one of these domains, I won't even know I'm blocking them.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:54am

    Open letter to web advertisers

    I don't use any specific ad-blocker, but I do use Firefox with PreBar for two reason.

    First, I hate flash. I despise it. I hate the annoying audio and the seizure inducing graphics.

    Second, I hate javascript crap such as popups, graphics that force you to click or float around the screen, or the inability to right click.

    So with Firefox I turn off flash and javascript for most of my surfing. I can quickly turn them on when I need them.

    So if your ads use either flash or javascript I won't see them. And I don't feel guilty at all about it.

     

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      AC, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

      Re: Open letter to web advertisers

      Amen to that. I have no problem with ads on a site, but it takes a diligent admin to keep nefarious domains off his ad server.
      (http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/03/04/192241/Window-Pain?art_pos=1)
      I for one feel that evil doers are an inevitable part of an open web, and therefore feel that taking steps like disabling javascript and using flashblock are necessary steps to keep ones web experience safe. My wife has had her computer infected more than once by compromised sites that she trusts. I am not so trusting.

       

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      Liam (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:29pm

      Re: Open letter to web advertisers

      "First, I hate flash. I despise it. I hate the annoying audio and the seizure inducing graphics.

      Second, I hate javascript crap such as popups, graphics that force you to click or float around the screen, or the inability to right click."

      stop browsing in 1999 then

       

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      dennis deems (profile), Nov 19th, 2012 @ 7:42am

      Re: Open letter to web advertisers

      Is this an add-on? It sounds good but I couldn't find it searching with duckduck. I use FlashBlock but it's not 100% effective; sometimes things slip through.

       

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    Brendan (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:56am

    Insulting is Exactly Right

    I'm insulted that they don't value my readership beyond the pennies I generate as ad impressions. Really - that's all I am? Exactly like you pointed out, Mike, I provide them value by sending others (who may or may not also block ads) to the site.

    I'd also like to point out that Ars uses flash ads, which are extremely annoying. They're animated, they have sound ("only with user interaction" but even that is too much) and flash in general does not perform well. Add to that the lack of security with flash-based content, and you can see why I am not even willing to consider white-listing flash ads.

    It's sad to see such an unenlightened stance from such a well respected site, and disturbing to see it delivered in such a stubborn, uncompromising manner.

    I'll continue reading the odd article at Ars as long as they still display with ABP enabled. Once I technically cannot read their content, I'll consider it a loss on both our parts to end that relationship. But the fault lies entirely with them.

     

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      mobiGeek (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

      Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

      I agree with you on the "sending others" angle, but have to push even further beyond the pennies comment.

      "Sending others", with or without ad-block, still focuses on that one revenue stream, and still ignores the benefit of an active, vibrant, intelligent community.

      Why, oh why, is Ars focusing on ad-block? Likely because they've seen their viewership growth slow, so now they are analyzing other parts of their ad revenue to figure out how to squeeze more. Here they find the gap in visitors and ad-views, then decide to go after that gap.

      Hey Ars, how about trying to generate some real revenue? Why not create some scarcity beyond the infinite bits you spew out, and guide your "freeloaders" to that?

      If you are a cool site, with engaged readers, surely you can sell them more than a "no ads!" subscription? Paraphernalia, guest postings, private events, speaking engagements and whacks of other ideas that are battered around this place. There's money in them thar viewers, but you have to engage them, not insult them.

      You may not turn over the hard cores immediately, some not ever, but they are members of your community. Just a single comment post that makes others think (or better yet, engages them to reply) should be worth Way More Value than a few pennies today (and falling) from the ad they blocked.

       

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        nasch (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:59pm

        Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

        They hinted at "trying other things" so maybe they will figure something out. But at the same time they made it clear that their bread and butter is and apparently will continue to be advertising. And made no bones about attaching absolutely no value to a reader who doesn't view ads. Which means the only reason they want you there is to view ads. Which makes me reconsider visiting their site, and I don't block their ads. In other words, they will lose ad-viewers from this fiasco, too. So very stupid.

         

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      Karl (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 11:49am

      Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

      Your sense of entitlement is a little shocking. Do you truly believe that your "readership" is fair compensation for the work they do to produce content?

      Perhaps restaurants should feed me free meals because I'm gracing them with my refined palate.

      In the end, Ars is a business. They work all day and get supported by the ads they display. When you block the ads, you are freeloading. If you stop visiting their site, you may consider it a loss, but I don't think they will.

       

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        Brendan (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:56pm

        Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

        Yes, my readership is valuable. If you work to keep me as an interested reader, I'll likely spend some money down the road.

        I've bought from ThinkGeek (supporting Slashdot) and I've subscribed to this blog as well. (I always have and will continue to block ads at both, regardless of my subscription status)

        I send links to a lot of people. I have money I'm willing to use to support sites I like if they present an opportunity I value. Ars' ONLY offering is a high price ($50) for minimal value (removing ads, which I can do with AdBlock for free). How about offering something of value?




        And, to your ridiculous restaurant analogy: *sigh*

        It costs a restaurant real money to prepare and serve an additional meal.

        Ars' costs to pay writers are fixed, relative to the number of readers, and the additional cost I present in bandwidth is so close to zero its laughable to consider. It costs Ars nothing _extra_ to deliver their content to me.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

          It costs a lot more money to serve to 6 million people than 3 million. I think Ars said 6 million.

          CDN costs are much higher. Probably going to need more web front ends, a better database server too. Add in another power-drop for a cabinet. Whatever cluster their forum runs on would shrink a ton if they cut users almost in half. They had an article on that cluster but I find find it.

          I run a medium sized ecommerce site and if we doubled our customers, we're probably spending 50% more on the tech side.

           

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            Brendan (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

            First, I'm not talking about doubling. I'm talking about going from 6 million to 6 million and one. It's free for them to do that.

            Now, if we allow discussion of the larger AdBlocking userbase, I would hope any competent business is make sales from the new doubled user base to make up for the additional tech costs. If not, you deserve to fail, frankly.

            That's the point here: it's Ars' job to make the business work, not the readers.

            If the best they can come up with to improve the bottom line is to cut their userbase by a considerable percentage, then that's just sad. (It must be considerable to have an impact, as a small percentage would have an equally small effect on server/bandwidth expenses).

            I really expected better things from Ars. Honestly, the fact that they don't have any better ideas just de-values their content, in my view. I thought they were smart people. Smart people wouldn't actively reject legitimate readership of any kind.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:34pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

              "First, I'm not talking about doubling. I'm talking about going from 6 million to 6 million and one. It's free for them to do that."

              That's not the point made in the Ars article. Ars says 40% are blocking ads. That means they are serving content to 2.4 million people who are using the site and consuming resources mentioned, but not seeing ads. That's not one more person, that's a large city worth of more people.

              Ars isn't cutting out those 2.4 million, they are asking that 2.4 million to reconsider their stance. What is so wrong with that? It sounds like a very smart thing to do, and based on the discussion there, a number of people did change their stance.

               

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                Brendan (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:38pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

                (We'll leave aside for now the issue of Friday's forced experiment)
                Yes, it is perfectly reasonable for them to ask people to whitelist the site. I wish them the best of luck, and the more who convert the better for them. Great.

                Now, we still have a large percentage of users who chose to continue to block ads (even if a generous HALF were converted, 20% are still blocking). Do they really want to give up 1 million+ readers? Do they really have no other ideas for offering those readers a reason to buy?

                What about a cheaper subscription that ONLY removes ads. None of the other stuff. What about bundling some other good or service with a subscription?

                 

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          Karl (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

          Slashdot is not impressed that you buy things from ThinkGeek. Slashdot gets paid by ThinkGeek when you view ads hosted on their site. When you block them, Slashdot gets nothing.

          As for your friends, if they share your philosophy on advertising, then you're simply using up additional site bandwidth when you forward links to them.

          I'll give you that the restaurant analogy is unfair. Your freeloading is of a milder kind. But what amazes me is that you have the gall to act indignant when you are called on it.

          We are both fortunate that people like you are a minority, since it's quite clear that the internet eco-system that we both enjoy would not exist if everyone believed they could consume without compensation.

           

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            identicon
            :), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

            We are both fortunate that people like you are a minority, since it's quite clear that the internet eco-system that we both enjoy would not exist if everyone believed they could consume without compensation.


            I don't think that is accurate, because as I recall in the 80's the first commercial attempt on the internet was a couple of lawyers selling ad's about their business was met with tremendous outrage(anybody remember the headlines?).

            The internet happened in spite of commerce and it grows because most people recognize the capacity for learning new things not because of commerce.

            The commercial side could die and there would still be an internet.

             

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            Brendan (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

            ThinkGeek is a sibling company to Slashdot. Both (along with several other sites) are owned by Geeknet ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geeknet ). Money spent at TG goes into the same pot Slashdot operates from. Good marketing.

            It amazes me that other people *aren't* indignant towards other people who believe they can control my browsing experience. It's my browser, I'll display your website how I like. If they want to be compensated directly for easily substituted content, put up a paywall and die already.

             

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              Karl (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 11:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Insulting is Exactly Right

              Okay, I stand corrected.

              But that's quite the special case when the content producer also happens to own the advertiser. I don't believe Ars has any such arrangement, for example, maybe I'm wrong...

              And you always control your browser. And they always control what content they serve to you. If you choose to block ads they choose not to serve you content. It might be unwise, as the owners of Ars seem to have figured out, but it's certainly within their rights.

               

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:56am

    I do...

    I use Adblock--but I always block things one-at-a-time by hand (Rather that use the pre-filled 'block all ads' setting). Flash Ads with sound get the "flash ad with sound" domain blocked (not the main site, mind you). Malicious Scripts (pop-ups, pop-unders, fake "you've got a virus" redirects) get the malicious script domain blocked. Ad scripts which exponentially increase the site load time get blocked. (I've been to one site--45 second load time with all ads, 3 second load time with -1 advert that was slowing the whole thing to a crawl).

    Aside from that, I kinda look forward to seeing relevant non-annoying ads.

     

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    ECA (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:59am

    Why Block adverts

    I Block for a number of reasons.
    When I goto a site, I only want info FROM THAT SITE, and do not want to give access to my machine to 6 other 3rd party sites.
    I have a long story, about a CLEAN machine connecting to the net. First stop was MSN. it took 15 minutes to get control back to the machine. And after finding 5 virus and 17 bots after 1 connection to the net..I sent MSN a letter. 1 year later MSN stopped adverts.

    I asked them to do a few things.
    1. I dont mind adverts that reside on the SITE IM AT. Not from 2-4-6 other sites.
    2. SCAN those adverts before you even THINK of pulling them from another site.

    I will also mention 1 BAD feature of windows. It has to LOAD Everything from the site to DISPLAY IT.. And that data does not GO AWAY easily. its retained for a period of time. dealing with HTML was fine, but now we have 7-9 languages all over a site. trying to protect yourself from JAVA,FLASH,ADOBE and the HOLES these programs have, is hard enough, WITHOUT MS trying to make there own forms like SILVERLIGHT(?).
    I warn customers about the internet.
    The internet is like the BEST looking hooker in the world. She will do anything and everything, and everyone wants her. And most times they ALL can have her. I suggest you wear 3 condoms and get your shots the NEXT DAY.

     

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      Just Another Moron in a Hurry (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:28pm

      Re: Why Block adverts

      "The internet is like the BEST looking hooker in the world. She will do anything and everything, and everyone wants her. And most times they ALL can have her. I suggest you wear 3 condoms and get your shots the NEXT DAY."

      This is going up on my Twitter.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Speaking as someone who uses an adblocker

    I block Techdirt ads. Not because I find them annoying, but because I don't find them interesting enough to view whitelist Techdirt. I have occasionally turned off my blocker to view adds that people mentioned and I have maybe two sites that I heard about and found the ads to be something I'm actually interested in what they sell.

    That said, I'm a big fan of the sponsored by style videos, I had not seen the UPS vids until today and am not sure how well they worked for UPS since I already use them for the few packages I send but if another company were to sponsor something like this then I would probably look more into the company and be more willing to frequent them since they support things that I believe in.

    Similarly, I prefer to use Stardock's Impulse instead of Steam when all other things are considered equal, I'm even willing to pay a few dollars extra to Impulse and have boughtor pre-ordered many games from Stardock sight-unseen because I know they support what they believe in and do their best to take care of their customers.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:17pm

      Re: Speaking as someone who uses an adblocker

      ok, I guess I have to modify my stance on how well it worked for UPS. After watching the vids, which I intend to share with friends, I was curious what the non-UPS link was at the end of the video and went there, which is a news aggregator and seems interesting enough that I'll look of it at a later time, so if that was their hope in paying for the vids, it worked in my case.

       

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    zcat (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    I held off for a long time...

    For years I avoided running an adblocker because I didn't think it was fair on the website owners and the adds typically didn't bother me that much.

    But when it came to annoying floating ads that cover the page content and the sort you describe that cause the page to slide up and down I decided that was enough.

    Some people are just anti-advertising. They never would have bought anything from you anyway so no loss. You could even say they're saving you some wasted bandwidth by blocking your ads.

    But most people I think are like me; they're just fed up with annoying, flashing, distracting 'in your face' ads. The advertisers have only themselves to blame.

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

      Re: I held off for a long time...

      "Some people are just anti-advertising. They never would have bought anything from you anyway so no loss. You could even say they're saving you some wasted bandwidth by blocking your ads."

      I've used the argument before that content providers are stealing from advertisers by encouraging page views to those who don't actually want them. This is relevant because of the repeated point that 'it doesn't matter if you don't click, we get paid for page views'. I'm not interested in propping up any business model that makes some company pay for pointless advertising.

       

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    jsl4980 (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    I use ad block plus and I have for a while thanks to seeing a few of those expanding ads or anything that makes any noise.

    As a long time reader of Ars I did whitelist them. I've gone around and white listed other sites that I do like. I had never considered it before and it only seems fair. I'm upset that they took such an annoying tone in the article, but I understand their side of it and they deserve to make some money.

     

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    Brooks (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:04pm

    Yep

    Well said, Mike. I had been a regular reader of ARS for a few years, and it was one of my favorite sites.

    But I do use an ad blocker because I find I simply can't pay attention to content if there's even a subtly animated ad on the same page. It makes it just not worth visiting the page in the first place.

    So I took ARS' request to heart and will stop visiting the site. That means I won't send their links by Twitter or post them via Facebook, either, and I had been doing a fair amount of both, driving traffic and helping to build their brand.

    More power to 'em; they are married to the advertising revenue model and want to get rid of readers who aren't a good fit for that model. My guess is that it turns out poorly in the long run, but who knows? Maybe they can be more profitable with a smaller audience of less tech-savvy readers. It seems a little odd for ARS, but I'm all for market experimentation.

     

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    Cynyr (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    types of ads I use an adblocker for...

    I block anything that moves, is animated, is flash based, or not relevant to the content on the page/site I'm on. I reloaded this artical without my adblocker in place and found an ad for Dice that was flashing(background kept changing between 2-3 colors) and things were moving on it.

    The reason I use an adblocker is that 95% of these ads seem to served on a slow connection, they then sit there running consuming my CPU cycles. Now if it had been a static picture or some text I would have probably left the adblocker off for techdirt. The reason i have issues with the animated ads, is mostly because i tend to leave the computer on and the web browser open with what ever i was last looking at. Things moving in the browser keep my CPU from getting throttled back by the "on-Demand" governor.

    Also how many times have we seen legit sites who's ad partners get hacked or just distribute ads with malware embeded in them to do drive by installs of crap. So this is also done for security on my windows boxes, and to some extent on my linux boxes too. Would Ars have an issue with users using a local CSS file to change the look of the site? how about using a script to download the html and remove all the tags and output only text? how about browsing the site with lynx, dillo, iPhone(no flash there), any other platform without JS and flash?

    Anyways, Mike, I'll turn ads back on for this site if they stop being animated for reasons above.

     

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    milrtime83 (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:07pm

    I do use an ad blocker most of the time. I try to keep it disabled for sites that I frequently visit because I want to support them. I just temporarily disabled the ad blocker on ars and I saw multiple ads with text and graphics flying all over the ad trying to draw my attention to it. (Same thing on this site.) It is extremely annoying to me so I turned the ad blocking back on.

     

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    Flakey, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    I use em

    I was surprised that ARSTechnia had done this little experiment with blocking off the forums. Surprised because they didn't say so ahead of time and there was no clue on the site that they had done so. Since I don't go to the forums, it did not bother me at all. I didn't even know it.

    What really disturbed me was a combo of the attitude the staff had about it and the "you can go elsewhere" theme.

    The attitude struck me that Conde Nash had given the internet staff the commandments from on high. Either support it and preach for it or next week (month or what ever amount of time) we'll be looking at some more layoffs.

    Some of the staff comments were striking false feeling in the undercurrent while toting the company line. Some of the members were banned in the middle of the thread, not for bad attitude nor unacceptable posts but rather for saying that they ran ad blockers. Later it seems this action was reigned in as the comments of those that did not accept started to get a little more harsh.

    It seems to be a pure cash grab, either pay the subscription rate to support them (which is outrageously high for what they do as an internet site) or open yourself to security issues and privacy violations for their benefit.

    Many made the comment that flash was not acceptable as an ad medium. All of that was pretty much ignored with the statement that in effect said that's who pays the highest for ad placement.

    I uninstalled flash because of the LSO cookies. Despite that every day or so, I find I have to delete a flash cookie that was stuck in to track my surfing habits. Nowhere did the staff mention or breathe a word about LSOs and why they are not desirable. Instead it was their adamant purpose for you to whitelist them so that their ads would be served.

    There is a reason everyone and their brother are running ad blockers and flash suppressors. It's become necessary to protect your computer from unscrupulous advertisers and malware artists. Not all of us are blessed with the ability to get cable internet. Page loading with ads being served as part of the load can be very taxing for those of us with what isn't considered broadband speeds by the FCCs definition. When you have no choice about the provider, you get what you can get or do with out.

    It got sort of thick at the end with ARS Technica claiming that if you registered to comment, you are violating the TOS to block ads. If you don't register, you've agreed to no TOS. Needless to say, I did not offer comment. Let them paywall off the site. Which they are desperate not to do for obvious reasons.

    At the end of the day, readership is what drives a site. It provides the food for thought that inspires the reader to comment and that is where the community develops. I will help ARS Technica with one of their desires. I won't be stopping by to read them anymore. I won't be writing articles as opinion and linking my reader to the source of the article if it is on ARS Technica. I will not subject any one that took the time to read something I wrote with a hyperlink to that site and have them run into something like what went on this weekend nor with the attitudes of the staff who agreed to enforce, browbeat, nor entice, the reader in such a manner.

     

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    johnjac (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:12pm

    I'm addicted to TechDirt and it is all Mikes fault

    Hi, my name is John, and I'm addicted to TechDirt and it is all Mike Masnick's fault

     

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    R. Miles (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:15pm

    Stands and applauds!

    THANK YOU, Mike, for delivering precisely what I left in the comments. I told them Ars was the only site I've yet to "pay" for because they've not appealed enough to me to open my wallet but value the site immensely.

    I ran into this blocked content on Friday, and to find out it was an experiment really pissed me off. And they now want me to add Ars to the adblocking whitelist? Screw that! If anything, they proved beyond all doubt there's no trust. Granted, I may not believe Ars would change their ad delivery structure, but there's no guarantee. Especially now.

    My comment asked Ars why there's no donation button. I've yet to receive a reply. I will not turn off my adblocking option for any site ever again. If these sites truly are dependent on ad revenues to survive, it's not my problem.

    My original reply did suggest the "Connect with fans" option, but I had removed it as I figured the "more coming" would include this. We'll see.

    I should freakin' take this article and post it in Ars' comment section, but that would be infringing. ;)

    Seriously good job, Mike. *applauds more*

    Oh, and I also enjoyed those UPS "ads", and that's because they weren't delivered like ads. :)

    You should think about delivering more whiteboard topics, even if they're not sponsored by UPS.

     

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    Murdock (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

    They clearly don't understand social media

    In several of the initial replies you see the theme; If you aren't viewing our ads, we don't want you, period.

    They assume that this is a 1:1 loss, one reader not seeing their articles never returns. They've lost that one reader they didn't get any revenue from, not a big deal they think. However, what if that one guy is popular on Digg? Or has a Twitter account with 1,000 followers? Who knows how many people he could be funneling to their site and I imagine a large # of those viewers will NOT have an ad-blocker.

    When you lose or limit your viewership, it affects more than just that view. I myself have shared links to ARS, I'm sure some of my friends checked them out. Had I been blocked they would have lost their views ALSO. For a site like ARS to not grasp this is beyond me.

    So,

     

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    Ian (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:33pm

    Adblock

    I run adblocking plugins and use the lists to preemptively ban ads as a general category. I don't like this notion of selectively blocking ads as they annoy me--there are far too many bad apples in the bin for me to taste-test them all to determine which ones I can stand to eat and which should be rejected. I will try to relax things for sites I like, but all too often I hit the things I can't tolerate--blinking ads, noisy ads, and other variants of annoying ads, and the block goes back up.

     

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    The Buzz Saw (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    Excellent

    I read through the Ars article just before I found the writeup here. The attitude of the site operators really amazed me. They were never super blunt about it, but they basically stated, "If you block our ads, you are useless dead weight to us. Leave." Really? You'd rather not try to reel me in as a customer? You would rather I leave with bitter feelings? You would rather I remove your RSS feed and stop sharing Ars articles with other people (likely non-users of ad-blocking software)?

    It doesn't matter what business you are in. If you find yourself lecturing your customers about how you make money, you're doing it wrong. Customers do not need to care how a business stays in operation. Customers want something; the business can either provide it or block them. I agree with many of the comments posted by others on the Ars article: "Just put up a paywall and be done with it!"

     

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    Seth, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Stop Hurting Advertisers

    Ars states that sites often get paid on a per ad view basis, and blocking them hurts the site. What about advertisers that are paying for each ad view, even for the users that don't care about their product at all? Won't somebody think of the advertisers?

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

      Re: Stop Hurting Advertisers

      "Ars states that sites often get paid on a per ad view basis, and blocking them hurts the site. What about advertisers that are paying for each ad view, even for the users that don't care about their product at all? Won't somebody think of the advertisers?"

      I'd be interested to know if they answered this point at all. In all the discussion there someone must have pointed out the hypocrisy.

       

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    Andrew (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:55pm

    CPM Ads Dishonesty

    Couldn't agree more. I thought it was a well written article, but not a terribly well argued one.

    Surely the solution of their complaint about blocking CPM adverts is to develop an ad blocker that downloads the adverts but doesn't display them? Then everyone will be happy.

    Or, to put it another way, Ars has just said that they don't really care about serving up ads that actually appeal to their visitors and work for their advertisers, they mostly care about displaying as many ads as possible.

    Contrary to what they claim, their business model is starting to suck. They wouldn't have tried this stunt otherwise. And it's going to start sucking even more in the future as advertisers improve their metrics and visitors block more ads. An awful lot of newspapers had been around for much longer than 12 years before they folded. Hopefully they'll find some good answers before it's too late.

     

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    yesno, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    many solutions

    It seems to me the best solution is to detect an adblocker and put up a polite request to whitelist.

    From the perspective of "you guys are stupid and acting against your interests," I understand the criticism--but I don't understand the moralizing.

    If they want to block all adblock users, or just go behind a paywall, that's their bag. It's a business; I don't begrudge them trying to make money.

    Same thing as the NY Times--if the Times goes behind a paywall and starts making loads of money, great: we'll have a better idea of how to monetize the web. I've got no inherent problem with paywalls, especially when there are alternative news sites. I probably wouldn't pay NY Times. I already do pay The Economist and mlb.tv: let a thousand flowers bloom, etc.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    I do not use an ad blocker. I also do not use sites that have obnoxious ads on them. Last year I had to stop visiting wired.com because of the obnoxious ads. When you drive consumers away in order to go after a few bucks then you are going to fail. Guess what, it has nothing to do with ad blockers or consumers and everything to do with being annoying.

     

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    www.eZee.se (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    Damn you Mike..

    DAMN YOU MIKE and TD

    At first we lurked around here for ages, then finally signed up to comment.. and we noticed we started visiting you more than Wired and "others" (as well as linking to your articles more) and without even realizing it you have jumped into our favourites and most visited sites... and now with this article you are pretty much our favorite site.

    Like I said, damn you and TD for doing such a good job!

    Cheers!
    Ryan

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Wow, Mike, prepare to get permanently Ad-Banned by Google sometime soon for talking about your ads.

     

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    Jerry Leichter, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

    Do people actually read?

    I read Ars's message - and many of the responses. And MIke's comments.

    Sorry. but you've completely missed the boat. What Ars was saying was pretty straightforward. They have two sources of income: Ads and subscriptions. If you are a subscriber, you don't see any ads. Ars only gets paid for ads that are actually downloaded, which ad blockers stop. So someone who neither subscribes nor allows ads to download doesn't help pay for the site.

    It's amazing how many people think their *readership* is so valuable that Ars should be happy just to have them there. Sorry. Ars makes no bones about being a commercial site that pays its writers. Just how is their presence on the site valuable? There are two excuses people give for why their readership is valuable. (1) They send friends, and the friends may view the ads. In other words, "I think the ads are too annoying to be willing to my precious time and attention, but hell, my friends - well, they'll put up with anything." Really? (2) They participate in the forums, which makes Ars more valuable. Nice idea, but Ars has the actual numbers, and well under 10% of the time does a reader actually even look at the forums, much less contribute. There are sites where the value is in the discussions - and in fact some of the discussions on Ars are very interesting - but for this particular site, most of the value is in the work done by the paid staff to find, understand, and explain interesting material. I know I look at at comments on well under 10% of the articles I read - not because there's anything wrong with the comments, but because the article itself has already provided me with the information I think I need.

    On top of all that, Ars's ads are actually pretty reasonable - and always have been, in my experience. There are plenty of sites with annoying, intrusive junk - Ars is just plain not one of them.

    If you actually read what the Ars editors have written, they've been pretty restrained - much more than I would be, given some of the ranting and raving. When people have said "if there are ads and I can't block them then your site is worthless to me, I'll leave", they've basically said "well, we aren't actually blocking you, but if your *asking* you not to block our ads leaves you so pissed off that you can't stay - sorry you feel that way, good luck, come back if you change your mind".

    I'll agree - and the Ars people themselves have already agreed - that their *12 hour experiment* in blocking people who use ad blockers was a bad idea. They've asked for help from their audience on a honor system: "If you're running an ad blocker because of all the crud out there at *other* sites, please white-list us and see if what we're doing is acceptable to you. If not, please subscribe." What's so objectionable about that?

    -- Jerry

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

      Re: Do people actually read?

      "well, we aren't actually blocking you, but if your *asking* you not to block our ads leaves you so pissed off that you can't stay - sorry you feel that way, good luck, come back if you change your mind"

      I don't know what site you were reading, because the Ars staff were certainly not that levelheaded. They explicitly told anyone who said "I will not unblock you" to leave. They repeatedly admitted to banning accounts on the forums when a person said they used adblockers.

      Case in point, the Ars staff shows utter disrespect for their readers. Mike called them out on it.

      As for the community, Mike has repeatedly stated on this site that a failure to build a community does not rest on the reader's shoulders. Given how the staff respond to comments, it's no wonder that their forum traffic is so lack-luster.

       

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      www.eZee.se (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:55pm

      Re: Do people actually read?

      I got blocked before because i admitted to using an ad-blocker.
      When they "found out" that i had admitted it on their forum (a couple of months back) i got blocked, when i spoke to them they pointed me to the TOS, honestly with the amount of tech sites and forums most of us techies visit, who the heck has time to read all their TOS?
      I dont even read all the BS that I have to agree to when i am installing/reinstalling my OS or even updates.

       

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

      Re: Do people actually read?

      'They've asked for help from their audience on a honor system: "If you're running an ad blocker because of all the crud out there at *other* sites, please white-list us and see if what we're doing is acceptable to you. If not, please subscribe." What's so objectionable about that?'

      "If you are running a server because of all the *other* sites making money, please stop serving advertisements to people who don't want them. If not, please put up a paywall." What's so objectionable about that?

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:27pm

      Re: Do people actually read?

      Sorry. but you've completely missed the boat.

      I don't believe I did, but I'm happy to understand why.

      What Ars was saying was pretty straightforward. They have two sources of income: Ads and subscriptions. If you are a subscriber, you don't see any ads. Ars only gets paid for ads that are actually downloaded, which ad blockers stop. So someone who neither subscribes nor allows ads to download doesn't help pay for the site.

      Right. No one said otherwise. But what we said is that their community is telling them it doesn't like those options. That's why they block the ads. What you say above is like saying that a horse buggy maker makes the right choice continuing to make horse buggies rather than cars.

      You say what you said as if those are the only options available to Ars. My point was that those are not the only options and Ars is being ridiculous in telling its users that *they* need to conform to how Ars wants to make money, rather than the other way around.

      It's amazing how many people think their *readership* is so valuable that Ars should be happy just to have them there. Sorry. Ars makes no bones about being a commercial site that pays its writers.

      Uh. (1) No one is saying they should just be happy to have them around. We're saying that it's Ars' responsibility to figure out how to make money, and that doesn't mean guilttripping its community. (2) Techdirt also makes no bones about being a commercial site that pays writers. Why do you assume otherwise?

      Just how is their presence on the site valuable? There are two excuses people give for why their readership is valuable. (1) They send friends, and the friends may view the ads. In other words, "I think the ads are too annoying to be willing to my precious time and attention, but hell, my friends - well, they'll put up with anything." Really? (2) They participate in the forums, which makes Ars more valuable. Nice idea, but Ars has the actual numbers, and well under 10% of the time does a reader actually even look at the forums, much less contribute.

      Well, there's your problem. Ars apparently does a shitty job encouraging people to take part in the community. Again, the problem is with Ars's decision, not the users.

      Besides, you DON'T NEED to get money from every single reader. Assuming that someone is only valuable because they see an ad is insulting. It's treating your community like $$ signs. I find that really insulting.

      On top of all that, Ars's ads are actually pretty reasonable - and always have been, in my experience. There are plenty of sites with annoying, intrusive junk - Ars is just plain not one of them.

      You think so. Many others disagree.

      "If you're running an ad blocker because of all the crud out there at *other* sites, please white-list us and see if what we're doing is acceptable to you. If not, please subscribe." What's so objectionable about that?

      If they had just asked nicely, that would be one thing. But they didn't. They pissed off a bunch of their community and then pinned the blame on them.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:11am

        Re: Re: Do people actually read?

        "Ars apparently does a shitty job encouraging people to take part in the community."

        It does. The Ars commenting system is horrible, such that I only rarely even read the comments. Technically, not in terms of content. It's just a BBS tacked onto the site, with poor integration.

         

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        Jerry Leichter, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:51am

        Re: Re: Do people actually read?

        I haven't gone through and counted, but it seems to me that a substantial majority of responses at Ars say "OK, I've whitelisted you". Yes, their readership has voted - and it's voted to say "your ads are OK".

        The mistake is thinking that running an ad blocker is a vote on any *particular* site. It's usually a vote on the *worst* sites - the ones that feed the pop unders, the pull downs, all the crap that makes some of the web not worth the trouble. However, ad blockers by default are very blunt tools: Out of the box, they block *everything*. They all provide the option to whitelist some sites, but it's an option hardly anyone uses.

        As for whether they are "building community" by encouraging responses: There are many business models. Building community in that sense is just one. What *I personally* find useful at Ars - which certainly makes me willing to let their ads through - is the timely, educated analysis their knowledgeable writers provide. I don't have the time - or in many cases ability - to scan through physics papers, biology and genetics papers, geology papers, psychology papers, etc., etc. I'm glad that Ars pays people who do know the fields to read those papers, pick out the most interesting new work, and describe it in ways an intelligent nonspecialist - and who is a specialist in *all* those areas, among others? - can understand. *That's* my "RtB". If others made copies of those articles ... they would have to add something substantial to raise the value enough to make it worth my while.

        As for the discussions: Yes, they are interesting sometimes. They add to the value of the site - not a whole load (for me), but they do add. But you know what: The discussions are valuable mainly when they are among those who know the field. Frankly, there are only a few thousand people in the world who really have anything worthwhile to say about the latest results on quark-gluon plasmas. Lord knows, I'm not one of them. You don't want hear from me on the subject, and I don't want to hear the ignorant opinions of others either. It just wastes my time - much more so than the ads.

        There are sites - like this one - where we discuss issues of broad public interest, where any informed opinion is potentially valuable. That's not, in general, the case at Ars. Well, let me modify that: They have multiple different forums, and some of them are explicitly about matters such as public policy. There are all kinds of valuable services in the world, presented in all kinds of ways. The idea that there's only one right way to find and keep an audience is ... quaint. Leave it to the RIAA. Even Ars is doing different things at the same time to see what works. You should be applauding them, not complaining that they don't share your particular vision of how to run a Web site.
        -- Jerry

         

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          Ken Fisher, EIC, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 8:23am

          Re: Re: Re: Do people actually read?

          @John Fenderson

          Have you looked at the commenting system recently? We overhauled it last week, it’s no longer running off our forum. When we unveiled it, people seemed to really welcome the change.

          @Jerry

          We are definitely building community. Our forum has 250,000 registered users, another 700,000 lurkers each month, and close to 15 million posts. I have something like 17,000 posts myself, and some of our writers have several times that. We have a team of 25 awesome moderators that help keep it all running smoothly. But we know that not everyone comes for community. Readership on the main site is significantly larger, and we try to make it easy for people to join the community while also making it not so easy that it turns into YouTube. We used to have anonymous commenting, but once we hit the 5 million reader mark several years ago, the community voted to turn it off.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 4:46am

      Re: Do people actually read?

      Jerry Leichter:

      Your commentary is obscenely ignorant in nature, or simply a disingenuous expression of personal agenda.

      Once one puts one's content into a public forum, it is NOT even remotely reasonable to try and dictate terms of viewing that content.

      You're playing apologist for a bunch of pretentious and greedy snots who don't want to think creatively or critically about their own revenue model, and would instead harangue, bully, and prosecute their users into compliance -- and worse, who don't have the courage to simply cross the divide and become a pay-walled site, because they know it wouldn't work.

      Ars is trying to have their cake and eat it too -- they want to be publicly available so they can get obscenely huge page view counts when something hits Digg or SU (and tout that fact to their advertising partners), but they also want to dictate "terms" to their viewers and control who views their site and how.

      Perhaps if your nose wasn't pointed near vertically at the ceiling you'd smell the rat, too.

      More generally:

      I have lost almost all respect for Ars over the past four years or so, out of the eight or nine I've read them, for their thinly veiled political and philosophical agendas and their ridiculously biased reporting on certain subjects; this was just another nail in the coffin, and nowadays I only visit Ars to waste their bandwidth, with my ad blocker enabled.

      To hell with them, and to hell with anyone who thinks they're worth supporting or apologizing for; there are better sites, and more gracious circles of administration to attend to than a bunch of arrogant "journalists" who think they own their users.

       

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    MiG21, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Annoying ads

    I don't usually mind advertisements, however, if an ad on a website manages to really annoy me, I simply stop visiting that site. Simple and effective, plus, it lets them know that they're doing something wrong.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:15am

      Re: Annoying ads

      "Simple and effective, plus, it lets them know that they're doing something wrong."

      No it doesn't. They won't even notice that you stopped (you're lost in the noise), let alone why.

      What is simple and effective is to actually send them an email and explaining your problem. But don't say "you've lost a reader," even if they have. As often as not that will get the rest of your comment immediately dismissed as it's a) usually a lie, and b) often used by cranks.

       

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    Anonymoose, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    Symptoms of larger issues...

    ...and that, Mike, is why TechDirt will still be alive in 5 years, and Ars may not (probably will in diminished form, but may not).

    You think like an entrepreneur - you're responsible for the outcome, and everything is an opportunity to do it better, to advance and to adapt.

    They're reacting like a subsidiary of a holding company under economic pressure from the parent; no control of innovation or direction, but responsible for delivering numbers (disconnected from any further reality).

    I made it through 7 or so pages of comments at Ars on the fiasco, and while the editors are jumping into the comments, they're still not really getting it. The community over there is largely reasonable; some whitelisting the site, some subscribing, and others reasonably pointing out that flash and third party ad servers are both annoying and (more importantly with a technical audience) tremendous security and privacy holes best blocked. That's a hard disconnect, so they're largely ignoring it.

    Community suggestions to fix it range from 'stop running flash ads' to 'stop running animated ads' for security/distraction reasons, to 'serve static ads from your own servers to take doubleclick/google and potential tracking and malware vectors out of the loop'..

    Good advice on how they might get more traction with straight ads anyway, sourced direct from the community, who obviously cares a great deal.. But the response was essentially 'no', dismissing privacy, tracking and security concerns, and blaming lack of flexibility on parent Conde Nast - who controls the ad network channel and negotiated relationships across their properties. Zero mention of alternatives beyond 'pay $50 per year to subscribe' with no benefit to that beyond ad blocking..

    So that leaves them nowhere to go. Impasse. Fail-in-waiting. The real lesson here isn't really about ad blockers, and is only partially about listening to your community..

    The ability (skills and authority) for a brand to adapt is probably the more important one. Ars is hemmed in by the parent by all external appearances.

    New, smaller or in some way independent ventures have always been more nimble, more innovative, and more future oriented, even while lacking capital resources. But once acquired, the suck sets in. They bog down. They can't move. And some are eventually dissolved as they decline -- which defeats the entire purpose of the acquisition.

    If acquirers and large companies in general would encourage divisions and sub-brands to behave in an entrepreneurial way -- and give them the independent freedom to do so -- they would likely thrive in a million directions. But they regularly kill the very thing that made them shiny in the first place.

    The adblock flap is a symptom of several much larger problems -- in the publishing and internet world, and the business world in general.

    Might be a good one to solve.

     

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    Rich, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Modify Website

    I got me was when Ars posted their TOS on the comments. I find it a little insulting and offensive that they seems to think there something inherently wrong with me modifying how their website appears in my brower. If I want to change colors, resize the text, or even reformat their whole stinkin' page, I'll do it. It's MY browser! How dare they think they can dictate to me how I view pages in my browser!

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:35pm

      Re: Modify Website

      "I got me was when Ars posted their TOS on the comments. I find it a little insulting and offensive that they seems to think there something inherently wrong with me modifying how their website appears in my brower. If I want to change colors, resize the text, or even reformat their whole stinkin' page, I'll do it. It's MY browser! How dare they think they can dictate to me how I view pages in my browser!"

      Thank you, I'd missed that point. Aside from the business issues and security/privacy issues is that of the basic right to do what you want with the code on your computer. I can't imagine they would blame users for blocking adverts in order to tailor the page to their disability; it would seem condescending to suggest that they deserve special treatment when they don't need any, because they are merely exercising their natural rights.

       

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    ECA (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    IF SITES WOULD

    If sites would imbed the advert into their site..
    IF sites would SCAN the adverts for bots and virus before USING them..

    I would not mind adverts.
    When I goto a site, I only allow data FROM that site, not the other 6 sites trying to send me adverts and gain control over my system. I see no reason to allow 3rd party access to my system.
    IF a site is willing to allow 3rd parties to have access to my system, ARE THEY willing to take responsibility for VIRUS and bots THAT COULD CORRUPT MY SYSTEM?
    OR are they going to be like TV and disclaim Any responsibility to the PAID for adverts.

     

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    Simon (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Relationships

    As someone who up to now didn't have an opinion on either Techdirt's or Ars Technica's brands, having read the articles and comments on both sites I can only say that the attitude between the two sites is like light and day. This article just eloquently summarised what I think is wrong with Ars' viewpoint. What Techdirt realises and Ars doesn't is that readers will give you money if you're providing a valuable service and, more importantly, you connect with them and build a relationship and trust.

    After reading this article I turned off adblock, and reloaded the page. No difference, that's odd - ah I guess it's my hosts file. I'm not turning that off, I don't like doubleclick tracking me. So I went to the front page and saw a big "CwF" link, with a suspicious looking bit.ly link. Had to be an ad, so figured I'd see if TD actually practise what they preach and have decent ads. Waddayaknow, I actually learned a new business model, laughed at the idea of paying $100MM to shut them up, and signed up to be an "Insider" on the spot.

    Way to go Techdirt, and thanks to Ars for making me think about the issue. Hope everyone involve moves on and up.

     

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    heretic, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Bye-bye Ars, hello TechDirt!

    The Ars “experiment” annoyed me so much that I removed their RSS feed from my bookmarks toolbar. And, because they have a “you must be logged in to post” policy, I didn't even bother to notify them of my grievances with their actions.

    [ Sidenote:
    The MAKE Magazine blog also has a “you must be logged in to post” policy and there have been several times I had something to share which would have added value to the blog post, but was prevented from doing so by their policy. Their stated reason was to better deal with comment trolls; to which I reply with a pearl of wisdom from an agrarian society:

    Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
    ]

     

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    David Gerard (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:05pm

    Don't annoy people

    Another anecdote! I got enough positive moderations on Slashdot that they said "Thanks for your contributions, tick here not to see ads!" I actually refrained from ticking the box, because I know they live off the ads and I didn't mind them.

    Until they had an ad that pegged the CPU in Chromium and made browsing or using the machine impossible.

    I switched off ads and haven't switched them on since.

    Don't annoy people if you want them to look at your ads.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    If the Ars techtards feel that way then they should make their content only available by a paid subscription.

    I've gotten viruses in the past from adverts, so I use http://msmvps.com/blogs/hostsnews/default.aspx to block ads.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    I don't routinely block ads, but it's getting to the point where I'm considering it. Several high profile sites have contracts with ad networks were recently infested with malware. While my Windows anti-virus appeared to catch them all (and my Linux system was unaffected since they were Windows-based viruses), I didn't appreciate having my systems under attack from content forwarded by legitimate sites.

    I do block Flash everywhere with Flashblock. Flash consumes a fair bit of resources, and I hate the auto-play (with audio) that many advertisements use.

    Like another poster, I will avoid sites with masking Flash advertisements that don't have clear and easy to find close or skip options.

    If a site is more than about 25% advertisements (by screen real estate) than that site does not provide content. It is merely an advertising platform. If I have to scroll down more than 25% of a screen to start reading content, then that site is also merely an advertising platform. I'll avoid those sites unless I am specifically looking to purchase an item.

     

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    yossi, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:26pm

    i just recently saw a "push down" ad on another site, and the only thing that pissed me off more than the pushing down was the pulling back up afterward.

    when i see an ad, even a big expanded one, i'll just scroll down a bit so it wont distract me and commence reading. in this case though, just as i started reading all the text moved again.
    I block ads at home, but most of the time i wont bother installing the blocked while at school, that site is the reason i installed it this session.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:39pm

    What's up with this corporate entitlement mentality? Ad blockers are nothing more than pressing the mute button while commercials are on TV or getting up to do something else while the commercials are going - guess that's stealing too?

    Got news for them and others - I didn't sign anything stating I would submit to viewing ads in 'payment' for going to a site.

    But I have a Linux proxy between the web and myself. I use it to block objectionable sites along with any other domain I choose. I pay for the internet service; so what I choose to allow in and not allow are my business.

    Many 'ad' domains and many 'analytics' domains are blocked 100% at my end. I'm not getting paid to allow the ads bandwidth on my connection nor am I getting paid for any 'analysis' work - until I am, they stay blocked.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:40pm

    Oh and.. "A good business model is one where everyone is happy with the transaction, not one where one party feels forced or coerced into accepting something they don't want."

    Is one of the very best summaries of this whole problem now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    I have to admit I use both ABP and NoScript and any site I regularly visit, like Techdirt, is heavily altered. I literally strip all the extraneous junk, what I find junk anyway, from the site using the ABP element hiding helper. The result is a clean page with only the information I'm interested in.

    Any website that doesn't want me reading their content can block me and I'll happily go elsewhere.

     

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    Oroboros (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:45pm

    A quote and my appreciation

    A man may fail many times but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.

    -John Burroughs

    This was one of the harder lessons for me to learn in life, and I still fall into the trap of blame from time to time.

    Of course, once I blame someone else for my failing, I've eliminated the one and only hope of actually learning from my mistakes and correcting them.

    On a slightly related note - I'm fighting a battle with the phone book companies that dump their garbage on our doorsteps every year. In theory, you can opt-out. In reality, if you live in an apartment building, you can't opt-out and they'll say as much if pressed on it. DEX deliveries to my 9 unit building weighed in at over 100 lbs, all of which were sent straight to the landfill as we have no recycling service and no one in my building sees a need for White or Yellow Pages in the era of cell phones and Google.

    We had a bill introduced in the CO legislature that would have required a switch to an opt-in model. I had to laugh at DEX sending a representative all the way from New Jersey to Denver to testify about how they have "no vested financial interest in delivering phone books to consumers who don't want them".

    If that had been true, there would have been no reason to oppose the bill (which they succeeded in killing).

    So I've moved on to targeting the advertisers. I want them to see the photos I have of these phone books in the trash so that they will realize just how much money they are wasting.

    I appreciate the TechDirt crew for learning from your mistakes and sharing them here :)

     

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    Joe (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:26pm

    Wow, I had white-listed them after reading that article, but now I've seen some of their responses to their users. Breaking the site and then trying to scold and guilt their users? Screw them!

    I'll just do what they want me to do and never come back. It was rare that I ever found read-worthy articles on Ars anyway...

     

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    ananoymous coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:28pm

    Please block ads

    I for one was a website publisher that felt the way Ars did. I have finaly come around and realized, it would be better if the free-ad model died and all of you had to pay a penny per page. I'd never develop another free/ ad model site again. You may say "I'll just go to a free site" but you are not going to if enough publishers see the light.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

      Re: Please block ads

      I for one was a website publisher that felt the way Ars did. I have finaly come around and realized, it would be better if the free-ad model died and all of you had to pay a penny per page. I'd never develop another free/ ad model site again. You may say "I'll just go to a free site" but you are not going to if enough publishers see the light.

      Heh, if enough publishers decide to opt-out like that, then it will make it *easy* for us free sites to clean up and take away the readership...

       

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        ananoymous coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re: Please block ads

        You obviously don't run a high traffic free site. I do and it cost a lot of money. You get more than 50,000 per day you are going to have to get money from somewhere. I guess you can always ask the magical server fairy for bandwidth but I pay 3 grand a month.

         

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    Trails, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:39pm

    Wow

    I'm a long time ars reader. I never subscribed, I never blocked ads.

    But I like their site, I recommend their links. Not sure what to make of all this. The discussion thread is appalling, both in some of the reasoning, and the behaviour of some of the Ars staff (MrPizza, whoever that is, should have his keyboard taken away, he's clearly not mature enough to own one).

    I get that ad blockers hurt their revenue, but they went about it in the wrong way, labelling all ad blockers as leechers. It's too strong, given the maliciousness of ads on the general web. As many have pointed out, this could have been handled orders of magnitude better.

    The bigger thing for me, though, is what this says about the mindset there. I used to see Ars as a bastion of fair, intelligent, pithy tech reporting. That reputation is tarnished.

    I'm not sure I'll give them up, but they certainly have taken a step down imo, and in many others.

    Aside, I find this whole thing ironic:
    greynite : ...The DRM comment struck me as very poignant. And indeed, when I think about it, entirely accurate.
    Caesar ( Editor in Chief ) : ...We're not doing anything that punishes "legit" customers...
    Kurt ( Tech Director ) : Flashblock is a really tough case, and I don't generally consider it to be "ad blocking". It's unfortunate that their implementation makes it behave that way, but I wouldn't take the ad blocking comments as referring to Flashblock if I were you.

    But it's not DRM, right?

     

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    Nicholas Overstreet (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:56pm

    I pay over $100/month for internet.
    I paid for my computer.
    If I don't want ads displayed on my computer over the connection I paid for, I won't.

     

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    Stu (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:04pm

    Thank you!

    I am an occasional Techdirt reader, but this article got me to register.

    I'm a long time reader of ArsTechnica and a "Premier Subscriber" but the attitude of the staff angers me and I don't think I'll renew my sub. I know I won't be missed, but I will miss Ars and some in the community.

    I guess Conde Nast has decided enough time has passed and it's time to shake this asset they spent a lot of money on and see if some cash falls out so they can recoup the cost. It also wouldn't surprise me that this is their approach to put their own people in place and get rid of the legacy "management."

    I aggressively block ads and scripting because of the security risks inherent in allowing untrusted code to run. The staff at Ars didn't even seem to accept that as a reasonable response.

     

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    Joe, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:40pm

    You run the same ads, for the same audience... so what your plan?

    I am calling foul here, I think you are sniping at competitor (in the see someone trip, so why not give them a shove way). You are basically the same site as Ars:
    * Buisness model: Ad supported
    * Content: Tech news & articles
    * Ad model: multiple block ads and banners servered by doubleclick.net
    * Ad type: semi-anmated flash ads
    * Size: You are 1/10 the site Ars is

    Ars did make the mistake of assuming everyone who blocked Ads on their basically thought Ad supported sites should die in a fire (turns out that's probably 5%-10% of readers not 40%). So they appealed to people who ad-block because of crazy ads in general to try whitelisting their site. You *fundamentally* can't be opposed to this because you are supported by exactly the same model, and claim to want to use that model well into the future.

    Every person who read the appeal and didn't whitelist Ars, won't whitelist your site for the same reasons (don't like javascript, flash, or doubleclick). So that basically nullifies your entire articles point, except for not understating your community.

     

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      out_of_the_blue, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:00pm

      Re: You run the same ads, for the same audience... so what your plan?

      Thanks Joe for reminding me of a point.

      I considered whether this site (I'm *new* here too) was cynically taking advantage of competitor's stupidity. -- SO?

      I don't mind the ARS guys putting this out directly, NOR their take on the revenue side, but the *personal* comments from their staff, about as bad for contempt as any I've seen, that just set me off.

      So even if author here is *exactly* the same as the ARS guys PLUS an opportunist, well, at least he *knows* how to run a business by *NOT* insulting potential customers. I learned that long ago by reading Lew Kornfeld (former head of Radio Shack): you can't please everyone, but you *can* avoid making reasonable people angry.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:27pm

      Re: You run the same ads, for the same audience... so what your plan?

      You are basically the same site as Ars:
      * Buisness model: Ad supported


      No. Ads represent a small fraction of our business. Please look at our corporate site http://www.floor64.com/ to understand what we do. The ad portion of our business is a small part.

       

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        Joe, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:34pm

        Re: Re: You run the same ads, for the same audience... so what your plan?

        Even if you don't get most of your money from traditional ads, you still sell your reader's attention to companies. In this case you do it through the guise of "insight" giving "conversations". You basically state this in your own advertisement page:
        "Rather than just focusing on banner ads, contact us about ways to drive connective, useful conversations that have real ROI for your ***advertising*** dollar." (emphasis mine)

        I would bet that most of the people who participate in your "conversations", aren't the kind of people who are "down with ads" and have no problem with unobtrusive ads supporting original content. These are the same people Ars was trying to appeal to. Ars just wants eyeballs, you want consulting services and focused attention.

        It seems that you run TechDirt as a loss leader to draw people into ad-campaigns. They might be nicely crafted, thought provoking, and informative but they are still ad-campaigns. I am not faulting you for the strategy, just pointing it out, because it can be hard to find through the marking buzzwords and jargon on your site.

        I notice you didn't give me any ad-blocking numbers, and it doesn't I learned you are a business major MBA type ;).

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: You run the same ads, for the same audience... so what your plan?

          Even if you don't get most of your money from traditional ads, you still sell your reader's attention to companies.

          Yes, of course. As we've said over and over again, that's a key scarcity. Why wouldn't you do that? That's called being a good business person.

          But what's different is we don't sell them *out*. We set up solutions where our community is better off as a result.

          In this case you do it through the guise of "insight" giving "conversations".

          No guise. Blatantly. And isn't that a much better solution? Rather than simply hawking our community's eyeballs, we sell their brains -- and give them money for taking part. Again, we're back to a win-win-win solution, rather than Ars' solution where Ars wins, but the community and advertisers lose.

          You basically state this in your own advertisement page:
          "Rather than just focusing on banner ads, contact us about ways to drive connective, useful conversations that have real ROI for your ***advertising*** dollar." (emphasis mine)


          Yes, again. There's no secret there. We're quite upfront about it. What we're saying is that spending money on banner ads is a waste, so why not turn that budget into something valuable: real insights.

          I don't know what you think you're saying here, but you're reinforcing the point that I'm making.

          I would bet that most of the people who participate in your "conversations", aren't the kind of people who are "down with ads" and have no problem with unobtrusive ads supporting original content. These are the same people Ars was trying to appeal to. Ars just wants eyeballs, you want consulting services and focused attention.

          Right. Exactly. And which seems like a better solution? The one where we respect the community and our customers get a much better end result (insights and real engagement from a community of smart people) or the one where a publisher pisses off its community, blames them for its own failures, and then forces bad ads that people don't want to see on them?

          My whole point is that I would suggest that the former solution is better than the latter.

          It seems that you run TechDirt as a loss leader to draw people into ad-campaigns. They might be nicely crafted, thought provoking, and informative but they are still ad-campaigns. I am not faulting you for the strategy, just pointing it out, because it can be hard to find through the marking buzzwords and jargon on your site.

          No one said otherwise. In fact, it's a huge theme on this site:

          http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080318/004136567.shtml

          Been writing about it for years. Everything you do is advertising in some manner, but *good* advertising is advertising that makes everyone better off.

          This blog post is advertising. You commenting is advertising. It's all advertising.

          But notice the important thing: with our model, no one adblocks it away. That's the point.

          I notice you didn't give me any ad-blocking numbers, and it doesn't I learned you are a business major MBA type ;).


          Huh? What ad-blocking numbers?

           

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        EJ Campbell, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:40pm

        Re: Re: You run the same ads, for the same audience... so what your plan?

        If ads aren't important and you'd like to only show them to users who want them, why not add a checkbox, that'll let users disable ads if they choose to? Why make your users go through the trouble of installing AdBlock?

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 12:24am

          Re: Re: Re: You run the same ads, for the same audience... so what your plan?

          If ads aren't important and you'd like to only show them to users who want them, why not add a checkbox, that'll let users disable ads if they choose to? Why make your users go through the trouble of installing AdBlock?

          Hmm. That's actually a really interesting idea. I wouldn't mind adding that option. I'll talk to the team about it, though we have a long list of features we'd like to add, but that's one that should get added. Just might take a little while until we get to it after the other stuff.

          Good idea!

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You run the same ads, for the same audience... so what your plan?

            I love you so much Mike. I don't know anyone who is as awesome as you are with regards to their customers.

             

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    david, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:41pm

    Ad Blockers

    I am happy to use an ad blocker as there are some sites with inappropriate, down right annoying, repetitive or just uninteresting ads. In those cases the advertiser is not losing out if I do not see their ads because I would just ignore them if I did see them. As for the ads I do allow, I take notice of them if they are relevant to my interests and sometimes they are of interest. It's just the same as reading a news paper, I read it for the items that interest me and if I want to read the ads I will, otherwise I just turn the page. At least in a news paper the ads are not jumping up and down on the page.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:50pm

    Never seen anyone troll their own website,

    but the ars gang have. I'd just barely begun "stealing their content" by innocently dropping in on the front page to try them out -- while blocking everything but images.

    A BAD first impression of *them* didn't change despite general sympathy with their point, and solidified after looking through a "DOI" thread where this came up.

    What most tweaks me is their legalistic view of TOS, and I now *want* them to enforce it as they view it, BUT while they don't, I'll just avail myself of their content on the *de*facto* terms without viewing 3rd party ads or even their own images (the noscript button to turn off images is on my menu bar). Frankly, I'd like to see such TOS tried by a jury of my peers: I believe their own comments would doom them.

    The question I have is WHY they dug in on this. At least one said directly that their intent was to run off those who block ads. They don't seem to grasp that "freeloaders" are potential customers, and that providing them free access is part of their cost of doing business; it's advertising themselves. Instead, they've driven off who knows how many potential subscribers.

    Hope you ARS guys read this. It's a valiant experiment that may become a legendary for how NOT to behave. You burned up my goodwill, and to connect to points above, that IS solely your fault.

     

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    Kent, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:08pm

    Ad Blocking

    I have a long memory and I will never allow scripts from doubleclick.net.

    If you served ads from your own servers and thereby vouched for the content and you had policies on privacy that thereby applied to the ads, well, then ads wouldn't be a problem.

    But the situation is more like "Hello, thank you for visiting our site. Our site is paid for by these goons. Please allow the goons to go through your pockets while you view our content. Please allow the goons to follow you to other sites. The goons are responsible for their own behavior and whatever content they choose to show you. We are not responsible for anything the goons may do while you are visiting our site, including giving you diseases."

    I block the goons.

     

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    ninerseventango (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:56pm

    So Many Comments ....

    I still have to say it:

    It's MY computer. MY bandwidth. MY time. I control what runs on my computer.

    If you want to display something on your page when I request it, then put it on your page without trying to run a script.

    If your ad is so great and it needs Flash or java to run, put a link to it and I'll run it if I want to.

    Anyone who doesn't run NoScript is vulnerable to the latest nasties, and your trusted website admin might not even know his site was the vector for it.

     

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    nasch (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:35pm

    Crosstalk

    One of the Ars commenters said this piece is so horrible he's never coming back to Techdirt. Strangely, he offered no explanation of what is so horrible about it...

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:27pm

      Re: Crosstalk

      One of the Ars commenters said this piece is so horrible he's never coming back to Techdirt. Strangely, he offered no explanation of what is so horrible about it...

      Heh, really? It's horrible that we respect our community and don't view them as dollar signs? It's horrible that we let them make their own decisions?

      Oh well. :) I'm seriously trying to figure out how anyone would read this and think that's a reason to avoid this site.

       

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    nasch (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 9:02pm

    Crosstalk

    One of the Ars commenters said this piece is so horrible he's never coming back to Techdirt. Strangely, he offered no explanation of what is so horrible about it...

     

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    Shooter, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 9:09pm

    As many others here do, I run both NoScript and AdBlock+. I've gotten into rows with people because they pulled the same stupid BS that Arsehole Technica did here, minus the blocking - flailing their noodly little arms and crying about how I was "STEELING TEH CONTENTZ" because I used ABP.

    How is it theft for me to view your site without ads, but it's not stealing from ME to use my computer cycles and Verizon's bandwidth for unnecessary, intrusive, often dangerous advertising?

    The screaming idiots over there at Arse, or their ass-kissers here, could try answering that one - if they had the mental faculties to do so.

     

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    DanVan (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:31pm

    If a site is good enough, I dont mind giving a few bucks and it seems most sites tend to go that way as well Blocking adblocking users is laughably stupid. I will not read there if they block me nor will I allow their ads on my computer....period Ads have gotten out of control the last few years. Ads taking up full screens, playing right away without asking, etc....it's a joke

     

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    Newf, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:16pm

    Some serious hardcore smackdown there..

    While reading it I was waiting for the blood splatters on the screen effect..

    DAMN..good stuff

     

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    Jagged, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:47pm

    blocking ads saves me time and my company money.

    I'm responsible for a few 1000 computers at a medium sized corporation. I was sick of cleaning all of the spyware infestations from them on an almost daily basis. I tried everything and nothing worked. I installed adblock plus on the machines that used firefox and it did help somewhat but not completely. Not everyone uses firefox, plus there are many non browser applications that can fetch ads. Also adblock plus didn't prevent all of the infections on the machines it was installed on.

    So I searched for a universal solution for Windows. I finally found it in a tiny, not as well known, Australian made application called Ad Muncher. This gem is of an application is truly amazing. It also decreased our bandwidth usage and made the entire network more responsive. I was throughly impressed with the results after using the trial version. Not only did it prevent any new infections on every machine, all of the users of those machines are more productive and happier. Needless to say we now are licensed users and fans of this tiny little application. My job is easier, my bosses are pleased. Life is good.

     

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    paco, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 12:45am

    I love it

    If you run a company, it's your responsibility to put together a business model that works.
    That sentence is so right on point that it hurts. Nicely written article. I can't agree more. Keep up the good work.

     

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    paco, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 12:46am

    I love it

    If you run a company, it's your responsibility to put together a business model that works.
    That sentence is so right on point that it hurts. Nicely written article. I can't agree more. Keep up the good work.

     

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    Don, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:01am

    Good article. I use adblock and would be one of those people who'd have been hacked off by an ad that pushed the thing I'd come to look at out of the way and generally messed around. It's because of that kind of thing, and ads that pop up over the thing I'm trying to read or play sounds or garish animations, that got me installing adblock in the first place. Would be nice if there was a code of practice to limit ads behaviour, size and positioning to a non-intrusive level so that they could get an automatic whitelisting. You'd get your page impressions and I'd get a good experience when visiting the site. Until such time I'll adblock away and as for sites like arstechnica I just won't visit them.

     

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    Tristan, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:05am

    I use Ad Blocker and I just disabled it for techdirt. I always turn it off for sites that I get feel I am getting valuable information and interesting content. But if a site puts up annoying ads(Yahoo.com) I turn it on.

     

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    Escribano, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:35am

    Whitelisted

    And now, that's how a website gets whitelisted. You're out of my adblock thanks to this great article.

     

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    identicon
    :), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:34am

    I was a Ars fan, but not anymore.

    I wouldn't allow flash outside a sandbox ever!
    I read some guy trying to downplay the problem of rogues, saying it doesn't exist, well drive by downloads are not an illusion, any day you go to places like secunia and see the advisories at least one is about a web exploit.

    Don't have anything against ad's, space.com had one that forced you to go through a page before it showed the content, it didn't bother me, but their flash app I never saw functioning.

     

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    :), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:56am

     

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    kb, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:47am

    Wow! What jerks.

    Amazing. I don't use an ad blocker, so I don't have a pony in this race, per se., but I find the attitude from the AT staff to be appalling. I've removed them (literally) from my daily read list.

     

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    Indy, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:14am

    unbookmarked ars

    Your article(which I agree with 100%) + their editors attacking readers told me enough is enough to bail on ars. Consider me a new reader of your site as well, for what it's worth.

     

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    Anon, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    I think I will ad an exception to my blocklist for your site.

     

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    Tristan, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:25am

    Use of Ad/Script Blockers

    I've decided that I'm no-one's target audience. That means all ads are irrelevant to me. I don't buy stuff because I saw an ad. I am not easily conned into special promotions. I only buy into what I need, when I need it, only if I really need it.

    I'm especially not a link junkie - I won't click on everything I see on the web. In fact, I won't click on 99% of the stuff I see - because it's irrelevant to the context of my visit, which more often than not is to get valuable information.

    Even though ads are a waste of time with respect to me, I'm still inundated with ads on the radio, the TV, in movies I rent, in the games I play, while I'm driving down the street, from the sky during outdoor events, over the P.A. system while I'm shopping, in magazines and newspapers, in my email inbox, in my snailmail mailbox and on my doorknob, under my windshield wiper, and the list goes on and on.

    I find advertisers have completely lost the point to advertising. Instead of making advertising useful, they've made it as annoying as spam. I feel as if I'm drowning in a sea of disgustingly bad and incredibly wasteful marketing practices.

    In short: Advertising has become incredibly pervasive, invasive, and obtuse.

    That said, the best reason to use Ad/Script blockers is to restrict the attack vectors for malware.

    The vectors are numerous, and I've had to be picky and choosy, and I don't regret it, even if it hurts some advertisers. Sorry guys and gals - your ads are not more important than the security of my PC.

    My circle of trust doesn't include flash/swf, pdf, quicktime. I protect myself using Firefox, adblock plus and noscript. Since I've included these valuable applications/addons in my circle of trust, I haven't seen any occurrence of malware.

    I'm still not completely immune - I definitely feel a bit "safer".

    I recommend these utilities for any computer I encounter that is loaded full of malware. Don't forget, the average person surfing the net doesn't have a clue about locking down their PC - it's not uncommon to find machines bogged down with multiple malware infestations. I'll note that PC's I equip with software from my circle of trust have been free of malware for a year or more - a dramatic improvement!

    PS to all advertisers: If you really want to get me hooked on your products and services, offer something useful for free. I'm 100x more likely to donate money for a well-developed free product, and it draws me closer to the full-range of products and services that company is offering. Products and services like that often come with the best advertising - word of mouth - a form of advertising I completely believe in - because it works - more-so in this day and age of blogging and social networking.

     

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    jsf (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:10am

    Nothing New Really

    For those surprised at the way ArsTechnica did this experiment and the reasons they have, it is really nothing new for the site.

    I have been active on ArsTechnica for over 10 years and they almost never announce site changes in advance. Be they minor or major. And when they make a change there is almost always an uproar on the forums and the staff brushes off the majority of the comments.

    The attitude about ads and ad blockers is also nothing new and has been brought up before on the site. I specifically remember a long forum discussion about it earlier last year.

    Now I understand that a sites like ArsTechnica need ad revenue to pay for their bandwidth and hosting. Thus, I do not specifically block ads. If a site has ads that really bother me I will just not visit that site.

    I do however indirectly block a bunch of ads because I either do not have Flash installed or I have it disabled. Most stuff that uses Flash is just plan annoying, ads included, I just don't want that crap. Particularly animated ads disrupting my ability to focus on reading the web site itself. If a site really wants my eyes they will not have animated ads.

    I guess the real problem is that advertisers believe, wrongly or rightly, that annoying animated ads work. They probably do work well enough, just like email spam, that they are worth doing for a ROI point of view. All I know is they do not work on me and as mentioned by Mike annoying ads make me think poorly of the company who's ad it is. But then I'm an old fart that stuck in my ways.

     

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    Daniel, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:16am

    Other sites

    Since the article on Ars some sites have linked it and started a debate on the topic. And what strikes me the most is that all of them, the ones ive encountered, blame their community for destroying their sites.

    "we want money, you're thiefs!"

    Its a f-ing joke imo!

     

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    Sam, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:40am

    Great article

    This is a fantastic article, it's refreshing to see this kind of opinion on the matter, especially from a site which actually makes money from advertising.

    I run a website, a small low traffic one, and I'm about to open a new one, I beleive it's my responsibility to fund my own websites and as such they're hosted out of my own pocket and don't sport any adverts.

     

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    Joe, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:50am

    Get your Ars out of your Technica

    There attitude prompted me to completely block them:

    Filter rule
    -My Ad Blocking Rules
    ||arstechica.com

    *IF* I get a link from someone, I'll see it at "text only", but I'll never willingly go there again.

     

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    Ken Fisher, EIC, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:58am

    Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

    Many thanks to Mike for bringing some awareness to this issue. We’ve experienced an outpouring of support from the majority of our readers; subscriptions have exploded, the percentage of ad blockers has dropped considerably, and many people are thanking us for explaining some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. While Mike reports that we enraged the community, actually much of the community sided with our POV, and tens of thousands of people chose to whitelist Ars. Mike also forgot to mention the actual occasion for the article, which was our learning that most people did not understand that ads are paid per-view and not per-click. Turns out that this was a big revelation for many people!

    The headline here implies that I said that ad blockers kill sites and the editorial implies I said they were stealing, but both positions are clearly ridiculous and not what I explicitly wrote. My argument boiled down to this: “Viewing ads, not just clicking on them, generates money, and while I’m not going to call you names if you still choose to ad block, you should know that doing so hurts us and other sites you love financially for the aforementioned reasons: advertisers aren’t paying for clicks on Ars, but views.”

    As an entrepreneur, I know Mike understands that failure is a key ingredient to success. We failed with the way we handled the initial 12 hour experiment Friday night, but the end result has been absolutely tremendous. Mike has pissed off his own readers before, and knows that some heartfelt discussion is a good thing, even if some people aren’t going to like what you have to say. We're stronger today for this, and we'll be even stronger in a year.

    To be clear, I didn’t say people have no right to block ads, as Mike implies. We know they do, which is why we also sell books, have a subscription program, and have have partnered with advertisers to do amazing things for our community like build our mobile site. We also do content similar to Mike’s UPS-sponsored program (but different in some ways). What readers do have a right to know is what effects their behavior might have on the sites they love. So we told them, and then they make the choice.

    I congratulate Mike on the fact that he leaves money on the table by not running ad programs that really irritated users. We’ve been doing that as well for 12 years, and we have the strictest ad policies at Conde Nast. It really is the best policy. Many of our readers told us they block ads because of specific ad types which we don't even run. Once they learned that, they were happy to unblock us. So, it’s good to experiment and try new things. This is why last fall we started collecting readers' thought on what could make IT advertising better, so we can help the agencies understand the counterproductive things they sometimes do.

     

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      Rich, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 9:28am

      Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

      I believe you are just trying to backpedal. You certain did insinuate that people that use ad blocks are thieves, and that you'd prefer that they just left Ars. You basically told them "good riddens."

      As for you not say people have no right to block ads: that is a blatant lie! You've banned more than one people that admitted to the use, and when people complained, you pointed them to your TOS. You know, the document that states your idiotic believe that end users have no right to modify how THEIR browser displays pages. You think you can disallow me from reformatting or even resizing the page? I'd modify how my browser presents pages as I see fit. If you don't like it, you'll show you what you can kiss. I find that attitude beyond presumptuous!

       

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      Trails (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 10:10am

      Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

      I've been a long time AT reader, I don't adblock. I went through the comments on the DOI article on AT.

      Do yourself a PR favour. Whoever DrPizza is, take away his/her keyboard. They're clearly too immature to be posting on your site.

      That guy has single handledly dropped my opinion of AT considerably, not to mention the attitude of you and the rest of the staff on that thread. Getting into confrontations with readers is not smart, even if the reader is being a jerk.

      You say "What readers do have a right to know is what effects their behavior might have on the sites they love. So we told them, and then they make the choice." You didn't tell them. You turned off stories for people with adblock. Then you told them in a very condescending fashion, implying people with adblock were damaging AT with intent. The arrogance is astounding.

      I'm really shocked AT didn't know better than to handle this in the way you have.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 11:20am

      Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

      @Ken

      You write:
      "The headline here implies that I said that ad blockers kill sites and the editorial implies I said they were stealing, but both positions are clearly ridiculous and not what I explicitly wrote."

      You also wrote:
      "Imagine running a restaurant where 40% of the people who came and ate didn't pay."

      That analogy implies that your adblocker readers are akin to dine-and-dash restaurant-goers, doesn't it? Is that not an accusation of theft of some kind?

      I think what Masnick is trying to say is that your post on page views is not as "educational" as it is "accusatory" -- blaming adblockers for your loss in revenue. BUT -- You are NOT guaranteed pageviews or traffic. It's up to you to figure out how to better monetize the people who *are* willing to pay or present themselves as ad-friendly eyeballs. You are certainly free to lock your doors and put up signs that say "freeloaders are not welcome" -- but in the end, that will only reduce the goodwill you're trying to build with your potential audience.

       

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      Brendan (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 11:43am

      Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

      Flash ads are completely unacceptable.

      Animation should be avoid as well, except for basic gif image rotation.

       

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      Chris (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

      Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

      Ken,

      I understand this is an issue you and your staff are passionate about as it seems to be your primary revenue stream, but your stance on ad blocking (and the bans that result to those who admit it) was never clear until I read the whole sordid mess of a thread at Ars.

      I never really hung out at the forums which may explain why your stance seems so odd and new to me. Your responses were blunt-turned-spin-doctoring, Clint's (which really rubbed me the wrong way in his dismissiveness...almost arrogance), Ben was surprisingly harsh, while Aurich's was the only level-headed one in the bunch. The fact that you stated that "acting professional" is a term that has little meaning to you just caught me off guard.

      Instead of a back-handed pseudo-apology about the "experiment" and some spin-doctoring about success, a simple straight out apology followed by an honest explanation for the whole experiment would have been nice. Whether you want to publicly admit it or not, you/Clint/whomever made the decision to implement the experiment mishandled communicating with your community, and while it won't have an immediate negative impact, it has put the conspiracy theorists/alarmists on alert for any future actions.

      The funny thing is if this was communicated nicely, either via a front page editorial BEFOREHAND, or something more slick like a banner that appears when it detects that adblocking is in use explaining this issue, I would have been more receptive to whitelisting the site. As it is, the harsh comments coming from you and your staff really didn't help educate me on the issue, nor did the reactions from the trolls in the thread either.

      I've been a long time Ars reader (well, about 4 years so far) and only recently started using adblock at its default settings to improve my browsing experience. Perhaps any publicity is good publicity, but I guess I expected more from you guys. As a result I've been (as your and other Ars-staffers' responses suggested) trying to check out other tech sites, Techdirt included, without an adblock to compare content (quality, quantity, etc) as well as level of annoyance with advertising.

      Some sites respect their readership even if they aren't paying customers such as Techdirt apparently, while others (such as Ars Technica) have shown a more harsh side. I hope you succeed in finding a business model that doesn't involve such harsh responses to your readership or spin-doctoring to explain.

       

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        jsf (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 9:17am

        Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

        Chris,

        I've been reading ArsTechnica for over a decade and the one thing that has always been a constant is that most of the staff and most of the top posters on their forums are very arrogant. They truly do think that they know the absolute best way of doing things and very seldom apologize in a straight forward manner.

        That being said I still visit the site almost daily because of the quality of the main sites articles and the entertainment value and knowledge of the forum posters. I just ignore the garbage that I have no use for. I have also been a subscriber for a long time now.

         

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:48pm

      Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

      "Viewing ads, not just clicking on them, generates money, and while I’m not going to call you names if you still choose to ad block, you should know that doing so hurts us and other sites you love financially for the aforementioned reasons: advertisers aren’t paying for clicks on Ars, but views."

      Geez, website owners seem to have a really strange relationship with advertisers. What you seem to say here is that rather than develop a business model that benefits both your advertisers and your readers better, you want to screw both of them by forcing one to view ads they don't want and the other to pay for it.

      If you're unwilling to put up a paywall and genuinely are prepared to let people block ads, add a damn button to switch them off and then charge the advertiser more for the fact that their adverts are only being seen by those who have chosen to view them. If you can't find an advertiser who agrees to that then it really is a fools game and I don't have sympathy for any of you.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:29pm

      Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

      Many thanks to Mike for bringing some awareness to this issue. We’ve experienced an outpouring of support from the majority of our readers; subscriptions have exploded, the percentage of ad blockers has dropped considerably, and many people are thanking us for explaining some of the behind-the-scenes stuff.

      Good. I'm glad. Though, given the number of folks who have been saying how insulted they were, I would think that there was a better approach where you could have received the same sorts of results without telling people who block ads that it's their fault that you guys were struggling with your current business model.

      While Mike reports that we enraged the community, actually much of the community sided with our POV, and tens of thousands of people chose to whitelist Ars.

      Again, given how many people have expressed outrage, I think it's disingenuous of you to suggest that a large % of your userbase was no insulted. Certainly not the majority, but a noticeable amount. Seriously, this was *the* most submitted story to us this weekend, with 90% of the submissions expressing shock and anger at Ars for taking such a stance.

      I have no doubt that it caused people to whitelist Ars, but it did it by threatening and guilting them. That's not a positive relationship. You guys should know better than that given your (excellent, by the way) coverage of other industries make the same mistake.

      Mike also forgot to mention the actual occasion for the article, which was our learning that most people did not understand that ads are paid per-view and not per-click. Turns out that this was a big revelation for many people!

      I didn't "forget it." You are, again, being disingenuous in your response, and it's really unbecoming. The "actual occasion" for the article was you pissing off a ton of your readers by blocking them without notice or explanation. If the real occasion was to remind people that ads are CPM rather than CPC then you just write that article. And you don't say that adblockers are "devastating" sites.

      The headline here implies that I said that ad blockers kill sites and the editorial implies I said they were stealing, but both positions are clearly ridiculous and not what I explicitly wrote.

      You clearly implied both things, even if you then explicitly tried to deny it. It's like saying "I'm not anti-semitic, but check out those stingy jews over there." Your intent was clear, even if you tried to put a blanket disclaimer on it.

      At best, it was a passive aggressive attack on many of your community. "Hey, we're not saying you're thieves, but you're like people who eat at restaurants and leave without paying the bill."

      My argument boiled down to this: “Viewing ads, not just clicking on them, generates money, and while I’m not going to call you names if you still choose to ad block, you should know that doing so hurts us and other sites you love financially for the aforementioned reasons: advertisers aren’t paying for clicks on Ars, but views.”

      And my argument, boiled down was this: "Don't blame your community for your business model problems. If you want them to act in a certain way, provide them benefits for doing so -- don't punish them for acting otherwise, and then tell them it's their fault." And *you* might not have "called them names," but people on your staff did -- which many people found insulting.

      Furthermore, I didn't even get into this, but you seem to be admitting to your advertisers that you are lying to them. You know your readers don't want to look at the ads and don't look at them, but now you're creating a lie -- getting them to load the ads -- at the expense of your advertisers -- when you know that those people won't look at them. I find that troubling, and I would imagine many of your advertisers might as well.

      As an entrepreneur, I know Mike understands that failure is a key ingredient to success. We failed with the way we handled the initial 12 hour experiment Friday night, but the end result has been absolutely tremendous.

      Excellent. I'm glad that you were able to recover somewhat gracefully, though, again, I would suggest as a fan of your site, that you pay attention to the widespread complaints we are still hearing from folks who are still quite upset about your actions. You still seem to be implying that you don't care about them.

      Mike has pissed off his own readers before, and knows that some heartfelt discussion is a good thing, even if some people aren’t going to like what you have to say. We're stronger today for this, and we'll be even stronger in a year.

      I certainly hope you're stronger today for this, though I still haven't seen an apology to all of the people you pissed off. And I also don't recall ever pissing off readers like this in any way.

      To be clear, I didn’t say people have no right to block ads, as Mike implies

      You didn't say it, but your tech staff did, in fact, say exactly that with their block.

      We know they do, which is why we also sell books, have a subscription program, and have have partnered with advertisers to do amazing things for our community like build our mobile site. We also do content similar to Mike’s UPS-sponsored program (but different in some ways). What readers do have a right to know is what effects their behavior might have on the sites they love. So we told them, and then they make the choice.

      After blocking them and blaming them.

      I congratulate Mike on the fact that he leaves money on the table by not running ad programs that really irritated users.

      Ken, I'm afraid you've missed the point. We don't leave any money on the table. Pissing off our readers is short-term gain at long-term loss. We have benefited much more in not doing that. It's not leaving money on the table. It's maximizing long term opportunity.

      Many of our readers told us they block ads because of specific ad types which we don't even run. Once they learned that, they were happy to unblock us. So, it’s good to experiment and try new things. This is why last fall we started collecting readers' thought on what could make IT advertising better, so we can help the agencies understand the counterproductive things they sometimes do.

      Indeed. But there are good ways to do it, and obnoxious "blame your user ways." You chose the latter, though you now admit it was a mistake. Still, rather than just "explaining" why you hoped they wouldn't block ads, you guilt-tripped people and compared them to criminals.

      Again, that hasn't worked for any industry before.

      What gets me, honestly, is that of anyone, you guys should totally get this -- and it still seems like you don't. I'm just in shock that a site that I like and respect as much as Ars Technica would treat its readers this way, and still not realize how insulting it was.

       

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        DrPizza (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 2:19am

        Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

        > I have no doubt that it caused people to whitelist Ars, but it did it by threatening and guilting them. That's not a positive relationship. You guys should know better than that given your (excellent, by the way) coverage of other industries make the same mistake.

        Whereas readers reading but not viewing ads _is_ a positive relationship?

        In what sense?

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 2:36am

          Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

          Whereas readers reading but not viewing ads _is_ a positive relationship? In what sense?

          You're kidding, right? Please tell me you're kidding.

          I thought I explained that pretty clearly in the post. We value our community members well beyond seeing them as just there to view banner ads. If blocking the ads makes it easier for them to contribute to the community or to view and share our stories with others, that's an extremely positive relationship.

          In fact, it seems like the coerced relationship that Ars wants to force on people is negative in almost every way. The readers don't want to see the ads, and Ars is effectively admitting that it gladly rips off advertisers by making people who won't actually look ads load them just to give Ars money. Sorry, but if I were an Ars advertiser I'd pull my adds off of the site.

           

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            Ken Fisher, EIC, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 7:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

            This reply will be my last, I'm just slammed for time. The TL;DNR version is: we're doing fine, the results have been great for us, but it saddens me to say that the reporting on this here has been mislreading and argumentative as opposed to balanced and genuine.

            Though, given the number of folks who have been saying how insulted they were, I would think that there was a better approach where you could have received the same sorts of results

            This insight was much more original when I first had it on Saturday and wrote about it. :)

            telling people who block ads that it's their fault that you guys were struggling with your current business model.

            I did not say that we are struggling with our business model, I said that we were doing fine and that this was not going to kill us. It does hurt however, but that's not the same as struggling. If a reader loves us, he or she should reconsider their stance on ad blocking because we could do so much more for them with more revenue.

            Again, given how many people have expressed outrage, I think it's disingenuous of you to suggest that a large % of your userbase was no insulted. Certainly not the majority, but a noticeable amount.

            A noticeable amount is not the same thing as a large amount. The test directly affected 0.15% of our audience. We could debate all day what your and my definition of "large percentage" is. What I can say without any doubt is that the net effect has been tremendously positive.

            I have no doubt that it caused people to whitelist Ars, but it did it by threatening and guilting them.

            No one was threatened or "punished" with anything in my editorial. Before that, it was a 12 hour experiment starting on a Friday night, and the overwhelming majority of people who whitelisted us never saw the experiment live (which was at the lowest traffic point of the week, which should just prove that we were not out to nail a load of people, but to test a proof of concept). The whitelisters were not threatened with anything, and the thousands of people who have e-mailed me to express their thoughts have and not on one occasion said they were threatened. You seem to take it as a given that we had to write some kind of gushy article as a result of the experiment. That's simply not the case. We could have just as easily handled it in the DOI thread, and let it be. Had we learned nothing other than the fact that it worked, that's probably all that would've happened. Instead we learned that there were massive misconceptions about the effects of ad blocking. That is what led to my article.

            I didn't "forget it." You are, again, being disingenuous in your response, and it's really unbecoming.

            I'm disappointed that rather than have a discussion, you would choose to try to impugn my contribution by resorting to mudslinging. I stand by everything I have written here, and I sincerely feel as though you have left out details for the sake of sharpening your take. I'm not alone in that sentiment, having read this thread.

            You clearly implied both things, even if you then explicitly tried to deny it. It's like saying "I'm not anti-semitic, but check out those stingy jews over there."

            I clearly said in unequivocal terms that ad blocking was not going to take Ars Technica off the Internet. I explicitly said that I do not consider it stealing. It's a pretty big stretch to accuse me of saying something when I said the opposite. "Oh, but I know what you really meant" is a weak argument, made even weaker by the fact that your original writing made no mention of the fact that I clearly said it was not stealing and I said that it will not kill Ars. You just left it out, and it appears that you did so to sharpen your knife. It's a stunning omissionand has not gone unnoticed by many of your readers, a large percentage in fact :)

            Furthermore, I didn't even get into this, but you seem to be admitting to your advertisers that you are lying to them. You know your readers don't want to look at the ads and don't look at them, but now you're creating a lie -- getting them to load the ads -- at the expense of your advertisers -- when you know that those people won't look at them.

            Advertisers are keenly aware that people generally do not want to view ads whether they block or not. They know it is their job to break through that barrier, and while many of them take the wrong approach, they all know what they are up against. Furthermore, as we learned from our experiment, a huge number (probably the majority) are blocking ads via sheer inertia, and not because they dislike the ads on our site.

            You didn't say it, but your tech staff did, in fact, say exactly that with their block.

            Yes, the 12 hour experiment to see if we could game a specific ad blocking client. If it truly was not their right, then we would enforce this 24/7. And I would have said as much. You probably noticed that the people who claimed that they were banned, but they were still posting? They weren't even banned, they just got an automated notice.

            We don't leave any money on the table. Pissing off our readers is short-term gain at long-term loss. We have benefited much more in not doing that. It's not leaving money on the table. It's maximizing long term opportunity.

            It is also leaving money on the table. Why you leave money on the table is the same reason we do. Trust me, Mike, I know a thing or two about this business too. In case you're not aware, we have been a considerably successful and have a very strong reputation for listening to our users' complaints about ads, and acting on them when possible.

            Still, rather than just "explaining" why you hoped they wouldn't block ads, you guilt-tripped people and compared them to criminals.

            I didn't compare anybody to criminals, but I can only assume that you are talking about the first half of my restaurant analogy, which of course ends by making two points. First, in our instance it's not the users who pay and therefore it can't be the users that steal (so your dining & dashing thing is just weak), and second, that I explicitly said that it was not stealing immediately following that analogy. As for guilt tripping, you can't make someone feel guilt. You can only explain the possible consequences of their behavior, and see what happens.

            In closing, we are not forcing anything on anyone. We explained the consequences, asked people to reconsider, and left it at that. No one is having content blocked from them, no one is being punished in any way. Yes, for 12 hours starting on a Friday night, we hid content from people using a very specific ad blocker. The result is that we've learned a lot, and so have thousands of people who did not understand the effects of their behavior. Both sides were engaging in behavior that was not optimal, and I think we have a few exceptions both sides have come out better for it. Why don't you contact me in a year, and I'll be glad to give you an interview on how this has all played out.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 8:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

              "In closing, we are not forcing anything on anyone. We explained the consequences, asked people to reconsider, and left it at that. No one is having content blocked from them, no one is being punished in any way."

              Except in the comments that both started and followed your article about the ad blockers you banned anyone's account who admitted to using an adblocker and had no intention of stopping. Them to you or your staff, who represent your site just as much as you do, insulted long-time readers and newcomers alike told them good riddance to bad rubbish and destroyed a trust that is not easy to replace or rebuild.

              I read all of the pages of comments and the behavior of you and your staff was just plain unacceptable.

              The fact that you just keep jumping to "it immediately increased our bottom line" as opposed to showing you care at all about what your readers think really highlights the differences between your company and Mike's, and it does not look at all favorable for you.

               

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              vivaelamor (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 11:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

              "A noticeable amount is not the same thing as a large amount. The test directly affected 0.15% of our audience. We could debate all day what your and my definition of "large percentage"� is. What I can say without any doubt is that the net effect has been tremendously positive."

              I didn't even notice the test (yes I do read your site), yet I was annoyed to find out your stance on ad blockers. I don't even use an ad blocker and you have pretty much proved that there is never going to be a reason to trust any of your affiliates with scripts (which has the side effect of blocking ads). You seem disinterested in engaging with your readers and advertisers to provide a mutually beneficial service.

              If all I am to your site is a leech and you're never going to change your business model to deny me access, or give me a means to support you, then you've pretty much guaranteed a net loss from me for as long as I find your site worth reading. You may find that an acceptable trade off and your figures may even be right, but when you're complaining that people are impacting on your staffs ability to keep their jobs then something doesn't add up. Good luck with the yearly guilt trips; I'll look forward to weighing in on your own forums next time.

               

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 11:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

              This reply will be my last, I'm just slammed for time. The TL;DNR version is: we're doing fine, the results have been great for us, but it saddens me to say that the reporting on this here has been mislreading and argumentative as opposed to balanced and genuine.

              I never suggested otherwise. I just wonder if it's sustainable when you piss off a significant portion of your readership. Honestly, we're getting so many emails and comments and tweets from people saying that they're going to start reading us instead of you, I'm quite amazed. I never thought people would do that, but a lot are. And you still don't seem to think this is a problem.

              As for "being argumentative," please. Compared to the way your staff treated some of your most loyal readers? This isn't argumentative -- it's just calling out statements you're making that don't make any sense.

              This insight was much more original when I first had it on Saturday and wrote about it. :)


              Ah, but you still don't get it. You didn't have the same insight. You took a passive aggressive tone with your own community. Even as you admitted to the mistake, you still were blaming them.

              And, really, Ken, of all people out there, you should know better than to talk about who had an idea first.

              I did not say that we are struggling with our business model, I said that we were doing fine and that this was not going to kill us.

              You (or your staff -- I forget who said it specifically) said you couldn't afford to bring back people who were laid off -- which suggests that you were struggling with your business model. That's fine, of course. Ad-based businesses are cyclical, and many ad-reliant businesses struggled last year.

              If a reader loves us, he or she should reconsider their stance on ad blocking because we could do so much more for them with more revenue.

              And that's NOT your reader's responsibility. You still keep trying to pass the blame. It's YOUR responsibility.

              If you really just meant to get them to reconsider their stance on ad blocking your site, you could have done so in a significantly less antagonistic way. It seems like that's where the disconnect is. You still keep treating your readers.

              Honestly, here's the key point: you talk about your readers who love you, but nowhere do you suggest you love them back. Instead, you seem to only be questioning whether they love you enough. Do you see how dangerous that is?

              A noticeable amount is not the same thing as a large amount. The test directly affected 0.15% of our audience. We could debate all day what your and my definition of "large percentage"� is. What I can say without any doubt is that the net effect has been tremendously positive.

              The test directly impacted 0.15% of your audience... but thousands more heard about it, and seem to be questioning why they should be loyal to a site that would do that. I'm just surprised that you guys still seem to be looking down on all those people. DrPizza's responses here are really incredible, for example.

              Again, I have no doubt that the impact of your experiment has been a short term positive, but I believe you are vastly underestimating the goodwill you have damaged with your actions and your statements.

              No one was threatened or "punished"� with anything in my editorial.

              You suggested your own readers were the problem.

              You seem to take it as a given that we had to write some kind of gushy article as a result of the experiment. That's simply not the case.

              No, not saying you had to. Just suggesting that you probably should have. Seriously, I don't think you recognize how much this has tarnished your brand.

              Instead we learned that there were massive misconceptions about the effects of ad blocking. That is what led to my article.

              Again, if that were the case, you would have just written a nice article about whitelisting -- not suggesting that what people's own choices were doing was "harming" you.

              Advertisers are keenly aware that people generally do not want to view ads whether they block or not. They know it is their job to break through that barrier, and while many of them take the wrong approach, they all know what they are up against. Furthermore, as we learned from our experiment, a huge number (probably the majority) are blocking ads via sheer inertia, and not because they dislike the ads on our site.

              Indeed. And you could help them break through -- but instead, you seem to want to focus on giving them more bogus ad impressions from people who will never look at the ads anyway. I find that insulting.

              I'm disappointed that rather than have a discussion, you would choose to try to impugn my contribution by resorting to mudslinging. I stand by everything I have written here, and I sincerely feel as though you have left out details for the sake of sharpening your take. I'm not alone in that sentiment, having read this thread.

              Ken, please. I'm not mudslinging. I'm calling you on bogus statements. You, of all people, have a thick enough skin to recognize the difference. Don't pretend your some fragile little thing who can't take someone calling you out.

              Honestly, we've seen very few people side with you on this -- and in looking through the few comments here who did, it's interesting that exactly NONE of them appear to come from regular visitors to our site, and a few of them are from a single IP address but pretending to be different people.

              Yes, the 12 hour experiment to see if we could game a specific ad blocking client. If it truly was not their right, then we would enforce this 24/7. And I would have said as much. You probably noticed that the people who claimed that they were banned, but they were still posting? They weren't even banned, they just got an automated notice.

              And that makes it all okay?

              It is also leaving money on the table. Why you leave money on the table is the same reason we do. Trust me, Mike, I know a thing or two about this business too. In case you're not aware, we have been a considerably successful and have a very strong reputation for listening to our users' complaints about ads, and acting on them when possible.

              No doubt. But I still disagree. Perhaps you think of it as leaving money on the table, which is why you end up treating your readers with this sort of condescending view. But I don't. Perhaps that explains our differing views. You look at your readers as money. I look at them as a community.

              I didn't compare anybody to criminals, but I can only assume that you are talking about the first half of my restaurant analogy, which of course ends by making two points. First, in our instance it's not the users who pay and therefore it can't be the users that steal (so your dining & dashing thing is just weak), and second, that I explicitly said that it was not stealing immediately following that analogy

              See, to me, that's like saying "You're really ugly! Just kidding!"

              It's a passive aggressive way of calling someone a thief and then pretending you didn't. Trust me, a lot of your readers figured this out.

              In closing, we are not forcing anything on anyone. We explained the consequences, asked people to reconsider, and left it at that.

              And you accuse me of leaving stuff out? Let's be clear: you secretly blocked people, and when they complained your staff told them to go away and never come back, while also suggesting they provided no value whatsoever. Then when people pointed out how obnoxious all of this was, you stopped blocking, but wrote an article blaming them for not whitelisting the site, and then tried to pretend it wasn't about blaming them by saying "oh, we're just explaining stuff"? Do you think your readers are that dumb?

              As for guilt tripping, you can't make someone feel guilt. You can only explain the possible consequences of their behavior, and see what happens.

              Seriously? Look, you're a smart guy -- Harvard PhD candidate and all. Clearly, you're a hell of a lot smarter than me. But, you're not fooling anyone with crap like that. There are plenty of ways you can explain the consequences of someone's behavior to them. And the way you chose was to put blame on them and suggest it was *their* fault.

              Why don't you contact me in a year, and I'll be glad to give you an interview on how this has all played out.

              Sure.

              My final point on this is that I think you don't realize how much you've tarnished your brand. You keep trying to cover it up by saying you were just explaining stuff, but your words and your actions suggest otherwise. And all of the coverup speech contradicts your own words. You say your business model is fine, but then you talk about layoffs. You say you're not guilt tripping anyone, but then say "If you read a site and care about its well being, then you should not block ads" which is the very definition of a guilt trip "if you love us you'll do this thing you don't want to do."

              I'm sorry, Ken, I have tremendous respect for Ars, and what you guys have accomplished over the years. It's always been such a tremendous and needed site in the tech reporting world. But this situation kills me. I hate to see someone do so much damage to such a good brand so quickly.

               

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            DrPizza (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 9:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

            > I thought I explained that pretty clearly in the post. We value our community members well beyond seeing them as just there to view banner ads. If blocking the ads makes it easier for them to contribute to the community or to view and share our stories with others, that's an extremely positive relationship.

            Then you thought wrong, IMO. It's plainly obvious that "contributing to the community" is at best of minority interest. This story has more comments than anything currently on your front page, for example, and even this story has many repeat contributions. Of the no doubt thousands or tens of thousands who read the piece, at best a few dozen bothered to contribute as a result.

            So whilst you might regard comments as "positive", they're positive for only a minute fraction of your readership. What about the far, far greater proportion of readers who aren't doing anything of the sort?

            As for sharing stories, well, only you can tell us those stats. But if the 40% ad blocking figure on Ars is true, all I can say is, they can't be doing that much sharing, and if they are, it's to other ad blockers anyway. So again, I'm struggling to see the positive side here.

            Traffic for traffic's sake isn't a plus. You know it. I know it. Everyone else knows it.

            > In fact, it seems like the coerced relationship that Ars wants to force on people is negative in almost every way. The readers don't want to see the ads, and Ars is effectively admitting that it gladly rips off advertisers by making people who won't actually look ads load them just to give Ars money. Sorry, but if I were an Ars advertiser I'd pull my adds off of the site.

            You've never explained this. How does it "rip off" advertisers? Advertisers know perfectly well that plenty of people seeing their ads aren't going to be interested. How is Ars misleading them in any way?

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 10:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

              I'll answer for Mike here, as any regular reader of this site could. I'll point out that you could learn a lot if you left your biases at the door and actually tried listening to what Mike is saying instead of just looking for the immediate profit.

              "So whilst you might regard comments as "positive", they're positive for only a minute fraction of your readership. What about the far, far greater proportion of readers who aren't doing anything of the sort?"

              First, the larger number of readers is doing something, they are talking about your site favorably, getting the word out and drawing more people in.

              The way you think it you would rather have one person who pays you $100 instead of 100 people who each pay you $1. Mike prefers the latter because that means there are more people to spread the word of your site. Nothing beats word of mouth advertising.

              Second, actually showing you care about your readers increases the likelihood that they will start to like and want to support you as well, if you were even a semi regular reader, this entire process (which your site seems to fail utterly in) is called connecting with your fans and giving them a reason to buy.

              "As for sharing stories, well, only you can tell us those stats. But if the 40% ad blocking figure on Ars is true, all I can say is, they can't be doing that much sharing, and if they are, it's to other ad blockers anyway. So again, I'm struggling to see the positive side here."

              That's a silly and down right fallacious view. And Very easy to disprove, let's assume you have friends, now you don't adblock, but if you have any intelligent friends, I bet at least one of them performs some type of adblocking, whether via ABP or no script or a built in browser. The instant that friend gives you a link to follow, your entire point of this paragraph is blown to pieces. People have lots of friends and in the age of Twitter, Myspace, Stumbleupon, /., Facebook, Digg, and countless others there are a lot of ways for those who block adds to drive those who don't to your site if they care about your site enough to share it with anyone.

              "Traffic for traffic's sake isn't a plus. You know it. I know it. Everyone else knows it."

              I think I thoroughly disproved this, both that it is Good to have a lot of traffic, and that if you treat your fans properly there is no such thing as traffic for traffic sake, it is a positive upward spiral that continues to draw in more true fans who are willing to give you money.

              "You've never explained this. How does it "rip off" advertisers? Advertisers know perfectly well that plenty of people seeing their ads aren't going to be interested. How is Ars misleading them in any way?"

              It rips off advertisers because there are better, more positive, ways to get your company's name out. You seem to be perfectly fine with a view that there is no such thing as bad press. Those who have some wits about them realize that instead of spending money spreading stuff that no one wants to see, it is more worthwhile to create something entertaining that people seek out, that also happens to push your company a little bit.

              Think of the creative TV commercials that have been out there, like those that usually air during the superbowl, or get uploaded on youtube and have millions of people spreading it around for others to see. Isn't that a hell of a lot better than paying the same money to spread a banner that no one wants?

               

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                DrPizza (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 11:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

                > First, the larger number of readers is doing something, they are talking about your site favorably, getting the word out and drawing more people in.

                Mere talk does little. And if those other people also block ads, how is it beneficial? And like I say, if the 40% number is accurate for Ars (I don't know if it is or if it's just for the purposes of exposition) then they just can't be bringing in that many more non-ad-blocking readers. Your argument seems to be that, well, they just _must_ be doing something useful. What I'm not seeing is any kind of substance to support this. And like I say, if the 40% number is true, then they're really not doing it in any significant numbers.

                > Second, actually showing you care about your readers increases the likelihood that they will start to like and want to support you as well, if you were even a semi regular reader, this entire process (which your site seems to fail utterly in) is called connecting with your fans and giving them a reason to buy.

                But this is broadly untrue. It's clear from the response that the thought never even _occurred_ to people to support a site whose content they read regularly. Just look at all the people saying that they were going to whitelist the site. These are people who visit regularly and who liked the content, and the idea that maybe they should take a simple measure to support it _never even crossed their mind_. Merely liking the site and wanting to support it wasn't enough to get them to take concrete measures. I'm sure you'll probably just claim that they didn't support it or like it "enough", but again, the fact that when asked they _did_ whitelist it suggests that they do like it enough, they just never even thought about it.

                > That's a silly and down right fallacious view. And Very easy to disprove, let's assume you have friends, now you don't adblock, but if you have any intelligent friends, I bet at least one of them performs some type of adblocking, whether via ABP or no script or a built in browser. The instant that friend gives you a link to follow, your entire point of this paragraph is blown to pieces. People have lots of friends and in the age of Twitter, Myspace, Stumbleupon, /., Facebook, Digg, and countless others there are a lot of ways for those who block adds to drive those who don't to your site if they care about your site enough to share it with anyone.

                Right, but if those other people are also blocking ads _so what_? Ad blockers driving yet more ad blocked traffic is irrelevant at best. You haven't "disproven" anything. You've just said "but what if the blockers drive so much extra traffic that something good happens" without explaining what that good thing is, or why it might happen.

                > It rips off advertisers because there are better, more positive, ways to get your company's name out. You seem to be perfectly fine with a view that there is no such thing as bad press. Those who have some wits about them realize that instead of spending money spreading stuff that no one wants to see, it is more worthwhile to create something entertaining that people seek out, that also happens to push your company a little bit.

                It doesn't rip off the advertisers because they know that damn well. You're assuming that the advertisers are complete morons with no understanding of the advertising market. This is just insulting to them. They know perfectly well that there are other ways to advertise--that's why they use them, too. Many of the SuperBowl advertisers, for example, also use web advertising. It isn't even remotely misleading to offer them web-based advertising. Consider that web-based advertising lets them more easily target specific demographics than (say) TV, and at lower cost. The advertisers clearly see this as valuable. They're going into this with their eyes wide open, and I think it's ridiculous for you or Mike to try to paint them as the victim being misled by ad-funded websites.

                 

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                  Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 11:50am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

                  Mere talk does little. And if those other people also block ads, how is it beneficial? And like I say, if the 40% number is accurate for Ars (I don't know if it is or if it's just for the purposes of exposition) then they just can't be bringing in that many more non-ad-blocking readers. Your argument seems to be that, well, they just _must_ be doing something useful. What I'm not seeing is any kind of substance to support this. And like I say, if the 40% number is true, then they're really not doing it in any significant numbers.

                  No one says that *every* one has to be useful, but we're saying that blocking out people because they *might* not be useful means you're going to seriously block out many very useful people.

                  The non "useful" people in your lingo cost little. But pushing away the useful people costs a ton.

                  But this is broadly untrue. It's clear from the response that the thought never even _occurred_ to people to support a site whose content they read regularly. Just look at all the people saying that they were going to whitelist the site. These are people who visit regularly and who liked the content, and the idea that maybe they should take a simple measure to support it _never even crossed their mind_. Merely liking the site and wanting to support it wasn't enough to get them to take concrete measures.

                  Yes, exactly. Merely liking a site isn't enough. That's why it's UP TO THE SITE OWNERS to come up with a business model that works. Not guilt tripping its readers.

                  Right, but if those other people are also blocking ads _so what_? Ad blockers driving yet more ad blocked traffic is irrelevant at best.

                  You're making a huge assumption there that is undeniably false.

                  It doesn't rip off the advertisers because they know that damn well.

                  Do you tell your advertisers that? Ars should be focused on improving the benefit to advertisers. Instead, they're PURPOSELY degrading the quality of the readership by encouraging people who don't want to look at ads, and clearly have ad blindness to load a meaningless impression.

                  It isn't even remotely misleading to offer them web-based advertising. Consider that web-based advertising lets them more easily target specific demographics than (say) TV, and at lower cost. The advertisers clearly see this as valuable.

                  Indeed, but once again, you seem to be missing the point by such a wide margin. Ars is encouraging extra "bad" or worthless impressions. They're purposely degrading the performance of those ads. That's ripping off advertisers.

                   

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                  vivaelamor (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

                  "And like I say, if the 40% number is true, then they're really not doing it in any significant numbers."

                  Perhaps you can explain the significance of the 40% number, is that above the percentage needed to profit from your current business model?

                  "Merely liking the site and wanting to support it wasn't enough to get them to take concrete measures."

                  More of the blame game. Isn't it possible that the reason they haven't supported you without the guilt trip is the only obvious alternative you offer is a wholly unappetising subscription service? For a casual reader like me (I skim the articles for news and rarely bother with the comments), your subscription is expensive and lacks any compelling features. A simple option to subscribe without frills (beyond disabling ads) for less money would be a distinct improvement.

                  "Right, but if those other people are also blocking ads _so what_? Ad blockers driving yet more ad blocked traffic is irrelevant at best. "

                  If you insist that their only value is in their ability to view ads then yes, you're always going to reach this conclusion. Would it be so hard to calculate the average amount of money generated by a reader with ads enabled and base a subscription tier on that?

                  "You've just said "but what if the blockers drive so much extra traffic that something good happens" without explaining what that good thing is, or why it might happen."

                  The most obvious thing would be growing your readership. Apart from that it is up to you to find ways to capitalise on the 40% you currently see as dead weight. I guess you're one of those people who thought Twitter would never turn a profit.

                  "You're assuming that the advertisers are complete morons with no understanding of the advertising market. This is just insulting to them."

                  This snippet has been quarantined for overexposure to irony, no response is permitted at this time.

                  "The advertisers clearly see this as valuable. They're going into this with their eyes wide open, and I think it's ridiculous for you or Mike to try to paint them as the victim being misled by ad-funded websites."

                  So they're willing victims. That still does nothing to further your interests any more than it hinders their own progress. As long as they are willing victims you are unable to fully capitalise on the 60% who don't block ads. If both you and them really understand this and aren't participating in some sort of BDSM act, shouldn't you be working together to improve your positions in the market using this apparent insight?

                   

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 11:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

              Then you thought wrong, IMO. It's plainly obvious that "contributing to the community" is at best of minority interest. This story has more comments than anything currently on your front page, for example, and even this story has many repeat contributions. Of the no doubt thousands or tens of thousands who read the piece, at best a few dozen bothered to contribute as a result.

              Wait, what? Who said they have to comment on every story they read?

              And of course it's a "minority" interest. No one said otherwise. But lurkers add value in many ways as well, and they may choose to comment on other stories. You seem to be assuming that if they lurk on this particular story they add no value to the site as a whole? Wow.

              Among the lurkers on this site are CEOs of businesses who have hired us, US Senators and Congress people who have impacted changed because of what they read here. But, according to you, if they use adblockers, they're freeloaders? Wow.

              So whilst you might regard comments as "positive", they're positive for only a minute fraction of your readership.

              On this post. In the future, they may be quite positive. You sound like the record labels who insist that there should be a payment every time a song is heard.

              What about the far, far greater proportion of readers who aren't doing anything of the sort?

              What about them? They are free people and are allowed to do whatever they wish. In the future, they may choose to contribute in some way or another, and that would be grand.

              As for sharing stories, well, only you can tell us those stats. But if the 40% ad blocking figure on Ars is true, all I can say is, they can't be doing that much sharing, and if they are, it's to other ad blockers anyway. So again, I'm struggling to see the positive side here.

              Really? Honestly, I'm finding it difficult to take you seriously when you make such a statement. The amount of traffic we get from sites like Twitter and Facebook is quite large. The value of a passed link is quite high.

              Traffic for traffic's sake isn't a plus. You know it. I know it. Everyone else knows it.


              Wow. I can't begin to express how incredibly wrong this is. Traffic is attention, and attention is incredibly valuable.

              You've never explained this. How does it "rip off" advertisers? Advertisers know perfectly well that plenty of people seeing their ads aren't going to be interested. How is Ars misleading them in any way?

              Because any site should be trying to IMPROVE the value of the audience seeing the ads. Ars is doing the opposite.

               

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                greg.fenton (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 12:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

                DrPizza appears to suffer from two major deficiencies:

                1. inability to think in aggregates
                2. complete dismissal of opportunity

                I wonder if he were a sales person following up on leads:

                DrPizza: wanna buy our stuff?
                Opportunity#27: no, not at this time
                DrPizza: screw off then!

                And why not? Opportunity#27 would only talk disparagingly of DrPizza to other nay-sayers, right?

                Such short-sightedness...it truly is sad. The pro-Ars crowd appears unable to acknowledge the errors of their actions, unable to pull their heads above the trees.

                 

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              vivaelamor (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 11:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

              "Then you thought wrong, IMO. It's plainly obvious that "contributing to the community" is at best of minority interest. This story has more comments than anything currently on your front page, for example, and even this story has many repeat contributions. Of the no doubt thousands or tens of thousands who read the piece, at best a few dozen bothered to contribute as a result.

              So whilst you might regard comments as "positive", they're positive for only a minute fraction of your readership. What about the far, far greater proportion of readers who aren't doing anything of the sort?"


              Isn't that a symptom of the quality of the comments? Your reasoning implies that Torrent Freak has more value in its comments than Techdirt. If people are reading the story and reading the comments and don't feel compelled to chime in then the chances are it is because they don't feel the need, as much as can't be bothered.

              Comments for comments sake isn't a plus. You know it. I know it. Everyone else knows it.

              "You've never explained this. How does it "rip off" advertisers? Advertisers know perfectly well that plenty of people seeing their ads aren't going to be interested. How is Ars misleading them in any way?"

              You might very well be completely candid with your advertisers on what they can expect. That doesn't really help your case though, just suggests that your advertisers lack the same business acuity you do. Compare your relationship with your advertisers with what you are complaining about from your readership: you are saying they are not doing everything they can to support your site, while you are doing the same with your advertisers. It's up to the site how it is run, not the readers, not the advertisers.

              You should be familiar with cookies, Phorm, numerous other ways advertisers have tried to ensure their ads are targeted on the web. Doesn't that suggest to you that whom the ads get served to is an important aspect to base the price on?

               

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      iamwhoiam, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:16am

      Re: Quick response from the Editor of Ars Technica

      "To be clear, I didn’t say people have no right to block ads, as Mike implies."

      You may not have come right out and stated it exactly that way, but with all the members who were banned because of the use of an ad blocker, would seriously suggest otherwise.

      With the superiority complex that Ars has, as evident in that accusatory and self righteous drivel you refer to as an "editorial", it's a wonder it's even still around.

       

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    Matt N, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 8:10am

    Mike, I have to take you to task for the opening lines -- You start out with:

    "..website that freaks out and claims that ad blockers are "stealing" or somehow damaging websites. But it's quite a surprise to see a similar argument from a site like Ars Technica.."

    ..which implies that Ars is saying that. I read that article when it was posted and it goes out of it's way to say that it *doesn't* consider using ad-blockers as stealing they way you are insinuation it does. Whether or not it was your intention for the paragraph to be interpreted like is debatable, but it *is* being interpreted that way so you may do well to revise it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 11:26am

      Re:

      "Imagine running a restaurant where 40% of the people who came and ate didn't pay. In a way, that's what ad blocking is doing to us. Just like a restaurant, we have to pay to staff, we have to pay for resources, and we have to pay when people consume those resources."

      I think that accuses adblockers of stealing by analogy... but perhaps I'm interpreting the analogy incorrectly.

      In any case, I think Masnick's point is that Ars shouldn't try to "punish" its adblock readers as much as incentivize them to become subscribers...

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 9:17am

    @Ken Fisher, EIC

    You're here to do damage control, and at least verging on lies. Just to set the record straight (and yes, I DID read nearly all comments to date):

    Either you or one of your minions said that comments are almost worthless. Now you're bragging of them.

    Either you or one of your minions or all said precisely to not visit ars without viewing the ads because it's costing you money. Your TOS was mentioned frequently with it stated as a legalistic violation to not view adds. Now you say -- by inverse -- that users have a right to not view ads.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 9:30am

    > Either you or one of your minions said that comments are almost worthless. Now you're bragging of them.

    I believe that what was said was that the comments represented only a tiny fraction of the traffic--that is to say, most people visiting the site neither read nor write the comments.

    As such their value (in monetary terms) is negligible. As an indication of what the site is doing right/wrong, I'm sure they're much more useful, but they're certainly not going to pay the bills.

    These statements were made to counter the claim by some that ran long these lines: "I'm blocking ads, but I'm providing value to the site through adding content directly, in the comments". The reality is that the "value" added by such content is unfortunately very small.

    I think if you consider this context then there's no contradiction between what Ken Fisher wrote above, and what the other minions wrote in the Ars Technica thread.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 10:54am

    Hack job done right

    I love Ars, and I welcomed this news Ken shared. I think this Techdirt article really misses the bar, and the reporting is very biased and sloppy. But at least you got to plug your businesses!

     

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    Anonymoose, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 11:42am

    And another fine example of the security dangers of ads ...

    This seems timely, and makes the case for the pro-ABP/NoScript camp... (CNet story on Drudge (again) serving malware via ad networks...)

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-10466044-245.html

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 11:51am

    The full quote in context is,

    "Imagine running a restaurant where 40% of the people who came and ate didn't pay. In a way, that's what ad blocking is doing to us. Just like a restaurant, we have to pay to staff, we have to pay for resources, and we have to pay when people consume those resources. The difference, of course, is that our visitors don't pay us directly but indirectly by viewing advertising."

    What this says to me is here is this food joint that prepares food for 100 people, which it paid for, paid the staff, etc., but only got paid for 60 of the people. He makes it clear who is truly paying.

    It's not a perfect analogy, but no analogy is ever perfect. I read it as being more about the expense of producing stuff than about why some of it is not paid for.

    And I think he knows people might read it as saying it is stealing, which is why the VERY NEXT PARAGRAPH,

    "My argument is simple: blocking ads can be devastating to the sites you love. I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical, or makes someone the son of the devil."

    That comes directly after the quote above. If he meant to tell people they are stealing, he did a really bad job of it since he said it's not stealing.

    As for me, I block ads. I don't want companies tracking me online and building some commercial profile. I have no problem spending my money as it is! I think I will subscribe to Ars next payday.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 12:10pm

    If you run a website and advertising is part of your business model, well, ad companies don't pay by how many folks read an article -- they pay by how many ads are delivered.

    Blocked ads are ads not delivered. That means that income goes down for the website, because ad delivery is what advertisers count when writing checks. If you can't see how that might affect a site, well ... I don't know what to tell you.

     

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    Stuart, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Problem with the "it's your fault" view is that people don't run ad blockers because of ads on your site, they ad block because of the ads on some other site, and you just get caught in the crossfire.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      That's why if you have to make money off of ads you don't pull the shit that Ars did. you calmly ask people to turn off the blocker for your site, state your reasons why and those who want to see you succeed will do so. insulting viewers alienates them, keeps new people from wanting to visit your site, and makes those who are on the fence about the whole issue write you off because you are so rude to those you depend on.

       

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    Scott Morrison, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Nice!

    You just got yourself a new reader. Well put!

     

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    Scott Morrison, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Nice!

    You just got yourself a new reader. Well put!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    I have read all the comments and Ken did not say shit about stealing, not valuing comments, the community, or any of this other BS. Somewhere he explicitly said it was not stealing. I'm an ad blocker and I wasn't offended by what he had to say. It led me to whitelist, and struck me as a very fair oddly emotional POV .

    Ken can be gruff and stubborn, but I prefer he take a stand rather than kiss everyone's ass for the sake of making nice. Excepting a couple staffers, I think they're all huge fans of the site as well as employees. For technical forums, the Ars site cannot be beat. Ken and John sold Ars for millions, and could have walked off and said "see you later fools" but they didn't. All the staff stayed on board. I have zero doubt that Ars is legit in its professed respect for the community. Been there since 2002 and had very few problems. If Ars did not value comments, why have they struggled for years with a shitty forum service just so they could keep millions of posts any other forum would just delete?

    The unspoken rule at Ars has always been "brag about blocking ads, risk getting a ban." Everybody knows you can just re-register, they don't IP ban your ass. It's a slap on the wrist. Looks like they stopped doing that, but I had NO problem with that rule. I just kept my mouth shut :p

    “Then you told them in a very condescending fashion, implying people with adblock were damaging AT with intent. “

    Must be reading a different site. The article said that they realized the opposite, that not everyone was doing it with intent.

    Stuart is right on the money, heh. If people block ads on Ars or Techdirt or wherever, it probably has zip to do with the ads there. Did you see how many people in the Ars thread said that they forgot they had an ad blocker installed? I don't believe they were lying.

     

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    :), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    I was a fan of ars, but not anymore.

    They have all the right in the world to do what they want and I will do what I want, and it is that simple.

    I use noscript, cs lite and betterprivacy and never used adblock for anything I don't mind ad's but if those ad's can't appear because of noscript the problem is not mine, I know there is other ways to show ad's that don't involve risky behaviour.

    And for those defending that crap, I read the comments section and the staff came out as a bunch of Jerks, saying they didn't need no one who was blocking them and they be better off without those people, that is fine by me.

     

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    :), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Just opened a folder on my bookmarks called purgatory and put Ars link there and added a commentary to remind me why that site is there.

    I have a long memory for those type of things.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    I appreciate the honesty and intelligent approach of this article, and by extension, the site. It always pays to hang around the smart folk :)

    a stumbler.

     

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    David Ellis, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:07pm

    Industrial age advertising will cease to exist

    The issue is not whether to block or not to block it is more fundamental.

    There is an implicit assumption that advertising in its current format will continue as it has always done. In other words an industrial-age concept of billboards can be successfully grafted onto the information superhighway.

    This is working at the moment only because an information age alternative has not yet emerged where vendors can meet with consumers in a more efficient, less intrusive and more cost-effective environment.

    Information age advertising mediums are inevitable and are starting to appear right now. One example is the Customer Satisfaction Monitor which has recently been launched.

    This Customer Satisfaction Monitor (http://www.customersatisfactionmonitor.com) answers the three most important pre-purchase questions and introduces a new step into the sales process. Advertisers can now target prospects at a very crucial point in the sales process much more cost-effectively and less intrusively because the consumer is in control.

    As an advertiser it will be increasingly uneconomical to advertise elsewhere because potential customers will be ambushed at services like the Customer Satisfaction Monitor. Industrial-age advertising will, as a result, wither on the vine.

    For those services relying on advertising it is time to rethink your revenue model.

     

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    Pessimistic Optimist, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:20pm

    Ars isn't the first and won't be the last.

    Forcing your users to conform to your business model only works when you are the only game in town (ie: monopoly), and even then only works when the services you offer are things that people can't live without. Overestimating your importance and value is a mistake we're seeing made more and more frequently by the entire content industry. Thankfully common sense and the reality of basic economics trumps wishful thinking every time.

     

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    Hogun, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:51pm

    Great points

    This article was actually my introduction to your site as it was reposted on another feed I read. As a long time Ars reader I wanted to thank you for making such great points in our defense and to let you know I will be reading much more of your site to boot! Thanks again.

     

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    Lisa Miller (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:20pm

    Elitism has a price

    Y'all KNOW I'm annoyed. See my post March 8 http://bit.ly/dCKB9K . I agree wholeheartedly that gouging their readers with a sharp stick and then telling them to go away if they don't like it is insulting and very, very unwise. Conde Nast, in my opinion, has a long history of elitism and snobbery. That their superior attitude led them to believe they were indispensable comes as no surprise. The bad will generated by this stunt is big enough to teach other publications not to abuse their readerships. They've become sterling example how not to behave.

     

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    DoctorOfLove, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:45pm

    Simple Fix

    The simple fix is: - ads will have to be served from your domain, not the advertisers.

    Eliminates the cookie stealing privacy concerns. Yes, the advertisers will need direct access to your web servers, and yes, they will have to put logging software on your servers to make sure you don't cheat, but so what.

    I use the hosts file to block ads. I can unblock your domain, but I will never unblock doubleclick.

    Easy peasy, really.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:46pm

    I'd like to know whether Ken Fischer *paid* to use this forum

    when he has a direct financial interest in doing so, and can legitimately write it off as business expense. Otherwise, he's well beyond hypocritical, he's a deadbeat. I'd consider him bill-able.

    I'm serious. Those who try to enforce legalisms should darn well get them back in full measure.

    Society isn't just for "content-providers". The attitude taken by ARS is one where the rules all work in their favor, casual readers are ungrateful thieves, and their core people have license to abuse, besides gleefully use their power to ban dissenters. Adds up to a sum that isn't pretty, no matter how supporters are trying to dissemble and back-pedal.

    Last word from me, I hope: They style themselves as providing high-value content, but a current story is "Microsoft begins rolling out redesigned MSN homepage". That's gotta-know stuff.

     

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    pepar, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:50pm

    Never heard of Techdirt before. but after reading this piece on blaming readers with ad blockers, I have added it to my favorites.

     

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    Andy Smith, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 7:08pm

    I block adds (and more). If I didn't block them I would do my best to ignore them.

    A web site which asks me to fetch and display ads I will ignore is almost asking me to help that web site defraud the advertisers. If the site placed the ads in a hidden browser window do you think any advertisers wouldn't consider it fraud?

    ARS's claim that ad blocking users are stealing their content is no more valid than claiming ARS would be stealing advertisers money if they force their readers to fetch ads.

    The answer (although it is probably too late) would be to make the advertising less obnoxious.

    I remember the web before google. google are where they are today because their engine did what it was supposed to without obsfucating links through bean counting tracker and filling your screen with crap.

     

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    Garbage-In-Garabge-Out, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 1:14am

    Surprising coattail riding

    I'm surprised that the writer didn't actually read or understand the ArsTechnica article. I'm also shocked to see such hyperbole used and inferences made that are disingenuous at best or flat out falsehoods at worst. This entire article was designed only to draw more people to read it using bullshit as an enticement - and it looks like it worked. It's funny this tactless tactic is exactly the kind of thing this article swears it's about. TECHDIRT is the only truthful thing I read - it's pure National Enquirer over here.

    Nowhere did the article say it was stealing. In fact, it spent quite a bit of time dismissing this claim. I guess the hack writer missed the line saying, "I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical...". It also encouraged users to avoid sites all together that use ads they don't like and claims it more damaging that blocking an ad. Of course, this was twisted here to read as "if you don't like it, you can go elsewhere" insinuated the claim was meant explicitly for only ArsTech viewers.

    This article then uses anecdotal evidence as a proof - which is easy to disprove. I think spammers, malwaresites, and the like have proven beyond a doubt that using shady method and trickery has garnered them huge amounts of cash. Being bad doesn't hurt your - it only changes your audience.

    The original article also addresses ad quality and being choosy on what it allows. They claim a pro-active stance for not annoying readers and not taking fistfuls of cache to do otherwise. This article spends an entire section proclaiming such and inferring the original doesn't.

    The worst offense is that this "blog" is just a tool for an advertiser. They "sponsor conversations", which sounds a lot like shilling. This blog claims ads don't work and instead suggests using THEIR OWN PRODUCT. "Instead, we always suggest to companies who approach us about advertising that they would get a much better and much more valuable bang for their buck by engaging our community via the Insight Community."

    It's not hard to see this entire "article" is actually an advertisement for "marketed conversion" from the fine immoral folks at InsightCommunity. Congrats on being the "new" spam. Fake blogs, misleading content, and coattail ridding of the actual sites that get visitors.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 1:40am

      Re: Surprising coattail riding

      I'm surprised that the writer didn't actually read or understand the ArsTechnica article.

      I both read and understood it. Why suggest otherwise?

      blatantly ridiculous hyperbole deleted

      Nowhere did the article say it was stealing. In fact, it spent quite a bit of time dismissing this claim. I guess the hack writer missed the line saying, "I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical...".

      Didn't miss it. In fact, I addressed it above (who said someone wasn't reading now?). He said he's not making the argument that it's stealing, but in the very same breath claimed it was the same as dining and dashing. Which is stealing.

      This article then uses anecdotal evidence as a proof - which is easy to disprove.

      Ok. Then disprove my argument. We're waiting...

      Though, I'm confused. You're saying that you are going to "disprove" the idea that it's good to respect your community, rather than blame them for your own failures? Really? Wow.

      I think spammers, malwaresites, and the like have proven beyond a doubt that using shady method and trickery has garnered them huge amounts of cash. Being bad doesn't hurt your - it only changes your audience.


      No one said that being bad can't make you money. My question is whether or not it's sustainable. I'd argue there's a fair amount of evidence that it's not.

      The original article also addresses ad quality and being choosy on what it allows. They claim a pro-active stance for not annoying readers and not taking fistfuls of cache to do otherwise. This article spends an entire section proclaiming such and inferring the original doesn't.

      Again, I did no such thing. I was just talking about my own experiences with our site, not to say that Ars accepts bad ads, but to explain why blaming users is a bad idea. I'm sorry you missed that point.

      However, I'd still argue that the fact that many Ars users use ad blocker suggests that they still find Ars' ads problematic. Which is fine. We have similar ads as well. My point is that I won't blame my users if they don't like them. Ars does. And I find that to be a really bad strategy -- and quite surprising from a site like Ars who regularly writes articles trashing companies that blame their customers.

      The worst offense is that this "blog" is just a tool for an advertiser.

      Uh, wow. No. You mean that's what Ars just said. Ars' post admits that the entire point of its blog is a tool for advertisers, and if you aren't seeing their ads, you're worthless to them.

      I said the exact opposite. The blog is a community that's useful for a hell of a lot more than advertisers.

      They "sponsor conversations", which sounds a lot like shilling

      Only if you don't take the time to actually understand what we do. Which, apparently, you didn't.

      This blog claims ads don't work and instead suggests using THEIR OWN PRODUCT. "Instead, we always suggest to companies who approach us about advertising that they would get a much better and much more valuable bang for their buck by engaging our community via the Insight Community."

      No, we didn't say "advertising" doesn't work (you did read this post, didn't you?). We said that lame banner ads don't work. Advertising, when done right, works great. And being done right means *NOT* blatant shilling, NOT forcing people to view the ads and NOT annoying your community -- but providing a situation where everyone really is better off.

      It's not hard to see this entire "article" is actually an advertisement for "marketed conversion" from the fine immoral folks at InsightCommunity.

      Yes, of course. As we've said over and over and over again that *every* bit of content advertises something. This blog makes no secret that every post is advertising Techdirt and Floor64.

      And, uh, what's immoral about that? We're helping create solutions that make everyone better off. How is that possibly immoral?

      Fake blogs, misleading content, and coattail ridding of the actual sites that get visitors.

      Wow. Nothing is fake. Nothing is misleading, and, trust me, we don't ride on anyone's coattails (particularly funny if you actually knew the history here).

      Stunning.

       

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    chodelord, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    dr pizza please quit

    seriously, man you are getting owned so far that at this point I'm beginning to feel sorry for you

     

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    Ian Hutchinson, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 7:30am

    Ad blockerss do foul up sites!

    I work in tech support for a huge online media company. Many ad blockers block Java and popups. I see it all the time. Off the top of my head, CA firewall is notorious for this. It has an ad blocking component.

     

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    senshikaze (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 11:33am

    Holy crap, 165 comments.
    Well for 166:
    I personally do use an ad blocker. It isn't out of any desire to "rob" any website of their "earned" revenue. It is completely because most ad, especially moving ads, or ones that interfere with my browsing, are unacceptable to me. I have tried to use emails in the past, and they were promptly ignored. As a result I currently use an ad blocker over all my internet browsing. Currently only adwords are whitelisted, and that is because text ads aren't annoying.
    As for support of the content creator, I have personally bought items that Techdirt has offered through their CFW+RTB experiment, and I have to say it was worth every penny. I would much rather spend my money directly either through merchandise or donations.
    Up until this weekend, I was thinking about getting an Ars subscription, but since they put me, a would-be customer, in the same group as all of their straw-men, I have not only not bought a subscription, but i have removed Ars from my list of sites i visit period. If they want to treat me like a criminal, then I will not use their service.

     

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    greg.fenton (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 1:05pm

    The web is NOT a push-based system

    The web is specifically designed to be driven by the end user.
    The user PULLs data by clicking links and allowing the browser to fetch other related materials.

    Back in the early Netscape days, NS 2.0 came with "automatically fetch images" disabled by default. Often we surfed the 'net at work, 40 of us sharing a single dial-up line, and only fetched images for pages where they were required.

    Now that broadband, faster computers and richer content have become the norm, people are forgetting this quaint (and powerful) aspect of the web's design: I, the CUSTOMER, get to choose what parts of the web I want to pull down.

    What we're seeing from the pro-Ars side here wreaks of "ownership culture". And it is funny that Ars, the technical people they should be, fall back on this. Did none of them ever use links (or lynx or wget or ...)? Seriously, are they all so new?

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    Maybe ArsTechnica is the lair of clever trolls.

    Umm, DrPizza? Can you NOT understand that your own comments are like annoying flashing images that subtract from the value of ArsTechnica? I guess not, since you keep coming *here* and claiming ignorance to gain attention. Since Astlor openly states that he's just "trollin'", I conclude that's the fun of the Ars core, rest are hapless playthings.

    Trolling, weaseling, waffling, diversion, dissembling, and endless repetition isn't helping you. Why are you coming here except that you've fouled your own nest, and fouled-up generally? That's the implicit admission.

    Now, what I think hasn't been said on either site:

    ) By blocking ads we're saving the ad companies a bundle on bandwidth, AND the information that their ads *aren't* wanted is also of value. They should pay for every page view, then.

    ) We can read between the lines for simple greed. Ken explicitly can't give up the notion that he's leaving money on the table, when in fact the system (nerds, internet, content, staff), is probably about saturated given their essentially fixed values. (I consider Ars staff a large negative in whatever equation.)

    ) Ken, you may just have too many staff and too high of expenses (in New York, apparently). Businesses always spend like a drunken sailor when money is rolling in, then choke on downturns. Seems an iron law. -- I'd start by firing
    the writer of the story about the new MSN page, and give a hard look to whoever approved that. Talk about waste of bandwidth.

    ) Common law doesn't support ArsTechnica's view of TOS. You're essentially a place of public accommodation until you put up a sign like: Private Club, Paying Patrons only. -- No, I don't care about court rulings that you view with dollar signs dancing before your eyes. The law ain't necessarily what you or courts say it is. Common law and common sense trump those (it's even possible that honest legislation will), and your long-term de facto practice
    of letting the riff raff in for free *does* confer a right.

    ) If you don't grasp *why* businesses don't *force* prospects to choose PAY OR LEAVE -- not even when in actual distress, QUITE annoying when the biz is okay -- then I conclude your success was only to ride the Internet tide.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    The legalisms continue over at Ars.

    Now Astlor is touting a UN definition of rights. That fits with my guess that their politics are neo-cons, posing as free market, actually fascist. Can't resist the mention, but won't go further off topic. -- Feel free to invoke Godwin's law, too.

     

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    Anonymous_geek, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 3:29pm

    Double thinking my blocking

    I run Firefox with Flashblock, Adblock, Noscript and Greasemonkey

    I used to manually whitelist sites that I supported to help with the ads, and after my 2nd rogue ad antivirus virus moved back to a full block status. Ads that are hosted on the site I'm visiting would be okay, but so many break the rules of being really freaking annoying:

    1) sound
    2) movement
    3) bad colors
    4) inaccurate representation of product (ad has nothing to do with who they are)
    5) partial nudity (see 4 in most cases)
    6) ads that are 'games' (see 1-4, sometimes 5)

    I don't mind an ad before or after video content, and I enjoy ads that are actually intelligent and give good info. If you have a cool product, hook me on why it is cool, don't try to ad me to death.

    honestly though, most websites are now trending to what I consider abusive advertising

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 4:37pm

    Babies

    Mike Masnick, if you ever want kids, give me a call.

    (This is a stupid way of saying that this is the sort of post for which I read Techdirt.)

     

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    Stu (profile), Mar 10th, 2010 @ 4:39pm

    To: Sarah Chubb and Conde Nast Corporate Communications

    I've canceled my Ars Technica subscription renewal. Stop the people there from doing more damage, please!

     

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    Mewt, Mar 11th, 2010 @ 5:25pm

    Hats off to you mate.

     

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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 6:16pm

    Honestly, I don't understand why so many people got pissed off at Ars Technica. What they were saying was: If you block our ads we make less money and therefore have less money to pay writers to produce great content. They didn't say that ad blocker users were evil or thieves. (they in fact said the opposit) They just stated a simple fact: If you block their ads, they get less revenue. And personally, I think that instead of getting annoyed, people should have just said: OK, well by using an ad blocker, I reduce your revenue stream and I can live with that. They never insinuated that they might go back to using anti-ad-blocker methods. They in fact specifically said they will not. Yes, ad blockers reduce revenue for sites you like in a time when the advertising market is already depressed. If you can't live with that, turn off the ad blocker instead of shooting the messenger.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:24pm

      Re:

      you should read more from the site and the read the comments that the ars staff made in the first topic they did it in.

      The ars staff banned people, called them leeches, said they are worthless and don't care about them if they block ads, and then compared viewing stuff with an adblocker like dining and dashing (implying that they are thieves).

       

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    Juhani, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Good article

    I would love to get an adblocking plugin that ony blocks flash, animated gifs and too colorful ads. I don't mind ads as long as they don't intrude. Now I'm blocking everybody because some are idiots. Should find a way support people who use reasonable ads.

     

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    afgul, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Dialup

    I have dialup. need I say more?

    a ds slow down the connection so mu h that I cannot not even fathom going online without a mod to my hosts file.

    This has nothing to do with stealing. Changing the channel on TV is not illegal, so what is all the fuss about ?

     

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    Slartibartfarst (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    ARS technica post on ad-blocking

    That ARS technica post on ad-blocking was 1,101 words that added up to what some people (not me, you understand) might say was impressively specious - if not downright fallacious - reasoning, with begging thrown in for good measure and all intended as an attempt to substantiate an otherwise unfounded and insubstantial POV whilst at the same time attempting to twist the arms of the reader into conceding to that POV.

    Some people might particularly like the implicit and powerful threat "We've done a test and you know what? If you don't unblock our ads, then we'll...we'll jolly well *take our toys away*, and boy! - will you be sorry then! Try to read our site then, sucker!"

    Those people might go on to add that whatever content they wish to appear on their PC monitors, what is deserving of their finite cognitive surplus and what they wish to pay for with their finite and hard-earned cash is largely up to them and that no amount of coercion or implied threat is going to alter that, so get lost.

     

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    peter, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 1:13pm

    I use Adblock and Adblock element hiding helper.
    Ad's are freakin annoying and I can't even surf on the internet properly on my netbook because they use lots of RAM/CPU.

     

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    LeeLeBlanc, Mar 26th, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Excellent points!

    Solidly though-out arguments that clearly show how Ars -or Argh!- became myopically short-sighted, (yes, short-short-sighted), in the pursuit of what truly makes a web site valuable: the readers who are willing to support excellent content.

    I would completely support appropriate advertising on your site, if and when you asked our opinion, as I know you would. Often, I've sat through advertisements that were beneficial to me and told the advertisers what worked about their advertising campaign. I do not sit through forced advertising.

    I have a friend who offered similar to support after reading Arghs! post. Their answer was to dismiss the amount he offered to pay for a subscription -yes, dismissed a paying customer who told them he would pay for content.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this -as I have now signed up for your site. I subscribe to 1000's of RSS feeds but keep a few set aside for regular consumption.

    You have earned a vaulted place in my feed reader. And, in my small self-import web world, this.is.no.small.feat. I'll be forwarding your stories much more regularly now. This is payment.

    Kind regards,
    Lee

     

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    John, Mar 26th, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    Great job

    I read through more than 18 pages of comments in the Ars thread, and was really disturbed by their responses. In the course of things, I stumbled on this response, and wanted to thank you for it. It was clear, concise, and absolutely devoid of the haughty tone taken by some of the Ars staff, who apparently believe their content is worth me allowing unsafe domains to run code. If I were to offer to wash your car, but in return you had to run a mysterious EXE I supplied on your computer, would you do it?

    I suspect the buy-out was bad for Ars as a site. Before Conde, they didn't have to justify ad numbers to anyone.

     

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    Shawn, Apr 7th, 2010 @ 8:37am

    Delusional

    The only time a viewer could (or should) say definitively that its ok to view another party's website with adblock, noscript, etc is when there is another means to compensate them. We can go on and on about how your blocking adds but your 1000 friends on twitter aren't so its ok because your still helping. Actually I just pirated the adobe suite, but my buddies saw me using it and they bought it so its cool.. right? Sorry to parallel to pirating, but they may of handled the blocking people using adblock on the site a little strongly but it was not because they just wanted to most likely. Yes you get to control your browser, but don't be surprised if you get a slap on the wrist if your not reciprocating the love. As you can see I don't use tivo either...but this is just my opinion.

     

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    Jordan, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 8:03pm

    Helpful Ads

    We must be wise in deciding who will be entering the community. Sometimes there are ads that are quite helpful if we could not find the information we are looking for in the community.steam press iron

     

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    Abe, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 6:47am

    Why view ads if I won't buy anything anyways?

    I'm probably not the typical visitor. I use ad-block. I haven't seen ads in about 10 years. I don't own a TV, I don't listen to radio, I don't buy magazines. I see very few ads (maybe a few while walking in the street) and I'm used to this quietness.
    If I see or hear someone else's TV or radio I find it shocking. Why are they screaming at me like this? Why are they talking to me like if I was stupid?
    Normally I just buy what I need, which is very few things, mostly food (and usually raw ingredients, not prepared stuff).
    If I want to buy something I will read reviews and investigate. I don't see the point for me leaving those ads on, when they try to scream at me with motion, colors and noise, trying to get my attention.
    I will decide when and what I spend my money on. And when that day comes, I want to buy whatever is best for me, not the products produced by someone who spends the largest amount of money in an advertising company capable of making me believe my life will be happier if I get their stuff.
    I have already found out that the happiness of buying the latest stuff goes away very quickly, so I better get my dose of happiness from watching sunsets, swimming or riding my bicycle :)

     

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    Steve, May 6th, 2010 @ 2:33am

    Great Article

    I love proxomitron, adblocker, adblocker element hider and noscript. I block everything that isn't relevant to what I want.

    I block whole domains, any url with an 'ads' or 'click' (etc) in it, any image thats got certain ad related words in its title.....I kill flash frames,....pop ups, unders or overs, js, animations, blinking text, music....I'll even kill forum sig pictures if they aren't tidy.

    I have no problem with turning the TV over when adverts start up - I have no problem with avoiding adverts when I surf either.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Thank you to Techdirt for not treating us like dirt. Thank you to Mike for such a wonderful no-nonsense view, and well-written article. And thank you to the Techdirt commenters for sharing what they use to protect their privacy online. Great tips!

     

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    eXe, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 4:21am

    I use Ad Muncher, Best Ad Blocker out there!

    Blocks ads in all browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, Safari, Flock, Netscape, Maxthon and Avant Browser, blocks many spyware, adware and dialer installers, have a lot of functions and daily filter list updates, it is a lot much better than any ad blocker.

    It's not free but definitely worth the money.

    http://shop.admuncher.com/

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2011 @ 8:58am

    I was searching for articles about ad blocking, and the first result I clicked on was the Ars article. I've read only a couple of Ars articles in the past, but I thought they had some nice content. The attitude of the ad block article made me turn back, however.

    The next result I clicked on was this article, and it was exactly what I was looking for. The only other site I've ever bought a no ads subscription from had the same attitude of "community first, ad revenue second", and I like that. Keep this up and I think you'll get a lot more caring readers in the future.

     

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    Jaume de la Vega (profile), Aug 26th, 2012 @ 8:06am

    copypasta of a relevant article I typed.

    Now among websites lies the 'lie' that adblock is endangering them.

    Really they are endangering themselves.

    Nowadays advertising is subcontracted to advertising companies, for webmaster comfort, not user.

    Ad's loaded from AD farms coming all of them from a same source (adclick, doubleclick...) are extremely easy to

    block using wildcards or I.P. blocking

    Those Ad's are bloked not just because AD=Evil, but because, those AD's are shoddily implemented on page's html,

    usually bloking the load of the genuine website because subcontracted company is not providing the AD fast enought.

    In a ideal world, AD's would be placed at the END of main.html so they load last, and not hinder page load, because

    even a non intrusive AD could (and must) be blocked if it slows page load to a crawl.

    On another hand, if the subcontracted AD farming service decides to go greedy and begins to host adware, trojans or

    the like, the virus delivering page for the final user would be yours, not the ADfarm, also you could be subject to

    legal liability, or vigilante hacking.

    Reality: A banner linking to an advertised site, could/should/would take less than 50KB of disk space, load/render

    in less than a second on client browser, and lack any bloated javascript hindering the user browsing experience.

    I think it's the time to abandon the adware bloated obstrusive ADfarms in favor of a light not-worth-blocking-effort

    end-user advertising.

     

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    Jeremy, Nov 19th, 2012 @ 8:48am

    The reasons to run ad blockers:

    So your browser isn't retrieving information from 40 different domains when loading a page (yes, this happens)

    Most ads are not annoying, some are. I don't run ad blockers to prevent ads, I run ad blockers to prevent my browser from bogging down on that one site that due to a bad router somewhere, just isn't loading. The browsing experience suffers greatly from the fragmented content delivery.

     

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    Canadian, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 11:31pm

    Never do I see advertisements at home but when I'm out using a n unfamiliar computer it is scary some of the crap that pops up. I find it hard to believe there are people who do not use an ad blocker...

    Gotta love Mike, adept at logical discussions. Been reading the site daily for almost two years and having heard about this story I had never read it. It was worth it!

     

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    Jay (profile), May 3rd, 2013 @ 10:12am

    nothing wrong with adds

    if you are trying to avoid different party's from getting your information that isn't possible your browser just want you to think that. I have tried everything to block adds but I still get spam, I know that I could block the spam but the fact is you just cannot avoid them. now if you are afraid that they are getting your personal information that isn't very possible unless they hack you or say you sign up for a unknown company. if some one puts an add on your website it is not stealing from you you have the same opportunity to place that same add any were on your site, or use even better adds! if you are wanting to block certain adds that is possible if you just don't like looking at them. those party's still see what you are doing thou.

     

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    Ruben, Jun 16th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Ads suck

    I installed Adblock on Chrome, blocks out everything. Mainly because my computer isn't the fastest machine on the planet, and I noticed a huge difference in performance in Chrome when I blocked out all the ads. Plus, I hate ads. If I need something, I'll look for it. I don't need dancing crap telling me to visit some website. Too bad if it "robs" websites of revenue. You annoyed me, so I'm blocking the ads. End of story.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Carlos, Sep 27th, 2013 @ 9:28pm

    Thanks Mike! I will not white-list ads. Period.

    I just want to make this simple: The reason I block ads it's because I don't like them at all. They're annoying, they last too long and therefore they're a waste of time. Yes tehy waste my time, because at the end of the day, I won't by their product. So why not have them blocked altogether?

    Reason #2: Many ads are infested with spyware, adware, malware, viruses and whatnot. I suffered of it wuite alot a few years back. My computer used to get infected all the time, whenever I visited my favorite sites. My antivirus was unable to deal with those issues. Now thanks to AdBlock Plus I don't have to worry about that.

    Plus, there are ads which are infested with pornography images too. I got sick and tired of having to be closing -and many times embarrassed- those windows.

    Then you have the ads which are activated as soon as you get in the page, they don't let you do anything else untill you see THAT ad. Even more annoying then that is the fact another ad will pop-up 30 seconds later to add to a rather frustrating experience.

    But hey! Those who defend advertising don't care about this, now do they?

    Anyway, I will not yield to those pleading visitors to white-list or disable their ad-blocking software for ads to be displayed. My privacy its not an option. I care not if they depend on ads to survive, it's not like we can't find the same information elsewhere.

    Just sayin'.

     

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