The Escapist Website Still Blames Users For Its Business Model, Won't Let Them Even Mention AdBlock

from the censorship-and-venom-will-surely-fix-everything dept

Every few years a website somewhere on the internet decides that it’s a good idea to treat ad block technology users like violent criminals. You might recall a few years back when Ars Technica whined a bit about how ad blocking was “destroying” the websites you love. As we noted at the time, if your ads are so obnoxious that they have users running to block them, that says more than about your advertising choices, management and business model than it does your users. As we also discussed in great detail, there are a myriad of ways that users bring value to a community, outside of forcing their eyeballs to stare at ads.

You might recall that a few years back the Escapist website launched a rather misguided attack on ad blocking technology, banning users in the website’s forums for simply mentioning Adblock. The since-deleted thread in question involved a user complaining about a specific ad that seemed to be slowing down his machine’s performance, to which responders suggested that he might want to try AdBlock. Those users, who didn’t even state that they used Adblock themselves, found themselves completely banned from the forums. After some Internet-wide hysteria over the ham-fisted nature of that decision, Escapist backed off the policy, unbanned the users, and then just tried to shame all of them into feeling guilty.

Fast forward a few years, and it’s not particularly clear that the website has learned much of anything from the experience. In a video rant by The Escapist’s reviews editor Jim Sterling, Sterling acknowledges that he doesn’t think using Adblock is technically stealing, and he blames bad advertisers and bad advertising for a lot of the problem. Still, he apparently believes that using Adbblock is very, very naughty, you should feel horrible, and if you want to get back on the right side of morality you should send him toys (he provides a handy link to his Amazon wishlist). But it’s the Escapist forums where things continue to be, well, weird.

Users still seem to get banned if they so much as mention the word Adblock outside of threads specifically designed to discuss Adblock. Even in the thread specifically designed to discuss Adblock and Sterling’s video about Adblock, the thread is pockmarked by moderation where users are given repeated slaps on the wrist for simply discussing the website’s ad choices. Unsurprisingly, users then get confused about what the hell they can and can’t talk about:

“Can mods give clarification on how we’re to discuss this? Normally adblock threads are instantly closed with participants warned and if there’s to even be a comments section for this video they’ll have to be some sort of exception.”

On page six, Escapist staff member “Kross” tries to explain the website’s thinking on banning the very mention of an incredibly common Internet tool:

“…in order to save our very overworked moderators from having to deal with constant sophistry on what does or does not constitute discussion, we’ve added the line that says don’t talk about it at all. Very little of use was lost (people on a non-advertising forum that isn’t read by anyone who makes such decisions can no longer talk about a topic that only causes more work for moderators), but threads like this can open the discussion in a more controlled manner.”

I’ve moderated a significantly larger Internet forum ( driven almost solely by ads for almost fifteen years now. I can’t even imagine the epic shitstorm we would face if I started blaming our users for failures in our business model, then started banning everyone who talked about a common technology I just happened to dislike. I do know such a position would be an utterly ingenious way to drive our userbase away. Kross proceeds to explain to users that life as an Internet website is hard, effectively admitting that massive annoying ads tend to show up more on the website because they pay so much:

“AS FAR AS OBNOXIOUS ADS are concerned, they come from two directions. One is from an advertiser saying “hey we know this is obnoxious, but we’ll pay you SEVERAL TIMES MORE per view for this because it is so obnoxious. The other is from “filler ads” that bring in a whole network. When we can’t run targeted ads (due to nobody wanting to buy that space or not being selected for the ad lottery that month and getting no real ads) we run filler ads, which are a network that we tell “give us X categories of ads”. These networks allow us to retro-actively block certain ads, but we mostly rely on them to block “bad” ads from getting through.”

Obviously it’s the Escapist‘s forum and it’s certainly their prerogative to do anything they see fit, including banning the discussion of waffles, aardvarks, acrylic painting and recombination gene technology. Still, I don’t see the logic in being this adversarial with your userbase, then expecting it to help drive up site revenues when you’re the one fracturing and annoying the community with horrible ad choices and bans (hyperbole + blame + censorship surely = profit!). If it’s your obnoxious ad choices that are driving users to Adblock in the first place, then fix your obnoxious ad choices. That’s not on users, it’s on you. Don’t beat your users about the head and face with censorship and public shaming because you can’t adapt to a new market reality you just happen to dislike.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “The Escapist Website Still Blames Users For Its Business Model, Won't Let Them Even Mention AdBlock”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Manabi (profile) says:

Blame the advertisers and the hackers, not users

I can sympathize with site owners, I run a site myself and struggle to get enough ad income for it. But I also won’t compromise my principles by running intrusive ads, and I don’t get all bent out of shape when people use ad blocking, because they have very good reasons to do so.

First up, as you mention in this article, the advertisers are partly to blame. They want more obnoxious ads that people hate so people start blocking them. Secondly, and more important I think, is the fact that ads have repeatedly been used to inject malware to people. Even reputable ad networks have had problems with the occasional malware-laden ad getting through. Why wouldn’t people block ads after several incidents of that?

Personally I not only use AdBlock, I’m also using NoScript simply to protect my own computer from attack. If any site wants to get mad at the lost income from this, get mad at the hackers and advertisers, since they drove me to this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Blame the advertisers and the hackers, not users

I agree with you, but it’s important to keep in mind that The Escapist is a special case in terms of adblockers.

On 2 out of 3 of their pages (I’ve counted in the past, it’s apparently gone up) their top, side, or bottom banners will load a shockwave flash banner that immediately starts playing sound that you cannot mute. This is particularly annoying on a site devoted almost entirely to videos in which you need sound to enjoy. So it seems to me that the only ones who are enjoying their page are the ones that use Noscript and Adblockers.

Not to mention they’ve had numerous reports that some of their advertisements have been hijacking user sessions and dispensing malware. You would think they, themselves, have done investigations that have proudly admitted this fact. It all seems like a website that needs to site down with it’s users and have a long talk about where they see the website in a few years.

Deimal (profile) says:

Re: Re: Blame the advertisers and the hackers, not users

I am in complete agreement here. The trust of those who use tools like NoScript, FlashBlock, AdBlock, etc has very likely been violated at least once, or the trust of someone they know. My going to your site indicates that I am trusting that the stuff you’re instructing my browser to download is safe and what I’ve requested. The blatantly obnoxious shockwave ads with audio are the ABSOLUTE WORST.

The malware bit is particularly critical. Flash-based advertisements are routinely used as vectors of malware delivery. We have no control over which ad network a particular site decides to use to feed us their ads. Therefore the only method of protecting ourselves is block damn near everything.

Not only that, but I’m tracked 90 ways from sunday already, I’d really prefer to minimize the crap built up about me in advertiser’s systems. The places online where I ACTUALLY buy stuff, I’m good with them recommending things based on what I’ve actually purchased in the past.

Add to all that, the sheer absolute wastefulness of bandwidth so much of this crap entails. If some of these ISPs pushing for bandwidth caps get their way, you can say adios to a shitload more advertising revenue, because a lot more people will want to block downloading crap they don’t want, in favor of crap they do want.

/rant off

madasahatter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Blame the advertisers and the hackers, not users

/rant continues

Add the fact many times the badly written flash ads can crash a browser and lock a system until the plugin crashes and they wonder why adblock and noscript are used. The advertising firms are doing their customers a disservice because the ads not being viewed because the firms incompetency.

Starke (profile) says:

Re: Blame the advertisers and the hackers, not users

In the case of The Escapist, they’re specifically trying to drive people to their subscription service. Saying they’ll take away the obtrusive adds if you cough up… I think it’s five or ten bucks a month.

The irony is, if they didn’t run the obnoxious ads they do, and then try to use that to coerce you into coughing up cash to make it go away, I’d be less inclined to simply noscript the hell out of their site…

Of course I also ended up with ransomware on a laptop, where The Escapist was probably the vector so… ugh.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Blame the advertisers and the hackers, not users

Me too.

For years, I used Yahoo Mail on Internet Explorer. I was hit with a Flash banner that took advantage of a hole in IE. Within a few second, it had installed tons of toolbars and spyware/ malware programs. After that, I switched to Firefox, AdBlock, and NoScript.
(Luckily, I had a system restore point so I didn’t lose anything.)

Websites (especially big ones like Yahoo) may complain that I’m “stealing content”, but it only takes ONE hit of malware to completely **** someone’s computer. So I’m sorry if I’m blocking ads on all sites, I was hit once with malware and I don’t want to get hit again.

Anonymous Coward says:

I was hoping you’d cover this

Jim set up that thread specifically to discuss adblock, so the moderators running through it and hammering down everyone who mentioned using adblock is a scum move at best. I’m glad I only use my account once every month on that god-forsaken site.

Until their sound-enabled banners and malware-dispensers are turned OFF my adblocker is going to stay ON

Karl Bode (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s precisely what I found particularly strange.

Here’s finally a chance to discuss everything about AdBlock you’re normally not allowed to discuss in an open forum!

NO! We’re know going to smack you on the knuckles like nuns at Catholic school for veering too far afield from our beliefs on this subject!

I mean, seriously?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It seems to me that this entire excavation was actually a trap set up by moderation to destroy people who were trusting enough to think that moderation was actually going to allow a rational discussion on adblock. So now there are lots of permabanned members and I’m sure a collection of moderators who feel awfully smug with themselves right now for their “clever plan”.

Oh and a bunch of angry people who were banned, many of them specifically mentioning that they didn’t use adblockers, I’m sure they’re bound to reconsider after such a “warm” treatment.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…if your ads are so obnoxious that they have users running to block them, that says more than about your advertising choices, management and business model than it does your user”

Yes, because that’s the only web site the user visits with that browser.

I don’t see how Ars *experimenting* with ads is any different than techdirt *experimenting* with ads. Both resulted in ads visitors didn’t like. Lessons were learned in both cases and understanding was improved. Calling them out for being whiny in a well reasoned article where they were just trying to explain their thoughts at the time is being a bit of a sensationalist.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The adblock nonsense was why I stopped visiting Ars altogether, and why I will never visit the Escapist. The problem wasn’t that they were experimenting with new forms of annoying advertising, the problem was that they threw such childish hissy fits about ad blocking software and expressed outright contempt for their readers.

When you start banning people for just mentioning such things, then you clearly don’t want readers.

Anonymoose says:

Re: Re:

Well, the idea of ‘experimenting’ isn’t unique. But paying attention to the results is sorta important. And users get a vote. (also note; This isn’t about adblock, so much as Escapist’s poor approach to their own community)…

And Mike & Friends have never ever tried to ban someone for mentioning the subjects of posts that they themselves bring up. So, you know, that’s a bit different. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It was years ago ARS did that. Know what? They lost me as a regular reader over that very thing and I have never returned to reading them daily. It is extremely rare I see one of their pages in a months time and that is because of the hyperlink taking you there, not because of my conscious choice. They made their choice that day when they started that and so did I. As a result of wanting their precious ads viewed they lost eyeballs to watch them.

Tatar says:

Yeah, NoScript, Adblock Edge, Ghostery, Auto-Destructing Cookies and Betterprivacy used in concert are an obligation these days (if you use Waterfox/Firefox and any of its variations anyway, wouldn’t know about other browsers) unfortunately, nobody asked for having to install all those privacy and security tools by default. It’s not even an annoyance anymore for those who know what they are doing (exporting the addons to a single file which can be imported back).

Anonymous Coward says:

Not sure where you got the idea that Jim Sterling thinks adblockers should feel bad. He said that he understands those that do adblock, asks them to consider unblocking for his content, and says that those act self-entitled when regarding his videos are the ones that should feel bad. The amazon thing was just a suggestion of a way of supporting him if you want to, but still want to keep adblock on.

Karl Bode (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh he puts a lovely dress and lipstick on it, but he’s offended by people that are simply telling him their ads stink and won’t (rightfully) let go of their awful forum censorship. He gets into a portion of the rant (about midway through) where he insists some people “smugly use AdBlock like a weapon” while “demanding everyone know that content be changed and tailored to your tastes.

No, your users are again, telling you your ad choices stink.

It’s such a stupid thing to lecture your community on. They’re (usually) adults that can control their personal browsers as they see fit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This could be a feasible interpretation of his rant, but he’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t judge those who simply use adblock in itself, which is what the article claims. The ones who do go beyond just using adblock (whether its complaining about the ads or complaining about his videos) are the ones he takes issue with.

That said, the ban on discussion of adblocking is pretty ridiculous. The video never really touches on the issue of the censorship on his website, so it’s hard to tell whether he really advocates it or not. May have to do with him being fully employed by the website now, I don’t know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If he wants to be consistent with his views on any other community, then he has to be 100% against censorship regarding discussion in his own video comments. Otherwise, people could easily point out that he’s being a massive hypocrite when there are numerous videos of his complaining about censoring communities with banhammers and strict moderators (which he may be okay with being labeled as one as it has little bearing on his paycheck).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I can understand why he’s keeping quiet about the Escapist thing, since he just recently got fully employed by them, and no doubt there’s probably some kind of clause in his employment that has to do with this (I figure most people would choose being called a hypocrite than being unemployed). While he never advocated the Escapist policy either, I’m somewhat disappointed he didn’t talk about it at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

to be fair here, I have seen people argue in the exact same way that jim sterling describes in multiple places. This subset of people does exist and does say absolutely nothing about ad “quality”. On youtube you have the same type of people “threatening” with unsubscribing a channel if the owner doesn’t change their videos.

In reality they are just Obnoxious trolls, nothing more.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Whether he knew it or not, he set out what was essentially ban-bait on an extremely hotbutton issue and didn’t clarify what was or wasn’t acceptable to talk about in the thread. That alone needs condemning.

I don’t think he did it on purpose, I think that was a miscommunication from him to the moderation staff if he was genuinely wanting a discussion between him and his fanbase (which he typically does).

Jim is king of holding contrarian stances regarding much of anything outside of video games. He does this to foster discussion but also because he enjoys holding a position and then explaining why that position is stupid and the opposing position is stupid. I believe that was the reason he founded Jimquisition in the first place, because he found the act of sharing his opinion and making a video about it. For more examples of this, see any of his videos addressing “the community” (some strange entity that exists in Jim’s mind that represents every person who has played a video game, ever).

So really this is just more of the same from Jim. It just seems to have backfired in a way that I highly doubt he could have seen coming.

Anonymous Coward says:

AdBlock is only the beginning

Real men (and women) use firewalls, sanitizing HTTP proxies, and null-routing to cause entire hosts, networks, web sites, etc. to disappear from view of the Internet. They can’t pollute your browser window with their filth if you refuse to route packets from them.

And fuck anyone who doesn’t like that. I’m not required to download anything I don’t want or look at anything I don’t want. My computer. My network. My bandwidth. I and only I will decide how these resources are used.

Anonymous Coward says:

I watch a YouTube user with over 500K subscribers who complains about ad blocking about once a week. It irritates me so much.

People should understand that running your business or making it profitable isn’t my job- I not only won’t help you, I don’t even want to discuss it unless we’re business partners and it’s my problem too.

Interestingly, the same can be said of many copyright stances.

Anonymous Coward says:

I see adblock (and related stuff, like noscript) as self defence. The ad networks started a war and I decided to end it on my terms.

I had more then enough annoying ads that were flashing, screaming, moving, creating an endless barrage of pop-ups, highjacking the starpage, trying to install toolbars and before I used adblocks had some windows installation that were unrecoverable infested with malware thanks to them.

I have absoluetly no guilty feeling of shutting out ad networks. They had their chance and glouriously squandered it, they are not getting another one.

Dear Ad networks,

Fuck you

the internet

Anonymous Coward says:

People install antivirus and antimalware, but I have found that the best protection against all kinds of bad c**p is a good adblocker that removes all those fake download buttons and traps that are set up to make people click them by accident.
Yes I have tried teaching people to click the little blue download link and not the flashing green buttons, but it is a real jungle out there and you can get a lot of damage from the wrong click.
No I do not run a website. If I did, I would still understand why people are using adblockers… it’s protection and good common sense.

Anonymous Coward says:


I understand it costs money to run a website and sites that do not sell a product or service are dependent on advertising. The consensus appears to be ads pre se are not the problem but obnoxious, obtrusive ads are detested. Compounded with flash ads being a well-known vector for malware and poorly written flash ads freezing the computer (an OS independent problem), users want to protect their hardware. To me, to varying degrees the websites are caught in the middle between advertising agency and the users. I blame the advertising agencies for their bad practices and incompetency.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, way to read the narrative you wanted to read out of that Jim Sterling video. The bit about his Amazon wishlist was a joke and most of that video was him politely asking users to whitelist his stuff if they like it. But hey, why not ignore most of that to fit the tale you want to tell right?

You can always trust Techdirt to point out how apparently the business model of a company is broken without actually offering any solutions. It’s real easy to tell people what you think you’re doing wrong when you also don’t have to solve it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s not the job of Techdirt writers or readers to fix other people’s business models. Both are providing commentary on how irritating the business models are to people not making money off them. That’s all there is to it.

If people don’t want to change, they don’t have to. People will continue to choose whether or not to do business with them based at least partially on those irritating aspects, and some of those businesses will die. They don’t get to whine about it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“You can always trust Techdirt to point out how apparently the business model of a company is broken without actually offering any solutions.”

Solutions are constantly offered, but anonymous morons tend to either ignore those articles or say the solution isn’t good enough (but, of course, offer no sensible reasons why or solutions of their own).

But, just because I don’t offer an alternative to the duct tape holding your car door shut, that doesn’t make me wrong when I say the lock is broken.

Beech says:

Watched the video. Decided to turn adblock off to see what we were talking about.

1) Obnoxious moving banner
2) moving ad to the right of the video
3) 20 second commercial before the video actually started.
4) Site took about twice as long to load

Turned adblock back on.

It’s funny because the escapist is the ENTIRE REASON I went out and found adblock. I am a fan of “Yahtzee'” “Zero Punctuation” reviews, but I noticed a LOT of bullshit every Wednesday when i tried to watch a new one. Page would load and the entire “Wallpaper” to the left and right of the content would be heavily splattered with stuff pushing whatever Game of the Moment 2 was coming out. Then I clicked play on the video, only to have the video load in a separate player window, which was surrounded on all sides by pretty much the same crap for the same game. Then there would be a little banner at the bottom of the video. I thought, “Surely there must be a way to watch 5 minutes of this enjoyable content without subjecting myself to the rest of this retina melting display.” And Lo, a way there was.

So, if the escapist doesn’t like adblocking, they have only themselves to blame. I was a normal web-user one day, but the sheer weight and annoyance and prolific nature of their ads was too much. In fact, every other site I use that doesn’t like adblock can thank the escapist for just taking it way too far and robbing them of revenue from my eyeballs for evermore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: adblock behind the times

The feature that you’re talking about isn’t blackmail.

In addition to the feature having a disable option, the purpose is not allowing unobtrusive advertising (not sure why they claim it is), but allowing advertisements that- if blocked- would leave the user not understanding what’s on the page.

Example would be domain parking, where the entire page is an “advertisement.” Rather than displaying a blank page, the ad isn’t blocked.

Rekrul says:

I don’t use AdBlock, but I do use the MVP Hosts file;

Which blocks calls to advertising servers at the system level.

I never used to mind ads, but then they started to interfere with actually reading the various web sites I was going to, so I installed this and now about 95% of all ads are gone. I don’t even see any ads at the start of or during YouTube videos anymore.

I’m told it’s not as effective in countries other than the US though. Apparently geolocation serves up ads in other countries which aren’t blocked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Which blocks calls to advertising servers at the system level.”

It doesn’t block them, it just tries making those calls to another host. Which is stupid, considering you have no idea how your browser will react to not finding those resources.

AdBlock Plus and so on do exactly that- they block the request from happening at all. Then they do additional element hiding (for example on the HTML that had to be downloaded to render the web page.)

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

It doesn’t block them, it just tries making those calls to another host.

If they don’t go through to the intended site, they’re blocked.

Which is stupid, considering you have no idea how your browser will react to not finding those resources.

It shows an error message where the ad should be.

AdBlock Plus and so on do exactly that- they block the request from happening at all. Then they do additional element hiding (for example on the HTML that had to be downloaded to render the web page.)

Yeah, except that AdBlock has been making deals with advertisers to let certain ads through.

Anonymous Coward says:

Running an adblocker is no longer a matter of choice; it’s a matter of security. Until every web site I go to can guarantee 100% that the ads they show will not give you malware, I’ll keep the ad blocker running.

I notice the times I got malware, not one single website sent anyone over to clean my computer for me. So it’s a preventive security measure and they will pry it from my cold dead hand before I give it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is exactly my experience too. Only got adblock to get rid of the annoying ads on the escapist. Whilst it did improve all other websites, I never would have done it if it wasn’t for the assload of ads on the escapist. Watched that ep of jimqusition, whitewashed the escapist, went to watch the video again, to give them their little revenue and then remembered why it was I had it in the first place and took them off my whitelist.

Alareth (profile) says:

I stopped going to the site about two years ago due to an ad related incident when trying to watch an episode of Zero Punctuation.

I clicked on the video and tabbed over to a forum to read a thread while the pre-roll ad played.

After a couple of minutes I realized that the episode never started playing. When I tabbed back instead of the video I wanted to watch there was a text entry box where I had to enter the name of the item that had been advertised (A Toyota RAV-4) before the ad would go away.

I closed the window and have not gone back to the website since.

I’m a reasonable person and i understand that they are a business and advertising is how they stay in operation. I normally don’t mind having to deal with a pre-roll ad. But requiring me to take a quiz about your commercial before I can see your content crosses the line for intrusive and obnoxious.

Aaron (profile) says:


“Still, he apparently believes that using Adbblock is very, very naughty, you should feel horrible, and if you want to get back on the right side of morality you should send him toys (he provides a handy link to his Amazon wishlist).”

That is a complete misrepresentation of the video and not supported by video itself.

In the video Jim says that yeah, he’s fine with adblock, and he understands why people use it. He says he personally would appreciate users whitelisting the site, but he knows that what he’s asking — them sacrificing their own experience for his gain, with no tangible benefit to them — is quite a lot, and that he blames nobody and casts no judgement on those who have adblock.

For the people who use adblock because the ads on the Escapist are so horrible and obnoxious, but who for some reason /do/ feel guilty about it, he mentions alternate ways of supporting him without making your browsing experience worse.

There is no shaming, no calling of naughtiness, and the only people he seems angry towards are those who demand he modify his show to their needs while they brag about adblocking his site. One such conversation prompted him to make the video.

I’m not big on calling people sensationalist, but you were pretty damn dishonest.

Nicholas says:

Did you actually watch Jim Sterling’s video at all? Not only did he not shame and demean his viewers for using adblock he told them he completely understands and doesn’t blame them. He takes the most humble and reasonable stance I’ve ever seen from someone whose entire paycheck comes FROM the ads that adblock is stopping. Never said that his viewers should stop blocking the ads. In fact I don’t even think he asked. He said something along the lines of if you’d like to whitelist him he would appreciate it because it helps him out but does not EXPECT this from his viewers and is okay with them still using adblock. About the only confrontational thing he said was that he’s tired of people who adblock his show and then criticize him and tell him how to run it.

I won’t excuse the forum ordeal but don’t blatantly lie and slander a man’s name for hits. Makes you look like scum.

Nicholas says:

Re: Re:

He also never asked for gifts nor did he say that’s the way to get on his bad side. He has a following that sends him funny and/or grotesque things. When you’re likable and make content that garners you a sizable amount of fans those same fans sometimes send you things in appreciation. You might one day find out about this if you’re a little more respectful and don’t blatantly lie and misrepresent things.

sudont (profile) says:

I've Seen the Internet Without Ad Blocking Software

Well, I hate to be that (old) guy, but the internet was a lot more interesting before people decided they needed to make a living off it. But ok, it is what it is now. I’ve seen the internet without ad blocking software, and it isn’t pretty. I don’t watch television because of the glut of ads. I’d likely avoid most websites for the same reason, if not for ad blocking software.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: I've Seen the Internet Without Ad Blocking Software

“Well, I hate to be that (old) guy, but the internet was a lot more interesting before people decided they needed to make a living off it.”

A million times this. Commerce has seriously reduced the overall quality of the “internet experience”.

I’ve run a number of websites over the decades, a few of them very, very popular. I’ve never run ads or set up any way for people to pay me. I do this because I’m an old man of the internet, and remember when that was how 90% of the websites on the net were run. I miss those days.

A huge percentage of websites are unusable if you don’t have some sort of ad blocking and script blocking thing going on.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you want me to see ads...

If you want me to see ads serve them from your own domain without requiring javascript. If you do that you will prevent NoScript and RequestPolicy from inadvertently blocking the ads you wish to show me.

I don’t have them installed specifically to block ads but that is a nice bonus. I have them installed to make the web quicker, increase my privacy, and increase my security.

Violynne (profile) says:

Escapist should learn from Techdirt, who just advertised the site in a meaningful way for people to engage it.

Not block it.

Regardless, this advertising still won’t get me to visit the site. I learned years ago it was run by idiots, and it’s clear this hasn’t changed.

The worst part of all these types of discussions are those who say “I run a website and it’s not cheap, so ads are necessary”.

That’s a crock of crap. An internet website is a window to your business. If you’re only painting the window as your business, you’re doing it wrong.

The internet does not consist of millions of the captive audience, especially when you consider there are other “window painters” out there.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not to mention that if your business requires 100% of your customers to participate in whatever makes you money to survive, you’re doing it wrong. All successful businesses manage without doing so, and have done for centuries even with people skipping ads, window shopping and doing many other things that make the business no money.

A shop doesn’t need every browser to buy something to survive, even though it costs a lot of money to power and staff. TV and radio stations survive quite well, even though people have been switching stations and fast forwarding through ads for decades. Newspapers might be having major problems, but it’s not because every reader isn’t forced to read every ad or classified notice.

I know there’s different metrics for online ads compared to the above, but if your website is doomed to collapse because not every visitor sees ads, you’re not doing a good job of running it. Either find out how you can make more people voluntarily look at ads or find a supplemental source of income.

Anonymous Coward says:

I thought Jim’s video was very fair, he acknowledges why and explicitly says he’s fine with people doing it, but also that ad revenue is obviously what pays for stuff. I wouldn’t say it was begging or shaming or anything, it’s just an explanation of the situation.

The fact that the escapist has a zero tolerance policy on mentioning adblock is what is insane. It’s incredibly scummy, and is an admission to how terrible your ads are that you have to explicitly do something to try and prevent users from talking about how to deal with it.

and make no mistake, the escapist has some god awful ads if you decide to disable adblock. Autoplaying adverts with sound/video that are louder than content, play for minutes at a time, pop ups, etc. I like the content on the site, including jims, but I couldn’t use the site without adblock

Dan T. (user link) says:

TV Tropes is another site that gets really whiny about not wanting people to use ad blockers (though, as far as I know, not to the point of actually banning mentions of it on their forums). There’s a whole thread there about all the problems, from malware to browser crashes to general sleaziness, caused by their ads:

but they still insist you only report the “bad” ads (but not the annoying ones that flash at you but still comply with their policies) and not even think about robbing them of their revenue by running an ad blocker. Worse, they even imposed heavyhanded censorship of sex-related stuff a couple of years ago in order to get back in the good graces of Google after they were briefly banned from their ad service for “adult content”.

But TV Tropes is mostly tolerable (if a bit annoying) with ad blockers disabled; there are some other sites (Examiner and Snopes, for instance) that are totally intolerable without an ad blocker.

Escape says:

Escapist has become drunk with popularity, but they only have that popularity thanks to Yahtzee. Without him, Escapist would be a niche web site at best. And their mod practices are really terrible. You can get suspended or banned really for anything. While I appreciate a good forum, you can have that without being nazi bout everything.

As for ads, I work for a few popular web sites. At one point after I reinstalled my OS and didn’t have any ad blocking, I saw how some of those web sites look without adblock. I was horrified. The user has to walk through a minefield just to get to some content. Seriously how can anyone blame the users for blocking ads and scripts when the web looks like this? Like everyone else, I don’t mind normal ads and banners, but if they start screaming at me, obscuring half of the screen, hijacking my mouse, slowing down my quadcore to a crawl or crashing my browser right of the bat, well what are we supposed to do?

Escape says:

One thing that every web site should have: next to privacy policy and such links there should be a link ‘how this site looks without ad block’ and there should be a couple of representative screenshots of the site so the user can decide to whitelist that site.

Heck they could even put those screenshots in place of the ads if those are not loaded. Much better approach than having a bloddy red square with the text ‘Disable adblock on this site or else’ like some do.

SortingHat (profile) says:

Internet censorship and today's millennial snowflakes

The problem is today’s generation and the one from the 70s on up are taught pseudo capitalism and junk science in favor of evolution “which has been proven false in court” but they don’t have a concept of voting with your wallet.

What that means is when a company or organization falls to evil practices or censorship then don’t support them or their products period! That means going to their forums or complaining about them expecting you to somehow be heard. Today’s generation loves to bang against brick walls. I’m not sure the fascination with it. I’ve done it a few times and admit guilt but didn’t like it when I did it. 🙁
Going to a forum like this and complaining about a website without doing anything about it is stooping pretty low and like threatening to sue an airlines which for all the trouble you go thru you get a free flight ticket.

Now it’s good to give the company or group feedback and encourage others to do so likewise so before you know it thousands of people are doing it and change occurs otherwise the best you’ll get is a free airplane ticket.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...