Professor Eric Goldman Stops Writing At Forbes, In Part Because Of Its Stance On Ad Blocking

from the pushing-away-your-own-writers dept

Law professor Eric Goldman (who has guest blogged here on occasion) has announced that he’ll no longer be blogging at Forbes. There are a few different reasons why — including some personal/family related ones, but one of the reasons that stands out is that he’s unhappy with Forbes’ decision to block people using ad blockers:

Forbes turns away readers who use ad blockers, and that creates problems for me. First, I?ve heard complaints that the technology misidentifies some users as using ad blockers when they don?t, leaving those users stuck. Second, many of my readers do use ad blockers, and Forbes? policy hinders those readers from being able to read my posts. Worse, I felt like I lost some reader goodwill for contributing to a venue with an unpopular ad blocking policy.

We’ve discussed Forbes’ anti-ad blocker policies, even wondering if we should stop linking to Forbes articles. I know that, for a while, Forbes was misidentifying me as using an ad blocker and not letting me access stories on the site. I can say that, more than once, I wasn’t able to read some of Goldman’s posts, that we might have written about, because of those blocks.

Most of our focus was on how this impacted readers and also folks like us who might send Forbes traffic — but it’s worth also thinking about how it impacts writers as well, and taking away their audience, or otherwise upsetting them. We’ve seen in the past some writers leave publications that had put up paywalls, and now the same impact may be happening for those that block ad blockers as well.

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Comments on “Professor Eric Goldman Stops Writing At Forbes, In Part Because Of Its Stance On Ad Blocking”

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Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

No need for Forbes

I don’t turn my ad-blocker off for Forbes. If a TechDirt link leads to Forbes it just causes me a moment of annoyance until I close that window and shrug.

My preference would be for TD to reference Forbes’ links if that is the only possible source for news but not hotlink to it.

Why drive traffic to those who don’t want your readers to use their software (web browser and plugins) the way they want it… not the way Forbes wants it?


Bergman (profile) says:

Re: They have been edited out of my internet

I run fairly heavy security on my browser, and when I encounter a site that will not load, I just move on.

I mean, really, if the only way to access content is to turn off all my security, I have to wonder what sort of malware ridden crapsack that site is. Good sites that are worth reading have good security and are compatible with the security of others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Guest blogger? Really?

> Law professor Eric Goldman (who has guest blogged here on occasion)….

If you do a tag search, none of his guest blogs show up.

Click on Mike’s name (IE author name), takes you to a search page where under authors you can find Professor Goldman’s name. (And oddly enough, clicking on Mike’s name does NOT list out the first x articles authored by him on that search page…)

Limitations of the platform, perhaps?

Avantare (profile) says:

Not on my PC you don't.

I quit watching TV because the time of a show was taken up by an increasing commercial times. Cable came out and they promised no commercials. That didn’t last long and I quit watching the ‘boob tube’ altogether. Haven’t missed TV at all.

The Internet absolutely fascinated me. Then there were ads. I put up with them until ad-block came out. I gleefully installed and kissed ads goodbye.

Then Forbes decided they didn’t want me to read their articles unless I turned off my ad-block and ublock so I decided screw them.

Reasons are:
1) I HATE advertisements. I have Google, etc if I want to find something I desire to purchase.
2) I don’t want their crap cluttering up my Internet enjoyment.
3) Did I say I hate advertisements?
4) I don’t want their crap cookies, etc. on MY equipment nor using up bandwidth I PAY FOR.

Take a hike Forbes.


Josephus Bleauous says:

I’ll just quote the site :

Under European Law, it is illegal for web sites to access information on your computer or device without your consent (with very limited exemptions). Sadly, web site publishers have started to use illegal methods to detect that you are using an adblocker.

In a recent written opinion by the European Commission, they confirmed that the detection of adblocking tools by accessing information on a person’s device without first obtaining consent to do so, is illegal under Article 5(3) of the ePrivacy Directive.

In other words, in Europe, what they’re doing ain’t even legal, in addition to being scummy. Can’t remember the last time I bothered to click on anything linked to Forbes.

Anonymous Coward says:

What Forbes doesn’t realize that if you’re savvy enough to use an ad blocker, you’re probably also capable enough of setting up a grease monkey script to bypass their ad blocker detection. So not only are they losing out with false positives, I’m still getting to read the one or two interesting articles they write.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What Forbes doesn’t realize that if you’re savvy enough to use an ad blocker, you’re probably also capable enough of setting up a grease monkey script to bypass their ad blocker detection.

Yeah, but how badly do you think people really want to read Forbes? I could probably take a few minutes to bypass their shit, but I haven’t felt the need. I’ll close their tab and still have another 20 I can read without trouble. Forbes may run into the same problem Salon did:

Once web users get it in their head that your site is “closed” to them, if you ever change your mind and want them to come back, it’s extremely difficult to get that word out.

Skeeter says:

Forbes' Turn for the Worse

Decades ago, I liked Forbes’ articles. I subscribed to the printed magazine. As the internet came, so did the gradual but persistent swing to ‘Left-Wing-Capitalism’ (whatever that is trying to accomplish). I noticed as John McCain’s style of ‘RINO’ politics became rampant, so did Forbes’ catering to more-and-more leftist shifts. The ‘blocking ad-blocker’ idea stems out of this leftist ‘don’t really need them, don’t trust them, keep an eye on them, and above all, sell them what they don’t need’ mentality.

Needless to say, Forbes is now right there with the Huffington Post for ‘rags unworthy of firewood kindling’, in my opinion.

The problem with being a store and then locking the doors to any who won’t ‘buy what you’re selling’ is not really endemic to any form of ‘free market’ ideology. In that case, why take their advice, when they can’t understand basic concepts of ‘open market’?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Forbes' Turn for the Worse

Don’t take him seriously. He seems to appear on every story related to newspapers/journalism with some half-assed screed about how right wingers are not being serviced correctly and it’s this and this alone that’s the problem. If only they’d gear their news toward that specific pre-determined political viewpoint, they’d be rolling in cash.

Nowhere has he correctly identified the political positions, let alone how they actually affect anything he blathers on about. I’ve tried poking for a discussion or explanation of the things he says that are clearly wrong in the past, but only get silence.

sid1950 (profile) says:


Like others here I now avoid sites which won’t allow me to block ads. I used to use AdBlock Plus, but have now changed to Ghostery, as it seems to have more granulariry. Sites till think I am using AdBlock (with this exact spelling). Slate is the worst offender.

I am a retired film editor with a long history of using computers, so I like to keep in touch with those worlds. Most advertising is useless to me. I don’t need or want a new smart phone. I don’t need or want a new Win 10 Tablet. I don’t want a holiday for 2 in Hawaii. I don’t want a free subscription to Forbes or Slate or any other periodical.

The number of sites I now use for tech news is shrinking, and this is a bad thing. Eventually only a small pool of like minded who can afford it will be able to use these sites, and the conversation will become vacuous and void.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: AdBlocking

Even if you don’t like the adverts, that’s nothing in comparison to the attack surface exposure. Just no to ANY adverts and 95% of third parties.

Ditch ghostery. There are FAR better options. For an overall adblocker, based on rules and regex etc, with updated lists – you cannot go wrong with uBlock Origin (not uBlock, but uBlock Origin). It’s available for both firefox and chrome.

Uninstall adblock plus (rather than disable it). You could also make sure auto:config entries are left over, or any file remnants on your computer. I suspect the sites that tell you are using the word “AdBlock” generically.

See below for my comment about resource://URI leaks. uBlock Origin has none, so it won’t be picked up this way. uBlock Origin’s is more efficient with memory/resources than AdBlock and has adblock’s list and more if you want them – auto-updated. You can also toggle rules on a domain by domain basis.

It’s not hard to learn. The first column is global, the second is the domain you’re currently on. Clicking the header bar will jump you to uBlock O’s options (eg what lists to use, to auto-update them etc). Clicking left/right/middle of a scoop does things like pale red, dark red, pale grey, dark grey, pale green, dark green. (red block, grey use global rules, green allow : really really pale grey is the background and means nothing applies). If you make a change, top left are an eraser (revert to saved) and a padlock (save changes). The big blue power symbol is enable/disable (for the current domain). The refresh symbol means refresh the page. You’ll get the hang of it. It’s really NOT hard to work out. (scroll down you will see some ppictures to give you any idea of what I am describing)

Eg: youtube is not on any lists. so it’s never blocked. So you could go to youtube, pull up the uBlockO interface, block globally, but allow for domain.

By default, uBlockO is pretty much set up to run as is. All you probably need to do is just tweak the occasional site. Certainly ready to go re adverts. As for tracking, harden uBlockO and also use uMatrix (and NoScript)

Sorry for the long post. Don;t stop reading tech because you can’t work around bad tech 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: AdBlocking

My big gripe with uBlockOrigin is that it can’t whitelist YouTubers. I couldn’t really give a damn about most of YouTube but, as with TechDirt, there are a few users I wish to support, and if ads can do that, I’m willing to see a couple of adverts for terrible Clash Of Clans clones.

Archillies says:

Re: Re: Re: AdBlocking

White list with UO: Click on the UO shield in the toolbar (or whatever its called today; Upper left corner of my browser, your mileage may vary). Click the big blue power switch symbol to white-list the page.

Long time user of uBlock Origin, seems to work well in conjunction with Privacy Badger on both Firefox and Chrome.

If MS-Edge ever really starts to support plug-ins, I suppose I would install it there also if I had to use MS-Edge and a version became available.

Best of luck with your uBlock Origin application, I hope this makes it more useful for you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Listen very carefully… I will say this only once…

For Firefox readers (Chrome users, I don’t care about chrome)

A lot of adblocker-blockers work by reading scoped local resources (such as extension files). The exploit/bug/issue/tor-ticket/mozilla-ticket has been well known for over 3 years.

Fixing the leak is now part of the Tor Uplift project

Until the resource://URI leak fix is completed by Mozilla, you can use an extension which is a little more blunt (some extensions that (ab)use this feature may break in some way, usually visually). The extension is here:

And to test before and after, here is a test page

^^ All that said, granular control over XSS (uMatrix, NoScript) and better adblocking/malware/other extensions (uBlock Origin) will also stop a lot of detection.

Fix the problem, stop treating the symptoms.

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