Escapist Website Mass Bans (Then Unbans And Guilts) Users Who Mention Adblock

from the building-community-and-value-through-uppercuts dept

Chodelord writes in to note that the Escapist website recently decided it would be a good idea to ban users from  their forums simply for mentioning Adblock. The thread in question started after a user complained that an add for Time Warner Cable was slowing down his computer. Apparently, users who responded to the poster by suggesting the user "get Firefox and AdBlock" found themselves banned from the forums. Users didn't even need to admit they even used AdBlock to get banned -- they simply had to recommend it as a solution to a seemingly-annoying ad. Looking at the forums recently amended posting guidelines does confirm that the folks at the Escapist believe that giving browsing preference advice is a "non forgivable" offense:

Do not confess, teach, admit to, or promote ad-blocking software that will allow users to block the ads of this site.
Indeed. Users quickly (and justly) started complaining about the fact that friends they'd had for years were suddenly being bashed over the head with the ban hammer simply for mentioning an incredibly popular and legal application. After a lot of complaints, the Escapist ultimately wound up unbanning the users according to a forum post, and instead just settled on trying to make the community feel really guilty:
I truely hope that everyone that reads this will consider turning off their ad-blocker for this site. If we have offended you or you don't deem this site to be worthy (and would like to have it shut down instead), do what you will, but don't pretend to be surprised if the site dies.

While it's nice that the Escapist listened to their community, saw reason, and backed away from their ridiculous decision, that doesn't make the decision any less ridiculous (and while they reversed course, the posting guidelines remain unchanged). It also doesn't justify telling your readers that they're responsible for the failure of your business model should users decide to block annoying ads. As Ars Technica recently found out, mandating what your users can and can't do with their own browsers doesn't exactly foster adoration within your community to begin with, but subsequently telling those users they should take a hike if they don't like your position (or in this case even mention ad blockers) isn't particularly endearing, either.

As we've mentioned previously in great detail, if you've got ads on your website that are annoying your users, that is your fault -- not your users' fault. The failure of your business model is also your problem, not theirs. It's up to you to develop a new model that doesn't involve your users being annoyed. Meanwhile, telling your users (essentially) that they're worthless if they don't directly generate ad revenue is misguided. Site visitors bring value to your website in other ways -- whether they block your advertisements or not -- through conversation, participation and links to your content. Of course none of that will happen if you treat them like escaped felons for simply discussing their browser plugins.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Who cares...

    abc gum:
    "Obvious? Really? You are an expert then I suppose. You seem to claim that it is good business practice to treat your customers with little to no respect. Perhaps you could explain just how this works when said business does not have something that everyone needs."

    First off, I never stated that I was an expert. I stated the obvious. It is no secret that advertising is the number one cause of online revenue. I did not claim that it is good business practice to treat customers with little to no respect. I didn't even mention ANYTHING about business practices at all. That is a totally different topic for another day. I mention how a majority of online revenue is created through advertising and by The Escapists' using it, they actually had a good business model. The key word being model. Maybe you misread that the first time?

    "I do not see Google whining about use of ad block. In addition, I do not recall Google hosting obnoxious BW hog ads. Did I miss something here?"

    Did you even read my post? Or did you just sift through it for things you wanted to argue about? I stated that perhaps their choice of ads could be different. And as I recall, The Escapists' aren't whining about adblock, they are telling you that if you use their site, you are not to discuss the matter. That is their right, just as I explained in my Target analogy.

    "I think they have ... it is called ad block."

    If they have done something about it, then why is there still 50 comments on this website bitching about it? If you've solved the problem, then why are you still complaining about it. Seems like a waste of time to me.

    "Calling people names will not add to your credibility. Possibly, you should seek professional help."

    Obviously, credibility wasn't what I was going for... Otherwise I would have used my real name.

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