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 (DSLReports.com) 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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Manabi (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 2:52pm

    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

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 2:54pm

    "...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.

     

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    Karl Bode (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 2:56pm

    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?

     

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    Tatar, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 2:57pm

    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).

     

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    Karl Bode (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 2:57pm

    Re:

    Yes, I often find "well reasoned articles" to be horribly "sensationalist."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 2:57pm

    When ads stop being laggy, disruptive, annoying, malicious, or even illegal, then I'll stop using Adblock.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 2:58pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:02pm

    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.

     

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    Karl Bode (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re:

    err, now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:06pm

    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.

     

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    Karl Bode (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:09pm

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:09pm

    I use AdBlock to stop flash-based ads that put malware into your machine. Even the best anti-virus software will not protect you.

    Malware-based flash ads, perhaps, the best reason to have ad-blocking software on your computer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:09pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:10pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:14pm

    Re: AdBlock is only the beginning

    That's actually a really good idea, but I have to ask an important question:

    Do you think RequestPolicy just isn't enough? Or must your machine be completely invisible to any and all advertisement networks to feel completely safe?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:16pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:23pm

    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.

     

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    Deimal (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:23pm

    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

     

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  20.  
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    Karl Bode (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:23pm

    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." Which would be even lamer than what I surmised above.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    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.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:33pm

    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

    sincerely
    the internet

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:34pm

    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).

     

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  24.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:39pm

    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.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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  26.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re: AdBlock is only the beginning

    "must your machine be completely invisible to any and all advertisement networks to feel completely safe?"

    I am in this camp. I have yet to see the advertising network that is "safe" -- as near as I can tell they all track you.

     

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    Anonymoose, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:43pm

    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. :)

     

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    madasahatter (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:46pm

    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.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 3:52pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 4:01pm

    Ads

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Ads

    To me, it seems like the sites that do ads the best are actually Reddit and 4chan (I guess that's why they're two of the largest communities still surviving on the internet) where ads are banner-only, hosted on their own servers, and do not load flash.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 4:21pm

    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.

     

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  33.  
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    Beech, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 4:21pm

    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.

     

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    satipera, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 4:31pm

    adblock behind the times

    Adblock is essentially blackmail software. Because of this the project has been forked. Use adblock edge they block all the ads that Adblock is payed to let through.

     

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    Rekrul, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 4:35pm

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

    http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

    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.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 4:56pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 4:59pm

    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.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 5:03pm

    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.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 5:15pm

    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.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 5:20pm

    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.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 5:23pm

    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.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 5:29pm

    Re:

    It is not up to Techdirt to solve the problem not only of this idiot site being put up on display but of the advertisers that provide the problem in the first place.

    Since you are so solution driven I suggest you take it right on over there and help em out.

    Rest assured I won't be there.

     

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  43. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 6:05pm

    Re:

    average_joe just loathes it when due process is enforced.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The ban on discussion of adblocking makes it pretty clear that yes he does judge those who simply use adblock. Actions speak louder than words, and his actions are to attempt to punish people that use it.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 7:02pm

    Did the writer of this even WATCH Jim Sterling's video? It's apparent that he doesn't want people to "feel horrible". But I guess that doesn't fit the narrative Karl's trying to force-feed us.

    The rest of it's fine, but good journalism doesn't require blatant lies to make your point.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He's not the one banning the discussion on adblock. In fact, in the thread he says that he made an agreement with the Escapist admins (the ones who are banning) that presumably lifted the restriction for that thread. Apparently it seems like they reneged on the agreement.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 7:13pm

    Re:

    Agreed, the huge discrepancy between what he says in the rant and what the op says he said is really off putting.

     

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  48.  
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    Alareth (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 8:08pm

    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.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 8:27pm

    Re: Re: AdBlock is only the beginning

    RequestPolicy + NoScript is one hell of a mouthful.

    The addons I described plus what he said about adding certain lines to your host file has never done me wrong. Except the openvpn to my vps, but i'm not the average user.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 8:39pm

    Actually watch Jim Sterling's video next time instead of just reading the title. What's the point of completely misrepresenting what he said?

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 8:48pm

    Re:

    Even worse when the videos pop-out into their own frame and ANOTHER AD'S FRAME OVERLAPS IT SO YOU CAN'T SEE THE VIDEO (this happens half of the time when I try it).

     

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  52.  
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    Starke (profile), Mar 10th, 2014 @ 9:27pm

    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.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2014 @ 10:41pm

    NoScript and Adblock are the best.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 12:39am

    Re: Re:

    When he refers to "content be changed and tailored" he's referring to the fact that his very ranty method of delivery has been somewhat poorly received by part of The Escapist's userbase.

     

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  55.  
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    Katherine, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 12:58am

    Heh, the earliest ad-blocking incident, I remember that. I still have all of the pages archived from before I became a mod on the Escapist.

     

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  56.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 1:27am

    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.

     

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  57.  
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    Aaron (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 1:36am

    Misrepresentation

    "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.

     

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  58.  
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    Nicholas, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 1:40am

    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.

     

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  59.  
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    Nicholas, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 1:45am

    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.

     

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  60.  
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    Beech, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 2:03am

    Re:

    I don't know, it seemed to me like Jim was laying it on pretty thick. I heard what he SAID, but it still felt like a massive guilt trip to me.

     

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  61.  
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    sudont (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 3:25am

    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.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 3:39am

    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.

     

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  63.  
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    Violynne (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 3:41am

    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.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 4:12am

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

    No.

     

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  65.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 4:27am

    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.

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 6:33am

    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

     

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  67.  
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    Starke (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, we are talking about the site that just kept running Bioware fluff pieces, even after soured soured on the company. Then would go into a frothing rage the instant anyone suggested there was some potential bias.

    Lameness is in their blood.

     

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  68.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re:

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

    Huh? I block things with a hosts file, too. I know exactly how browsers react to that, and it's never once been a problem. How is this stupid?

     

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  69.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    "It's apparent that he doesn't want people to "feel horrible"."

    It may be apparent to you, but it's not apparent to me. It sure looks like a guilt trip to me.

     

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  70.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 9:20am

    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.

     

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  71.  
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    JBDragon, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 10:25am

    Ops, thanks for them making a big stink over it and Techdirt bringing it up, I just installed Adblocker!!!!

     

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  72.  
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    Dan T., Mar 11th, 2014 @ 11:43am

    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:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=13223684920A10189100&page=0

    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.

     

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  73.  
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    Escape, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 1:32pm

    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?

     

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  74.  
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    John85851 (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    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.

     

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  75.  
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    Starke (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 7:26pm

    Re:

    Without him, they would no longer exist. A couple years ago money was so tight they were actually refusing to pay their writers. It's why a lot of them, like Shamus Young, Extra Credits, and Lisa Folies took off. They've apparently started actually paying again, and some of their former talent has returned, but still.

     

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  76.  
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    nasch (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Re:

    The adblock nonsense was why I stopped visiting Ars altogether

    Glad to hear I wasn't the only one.

     

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  77.  
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    Escape, Mar 12th, 2014 @ 8:11am

    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.

     

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  78.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2014 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You aren't blocking anything. The request is still made, it just doesn't work. If you like having little banner advert sized "Server not Found" screens all over a web page, have fun.

     

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  79.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2014 @ 5:49pm

    Re:

    A small text line that says "Hey, are you using an ad blocker? If you like the site and want to facilitate some advertisement revenue, but are worried about bad adverts, click here for a screenshot of the current page without ads. We have good ads, not bad ones!"

     

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  80.  
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    btrussell (profile), Mar 13th, 2014 @ 12:55am

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

    Thanks for saying this people!

    Donate to my distro, FF, VLC, gIMP, K3b, no-script, ad-block...

    ...not to mention all the other programs I use and we still haven't touched a website. $5 to $10 a month might sound cheap, but you are actually being nickel and dimed to their death.

     

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  81.  
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    Zeph, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 9:29am

    Oy, leave Jim out of this, will ya? His video was a very polite request of "hey, I know ads are a pain in the ass, but the revenue lets me keep making videos. Could you maybe let it go this time, for me?"

    Anything beyond that is the author's guilty conscience talking, if you ask me.

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 6:53am

    Re:

    Guilt? If he wants paid per video, he can hit up Patreon. No ads and no bullshit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
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    Rekrul, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 3:34pm

    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.

    http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/06/google-and-others-reportedly-pay-adblock-plus-to-show-you-a ds-anyway/

    http://venturebeat.com/2013/10/04/adblock-to-twitter-only-sell-ads-we-like-and-then-we-won t-block-them/

     

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  84.  
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    Rekrul, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's better than having animated ads that cover up content, ads that play audio, ads that fade out the web page and show you a full-page ad that you can't skip for 5-10 seconds.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
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    Domelo (profile), May 3rd, 2014 @ 5:03am

    It should be on ones discretion to decide what to see and what not to!

    I think, escapist should leave it on its audience discretion to what they want to see and what not to. It will not only help you see what's going around but will also help them gauge how many people want to use ad blockers to remove ads and how many not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
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    kimjones018 (profile), Dec 19th, 2014 @ 4:12am

    Re: Remove adware

    To remove annoying ads and thus malwares from your computer system you may try an easy help given here - http://goo.gl/s3KgZ1

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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