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4 June, 2006

No AdBlock? No chance!

I don't like adverts.  No, really, I don't like adverts.

I'm registered with the Mailing Preference Service and the phone equivalent, I don't read leaflets pushed though my door, I favour a cinema that doesn't show adverts, I tend to video TV programmes then fast-forward through ad breaks, and I refuse to do business with companies which contact me uninvited.

And when browsing the web, I use Adblock.
It's wonderful. It blocks all advertising content, whether banners, pop-ups or text, and if a new ad evades the barrier, it can simply be added to the blacklist.

Slightly confusingly, AdBlock.org¹ is a site campaigning against blanket blocking of all adverts.

As a webmaster and website owner, I rely on advertising to pay for the time and effort it takes to develop and maintain my website. For some, itís a living. Adblocking software that prevents my ads from being viewed eliminates my opportunity to be compensated for my work.
I understand the argument, but here's the essential point: I don't care.
If site creation and hosting have cost implications for the site owner, they are the owner's alone. As a site visitor, I accept no moral responsibility to load or view marketing material – a site owner's costs are simply not my problem. I always decline to pay for web content, and that includes in the form of screen space within my browser.
Obviously, a site owner has the right to place adverts and hope someone responds on them, but he/she can't demand a visitor's participation. On this one issue (I still oppose other user modification of a site owner's content by Greasemonkey et al.), I feel the visitor's rights take absolute precedence over the content provider's.
While I understand that you may have installed adblocking software as relief from those horrible advertising methods, I ask that you choose to not block ads on my website. In return, I promise to not display distracting and annoying advertisements on my website.
Who defines 'distracting and annoying'? The viewer? The advertiser? So far as I'm concerned, there are no non-annoying adverts; my policy is zero-tolerence. I don't object to 'distracting' adverts, I object to adverts. Place an ad, any ad, on your site, and I'll block it. Period.

Besides, users of adblocking software like me are extremely unlikely to click on an an advert even if we see it, so a site owner relying² on 'per click' income is going to get nothing from such visitors anyway. Hence, the visitors might as well block the ads from loading at all – it'll make no difference to the site owner, and vastly improves the browsing experience.

To be fair, on deeper investigation it seems that Adblock.org mainly opposes utilities which indiscriminately block all adverts without the knowledge or express intent of users with limited tech-literacy. It does acknowledge the right of more rabid users like me to knowingly block all adverts. It's the 'knowingly' part which is worthy of investigation.

¹: Note that the link to Adblock.org is a fair citation for the quoted content, not an endorsement or advert.

²: Not that I believe site owners justifiably 'rely' on ad-revenue. If it's a commercial site, hosting is paid for by company income. If it's a private site, it's a matter of personal choice to expend money on a hobby. If one was a recreational skier, would one expect other people on the slopes to pay for one's skis and lift pass?

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