Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Z-man is right

Like many of you, I'm sure, I run ad blocking software, a pop-up blocker, and a script blocker on my Web browser.  In fact, I use multiple Web browsers.  For Web pages that simply must allow scripting, cookies, etc. - such as Blogger, on which I'm writing these words - I use Chrome.  For general browsing, where I don't want to allow Web sites to set cookies, run scripts, etc., I use Firefox, fully loaded with protective software.  As backups, for occasional use when I want to visit a Web site, then instantly clean out whatever it sets in the way of cookies, etc., I use Opera or Edge.  To add to my browsing security, I use a VPN (virtual private network) offering end-to-end encryption, and providing a 'location' that's many hundreds of miles away from where I am.  I want to make life as difficult as I can for scam artists, hackers and intrusive corporate spyware.

I therefore get very frustrated when certain Web sites won't allow access unless I disable my ad blocker, or demand that I disable some or all of my security software in order to use them.  I simply won't tolerate such nonsense.  The amount of malware distributed through advertisements is staggering, and there's no reason why I should allow such companies to track my every move through their Web beacons or other software devices.  It's none of their business.  Therefore, I don't visit or use such Web sites.  I can always find what I need elsewhere.

The Z-man makes similar observations.

The other day, I was reading something on-line and followed a link to one of the business sites. The first thing to happen was a useless popup. I have a pop-up blocker, but many of them still slip past for some reason. After years of dealing with pop-ups, my mouse hand is trained to close the window on instinct. It is a reflex now. I closed it only to have another open and I closed it. A minute reading the site, the screen goes dim and I get a message telling me that I am running an ad-blocker, along with a lecture about how that is mean.

I just closed the site and moved on. In fact, this has become my habit. If the site has any of this junk, I just close the site and move onto other things. I respect the fact that sites need to make money so they post ads, but having to navigate through a sea of clutter just to read 500 words or look at a picture is not a good use of my time. I’ve observed others do the same thing I do when it comes to pop up windows. Before they load, people close them so they do nothing more than annoy the reader. They are otherwise useless.

The main reason I run the ad-block stuff is that many of these embedded ads have malware. If a website wants to monetize my viewership by infesting my computer with malignant software, I have no qualms about blocking their attempts to monetize my viewership. Therefore, the lectures that are becoming common on websites about the immorality of running ad-block strike most people as ludicrous.

. . .

The proliferation of scripting has made many sites unreadable on a phone or tablet, unless you use something like ghostery. The Washington Times is a perfect example. It is more ad than content and the scripts never seem to load properly, so the site looks like a Picasso painting most of the time. I stopped going to the site entirely as it took too much effort to make it work. If I have to redesign my web browser to look at your site, I’m probably not going to bother visiting your site.

There's more at the link.  Worthwhile reading.

This sort of thing strikes me as yet another example of mainstream media myopia.  Their attitude seems to be, "What we're offering is so important to you that you'll pay whatever we ask, or give us the information we demand, or submit to our tracking requirements, in order to get it!"  Er . . . no, we won't.  We can always find another source for whatever you're peddling, or an alternative for it.  The Web is big enough that you no longer have a monopoly.

Yet, Web sites and news media still fall into this trap.  The Telegraph in London, which used to be one of my daily reads, did so just a month or two ago, instituting a "Premium" (paid) subscription service for many of its articles (even including its obituaries).  That's stupid.  Why on earth should I pay for the Telegraph's view on the news when I can get exactly the same news (albeit from different perspectives) from dozens of other Web sites?  They offer nothing worth paying for.  I don't think their subscription service will be a success . . . but I don't think they've figured that out yet.  Forbes is another offender in this regard.  If you run an ad blocker, it won't allow you into its site.  OK - too bad.  Next site, please!



Anonymous said...

I run several blockers (including Privacy Badger). My web connection is on the slow side, which works to my advantage. When a site I know blocks me for blocking ads I let it start to load, then stop loading as soon as the text appears. This allows me to read the article before many of the ads load and the page realizes I've cookie-blocked them.


Old NFO said...

Yep, they push crap, they get ignored...

RandyBeck said...

Make sure you turn Flash off. You will almost never miss it. Instapundit was completely unusable on my old Vista PC when I still had Flash turned on. Before I realized this, I needed to turn off javascript whenever I went there.

I'm surprised that you didn't mention Brave, the browser from Brendan Eich. It's going to be a problem for advertisers.

Peter said...

@RandyBeck: Brave has a long way to go before it's usable. In particular, if you have thousands of links in your Favorites folder, organized in sub-directories according to subject, it's impossible to navigate them in an orderly fashion. Firefox does it well. If Brave can do something similar, good. If not, I won't be using it.

RandyBeck said...

@Peter: Very good point, but I'm fairly ignorant on that. I don't use my browsers' favorites and bookmarking features very much. I put a lot of stuff in my start page, which is homemade HTML. The various links I collect through the day go into my note files. One bonus is that the same one works on all my browsers.

blogger said...

There's something else you can do that is too long to describe here but I posted about it:

Should help, likely won't hurt.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,
You note Forbes as blocking you for having an ad-blocker, but I'll note that Forbes was reported for serving up malware, which would then infect your PC if you turned the ad-blocker off. The ad-blocker is preventive medicine to prevent your PC from being infected by sites, not to mention the browser runs a lot faster if it's not having to download & run all the ad-ware javascript.

-- Steve

Anonymous said...

I've gotten pretty ruthless on this; I realize that some scripts are required to get a page to load and run, but there's a limit; NoScript requires me to "allow" is an example I have to turn on every time I visit here, and I'll accept that. I also need to allow a couple more scripts to comment, but that's where I stop, and my commenting has gone way down because I'm just not going to risk turning more scripts off all the time, plus it's a hassle.

I forget what the site was but I followed a link from someone's blog to something that seemed interesting, and when it didn't work, I dug out the "trash box" that I was ready to scrub the drive on, which happened to also have NoScript. I "allowed" almost 40 scripts and the site still wouldn't fully load. Sorry, sport, whatever you have ain't worth the risk, or the effort. You can't play nice, you'll play by yourself.

Anonymous said...

I prefer a combination of QuickJava and Ghostery (Firefox add-ons.)

QuickJava allows you to toggle on/off Javascript, Flash, Cookies, Silverlight and Images, via small icons on the Firefox tool bar. You can lock the browser down and open it incrementally with a quick toggle of the desired feature and a page reload.

I'm shocked at how many pages I normally visit look like the end credits of Monty Python's Holy Grail (or some 12 year old's MySpace page) when I view said sites on a user's unprotected machine.

Wired and Forbes require you to let their hand down your ad-blocker pants. Thanks, but no thanks.

Snoggeramus said...

Also worth noting that 95% of the "pay walls" that news sites implement end up being a failure. Given the unabashed leftie bias of most news sites I don't feel the slightest bit bad for them.

Anonymous said...


Just do not go near IE that will drive you nuts. I hate IE and it drives me nuts. Have you tried DuckDuckGo browser? It is more private than Firefox. Still looking for a good VPN. Another thing that is happening is some sites do not allow you to look at content because you are in a different country. I use noscript and adbock plus.

Peter said...

@Anonymous at 6:46 PM: I agree on DuckDuckGo as a search engine, but I didn't know it had its own browser. A VPN is also handy in that some of them (including the one I use) allow you to select which of their sites to use. I can log in as if I were in London, UK, for example, which will allow me to use British Web sites as if I'm a local. Content that would be barred to transatlantic viewers is thus available to me. Useful, that.

Will said...

I'm using Noscript. What is really frustrating is allowing one script will sometimes add a bunch more to the required listing. Each one enabled keeps adding more and more. Seems rather deceptive, in that just a couple scripts seem to be required to make a site function, when you first arrive. Then, kablooie!

As a prior commentor mentions, it starts to resemble a blockbuster movie credits listing, except it's fractal in growth. No video for me. Am I going to return to that site in the future? Add to their page views? Yeah, right. Piss on 'em.

Anonymous said...

The remark about demands to turn off my network security struck a chord. I don't run an ad-blocker, but I get pretty much that same result with my "hosts" file. It's now a bit over .5 MB. So when a site accuses me of the terrible sin of using an ad-blocker, I stop going there - because I know they're trying to push malware onto my system. It's enough to make me resurrect my old VMS system - it's slow, but it's got C2 security and probably still virus-proof.

Ed McLeod
"more than meets the eye"