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Why Adblock Plus is Really Uneacceptable

Why we should care about Adblock Plus, and resist their efforts to block ads.

Edited: 2015-05-29 03:03

By. BlueBoden

Adblock Plus logo

What is increasingly difficult for website owners and bloggers to handle, is users who choose to disrespect our work, and block ads on our websites – without permission.

While there is a clear problem around so-called intrusive ads – mainly ads that are blocking a page, or requiring users to click, to either remove or skip the ad, before they are able to view the content they are looking for – we also must not ignore the rights of the website owners.

If the owner of the house has setup a paywall, or a clickwall of ads, then there is little we can do to remove such ads, without also violating the rights of the owner of the house. This is simple mathematics, and those who disregard it, are really to be compared with criminals.

As such, it is my opinion that the act of removing ads from a website, without the consent of the owner, should be considered a criminal offence, in that those who do so effectively will be breaking into private property – in a way. The problem is not really that big yet, since most users do not know about browser ads like Adblock Plus. That does not make it less serious though.

Potentially, in the future, a much larger percentage of internet users, will be aware of Adblock Plus – or similar software – which would effectively limit or steal the income from many bloggers and website owners, and as a result, the motivation to maintain these websites will be gone.

Acceptable ads

In the case of Adblock plus, there is a so-called Acceptable ads agreement that website owners can enter into. The problem is that this is currently a manual process, which is – apparently – sometimes paid for. Which is of cause completely unacceptable.

There should be a way to obt-out of adblock solutions, so that we as website owners can block users of adblockers more easily. This can luckily be done with JavaScript to some extent, but the question is if adblock plus will find ways to disable these JavaScripts implementations.

This is a kind of lawlessness that i personally have no sympathy for. Respect for private property should come before ones own personal interests. This is also why the recent ABP win in a court in Germany, was likely due to the courts failure to recognize some of the most fundamental rights of website owners.

Quote from CNN article – AdBlock Plus secures another court victory in Germany:

German broadcasters RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 had argued that browser plug-in was anti-competitive and threatened their ability to offer users content for "free".

The problem with intrusive ads

I fully recognize that some website owners have evil intentions, and are in effect compromising a healthy balance by placing pointless intrusive ads on their sites, which require the user to close the ads, or in severe cases even click the ads, before they are able to view some content. In my experience, these sites owners are mainly inexperienced bloggers, or someone who is ignorant towards the negative consequences that such interruption can have on their sites reputation, and perhaps in particular, visitors loyalty towards their sites.

That is of cause not acceptable either, and that is where services like Adblock Plus may have a healthy place in maintaining a good balance.

The current problem is, that acceptable ads are not currently recognized automatically, and as such website owners will have to enter an agreement with adblock plus. This situation is not sustainable. If the company behind adblock plus wishes to show their good intention, then they should also put an effort into automatic whitelisting. At least to the extend possible – which it actually is in surprisingly many cases.

Difficult cases to recognize automatically likely involve sites that are generating large parts of their source HTML with JavaScript, since JS has traditionally been hard to manage. Not impossible, but hard.

To quote their page at:

Will all "acceptable" ads be unblocked?

No. Unfortunately, it isn't technically possible to recognize ads that meet our Acceptable Ads criteria automatically. We have agreements with some websites and advertisers which stipulate that only advertising matching our criteria will be displayed when Adblock Plus users visit these particular sites. These ads will be unblocked, i.e. added to the Acceptable Ads exception list which is enabled per default.

The important claim is highlighted, and this is in fact a false claim. It is, unlike what is claimed here, actually quite possible technically, to recognize ads meeting the criteria automatically. Either this false claim reveals their own ignorance, or it simply reflects the lack of qualifications in the company. Adblock Plus have a responsibility they seem to be neglecting, either out of ignorance or carelessness.

Another problem with this solution, is that users can still choose to disable the acceptable ads list, and that is where Adblock Plus assisting their users in a to-be-considered criminal offence, by violating the rights of website owners to display ads on their sites.

How to add your site to the acceptable ads list

Those who wish to add their sites to the acceptable ads list, should first make sure that their sites "qualify" according to the Acceptable Ads Criteria, then submit this form. You will receive an automated confirmation e-mail after submitting the form.

Sadly, having your site added to the acceptable ads list, will not ensure that your rights are not violated. As such, you may want to consider blocking Adblock Plus Users altogether – to send them a bold signal.