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Friday, July 07, 2006

Great rebuttle on blocking ads on websites

This is a rebuttle of an article talking about how blocking ads on websites will be the death of the internet:

"There is a big difference between Television and the Internet. First, Television Stations are not in the business of getting shows and interesting programs to the public. They don't make money by broadcasting television shows, there true source of income is by selling Advertisement Space to companies. The better the show they happen to be broadcasting, the more they can charge for an Ad during that show. Just like Xerox is not in the business of selling state-of-the-art Copy Machines to people, rather, they are in the business of creating a demand for their Toner. With the 'net, it's not so much about getting advertisements to people (or at least it shouldn't be), but more about getting information, content, entertainment, etc to people. The Television industry is almost entirely about getting people to buy ad space and finding a good reason for people to get bombarded with those ads, where as the internet is almost entirely about information, and entertainment with ads almost as an afterthought - "hey, someone's willing to give us a few cents to stick an ad here, why not?"

Currently, there is a major epidemic of advertisement on the 'net. There are a lot of sites out there now that try to disguise themselves as helpful, informative, educational sites, when in reality they're a business site trying to make money off of visitors. Now, it seems like sites are putting ads all over the place, and making them as intrusive as possible - ads that make sounds, or cover your screen, etc. I didn't like them before, when they were not so intrusive - but I definately don't like them now. I will never "punch the monkey", and I happen to listen to music constantly when I'm browsing the internet, so I definately don't want to hear these ads, so I have the Adblock Extension installed for Firefox. It's absurd to think that putting ads on a site improves anything whatsoever, here's an example:

About.com is a site that is sort of like an informative search-engine. There are several "guides", who are people who know a lot about a subject, and offer their expertise on many different topics, sometimes giving links to other sites, etc. However, this site is actually a buisiness site - owned by the New York Times, and is full of advertisements. In many cases, clicking on a link to one of their topics gives you an ad that makes you wait for it to finish before you can get to the actual content - or find the small "skip" button. There are sponsered links hidden within the places where links to other information are - what looks like a link to take you to more information about the Breeding Habit of Turtles actually turns out to be a link to a site that sells Turtleneck Sweaters, etc. Now, some of the content on this site is actually worthwhile, even though you have to wade through a bunch of crap to get to it - I prefer to avoid the site altogether.

Wikipedia is a free website that contains information about nearly anything you want to know. There are no ads, no 'sponsored links', anyone can sign up (for free) and edit, add, change information as they see fit. It is, essentially, a community of sharing. Anyone can offer information about a topic, and other people can change, edit, remove anything that needs it. It's all about sharing, and giving information, for free.

If About.com had either no ads, or much less intrusive ads, I would probably go there more often than I do. As it stands, if I search for something (I use Google almost extensively), and it gives me a link to a promissing article on About.com, I tend not to even follow the link, ad blocker or not. I also avoid other sites that have too many ads, as well - if I'm looking up information about a game (like Will Wright's Spore which looks promissing), I'll rarely go to IGN, or GameSpy because I know that there's a chance that I'll have to click past an ad with one of those "You'll be taken to your requested page in a moment, after this advertisement" things that makes me want to Close my tab instantly.

Here's another piece of this debate that really upsets me: people are suggesting that AbBlocking tools be removed, or blocked or something like close to outlawed. What this means is that I am not allowed to choose what my computer does. I am not allowed to install programs that help me be more productive, or whatever you want to call it. That is unacceptable to me. I put together my computer myself - it's not a Dell or anything that comes pre-built. I went online, ordered the case, ordered the motherboard, the hard drives, etc, and put it all together with the sole intention of having it work the way I want. I am painstakingly cautious about what software is installed on my computer, making sure that I'm free of AdWare and SpyWare - which is a whole other topic of discusion that I'm going to avoid here. I have gone out of my way to not only install the AdBlocker Extension, but also create a self-updating list of items that I want it to block because I do not even want my cache folder's space to be wasted by a single ad - but I'm in the wrong for doing this, according to those who want to stop Ad Blocking. If I wanted to have my computer be at the whim of everyone else in the world, as to what I'm 'allowed' to do, I would have bought a calculator. Or a Mac.

Instead of changing the way that people use the internet to fit to the way that companies want to make money, we need to change the mindset of these people - get them to understand how the internet works, and change the way they want to make money to fit with how the internet is used. Subscriptions were mentioned, although I don't think they are a very could method since when I think 'internet subscription', I always associate it with 'porn site'... Donations are actually a lot better than you seem to give them credit for. Unlike donating to a cause such as a disaster in some other part of the world, you're donating to something that you have imediate contact with. Depending on what you're site is offering, you can actually get some decent donations. However, the problem is that there is a different mindset. I don't think you should make a website with the intention of making the same amount of money that you would with more tangable company. Instead of: "Make a website, make millions of dollars, quit your job, and update once a week", it should work more like this: "make a website, KEEP your job, offer content voluntarily, and offer a way for people to donate, or buy something from you to support the site, and help give you a little extra income". Because a 'net that works on freedom, sharing, volunteers, and community works a lot better than one built on making money, greed, and the need to make content to get money from people. Interestingly enough, so does the world.

So, in conclusion, in my opinion, AdBlocking is not the death of the internet, but the death of senseless advertising, and the birth of a new era of the internet that will be better than ever before.

I do want to appologize for the length of this comment... lol... I just got going and couldn't stop - hopefully it makes sense. Also, I would like to appoligize for the fact that I didn't know you even had ads on your site until I saw your comment - so you're not going to get any compensation from Google for my visit here, although I would not have clicked on the ad had I seen it..."

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