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Blocking Ads

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

There is a war going on! It’s a titanic struggle between advertisers who want to put their message in front of as many people as possible and consumers who do not want to be bothered. Advertisers have resorted to in-your-face ads that cover the whole screen and are often difficult or impossible to close. Computer users often resort to using software to block ads.

Ever since advertising has existed on the web there has been ad-blocking software! I have generally avoided recommending any ad blocking software by name, the reason being that by the time I write a review of a good ad-blocker, the advertisers have usually found a way to circumvent its utility, leaving my recommendation looking rather dumb.

However, for the last few months I have been using a program called “U-Block Origin” (not to be confused with plain U-Block) to avoid intrusive advertising. The program works well as was demonstrated to me when I went to one web site.

A while back, I went to a news site many readers will be familiar with. When I pointed my browser to www.forbes.com, I received a message reading, “Thanks for coming to Forbes. Please turn off your ad blocker in order to continue.” I decided I did not want to disable U-Block Origin and I really did not need to look at that Forbes article anyhow. I went elsewhere for the news item as a matter of principle because, if you object to being exposed to ads on a web site, just do not go there.

I was in for a surprise a few days later when I, again, surfed www.forbes.com and was informed: “Hi again. Looks like you’re still using an ad blocker. Please turn it off in order to continue into Forbes’ ad-light experience.” I am not exactly sure what an “ad-light experience” is, but the experience of being barred from entering the web site did tell me something.

It is obvious that advertisers are aware of how effective ad-blocking software such as U-Block Origin can be. So the next escalation in this “online arms race” is that some web sites are now pushing back against consumers who use effective ad-blocking software. Some web sites, such as Forbes, go so far as to tell visitors using ad-blocking software that they are not welcome to use the site.

Philosophically, I do not object to these policies. Web sites that are ad-supported have a right to protect their financial interests. Paid sites such as the Wall Street Journal provide an advertising-free experience but their subscription fee is expensive. In my opinion, what is needed is an online “pay-for-use” system. While I am unwilling to pay US$28.99 a month to use the Wall Street Journal web site, I might be more willing to pay a dime or a quarter every time I read one of their articles provided there was a convenient and secure means for me to do that.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.

 

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