Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why FireFox is Misguidedly Blocked.

Went to read a blog this morning and was instead rudely redirected to some page with a bunch of hysterical bullshit about Why FireFox is Blocked.

The funny part is that in principle I agree with everything the page says about ad blocking being content theft but going to war against all FireFox users over this is fucking stupid.

People run ad blockers in Internet Explorer, why not block them too?

Most of the traffic is Internet Explorer so cutting of your traffic is stupid.

Why aren't they rallying against Norton Firewall which blocks all the same things by default?

That's another easy answer, because Norton Firewall users are a substantial amount of the traffic too but they can't easily detect a firewall. However, the FireFox user agent is an easy target to make a stand and piss off all the FireFox users and people are buying into this hype which is idiotic.

Hell, I'd suspect there are more people running ad blocking at the firewall level than there are copies of FireFox in actual use.

Will I do as they ask and go yell at Mozilla to take AdBlock Plus off the plug-in list?

Fuck no, it's fucking stupid.

However, what I might do is continue working on some ad blocking buster code that I started tinkering with because of Norton Firewall and ad blocking firewalls in general.

Shouldn't be that difficult to embed some javascript in the page that checks to see if Google AdSense created the iFrames for the ads or if the banners were actually loaded and punt the page elsewhere to a nice message telling people nicely:

YOUR BROWSER IS BLOCKING CONTENT FROM THIS WEBSITE.

PLEASE DISABLE BLOCKING TECHNOLOGY SO OUR PAGES WILL DISPLAY CORRECTLY.
Worded purposely to sidestep even discussing the fact that the blocked content was ads so it doesn't call direct attention to the ads and shouldn't violate the AdSense T&Cs.

You could just turn off javascript to stop any ad block checking but then the site navigation won't work because they're both in the same file.

Cute, eh?

Additionally, server side embedded ads seem to still work just fine so as long as you aren't serving up some 3rd party ads you can still show the ads.

Yes, your embedded ads COULD be blocked but the current filter technology requires a specific path or file name so as long as the image names vary constantly per banner and they appear to be served from the root path of the web site it's pretty hard to filter out with the existing technology.

The easiest way to defeat ad blockers which I've experimented with in the past is to simply make all the code server side. I once experimented with CJ's code by downloading the images to the server first and embedding them into the page directly, then redirecting clicks to the proper tracking location. The only 2 issues is that the impression tracking and 3rd party cookies didn't work well in that scheme, but it's obvious to me that a server side work around is possible that defeats all the ad blockers.

Don't expect to see server side code anytime soon though as most people operating a web site simply aren't capable of installing the code unless it comes pre-packaged as a blog or CMS module that can virtually install itself.

Remember, it's not a war on FireFox, it's a war on AD BLOCKERS, so get over the fact that FireFox has a plug-in, stop stupidly penalizing FireFox users, and start dealing with the root of the problem which is the blocking technology itself. Your ads can fly under ad blocking radar or stop visitors that don't download ads, your choice, but deal with the problem and not taking pot shots at a random poster child which in this case is FireFox.

38 comments:

bobbb said...

Interesting. I think most people object to ads that pop up or put something over your screen and/or move when you scroll. Anyway I do not find ads intergrated into a page to be a problem (adsense).

Anyway what was that page?

chris said...

I enjoy this blog, because as usual you are talking sense. I'm one of they guys they are trying to block. I don't know why. If they are being paid on click-throughs then it makes no difference anyway, as I'll click on exactly the same number of ads whether I can see them or not. There are enough issues with ads that are trying to compromise your machine through the main distribution channels. I've no issue with ads in themselves... if you want to build your own, get your page sponsored or whatever, that's fine. I just object to content that comes from off the website I'm reading.

Anonymous said...

"Cute, eh?"

No, it's evil and stupid.

Gratuitously requiring JS be enabled or links don't work is stupid.

Forcing people to see ads is stupid. Anyone who goes to the effort to block the ads isn't going to click on them or buy anything they advertise because they advertise it anyway, so you aren't missing out on a thin dime of revenue due to ad blocking.

On the other hand, users that block ads and like your site may refer other users to your site. Some of those other users may not block the ads. Heck, one or two might even actually click on one! You never know. But if the first user is blocked from viewing your site he won't recommend it to anyone.

Here's another hint. Googlebot can't follow "a href=# onClick=URL" links and other "cleverness" designed to force people to turn on Javashit, and Googlebot also doesn't fetch any of the ads. And I really don't think you want to be blocking Googlebot or preventing it spidering your site. It's the ultimate case of "that user that never clicks on any of the ads but does refer other people to your site".

bobbb said...

Another hint:
127.0.0.1 pagead2.googlesyndication.com - no adsense

IncrediBILL said...

I knew one of the resident anonymous trolls would jump all over this.

I personally don't care if you think it's evil or what because the leeches and trolls can go elsewhere if they don't want to see the ads, too damn bad.

I have javascript navigation and the way it's implemented there are alternative methods for Googlebot to crawl.

Letting Googlebot crawl is as simple as showing the bots the actual links and only showing the humans the javascript version, cloaking, yeah, that's the word ;)

Cloaking is cool too as it let's Google, Yahoo, MSN and ASK crawl to their delight yet the scrapers see Javascript, love the cloak!

Maybe I'll just unleash the test script I'm tinkering with to stop just AdSense blocking to the masses of AdSense webmasters, if it works in all browsers, and see how the ad blockers like their turn getting kicked around.

Could be quite amusing, especially if the code is run through an obfuscator so no two sites have the same code installed so the ad blockers couldn't even detect it.

Heh.

Wiz said...

Bill;
This is Wiz (Wizcrafts). Count me in on the script you mentioned. I'll be happy to implement and test it on my websites. Hell, I already block most of Africa, China, Korea, Russia and exploited servers around the world, with my .htaccess blocklists, so blocking people who don't even want to see my ads won't be a big loss.

God forbid anybody should see an ad about something of interest to them and be tempted to click on it, and make me a few cents, or dollars!

Anonymous said...

Morons. The people who block ads never ever click on them. And the majority block only because they keep getting bombarded, especially with popups, even when they already have popup blocking enabled. Usually those "fake window" popups that aren't really separate browser windows, but cover up the content you're trying to read. They're even worse than real popups, both because they're not blocked and because you can't just click "close". Since it's not a real window there's no real "close" button to click -- there's a phony one, but clicking it is simply clicking on the ad graphic, which of course whisks you to the advertiser's website and away from what you were trying to read.

And you would blame anyone for blocking ads? AdSense isn't what offends -- it's the huge graphical ones, popups, noise-making Flash, and so forth.

P.S. Gratuitously requiring JS be enabled or links don't work is stupid and evil.

IncrediBILL said...

I don't have popups or fake popups or any flashing crap, it's just AdSense.

They can either take the site as-is or go elsewhere.

It's neither stupid or evil, it's my prerogative which is a really big word you'll probably have to look up.

Wiz said...

Amen Bill!

I don't use pop-ups on my website either, just inline text and conservative banner ads and AdSense text ads. I hand pick all of my affiliate text and image ads to correspond to the content of my various pages and the paragraphs where they are placed. I optimize AdSense pages until they display relevant ads. All of this is done in the sheerest hope that some people will seek additional information, or beneficial products displayed in those relevant ads, granting me a few coins for the countless hours of work I put into my website and blog.

Of course, this reveals that I am a Capitalist, but definitely not a moron, as labeled by the poster named "Anonymous." What an original name!

Anonymous said...

No popups or Flash = good.

Your prerogative -- well, everyone has the right to be an arsehole, but as a general rule you won't make many friends being that way. Every webmaster likewise can do all kinds of stupid and screwy stunts, but they may just find visitors don't come back and other, competing sites triumph over theirs because they offer a superior user experience.

Your choice.

Anonymous said...

Wiz: Actually, the other anonymous poster was only labeling the users of nasty Javashit tricks and the like "morons", not everyone with (reasonable, or even actually targeted) advertising on a site.

That said, I don't like your mention of "inline text" ads. Ads and content are like oil and water -- they don't mix. It should be clear what is paid advertising and what is your own original thought! This is also an objection to selling links, where people can pay you to have words in your articles turned into links to their usually-irrelevant web sites. Links in content text should be unpaid, and should actually link to stuff relevant to the content.

Wiz said...

Anonymous said...

Wiz: Actually, the other anonymous poster was only labeling the users of nasty Javashit tricks and the like "morons", not everyone with (reasonable, or even actually targeted) advertising on a site.


This is confusing. How am I to know which Anonymous is which? I wish you guys would choose a handle to differentiate yourselves. Anonymous shouldn't even be an option for commenting on blogs. Anyway, I would like to thank Anonymous #2 for clarifying why Anonymous #1 was bitching us out.

That said, I don't like your mention of "inline text" ads.

Regarding my statement about inline text links, I was referring to text affiliate links that appear as text sentences, as opposed to images or Google AdSense text blocks. I don't like the underlined word links either and find them very annoying.

Ads and content are like oil and water -- they don't mix. It should be clear what is paid advertising and what is your own original thought! This is also an objection to selling links, where people can pay you to have words in your articles turned into links to their usually-irrelevant web sites. Links in content text should be unpaid, and should actually link to stuff relevant to the content.

It's funny you should mention that, because yesterday I was approached about making space available on several of my webpages, for paid links, with the copy written by the advertiser. Something about that bothered me, altho the money would be useful, so I Googled about paid text links and read Matt Cutts' statements at the last SEOmoz conference. Google definitely does not like paid text links and will do whatever it takes to remove any Pagerank from them, and possibly the pages on which they are hosted. The only way you are (relatively) safe selling text links is if you add rel="nofollow" to them, or to the pages on which they appear, or if they are placed on pages excluded in robots.txt.

Your statement is in line with Google's stated position against indexing and following paid text links. Content should be content and ads should be ads. Affiliate links are ok, because they are not followed by Googlebot, nor would they be granted any PR if they were followed. It is the inline paid text links that are only there to deceive the search engines that we should worry about having on our websites.

Matt Cutts began with a presentation called, simply, "Paid Links." He started by telling the audience that the title of the panel, "Are Paid Links Evil?" was the wrong question to ask. Rather, in his opinion, a more proper question would be "Do paid links that pass PageRank violate search engines' quality guidelines?" And the answer, according to Matt, is that since 2005, Google has been explicitly clear that the answer is "Yes."

Matt notes that in the offline world, the FTC demands disclosure of all paid marketing activities (example from Matt - warning: PDF). In his opinion, when that disclosure carries over to the web, it must include disclosure for both humans and machines, meaning that a mention of "sponsored links" or "advertising links" in the body copy or as an image that's visible to humans is not enough - those who link to sources from which they have received compensation should be labeled in one of the following ways:

* Use a redirect through URL blocked by robots.txt
* Redirect through a URL using a 302
* Use Javascript to direct the link
* Apply the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the link
* Add the Meta Robots = "nofollow" to the page header

Matt goes on to say that Google certainly does not recommend you buy links.

Anonymous said...

Good reading:
http://www.switched.com/2007/09/13/is-it-wrong-to-block-web-site-ads/
http://www.news.com/Web+ad+blocking+may+not+be+entirely+legal/2100-1030_3-6207936.html

Anonymous said...

Wiz: unfortunately it looks like the only way to have a "handle" at this blog is to actually register and give away personal info somewhere, unlike at other blogs where I occasionally comment and can fill in a pseudonym and phony email and post away and be visibly different from the other anons.

So take it up with Incredibill, who will likely have to take it up with the blog host in turn.

Anonymous right above me: those URLs look truncated and indeed don't work.

IncrediBILL said...

Two things...

1 - If you click OTHER instead of ANONYMOUS it let's you enter a name and URL to identify yourself

2 - The links the other anon posted work JUST fine. Any 5 year old can select the enter line and paste them into an address bar.

Anonymous said...

Oh really? The first link leads to a fancy-looking Web page with navigation bars at the left and right and stuff across the top, and a big blank area in the middle where the content's supposed to go. It's broken in one way or another. That's with selecting from the initial "http://" all the way to the final "-bl".

The other one is a plain ordinary 404.

I'm quite sure the links were longer than the comment area is wide and got cut off; the names don't look complete or end in a typical \ or filetype (.html, .php, or etc.)

Without the final part of each URL, each is unusable. It's either not there at all, or it might as well not be as it's not visible to select it or anything. You can't click or shift-click what you can't see. Short of resorting to "View Source" I don't see how anyone could be expected to use those links. Typical shoddy behavior of Blogger. If they'd been made active they might work, if the "href=" part of the anchor tag wasn't truncated, as it shouldn't be; then you'd just click them and it wouldn't matter that the printed link text was cut short! But noooo ...

IncrediBILL said...

Well they both worked for me with a simple copy/paste in Firefox so either you:

a) use a crappy browser or,

b) are the most incompetent human on the planet

Anonymous said...

Impossible, since the same exact thing in the same exact browser doesn't work here, and, moreover, theoretically cannot work. The end of the URL is missing. Unless your operating system magically allows copy/paste to copy things that aren't even there, I don't see how it can ever possibly work.

Ban Proxies said...

What the .........? I posted those urls and I can C&P them using IE,Firefox and Opera.


"Off Topic"

Bill it looks like the W3C is openly promoting scraping technology.

http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/REC-grddl-tests-20070911/

"GRDDL (pronounced "griddle") software can automatically extract information from structured Web pages to make it part of the Semantic Web"

IncrediBILL said...

Well, Forest Gump's mother said it best with "Anonymous is as Anonymous does". I think she used the word STUPID but I substituted Anonymous since they seem to be synonymous.

re: W3C - they can make whatever technology they want but it will fail when it hits the bot blocker so fuck 'em.

Anonymous said...

Lots of insults against perfectly reasonable anonymous posters here -- I wonder why?

FWIW those URLs don't work for me either. Same results, blank page and 404 respectively.

As for the W3C's GRDDL and the like, it's amazing how some paranoid people see thieves and robbers lurking in every shadow when what's really there is an attempt to provide a tool that might (horror of horrors!) *add value* to your content. Offered a free meal I suppose you'd suspect it had been poisoned?

Ban Proxies said...

".....those URLs don't work for me either." If you want to know what you are doing incorrectly ask!

GRDDL has many uses.

The last person that offered me a free meal used the "occasion" to sprout off at the month about their views of the world from behind rose colored glasses.

You can go stick your head back in the sand.

IncrediBILL said...

OK all you anonymous Copy & Paste 404 nitwits, I'll feed you the links like baby food since you can't do the simplest shit by yourself.

Here's the link to switched.com and the linke to news.com.

Guess how I got those 2 links that work perfectly fine?

Cut & Paste!

You come to my blog professing to be so smart and know so goddamn much and can't even do the simplest things.

Fucking amazing.

Anonymous said...

Nobody was doing anything incorrectly. Nobody was apparently willing to resort to "View -> Page Source", but then, nobody should have to, now should they?

Ban Proxies said...

You don't have to go to the source code to get those links. What is it you don't understand?

A suggestion was made for you to ask so, maybe you just might learn something and all you do in your reply is sprout off again.

You've just pissed away an opportunity.

IncrediBILL said...

You stupid anonymous raging dingleberry, I did *NOT* use the view->page source.

What part of copy and paste straight from the browser don't you fucking understand?

Thick as a brick and dumb as a stump and you keep coming back for more abuse.

Does your mommy know you visit this blog?

IncrediBILL said...

P.S. anonymoron...

Just because *YOU* can't do it doesn't mean others can't so stop showing your single-minded self-centered ignorance.

Anonymous said...

The URL:

http://www.switched.com/2007/09/13/is-it-wrong-to-bl

simply would not work; nor the other one; due to the truncation. Selecting from the initial "h" to the final "l" and hitting "copy" isn't somehow going to magically "see" the rest of the URL; there's no way it even *can*. That is not "stupid". It is simply common sense.

On the original topic, that blogger that blocks people who use Firefox and AdBlock Plus has been had, by the way. It is not too difficult to view the blog in Firefox, with ad block enabled, if you know a teensy bit about what you're doing; basically, it involves disabling both Javashit and meta-redirects for that site.

Attempting to control how users view and access the web is futile. Internet users don't respond well to coercive tactics. You have to give the users what they want and offer fair exchange or you end up with nothing -- no audience, no users, and no money if money is what you were after. Some sites like the NYT seem to finally be realizing that. And some sites ...

chefan said...

The idea to force people to view ads in order to get the content is hilarious, as is the argument that blocking ads would kill the free internet. That is like forbidding the off-button on TVs and introducing mandatory auto-locking bathroom doors to prevent people from peeing during commercial breaks, stating that this evil behaviour endangers affordable television programs.

Anyone who wants to finance his web appearance with ads should friggin ASK the user to click on links in order to cover the bandwidth. If the content is worth it, and the webmaster did not include noisy flash ads or offensive granny sex, i for my part do not object to properly placed ads.

my2c

IncrediBILL said...

Laugh all you want as you obviously don't know squat about the internet economic situation.

Your argument is lame because without ads all the BASIC services you use daily such as Google, Yahoo and MSN would vaporize unless they charged you a supscription.

It's already happening to newspapers and magazines that made money on advertising that transitioned to the internet and some of those print editions are shrinking in size or going extinct.

The comparison with TV is silly too as the majority of TV users now PAY for cable TV and SUBSCRIBE to many ad free channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, all ad free but PAID subscriptions.

Expect to be subscribing to AD FREE websites soon if you aren't already if the ad blockers dominate the 'net.

The alternative is to force them to disable the ad blockers.

Can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

"It's already happening to newspapers and magazines that made money on advertising that transitioned to the internet and some of those print editions are shrinking in size or going extinct."

Actually, many of the newspapers are booming online and dropping their paywalls, and some are using clever promotions (such as free music CDs) to keep selling printed papers offline, too.

Richard said...

Just so you know...
There are two ways to view these comments. By (1)clicking the comments link at the bottom or (2)clicking the headline at the top. The comments link takes you to a page that is formatted differently from the blog theme and those links posted above will be cut off, while clicking the headline will show the comments with the links in full.

Oh, and if a site owner places more importance in his ads than in his content, then obviously it wasn't worth reading to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so that's the trick. :P

IncrediBILL said...

No, that's not it either, there is no trick because I can copy & paste them from either mode.

The URLs are only truncated by the page layout meaning all the data is still there whether you can see it or not.

Can't believe there are this many comments about something so absurdly simple as copy & paste.

Richard said...

Bill, you are correct.
If they would just triple-click then they would get the whole url, not just what's visible. I guess they're trying to click and drag to highlight it first, which is wrong. ;)

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter why it's truncated -- you cannot copy what you can't select, and you can't select what you can't see. The furthest right you can click to select with the mouse is the last letter visible -- clicking further to the right won't work (and on most browsers, because of the way selection in tables tends to be implemented, selects half the page).

Richard: dunno what you're getting at. Clicking and dragging is not wrong, it's normal. Clicking and shift-clicking likewise. I don't know what you're on about with "triple clicking", but double clicking in my particular browser selects a word, and a third click after that just deselects it again. Double-clicking in a URL selects only a portion, e.g. the "switched" in "www.switched.com". It stops at punctuation, not just spaces. Perhaps your browser behaves differently. And anyway, the best you'd end up with is a selection that ends at that rightmost "l" since there is *nothing on the screen further to the right to become selected*. That seems to render all of this academic.

I can only assume that your mileages all vary because different browsers behave differently. What's true with your particular browser obviously isn't safe to assume for anyone else's, including mine. Link posters are advised to use tinyURL to avoid link mangling until such time as the layout is fixed by Bill.

P.S. Bill, there's this nifty new screen resolution these days called "1024x768". Designing a page to a fixed with of 800 pixels is not only pointless but stupid nowadays. Hint, hint.

IncrediBILL said...

The banality continues unabated...

Using MSIE 7 the links actually wrapped in both display modes, weren't truncated by CSS, not a problem. With Firefox 2 the links were visually truncated but easily copy & pasted by anyone old enough to hold a mouse without sticking it in their mouth.

What were you using?

Some older browser or Opera?

If it didn't work for you, we'll just have to weep for you... not.

As far as the width of the blog is concerned, by monitor is 1680x1050 and the narrow width it doesn't really bother me so why would I waste time fixing it?

Zoey Hanson said...

I have no problem with Advertisements, if done correctly.

It's the ones that track me, place a cookie on my computer, follow me as you go from place to place, etc. Those kind of ads are malicious and annoying, and I will not allow such adverts to even reach my system.

Same goes for Flash ads that eat up my CPU with flashy effects and FLV. It's stupid. And especially if I happen to mouse over them whilst scrolling down, and are met with FLV and blaring audio in my face.

Shit like that is what makes me block ads. However, websites that do not do this I will put on my Whitelist. That's the nice thing about ADblock: Whitelists are easy to use and only takes two clicks to add a site to ADblock's "disable list".