Ad Block Changing, good? bad? Who knows…

This just popped up on opening a browser tab in Chrome on the Chromebox:

Announcing the Acceptable Ads program

Hi, it’s Michael, the creator of AdBlock. Pardon the interruption!

For years I have wanted to help make it easy for you to see useful ads and block annoying ones. I am excited to tell you that it’s finally happening.

AdBlock is now participating in the Acceptable Ads program. Acceptable Ads defines strict guidelines to identify non-annoying ads, which AdBlock now shows by default. This way, you can help support your favorite websites — and if you still want to block every ad, you can disable this easily.

Want more details?

I think you’ll really like the change. Happy surfing!


PS: Why now? Well, I have always shared similar goals for the Web with the ad blocker Adblock Plus, who created the Acceptable Ads program. But I did not like the fact that they also control the program, because they are supported by some Acceptable Ads advertisers. Now, Adblock Plus will be transferring custodianship of Acceptable Ads to an impartial group of experts. I love this idea — in fact, it was my wife Katie’s suggestion! Due to this change, I’m happy for AdBlock to join the program. As a result, I am selling my company, and the buyer is turning on Acceptable Ads. My long-time managing director will keep working with the new company. I believe this is a great thing for you users.

It’s been an honor to make the Web a better place for you! :)

Sounds reasonable right up to the “sold the company and the new guy wants to let ads through” part… and the ‘allow ads through an ad blocker by default’ part…

Oh, and thanks to the Global Warming Scam, “a group of experts” now raises hackles and causes a concern of large size.

Looks like I may need to point the Chromebox at my own DNS, with ad site blocking DNS Hijacking entries for anything that bothers me, and just not worry about it… The internet, like water, just flows around such attempts at control such as buying out companies…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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16 Responses to Ad Block Changing, good? bad? Who knows…

  1. I get annoyed by bandwidth-hogging ads, and the ones that flash and move and thus attract my eyes. I thus don’t enable Flash in the browser, which knocks out the majority of those without needing an adblock program. There are still a few GIF animations and I haven’t yet been annoyed enough to hack the browser to get rid of those – these days I want to just use the computer rather than spend a lot of time on systems programming. Given that it seems Flash has a few backdoors in, though, I see disabling it as killing two birds with one stone.

    The “acceptable ads” idea is on the surface a Good Idea, but of course it will be self-administered and it’s thus pretty likely it will be on the edge of acceptibility anyway.

    In order that the net is free (in that although you pay to get on it you don’t pay to see most of the sites) we need to have the ads. Every search or click will be analysed to show me stuff I might buy. It’s quite funny that if I actually do buy something after a search, I suddenly get a lot of adverts for a similar thing – seems counter-intuitive since once I’ve bought it I won’t buy another so that’s wasted ads.

  2. John F. Hultquist says:

    Regarding Simon’s last line – “It’s quite funny …”

    One sees articles on “the cloud”, “big data”, “data mining”, and how “smart” computers can be but, I assume, the selling or sold information is hidden by the seller. I assume, again, the seller would no longer send you ads while others continue to do so, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. I haven’t checked for this – it’s just a thought.
    Also, many times I search for something just out of curiosity (maybe something is mentioned in a news item or by a friend; example friend Mary writes that she bought a new camera, so I look for and read a couple of reviews, but I don’t need nor want nor intend to buy any sort of camera for years. “Big smart data miners” should know I’m not in the market.)

    I just started using Ad Block Plus about a month ago.

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    In my experience advertising is a con game perpetrated by by the ad agencies. Kind of like creating fishing lures to catch fish. Catching the eye of the fisherman is the objective. For every dollar that we have spent on advertising, we are lucky if we get a dollar back in gross sales. Satisfied customers word of mouth, on the other hand, is priceless. In your face advertising is counterproductive and just irritates your intended target. Generally the customers you get in with advertised promos are not the ones you want anyway. They just want cheap or free and won’t be back. If they comment at all to their friends it is how smart they are to have made that score. Not the quality of your product or service. Generally the agency client is desperate for sales and can be conned into throwing good money after bad in the hopes of generating sales, even at a loss. The FREE internet is not free if you constantly must up grade your equipment and bandwidth to accommodate all that added eye candy that is a constant and growing irritation. Ad block with a builtin back door is a contradiction!.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Some folks buy more than one of an item, or retun an unsatisfactory one.

    What bothers me is that I can search for someting innocent then get crap ads. As an absurd example, say I was interested in a Chineese computer attack, so I search on “China backdoor entry” (yes, a deliberately stupid search example). Then realize my mistake and add “computer security” terms and search again.. Yet the damage is done and for the next week I get ads for Asian Ladies Looking For …. and can’t use the computer with a client or spouse looking at the screen lest they ask why I get those ads…

    As I research lots of odd things for the blog which often have no connection to me, I get a lot of that crap. I’ve had Gay Guy ads for a week or too, young guy looking for action ads, Asian Babe ads, tampon ads, Old Guy ads, drug ads both legal and illegal, and ads for canoes that would not go away for weeks… At work, the guy next to me had his contract end and was headed back to Ohio. He needed tires, but was swamped with stuff. I like tires and know about them, so did the search to find the particulrly odd tires he needed. (Big truck and Travel Trailer with good speed rating – most trailer tires are 65 mph max…) For weeks after I had ads for truck and trailer tires…

    So I’m skittish about what I look up at work and how it might be distorted. (I found I could launch a virtual machine and browse in it despite I.T. locking the machine tightly :-)

    That is part of my motivation to make a portable amnesiac system…

    At any rate, it does please me that I’ve managed to so sidestep Big Date that they profile me (as evidenced by the ads presented) as a young man wanting Asian Spouse (sort of) into hot black music who is an old Gay Guy, that drives a big truck, lives in a trailer, uses tampons, and needs a canoe for his drug habit travels to The Islands… Oh, and uses medical marijuana. .. thanks to trying to research an article on it… for my breast cancer risk and needing mammograms at the local women’s clinic… (probably from looking up a clinic address for the spouse to get the employer mandated health screening in Florida)

    Theres more, but that’s the highlights. (for some reason I got women’s shoe ads for a while… but I couldn’t decide between the offered high heels or pumps so they eventually went away… no idea what I did to get those…)

    Oh Well… now I just block it all when possible.

  5. Larry Ledwick says:

    Clearing your cookies seems to help manage the goofy ads. I also often look something up on amazon or some other site just to see what it is, and end up getting related ads. I set flash to must get permission to run and clear all cookies on closing the browser. Periodically I will just close the browser and re-open it to dump all the cookies. It would be nice if firefox and other browsers would let you flag a half dozen cookies as “persistent” cookies to be retained when you close the browser so you did not need to log back into forums and sites you hang out on all the time. The other option would be when you see a really obnoxious ad, you could just right click on it and select never show me this crap again, to place a permanent block on that source.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    Hey Larry! I really like the right click Idea.
    “never show me this crap again” :-)

  7. Larry Ledwick says:

    Could be written as a add-on I suspect. Would need a way to “undo” an accidental click and an option to block a source for 24 hours for those occasions when an otherwise okay vendor has a stupid attack or just pushes an ad you personally find very offensive but is in itself not using obnoxious tactics like constantly flashing or moving image content.

    It would be nice to be able to block any ad which includes the text “weird trick” and a few other bait texts used to suck in morons.

    It would be a way to vote with your wallet in that if lots of people blocked them vendors would quit doing it. Remember the days when folks discovered flashing text and would put all sorts of flashing text in their web pages?

    I suggest the add-on should be named something like idiot-ad-blocker

  8. Paul Hanlon says:

    Yes, those video ads that turn on *with sound* drive me mad. The same with the modal screens entreating you to subscribe to the newsletter. Some allow you to click on a blank part of the screen and they go away, others force you to click a tiny X to get rid of it. I’ve often clicked away from a site when that happens.

    The ads that show up after you’ve shown interest in something are by design. Studies into it show that people are more likely to buy next time. As Simon has pointed out, the algorithm is still very crude, but improving all the time.

    But there is something that I think is more sinister. And that is the ability of Javascript to do a scrape of what is on your browser tab window, or what you are typing in, and send it back to a server unbeknownst to you.

    An awful lot of the ad tracking scripts put a tiny iframe onto a page, just 1pixel by 1pixel, and that allows them to run a script within your browser, that has access to everything in that tab (but not the other tabs). Often times you’ll actually invite scripts onto your page when you get those counter widgets or social networking toolbars.

    Now I’m not saying that any ad site is doing this, just that the potential is there and there’s nothing stopping a bad guy masquerading as an advertiser, or advertisers getting more and more aggressive with what they’re doing.

    The best answer is probably NoScript, for Firefox and other Mozilla based browsers. That gives you per script resolution so you have control on what gets loaded or not. But you will have to do this for each site once (after which it remembers). You will notice a huge speed-up in the time it takes for your browser to load, and a lot less bandwidth used. One site I went to recently came in at nearly a megabyte (it was just a news story). With NoScript it came in at 200KB. Video of it here

  9. Steve C says:

    I take a very simple – dare I say “old-fashioned”? – approach to advertising, be it online, shoved in my face via a giant flat screen in a shopping mall, or whatever.

    If (and only if) I am specifically thinking of buying some item, then I will put myself to the trouble of finding out about it – manufacturer’s pages for specifications, a few searches including words like “junk”, “ripoff” and so on to find dissatisfied customers, a few more searches including “brilliant”, “great” etc. to find the satisfied ones – until I feel I have enough information to justify (or not) buying it. Then (assuming that my info search looked promising) I will look for a convenient supplier and buy one.

    At any other time, all advertising is pure pollution. (In fact, I’d put some advertising practices, not least the ugly, distracting giant screens in malls, firmly into the “pollution” category anyhow, even if I might have been interested in the product.) At these times, the more ads I see for some product, the less interested in both product and manufacturer I become (because the more they are apparently spending on promoting it, the less of the price is buying the actual product). Negative advertising, if you will.

    But an “ad blocker” which elects not to block “certain” ads of its own choosing? In the UK that would be a “Trades Descriptions” matter. They should rename it “Some-Ads Blocker”.

    Declaration of interest: I use Adblock (Latitude, the one for the Pale Moon browser) and NoScript, plus Ghostery to round up a few stragglers. Flash has to ask to be enabled, every time. And if I still see animated crap dancing about while I’m trying to read a page, the page is closed unread.

    Incidentally, if anyone knows of a way to remove the Facebook, Twitter and other “sharing” buttons/banners/etc. from wherever they appear, to avoid even the possibility of an accidental click ….

  10. Steve C – I’m a moderator on Revolution-Green, and I’ve tried to get Ken (the site owner and programmer) to remove the various social sharing buttons on the screen, as well as to remove the bandwidth-hogging background picture (that is then covered up), partial transparency setting and some mouse-over pop-ups that annoy me when I’m using a touchpad and don’t have pixel-perfect control over the cursor position or trajectory. So far no joy in getting the page less heavy – he likes the pretty bits and is on a fast line with a big box. He doesn’t see the problems. Still, there aren’t too many ads and they pay the server costs.

    I also figure that the more something is advertised the more I’ll have to pay over the basic costs – it’s bound to be lower value for money. I too give negative marks for any flashing or moving ads that shout at me, or pop-ups that grey the main screen out and order me to subscribe or otherwise do something I don’t intend to do.

    Since I also check on odd things for interest or because someone wants to know an answer, I get some strange ads at times. I’ve also had the Asian Babe series of ads and I don’t know what brought that on. Or the Ukrainian girls looking for husbands.

    It seems to me that the big-name browsers are crafted to aid the delivery of adverts, and that the open-source ones tend to just not work correctly on modern websites. I’ve become less satisfied with the way the system works overall. OK, I started with Mosaic and Netscape was a big improvement, but as a consumer I don’t really see any major advance since. A few more file-types that can be displayed (mainly used for adverts, of course) and there’s the availability of in-page updates (also good for adverts) but nothing that’s really outstanding from my (user) point of view. The main thing I can think of is the availability of tabs rather than needing to open a new browser window.

  11. Power Grab says:


    “Mandatory screening”?!?!? Eeeewwwww!

    I put that in the same category as being dragged off by one’s hair to give administer a flu shot.

    My employer started trying get the employees to get an annual screening in exchange for reducing the deductible by $50 a year. I guess they had very few takers. ;-)

    Since then, to sweeten the pot, they now offer a $50 reduction in the insurance premium every month if you will get the screening. They also don’t use company personnel to do the screening now.

    I flatter myself with helping make that change (not that I take them up on their offer, though!) because when they did the survey to find out why people didn’t go for the screening, I told them that, since I don’t use my insurance at all most years, then a reduction in the deductible is not an enticement for me.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Power Grab:

    New hire physical… Don’t want it? No problem: NEXT! (there’s the door…)

    The Mouse House has their pick of an infinite number of applicants…

    @Ad Blocking:

    My pet peeve is the ‘click to close’ in your face popup. If you click it, you are also potentially activateing a script that can do darned near anything… so I just reload the page. About 1/2 the time the cookie set informs the ad that it was already shoved in my face and it doesn’t return. The other half I just close the tab and move on…

    Also, I’ve been known to look at what sites are shoving crap at me and add them to my DNS server entries. So don’t want “twitter”? That’s why I have “” in my DNS server as going to my R.Pi Web Server greeting page… along with a few hundred others… Stuff just doesn’t have any way to get past a DNS hijack… (but it doesn’t help when I’m at Starbucks with the Tablet… I need to make a lunch bucket I.T. farm to take with me… Yes, also on that perpetual “someday” list… Nice battery, R.Pi with DNS, VPN, Firewall, etc. etc. on it. WiFi dongle to connect to ‘whatever’ open link is available, then “my stuff” connects to it as an access point. Now not only am I protected but I have reliable DNS and lots of local ‘stuff’ in my lunch bucket… Maybe for Christmas ;-)

    Per Cookies:

    On my “soon todo list” is to make a copy of my home dir that is a squashfs, then mount it with a ramdisk over it. Now all the cookies and stuff I want can be left in the original squashfs, and “new” cookies and crap get written to the ram disk so are available ‘for the session’, but evaporate on restart. A way to make my own set of ‘persistent configs’ while allowing temporary cookies and such, yet being reset to clean when done. I figure about a month I’ll have that done and posted. (It is a simple variation on the /usr squashfs from the prior posting on that… the biggest part of the work being to preen all the crap out of my present working home directory before freezing it ;-)

    So you can mount your home dir rw for “safe” things, mount an archived squashfs of it (with unionfs ramdisk over it) for general Risky Business Wandering, and have a Generic Profile Pristine home/dir squashfs (with unionfs overlay ramdisk) for I KNOW it’s risky and I do not want any of my usual home directory stuff showing… I’ve generally just used Live-CDs for that kind fo thing, but I’m looking to get away from CD_Rom dependency and having a more generic solution.

    It’s about 1/2 way to a full RaTails. It’s the “a” amnesiac portion… with a partial on the incognito.

    Isn’t security fun… Oh, and the reason the Big Boys like MSoft and Google make browsers with so much information leakage and so much advertizing enabling is that they expect to get a cut, while the open source folks are just as likely to be POed about it and writing “works for what I want” that doesn’t play well with the newest snoop and ad push methods.

  13. Steve C says:

    Simon – I agree in turn with your comment on background pics. Some of it may be generational, as I’m an old enough git just to turn up at a site and look for the information I was hunting; but then the web designer insists on giving visitors a “web experience” so complicated I can’t find the info. Possibly Ken should get his kids to look at the site (assuming he has kids …) and see whether they squeal about the amount of their bandwidth allowance they’ve used up loading it. ;-)

    Also about the “no real improvements” – which ties in loosely with EM’s comment a couple of months ago that however many Gigs you have, nothing seems to go any quicker than it did. My suspicion is that it’s all the assorted layers of protocols and translation and looking stuff up a lot of the time, but then I can remember my Z80 talking directly to the I/O chip …

    I was also interested to see Lauren Weinstein’s observations on the adblocking situation, though it’s a menacing prospect rather than a rosy one:

  14. Steve C – that’s an interesting blog from Weinstein. I’ve noticed that my ISP (Orange) previously made Skype a bit difficult (I’ve since largely stopped Skype since Micro$oft took it over) and occasionally messes up my SIP connection so I need to change the port used to get the phone running again. I presume they want me to just use their VOIP phone, which is actually pretty good calling out (mostly free/flat-rate) but costs as much as a mobile for people calling me on it. I thus have two VOIP phones – the Orange one for calling out and the Sip one for people calling me, which is also geolocated in the UK so they get free calls. Given that the actual cost of providing VOIP on a broadband line is almost zero, I shouldn’t need to make life that complex, but with the rules being as they are people will find a way around them.

    If the ISPs carry out this widescale ad-blocking then the small sites will need to find alternate ways of finance. Maybe we’ll end up with an alternate net that is crowdsourced and avoids the main ISPs – if you don’t have to pay an ISP to get onto the net then the costs of running a website would go down too. If it doesn’t have streamed video running down it, then a much smaller bandwidth would be adequate for swapping information. Come to think of it, if the ISPs try to tax the various cloud services, it might get some big money backing it. If you over-tax something, people find another way.

    Despite the current machine (triple-core 64-bit 1.6GHz) being about 10,000 times as fast as the old 4MHz Z80, it doesn’t seem that much quicker to use, unless you run a bit of machine code. That flashes by so quick you think it’s failed. It’s interesting also to see the size of a “hello world” program once it’s been compiled using a high-level language.

    Ken’s son hasn’t yet reached the age of being on the net – only about 1 year old. Looks like I’ll have to wait a bit until he gets the point….

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    The fears of ISP traffic toll bridges are valid, but their wet dream will founder on encryption and VPN tunneling. All the tech already exists. Folks just don’t use it as there has been little need. Look up stunnel, for instance. Or the .onion domain. It isn’t hard to make your own net running hidden inside the public one.

  16. earthdog says:

    If you’re looking for an ad blocker, try uBlock Origin (not just ‘uBlock’). So far, they haven’t sold out and they seem to do at least as good a job as Adblock.

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