Blocking

I am running ad-blocking software on my Macs and iOS devices. I don't feel even a little bit bad about that. And I don't really care too much if you run an ad-blocker on my site. I mean, there aren't any ads on here, so I guess it's easy for me to say that. If I'm completely honest, though, I would rather you not block Adobe's TypeKit (or whitelist this site altogether) so that the fonts I'm running show up, but if you don't care about my font that's your business. As you can see, TypeKit is all I have on this site that my preferred blocker, Ghostery, lists.

But the point of this post, and what has set the internet on fire over the past few days, is blocking ads on sites that rely on advertising for revenue. And a lot of people who work for those websites think I should feel bad for blocking on their sites. Well, I don't. For years now the people running these news, tech, and other publishing sites have allowed the advertising material to bloat and slow down their sites to the point where one feels like we have returned to the days of dial-up. We get pop-up ads, auto-playing videos, ads disguised as content, and on and on. Worst of all are the trackers that follow your ip address from site-to-site to deliver "relevant" advertising. And I assure you, turning on pop-up block and Do Not Track does absolutely nothing to stop any of these despicable tactics.

Here is a great summary of how I feel about it...

And here are two examples of just how bad online advertising has gotten:

The horrible awfulness of online ads, The Loop

The Mobile Video Ad Lie, Medium

As I said above, I'm running Ghostery on my Macbook Pro and My Mac Mini. It blocks all of the trackers and garbage from loading which makes the experience of almost every site faster and better. I also like that with Ghostery I can choose what to block and what to allow. For instance, I allow TypeKit to load because I think the right font improves the reading experience. And I let The DECK ad network load because their ads are unobtrusive and load fast.

Until the Safari Content blockers in iOS 9 this past week there was no way to ad trackers and website bloat other than just not visiting the offending sites. Now you can get an content blocker app – which has to be enabled much like a third-party keyboard – and keep websites from loading the garbage in Safari or any app which loads webpages in a Safari pop-up screen.

If you want to know how they work, iMore (of course) has a good explanation of how the content blockers work on iOS 9 here and The Loop has an updated list of available blockers.

I'm currently using Purify and find websites – even super bloated sites like CNN, The Verge, etc. – loading very fast and Purify makes it very easy to whitelist sites from the share menu. I happily paid $2.99 for it but you can get blockers for free, too.

And, yeah, a lot of publishers are losing their shit over people blocking ads. And even app developers can feel conflicted about it. I was using Marco Arment's Peace before he pulled it from the App Store largely because he felt that blocking ads in an all-or-nothing way wasn't the right thing to do. To his credit he actively encouraged people who paid for Peace to get refunds from the App Store.

I totally understand if you feel like you shouldn't block ads. Then don't do it. But I just can't stand the deceptive tactics and ridiculous loading times. And when I start seeing websites pulling this stuff I'll just not be visiting that site again. What it comes down to for me is this: if you as a publisher can't figure out a way to make money without wasting my time and bandwidth (which I pay wuite a bit for) and selling my privacy without my permission, then you're just out of luck.

I don't know if iOS ad-blocking will have any lasting effect on the web, and it doesn't much matter to me. I know that my experience is vastly improved when I take steps to keep advertisers' trash off my device.

Addendum: I was mistaken about one thing. In addition to TypeKit I also have a Twitter button running when you click on share at the bottom of a post. Ghostery blocks that.