The ethics of modern web ad-blocking

The ethics of modern web ad-blocking

Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and, more recently, Overcast:

This won’t be a clean, easy transition. Blocking pop-ups was much more incisive: it was easy for legitimate publishers to avoid one narrowly-useful Javascript function to open new windows. But it’s completely reasonable for today’s web readers to be so fed up that they disable all ads, or even all Javascript. Web developers and standards bodies couldn’t be more out of touch with this issue, racing ahead to give browsers and Javascript even more capabilities without adequately addressing the fundamental problems that will drive many people to disable huge chunks of their browser’s functionality.

I vascillate between Ghostery and uBlock, but they do the same thing: disable the scripts that power advertisements and tracking on the web. Some sites respect their visitors and present unobtrusive, high-quality advertisements. I whitelist those because, even if I’m unlikely to look at the ads and far less likely to actually click on them, the respect the publisher showed me deserves reciprocation.

But Arment is right. There’s no nice way to say it: publishers with shitty ads won’t remain viable much longer in the face of increased user awareness and response. The ability to use ad blockers in iOS 9 will only accelerate the downfall of sites with shitty ads.

The next generation of Instapaper

The next generation of Instapaper

Tent – the decentralized social web

Tent – the decentralized social web

Geek preferences matter

Geek preferences matter