Ethics of AdBlock

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morriswalters
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:05 pm UTC

The public internet exists, it is evidenced by the existence of spaces that are not public. And no one has argued that the content owners don't own their content.

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LaserGuy
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:42 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:The public internet exists, it is evidenced by the existence of spaces that are not public. And no one has argued that the content owners don't own their content.


Perhaps it would be useful for you and ucim to define, precisely, what you mean when you say "public internet".

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:17 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Perhaps it would be useful for you and ucim to define, precisely, what you mean when you say "public internet".
In terms of the internet anywhere I can follow a link to. By definition the content producers require that means of transit to be available to anyone. If it weren't, the site would never be visited. What the Site owner can do is to choose to control the terms of the visit. She can either choose to allow you to see the content or not. But she can't limit access to the site itself or it defeats the point. However some or some part of sites aren't explicitly linkable or are protected by a password or some other security mechanism. Those would be private spaces. The real world analog is a address of a business. Once the owner allows you in store you are restrained in what you can do with the merchandise, but she can't stop you from looking. If she wants to monetize it then she has to charge at the door. However that doesn't give you access to the whole premises, purely the spaces the owner chooses to make available.

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LaserGuy
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:35 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Perhaps it would be useful for you and ucim to define, precisely, what you mean when you say "public internet".


In terms of the internet anywhere I can follow a link to. By definition the content producers require that means of transit to be available to anyone. If it weren't, the site would never be visited. What the Site owner can do is to choose to control the terms of the visit. She can either choose to allow you to see the content or not. But she can't limit access to the site itself or it defeats the point. However some or some part of sites aren't explicitly linkable or are protected by a password or some other security mechanism. Those would be private spaces. The real world analog is a address of a business. Once the owner allows you in store you are restrained in what you can do with the merchandise, but she can't stop you from looking. If she wants to monetize it then she has to charge at the door. However that doesn't give you access to the whole premises, purely the spaces the owner chooses to make available.


I'm not sure how this helps your (or ucim's) argument. Yes, a business is required to have an address to function and has to have a door for people to get in. But it's still a private space, in the important sense--control of how the space is used, and who gets to access the space, is set by the business. And they're certainly free to decorate the walls with advertisements if they like, or, say, in the case of a museum, force you to walk through the gift shop on your way out unless you use an emergency exit or hop the turnstyle.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:13 am UTC

You asked me to explain what I meant by public. I did.
LaserGuy wrote:But it's still a private space, in the important sense--control of how the space is used, and who gets to access the space, is set by the business.
Yes.
LaserGuy wrote:And they're certainly free to decorate the walls with advertisements if they like, or, say, in the case of a museum, force you to walk through the gift shop on your way out unless you use an emergency exit or hop the turnstyle.
Again yes. So? Contrast the difference in what a big box store sells and what the local moviehouse does. And how they control access. I suggest it lies in the nature of the goods.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:07 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:What does create a social agreement then, if not mass acceptance?
Mass agreement, which is a stronger requirement than grudging acceptance of defeat under a more powerful and insistent force. Mass agreement would include most people reacting with disdain and distaste at somebody using adblock. That is not happening. There is neither agreement, nor is it mass. I'm not sure there's even acceptance, given the popularity of adblock. And the popularity of adblock only shows part of the negative reaction to internet advertising that does seem (to me) to be mass... personally I don't use adblock; I get by with flashblock, noscript, and a hosts file. However, I see nothing ethically wrong with using adblock, so my own position would not even show up in adblock's numbers.

Tyndmyr wrote:Someone putting out content that you like is rather nice of them....
No, it isn't. It's merely fortuitous for me. OTOH, someone putting out content for me that I like would be rather nice of them. (Or creepy, depending on how they figured out what I would like.) And the being available any time is not something the content provider can really take any credit for; that's how the internet works, and it came out of my taxes. Parts of it probably still does.

And even if it is "nice of them", and it would therefore be "nice of me" to do something, it is not unethical to not do that something. Ethics are not a factor. Just as I am free to not visit a site, they are free to not let me peruse the content, and the fact that it's hard to do is evidence that they are not doing this "nice thing" "just for me" - they are doing it for everyone and have their own agenda in mind. Which is what it comes down to.

Tyndmyr wrote:But if it's not a transaction or a favor, what is it?
Each website has its own reasons to exist, its own goals, and its own hopes. But none of them is doing it for me. Most of them don't give two toots about me, whether I see their ads or not. So, the idea that "it's rather nice of them" doesn't fly.

What is it? It is two independent actions. If I benefit, I will keep going back. If they benefit, they will keep the site live.

Tyndmyr wrote:You should probably stop going to the guy that hits you.
I don't have a choice in who I go to. When I need to get on the train, whoever is there hits me or doesn't. The trains to Albine seem to have more conductors that punch me, but I'm not obligated to go to a different city to avoid them, nor to take the bus.

Tyndmyr wrote:Look, you keep conflating ALL advertisers/content providers as if they were a single entity.
No, I don't. That's why I used this example - each conductor is different. But I still have to get to Albine at six o'clock. Since some conductors hit me but I have no control over which ones, I am justified in wearing armor whenever I go on the train - I'm not obligated to interview each one. Note that I am not making the argument that I can punch all conductors in the nose because some punch me. Just that I can ethically armor myself to prevent me from getting punched, should this particular conductor have had a bad day.

LaserGuy wrote:I don't think the "public Internet" as you describe it, is a thing that exists. Webpages are not in the public domain [...] If they choose to allow you to connect to their host and access their content free of charge, that is their choice, but they are not in any way obligated to do so.
I do not dispute this, however, if they allow me to access their content free of charge, then I can access the content. Free of charge. I'm not obligated to access it all.

I'm not arguing that the content providers owe me their content. I am merely arguing that if the choose to let me access their content, I can pick and choose, and instruct my user-agent to pick for me if I want.

By "public internet" I mean to emphasize that I am dealing with the part of the (content on the) internet that has been made freely available by the content provider. The content provider has no obligation to provide content, but if they do, there it is.

Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:Conversely, the content provider is not obligated to me to provide content compatible with the user-agent I prefer. Sites that claim and require security are obligated to be compatible with secure browsers, and to require me to use one. But that originates from their claim of security and my acceptance of those terms of entry, which creates a contract with certain expected behavior.
Ah, you believe in lots of responsibilities for others, but none for you.
Huh? I was clarifying what the content providers are not obligated to do. But in any case, my obligation is to not harm the site (where harm means more than "just breathing uses up oxygen"). But this obligation exists whether I consume content or not. No new obligations are created in me by the content provider's decision to provide content.

Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:If the content provider provides a multiplicity of content such as images, sound, different columns with different text, blog entries, twitter feeds, clear gifs, frames, whatever, I am not obligated to consume them all. I can ethically pick and choose whatever it is I want to consume.
Information is often presented in a package, and context is important. The internet is not entirely without limits, though it is fairly loose.

An obvious counterexample would be that linking to a website as a whole is generally okay. Attributed quotes are generally okay. Simply linking other folks's images to be served individually from their servers, without explicit permission, is not....
None of this has anything to do with whether or not I am obligated to consume all the content. Hotlinking is a mixed bag; it is sometimes considered preferable to copying the content and serving it yourself (without claiming authorship), and sometimes not. Generally, the deciding factor is bandwidth usage; this comes under harming the site (i.e. by sending, or causing to be sent, too many requests at once). It is not a direct counter to my claim that I am not obligated to consume all the content.

And in any case, hotlinking is not my consumption of the content; it is my allowing others a direct line to the content, which is a different question.

Tyndmyr wrote:Bypassing the "payment" portion could indeed constitute harm.
There is no paywall involved. The content has been made freely available. If there is other content "next to it", my choice to not consume that content is not unethical.

Payment for goods is not a "social convention", it is the law, where the goods are offered subject to payment. Content on the public internet (defined above) is not offered "subject to payment". It is merely sometimes offered "alongside a method of compensation" if you will. That's an important difference.

Tyndmyr wrote:You are generally obligated to not mis-represent yourself, unless a good reason exists for doing so. There is a distinction between no identification and providing false identification, and it is important.
Not being tracked by an advertiser is a good reason to do so (though again, I will draw a distinction between "misrepresenting myself" and "misrepresenting myself as someone else"). I have no problem with the former; the latter can be problematical.
Spoiler:
Lying is generally unethical, but saying you are running Firefox when you are actually running IE6, in order to trick the website into showing you the {whatever} that the web designer mistakenly thinks IE6 can't handle, is not unethical at all. OTOH, saying you are running Firefox when you are running IE6 in order to trigger a server-crashing bug is very unethical. In both cases, it's not the lying part that matters.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:09 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Perhaps it would be useful for you and ucim to define, precisely, what you mean when you say "public internet".


In terms of the internet anywhere I can follow a link to. By definition the content producers require that means of transit to be available to anyone. If it weren't, the site would never be visited. What the Site owner can do is to choose to control the terms of the visit. She can either choose to allow you to see the content or not. But she can't limit access to the site itself or it defeats the point. However some or some part of sites aren't explicitly linkable or are protected by a password or some other security mechanism. Those would be private spaces. The real world analog is a address of a business. Once the owner allows you in store you are restrained in what you can do with the merchandise, but she can't stop you from looking. If she wants to monetize it then she has to charge at the door. However that doesn't give you access to the whole premises, purely the spaces the owner chooses to make available.


I'm not sure how this helps your (or ucim's) argument. Yes, a business is required to have an address to function and has to have a door for people to get in. But it's still a private space, in the important sense--control of how the space is used, and who gets to access the space, is set by the business. And they're certainly free to decorate the walls with advertisements if they like, or, say, in the case of a museum, force you to walk through the gift shop on your way out unless you use an emergency exit or hop the turnstyle.


Precisely.

Even if anonymous posting is allowed, it isn't wrong to IP-ban jerks. No fifth amendment rights are being violated there.

Still a private space, even if a very accessible one.

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:What does create a social agreement then, if not mass acceptance?
Mass agreement, which is a stronger requirement than grudging acceptance of defeat under a more powerful and insistent force. Mass agreement would include most people reacting with disdain and distaste at somebody using adblock. That is not happening. There is neither agreement, nor is it mass. I'm not sure there's even acceptance, given the popularity of adblock. And the popularity of adblock only shows part of the negative reaction to internet advertising that does seem (to me) to be mass... personally I don't use adblock; I get by with flashblock, noscript, and a hosts file. However, I see nothing ethically wrong with using adblock, so my own position would not even show up in adblock's numbers.


Do you believe it is ethical to cheat on your taxes?

Taxes are accepted in mass. Grudgingly. Probably even with more distaste than ads. Some people do indeed cheat on them.

I contend that social pressure is that you should pay your bit, even though we may not *like* it.

Tyndmyr wrote:But if it's not a transaction or a favor, what is it?
Each website has its own reasons to exist, its own goals, and its own hopes. But none of them is doing it for me. Most of them don't give two toots about me, whether I see their ads or not. So, the idea that "it's rather nice of them" doesn't fly.[/quote]

Someone personally caring about you is orthagonal to "someone did something nice for you". People can affect your life with their decisions without knowing you personally. Me cleaning up litter along the side of the highway no doubt benefits a number of people in some small way, including people I have never met.

I am appreciative of others who do nice things for people they do not personally know.

Also, the "two independent actions" doesn't hold water. The success of a site and visitor reactions are connected by any reasonable metric. There's a dependency there.

Tyndmyr wrote:You should probably stop going to the guy that hits you.
I don't have a choice in who I go to. When I need to get on the train, whoever is there hits me or doesn't. The trains to Albine seem to have more conductors that punch me, but I'm not obligated to go to a different city to avoid them, nor to take the bus.


See, this is an example where you're deliberately using the analogy to confuse the issue. You're angling for a part of the analogy that clearly does not apply to the original issue.

On the internet, you choose where you go. You are not obligated to go anywhere.

LaserGuy wrote:I don't think the "public Internet" as you describe it, is a thing that exists. Webpages are not in the public domain [...] If they choose to allow you to connect to their host and access their content free of charge, that is their choice, but they are not in any way obligated to do so.
I do not dispute this, however, if they allow me to access their content free of charge, then I can access the content. Free of charge. I'm not obligated to access it all.[/quote]

And ad supported pages? Sure, you're not obligated to access those, but if you're obligated to pay for subscription supported sites, are you not obligated to view ads for ad supported sites?

None of this has anything to do with whether or not I am obligated to consume all the content. Hotlinking is a mixed bag; it is sometimes considered preferable to copying the content and serving it yourself (without claiming authorship), and sometimes not. Generally, the deciding factor is bandwidth usage; this comes under harming the site (i.e. by sending, or causing to be sent, too many requests at once). It is not a direct counter to my claim that I am not obligated to consume all the content.

And in any case, hotlinking is not my consumption of the content; it is my allowing others a direct line to the content, which is a different question.


If bandwidth from use without payment harms the site, then...how the fuck does YOUR use without payment not harm the site?

Tyndmyr wrote:Bypassing the "payment" portion could indeed constitute harm.
There is no paywall involved. The content has been made freely available. If there is other content "next to it", my choice to not consume that content is not unethical.

Payment for goods is not a "social convention", it is the law, where the goods are offered subject to payment. Content on the public internet (defined above) is not offered "subject to payment". It is merely sometimes offered "alongside a method of compensation" if you will. That's an important difference.


Ah. So you don't believe that paying for shit is also a social convention. If it were not law, you'd grab an armload of shit and run, and feel justified in doing so?

Lying is generally unethical, but saying you are running Firefox when you are actually running IE6, in order to trick the website into showing you the {whatever} that the web designer mistakenly thinks IE6 can't handle, is not unethical at all. OTOH, saying you are running Firefox when you are running IE6 in order to trigger a server-crashing bug is very unethical. In both cases, it's not the lying part that matters.


The lying kind of matters. If you inadvertantly triggered a crash simply by browsing, it's very different than intentionally lying to do so. The latter is far more malicious.

There are exceptions in social convention where lying is accepted, but you cannot reasonably say that lying does not matter. It's routinely used as an indicator that someone knew what they were doing was wrong, and attempted to hide it.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby icanus » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:44 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:And ad supported pages? Sure, you're not obligated to access those, but if you're obligated to pay for subscription supported sites, are you not obligated to view ads for ad supported sites?

I have explicit permission to view their content - they responded to my HTTP request with a 200 and sent the content to me - they were free to respond with a 403 (or not respond at all) if they didn't want me to see their content. I didn't make any promises about what I would do with that content beyond my legal obligations regarding intellectual property - certainly I didn't agree to issue follow-up requests for any other files.

Also, I assume you don't think that visiting a page places me under an obligation to follow every hyperlink on that page, so why am I obliged to download and view/execute a file referenced via an <img> or <script> tag, but not one referenced by an <a> tag?

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:39 pm UTC

icanus wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:And ad supported pages? Sure, you're not obligated to access those, but if you're obligated to pay for subscription supported sites, are you not obligated to view ads for ad supported sites?

I have explicit permission to view their content - they responded to my HTTP request with a 200 and sent the content to me - they were free to respond with a 403 (or not respond at all) if they didn't want me to see their content. I didn't make any promises about what I would do with that content beyond my legal obligations regarding intellectual property - certainly I didn't agree to issue follow-up requests for any other files.

Also, I assume you don't think that visiting a page places me under an obligation to follow every hyperlink on that page, so why am I obliged to download and view/execute a file referenced via an <img> or <script> tag, but not one referenced by an <a> tag?


That's the server. Not a person.

Hackers use a similar justification. It's okay because I can. In reality, sometimes servers or misconfigured, or the owner simply has not gone to the trouble of securing *everything* that can be secured, because...that's really time consuming. Shit, most people don't even bother with HTTPS yet.

However, you can, with a bit of common sense, figure out what the intent is. Links exist for you to follow or not. Images are intended for display with the accompanying page.

The key differentiating factor here is intent. Ethics rely on people, not on tags. A <script> tag containing malicious code, nobody is going to worry overmuch about you avoiding that, because the intent is fine.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:27 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Taxes are accepted in mass. Grudgingly
Taxes are not a social convention. They have the force of law.

Tyndmyr wrote:Someone personally caring about you is orthogonal to "someone did something nice for you".
No it isn't. It's orthogonal to "someone did something nice", and orthogonal to "someone did something nice, and you benefited". But it's the "for you" part that isn't happening. Nobody put up a website "for me".

And whether or not one shows appreciation for something is not a matter of ethics, which is what you are making it out to be.

Tyndmyr wrote:The success of a site and visitor reactions are connected by any reasonable metric. There's a dependency there.
Visitor reactions to ads will impact the success of the ad model for revenue generation. That does not require me to react favorably to it.

Tyndmyr wrote:See, this is an example where you're deliberately using the analogy to confuse the issue. You're angling for a part of the analogy that clearly does not apply to the original issue.

On the internet, you choose where you go. You are not obligated to go anywhere.
Sometimes on the internet I am obligated to go somewhere. And sometimes IRL I am not required to go to Albine. But the fact that sometimes some conductors don't punch me in the chest does not make it unethical to wear armor.

Tyndmyr wrote:...if you're obligated to pay for subscription supported sites, are you not obligated to view ads for ad supported sites?
Nope. A subscription is an explicit mandatory fee for entry, backed by the force of law. A better analogy (you keep using analogies, don't you!) would be a donation-supported site vs an ad-supported site. I am not obligated to donate to a donation-supported site. It might be nice if I do, but it is not in any way a requirement, ethically, legally, or socially. (Note - my point isn't that I do or don't donate myself - my point is that it is not unethical to not donate. The case is even stronger with ads, as ads are indirect and sometimes harmful, whereas donations are direct and never harmful.

Tyndmyr wrote:If bandwidth from use without payment harms the site, then...how the fuck does YOUR use without payment not harm the site?
Bandwidth usage harms the site the same way breathing harms the environment. It's a question of quantity. The environment (and the website) is built to handle a certain amount of breathing. The harm to the site would come from excessive (DDOS level) bandwidth use. Also, I have to pay for bandwidth too in some circumstances and ads (that I'm not even going to pay attention to) use up my allotment.

Tyndmyr wrote:If it were not law, you'd grab an armload of shit and run, and feel justified in doing so?
Not an armful of shit, but some shit. I do that all the time at conventions. The booths give shit away, I take it. I don't pay for it; payment is not expected. I don't always buy stuff from them either to compensate them for the free shit they are giving away. Nothing ethically wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with covering up their logo on that shit when I get home.

Tyndmyr wrote:The lying kind of matters. If you inadvertently triggered a crash simply by browsing, it's very different than intentionally lying to do so doing so.
FTFY. It's not the lying that's important, it's the user's intent. Using a car to rob a bank is wrong, but not because you're using a car.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:45 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Taxes are accepted in mass. Grudgingly
Taxes are not a social convention. They have the force of law.


These are not exclusive categories.

Tyndmyr wrote:Someone personally caring about you is orthogonal to "someone did something nice for you".
No it isn't. It's orthogonal to "someone did something nice", and orthogonal to "someone did something nice, and you benefited". But it's the "for you" part that isn't happening. Nobody put up a website "for me".

And whether or not one shows appreciation for something is not a matter of ethics, which is what you are making it out to be.


How and why one treats other people as they do is the heart of ethics.

If someone helped you, even if they were not specifically out to help you *specifically*, but just to help people generally, that's still generally an ethically good action. Look at the litter example. Picking up litter is good. Throwing litter everywhere is bad. Even if you do not have a specific person in mind when you act, your actions affect people anyway.

Why does your method of ethics require others to think specifically of you, or otherwise they are unworthy?

Tyndmyr wrote:The success of a site and visitor reactions are connected by any reasonable metric. There's a dependency there.
Visitor reactions to ads will impact the success of the ad model for revenue generation. That does not require me to react favorably to it.


This means your definition is broken. They are not "two independent events". Try again.

Tyndmyr wrote:See, this is an example where you're deliberately using the analogy to confuse the issue. You're angling for a part of the analogy that clearly does not apply to the original issue.

On the internet, you choose where you go. You are not obligated to go anywhere.
Sometimes on the internet I am obligated to go somewhere. And sometimes IRL I am not required to go to Albine. But the fact that sometimes some conductors don't punch me in the chest does not make it unethical to wear armor.


That's because wearing armor costs them exactly nothing. Which, again, makes it a shitty example. You're finding bad comparisons, and then focusing on the aspects that are DIFFERENT from the original.

Tyndmyr wrote:...if you're obligated to pay for subscription supported sites, are you not obligated to view ads for ad supported sites?
Nope. A subscription is an explicit mandatory fee for entry, backed by the force of law. A better analogy (you keep using analogies, don't you!) would be a donation-supported site vs an ad-supported site. I am not obligated to donate to a donation-supported site. It might be nice if I do, but it is not in any way a requirement, ethically, legally, or socially. (Note - my point isn't that I do or don't donate myself - my point is that it is not unethical to not donate. The case is even stronger with ads, as ads are indirect and sometimes harmful, whereas donations are direct and never harmful.


Donations are explicitly presented as optional, as distinct from subscriptions.

Ads are not(actually, early in the internet, optional pages of ads DID enjoy some popularity, and the content creator would encourage those who wished to support him to peruse this page. This died because nobody did it.)

Tyndmyr wrote:If bandwidth from use without payment harms the site, then...how the fuck does YOUR use without payment not harm the site?
Bandwidth usage harms the site the same way breathing harms the environment. It's a question of quantity. The environment (and the website) is built to handle a certain amount of breathing. The harm to the site would come from excessive (DDOS level) bandwidth use. Also, I have to pay for bandwidth too in some circumstances and ads (that I'm not even going to pay attention to) use up my allotment.


Yes, but *you* are making the decision about content consumed. If a website eats too much bandwidth for you, you can just...not go there. Not visiting youtube while on a metered connection is fine.

The server has less control. Countermeasures to consumption exist, but they are difficult/expensive/etc.

How is a number of adblocking viewers distinguishable from a DDOS attack of equal volume?

Tyndmyr wrote:If it were not law, you'd grab an armload of shit and run, and feel justified in doing so?
Not an armful of shit, but some shit. I do that all the time at conventions. The booths give shit away, I take it. I don't pay for it; payment is not expected. I don't always buy stuff from them either to compensate them for the free shit they are giving away. Nothing ethically wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with covering up their logo on that shit when I get home.


You *can* go through and take all the samples put out, buy nothing, and then cover, resell, or whatever the advertising.

It isn't particularly ethical. If everyone did it, the system would stop functioning, and people would stop giving away free shit.

Just like how if everyone went to the coffee shop, bought no coffee, and used the wifi endlessly, the free wifi would go away.

It isn't ethical to abuse the commons as much as possible without getting caught.

Tyndmyr wrote:The lying kind of matters. If you inadvertently triggered a crash simply by browsing, it's very different than intentionally lying to do so doing so.
FTFY. It's not the lying that's important, it's the user's intent. Using a car to rob a bank is wrong, but not because you're using a car.

Jose


....okay, I have no idea how car/rob a bank is anything like banner ads at this point. You're like three layers of analogy deep because you keep engaging in a gish gallop.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby icanus » Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:49 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:That's the server. Not a person.

Hackers use a similar justification. It's okay because I can. In reality, sometimes servers or misconfigured, or the owner simply has not gone to the trouble of securing *everything* that can be secured, because...that's really time consuming. Shit, most people don't even bother with HTTPS yet.
And if there's anything to lead me to believe that their intent was to deny me access, I'll stay out. But my default assumption on visiting a site isn't that the owner is an idiot who somehow managed to inadvertantly install apache on their machine.
However, you can, with a bit of common sense, figure out what the intent is. Links exist for you to follow or not. Images are intended for display with the accompanying page.

Your'e still jumping straight from "intended for display" to "ethical obligation to display". Please explain why a page containing a reference to another file obligates me to download and view the second file.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Wed Oct 28, 2015 11:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:Taxes are not a social convention. They have the force of law.
These are not exclusive categories.
No, but the reason I pay taxes is because it's the law.

Tyndmyr wrote:How and why one treats other people as they do is the heart of ethics.
Ethics has a broad base. But the ethical-unethical line not the same as the nice-dickish line. And consider how websites with ads treat the visitor - many of them install surreptitious tracking beacons, report my wanderings to other ad servers, run unwanted software on my machine, take up valuable screen real estate, flash and jump around, all to distract me from the "nice" thing the website is ostensibly doing.

Where is their ethics?

Tyndmyr wrote:That's because wearing armor costs them exactly nothing.
It costs them a bruised knuckle. Look, analogies (which you are using too) don't have to be perfect to be illustrative.

Tyndmyr wrote:Donations are explicitly presented as optional, as distinct from subscriptions.
No they aren't. There is a button, link, or image on the page which you can click to donate. It's obvious that the intent is for you to donate. How is it any more optional than viewing ads?

Tyndmyr wrote:You *can* go through and take all the samples put out, buy nothing, and then cover, resell, or whatever the advertising.

It isn't particularly ethical.
But that's not what's under discussion.

Tyndmyr wrote:....okay, I have no idea how car/rob a bank is anything like banner ads at this point.
Must I spell it out?

Look at the quote it was in response to. The {lying* | car} is not the unethical part. The {deliberately triggering a crash | robbing a bank} is the unethical part. Focusing on the {lying | car} as the ethical shortcoming is the error.

*lying: "saying you are running Firefox when you are running IE6 in order to trigger a server-crashing bug"

Tyndmyr wrote:How is a number of adblocking viewers distinguishable from a DDOS attack of equal volume?
Good question. There are probably technical ways to distinguish the two on a server level, making assumptions about the origin and timing of the attack vectors, but I don't think that's really what you're asking. To answer what I think you're getting at, consider:

1: adblock visitors use less bandwidth than full visitors.

1a: but full visitors result in reimbursement from the ad vendors.

1b: ... so do clickjacks.

2: Adblock visitors actually visit the site and consume the editorial content. DDOS visitors do not. They just make automated requests, sending the results to the bit bucket. So, in the case of adblock, many visitors are enjoying the content and it's a sign that the website is popular and warrants more bandwidth. But in the case of a DDOS, nobody is enjoying (or even looking at) the content. One person is monopolizing the site, and nobody benefits.

2a: ...so where is the money for the bandwidth going to come?

2c: What is the purpose of the site? If it is to provide the editorial content, then adblock visitors count as a success. But if it is to make money off of ads, then adblock visitors count as a failure. However, in the latter case, the website is not doing something nice for me, but rather exists to take advantage of me, often using sneaky and underhanded methods to do so. (Note also that once ad servers have invaded your privacy, you cannot get it back.)

===

Apropos of this discussion, I just finished an interesting book by Jonathan Haidt: The Righteous Mind.... He proposes five axes which involve behavioral choices that help promote cooperation in a group, and that this is a practical basis for ethics. He also finds that the axes that are important to you weigh heavily on how you view moralistic questions (and where you fall on a political spectrum). It would be interesting to apply here. The five axes are (p 125):

care vs harm (caring for an injured child is good, clubbing a baby seal is bad)
fairness vs cheating
loyalty vs betrayal
authority vs subversion
sanctity vs degradation

He later adds a sixth, but this will do for now.

Some of the research in the book is from surveys taken at yourmorals.org (I have not perused the site - I just finished the book). But the question it raised for me relating to this thread is:
On a scale (0:5 :: unimportant : very important)
1: How important are each of these scales to you in formulating your ethics?
2: How important are each of these scales to you in formulating your answer to this particular (adblock) question?
3: Where on a scale (0:5 :: unethical:ethical) do you consider the use of adblock on the present day internet?

To get the best answer for #1, you'd need to take the appropriate survey at yourmorals.org; but I'm not asking that you do that, and I didn't myself.
Spoiler:
For each axis, consider two questions of the form "how much would somebody have to pay you to do X, given payment is secret and there are no adverse consequences afterwards?" that pit one against the other, such as (for authority vs subversion)
"How much... to slap a male friend in the face (with his permission) as part of a comedy sketch?"
vs
"How much... to slap a your father in the face (with his permission) as part of a comedy sketch?"
The greater the difference between the two answers, the more this axis matters to you.
My answers (consider yours before opening)
Spoiler:
question 1: (formulating ethics in general)
4 care vs harm
4 fairness vs cheating
4 loyalty vs betrayal
0 authority vs subversion
0 sanctity vs degradation

question 2: (formulating ethics of adblock)
1 care vs harm
4 fairness vs cheating
0 loyalty vs betrayal
0 authority vs subversion
0 sanctity vs degradation

queston 3: (the ethics of this question)
5 completely ethical
Perhaps this will help illuminate the origins of the differences in our thinking.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Heartfelt thanks from addams and from me - you really made a difference.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Oct 29, 2015 4:35 pm UTC

icanus wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:That's the server. Not a person.

Hackers use a similar justification. It's okay because I can. In reality, sometimes servers or misconfigured, or the owner simply has not gone to the trouble of securing *everything* that can be secured, because...that's really time consuming. Shit, most people don't even bother with HTTPS yet.
And if there's anything to lead me to believe that their intent was to deny me access, I'll stay out. But my default assumption on visiting a site isn't that the owner is an idiot who somehow managed to inadvertantly install apache on their machine.
However, you can, with a bit of common sense, figure out what the intent is. Links exist for you to follow or not. Images are intended for display with the accompanying page.

Your'e still jumping straight from "intended for display" to "ethical obligation to display". Please explain why a page containing a reference to another file obligates me to download and view the second file.


You accept intent for access requirements in the first quote, why not the second?

The distinction between "seperate files" is moot. This is not a technical discussion. The default behavior and the clearly intended behavior is for the advertisement to be displayed with the page.

Note that advertisements may also be text, and if you're not blocking images wholesale, it seems hard to credibly argue that this is happening incidentally. You're intentionally blocking advertising because of what it is, not because of the tech details. Why resort to tech details to justify it?

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:Taxes are not a social convention. They have the force of law.
These are not exclusive categories.
No, but the reason I pay taxes is because it's the law.


No part of that is because of some feeling of duty to do so?

Do you think it is right for super-rich to pay absolutely no taxes, even if through some combination of events, it is legal? No ethical considerations whatsoever here for you?

Ethics has a broad base. But the ethical-unethical line not the same as the nice-dickish line. And consider how websites with ads treat the visitor - many of them install surreptitious tracking beacons, report my wanderings to other ad servers, run unwanted software on my machine, take up valuable screen real estate, flash and jump around, all to distract me from the "nice" thing the website is ostensibly doing.

Where is their ethics?


Yes, yes, you're jumping back to security AGAIN.

As has been covered literally dozens of times, nobody has an issue with you blocking security threats. And yes, it is obviously unethical for advertisers to present security threats.

Can you actually address the other cases?

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Donations are explicitly presented as optional, as distinct from subscriptions.
No they aren't. There is a button, link, or image on the page which you can click to donate. It's obvious that the intent is for you to donate. How is it any more optional than viewing ads?


You don't get that from the word "donation"? Is that, too going to be redefined?

The link that says "please donate" is asking you to make a choice. No is obviously an option. How is this difficult?

2c: What is the purpose of the site? If it is to provide the editorial content, then adblock visitors count as a success. But if it is to make money off of ads, then adblock visitors count as a failure. However, in the latter case, the website is not doing something nice for me, but rather exists to take advantage of me, often using sneaky and underhanded methods to do so. (Note also that once ad servers have invaded your privacy, you cannot get it back.)


Ah. So, every site either has as it's sole purpose, the provision of you, personally, with delightful content at no cost....

Or they're "taking advantage of you".

No other options, huh?

Look, a quid pro quo is the idea that you both benefit from an interaction. Both sides help each other out, and in the end, both are better off for it. This is a really basic idea upon which all of civilization is founded, from trade on up. If you don't agree with it, you are welcome to attempt living entirely by yourself in the woods, avoiding all those who would "take advantage of you".

I think that grid is silly, and a subjective numbering of a coupla values has more in common with the endless "tests" on facebook than it does a coherent ethical standard.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Thu Oct 29, 2015 5:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:No part of that is because of some feeling of duty to do so?

Do you think it is right for super-rich to pay absolutely no taxes, even if through some combination of events, it is legal? No ethical considerations whatsoever here for you?
Spoilered for OT:
Spoiler:
If taxes were voluntary, I wouldn't pay them. There are better places to put my money, and other ways to fund government. But the US has chosen this particular method and enshrined it into law. A very complex law, admittedly, but I didn't write the law. With unnecessarily complex forms, but nobody consulted me first. However, the law is complex in part because life is complex, so sometimes the super-rich may well pay no taxes because of their circumstances. If that's the way the law is written, so be it.

Now, whether this complex tax law is fair is another (complex) issue, and were I to know enough about the situation, there may well be significant places where I'd want to see changes. But even if those changes (which I favor) would have me paying more taxes, I'm not going to send an extra check in just to be "nice". That's not what taxes are about.

But this has squat to do with internet advertising.


Tyndmyr wrote:Yes, yes, you're jumping back to security AGAIN.
No, no, I mentioned other things besides security, (though security puts a huge taint on the ethics of the industry and is sufficient to justify indiscriminate armor).

Tyndmyr wrote:The link that says "please donate" is asking you to make a choice.
... and the intent is obviously that you do donate. You keep focusing on the "intent" of the content provider that you view ads. That's also a choice. There are many choices that are not explicitly presented as such; viewing ads is such a choice. Viewing them is as ethical as not viewing them, irrespective of the back end deal a content provider has with the ad server.

Tyndmyr wrote:No other options, huh?
[...]
If you don't agree with it, you are welcome to attempt living entirely by yourself in the woods, avoiding all those who would "take advantage of you".
No other options, huh?

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Heartfelt thanks from addams and from me - you really made a difference.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Twistar » Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:21 pm UTC

I don't see how this discussion has gone on for 9 pages.

I have adblock because I don't like to see ads. They annoy me. I don't care if I'm not supporting the websites I visit because my browser doesn't pull up their ads. Furthermore, for me, the security benefits are only an added bonus over the removed annoyance of seeing ads. I believe my experience on the internet is much more pleasant than the experience of people who are not using adblock and I think that more people should use adblock so that everyone's experience can become more pleasant.

I have no sympathy for advertisers. I also don't have sympathy for people who satisfy these following specific criteria:
1) Are content creators
2) Rely on advertising money to keep their website up
3) Are upset about me using adblock and want me to stop using it
AND******* <---- this is the most important one
4) Do nothing about it but whine when they have other options available

I am the exact person who Tyndmyr thinks is completely unethical and has no redeeming characteristics so maybe we can get to the crux of the problem. So here goes.

Tyndmyr, at this point it is my opinion that you can now call me a jerk and an asshole*. I think there are some reasonable grounds for that based on what I've said above. However, you CAN NOT call me unethical. I am just not causing anyone enough harm for it to be considered unethical.

You're response to the above could be: But let's apply the what if everyone did it test. Let's do that.

If everyone used adblock then the content creators and advertisers would be in trouble. They would lose money and they would maybe even lose their websites. Does this constitute harm to them? Enough harm to call the situation unethical? Absolutely not. If everyone used adblock then culture would change and there would be a paradigm shift. Content creators and advertisers would figure something else out. Their hands are not tied to using the current paradigm of advertising. In this thread we have discussed repeatedly alternate paradigms that content creators and advertisers have now and have had available to them for years.

***WARNING***
[analogy]
Was it unethical to invent and release the DVD when they knew it would put VHS out of business?
[/analogy]
***WARNING

And before you respond to this, remember, I think it's fine if you think I'm an asshole. But if you think I'm unethical I think you're dead wrong.

There is just no social contract that says it is unethical to block ads. There might be a viewpoint held by some fraction of society that it is dickish to use adblock. But it just is not unethical.



*I personally don't think this behavior makes me an asshole but that's not the debate we're having. What I'm acknowledging is the fact I think it is o.k. for others to think I'm an asshole based on my standpoint. Maybe I could have a conversation with them and try to convince them otherwise. But this discussion is not about whether you are being an asshole for using AdBlock, it is about whether or not you are being unethical

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby icanus » Fri Oct 30, 2015 3:33 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:You accept intent for access requirements in the first quote, why not the second?

Because the owner's intent as regards to whether they want me to see their content matters to me, because it's their computer. Their intent as regards to what additional content they'd like me to request doesn't, because that part of the process is determined on my computer.

Tyndmyr wrote:The distinction between "seperate files" is moot. This is not a technical discussion. The default behavior and the clearly intended behavior is for the advertisement to be displayed with the page.

Seperate files are the units of content on the internet (and even if I were to accept that a page is the natural unit, that doesn't mean I'm required to download and view each and every resource referenced by a given page, any more than I'm required to scroll all the way to the bottom)

As far as default behaviour, that is entirely dependant on the software I choose to install on my computer. If I choose to install firefox, the default is to display images. If I choose Lynx, it's to not display them at all. If I choose to open it on my second monitor, the default behaviour is for most of the content to be obscured by a bottle of delicious and refreshing coke that's currently standing on my desk.

My point is that the owner of the content has no authority to determine how I view that content in the confines of my own machine, and there is no ethical imperative for me to abide by his suggestions.

Tyndmyr wrote:Note that advertisements may also be text, and if you're not blocking images wholesale, it seems hard to credibly argue that this is happening incidentally. You're intentionally blocking advertising because of what it is, not because of the tech details. Why resort to tech details to justify it?

It's not happening incidentally. I'm deliberately downloading and viewing images I want to see and ignoring ones I don't want to see. I have entered into no agreements with the website owner, the "tech details" of my HTTP requests and their responses are the totality of our communication.

What is it about me reading this collection of text that means I am required to also view that image? We've established that some of the additonal content referenced (hyperlinks) is optional, and I'm still at a loss as to what it is that makes other content referenced slightly differently, compulsory. If it's the mere existence of a commercial relationship between two people who aren't me, then why is it not also unethical for me to not click on an ad, having viewed it? After all, that would support the site owner even more. In fact, why not go the whole hog and say that it's not unethical for me not to click all the ads and buy something from each advertiser using a referal code?

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Sockmonkey » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:56 am UTC

If the ads weren't so aggravating in the form of auto-playing video clips and other crap, I wouldn't block them.
The only reliable way to get the message to the idiots who make the dumb things is to render them ineffective via blocking them.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Oct 30, 2015 3:35 pm UTC

Yeah, I think this whole exegetic analysis of potentially applicable ethical principles is mostly irrelevant. Who has a "right" to view a page in what way, in precisely the space that this is not legally defined, is irrelevant. Just step back, look at the incentives at play, and think about what you want to encourage. That is literally all of the things that you can do in practice.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Fri Oct 30, 2015 4:47 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Yeah, I think this whole exegetic analysis of potentially applicable ethical principles is mostly irrelevant. Who has a "right" to view a page in what way, in precisely the space that this is not legally defined, is irrelevant. Just step back, look at the incentives at play, and think about what you want to encourage. That is literally all of the things that you can do in practice.
Would that be the same as saying let the market figure it out?

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Oct 30, 2015 5:48 pm UTC

In practice at least, probably so. I think the assumptions are different, so that I'd more likely call it "the community" rather than "the market" in a context like this one.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:00 pm UTC

Twistar wrote:I have no sympathy for advertisers. I also don't have sympathy for people who satisfy these following specific criteria:
1) Are content creators
2) Rely on advertising money to keep their website up
3) Are upset about me using adblock and want me to stop using it
AND******* <---- this is the most important one
4) Do nothing about it but whine when they have other options available


Do you pay for ad-free subscriptions when they are available, as per patreon or whatever? Some creators do that.

You're response to the above could be: But let's apply the what if everyone did it test. Let's do that.

If everyone used adblock then the content creators and advertisers would be in trouble. They would lose money and they would maybe even lose their websites. Does this constitute harm to them? Enough harm to call the situation unethical? Absolutely not. If everyone used adblock then culture would change and there would be a paradigm shift. Content creators and advertisers would figure something else out. Their hands are not tied to using the current paradigm of advertising. In this thread we have discussed repeatedly alternate paradigms that content creators and advertisers have now and have had available to them for years.


People would still want to be paid for their work. The most common other method is a paywall. When advertising fails, it is common for either the site to become defunct, or for a paywall to be used. Right now, paywalls have difficulty competing with ad-supported content, because the latter is more popular.

If *everyone* used ad blockers, that would not be the case, and there would be little reason not to use a paywall. This does presume 100% effective ad-blocking, though.

This may not be the case. Advertisers have, in the past, responded to blocking with technological changes. They'll probably continue to do so. Maybe they'll pay content providers for in-content advertising, much as is already seen in movies, regarding product placement.

I do not see either of these outcomes as desirable.

***WARNING***
[analogy]
Was it unethical to invent and release the DVD when they knew it would put VHS out of business?
[/analogy]
***WARNING


No. Invention isn't wrong. Inventing adblock was fine. Inventing the nuclear bomb was fine. Learning and creating isn't the problem. The problem is what you do with the knowledge and stuff afterward.

And, sure, nobody has a *right* to make money. But, nobody has a *right* to taking someone else's stuff without compensation either. The market isn't some magical entity divorced from ethics...I mean, sure, it'll work regardless of if you act ethically or not, but there are still more and less ethical choices with regards to market decisions.

icanus wrote:Seperate files are the units of content on the internet (and even if I were to accept that a page is the natural unit, that doesn't mean I'm required to download and view each and every resource referenced by a given page, any more than I'm required to scroll all the way to the bottom)


Why? What is that the magical unit of content? Just because your desktop has a neat hierarchy of files does not mean that the internet works that way. Half the time, the "page" you see is dynamically assembled out of a bunch of databases, and flat file storage is a really terrible model to understand it.

The internet is not merely a file storage system, and you can't really circumvent ethical questions by redefining technology anyway. But, if you WERE, the HTTP request/response cycle is more appropriate for a base unit, even though that's still not entirely universal.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby icanus » Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:27 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
icanus wrote:Seperate files are the units of content on the internet (and even if I were to accept that a page is the natural unit, that doesn't mean I'm required to download and view each and every resource referenced by a given page, any more than I'm required to scroll all the way to the bottom)


Why? What is that the magical unit of content? Just because your desktop has a neat hierarchy of files does not mean that the internet works that way. Half the time, the "page" you see is dynamically assembled out of a bunch of databases, and flat file storage is a really terrible model to understand it.

The internet is not merely a file storage system, and you can't really circumvent ethical questions by redefining technology anyway. But, if you WERE, the HTTP request/response cycle is more appropriate for a base unit, even though that's still not entirely universal.

I'm not circumventing them, I'm asking why there is an ethical obligation for me to view all other the <things> referenced by a <thing> I choose to view.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:42 pm UTC

You can't ignore ads. It's unethical.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:10 pm UTC

icanus wrote:I'm not circumventing them, I'm asking why there is an ethical obligation for me to view all other the <things> referenced by a <thing> I choose to view.


Because the ads are the implicit cost for the content you wish.

You are not obligated to go to great lengths to support the content creator. You don't have to go to those websites, make purchases, tolerate security threats, etc. But if the price of admission is ads, you shouldn't make a habit of blocking all the ads and enjoying the content anyway.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:32 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:And, sure, nobody has a *right* to make money. But, nobody has a *right* to taking someone else's stuff without compensation either. The market isn't some magical entity divorced from ethics...I mean, sure, it'll work regardless of if you act ethically or not, but there are still more and less ethical choices with regards to market decisions.

Because frankly, market forces are a tiny part of the bulk that defines consumer choices and what both individual consumers or producers and corporations can get away with, which is the idea behind having these conversations, yes. But people selectively blocking obtrusive ads are making an ethical choice, too. So are people who demand total control of the content that appears in their browser windows. It's just a different set of choices for different reasons than yours. And whether or not ads can be blocked by some informed and motivated minority of users is also itself a tiny part of the whole picture.

You're precisely right that advertisers will work to circumvent blocking the moment they see it as a meaningful threat.

Paywalls are less likely unless sites can make the case that their content is worth paying for. There are already TV network sites that have moved from free+ads streaming to requiring a cable service pass, and again the magazines and newspapers I'd mentioned - but those are all content forms that really do just cost more to produce, and offering them freeish was undercutting the main business model once they had any penetration. So, yeah, I expect more things of that nature to move to a Netflix-like model, where it's a paywalled webapp-styled site and a mobile app with a subscription, but that's because that kind of content always cost money in the first place.

I mean, just what kind of content do you expect to see on offer in ad supported form? The best content on the web today uses donation models. (Or is the BBC and effectively tax-driven.)
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:47 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I mean, just what kind of content do you expect to see on offer in ad supported form? The best content on the web today uses donation models. (Or is the BBC and effectively tax-driven.)


Citation needed. Here's a list of the top 100 websites on the Internet. With the notable exception of Wikipedia, I don't think any of the remaining top 100 are based on donation models. Donations account for basically a rounding error in terms of the global Internet economy.

[edit]Just to put this in context: The annual donation revenues from Wikipedia, #7 on the list, are of order 20 million per year. This is the absolute top-end of what you could ever hope to get from donations. Dailymotion, #94 on the same list, has revenues of $110 million per year.
Last edited by LaserGuy on Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:39 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby icanus » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:05 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Because the ads are the implicit cost for the content you wish.

Why? What makes that an implicit cost, but visiting the sponsor or making a purchase not an implicit cost?
Tyndmyr wrote:You are not obligated to go to great lengths to support the content creator. You don't have to go to those websites, make purchases, tolerate security threats, etc. But if the price of admission is ads, you shouldn't make a habit of blocking all the ads and enjoying the content anyway.

And apparently you also get to decide what constitutes "great lengths" for me.

I have no way of knowing how malicious a particular ad is. It could just be a picture with the words "buy widgets!", or it could be a tracker. The only way to know is to spend the time to research and analyse it. I consider that great lengths.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:28 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:I mean, just what kind of content do you expect to see on offer in ad supported form? The best content on the web today uses donation models. (Or is the BBC and effectively tax-driven.)


Citation needed. Here's a list of the top 100 websites on the Internet. With the notable exception of Wikipedia, I don't think any of the remaining top 100 are based on donation models. Donations account for basically a rounding error in terms of the global Internet economy.


This. Donations are, as in the physical world, a fine thing for those that choose to use them, but in neither realm do they appear to be displacing the actual market.

icanus wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Because the ads are the implicit cost for the content you wish.

Why? What makes that an implicit cost, but visiting the sponsor or making a purchase not an implicit cost?


Because the ad is served to you by default as part of the page. The ad is clearly meant for you to see it, and it is obvious that the advertiser paid the site owner for this placement, is it not? It is clear that the ad was accepted to support the content, so if you are not viewing the ad, you're not supporting the content owner.

This should be blatantly obvious.

It is the hope of the advertiser that their ad will suffice to convince you to visit and/or purchase, but if what they BOUGHT is page-views, then page-views is all they are entitled to receive. It's up to them to convince you of anything further.

icanus wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:You are not obligated to go to great lengths to support the content creator. You don't have to go to those websites, make purchases, tolerate security threats, etc. But if the price of admission is ads, you shouldn't make a habit of blocking all the ads and enjoying the content anyway.

And apparently you also get to decide what constitutes "great lengths" for me.


Different ethical cases have different weights. Stealing is different from murder, etc, etc. Viewing ads or not is obviously of comparatively little weight compared to, say, murder. I would not expect a person to devote a great deal of time to only this, because no doubt they have other practical concerns. Likewise, I would not expect a person to be absolutely perfect at deciding what is safe and what is not. Making a reasonable effort to keep oneself safe, but not block safe ads is fair, even if it's not 100% perfect.

But blocking everything, and talking at length about how annoying ads are is not a persuasive case for "I'm doing the best I can to block only actual threats".

Rather, it indicates that you are using security as an excuse for doing something you wish to do for other reasons.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:39 pm UTC

Yeah, I don't find the security argument at all convincing.

LaserGuy wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:I mean, just what kind of content do you expect to see on offer in ad supported form? The best content on the web today uses donation models. (Or is the BBC and effectively tax-driven.)


Citation needed. Here's a list of the top 100 websites on the Internet. With the notable exception of Wikipedia, I don't think any of the remaining top 100 are based on donation models.

Well, it's not a false statement, it's a meaningless statement, because "best" is extraordinarily subjective, and I can easily just say "meh, no great loss" and carry on.

The list of search engines, social media services, and shopping sites does not surprise me in the least. It is worth conceding that advertising models within that set range from none (freemium services like GitHub and Dropbox) to invisible (Google search) to very obtrusive (YouTube) with no correlation to popularity, and a neutral observation that only a couple of paywalled services (ESPN, Netflix) made the list.

I just don't think it bears on the ad blocking. The more obtrusive the advertising, the more people bother to block it, and depending on the value of the service, it'll also lose consumers outright. Companies are going to naturally hope to strike a balance. Ad blocking is just one small part of that balance.

I wasn't arguing that advertising isn't a crucial part of the way the economy of the web works. But it's not a tenable model for very costly content, either. There are rare cases of very good content that is offered for free, like Wikipedia or the BBC, and they happen only because they're outside the model where content production and hosting has to be paid for by ad revenue. Their commercial competitors largely have paywalls.

I'm drawing an artificial line between content and services, but I think it's a necessary one, unless we're going to argue that social media sites and search engines and shopping sites are going to start putting up paywalls, which defeats their entire model, particularly when they're all, to some degree or another, already offering advertising as a part of the content.

Donations account for basically a rounding error in terms of the global Internet economy.

Sure, not disputing that in the least.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:47 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I wasn't arguing that advertising isn't a crucial part of the way the economy of the web works. But it's not a tenable model for very costly content, either. There are rare cases of very good content that is offered for free, like Wikipedia or the BBC, and they happen only because they're outside the model where content production and hosting has to be paid for by ad revenue. Their commercial competitors largely have paywalls.


Well, BBC is supported by a levee of £145.50 per year from every television-owning household in the UK. For people outside the UK, BBC Online has advertisements...

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:48 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I just don't think it bears on the ad blocking. The more obtrusive the advertising, the more people bother to block it, and depending on the value of the service, it'll also lose consumers outright. Companies are going to naturally hope to strike a balance. Ad blocking is just one small part of that balance.


Yeah, but the issue then is, if annoying advertising results in people blocking ALL ads, then it's essentially a tragedy of the commons scenario, where the worse advertisers dial it up to 11 for attention, and poison the pool for more modest advertisers.

Such a scenario results in everyone rushing to strip mine the shit out of the vanishing resource.

The outcome is different if people block only the worst offenders, of course. Those two behaviors result in extremely different outcomes.

I'm drawing an artificial line between content and services, but I think it's a necessary one, unless we're going to argue that social media sites and search engines and shopping sites are going to start putting up paywalls, which defeats their entire model, particularly when they're all, to some degree or another, offering advertising as a part of the content.


Sure. In that case, you get advertising AS content. Maybe your google result ranking becomes heavily derived by how much money you've paid google this month, and they don't bother differentiating those from regular results?

Shit, to some extent, Facebook already does this. They've been moving their algorithms to select for commercial pages you've liked to appear in your feed with less frequency unless facebook is paid money.

All things being equal, I'd rather have my advertisements explicitly labeled as such rather than blended into genuine content.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Making a reasonable effort to keep oneself safe, but not block safe ads is fair, even if it's not 100% perfect.

But blocking everything, and talking at length about how annoying ads are is not a persuasive case for "I'm doing the best I can to block only actual threats".

Rather, it indicates that you are using security as an excuse for doing something you wish to do for other reasons.


1: I have no obligation to make any kind of effort to accomodate advertising.

2: "less than perfect" but erring on the side of my own interests means an ad doesn't get served. But "less than perfect" and erring on the side of the advertising industry's interests means my computer gets hosed.

Tyndmyr wrote:Yeah, but the issue then is, if annoying advertising results in people blocking ALL ads, then it's essentially a tragedy of the commons scenario, where the worse advertisers dial it up to 11 for attention, and poison the pool for more modest advertisers.
This has already happened. It's too late. It's up to the advertisers to
1: clean up the mess, and
2: convince people that they have cleaned up the mess.

But the mess is of their own making.

It is not my job to police the advertisers.

Tyndmyr wrote:All things being equal, I'd rather have my advertisements explicitly labeled as such rather than blended into genuine content.
Why? So that you can ignore them more easily? If it's your ethical duty to read the ads, why should it matter whether or not they are blended into the content?

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:28 pm UTC

can anyone define content for me?

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:03 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:can anyone define content for me?
Someone can, but not anybody can. :)

[thwack!][/thwack]

What constitutes "content" depends on one's point of view. As a visitor, the content is the rendered part of the website that I want to "consume", that the content provider intends me to consume. As a provider, the content is any part of the website that I make available for the visitor to consume. Advertising is certainly a form of content (and in some cases is the whole point of a site, such as a parked domain), but that content is not the reason one typically visits the site.

As far as the net is concerned, it's all "content". But the provider and the visitor may have differing ideas as to why they came - some of the content is the bait, and the rest of the content is the barb. That is what is being addressed here. Is a visitor obligated to take it in the chin if they nibble on the worm?

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:06 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:can anyone define content for me?


It's pretty generic, but generally, it's the crap you go to a website for. For xkcd.com's main page, the content is the comic. There's also navigational stuff, there may be copyright notices or whatever, and you can argue over if that is content or not, but most people actually care about the comic. For google.com, it is the search results. For facebook, it's updates from your friends/groups that you like.

The content generator and the site owner may usually be the same, but it's not strictly necessary(as with facebook).

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Making a reasonable effort to keep oneself safe, but not block safe ads is fair, even if it's not 100% perfect.

But blocking everything, and talking at length about how annoying ads are is not a persuasive case for "I'm doing the best I can to block only actual threats".

Rather, it indicates that you are using security as an excuse for doing something you wish to do for other reasons.


1: I have no obligation to make any kind of effort to accomodate advertising.

2: "less than perfect" but erring on the side of my own interests means an ad doesn't get served. But "less than perfect" and erring on the side of the advertising industry's interests means my computer gets hosed.


Yes, yes, there's some risk assessment in exactly where the bar is set, that's fine.

But let's not pretend that security justifies blocking everything always.

Tyndmyr wrote:Yeah, but the issue then is, if annoying advertising results in people blocking ALL ads, then it's essentially a tragedy of the commons scenario, where the worse advertisers dial it up to 11 for attention, and poison the pool for more modest advertisers.
This has already happened. It's too late. It's up to the advertisers to
1: clean up the mess, and
2: convince people that they have cleaned up the mess.

But the mess is of their own making.

It is not my job to police the advertisers.


What do you mean "too late"? Things can get better or worse. At least flashing "punch the monkey" ads seem to have become less common. I don't find google adwords to be particularly obnoxious. However, the sort of advertising where every other word is underlined and leads to random ads can die in a fire.

There's a few trends here, and the idea that advertising is as bad as it can possibly ever be is...wildly optimistic. The difference between say, Google and Buzzfeed is pretty immense.

Tyndmyr wrote:All things being equal, I'd rather have my advertisements explicitly labeled as such rather than blended into genuine content.
Why? So that you can ignore them more easily? If it's your ethical duty to read the ads, why should it matter whether or not they are blended into the content?


Because it's less honest. I don't hate ads, but I *do* hate when I start reading what I think is an actual article, and it turns out to be paid-for shill for this or that. That kind of deception isn't popular, nor is it usually considered particularly ethical.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:09 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:But let's not pretend that security justifies blocking everything always.
The security issues are severe enough to warrant that it is not unethical to block all ads, always.

Tyndmyr wrote:What do you mean "too late"?...The difference between say, Google and Buzzfeed is pretty immense.
Until Buzzfeed's ad servers and their ilk die a twisty agonizing death, I'll wait. Then they'll have to convince me that they'll never come back, nor will anything like it.
Spoiler:
Actually, buzzfeed itself can go to the hot place for all I care.
Tyndmyr wrote:I *do* hate when I start reading what I think is an actual article, and it turns out to be paid-for shill...
As Tyndmyr says, "So don't go there". You are not required to be on the internet.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:31 pm UTC

So vague a definition as to be useless.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:52 pm UTC

Absolutely not. Defining the word out of context is hard, like the finer points of "alive". In this context, it's more like defining "alive" in an LD50 trial. No semantics troll cookie for you today.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:41 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Absolutely not. Defining the word out of context is hard, like the finer points of "alive". In this context, it's more like defining "alive" in an LD50 trial. No semantics troll cookie for you today.
Bless you child. I need to be on a diet. However we will again have to agree to disagree. The way content has been used in this thread has some very specific properties. It's been defined as property, as in, it's mine and you can't consume it without payment. And what many web sites are selling isn't tangible property. Google for instance, sells services. And all are covered under very specific terms of service. And Google explicitly says that ads support its services.
Why ads

Keep Google free. Ads help support many of Google’s products like Google Search, Maps, and Gmail to name a few.
Help you find products and services. We try to make ads as useful as possible – and many can help you research and shop better online.
Help fund the websites you visit. Through programs like AdSense, millions of websites earn money to keep the lights on and pay staff - by displaying ads.
I've asked a few times why Sites don't explicitly say so. I guess it's too much trouble. Google is helping them by making it explicit if you recognize their ad machine.


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