Ethics of AdBlock

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morriswalters
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:29 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Behaving ethically often means choosing what is right over what is more convenient or what is cheaper.
Hindsight is 20/20. What is ethical is what is agreed to after a lot of give and take. As an example you have made an assertion that it is her site. Which is only half true. The content and the ads are loaded on different servers and the content and the adds are downloaded to my computer. The ad blocking is blocking the transfer of material from her advertisers servers to my computer. Whatever rights devolve from her production of the content gives her limited rights in terms of what she may download to my device. For instance I could write a browser that dealt with text only and nothing else. I would still download the ads to my computer but with no interpreters for the downloaded data I would never see the ads. Alternatively I could run two browsers, one to act as I have described and one to just block ads so I receive the content sans the parts I don't want. She receives her page views and I receive text. And we shove the loss up the chain to the advertising operation, whom I never see, and with whom I have no agreement of any kind. Is that immoral?

elasto
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:10 am UTC

Yeah, sorry, I have to agree with mw and ucim.

The 'contract' part of social contract takes two parties and a meeting of minds. The implication that I only have two ethical choices - to either accept wholesale the terms of the other party or not interact with them at all - seems, honestly, pretty childish - on a par with someone agreeing with the music industry ten years ago when they insisted I'm not allowed to rip their cd's. (Me ripping a cd I paid for instead of buying it again as an mp3 loses them revenue after all - so surely I should bow to their wishes there too..?)

People don't claim that the only ethical way to engage with your government is either to be completely subservient or to move abroad. There is a middle ground of gentle, subversive rebellion - quietly ignoring the rules - sometimes even in a criminal fashion - which is none-the-less either amoral or moral - and which, over time, quietly progresses to better laws like legalizing pot and gay marriage.

I wouldn't claim ad-blocking rises to the level of a positive moral good, but, just like we saw that mass rebellion against the music industry led to a more efficient delivery system for us and increased profits for them, so this quiet rebellion against annoying and dangerous ads will end up a win-win here.

Ad-blocking is society laying down a marker: "We like what we see, just find a more agreeable way to give it to us."

And they will.

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LaserGuy
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:37 am UTC

elasto wrote:Yeah, sorry, I have to agree with mw and ucim.

The 'contract' part of social contract takes two parties and a meeting of minds. The implication that I only have two ethical choices - to either accept wholesale the terms of the other party or not interact with them at all - seems, honestly, pretty childish - on a par with someone agreeing with the music industry ten years ago when they insisted I'm not allowed to rip their cd's. (Me ripping a cd I paid for instead of buying it again as an mp3 loses them revenue after all - so surely I should bow to their wishes there too..?)


That's pretty much how all business contracts are when dealing with their customers. Good luck finding any major business that lets an individual user negotiate the terms on their boilerplate contracts or the EULAs on their software or whatever. The choice in such situations is almost invariably take the contract that they offer you, or take your business elsewhere.

People don't claim that the only ethical way to engage with your government is either to be completely subservient or to move abroad. There is a middle ground of gentle, subversive rebellion - quietly ignoring the rules - sometimes even in a criminal fashion - which is none-the-less either amoral or moral - and which, over time, quietly progresses to better laws like legalizing pot and gay marriage.


There are fairly large differences between government and private business. The ways that you can engage in a government, particularly a democratic one, are very different from the ways that you can engage with someone else's private property.

Of course, I agree that ethical changes can lead to social change... in fact, I argued that very point, using the some of the same examples, in the post you're responding to.

I wouldn't claim ad-blocking rises to the level of a positive moral good, but, just like we saw that mass rebellion against the music industry led to a more efficient delivery system for us and increased profits for them, so this quiet rebellion against annoying and dangerous ads will end up a win-win here.


Uh, the music industry never recovered from the advent of file sharing and iTunes. Revenues have been steadily falling for the past 15 years and are apparently down over 60% in inflation adjusted dollars since 2000 and revenues are at their lowest point since the 70s. That said, yes, if you believe that pirating music is ethical, then of course you will believe that blocking ads on websites is ethical. The two concepts occupy very similar ethical arenas, as I've argued previously.

morriswalters
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:07 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:That's pretty much how all business contracts are when dealing with their customers. Good luck finding any major business that lets an individual user negotiate the terms on their boilerplate contracts or the EULAs on their software or whatever. The choice in such situations is almost invariably take the contract that they offer you, or take your business elsewhere.
True enough, however they have a EULA and web sites don't.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Chen » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:44 am UTC

elasto wrote:Ad-blocking is society laying down a marker: "We like what we see, just find a more agreeable way to give it to us."


So from an ethical point of view why isn't it: "and we won't consume your content until you find that more agreeable way" instead of "and we're still going to consume that content, bypassing your monetization scheme". I can't imagine anyone would argue the former is in any way unethical. The latter certainly seems more akin to stealing/pirating which many would consider unethical. Why is it ethically acceptable to take a good or service in the digital realm at a price YOU decide (including free), rather than the price the provider decides? No other market allows that. You either agree with the price and get the good or service, or you disagree with the price and DON'T get the good or service.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:13 pm UTC

Since I'm talking to myself I have spoilered my post.
Spoiler:
Your car dealer doesn't allow thieves to camp in his parking area and rob you of things that have value to you. Nor does he tag your car with a tracking device to monitor everywhere you go in the course of the day. Nor would he be allowed to lie to you about the existence of a device if you discovered it. And were he found to have done it he could be prosecuted. Ethics is a two way street, as has been stated.

The content producer isn't the target of the ad blocker. The ad blocker is to protect the user from the thieves in the parking lot. Were there no thieves than the ad blockers would be ethical no no's. But that isn't the case. The ad agencies will use any and all the techniques she can bring to bear to influence and manipulate. And not just like visual distractions. According to the ethical standard you want to enforce I have to open my home to thieves. And the fun doesn't stop when leave the site, I have been made a victim of tag, you're it. And now I have fleas. If you run with thieves then expect me to wear a bullet proof vest when I come to your home. Expect me to carry my wallet on a chain and in my shirt pocket where I can see it.

Tyndmyr
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:17 pm UTC

No. That's a terrible analogy.

Seeing an advertisement is not like being robbed.

Opting not to consume the ad-laden content will also avoid the advertisements. The whole point of robbery is that the choice is NOT the victims.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Chen » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:54 pm UTC

Why would you go to a business if you had to wade through a parking lot of thieves to get to it? The analogy doesn't really work well beyond that point anyways, unless you're postulating that the thieves are hired by the business and the business gets some sort of cut from their ill-gotten gains. Not to mention the whole illegal aspect of it being completely different.

It'd be more akin to having a bunch of toll boths you had to go through to get to a business, but you just drove over the curb to avoid them instead. Or simply slipping in the back door of a club instead of paying the cover at the front door.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:52 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Seeing an advertisement is not like being robbed.
... and listening to a song is not thievery. But the music industry claims it's piracy (likening it with great emotional effect to murderers on the open seas) and society has aquiesced.

Being hit on the CPU with spy-bots, unwanted graphics, noise, and disguised click-areas is very much like being robbed in the same sense that listening to a song is thievery; the principle difference being who benefits and who loses.

Chen wrote:It'd be more akin to having a bunch of toll boths you had to go through to get to a business, but you just drove over the curb to avoid them instead.
No, it's akin to having toll booths that you "evade" by getting off at the prior exit, taking side streets, and getting back on at the following exit. You have used the highway without paying for it. And you have adversely impacted the neighborhood by driving through it. Is this ethical? Sure - you are not required to choose a route that maximizes toll revenue. You are also not obligated to arrange your affairs so as to pay maximum tax (this btw is established by (US) law).

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:53 pm UTC

I said thieves and I meant thieves. See this. The web happens on my machine, not the content creators. The ads create vectors. This isn't an old newspaper where I can cut out the ads and that is that. Regardless of the intentions of the advertiser or the content creator if they lose control of their ads than I eat their mistakes. I don't like it and I see no ethical reason to put up with it. I've cleaned more than enough crap off machines, both my own and others.
Chen wrote:It'd be more akin to having a bunch of toll boths you had to go through to get to a business, but you just drove over the curb to avoid them instead. Or simply slipping in the back door of a club instead of paying the cover at the front door.
No toll booths are bumps on the road. Ads aren't that. They are software. They are active and they do things. Even the browser makers who have a vested interests in a secure web understand this. And they block the most egregious types by default, Flash and Java. Almost every site I go to asks me to enable Flash. Some sites creep to a halt, or should I say my machine does, if I allow it. This makes me proactive. And the creep is getting worse, not better. Advertisers count on inertia to keep users confused. I consider myself technically literate, yet I'm feeling forced to go to a read only browsing environment.

The funny thing about this is that I don't use ad blockers. They are another piece of software I can't control. So I do vote with my feet. And if everybody did that then content creators would starve. The bet is that enough people won't be bothered that their income stream won't be hurt badly. And they won't put a price on the content because they risk people saying this isn't worth stealing, much less paying for. And content creators who rely on ad platforms as a primary form of income instead of any talent they may have are idiots. As an exemplar I give you Andy Weir. He read the tea leaves and published.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Trebla » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:06 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Uh, the music industry never recovered from the advent of file sharing and iTunes. Revenues have been steadily falling for the past 15 years and are apparently down over 60% in inflation adjusted dollars since 2000 and revenues are at their lowest point since the 70s. That said, yes, if you believe that pirating music is ethical, then of course you will believe that blocking ads on websites is ethical. The two concepts occupy very similar ethical arenas, as I've argued previously.


Spoilered for off topic

Spoiler:
One could certainly argue that the current state of the music industry is a correction (like the housing market after the bubble) from content being locked behind what was essentially monopolies in the distribution chain. Music was over-priced artificially with massive profits going to the labels. Pirating IP of any type is certainly unethical, but artificially inflating the value of the IP "because you can" is similarly unethical... this was a case where two wrongs made a right (eventually).

That previous paragraph concedes that piracy was the cause, but it's also arguable how much piracy contributed to this directly. Your link shows, even, that the majority of profit came from full album sales... as digital models simply made it possible for every song to be released individually as a single, profits from full albums dropped. Additionally, with very low-cost distribution avenues, there are significantly more options available to the consumer, decreasing the value of any individual song or artist. Heck, indie/local bands can now release their music globally for free, just to build their name. As supply skyrockets and demand stagnates (or even declines given other entertainment options vying for our attention), prices and revenues inevitably drop.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:08 pm UTC

Trebla wrote:One could certainly argue that the current state of the music industry is a correction (like the housing market after the bubble) from content being locked behind what was essentially monopolies in the distribution chain. Music was over-priced artificially with massive profits going to the labels. Pirating IP of any type is certainly unethical, but artificially inflating the value of the IP "because you can" is similarly unethical... this was a case where two wrongs made a right (eventually).


What constitutes "artificial" inflating of value?

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Chen » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:25 pm UTC

ucim wrote:No, it's akin to having toll booths that you "evade" by getting off at the prior exit, taking side streets, and getting back on at the following exit. You have used the highway without paying for it. And you have adversely impacted the neighborhood by driving through it. Is this ethical? Sure - you are not required to choose a route that maximizes toll revenue. You are also not obligated to arrange your affairs so as to pay maximum tax (this btw is established by (US) law).


Looking back I wasn't clear in what I meant by toll booths. I meant toll booths in the parking lots of said businesses (since we were talking about thieves in parking lots and such). Something like those gates where you'd need to take a ticket and pay for parking as you leave or the like. In any case the avoiding the cover for the club is more apt anyways.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:33 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:What constitutes "artificial" inflating of value?
Payola

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Trebla » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:39 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Trebla wrote:One could certainly argue that the current state of the music industry is a correction (like the housing market after the bubble) from content being locked behind what was essentially monopolies in the distribution chain. Music was over-priced artificially with massive profits going to the labels. Pirating IP of any type is certainly unethical, but artificially inflating the value of the IP "because you can" is similarly unethical... this was a case where two wrongs made a right (eventually).


What constitutes "artificial" inflating of value?


Ahhh, capitalism... if it's what people will pay, it's a fair price. I withdraw the qualifier "artificially."

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:35 pm UTC


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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby KrytenKoro » Sat Sep 19, 2015 6:20 pm UTC

The pre-adblock status quo is clearly unacceptable. The current situation is still undesirable, and in flux. As such, I feel it's kind of pointless to be arguing over whether adblock is a perfectly ethical, final solution (I feel it's necessary now, though obviously not ideal and not utopic), and more efficient to be discussing how to advance from adblock to a situation where neither side requires the other to be hurt.

And fortunately I stumbled upon this: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-st ... re-of.html

This article and its commentary are probably more useful than arguing about who's robbing who, and probably a good place to proceed in a more productive discussion.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:07 am UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:As such, I feel it's kind of pointless to be arguing over whether adblock is a perfectly ethical, final solution (I feel it's necessary now, though obviously not ideal and not utopic), and more efficient to be discussing how to advance from adblock to a situation where neither side requires the other to be hurt.

Ultimately, market forces will take care of it. As I've outlined a few times, there are a plethora of ways for content creators to recoup their running costs - and I could be mistaken here - but would we all not agree that there has never been more content out there on the web than there is at this very moment..? And high quality content to boot.

Sure, some people are claiming they can't survive, but for every person that falls away, a hundred more come in their place.

Part of the reason for that is the outsourcing of content delivery. It used to be the case that if you wanted to, I dunno, create a guide to fly fishing, you'd create a website, write a wall of text and maybe add some pictures - and you'd have to maintain it and pay the bandwidth. Nowadays you just create a Youtube account and upload a set of videos. If they make money for you, great; if they don't, they don't cost you anything because Youtube absorbs the costs.

How do they do that? Because they create ads in a format that people neither want to nor are able to block, and because they cross-subsidize the loss-making accounts with the profitable ones.

If need be, someone will create a website hosting platform - like GoDaddy say - except with equally low-key, non-disruptive ads that people neither want to nor are able to block - and content creators will flood to it. Yes, revenue from ads will probably always trend downwards, but bandwidth costs will surely follow the same trajectory.

Personally I think that microtransactions are the least plausible future. I think that non-annoying ads, subscriptions, donations, patronage, merchandising, premium content and so on will be more than sufficient for the web to not just survive but flourish.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:30 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Personally I think that microtransactions are the least plausible future. I think that non-annoying ads, subscriptions, donations, patronage, merchandising, premium content and so on will be more than sufficient for the web to not just survive but flourish.


I doubt this. How many websites do you visit in an average month? Are you seriously saying you'd be prepared to subscribe/buy merchandise/donate to every single one of them? The advantage to micropayments is it can be done automatically, behind the scenes. You have a wallet in your browers with some cash in it, and a website lists a price per view. Below some threshold you define, the browser just pays automatically. If it's above your threshold, you need confirmation.

Eg. Viewing an xkcd comic costs 0.001 cents. Every time you visit, this just gets paid automatically. A New York Times article costs 2 cents. Your browser is set so any page charging more than 0.1c has to get a confirmation, so you a note saying the cost of the page and making sure you're okay with that.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:10 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
elasto wrote:Personally I think that microtransactions are the least plausible future. I think that non-annoying ads, subscriptions, donations, patronage, merchandising, premium content and so on will be more than sufficient for the web to not just survive but flourish.


I doubt this. How many websites do you visit in an average month? Are you seriously saying you'd be prepared to subscribe/buy merchandise/donate to every single one of them?

Absolutely not. If everyone did that, each website would have thousands of times more money than it needs. The idea is that, in totality, each website gets as much money as it needs - and whether that's every user paying 0.2c or every thousandth user paying $2 makes no difference.

Why do you assume that everyone has to pay equally anyway? Does everyone pay equally to fund xkcd? Does everyone pay equally to fund Wikipedia? Heck, does everyone pay equally to fund Clash of Clans?

Everyone paying equally is a nice ideal in one sense, but it has downsides: If the crap get their costs covered no matter what, why wouldn't I just create a million websites rather than being under some financial pressure to have them be good enough quality to be self-sufficient?

But I can't see it coming to pass anyhow. Fortunately it doesn't have to for the web to flourish. The cream will rise to the top no matter what.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby bantler » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:11 pm UTC

If you block the advertisements in any medium (Adblock, mute, change channel, turn dial etc.) the ad-men will just weave ads into the content. It’s debatable which is worse. Most media only exists because ads pay the bills; Budweiser will not be silenced.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Sep 23, 2015 5:08 pm UTC

A recent adblocking app was just pulled from use by its maker, who felt it was, in fact, unethical. He was very conflicted about how to filter the ads.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 23, 2015 5:10 pm UTC

Ah, same as up above?

Yeah, filtering for security is fine, and I suppose at some point, there are some hard calls to make. And no person will probably get them right 100% on judging security vs mere annoyance, but as long as you're making the attempt, I think that's fair.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:24 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Ah, same as up above?

Yeah, filtering for security is fine, and I suppose at some point, there are some hard calls to make. And no person will probably get them right 100% on judging security vs mere annoyance, but as long as you're making the attempt, I think that's fair.

Sorry if I missed something upthread. Not keeping up with every little thing these days.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:41 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:A recent adblocking app was just pulled from use by its maker, who felt it was, in fact, unethical. He was very conflicted about how to filter the ads.
linky

Fair play to him for having the courage of his convictions.

Here is the ethical argument for whitelisting:

Security firm Malwarebytes says a campaign of malware hidden inside online ads which hit search engine Yahoo earlier this year has now also appeared on adult websites.

The advertising, apparently for a service called Sex Messenger, also contained tools for identifying whether the user was genuine rather than a bot. It appeared on porn site xhamster, one of the world's most visited domains. However the firm said porn sites are no more dangerous than mainstream ones.

The ad has now been removed.

The malware, which also made use of the security of cloud-based platforms to hide what it was doing, worked by directing the user to a fraudulent page once it had determined that they were running Microsoft's Internet Explorer and had identified the device's security settings.

So-called "malvertising" often installs ransomware on to a victim's machine. It loads a page containing false accusations of criminal activity and instructions for paying a fine. "These efforts ensure that only real users will get to see the exploit kit landing page therefore excluding honeypots and security researchers alike," wrote Malwarebytes security consultant Jerome Segura in a blog post. Although in this case the ad was popping up so often that researchers were able to study it after all.

Xhamster is currently ranked the 71st most visited website in the world by web analytics firm Alexa and attracts hundreds of millions of monthly users.

But the online porn industry does invest in security, Mr Segura added. "There's this idea that adult sites are more dangerous to visit than 'regular' sites," he told Tech Week Europe. "I don't believe it's entirely true especially for the top sites because they do dedicate a lot of resources to fighting fraud and malware. Based on what we have seen in the past months as far as malvertising goes, we have seen just as many top mainstream publishers as pornographic ones."

The firm that distributed the ad has now taken it down.


My advice to my family for keeping themselves safe online: Run a virus checker, turn on your firewall, use an ad-blocker and don't click on links in emails. I will continue to offer this advice so long as websites invite third-parties to run arbitrary code with near impunity; Whereas I will whitelist sites that proffer simple, safe, low-key advertising. Like the above guy, I am comfortable with my ethics also. It's an area where reasonable and rational people can disagree.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ahammel » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:15 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:I think the feature of white-listing acceptable ads is an absolutely fantastic idea, and I'd like to see it taken further. I'd use an ad-blocker that worked with a community-maintained filter set which allowed ads to be up- or down-voted, only blocking the ads with bad karma. Maybe it would finally teach advertisers that annoying the shit out of potential consumers isn't the best way of doing things.


https://adblockplus.org/acceptable-ads
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:01 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:
ahammel wrote:I think the feature of white-listing acceptable ads is an absolutely fantastic idea, and I'd like to see it taken further. I'd use an ad-blocker that worked with a community-maintained filter set which allowed ads to be up- or down-voted, only blocking the ads with bad karma. Maybe it would finally teach advertisers that annoying the shit out of potential consumers isn't the best way of doing things.


https://adblockplus.org/acceptable-ads


Yup. I use ABP with acceptable ads automatically whitelisted:

Which ads are "acceptable"?

We currently have the following requirements:

- Static advertisements only (no animations, sounds or similar)
- Preferably text only, no attention-grabbing images
- Ads should never obscure page content (e.g. require users to click a button to close the ad before viewing the page).
- For pages featuring a reading text ads should not be placed in the middle, where they interrupt the reading flow. However, they can be placed above the text content, below it or on the sides. The same applies to search results pages: paid search results cannot be mixed with organic results.
- When ads are placed above the content of a main page, they should not require the user to scroll down. The available vertical space is likely to be at least 700 pixels. Advertising should not occupy more than one-third of that height. Paid search results on search pages are allowed to occupy more space, but they should never outnumber organic results.
- When placed on the side ads should leave enough space for the main content. The available horizontal space can be expected to be at least 1000 pixels, and advertising should not occupy more than a third of that width.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:45 am UTC

Given that I do not respond to online ads at all (I make a concerted and successful attempt to ignore them and never click on them), I do not see any ethical issues with stopping their annoying animations and interruptions from ever making it to my computer in the first place. So, even if I were to allow the ads, the companies pitching to me would not get any of my business. This puts downward pressure on the price of the ads, and reduces the revenue available to websites that depend on ads.

Does anyone here seriously think I'm wrong to not pay attention to ads? Because that also "denies websites their due", albeit indirectly. If not, why am I wrong to stop these ads (that I won't look at) from intruding on my computer?

(... but if so, we have a different discussion.)

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Chen » Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:53 am UTC

The distinction between ignoring ads and blocking them has been discussed at length in this thread already. Perhaps go back and read it to answer your question and see the arguments people put forth?

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Twistar » Tue Oct 06, 2015 5:41 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The distinction between ignoring ads and blocking them has been discussed at length in this thread already. Perhaps go back and read it to answer your question and see the arguments people put forth?


All of those distinctions hinged on the claim that blocking ads denies the content producer (and hoster of the advertisements) revenue. It was never clear to me if this claim was technically true. Is it?

Nm, looked it up myself. Wikipedia summarizes the argument nicely.
Economic consequences for online business

Some content providers have argued that widespread ad blocking results in decreased revenue to a website sustained by advertisements,[20] where this blocking can be detected. An ad that is displayed but ignored does not provide value, but even if users ignore advertisements, advertisers perceive a value in putting brands in front of them. As a result sites are rarely paid “per click”; instead the standard metric for selling web display ads is “CPM”, or “cost per mille”—the cost for a thousand views. For a website that serves 10 million page views per day, with three ads per page, sold at a rate of $5 CPM, ad blocking could translate into daily losses of $15,000.
Others have argued that since advertisers are ultimately paying for ads to increase their own revenues, eliminating ad blocking would only dilute the value per impression and drive down the price of advertising, arguing that like clickfraud, impressions served to users who use ad blockers are of little to no value to advertisers. Consequently, they argue, eliminating ad blocking would not increase overall ad revenue to content providers in the long run.[21][22]


I think like someone else said earlier this is just really an issue that sane, moral people can disagree on. It seems to hinge on the question of if you subscribe to one of two models
1) content consumers owe it to content producers to view their ads so that those content producers can generate revenue from the content consumers viewing the content
or
2) The notion of "owe" is defined by the market. If content consumers refuse to view the ads then the perceived value of those ads can and should go down and content producers should react accordingly.

Another way to cast the distinction is
1) The onus is on the content consumer to not block ads
or
2) The onus is on the webpages to figure out how to deal with ad blockers

Yet another way to cast it is
1) Ad blockers perceive the internet to be (financially) free and feel that they are entitled to view content unencumbered by ads and are thus free-loaders since it takes time and money to produce the content that those ad blockers consume.
or
2) the internet is and always has been (ideologically) free and there are no rules saying you can't block ads.

It seems to me that all the posts on this thread can be divided into these different sides that I've spelled out here. What do you all think? I think all of these arguments are reasonable and I and others just happen to fall on one side of the issue and others fall on the other.

edit: Typo

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:49 pm UTC

Twistar wrote:It seems to me that all the posts on this thread can be divided into these different sides that I've spelled out here. What do you all think? I think all of these arguments are reasonable and I and others just happen to fall on one side of the issue and others fall on the other.
Insight might be obtained by asking just why clickfraud is "fraud". Is it bad? If so, why?

Clickfraud (automated ad clicking) increases the revenue to the website hosting the ad. It however lowers the value of the ad in the long run, driving down the CPM. After answering that question, answer the one about ignoring vs. automatically blocking ads in the first place. Again, one directly affects revenue and the other indirectly affects CPM.

Personally, I favor the individual freedom approach. I am not obligated to allow myself to be influenced by entities that probably know more about me than I myself do, and have no moral issue with automating my defences against such attacks. And I consider ads to be a form of attack.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:58 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Twistar wrote:It seems to me that all the posts on this thread can be divided into these different sides that I've spelled out here. What do you all think? I think all of these arguments are reasonable and I and others just happen to fall on one side of the issue and others fall on the other.
Insight might be obtained by asking just why clickfraud is "fraud". Is it bad? If so, why?

Clickfraud (automated ad clicking) increases the revenue to the website hosting the ad. It however lowers the value of the ad in the long run, driving down the CPM. After answering that question, answer the one about ignoring vs. automatically blocking ads in the first place. Again, one directly affects revenue and the other indirectly affects CPM.

Personally, I favor the individual freedom approach. I am not obligated to allow myself to be influenced by entities that probably know more about me than I myself do, and have no moral issue with automating my defences against such attacks. And I consider ads to be a form of attack.

Jose


Justifying fraud with "it may profit ME now, but in the long run, the entire industry is devalued" seems pretty shitty.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:02 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Justifying fraud with "it may profit ME now, but in the long run, the entire industry is devalued" seems pretty shitty.
But that's not the point of the issue.

Some have argued from the POV that ignoring ads is somehow different from mechanically avoiding them, because mechanically avoiding them diminishes the website's income in the short run (per click) while ignoring them merely diminishes the website's income in the long run (by devaluing the ads), and that somehow this difference makes a difference. The latter is ok, the former is not.

But if that were true, then "click fraud" should be ok, because it's only devaluing the ads in the long run, and it's supporting the website in the short run. For example, I could run a script that, whenever I'm on a site, it blocks the ads from my view but clicks on them for me (and blocks the resulting window from my view). This feeds the website, calms my browsing, and devalues the ads. Since the latter is ok, (it's what ignoring the ads would accomplish), it's a win all around.

If there's something wrong with this, then there would also be something wrong with ignoring the ads in the first place.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:11 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Justifying fraud with "it may profit ME now, but in the long run, the entire industry is devalued" seems pretty shitty.
But that's not the point of the issue.

Some have argued from the POV that ignoring ads is somehow different from mechanically avoiding them, because mechanically avoiding them diminishes the website's income in the short run (per click) while ignoring them merely diminishes the website's income in the long run (by devaluing the ads), and that somehow this difference makes a difference. The latter is ok, the former is not.


It is. Stealing from a merchant and refusing to buy from them both deprive them of income, but they are not the same thing.

The difference centers around what is obligated. You are not obligated to buy from people, or to pay attention to what they want you to pay attention to. If you choose not to interact with someone, cheers. Go for it.

Unless, of course, you make an agreement to the contrary. Legally binding or not, you should generally support the people who are providing you with things you enjoy, as sort of a quid pro quo. It's nice to do so, at minimum. However, it is not particularly nice to engage in fraud to this end.

But if that were true, then "click fraud" should be ok, because it's only devaluing the ads in the long run, and it's supporting the website in the short run. For example, I could run a script that, whenever I'm on a site, it blocks the ads from my view but clicks on them for me (and blocks the resulting window from my view). This feeds the website, calms my browsing, and devalues the ads. Since the latter is ok, (it's what ignoring the ads would accomplish), it's a win all around.

If there's something wrong with this, then there would also be something wrong with ignoring the ads in the first place.

Jose


Click fraud is fraud because it is, again, not honoring the agreements. Explict agreements, if you're taking money for advertising, but even if you're not, using someone else's website for click fraud, putting their income at risk due to fraud review, is a dick move.

Just because two courses of action share ONE result does not make them morally identical.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:28 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Stealing from a merchant and refusing to buy from them both deprive them of income, but they are not the same thing.

The difference centers around what is obligated. You are not obligated to buy from people, or to pay attention to what they want you to pay attention to. [...] Unless, of course, you make an agreement to the contrary. Legally binding or not, you should generally support the people who are providing you with things you enjoy, as sort of a quid pro quo.
1: I made no agreement to the contrary (already discussed far upthread).

2: Ignoring ads and blocking ads have the same result for the website. If I'm somehow obligated to not block them, I am equally obligated to not ignore them. And if I am morally permitted to ignore them, I am also morally permitted to block them.

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 » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:42 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Stealing from a merchant and refusing to buy from them both deprive them of income, but they are not the same thing.

The difference centers around what is obligated. You are not obligated to buy from people, or to pay attention to what they want you to pay attention to. [...] Unless, of course, you make an agreement to the contrary. Legally binding or not, you should generally support the people who are providing you with things you enjoy, as sort of a quid pro quo.
1: I made no agreement to the contrary (already discussed far upthread).

2: Ignoring ads and blocking ads have the same result for the website. If I'm somehow obligated to not block them, I am equally obligated to not ignore them. And if I am morally permitted to ignore them, I am also morally permitted to block them.

Jose


It is implicit. The page is served with ads. Likewise, you may not have explicitly signed an agreement not to copy the article, slap your name on it, and republish it, but doing so would also be a dick move. Even if it's somehow legal due to whatever jurisdiction you're in or some nonsense.

Society runs on implicit agreements. You shouldn't talk on your cell phone through a movie, just because you didn't sign a contract to the contrary. We've already discussed this. Pretending we haven't is merely being obtuse.

Likewise for pretending there is no difference between ignoring and blocking. They have differing effects. Blocking and consuming content prevents the creator from being compensated for your pageview. It's a pretty direct impact, and very different from "the price of ads is falling because people are clicking them less". In the former, you're directly screwing over the creator, whereas in the latter, it's simply market forces. Of which you are a part, granted, but they would still apply even if you simply chose not to view the content at all. Market forces *always* exist to some extent.

Again, this is like comparing shoplifting to opting not to buy. It is fine to walk into your supermarket, see what they have, and walk out without buying. When you view but do not click an ad, that's what's happening.

It's much less okay to walk into the supermarket, go to the bathroom, and make off with all the "free" toilet paper.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:41 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Likewise for pretending there is no difference between ignoring and blocking. They have differing effects. Blocking and consuming content prevents the creator from being compensated for your pageview.
So what about an ad blocker that downloads the ad and sends the contents to the bit bucket? The website sees the ad load (and thus gets compensated), but I don't have to expend extra effort to ignore it, and my computer is defended against attacks.

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 » Wed Oct 07, 2015 2:23 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Likewise for pretending there is no difference between ignoring and blocking. They have differing effects. Blocking and consuming content prevents the creator from being compensated for your pageview.
So what about an ad blocker that downloads the ad and sends the contents to the bit bucket? The website sees the ad load (and thus gets compensated), but I don't have to expend extra effort to ignore it, and my computer is defended against attacks.

Jose


Now, let's put "defending against attacks" to the side. Everyone is okay with blocking security threats. We've been over this about a dozen times.

We're just looking at your 'extra effort to ignore it' claim. Defend that on it's own merits, without continually resorting to the other thing, okay?

Personally, I say if you're automatically removing it so that it's never even potentially viewed, you're still not being honest about it. If it loads and say, it's not on a part of the page you scroll to, well...that's the expectation. That's why those locations typically cost less. However, you're simply relying on a technical "they can't tell I'm cheating" system. Just because you can get away with it doesn't make it ethical.

This does somewhat mitigate the argument of harm, on the basis of it not being detected, but it does boil down solely to a "I didn't get caught" defense.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Wed Oct 07, 2015 4:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Now, let's put "defending against attacks" to the side. Everyone is okay with blocking security threats. We've been over this about a dozen times.
But you can't tell which ad is a security threat until you load it. And then it's too late. Sorry, it's a real issue. Ads are security threats. Most of them come from servers over which the hosting website has no control, and you have no recourse with the hosting website if they injure you. This is even explicitly stated in the privacy agreements of many sites that have them.

Tyndmyr wrote:We're just looking at your 'extra effort to ignore it' claim. [...] This [auto-loading into the bit bucket] does somewhat mitigate the argument of harm, on the basis of it not being detected, but it does boil down solely to a "I didn't get caught" defense.
"Didn't get caught" doing what? Ignoring an ad?

In a similar vein, if content were all text, and ads were all graphics, would it be unethical to use Lynx?

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 » Wed Oct 07, 2015 4:37 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Now, let's put "defending against attacks" to the side. Everyone is okay with blocking security threats. We've been over this about a dozen times.
But you can't tell which ad is a security threat until you load it. And then it's too late. Sorry, it's a real issue. Ads are security threats. Most of them come from servers over which the hosting website has no control, and you have no recourse with the hosting website if they injure you. This is even explicitly stated in the privacy agreements of many sites that have them.

Tyndmyr wrote:We're just looking at your 'extra effort to ignore it' claim. [...] This [auto-loading into the bit bucket] does somewhat mitigate the argument of harm, on the basis of it not being detected, but it does boil down solely to a "I didn't get caught" defense.
"Didn't get caught" doing what? Ignoring an ad?

In a similar vein, if content were all text, and ads were all graphics, would it be unethical to use Lynx?

Jose


Some ads are security threats. Not all ads. And yes, whitelisting is totally a thing.

Ignoring is fine. The advertiser had his shot at convincing you and failed to do so. Tough luck. Intentionally filtering out the advertisement so that they are not getting what they paid for is unfair. In short, the implied agreement is between the content producer and YOU. Not between the content producer and your computer. That's sort of how they all work.

If Lynx functioned only as an ad-blocker, rather than what it actually is, then yes, it would be ethically identical to an ad blocker. Strange hypotheticals do not change the underlying situation. However, said hypothetical bears little resemblance to reality, so it's kind of pointless.


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