To Block Ads or Not to Block Ads – That is the Question


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To Block Ads

Ever since I was a little kid watching Star Trek on TV I hated advertisements. I always saw them as an interruption of the ‘important’ things I really wanted to take in – like Mr. Spock.

Now that I’m all grown up and still hate ads I realize that they pay for the present and future entertainment that I love. A necessary evil, I guess.

Now we have the Internet using the same old tried and true advertising scheme. There is one huge difference that separates the Internet from television; we now have add-ons that can extend our Internet browsing applications to turn the darn things off.

My extension of choice is AdBlock Plus. It does a great job of making all that disagreeable stuff disappear. What a relief!

Wait a minute! Is that what I really want?


To Not Block Ads

I happen to love some web sites and I’d like to see them continue producing all that great material. Perhaps a little advertising on those sites wouldn’t be a bad idea. It really doesn’t keep me from reading anything. Unlike television there is no true interruption of the ‘programming’. I don’t have to wait 30 or 60 seconds, or 5 minutes these days, to ‘get back into it’.

If I don’t want to watch an ad on TV, I have to change the channel. Or leave the room. Or hit the mute button (I’d still know it was there, though).

Not so on the internet…

Third-Party Cookies

Cookies are tidbits of information left on your computer that let a site know that you’ve been there. When you return to that particular site the information in the cookie may save you from having to re-set your preferences and/or passwords for that site. Very handy and a good thing.

Third-party cookies are those left behind by sites that are somehow affiliated with the site you just visited. Not so handy and not necessarily a good thing. Not necessarily a bad thing, either. Sneaky, huh… Search engines do that, for instance. It’s all geared towards personalized advertising.


Don’t get me started on that issue unless you have many hours to spare. There are both pros and cons regarding that subject.

Every major browser has the option of turning off third-party cookies. You may find that if you do so some of your favorite web sites won’t work correctly. All you can do is try it out for yourself and see if anything breaks. If it does, then turn third-party cookies back on again. No great shakes.

Internet Explorer has the best option in this regard. You may turn off third-party cookies while still enabling session cookies. The best of both worlds.

Here’s how to change those Windows 7 settings in IE:

  1. Click the Start Button
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Choose Internet Options

That will bring you to this window:

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Now, be sure the Privacy Tab is chosen, then click the Advanced Button. You should now be here:

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In the above window you can see that we have overridden the automatic cookie handling, accepted first-party cookies, and disabled third-party cookies. Here’s the trick – Always allow session cookies.

By doing the above IE will allow third-party cookies for the current session only. In other words, it will erase these cookies when you close your browser. I don’t know of another browser that allows this flexibility. It’s a shame really as this is the best native browser solution in my opinion; at least it is for the users of these programs.

I have yet to discover a way to accomplish this in either Firefox or Chrome. If you know of a comparable solution, please let me know. I can’t speak for Opera or Safari since I haven’t used them in years.

A Compromise

As much as I dislike the intrusive flashing and distracting advertisements on web sites, I still feel a certain obligation to allow them. I know that these ads help support their endeavours and to fuel continued great articles both entertaining and informative.

Frankly, the sites I like don’t have flashing and intrusive pop-up advertising. Ads are generally placed out of the way on a side-bar where I may read them or not. Sometimes, they actually interest me. How about that.

Basically what I do is this: I block everything. Then, I ‘white-list’ all the sites I want to support. A simple process that takes no time at all. A couple mouse clicks. A right-click here, a left-click there, and a dosey-doe. Pardon me, I get carried away sometimes.

The main reason I am so entrenched in the Internet is because of the vast amount of information available at the click of a button. Think about that for a minute. I’ll wait…

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Two days ago I didn’t know what ‘orzo’ was. It took less than 30 seconds to find out. There is no way, 30 years ago, I could have done that without leaving my chair. The Internet is a truly miraculous invention and it has changed the world.

(And, no, I’m not going to tell you what ‘orzo’ means. I’m feeling persnickety.)

Your Choice

If you like a web site then why not allow their ads? You will be doing them and yourself a great service.

You will be supporting more of the type of content that you love to read without laying down a single penny from your pocket.

At the same time you will be providing them with a small recompense to help support the costs of maintaining said site. Yes – maintaining a good site is not free.

Be thankful for the passion of the great Web Masters out there. They spend huge amounts of time doing research and writing articles that provide you the entertainment and information you desire. Ultimately, it makes for a better and more compassionate world.

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About the Author

Richard Pedersen

Richard received his first computer, a C-64, in 1982 as a gift and began dabbling in BASIC. He was hooked! His love for computing has led him from the old “XT” boxes to the more modern fare and from clunky 10MB hard drives to smooth and fast modern day SSD drives. He has run BBS services, Fido mail, and even operated his own computer repair business.

12 Comments

  1. I’m somewhat way out of the ball park when it comes to commercials and advertising. I know they help pay for services, but so what. Someone will always want to buy air time to promote their product, even using the Internet, since you’ll always find people who love watching commercials, infomercials, and the like.

    To keep a balance, I’m one who prefers to be not bothered, not informed and/or support them in any way. Okay, I do check the local grocery store flyer’s, but only from the stores I frequent. The other flyer’s I immediately place in the recycle bin. Information is out there, so when I require on-line assistance, I do a search. I do not require any flash screens trying to grab my attention. So yes, I block most cookies, especially third party ones, keeping only those of sites I frequent, Mindblower!

  2. I do not agree we need to allow ads.

    If the corporates want us to “buy” their stuff, they must make it attractive.
    If we do not buy it with ads or money, they will find another way.
    Nothing is for free.
    As for me, I don’t need that much, am not addicted to particular sites but if I want them, I will pay.

    Imaging free fuel if your car windscreen can keep flashing heads up ads. This is virtually what we are talking about. Stuff them. Business is win win, not they win and we lose.

    • OK, I have a quick hypothetical question to throw into the mix…

      Without the tiny amount DCT earns from ads where does the money to pay our bills come from? Hosting, authors, and other incidentals are not cheap and we don’t charge for entrance or access.

      I would love to hear your thoughts!

      • Dave, I’m glad you asked this hypothetical question. I’m from the days of bbsing (bulletin board systems where members could post messages, help each other using the old dial up modems). Most sites only had one phone line with a dedicated computer. It was a slow process. Those who provided the service called it a hobby, and accepted the cost. Yes, there were some boards which hosted files for d/l, and charged a user fee to d/l the files.

        I’ve spoken to several forum owners, and what started out as a hobby, soon became a costly event. They never wanted to charge membership fees for the exchange of information. Hosting advertising filled the void (or so I was told). Believe they mentioned a tiny amount was given each time a site from their site was clicked. I have no problem with this, as one needs to find a way to help pay for the hobby. I keep using the word hobby, because that is exactly the way I see it.

        Some sites have regular supporters, offering their free service in assisting others. This passion is also a hobby. I’m sure this is an ideal conversation issue, and hope I’ve not over steeped with my opinion, Mindblower!

    • You’re correct…nothing is for free including all the sites you visit for free. As Dave says, someone is still paying for the web hosting and whatever other costs are required to run a particular website.

  3. What is the benefit of not blocking ads? I always thought that revenue was a pay-per-click deal. Are you saying that ‘they’ know whether the ads loaded or not? Even if I did let them load I can assure you that I wouldn’t be clicking on them, so how does that benefit the site that hosts them?

    On the net as in ‘life’, I am nobody’s target demographic.

    bem

    • Not all ads require a click for the site owner to make money. Some payouts are based on how many views the ad gets. It’s kind of like a billboard in a farmers field alongside the interstate. You don’t have to do anything with the information shown on that billboard but the farmer is still getting paid.

  4. The old question of how do we make money.

    It is a business proposition. If you can’t sell you stuff, don’t do it.

    If you want me to buy it, offer me enormous value. Make me happier, richer, wiser etc. If you could make me $100 per month, I would be happy to give you $10. Techie does not mean money. Helping people do what they want does! Offer something unique and irresistible and people will pay!

    • Techie does not mean money.

      You’re preaching to the choir!

      Helping people do what they want does!

      We, DCT, try very hard. There isn’t a day that passes where I, or we as a group, don’t do something to improve the site.

  5. Many, many sites, which can be freely accessed today, rely on ads to help recoup just a small portion of the costs involved with upkeep.

    As I see it, we have two basic choices… 1) Block ads and restrict the internet to just the big/major players only, or… 2) Choose to allow ads and help maintain an environment where even the smallest of players have a voice.

    I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of monopolies dictating terms. The beauty of the internet is that, regardless of influence size or power, it allows everyone an equal opportunity to participate. The wholesale blocking of ads would ultimately lead to yet one more area where freedom of choice becomes a passé concept.

    IMHO, it’s a very small price to pay.

  6. One impressive feature you guys have and promote, is your recommend software list. We all have favourite software, and seeing what you yourselves endorse (hope I’m not putting words into your mouth), does help those seeking assistance, Mindblower!

  7. I don’t much care about ads unless they are obtrusive – cover the page with dancing turtles for five seconds – OR unless they take forever to load: ‘Waiting for doubleclick.com; go get coffee….’ I would simply like to block all ads which do not load almost immediately.