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.

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