Why Firefox is blocked dot com

Some webmasters are apparently redirecting Firefox users to WhyFirefoxIsBlocked.com, although I’ve no idea how many sites are doing it [Update: as Charles Arthur points out in the comments, the answer is “one”]. So what’s it all about? The evils of Adblock Plus.

The Mozilla Foundation and its Commercial arm, the Mozilla Corporation, has allowed and endorsed Ad Block Plus, a plug-in that blocks advertisement on web sites and also prevents site owners from blocking people using it. Software that blocks all advertisement is an infringement of the rights of web site owners and developers. Numerous web sites exist in order to provide quality content in exchange for displaying ads. Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing. Millions of hard working people are being robbed of their time and effort by this type of software.

Blimey. As someone who (a) runs ads on a website and (b) loves AdBlock Plus with all my heart, I think they’ve lost the plot.

Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers..

The spending thing is a fair point – the people who use ABP aren’t the sort of people who’ll be clicking on your ads anyway – but given the insignificantly small cost of serving up web content to visitors, there’s no reason to block them either. If you’re serving up high-bandwidth content such as video, stick the ads in your clips. You can’t ABP that.

I don’t know about other ABP users, but for me I use the plugin not to block adverts, but to block bad adverts. You know the ones: the noisy, irritating in-your-face ones that jump in front of the content, blast you with sound effects and generally get in the way. The ones that replicate the real-world experience of trying to read while an idiot screams in your ear and pokes you in the stomach.

If site ads didn’t treat me with contempt, I wouldn’t use an ad-blocker. So in some respects ABP is the symptom, not the problem: people are blocking ads because some sites can’t or won’t use them responsibly.

I’ve been thinking about advertising a lot lately, because I use ads to pay the hosting bills. The revenue isn’t much, but the hosting bills aren’t much either. I’m quite happy with that, but I do wrestle with the dilemma of how best to do it without alienating people (and without dumb-as-rocks contextual ads promoting the very people I slag off in blog entries).

I’ve come to the conclusion that affiliate ads are the way to go – a kind of online tip jar, if you like. So for example if you like the sound of BioShock – which you should – or this autumn’s Girls Aloud album – which you should – and my blabs convince you to buy them, clicking on the Play.com ad over there means if you buy them from that site, 10p to 40p goes into the web hosting tip jar.

(incidentally the ads so far are just me mucking about – I’m going to whittle them down so the only ads are for sites I actually use or things I think are good, eg Future’s mag subscriptions, Play.com, things like that. I haven’t had time to do that yet)

What I’m not sure about yet is the best way to do it. I know I don’t want banners, or invasive Flash ads or anything like that, so for now I’m experimenting with relatively small, easily blockable box ads kept separate from the actual blog content. That way, people who find the ads annoying can zap ’em with ABP, or just use the ad-free RSS feeds to access the site. The other alternative was to use text links, which is less visually disruptive but which wouldn’t be blockable. What do you think?

What I don’t really understand is the attitude behind WhyFirefoxIsBlocked.com, though. With any site, a significant number of your non-Firefox, non-ABP-using visitors don’t give a shite about your ads and won’t click on them. Why single out the Firefox users and cause bad feeling by locking them out?





0 responses to “Why Firefox is blocked dot com”

  1. “not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending”

    Which kinda makes blocking them from accessing your site a bit pointless, then.

  2. Gary

    Thanks Simon. Incidentally the story came via MetaFilter – I forgot to credit it in the original post.

  3. I read about this elsewhere. I have Adblock to simply block off ads that are constantly flash and distracting me from reading the actual site, afterall what do site owners want their visitors to do? Be able to read the site without distraction?

    Looking at the code they offer you can easily get around this. Alter the user agent name from Firefox to simply Firefx via about:config or use a user agent switcher extension. That will stop the PHP from detecting you. You could also just disable JavaScript (can be done via the web developer’s toolbar, or I’m sure there is a simple javascript extension that allows you to control whether it’s run or not). However not all sites will necessarily run the javascript version.

  4. Andi

    Me, in over ten years of internet use, i’ve never clicked on any ads. they’re there but i ignore them, but i hate with a passion floaters, almost as bad as pop ups or pop unders.

    I also ignore ads in print and on tv & radio, i’ll see them but won’t act on them. Which when i’ve got freesat and freeview on at the same time whenever i’m at home is no mean feat.

  5. Superb. Maybe it’s because I have ABP installed, but Why Firefox is Blocked doesn’t work for me in Firefox…

    If I was an Opera user I’d be feeling left out right now. After all, it’s got built-in ad/content blocking :)

  6. Has anyone actually been redirected there from another site? If so, wanna name and shame?

    I suspect that anyone moronic enough to apply this to their site is very probably not worth reading anyhoo.

  7. Gary

    The only site mentioned in the metafilter discussion is http://www.jacklewis.net. Apparently it’s a fundie-type thing. Doesn’t work on the Mac at all, as far as I can see.

    I don’t know how widespread this is or if it’s just a bit of attention seeking.

  8. Andi

    having just checked back and had a gander at jacklewis.net, site worked in opera but redirected me in firefox, but having cast my eye over it, well i’d be happy to be redirected from there, fundie-type indeed

  9. Gary

    I’ve thought of another possibility: this whole thing could be viral for Adblock Plus…

  10. mupwangle

    Someone hacked it. the site is currently down but someone saved piccie – http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1223/1173362432_6204dc240a_b.jpg

  11. Gary

    Heh. That didn’t take long.

  12. Gary

    There’s a series of good posts by a metafilter user called Chundo, who puts the pro-ad point of view (he/she doesn’t like ads, but reckons that for now content sites don’t have many other options):

    Quite honestly, people would be better off tolerating advertising in its current form – clearly defined and pretty easy to mentally block out. It will be a long journey from where we are to get to a point where users directly support the sites they use (via micropayments or the like), and until then advertising is here to stay. If things like AdBlock become ubiquitous, advertising won’t disappear – it will get more integrated and insidious. Look what happened with product placement in movies – can’t fast forward past all of those anymore, can we? And most content providers will hate it, but they’ll have bills to pay and users who aren’t used to paying them, so they will play along rather than close up shop.

  13. Gary

    This was linked in the discussion, and it’s good too (particularly for site owners): How ads really work: superfans and n00bs.

  14. Gary

    Back to my ad thoughts about this place, I’m thinking I might replace the banners over there <---- with text ads. Would that make things better for the regulars, or are you all doing the AdBlock or RSS thing anyway?

  15. mupwangle

    Personally, I’m doing the “not looking” thing.

    Noticed my first in game ad today. Dodge Nitro animated building in Crackdown. Which is ace, if you’ve not played it. (the game, not the car) (and yes, Gary, I know you’ve played it. I was meaning other people) It’s £20.83 in Tesco. Not sure why such an arbitrary figure.

  16. Gary

    I think it’s too early for it to appear in the Classics range. But you’re right, it’s a great game.

    Can’t say I noticed the ads – there’s a feature in the current (or last?) Wired where eye-tracking studies etc have proved that gamers don’t notice in-game ads because they’re too busy playing the game.

  17. mupwangle

    I kinda noticed the animated billboard as I was trying to climb it at the time. ;-)

    It’s a shame that Crackdown got lost in all the halo 3 stuff. I suppose if it hadn’t it wouldn’t have sold as much. It would’ve been written off as a GTA clone. I really didn’t get into the demo. mind you.

  18. Gary

    No, I didn’t like the demo either – I only bought the game because I was incredibly bored and had some spare cash. And now I hate to think how much of my life I’ve wasted on it.

    I know what you mean about GTA, but I found it connected in a way that GTA never did with me. Then again, for the first hour I thought “this sucks”, and I don’t think I’ve persevered with any GTA title for longer than that. So maybe I just didn’t give GTA a chance.

    > It’s a shame that Crackdown got lost in all the halo 3 stuff.

    Yeah, I wonder how many people bought it for the halo 3 demo and didn’t bother playing it.

  19. You know what really pisses me off? Ads that are hosted on servers that aren’t up to the load. So an entire page takes three minutes to load just because of one little advert in the corner. That is a particularly useful use for AdBlock.

  20. the phrase “Some webmasters are apparently redirecting Firefox users..” should actually be replaced with “One webmaster is redirecting Firefox, and other non-IE users…”

    It’s only the one guy, who would rattle if you shook him, there’s so many screws loose.

    Hasn’t stopped this being one of the most-commented topics on the Gdn blog in the past week, even with clarification from yrs trly, though. People really hate internet ads.

  21. Can I just say that the great thing about AdBlock is that it doesn’t just work on ads. You can use it to block anything. Like the photo at the top of this blog, for instance.

  22. Gary

    Thanks, Charles. I’ll update the post.

    And I’ll ignore S2’s comments about photo blocking.

  23. Well, I was being facetious, but my point is really that AdBlock can be used to make most personal blogs look like serious work things. And I bet that’s what a lot of people are using it for.