Friday, June 29, 2018

Ad-blocker-blockers hit a new low. What's the solution?

It may be the wrong day to slam the local newspapers, but this was what greeted me trying to click through to a linked newspaper article this morning on Firefox Android. The link I was sent was from the Riverside Press-Enterprise, but this appears to be throughout the entire network of the P-E's owners, the Southern California News Group (which includes the Orange County Register, San Bernardino Sun and Los Angeles Daily News):

That's obnoxious. SCNG is particularly notorious for not being very selective about ads and they tend to be colossally heavy and sometimes invasive; there's no way on this periodically green earth that I'm turning the adblocker off. I click "no thanks." The popover disappears, but what it was covering was this:

That's not me greeking the article so you can't see what article I was reading. The ad-blocker-blocker did it so that a clever user or add-on can't just set the ad-blocker-blocker's popover to display:none or something. The article is now incomprehensible text.

My first reaction is that any possibility I had of actually paying $1 for the 4 week subscription to any SCNG paper just went up in the flames of my great furious wrath (after all, this is a blog s**tpost). The funny part is that TenFourFox's basic adblock actually isn't defeated by this, probably because we're selective about what actually gets blocked and so the ad-blocker-blocker thinks ads are getting through. But our old systems are precisely those that need adblockers because of all the JavaScript (particularly) that modern ad systems lard their impressions up with. Anyway, to read the article I actually ended up looking at it on the G5. There was no way I was going to pay them for engaging in this kind of behaviour.

The second thought I had was, how do you handle this? I'm certainly sympathetic to the view that we need stronger local papers for better local governance, but print ads are a much different beast than the dreck that online ads are. (Yes, this blog has ads. I don't care if you block them or not.) Sure, I could have subscriptions to all the regional papers, or at least the ones that haven't p*ssed me off yet, but then I have to juggle all the memberships and multiple charges and that won't help me read papers not normally in my catchment area. I just want to click and read the news, just like I can anonymously pick up a paper and read it at the bar.

One way to solve this might be to have revenue sharing arrangements between ISPs and papers. It could be a mom-and-pop ISP and the local paper, if any of those or those still exist, or it could be a large ISP and a major national media group. Users on that ISP get free access (as a benefit of membership even), the paper gets a piece. Everyone else can subscribe if they want. This kind of thing already exists on Apple TV devices, after all: if I buy the Spectrum cable plan, I get those channels free on Apple TV over my Spectrum Internet access, or I pay if I don't. Why couldn't newspapers work this way?

Does net neutrality prohibit this?


  1. Until I see some INDEPENDENT Journalism again - screw news outlets. This modern Charles Kane/William R. Hearst crap is the very Mussolinian definition of fascism and much like government, voting and democracy today, no longer works well enough to justify its existence.

  2. I'm afraid revenue sharing with the provider just isn't viable. There is a billion of sites, nobody is going to be able to split the money fairly.

    Ads are good way to finance web media or just websites in general. People that are unwilling to accept that should accept not having access to the sites. It might sound harsh but I think we just have to accept that we can't have everything. People today assume too much and feel too entitled to everything sometimes. The payment through ads is what the authors of the content chose as a price for perusing the site, I find it even insulting that people just casually ignore them.

    I remember the 1990s and how great it felt that news and articles about stuff were free on internet, thanks to the advertisements paying for it. It was great because I didn't have to pay for printed newspaper/magazines. Today people forgot and don't appreciate that one least bit and think that the publisher/author is some sort of a criminal. Internet has spoiled people incredibly.

    Sorry for rant but I think people need to be reminded of this.

  3. I don't understand why online ads have to be interactive in the first place. I still see plenty of billboards around. The papers themselves are still able to sell the ads in the actual paper version. I wouldn't block most what I do if it was simple. I don't mind ads, just the ones that make it not worth the time to read the page it is on in the first place.

    I don't know what your ad blocker is triggering on their site btw. I have some blockers and I can read it on my iPad.

  4. Try your local library. There is a ton of digital content, including subscriptions, that are available free of charge with your library card. Being that you're having this problem with a local paper, check to see if the library provides it to you gratis.


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