Showing posts with label adblock plus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adblock plus. Show all posts

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It Appears You're Using Advertisements, Click Here to Learn More

We now live in an age where informed consumers can increasingly control their digital environment.

In the area of entertainment, which includes movies and TV, we can choose to pay cable or satellite companies a hefty monthly fee for the "privilege" of dozens or even hundreds of channels we might never watch. Inevitably bundled with this pile of privilege in the case of non-premium channels is advertising. LOTS of advertising.  Much the same applies to the internet.

When I browse the web, given the choice, I would with very few exceptions choose to opt out of seeing any advertising whatsoever in any way, shape, or form. I tend to be specific about what I'm looking for, and anything outside of that is generally just clutter.

Occasionally, websites will throw up a message like the one below when they detect that I have ad blocking software (in my case most recently, uBlock for desktop browsing, and for my Apple-using friends, the iOS app Purify):

Contrary to this, I'm well aware of the consequences of using ad blocking. These include:
  • Ensuring my serenity by eliminating the possibility of being drawn away from what I really want from this website by at best vaguely relevant advertising.
  • Saving my bandwidth (which, in this era of greedy ISPs with their data cap overage fees, is particularly important).
  • Getting exactly what I want out of my experience, on my own terms and no one else's.

Serenity is important to me; advertising is not, at all. Yet advertisers and their ilk try desperately to lure as many eyeballs as possible to their wares. 

Bandwidth is something I pay for, not advertisers, not website owners. They seem to assume they have a right to freeload and vomit their ads onto my internet, and believe that their advertising has even one iota of importance in comparison to what I arrived at their site to view. They are quite mistaken.

What I want often differs with what I get on sites that are rife with advertising. Facilitated by demographics obtained overtly or covertly through my interactions with social media and elsewhere, advertising appears in an attempt to cater to me based on my age, ethnicity, profession, and innumerable other personal attributes. I eagerly block all of these as I come across them on any site whose content I care to explore further.

If I find your site useful, provide a link with a reputable, non-PayPal site and I will happily consider donating. If you want to advertise things that are closely relevant to the content of yours I'm browsing in the first place, that's actually fine with me. If you passively advertise with non-intrusive hyperlinks, I'll happily leave them be.

BUT, intrude on my serenity, whittle away the bandwidth I pay for, and try to derail the experience I want to achieve, and I will block, blacklist, and if necessary make a fuss to the FCC or whomever will listen, and inform the purchasers of said advertising that you've not only wasted their money, you've brought a bit of disfavor upon their brand by choosing such advertising so poorly.In short, SHUT UP, Leslie!

That logo on Leslie's shirt seems just a wee bit familiar...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Block Reddit Ads, Part Deux

In my previous post I outlined a method to block Reddit ads. 

It worked, until I tried hitting Reddit early this morning.

It appears that the ad structure is slightly different, now the following element hiding rule in the Element Hiding Helper of AdBlock Plus should do the trick:

This ought to work until they decide to change up their site structure once again. 

UPDATE: Apparently, the developer of AdBlock Plus has decreed that Reddit ads will from this point forward be whitelisted, stating that Reddit ads meet their 'acceptable ads' guidelines, necessitating custom rules like I describe above. To me, this is a bad idea, especially since even bigtime advertisers like Yahoo, Fox, and Google have inadvertently helped malware procreate through ads.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Block Reddit Ads

Reddit recently introduced an update to their ads which eludes AdBlock Plus.

Instead of a simple element ID denoted as a sponsored link, their page uniquely identifies it according to a link to the comments for a given ad posting. Ads annoy me, and as my previous post on blocking Reddit ads attests, even their minimal advertising is an unwanted distraction.

However, using the Element Hiding Helper, it's trivial to block the new ad scheme. If you're already familiar with hiding elements, all you need to do is add an element hiding rule like this: > *

If you want a more detailed procedure which might help you block other unwanted web content, read on.

In Firefox, tap the ALT key to display the menu, then click Tools => AdBlock Plus => Select an element to hide (or alternatively hit CTRL-SHIFT-F3). This brings up the element selection dialog that lets you pick and choose items on the web page to hide.

Now a red selection box will outline and identify elements of the page as your mouse cursor hovers over them. If you hover over the sponsored link area, you should see something like this:

Note the entire ad post is surrounded, with a tag in the lower-left indicating the post is within a DIV element. Click on the tag for this area, and you'll open the Compose element hiding rule dialog.

This is the Basic view, but we need to go deeper, so click on the Advanced view button.

By default, when you clicked to select the ad, the element hider chose that specific DIV element. However, blocking this won't do, as each ad will have a unique identifier (in this case, 17aahm) which will foil the filter. 

To get around this, first click on the checkbox beside the option that begins "class: thing id-..." to uncheck it, and then click on the DIV in the list which is the parent to this one, just above the default selection. Then, click the checkbox beside siteTable_promoted so that it's checked, and then click the Add element hiding rule button.

Now the ad should be hidden, either immediately or after your next refresh of Reddit's page.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blackout, or Blackmail?

Today, Wikipedia joins a host of other sites participating in a protest against SOPA and PIPA, legislation which threatens to cripple the internet as we know it.

In solidarity with this movement, a "blackout" page appears when you try to view a given Wikipedia article.

This is a token gesture at best, meant to prevent the majority of netizens from browsing their content. It's trivial to set up a rule in the Element HIding Helper for AdBlock Plus which prevents this banner from appearing in Firefox.

Here's how to view Wikipedia articles despite the blackout:

1. Tap the Alt key to view the menu in Firefox.

2. Click Tools => AdBlock Plus => Filter Preferences.

3. Add the following element hiding rule:

As a longtime geek and software developer, it only took minutes for me to find a way around the blackout. It's easy to take for granted the ease of access we all have to vast
stores of information on the web. 

My first reaction to the blackout made me think blackmail

Here we have Wikipedia essentially holding their information hostage, allowing a relatively small minority with the skills and wherewithal to work around the block, while the rest scrabble around looking for other sites with information they need, or... gasp... going outside and walking to the public library to interact with a real, living human being to do their research.

For the duration of Wikipedia's blackout, there may be some who will suffer, albeit on the level of many relatively trivial first-world problems. Students scrambling to finish their research paper due later today will have to make do with various other sites that tell you about alternatives or help you work around the block. Someone looking up the etymology of mango for trivia with friends over lunch will have to look past the first or second search engine result.

Yet, it is sobering to think how much people will suffer should SOPA in its initially proposed form pass. Freedom of information is core to the internet and fundamental to the continually evolving paradigm introduced by the information age. Clearly SOPA threatens that liquidity of information and, in fairly typical form, reveals how ignorant politicians succumb to the swansong of SOPA supporters trying the latest shotgun approach in a weak effort to combat theft of intellectual property.

I'm happy to share information which will enable others to freely view Wikipedia despite the blackout, but in retrospect perhaps Wikipedia realized how easy it would be to work around the block, and get others at a similar place in life as myself to think for a moment about what it might be like for the rich Persian rug of information to be swept out from under our feet with the fall of a gavel in Congress.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Block Reddit Gold on User Pages

Recently, Reddit added a new link beneath users' overview section of their page:
treat yourself to reddit gold

Also if you happen to be checking out another user's profile, you'll see:
buy (another user) a month of reddit gold

I enjoy Reddit a great deal, and I don't block their sponsored ad banners even though I otherwise have AdBlock Plus enabled, but I found this linkage a bit annoying.

To remove it from your own Reddit user page, you can copy and paste the following Element rule to your AdBlock Plus filter list:[href="/gold"]

To prevent the link from appearing on other users' pages, add another rule with the following slightly different syntax:[href*="/gold?goldtype=gift"]

Here's a screenshot showing how the rules appear:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Use AdBlock Plus in Firefox to Block Wibiya Toolbar

I'm increasingly finding Wibiya with their annoying toolbar overlay appearing on sites I visit, complete with a bouncing alert message revealing to me that I can update my status on multiple social networks at once. Wow.

Note the pastel coloring, gee, guess what that reminded me of?

I Need To Jump Into The Nearest Volcano And DIE!

On the bright side, a double down arrow lives on the far right end of the overlay, past some Olympic hurdle-style links to the Wibiya RSS feed (useless), a Share link (useless), YouTube (redundant), Blogger (redundant), and a "Powered by Wibiya" link (I... could... care... LESS). On the dark side, clicking the double down, while it does hide most of the overlay, still leaves an irritating little tab.

A quick search revealed this post which describes using the Firefox add-on Adblock Plus to prevent the Wibiya overlay from appearing. The first suggestion in the post to add just "" to my AdBlock Plus configuration didn't hide the overlay for the site I was visiting, but a closer read at an update to the original post based on another visitor's comment revealed that adding the base Wibiya URL, "http://**", effectively blocks the Wibiya overlay, including the tab, from appearing.

I'm among those who finds absolutely useless the links to the various social networking sites which Wibiya's overlay provides. It's not so much that I'm antisocial, but see, I use tabbed browsing, I can just keep whatever site huddled among my tabs and not clutter a specific page I'm trying to read with a toolbar-like overlay.

Even if the bouncy, bubbly cartoon bubble vanishes after my first visit, the rest is quite useless. To me, it's a mystery why anyone thinks this would be a popular, let alone useful way to interface with social networking. I can understand finding a given blog post or other site interesting enough to want to share on Facebook or Twitter, I grant them that, but why not use a much less obtrusive, static button for those respective services?

Anyway, kudos to Firefox and AdBlock Plus yet again for providing an easy, flexible means to disable annoying Wibiya tools which, to me, are as useful as bicycle to a fish.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How To Block New Ads

Recently, digg has embedded new advertising within its list of news stories, making them easier to click and detracting from what might otherwise be an interesting glance at potentially interesting copy.

You can click Bury to blot the ad out, leaving an "X" and the parting remark, "We'll try to give you fewer ads like that one." Well, gee, how about NO ads instead??

To hide this advertising, you can use Firefox in conjunction with the AdBlock Plus add-on and a companion extension, the Element Hiding Helper.

Here's a screenshot of the digg frontpage with just AdBlock Plus enabled. Note that the third entry from the top is a sponsored ad for weight loss supplements. How annoying!

The Element Hiding Helper lets you seamlessly hide text elements appearing as part of the useful content of the page you're viewing. In this case, the new ad element digg is using is encapsulated by a div tag which resembles this:
     <div rel="digg-ad:xyz" style="z-index: 5;" class="news-summary v img-summary sponsored"> 

I chose to filter the ad based on the rel attribute of the tag, specifically the "digg-ad" portion which is consistent from one of the new digg ads to the next (the xyz is a number which differs with each ad element).

I brought up the AdBlock Plus Preferences, and clicked Add Filter. Then, I input the element syntax like so:[rel*="digg-ad"]

The ensures that I'm focusing on filtering these particular elements from only, while the remaining syntax filters out elements where the rel attribute begins with digg-ad.

Now, the result, no more sponsored ad element:

You'll also notice that in among the preferences list is a new subheading, "My Element Hiding Rules", which are rules specific to hiding elements within the web page itself.

You can find a good explanation here on how to pinpoint and filter elements that you find obscure your browsing experience.