back to article Revealed: The naughty tricks used by web ads to bypass blockers

Netizens may choose to block unwanted content – such as intrusive and misbehaving ads – but some advertising companies do not to accept that choice. Instart Logic describes itself as a content delivery service and much of that content happens to be advertising. The California-based biz is determined to help its clients present …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey Instart

    Fuck. You. That is all.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Hey Instart

      Actually, I'm fine with sites containing adverts. I think it's reasonable that they do! My problems with it are the tracking and also auto-play video (which is irritating by itself, and doubly so if like me you open a row of tabs to queue up what you'll read).

      I want the sites I like to make money. I just don't want Google et al. having a big profile of "went to this site at this time, bought product Y last week" for me or having to close pages unread because they're blasting crap into my headphones from half-way down an unopen tab.

      1. Dave K

        Re: Hey Instart

        I agree 100% - especially regarding auto-playing videos. The other part I'd add is that I do not want ads that significantly harm my viewing of the underlying content. I've seen some sites that load and scroll very quickly and simply with ad-blocking enabled, but which run awfully when I turn it off and allow the ads (pages taking 5-10 seconds to load, content jumping around as ads appear mid-article, sluggish and jerky scrolling due to masses of Javascript, etc). If you're making your site perform like crap with ads, then you're doing it wrong and are just inviting people to block them.

        And to note, sites that use sensible and reasonable ads (such as GHacks), I do disable my ad blocker for these.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Hey Instart

        I can see this war having some beneficial effects. Maybe even this attempt to get round ad blockers.

        I want publishers to make money. I'm happy for them to run ads. Sadly for them I just don't see them anymore. I just filter out those bits of the screen. But if they're getting paid anyway, I guess we're all happy.

        But the publishers need to take responsibility for their content. Try surfing most sites on a tablet now, and it's miserable. The page load times are long, because of the all the Javacrapscript and ads popping up from slow third party servers. Which mean the page starts bouncing around like a 4 year old on Sunny Delight. Which on a PC is annoying, but on something with a touchscreen is incredibly fucking frustrating. As you wait for the action to stop, put down your finger to scroll and an advert magically appears right underneath your finger!

        On a tablet that's really annoying but on a phone with slower load times, when you're on the road and in a hurry, it's really, really, really, REALLY fucking annoying! Stop it!!!!

        I've complained to El Reg about misbehaving adverts, and their response has been, "sorry it's down to our ad network". That's not really good enough. My relationship is with you. It's you that are pissing me off. It's you that I'm going to blame if malware gets onto my PC because your ad network served something horrible. So in an ideal world I'd just connect to the publishers' server - and then they'd deal with all the ad crap. The result would be a more secure internet for users and publishers having to take responsibility for what turns up on our screens.

        Obviously the Ad industry would have to change how it runs its networks. And have to plug their networks through the publishers' systems - which would have the side effect of making everything more transparent - as they'd have to run their tracking code in cooperation with companies like El Reg.

        the advertisers might learn to piss their users off less too. And publishers could no longer just shrug their shoulders and say, "not us guv". Because now, it would be.

        Again, I think everyone wins here in the end, except the real scumbags.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: Hey Instart

          "Instart's code also detects network analysis tools Wireshark and Charles Proxy."

          Therefore Instart=Malware.

          If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and it floats - it's a duck.

          1. JohnG

            Re: Hey Instart

            Presumably, simply routinely running these tools or having a developer console open (or just flagging that it is open) will disable Instart's crap.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Hey Instart

            If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and it floats - it's a duck.

            So duck, duck and go?

          3. Wensleydale Cheese

            Re: Hey Instart

            "Instart's code also detects network analysis tools Wireshark and Charles Proxy."

            That's an invitation to run one or the other permanently.

            Job done.


          4. VinceH

            Re: Hey Instart

            "Therefore Instart=Malware."

            My thoughts precisely as I was reading the article - and not just for the detection of those two tools; I came to that conclusion by the third paragraph of the article, where it said "The company's technology disguises third-party network requests so they appear to be first-party network requests."

            If you have to mask where your stuff comes from to get it to work on my system, your stuff is malware, pure and simple.

          5. I Like Heckling Silver badge

            Re: Hey Instart

            "Instart's code also detects network analysis tools Wireshark and Charles Proxy."

            Therefore Instart=Malware.

            If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and it floats - it's a duck."

            Really... coz I think they're just cunts. :)

          6. TheVogon

            Re: Hey Instart

            ""Instart's code also detects network analysis tools Wireshark and Charles Proxy.""

            And the fact that it can presumably is an "information leak" security vulnerability. What browsers is this applicable to? It doesn't seem to make that clear in the article other than implying Chrome is effected.

            1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

              Re: TheVogon

              "What browsers is this applicable to?"

              If you follow the link in the story (and read the sentence) it was reported by a Brave browser developer because it affects Brave. Brave is based on Chromium, so it may apply to both. How Wireshark and Charles Proxy are detected is under investigation – it's looking like RPC via JavaScript so may be cross platform.


              1. TheVogon

                Re: TheVogon

                "If you follow the link in the story"

                Thanks for taking the time to reply.

                An educated guess tells me that likely it detects libpcap rather than wifeshark itself...

              2. Updraft102 Silver badge

                Re: TheVogon

                I visited several of the sites on the list the dev of uBlock Origin (and its companion addon to thwart this attack, called uBlock Extra) using Waterfox, and I didn't see any ads on any of them. A couple of them are on my regular reading list, and I had no idea they were supposedly up to such chicanery; it's not showing here.

                I use uBlock Origin, but the Extra supplement is only available and necessary on Chrome and derivatives, according to its author, so it appears that FF (and derivatives) already are able to defeat this.

                I also use NoScript, but even when I set it to "temporarily allow all," I still saw no ads.

                Unless a NoScript user was prepared to block essentially all js for the site, I don't think NoScript would help, given what has been presented about the way this exploit works. The script that monitors the ads and uses alternative means to download them and inject them into the DOM would have to be served by the first-party domain, or else it could be blocked just as easily as any other ad server domain. The article says that third-party cookies will masquerade as first-party also supports this... the first-party server-side script downloads the ads, trackers, and cookies from the third party servers, encrypts the data stream, then sends it to the script running in the first-party domain's name space on the client, which decrypts the data and presents it as if it were first-party content.

                Nearly every site has a script for the first-party domain, and disabling that one (while possible with NoScript on a per-site basis) is likely to break most sites as completely as simply turning JS off. I don't think NoScript is going to help with this one... but it doesn't seem to matter. FF already handles this content with the regular uBlock adblocker, and the version for Chrome apparently will with the Extra addon (and I would expect the core browser to be modified to block this exploit soon enough, because it IS an exploit, regardless of what the sleazeball ad company may want to call it. If it can be used by them, it can be used by straight-up malware slingers too).

                1. TheVogon

                  Re: TheVogon

                  At a guess, that's probably because U-block origin already blocks this...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hey Instart

        Coluldn't agree more I don't have an adblocker installed but I do use noscript to block videos being played or even loaded.

      4. jelabarre59

        Re: Hey Instart

        Exactly my complaint. I'm willing to have advertising on sites I browse, but they're going to have to settle for the OLD method of advertising, which is to determine sites & content likely to be of interest to me or others like me, and place ads there. If they want to specifically trget *ME*, then nope, not acceptable. They want an ad that plays a message? **ONLY** if I specifically request it should it be allowed to play audio. Heck, even the visuals should require an active click, as auto play videos even without sound are sucking up bandwidth and CPU.

        I specifically do not run the heavy-handed ad-blockers because I recognize sites need to pay rent and bandwidth, etc. But I do block tracking cookies, and any site that bitches about THAT will receive a coarsely-worded missive from me. I will go out of my way just to hunt down the appropriate parties to complain to.

      5. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: Hey Instart

        I want the sites I like to make money. I just don't want Google et al. having a big profile of "went to this site at this time, bought product Y last week" for me or having to close pages unread because they're blasting crap into my headphones from half-way down an unopen tab.

        ^ ^ ^ ^ This.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Hey Instart

      If someone has gone to the trouble of blocking ads and they find a way to get round it, then they are likely to be pissing people off and losing all goodwill, so there is not really any benefit to doing it surely?

      It's like closing your blind and someone outside reaching though and opening the blind so they can peer in.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Hey Instart

        "If someone has gone to the trouble of blocking ads and they find a way to get round it, then they are likely to be pissing people off and losing all goodwill, so there is not really any benefit to doing it surely?"

        You need to distinguish between the advertisers, those with products or services they want to sell and the advertising industry that delivers advertising to potential customers.

        The latter want to push the adverts at you regardless of whether or not it injures the reputation of their clients because they're not selling their clients' products, they're selling their own which is advertising. For them it's profitable to get round ad-blockers. For their mugs clients it's money spent on alienating existing and potential customers but don't expect the advertising industry to tell them that.

        John Wanamaker, one of the pioneers of marketing is reputed to have said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”. Presumably he'd have welcomed ad-blockers because they'd have instantly cut out a lot of his wasted - and very likely counter-productive - spending.

    3. Oh Homer

      "Most people won't pay for content..."

      ... because most of it is not worth paying for.

      It seems that Content® manufacturers can't take a hint, even when it's flashing in ten-foot tall neon lights.

      Really, how stupid/arrogant do you have to be to think that replacing a compulsory payment method (paywall) with an opportunistic payment method (advertising) will magically make your precious Content® more desirable?

      Shockingly, it turns out that people only bother looking at mediocre Content® because it's free. As soon as it stops being free, or imposes some other unacceptable restriction that can't be circumvented, they lose all interest in it.

      I don't suppose Content® manufacturers have considered the possibility that maybe they should be producing something that's actually worth paying for, then charge for it, instead of whingeing when the junk they leave out in the open is only partially read, skipping the adverts.

      Sorry but no, you will not force me to read those parts of your freely published Content® that I have no interest in. Ever. Period.

      Want my money?

      Sell me something worth paying for!

      1. Vince

        Re: "Most people won't pay for content..."

        I don’t even think it’s as complex as people only read it because it’s “free” as in money vs explicit payment eg “paywall”.

        I suspect a further major contribution is that many other sites generally have the same content in a slightly different form (although not even that sometimes) so why would I pay site A to read content I can also read on site B, C, and D.

        If you’ve ever used a news aggregation app you soon realise they’re not useful because you get every article 10 times... and not in a way where you are getting substantially different views or angles on a piece.

        So really, why would I pay?

        1. Oh Homer

          Re: Aggregated content

          Well, you can do that, but personally I don't like aggregation sites, and the sites I do subscribe to via RSS/Atom tend to have vastly dissimilar content, e.g. The Guardian and El Reg, the former of which I have a paid subscription for, and the latter I would happily pay a sub if they had such a thing, because they're both worth it IMO.

          But there's far too much on the Web that simply isn't worth a damn, most of which I end up reading simply because I followed a link, not because I actually subscribe to those sites. If those sites and their content disappeared off the Web, I wouldn't really shed any tears.

          That doesn't stop them overvaluing their content and demanding I read their spammy adverts, though, but if it came down to a choice between enduring their spam or not reading them at all, I'd drop them without the slightest hesitation.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hey Instart

      "Instart's code also detects network analysis tools Wireshark and Charles Proxy."

      How is that not a breach of the computer misuse act and/or the data protection act?

      1. TheVogon

        Re: Hey Instart

        "How is that not a breach of the computer misuse act and/or the data protection act?"

        Because they don't apply to Americans?

  2. Number6

    It's almost a step in the right direction. If you want to serve me ads then I expect them to arrive from the server hosting the main page being viewed as a static image. Nothing animated, no pop-ups, no dodgy javascript, just a good old img src tag. Do all the fancy stuff to select which image at the server end because I don't trust your third-party ad code. If you manage that then you'll probably defeat the ad blockers. Or provide me with a legally watertight agreement to clean up any malware mess at your expense, backed with a large sum of money in escrow to guarantee against unexpected bankruptcy as a means to get out of paying up.

    1. Nattrash

      "The company's technology disguises [...]"

      "Instart Logic attempts to conceal the activity of its software [...]"

      "[...] will detect when the developer console opens, and cleanup everything then to hide what it does"

      > Isn't this what malware and viruses do?

      "What we do is we work with publishers to help them create a better experience,"

      > They all DID go to the same business communication course, now didn't they?

      > Why didn't he throw in that they try to deliver a better "service"? Oh, wait...

      "There are other reasons people cite, such as security, privacy, bandwidth, page load time, disinterest, a desire not to be manipulated [...]"

      > "What Melchett? What are the plebs going on about..?"

      "[...] does not guarantee the effectiveness of its product."

      > Hmmm. Maybe they can help me? I've invented a really effective haemorrhoid generation

      > creme. But nobody seems willing to use it, which greatly hampers its efficacy.

      "We provide this tool and we let the publishers have a lot of control over how they use it," he said. "I don't really get into it. We give the publishers a bunch of options."

      > Isn't this the same selfish, self-centred, chocolate covered reasoning that others, like for example

      > the "humanitarian, self choice promoting" NRA, have been venting for years?

      "If it keeps up, it's going to put publishers out of business and it's going to cost reporters their jobs."

      > What, no reference to terrrorists and paedophiles? ☹

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Do all the fancy stuff to select which image at the server end"

      It doesn't even need to be fancy. You know what page the user's browsing. You know what's on the page because it's your page. So you know what he's interested in. After that it becomes easy to add the relevant ad to the page. So easy, in fact, that the advertiser and publisher need very little in the way of middlemen to take a profit from. Now why do you think the advertising industry doesn't try to sell that solution instead?

      1. Gio Ciampa

        Now why do you think the advertising industry doesn't try to sell that solution instead?


        Because they rely on the inability (or sheer laziness) of some people to provide reasonable ad content on their sites, without simply plugging in some pre-written code over which they have no control...


        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Now why do you think the advertising industry doesn't try to sell that solution instead?

          And given how much of a killing they make, they seem to have a very salient point.

      2. gwangy
        Paris Hilton

        It could even be a woman

        They do read, too

    3. thames

      Right here on the The Register

      And the funny part about this story is that one of the sort of ad slots which drives people to use ad blockers is right here on the Register comments page for this story. It's at the bottom of the right hand column and operates as an "onscroll" ad. There's another site which I frequent which has a similar ad slot, but has them on the main pages.

      The problem with them is that they constantly cycle through new ads by re-opening the connection and pulling in new ad graphics, resulting in an almost constant use of bandwidth. Having them in one tab is bad enough. If you have a bunch of tabs open at once with them they suck up all available bandwidth and drag the browser to a crawl. If you''re on a personal ISP account and don't have an unlimited bandwidth package, they can chew through an amazing about of your bandwidth cap if you happen to walk away from the computer with a bunch of tabs open for an extended period of time. If you're not careful you could be handed a nasty bill at the end of the month for overage charges.

      I don't use an ad blocker because I want publishers to get ad revenue. I have however been forced to disabled auto-play of video because of ads which abuse this feature (this is an option in Firefox). I've been dealing with the "onscroll" ads on The Register" and the other site by either opening a bunch of tabs at once and turning off networking while I work my way through reading the story, or by opening the browser debugging console and killing that one ad if there's only a few of them.

      I've never used an ad blocker so far, but these specific types of ads are driving me towards installing one if I can't find another solution. These ads are a relatively new phenomenon on the sites that I visit, so I don't think that site publishers have seen the ultimate effects of this yet.

      Publishers seem to like to throw up their hands over the issue and say that they have no control over the problem. The fact that these particular ads are only in specific spots on the page on the two sites that I frequent which use them shows this isn't really the case.

      Ad vendors don't have an investment in your web site. To them, web sites are disposable, and if one gets killed by obnoxious ads they'll just move on to the next sucker. If a property owner decides to rent his house out to dubious characters because they offered him a really good price, then he shouldn't act all surprised and offended if it gets destroyed as a side effect of hosting a drug lab or biker gang.

      To all publishers out there - it's your site, you are 100% responsible for all content on the pages, including the ads. Your lawyers might tell you that you can duck legal liability for what the ad vendors do, but your readers will vote with their feet (or ad blockers) and your investment in building up an audience will go down the drain. Remember that ad vendors do not have this same investment in your business, they will not shed any tears if they destroy it in the course of making money off your hard work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Right here on the The Register

        the sort of ad slots which drives people to use ad blockers is right here on the Register comments page for this story

        Not on my screen it isn't. Bwahahahahahahaa!

        1. I Like Heckling Silver badge

          Re: Right here on the The Register

          This site has ads?

          Sorry El Reg... but you forced me to block them by irritating the crap out of me with them, sucking up bandwidth, flashing/moving images... the only thing you weren't guilty of was autoplaying video/audio... But seriously, how long was it going to be before that happened.

          For a site that claims to be 'biting the hand that feeds IT' you do spend a lot of time conforming and following along like good little sheeple.

          Why for example.. Why are there 6.. YES SIX... tracking cookies attempting to add themselves on my system.

          Clean up your act first... and perhaps more will follow... be a leader instead of a sheep.

          1. Mark 65

            Re: Right here on the The Register

            El Reg displaying irritating ads on a site that has tech savvy readers is more irritating than, but akin to, the http vs https debacle whereby people were requesting it all the time and El Reg took forever to respond. They got there but at a frankly embarrassing pace for a tech site. We can only hope they clean up their shit with regards shitbag adverts. Until they do it is unlikely they will make much revenue from them given the readership.

      2. Number6

        Re: Right here on the The Register

        That's actually bad business for the advertisers. If they're getting charged per page impression, the last thing they want is their ad being fetched and displayed on a tab that isn't currently being displayed. The javascript really ought to determine that the tab is not the top one and do nothing until it gets an event, not keep pulling in images that will never be seen. Of course, the ad-server benefits from the current model because they're getting paid for delivering the images regardless of whether they're being seen.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree. I think there is an underlying issue with people not wanting or, in a great many instances, not being able to pay for the information available on the Internet.

      Peoples wages or salaries haven't kept up with the cost of living for about 40 years. Now, I know some of you make lots of money, but for most people the truth is that if their pay was equal to said job, or its rough equivalent, of 40 years ago plus realistically calculated cost of living increases (gotta watch that part as governments have been know to change how that's calculated to make the figures look better) they'd have more money. Then in terms of being able to pay for services or information, whether specialty magazines or other, there'd be less issue overall.

      It seems that these large corporations that have worked so hard to subvert the taxation system over the last 40 or 50 years are paying the price through their own success and, as usual, we have to pay the price. Business as usual. :)

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Good old days

    I can always go back to the good old solution of not visiting web sites any more. Remember Yahoo News? Neither do I.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Good old days

      Well.. if they ask me to unblock and it's a site I want to visit for a specific reason, I do. And then reset the blocker. Between an adblocker and hosts file blacklist, I seldom see ads unless I specifically unblock them. Takes a bit of time to manage (and most users won't bother) but worth it to me.

      1. Nick Kew

        Re: Good old days

        Well.. if they ask me to unblock and it's a site I want to visit for a specific reason, I do. And then reset the blocker.

        Better solutions that seem to work with most of the current generation of crapware:

        (1) (getting less effective but still often works) Reload a page, and abort loading after the text has arrived but before other stuff.

        (2) (usually does the job) Just paste the URL into lynx in a terminal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good old days

      Stick to a few trusted sites you've vetted to the best of your ability.

      The days of freely following links, and browsing the open web are over.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good old days

      I still do that. BBC website does not advertise... it does have (IMO) the reasonable need to show you other content it hosts (side bars of other news etc). However, it suddenly all became obtrusive and interrupting, then they added autoplay to their news/videos. So I stopped visiting. Goodbye.

      Some sites I have start to let adverts through my adblocker, as I only update it when the adds get offensive/intrusive or stop my ability to read content. I'll let you guess how log they last, and how quickly I hit the "update/block" button.

      1. JohnG

        Re: Good old days

        "BBC website does not advertise"

        It does when you visit it from outside the UK - hence the presence of all the active crap you mentioned.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Good old days

        Almost as important as blocking ads themselves is the ability for adblockers to selectively eliminate whatever elements I want it to. There's all kinds of crap getting in the way... autoplay videos in the lower right corner, "chat with our virtual assistant" nags, floating share-button containers that expand to content-blocking size when I zoom in on the page enough to make the text easily legible... the annoyances are legion even when the ads are gone. Being able to hide any element is simply necessary to make the web tolerable.

        I have a separate addon for removing those obnoxious "This site uses cookies" messages that every single site on Earth now has (thanks, EU, you sure solved that problem). Since the cookies the site warned me about will be gone within a few minutes, the site won't remember that I've been there before (you might get the idea that this was the point all along!), so naturally it has to warn me that it uses cookies again, and again, and again.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good old days

      I remember that I stopped using Yahoo as a search engine (circa 2000 to 2001) and moved to Google because I got sick of the X-10 pop-under ads. (#)

      Obviously there were other improvements once I started using Google, but I don't recall having been in a rush to switch until I was actively pushed away by that.

      Once away, I never came back, except for occasional use of throwaway email accounts. They still love to throw shite like autoplaying video in my face using a contrived excuse like my inbox or junk folder being empty, so here's some sub-You've-Been-Framed toss you might like to watch. (Or rather, you're being given it to watch, you're not being asked- any wonder I still rarely visit Yahoo?)

      (#) Remember those? Ads for home security systems (i.e. for catching burglars) that for some reason always featured scantily clad women.

    5. TheElder

      Re: Good old days: Remember Yahoo News?

      Remember Google News?

      I block everything including cookies here. Still seem to be able to post here. This site is also the most bug free site I have ever seen, I have been testing...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh sure, blame the rise of ad blocking for the decrease in served ads. Remember when there were no adblockers except for tools like adzapper+squid? Yeah, those were terrible days with pop-ups, pop-unders, and punch the fucking monkey. Can't tell you how many times I was the Xth winner and won the prize of looking at an ad! And on a slow connection, the ADS would be the first thing to load, not content. So, publishers have only got themselves to blame for this terrible cat+mouse game.

    Even today if I'm using a clean browser and doing general surfing, ads still make up 50% of a page's content. I'm reminded really quickly of why I use blockers.

    1. LaeMing

      It would be interesting to know what portion of today's internet traffic is solicited vs unsolicited content.


      How much money in avoiding infrastructure-bandwidth upgrading are people using add blockers saving governments and communications companies anyway?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not enough. We are the minority.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "So, publishers have only got themselves to blame for this terrible cat+mouse game."

      Yep, neither the publishers, the advertisers nor the ad agencies seem to understand that the only reason for the existence of ad-blockers is a demand from the users. The question they need to ask themselves is what created the demand and why is the demand growing? If they could comprehensively and honestly answer that, then they might find a solution.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        If they could comprehensively and honestly answer that, then they might find a solution mirror.

        1. Danny 14

          Squid esq solutions are still useful. We run a squid cache at work and block ads at source. It is very effective, so much so that staff bring their laptops from home to us claimimg they have malware due to their laptops showing adverts on pages they view at work.

          It also speeds up browsing enormously and makes browsing better.

  5. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Ads? What are those?

    Between my Hosts file (which does nothing if they fake where the ads come from), my browser refusing to run Java/JS (which defeats their attempts to script such fakery in the first place), & me not giving SFA about your desire to show me ads, I don't see them. At all. Ever.

    You can whinge that I'm running an ad blocker, but I don't even have one installed - I don't need to, you're not the ones paying for my bandwidth, so I get to determine what I download - my system settings prevent you from ever getting a chance to do so.

    Don't like it? Tough shit. Until you pay for my internet pipe, *I* get to say what & when I download anything, and your ads aren't even on the table.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: Ads? What are those?

      Yes, between my Host file and a good malware blocker, I see very few ads too. Add blocker not needed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ads? This is AIDS

        The resemblance is uncanny.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ads? This is AIDS

          Yes. Annoying adverts are so like an incurable disease that requires constant medication, and will probably kill you.


  6. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Why the headline change?

    My RSS feed shows the title as "Filthy" not "Naughty". So what gives? Why the change?

    1. Grade%

      Re: Why the headline change?

      "Naughty" to suggest an act of a miscreant schoolchild perhaps? I just shrug and and go, "Oh those Brits, doing British things."

      Cute, really. :)

  7. Phil Kingston

    I used to be pro-ad, I understood that publishers needed to earn a coin. Then, of all sites, El Reg had a massive IBM auto-playing, auto-expanding video/audio ad that interrupted not only my reading, but also my choice of music that was playing at the time. I went full anti-ad. I'm luck enough to be technically literate enough to block ads on my work PC, my home network and my mobile.

    I like learning about new products and services, but if advertisers want to interrupt my listening pleasure they can get lost.

    1. Nick Kew

      Exactly. Target the crap 'cos it's crap, not 'cos it's an ad. There are technologies that'll serve ads to me without inducing any desire to block them, by the simple and effective trick of being inoffensive.

  8. Mark Exclamation

    On the other hand...

    One of the online newspapers I regularly read, recently introduced an ad-blocker-blocker. If they detected an ad-blocker, they put up their screen advising how to disable the adblocker, then refresh the screen. Unfortunately, they have implemented it in such a poor way, that even when I disable my ad-blocker, they still won't let me view their content as they think the blocker is still active. Fine, I won't read your website, and you won't get my clicks, despite me being willing to give you a chance. I'm looking at you.

    1. Jamesit

      Re: On the other hand...

      " I'm looking at you."

      I had to allow all scripts before the ad blocker blocker worked.

      I use Noscript and ublock origin.

      With scripts blocked the site worked fine the display was a bit off however I could still use the site.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the other hand...

      "If they detected an ad-blocker, they put up their screen advising how to disable the adblocker, then refresh the screen."

      I use Ghostery and uBlock Origin. Allows me to select an element on a page and then block it. That removes the page overlays that are shown when you are using an ad blocker. Takes some experimentation to find the right elements.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On the other hand...

        "Allows me to select an element on a page and then block it. That removes the page overlays that are shown when you are using an ad blocker. Takes some experimentation to find the right elements."

        Based on what I've seen, they're getting savvy to that. The "You Cheat!" part is now the BASE of the page and uses local JavaScript to SHOW the actual article, which defaults to hidden on the style sheet. Deny-by-default, IOW. And BTW, I'm also having more and more trouble getting pages to show acceptably in Lynx.

    3. hplasm

      Re: On the other hand...

      "" I'm looking at you.""

      No yer not! We think you have an ad-blocker!

    4. Nattrash

      Re: On the other hand...

      OK.. Really? Had to give it a try, but with NoScript (for cross site mainly), uBO, and uM (THX Gorhill) I can read it just fine... Without switching anything off.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On the other hand...

        Same here. I use Ghostery, NoScript, and uBlock with Firefox and I didn't see any banner.

        But I found that for many sites that block content with a banner, instead of fussing with the element blocker in uBlock, I can simply click on the Menu -> View -> Page Style -> No Style option and it goes away. If the page looks too weird without the styling, I just enable reader view.

    5. MalcolmL

      Re: On the other hand...

      Using the hosts file on my machine, no ad-blocker installed, the site opens instantly without an ad in sight.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: On the other hand...

        I don't trust HOSTS files that much. I've run into too many false positives. One list blocked my credit union.

    6. julian.smith

      Re: the Brisbane Times

      They are part of Fairfax - all of the other Fairfax "news" titles have the same content without the poxy ad-blocker detector

    7. Tannin

      Re: On the other hand...

      Re the Brisbane Times, you simply need to globally disable Javascript on and affilated sites such as and

      No ads, no garbage, easy as pie.

  9. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Marketers... KYS

  10. Jez in Syd

    I get that publishers like El Reg need advertising content. I'm not anti-advertising.

    But so many web site ads behave badly. Auto-play (with sound!) videos. Crash my browser. Freeze my tablet. Track me without my consent.

    And half the companies which advertise via Google ads seem to be dodgy. I mean out-and-out fraudulent dodgy.

    Having resisted ad blockers for a long time I am likely to start using them unless the publishers clean up their web sites.

    1. Joe Werner Silver badge

      Re: Audio auto play...

      Yes, ElReg, we are so much looking at you. Serve me ads, by all means, I do understand the need for revenue. Make them static pictures, I'd be happy to have them displayed. But if you think you need to display animated, noisy, self resizing, bandwidth-guzzling crap then I'll keep the ad blocker activated. Sorry.

  11. razorfishsl

    How long before hackers use this system to backdoor browsers & computers.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Err... what in particular makes you think it is not happening today?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This is where the race to the bottom will finish

        A good reason to be using Firefox on Linux like me. With the masses using Chrome on Windows, that's going to be what the inevitable malware advertising targets. uBlock Origin is great, I don't have to see the crap. I used to whitelist some sites like the Reg, but one by one they all sold out to ridiculous ads that zoom over the whole page, have LOUD audio, and other crap so I just gave up and blocked everyone. Even if someone finds a way by uBlock Origin, if they are trying to stick malware in my browser/OS they are unlikely to target Firefox and definitely won't try to target Linux.

        I used to see all sorts of crap on my iPhone until Apple added support for ad blocking in iOS. It is amazing the difference I see when visiting a site linked via Facebook (i.e. using the Facebook app's built in browser that the iOS adblocking doesn't affect) versus what I see in Safari using the "open in Safari" option - which I ALWAYS use now!

        Yeah, I still see some ads in Safari, but all the worst ones are removed, and the page scrolls smoothly instead of bogging down due to the sheer volume of shit trying to load on the page. Most importantly, I don't get randomly forced redirected to a page that I "won" something - this happens so often I can't believe that the ad network (probably Google, they own most of the advertising on the whole web) doesn't know their advertisers are doing this. They are willingly looking the other way.

        If they're willing to look the other way when a page forcibly redirects you to a different site where you CANNOT go back to the page you were on because it keeps redirecting you, there's not much further to go before they are trying to hack your browser/OS so they can force their ads on you all the time. Web advertising is in a race to the bottom, and Google is complicit in this because they're afraid if they try to stop it the advertisers will simply strike a deal with a different ad network and Google's stock price will crash once they no longer demonstrate growth.

    2. DailyLlama

      Since I started using ad-blockers and blocking advertising domains via Open DNS, I haven't seen any malware or viruses on any of my computers (going on 3 years now).

      1. Andytug

        So much this...

        I have Win7, Vista, XP, and Linux Mint computers at home. No infections for at least 4 years. Always used Firefox plus an ad-blocker. Coincidence? I think not,

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: So much this...

          Not having any infections is the normal state of things for people that have a reasonable idea of what they're doing, so it doesn't really suggest that your security stuff is working as much as you're not doing dumb things. Drive-by malware infections can happen, but they're relatively rare compared to the number of people who get infected doing things that any savvy user would not do (unless having a brain-fart moment).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's my computer and my bandwidth

    I'll choose what I see and do.


  13. Tristan Young

    The problem I have with ads these days is it has grown worse, not better. Advertisers and crappy/dodgy website operators have seeded the net with filthy websites - I'm talking about click-bait pollution.

    You know, someone shares what initially seems like an interesting post on social media, so you click on it, only to find out in order to read the content you get served a half-dozen ads, with the content intermingled between the ads. You have to continuously click NEXT to load the next page to continue the story, which is again contaminated by a half-dozen ads. After following 4 or 5 NEXT pages and viewing 24 to 36 ads, you are sadly disappointed and regret wasting your life, realizing that's 5 to 10 minutes you'll never get back of your life. A post so low in quality that you start to question your friend's intelligence, perhaps even accusing them of not reading the article themselves and habitually clicking SHARE because, well, that's the in-thing today, oh and you can practically feel your brain growing more dumb as you fall for it.

    This is one example of ads run amok, and I'm sure there's few fans of this, except those that sit back and collect ad revenue.

    Ad blockers are a natural result of disease-infested net-based advertising. Wait till we start pushing AI into ad-blocking. Eventually AI will intelligently cut out the ads, and their sourcecode all together without ANY human interaction, even if they are served from the same domain and employ obfuscation technologies. I equate this to being similar to the way AI can key out a specific vase within a busy picture containing many vases, flowers, books, fruit, and furniture with a high degree of accuracy.

    I don't mind non-invasive, easy-on-the-eyes (aesthetically pleasing), tasteful, random ads that aren't steered by the type of websites I visit, or the types of search queries I make. I actually like picking apart ads to see what advertisers are doing - all the right and the wrong contained within their ad. Helps me be a better website operator.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Trouble is, those systems usually run afoul of false positives and "ostriching". Eventually, ad men will make ads that fall below the noise floor and can't be distinguished from actual content (think product placement in TV shows).

    2. samzeman

      There's a great subreddit called /r/savedyouaclick where they trawl through those terrible slideshow article websites and squeeze all the useful content out. Also they include the number of clicks required, which is sometimes genuinely in the hundred somehow.

      I think most ads should take heed from YouTube. I always have uBlock off there because the creators get a little and the ads are okay. Even at the start of a video, I'll allow an ad if it's decent, or has a song I like in it. It really feels weird to actually pay attention to an ad though. I've never deliberately clicked one in my life. I'm not sure how the business is going to continue.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I'm not sure how the business is going to continue."

        That's easy to understand. The advertising industry keeps selling advertising to the advertisers. The fact that everybody hates it making it counter-productive is kept well hidden. The advertising industry is very effective at selling. But what it sells is its own product, advertising. Nothing else.

  14. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Detecting Wireshark

    Instart's code also detects network analysis tool[s] Wireshark....

    How can Javascript running in a browser detect a specific process running outside the browser?

    Following the link in the article, I can't see that it mentions detecting Wireshark, only that it might be able to detect a Chrome network diagnostic tool.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Detecting Wireshark

      yeah, about that...

      the only thing I could figure is some kind of vulnerability within browsers. NOT disclosing that, and then exploiting it, should be a crime like writing a 0-day exploit.

      and I doubt it will detect me running wireshark on my SERVER, which is between every device and the intarwebs on MY network.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Detecting Wireshark

      Does Wireshark perform a specific request/lookup on the server/page? If it's actually Wireshark doing the looking/requesting on the page/server, then less a risk and more a feature on Wireshark that can be worked on to stealth?

      1. cyclical

        Re: Detecting Wireshark

        Most of these things detect wireshark or similar by performing tests to see what does and doesn't get through, and if some things are missing, you assume there is a block somewhere and what exactly is missing can indicate the type of block.

        1. John H Woods

          Re: Detecting Wireshark

          A classic way of detecting wireshark or other network snooping is to reserve some IP addresses for that purpose; send a packet to the client from one of them and see if that is followed by a reverse DNS lookup for that IP address. Of course, you can turn off revDNS in Wireshark (anybody else wish they'd kept the old name, Ethereal?) and I should imagine most other network snooping tools but a lot of folk leave it on for convenience.

  15. bombastic bob Silver badge

    if people block them...

    if people block them, why shove the ads up our asses anyway?

    what's the point? they'll get ignored, and the products advertised may even be subject to boycott, just for having the AUDACITY to bypass the blockers. Advertisers should focus on people who don't mind seeing the ads. But, only asshats and morons would insist on shoving them up everyone's ass like that, and would DARE to bypass attempts to block them. It's just INSANE.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: if people block them...

      There's a bit of a conflict of interest in the web ad industry.

      The site owner and the ad company want as many eyes on the ad as possible. The ad company gets paid by the advertiser per view, and the content provider gets paid a percentage of that. It's that dyad that is likely to conspire to put up paywalls and to devise ways to punch through adblockers so they can get paid. If that means annoying the hell out of every single viewer, it doesn't matter as long as they keep getting paid.

      The advertiser that pays the ad company, though, doesn't want to infuriate his potential customers. If someone is so adamant about not seeing ads that he would go through the trouble to block them, the advertiser would probably rather not pay to have the ad pushed to that user anyway, given that the odds of a positive outcome (the person buying whatever the advertiser is selling) are pretty minimal at that point. He wants sales, and pays by the ad view only on the assumption that it's a pure numbers game, and that if you double the ad views, you double the sales generated by those ads. That may be true if more views happens because the site doubles in popularity, but if it's because the site and the ad company have defeated some users' adblockers, it probably isn't true anymore.

      Boycotting the advertiser, thus, isn't directly hitting the parties guilty of the offenders. It's true that if the advertiser figures out that his own ad company is annoying potential customers, he may terminate his contract with the ad company, and that may have some effect. Still, it's rather nebulous whether web ads work at all anyway, and there's considerable leeway for the ad company to "sell" the advertiser on the idea that if his sales are down, or that they failed to increase as expected, it's because of xyz, and the ads that were pushed by their company kept it from being even worse than it actually was.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: if people block them...

        For the likes of Outbrain and Taboola clickbait links, what are they actually trying to sell anyway?

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: if people block them...

        So the correct response to an ad that gets past the filter is to talk to whoever is being advertised and say:

        Your ad-pusher has ripped you off. You've paid them to foist an ad on someone who went to great lengths to avoid the ad and who now feels hacked. Your company and it's products are now on my blacklist and you paid for this to happen. Of you had chosen a better ad-pusher, you'd have paid fewer fees for page impressions AND those ads would been served to someone who might buy from you. Your loss. Love, me.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paying for content

    Blum said other approaches haven't worked. Most people won't pay for content ...

    Most people will and do pay for content, provided that they feel they are getting something reasonably valuable or entertaining in return for their outlay. Hands up everybody here who pays for their cable package? Netflix? Local or national newspaper? A streaming-music service or two? Anybody bought a book recently? What abount a CD, DVD, or a paid download? [I won't ask about your TV/radio licence, since that's not a voluntary choice regardless of whether you want it or not]

    Give me content at a reasonable price. Give me an option of paying in the manner I find acceptable (and no, watching ads is not an acceptable form of pagment for me). I will pay - just as I pay for a lot of other stuff I find useful. If you feel that your content is so valuable and unique that it can't be made accesible without a payment - by all means, stop me from accessing it. If, on the other hand, you let me freely see the content and then try to force me to pay in the amount and manner I consider unacceptable, I will resist in any way I can - just like I would resist any other form of robbery.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Paying for content

      I think actually it's not even about the price so much as the convenience of paying. If I read an assortment of articles on El Reg., if I occasionally follow a link to the Guardian and read an article or two there - I just do those things. Would I "subscribe" or sign up my credit card to these sites? Unlikely.

      HOWEVER, what I would happily do is plonk a tenner into a central fund periodically and let sites get half a pence per story or whathaveyou. The only key requirement would be that central fund be something separate from advertising companies that would lust over it for the browsing history information.

      For me it's not unwillingness to pay, it's unwillingness to fill out and hand over credit card information for every one of a thousand websites I might randomly visit.

      1. Whitter

        Re: convenience of paying

        I quite agree that I have no interest in giving out personal info, particularly credit card info, to websites all over the place. Any model that needs this is going to fail.

        And from the (legit) website owner's POV, I don't want your details either (unless I'm selling stuff): its just a data protection nightmare with no upside.

        Using PayPal / Google wallet / Apple store or whatever as an intermediary payment system that can avoid you handing over such details is, a minimum, a must. They still provide some "leak" of contact details - perhaps they should start enacting web-only transactions as anonymously as possible (no postal address etc.). Hell, they might even do so these days - I haven't looked for ages.

      2. fedoraman

        Re: Paying for content

        Best solution I've heard yet. I would go for that. It's just the implementation...

        Instead of a "Like" button, how about an "I'd be prepared to pay REAL money to support this article"?

        1. Draco

          Re: Paying for content

          Perhaps, the 'Like', or 'Share' buttons could be tied to a central fund.

          Every click nets the page a penny (or something).

          Of course, then you would run into the problem of scammers who will start disguising the buttons so people click on them.

          1. Nick Kew

            Re: Paying for content

            "Like" buttons in certain places are already powered mostly by 'bots.

            I expect the vast majority of Reg commentards could script something. As could spammers who don't comment here but would soon take over if that upvote button involved real money.

      3. staggers

        Re: Paying for content


        Excellent idea. I see others think so too.

        It could literally be called The No Ad Fund (but with a snappier title!)

        It could run along the lines of the PRS. Interested sites join. Number one condition of joining is NO ADS, which could be modified to allow agreed major or niche charity ads.

        Money is then distributed as your share of total fund /number of views. You'd still need the software to detect click farming, etc.

        It all reminds me of the joke about PRS Distribution. When asked that bearing in mind there were so many members, so many places in the world to collect revenue from, and so much difficulty working out who had what airplay, how did they manage?

        They replied that a large percentage of members had earned no noticeable royalties.

        Then they divided the fund into two halves.

        Then they spent ages working out who should get what out of the first half, and distributed it.

        They were then asked what they did with the other half.

        That's the easy bit ; we give it to Paul McCartney.

  17. oneeye

    The Solution is Simple

    When they'd businesses clean up their act and take responsibility for the crapware they peddle, then things will improve. Until they care held responsible for the phishing, malware, and fake advertising they allow throughout their networks, then it will remain a fight. If publishers want to load more ads then content, then the fight is on. Until they get the message, the fight is on. The hypocrisy is stomach churning coming from these despicable lowlifes.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The Solution is Simple

      Problem is, you could LOSE the war, and EVERYTHING can end up behind walls or full of ads too tightly coupled to the content (think Product Placement) to safely remove. Will people start abandoning the Internet and go back to international robocalls, non-returnable junk mail, and billboards?

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: The Solution is Simple

        Losing that war just lowers the entry barrier for more customer friendly alternatives. There's no limit to how many sites the internet can support, if the abusive sites hide behind paywalls there's less competition for those that don't. If they go ad crazy they just become less fit to compete for our view.

        What needs tackling is the dangerous tech being used to show advertising. Not just the abusive uses, the insecure 3rd party crap needs to end.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The Solution is Simple

          There's ALWAYS a limit, as matter and energy are still finite. And in this case, there are the infrastructure costs. Think about it. What happened to Tripod and GeoCities? Pretty sure sooner or later ANY user-generated content will HAVE to go through some money-grubber because there will be no other free self-publish sites anymore. Then what?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Solution is Simple

        At that end of the scale there could be an opportunity for a new style ad network supplier that would differentiate themselves by more reasonable ad behaviour and I think it plausible that their conversion rates would outstrip the current ad network suppliers (who don't give a shit). Sites would tend toward the better behaving supplier to benefit from the better conversion rate and user acceptance.

        Alternatively. Son-of-Web - paper/pen/stamp/radio/high-streets/... and ads controlled by ASA & planning regulations.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The Solution is Simple

          And I think it not so plausible. Otherwise, it would've already appeared. Instead, you have the opposite: "bulletproof" providers who provide legal protection and plausible deniability.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The Solution is Simple

      "When they'd businesses clean up their act and take responsibility for the crapware they peddle, then things will improve."

      There's a risk that even if they cleaned up people wouldn't notice because the ad-blockers will hide that. The big question is whether we've already reached that tipping point. I'm surprised that Google haven't put their foot down some time ago. If online advertising implodes they have more to lose than anyone else and a greater ability than anyone else to strangle the crap slingers to stop it imploding.

  18. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "If it keeps up, it's going to put publishers out of business"

    Woohoo! Thanks for giving us the solution to stop you messing with us with your snake oil and other BS.

    So let's keep it up! Like the boy scouts, each day let's do a good deed, help an IT-illiterate to install an ad blocker.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "If it keeps up, it's going to put publishers out of business"

      Like Youtube. It worked because it was a publishing platform that allowed many to use it.

      It still is. But now it's more about making the money, than making the content.

      But in reality, do we need the publisher Youtube, over self hosting/publishing?

  19. chivo243 Silver badge

    Remember... I still pay for the bandwidth

    So, these companies that bypass my way of limiting traffic can eat shit and die. Nuff said.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Remember... I still pay for the bandwidth

      They respond, "So do we, and unlike you, we don't get the buffet deal."

  20. Bronek Kozicki

    Will there be any charges?

    US prosecutors seem so keen on charging teenagers (remember Aaron Swartz) under the pretext of "unauthorized access to computer network". Well, this:

    ". . . and communicates them to our servers through a secure, undetectable channel"

    ... seem very much to be the definition of unauthorized access.

    Not holding my breath, though.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've noticed this on Trinity news websites, scriptsafe is now enabled as the ads were getting through which confused the shit out of me considering I have all the usual plug ins and run a pi-hole.

    A plague on all their houses.

    P.S. whatever product you try to make me watch a 10 second video for will be added to a list of things I never buy unless it's laxatives and I develop constipation. I shit you not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm going to add to this comment with the following sweary rant and a bit of information.

      I'm no longer using trinity news websites (local news websites aligned to the mirror group for those that don't know)

      On inspection they now use a url for ad content that is using the original domain so it's something like which is why it's getting through.

      Now can I ask a simple question? What is the fucking point? I block ads, why do I block ads? because I have zero fucking interest in what you have to throw at me, I'm not going to buy a new fucking mazda or any other fucking car based on some swarmy twatty advert showing some assumed perfect looking wankers driving round town like a pair of nob jockeys where everyone goes wow look at that car, likewise I'm not going to buy a pair of overpriced trainers just because you label your shop "king of trainers", I might go to "King of kebabs" if passing after a night out but that's the limit of the word king in the use of advertising on me. I use these as examples of the shit advertising that got through before I convulsed and spat at my screen (unintentionally) using lots of expletives.

      In summary,

      Dear Advertisers,

      I'm not interested in your ads, circumventing my blocks will not get your customers any sales, in fact it has the opposite effect.


      Ad block user.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Dear Ad Block User,

        The ads pay for the content you read. If you're not willing to see the ads, we're not willing to serve you the content. Keep this up and we'll be moving the content behind a pay wall. And consider that we probably won't be alone. Once ALL the local news providers are behind a pay wall, you'll be paying for your local news again, either way, so we stay in business.

        Bottom line: this is OUR content, and it costs money, real moolah, to produce and present. Pay for it, one way or the other, or you don't get access. This is OUR right (by copyright), our rules. Or would you rather we ask law enforcement to reveal your identity and we pursue our legal team after you on grounds of copyright infringement?


        The guys who make this stuff.

        1. staggers

          Please, please, I am begging you,


          That way, we can all realise that the 'content' is crap and deserves to die because no one's willing to pay.

          BUT, I bet you don't, because you'd rather not be found out to be just an advertising platform. And your revenue would vanish.

          Or, if the content is good, you have a willing audience and a source of revenue - AND AN AUDIENCE TO WHOM YOU COULD SHOW VETTED ADS THAT THEY WOULD APPRECIATE. Not agency crap.

        2. DryBones

          Dear Guy That Makes This Stuff,

          If the waiter brought you a steak with a steaming pile of shit on the side, would you smile and eat it all?

          Please take a step back, look rationally at what you are pushing and how, and think about "If I do this this way, will it piss off the viewer and actually create negative impression of what I am advertising?" Ads in periodicals work because they do not leap off the page, sing and shout, or attempt to give you rabies.

          Have you no decency? (Clean) up your game.

          An Engineer

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Oh fuck off AC.

          Are you really that fucking simple? Do you think these "ads" have only one purpose? You clearly need to learn about the human condition and how to program people with shite.

          Give me a fucking paywall everyday of the week.

          I'm looking at you el reg.

  22. alain williams Silver badge

    Computer misuse act ?

    They are deliberately acting against what they know that the PC owner wants and getting his PC to do things that they know that s/he does not want to do. A prosecution would be nice. Company is in the USA so go after some of their UK based clients.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not against ads

    I am not against ads, but I refuse to be abused. One site I visit has shows that 120 ads are blocked, it is just too much. Another has ads that pop up on the left and shift the content to the right ... you have to wait for this, clicks miss their targets etc.

    The Register is good, I do not block their ads.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gotta be honest here...

    I run a few sites that are reasonably expensive to run. I initially offered them free with no ads but I found myself out of pocket, so I started added a paid for service for just £1 a month (no personal information required, just a recurring paypal payment, im genuinely uninterested in farming user data despite its value), absolutely no take up despite tons of traffic. So I moved to ads (none intrusive, none animated, off to one side, taking up a mere 128px x 128px space) which were ok for a while, I was just about covering my costs with them. But then revenue dived due to lower RPM and CPC probably because advertisers are pulling out of paying a premium for online ads.

    My current average RPM is about £1.20.

    Id imagine in a lot of cases the number of ads on a site probably reflects the cost of running the site rather tjan a greedy desire to get rich quick. Because you can't get rich off ads.

    I desperately want to be able to offer services for free / low cost but its getting a lot harder to do.

    Crowdfunding is a tricky option because if you inadvertently smash your target people generally expect you to pull extra features out of your arse for the extra money and slam you if you don't.

    Ive also tried flipping my sites, but they ultimately get bought by someone that plasters ads all over them thus ruining my original vision.

    Im open to suggestions on how to earn circa £150-200 a month without anyone having to pay a bean. Thats the cost of running my sites.

    As much as people like to think it. Not all of us trying to innovate and build things for you to use for free are Bruce Wayne. I offer my stuff for free because I believe everyone should have equal access to mybservices because they offer functionality and information that people can benefit from, its very unfair and outdated to only allow those that can afford it to have access to it. Thats why we have public libraries and free education after all.

    I build things on my own dollar because (shit ideas or not, some of them probably are) I think if you can build something you should build something if only to put it out there perhaps inspire someone to do better.

    I think its time for a different type of crowd funding centred around sponsorship. Rather than having thousands of people putting peanuts in making unrealistic demands have a sponsorship bidding system.

    Also advertisers need to put more emphasis on the type of people viewing the ads not the volume.

    A site can have hundreds of thousands of views but zero clicks, but a site can also have a couple of hundred die hard users but receive a lot of high quality clicks.

    My sites tend to operate in high value niches and ive seen ads punting products and services worth thousands of pounds, but I only get 3p for the click. Seems a bit unbalanced to me.

    If I manage to unearth and convert someone willing to buy those products I should be able to share a small part of that sale. Id earn more and have to serve less ads.

    Just remember this. By denying revenue to someone building free stuff might just be stifling innovation.

    Some of the best innovation comes from people giving up their time for free to act on their principles and desire to make things better. Sometimes this requires resources that are unobtainable without revenue.

    A good example is trading indicators, access to financial APIs is hellishly expensive. I would dearly love to provide a free set of trading indicators to allow those with little resources to be able to learn about and get involved in trading.

    Other nations like China (yes fucking china) have a huge subset of the population that actively invest and trade (they have ATM style machines for this purpose where Joe Citizen can put a small amount of cash into the market where they see fit), meanwhile here in the west we still seem to think that investing and trading is an abstract black art, its really not. Its not right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gotta be honest here...

      how to earn circa £150-200 a month without anyone having to pay a bean

      Someone will have to pay, somewhere.

      What you're asking for is for someone to invest in you in the hope that you'll turn up something useful. Write a business plan and take it to an angel investor. or just bite the bullet and invest your own money. You, presumably, are getting something from this, even if it's just a buzz that you're helping people, is it unreasonable that you have to pay for your pleasures? People who enjoy sport usually have to pay membership fees to a club, is your situation really that different? Maybe there's a market locally for you to set up an entrepreneurs club where like-minded folks could join, contribute, and perhaps raise sponsorship?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Gotta be honest here...

      "Im open to suggestions on how to earn circa £150-200 a month without anyone having to pay a bean."

      TL;DR beyond this point.

      Presumably every page on your site has useful content other than, maybe, navigational pages. So there's nothing difficult about working out what those reading the page are interested in: they're interested in whatever that page content is. So what you need is a way to get businesses who are in a relevant line of business pay a small amount per month for a static ad to take an interested viewer to their own web site. You could try approaching such businesses directly. It could save them money - at the cost to you of some effort - because it cuts out all the middlemen making and distributing the often irrelevant, punter pissing off, bandwidth hugging crap.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Gotta be honest here...

        I'm curious to what you are doing that costs so much to run. That's a lot of cpu and bandwidth there!

        1. VinceH

          Re: Gotta be honest here...

          "I'm curious to what you are doing that costs so much to run. That's a lot of cpu and bandwidth there!"

          He could be accounting for his own time in that figure. I note he said "out of pocket" by the £150-£200 per month, which suggests actual expenditure, but creating the content can take time, and if it's eating into time he could be doing something to earn money, it's a cost.

          I also run a group of sites that (if I count my time) could be costing me a fair old amount some months (though much less this year because my time has been more limited) - but I don't carry adverts except static images advertising upcoming, relevant events (and I don't charge for them). This is my choice, and I accept the cost of doing so.

          It would be nice to recoup some of my costs, and I should sit down and think of a (worthwhile) way to do so (which will never include the use of ad networks!), but until and less I do, all I can do is repeat: My choice, cost accepted.

          1. VinceH

            Re: Gotta be honest here...

            Grr.. didn't spot this until it was too late to edit, but:

            "but until and UNless I do, all I can do is repeat: My choice, cost accepted."

            I wouldn't normally come back and do this if I've made a typo, but in this case I can see less vs unless being mistaken for one of those cases where the writer didn't know the difference. I do. I just fecked up.

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: Gotta be honest here...

            Thanks for the reply. I just assumed he wasn't counting his time in that cost.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Gotta be honest here...

          @jamie jones

          Forex based stuff. So its the API access that costs the most. The site itself is pretty lightweight.

          I also have a Bitcoin related trading site.

          With the Forex stuff I have to be careful what I say and what I charge for as I could attract the ire of various regulatory bodies.

          I dont provide direct advice though, just easy to read charts.

          Its going through somewhat of a redesign at the moment (when I find the time) so its pretty barebones right now.

          Take a look.

          The main nuts and bolts of it are my Twitter bot (which generates a large chunk of the traffic and my various alert systems which at the moment you can only join if you're part of the community I am a part of.

    3. Nick Kew

      Re: Gotta be honest here...

      You sound like you're doing the kind of thing I tried, quite a few years back. I was hopelessly naive about making a business of it, and made no money[1]. It was advertising that kind-of saved me: text links to improve someone's google rank (my own pages had ranks up to 9 at the time due to really good contents).

      I was never happy about that, and stopped as soon as I found an alternative: contract work for a client who paid. The downside is that the really useful services I once offered languish unloved and unmaintained, though still gets used.

      [1] At my worst point in 2002 and 2003 I was down to one meal a day, at a cost of £2/week in today's money. And down to walking everywhere when I couldn't afford to replace broken parts on my bike.

    4. DropBear

      Re: Gotta be honest here...

      Patreon (or some other equivalent if you don't like it and can find one) is the only way to go. A low three-figure sum should not be particularly hard to reach; if you can't even do that much then maybe what you do is of not that much interest after all, and you're doing the online equivalent of vanity book publishing, in which case you're quite welcome to support the entire cost yourself. If it does work, you're also welcome to note up-front that you won't be expanding even if you end up netting five-figures a month (as if...) - most people will understand, and these things tend to somewhat self-regulate anyway - I'm much less likely to join supporting a creator already making five figures a month than another one struggling with two or three. If some people still complain after that, blame your thin skin not them - there will always be people complaining, welcome to the internet and the 21st century. Sane people don't publish Youtube videos then complain that "people are mean" in the comments any more than try shouting at the tide...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gotta be honest here...

      Way back in the day I used to run hubs to provide access to the Direct Connect p2p file sharing network (think IRC with a semi-central, searchable file network).

      Yeah, yeah I know I'm evil, 'exploiting' copyrighted content. Yawn. That's not the point here.

      Point is I was paying hundreds for hosting with large b/w, out of my own pocket. Providing that hub as a service to strangers for no payment.

      It had 6 or 7 mods vetting users content 24/7 to ensure there was no sick stuff etc, who provided their services for free. The main chat window was constantly busy, I ran a 24/7 radio that users could also listen to whilst chatting, which for most of the day was actual live DJ shows- just from the people that had chosen to be part of our community, also for no payment.

      It was the first independent hub to break 20k users, first hub to break a PB content.

      People came for the file sharing, but stayed for the community and the extra services.

      I'd cover the costs as long as possible (I was on the dole at the time) but after a few months I'd put a request out for a few pence from any users who could afford to chip-in and didn't want to see the hub vanish (just to cover server costs, not for payment).

      Even though those users could have used any of 100s of other hubs out there to access the DC network for free, I made the monthly server costs within a couple of hours of the request going out each month.

      Guess I'm trying to say, if you want to provide a site, either do it out of love and cover the costs yourself, or make it good enough so that users have no problems paying a tiny fee to keep it alive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gotta be honest here...

        "Guess I'm trying to say, if you want to provide a site, either do it out of love and cover the costs yourself, or make it good enough so that users have no problems paying a tiny fee to keep it alive."

        And if NEITHER can apply to you, you're simply dead?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Gotta be honest here...

          Plenty of free platforms out there if you really have to get your content to the masses.

          I'm just saying it can be done without forced payment or ad-robbery. I suppose the modern equivalent would be crowd-sourcing, or a donation button.

          If I could get a bunch of evil file sharers to chip-in for access to a free p2p network, then there's no need for any dying. :)

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Gotta be honest here...

          And if NEITHER can apply to you, you're simply dead?

          Errr no. That's when you get a proper job.

    6. staggers

      Re: Gotta be honest here...


      I don't think you should be behind a PAYWALL - as I think all National 'news' sites should be, to remove the 99% that's crap.

      If you aren't one of them, or if you're a niche news outfit then yes you need ads. But ads targeted to your readership, and not intrusive. I can't see anyone minding that.

      It's this whole clickbait fake news stuff, where a page exists for ads to go on, and no other reason that we all hate.

      Also, on a side note; if a manufacturer wants to sell their stuff, and then a bunch of shysters do a Web campaign for them, surely the manufacturer can find if they have increased sales, and if they made a profit?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quality sites like El Reg...

    Actually El Reg does the ad thing very well... it's one of the sites where the ads don't distract from the content, and are broadly relevant.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Quality sites like El Reg...

      Quality sites or not, if the ads require client-side script or embedded video, I'll never see them. I use Noscript.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quality sites like El Reg...

      so click on a few el-reg adverts so they can feed their children in the winter :)

    3. romanempire

      Re: Quality sites like El Reg...

      They're not too bad but I still use an ad-blocker as that dumbass teaser takes up a ridiculous amount of screen space. And now that I've just checked with ad-block off I find the ads too intrusive. At the moment I can see 17 articles I might like to read. With ad-block off in the same size window I can only see 7 and far too much space is lost to a pointless, irrelevant and distracting picture.

    4. Hollerithevo

      Re: Quality sites like El Reg...

      I don't block anything at work, and so I see all of El Reg's ads, and I actually click on a fair number. I am always amused to see ads for something I actually bought coming up again and again. I've actually done that trip to Spain, so I really am not going to be a repeat purchaser...

      At home, everything is blocked. I just need a rest from it all.

  26. unwarranted triumphalism

    Trying to compromise my security?

    That's a paddlin'.

    Also, your site gets added to my hosts file next to

  27. js6898

    Yes I use HOSTS file and nothing else - have done for a decade or more. That, and the 'disable HTML5 autopay' extension recently added to Chrome browser and my internet browsing is as peaceful as can be.

    1. Nick Kew


      Nice typo. Or was it?

  28. Peter Prof Fox

    Be wicked

    I'm very ad averse. If these guys want to challenge my blocker then can I have a blocker that runs the ad in a silent sandbox out of my sight AND CLICKS. This should waste a few of their cents and establish quite a strange user-profile. Then they'd be the ones trying to block me. Bwhhaaa!

  29. el kabong

    Gray hat hackers leaning heavily on the darker side that's what they are, those people hack web user's machines with their ads and put users in danger, no less.

    I'm not sure they are aware of the consequences or if they care at all. Most certainly they just don't care, I'm afraid.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. IsJustabloke


    Interestingly, there are several sites that I would be happy to pay a nominal monthly fee to browse but we all know that even if a site is behind a paywall it will still serve ads and that's the issue right there. As a consumer I'm willing to play fair ad slingers aren't, so fuck them. Unitl relatively recently I paid to subscribe to the Telegraph online... still had ads.. Guardian wants me to subscribe... still has ads., I'm willing to be that the Times still serves ads behind it's paywall.

    And we know that Sky customers have an entirely ad free experience.... ho ho ho...

    1. Nick Kew

      Re: paywalls...

      Not necessarily.

      One of my regular sites pushes ads, but also offers a "turn ads off" option. The latter is, you make a small payment towards their running costs. That seems to me a fair model.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: paywalls...

        My company offers this option, but despite market research where 60% of people said they would pay a nominal amount to have no ads, the number of people out of millions of readers who took us up on the offer is in the (very) low hundreds.

  32. Ryan Kendall

    Thanks for this

    WOW thanks for this article, this blocker is great. I've been tired of all the annoying click bait ads

  33. Anonymous Coward

    To any marketing scum who've accidentally arrived here.

    Please read the comments on this forum - the people who've written them are your potential customers, apart from the one who shows up here from time to time pretending (?) to be Trump or somesuch. Then go and refine your business model to not be so fucking irritating and confrontational. Thank-you.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I ask three things before I allow ads

    1 - no tracking. And by that I mean simply respecting the Do Not Track setting of a browser, not the "you must install this plugin in your browser" nonsense that Google tries to pull. By the way, if you really want EU privacy law compatible statistics, install Piwik, not Google Analytics.

    2 - no active content. Sorry, an image and maybe an animated GIF but that's where it should stop. Don't ask me to open my system to mass distributed virus infections because that is exactly what drives most security conscious people to block ads. It also has as advantage that it all stays *small*, because you are using my bandwidth for your own benefit. and if you slow down a site, I may abandon it altogether. Ad providers that cannot offer that option should be avoided IMHO.

    3 - no auto-play. In the unlikely case that you really can't help yourself and it MUST be a video or sound file, auto-play is the ultimate sin because you don't know the user's situation. In the days of loading up our websites with a very loud clip "THIS USER IS WATCHING PORN" because of a generally bad sense oh humour, but you don't want to do this as an advertiser.

    I may need to add an extra one:

    4 - no web shortcuts. Don't route your marketing through places like If I cannot see where a link is going, I will not follow it at all, even if I'm interested. I get too much spam containing such links. I want to see who's responsible for the ad as well as its distribution - if you have something to hide I don't want to know you.

    So there.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I ask three things before I allow ads

      "maybe an animated GIF"

      You're too generous. It was one particular animated GIF that was the final straw for me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I ask three things before I allow ads

        Ah, but I only said OK to this because I know that more and more browsers come with a a built-in animation stop :).

        What pisses me off are paid-for sites that still advertise but the worst are sites that feed ads based on IP geolocation. I travel and I really don't enjoy foreign language ads for crap I'd never use wasting my bandwidth.

        So it gets blocked.

        I also use video less and less - unless it's about graphics it usually has a very low information density. News, for instance, will take 15 minutes to discuss something that I can read in under 20 seconds in print. Same data, FAR less time, and it's then made worse by having to sit through the same f*cking ad for every clip (yes BBC, I'm talking about you) - I now use a UK VPN when I feel I want to watch any of the site videos and even that is now declining because they. still. insist. on. using. Flash. Not all of it, but it's still happening too much.

  35. DJO Silver badge

    Dumb will as dumb does

    Don't they realize forcing ads is counter-productive, I seldom notice adverts but when I do it's just to remind myself never to buy anything from that company, if the advert is forced against an ad blocker then that goes doubly.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Dumb will as dumb does

      Guess you never watch free TV, then. ALL ads are forced there, and then there's Product Placement which is part and parcel with the content.

      1. Coys

        Re: Dumb will as dumb does

        "Guess you never watch free TV, then. ALL ads are forced there..."

        I never watch commercial TV live anymore so all ads zoom past at x30 on my Sky+ box and I have no idea what they are on about or what they are flogging.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Dumb will as dumb does

          What about the product placement? It's IN the content, so skipping it skips the show, too.

          Plus, what happens when (not if) they disable fast-forward during the commercials (they already do that on my cable boxes at home, and ALL the providers do that, so jumping just means another burning ship).

  36. RyokuMas

    Said it before...

    ... I'm perfectly happy to have ads on the pages I view - so long as they are limited to a single static image or a snippet of text either to the right or below the footer of any legit content, and cover no more than 10% of the screen area per ad.

    Until then, my adblockers stay switched on.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the difference?

    If I configure my computer to prevent someone installing malware and they circumvent that, they've committed a crime.

    If I configure my computer to prevent someone from installing tracking cookies and they circumvent it, that's OK?

    Maybe "Black Hats" should start financing and lobbying politicians like the advertising industry does and installing malware will be OK.

  38. macaroo

    Problems with Ad Blockers

    The problem I see using an Ad Blocker is sometimes, especially a new article, will hang up while trying to load. I keep a copy of Windows Task Manager in the bottom task bar and use that to end the hung process. IE will restart and I will disable the blocker to read the article. It is a awkward process but works OK.

    1. Paul Woodhouse

      Re: Problems with Ad Blockers

      Someone who actually uses IE and reads el Reg?

  39. jason 7

    Go to Patreon.

    I'll toss you a buck a month which will potentially net your site $11.9999999* more from me than the ads would in a year.

    * minus whatever Patreon takes?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The easy way to get around this* (*most of the time)

    I came across a site the other day that put up an overlay when it detected I was running ad-blocking software. My usual tactic (depending on if I'm making a one-off visit to a site or see myself coming back again) is to either use Chrome DevTools to delete the offending HTML or write a Stylish rule to permanently hide it.

    This site, however, was different. It detected any attempts to make changes to the DOM, either manually or with Stylish, and immediately rendered a completely different error page.

    In the end, I simply edited the site permissions (using the icon in Chrome's address bar) to not allow JavaScript on the website. Problem solved.

    Obviously, this won't work well for sites where JavaScript is required for certain interactions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The easy way to get around this* (*most of the time)

      Wow, a shame the author of the article didn't link to the Mozilla bug report he mentioned, which details this very thing.


    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The easy way to get around this* (*most of the time)

      I wouldn't be too surprised if a site like that hid all the content with white-on-white text collapsed by a CSS tag which only opens when the same JavaScript that enables the ads us enabled. Found something like that on a site. Tried removing the "screen" only to be left with a blank page.

    3. Craig 31

      Re: The easy way to get around this* (*most of the time)

      It was either or amazon aws becuase they both serve these really bad adverts.


  41. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    It's really quite simple

    Serve me ads with no tracking, from the origin server.

    If you want the ads to be relevant, make them relevant to the web page the advert is being posted on, just like TV advertisers focus on the programme they advertise in. You can even do one better - you can tell when someone clicks on the advert.

    You have NO RIGHT to track me and the websites I visit, just because you technically can.

    If you really want to see companies taking the piss, you should look at the ad companies that use the android platform.

    I've been using android for years now, but only recently started looking into how they operated. I was naive.

    Even the so called respectable companies have SDKs that:

    - grab your MAC address (to uniquely identify your device when sharing UUID is disabled)

    - grab a list of all wifi AP's your device can see (why?)

    - grab location. OK, they want to know where you are in the world, but unfortunately "coarse location" accuracy can be much better than a 1km radius. Some even request "fine location" - no doubt they need to know your GPS location because your advertising needs in the front of the house are much more different from in the back of the house.

    - phone home even when not in use.

    I have evidence of an app by a well known "google approved" developer that use ad ad sdk that tries to keep a connection open to the ad companies server all the time... I mean, all the time. A background process is launched independently of the main app. This process is relaunched when killed, and relaunched when you reboot your device.

    Basically, as long as this "safe" app is installed, your device will be connected to this web server. I've not seen what exactly it transfers as yet, other than a randomly(?) generated uuid, as I blocked it when I first saw it.

    I know block all dodgy ad sdks. The amount of ads I see have dropped to almost zero, but that wasn't my intent. I usually pay for apps I use, or tolerate ads, but if you are going to do underhand things, don't expect to get away with it.

    P.S. I thought running of background services, without an icon in the notification area to let the user know was prohibited by google play stores TOS.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work in this industry

    At the end of the day people who use ad blockers don't generate us money, and we don't give a shit about your user experience.

    However as devs, we are continually pushing back to try and reduce the volume and complexity of adverts on sites - ad-blocker-blocker code generally has to be loaded inline and can be around 400k upwards in some cases, ad-blocker-avoiding adverts are usually massively complex, and auto-playing or interactive adverts are usually coded like utter crap - 80% of display or performance 'bugs' we get reported by users come down to some ad that went and messed up the dom so badly everything else broke.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I work in this industry

      "At the end of the day people who use ad blockers don't generate us money, and we don't give a shit about your user experience."

      I think you've got that back to front. You don't give a shit about our experience so that's why we use ad-blockers. If you want to know why we make it more difficult for you to take your punters' money, go find a mirror.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I work in this industry

        Actually it's the advertisers themselves who don't give a shit - they will pay 10x more for a badly coded spamvert with tracking and fireworks than some simple unobtrusive text advert. They will even pay you less if the ads appear too far down the page. The publishers (websites) would far rather have something less obnoxious - but the sums don't work out (and we have run MANY, MANY a/b tests to find out if we could get away with something less evil).

    2. jason 7

      Re: I work in this industry

      Yeah and to be honest we users don't give a shit about your miserable parasitic part of the industry either. Feeling is mutual.

  43. Joe Harrison

    It never used to be about money

    I remember the early days of the www when it was a communal resource for information sharing. After a while people came along and said "you know what, we can use this thing to make money". Now they are complaining that my ad blocker is getting in the way of their business. Am I supposed to be bothered?

    I suppose the difference between then and now is that hosting used to be "free" i.e. you leached off your university or employer. So I have some sympathy and recognise I need somehow to contribute to legit hosting costs, but even so I still don't want ads.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It never used to be about money

      Newspapers and mags used to make money through physical papers sales and through sales of physical paper adverts. Now that everyone under the age of 50 gets their news through the internet they have to make their money through digital adverts.

      Most information sharing sites need some way to pay the server bills - if people won't donate (Wikipedia), subscribe (some newspapers), or buy from you in some other way, then adverts are the only method to keep the servers running.

      1. Dave Foster

        Re: It never used to be about money

        everyone under the age of 50? Us oldies get our news off the internet too!

    2. jMcPhee

      Re: It never used to be about money

      So, you're saying there's a downside to pimping out the internet? Wonder which is better: the current shittification of informative web pages or the older case where www was mostly amateurs having fun.

      Tough call.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: It never used to be about money

      Joe, don't forget, though, that for commercial companies, hosting is a lot cheaper than it was.

      Heck, you can get a kvm virtual server on a 10Gbit internet connection now for $2.50 a month. I remember paying 25X that much for a less powerful dedicated server 15 years ago..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It never used to be about money

        With unlimited data allowance? Wanna bet that's where they get you now? There's no such thing as a free lunch, after all...

  44. Lord_Beavis

    Why doesn't someone

    make a plugin that just loads ads in a separate tab?

    You don't have to look at them, but for all intents and purposes, they report as being loaded.


    1. cyclical

      Re: Why doesn't someone

      They still want to dump cookies all over your computer, and a lot of ads actually require the site to physically be there to load. I guess you could load two tabs, and ad-free and a ad-loaded one, but it seems like something that will be slow and unpleasant in the long run.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Why doesn't someone

      Still saps your data allowance and bandwidth, and for some, one or both are at a premium. Plus, many ads tie themselves well into the article itself, meaning trying to cut out the ads will probably result in getting part of the content cut as well.

  45. anothercynic Silver badge

    The simple reason I use content blockers is...

    ... When I read websites on my mobile, I DO NOT WANT YOUR BLOODY APP! And gambling sites specifically are guilty of forcing a redirect to the mobile OS app store through their ad. That is the worst kind of behaviour, and yes, that consequently means sites like El Reg lose out on ad revenue.

    It's the content producers like El Reg who should police the ads they serve more closely and insist on a ban on ads that force app store redirects when served on mobile platforms.

  46. nickx89

    They wouldn't have done that at first place!

    The answer for Instart Logic is in this statement, "I consider this to be extremely hostile to users, even those not using a content blocker, as it allows third-party servers to read/write cookies even if a user chose to block third-party cookies," Hill explains.

    If the advertisers didn't shove the advertisements to our throats and provided useful and sophisticated adverts then people wouldn't have mind their ads. Showing irrelevant ads on the wrong sites will eventually lead to content block.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm fine with ads on the pages of sites that I get value from. I even whitelisted El Reg. I get the need to pay the bills.

    I'm not fine with sites that throw up a subscribe box the first time I visit, even before I've looked at the site. I'm not fine with ads that pop into other tabs. I'm not fine with ads that pop up while I'm reading an article. And, like the others, I hate autostart video. I'm not a fan of "follow down the page" video either, while we're on the subject.

  48. Alistair

    why do I remember

    ${WEBINSTANCE}/ads/banner and ${WEBINSTANCE}/ads/panel

    and a sequence generator?

    About the only issue was making sure that the feed could scp the images in and that the old crap got deleted on a monthly basis.

    I'd go back to that - it didn't popunder, popover, new_window or any of that chite. Mind you every once in a while they'd get the image sizes wrong and the ad's would look .... bizarre.

    I suppose that's just showing my age.....

  49. TheElder


    When visiting The Reg I will occasionally turn off my blockers so they will earn a penny or two from my visit. Otherwise it stays blocked everywhere for the most part.

    I have a few items in hosts just to make sure they stay local. I also own most of windows, especially some super hidden files.

  50. Flakk

    "I don't really get into it. We give the publishers a bunch of options."

    He may not get into it, but I'm sure his bank account does. The duplicity is unseemly.

  51. JaitcH

    The Final Decision Still Lies with the Recipient

    Unwanted advertising that breaks through any defences can be defeated by simply not buying the product / service.

    <ake sure you tell the manufacturer / supplier why you are NOT buying their products.

  52. GnuTzu

    Informed Consent

    There's a law that says that we can't hack protections put in place for media. Remember? the DMCA. So, why do companies get to hack us? Huh? Anyone worked that out yet.

    I have no problem with a site not serving content when ads are blocked. That's their right. So detecting ad blocking isn't a problem for me. But shoving ads down our throats... come on! Why don't marketers understand the animosity and hate that wells up when abusive advertising practices are in place. Do companies really think it's a good idea to create a population that will go around saying how disgusting they are?

    Ultimately, this comes down to the rules of a deal. Both parties must consent to what is exchanged. If I make it clear that I don't want to be tracked and don't want advertising, then don't serve me content if you don't like my terms. That's the way exchanges are supposed to work. If we don't agree, then no deal. But, hacking a way to ram garbage down our throat against our consent is not in the spirit of the free market.

    Companies that buy these abusive services need to wake up. They aren't really getting anything that serves them. And, if we cannot make these services illegal, then we need to repeal the DMCA. Hacking past what someone consents to is not a fair and just deal.

  53. missingegg

    Advertising is malware

    In my view, everyone should avoid all ads, because all ads present a security problem. Online ads certainly have the potential to have an embedded browser exploit, but even offline ads are still usually malware. Advertising takes heavy advantage of psychological research on the flaws in human decision making, and a large proportion of all advertising is attempting to bypass the viewer's rational processes and influence them to make a decision that is not well considered.

    I understand that many businesses depend on advertising for their revenue. But I don't see why I should subject myself to adverting because of that. My desire to avoid attempts to hack my brain overwhelms any concern I have for the economic viability of a business.

  54. Jonathan 27

    This is exactly the sort of thing that increases the uptake in ad blocking technologies. The more intrusive the advertising methods, the more people block. This is a circular problem and advertisers are just making it worse. Blocking ads is much more simple than blocking ad blockers, so I'm guessing that ad supported publications are going away, unless they can come up with another business model or convince their readers not to block their ads.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Not quite. Servers always know if something gets sent or not. They can inspect the network. They're also gatekeepers of the content: serving ONLY by their leave. Combine them and you realize they possess ultimate say. All they have to do is deny access unless and until the ads are served. And if their content happens to be exclusive...

  55. Anonymous Coward

    "we just want to protect our IP."

    ... or your IP is evil, and it deserves no copyright protection, and your bottom line depends on nobody realizing it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "we just want to protect our IP."

      Evil is relative.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "we just want to protect our IP."

        "Evil is relative."

        So you've met my mother-in-law?

  56. Dave Foster

    I don't mind a few discrete adverts on websites I visit. What I do dislike are banners flashing away making it hard to see the main page. Even worst when they are something I have no interest in.

  57. HKmk23

    Would it be illegal

    To use Kickstarter to raise a fund to put a contract out (the terminal type) on these people?

  58. MachDiamond Silver badge


    There are a few media providers that I'd love to read daily, but they are charging the same amount they used to for a tangible copy or have loaded up their pages with so many (low paying) ads that it's just too annoying. I'd be very happy to send off 10 credits/dollars/pounds for a yearly subscription to bypass the spam.

    Several sites I used to enjoy have gone mostly to video reports; each one with a 30 second ad before the minute and a half news bite. I gave up on broadcast TV years ago due to the cost and the number of ads/lower program minutes per hour. The last thing I want is to have 25% of what I'm seeing online to be annoying ads that are irrelevant to me or the same stupid ad over and over.

    Journalism has taken a massive downturn too. Reporters with obvious agendas, poor grammar, and if they are writing, poor spelling and word choice. The poor spelling blows my mind as every computer I have includes full time spell checking. If you know the difference between "dual" and "duel", you likely majored in something other than liberal arts.

    I have to go throw up now.

  59. Unicornpiss

    Personal solution

    If a site makes me turn off my ad blocker to view their content, I will do so and give it a chance. If I then am exposed to intrusive, annoying ads, I will go to their competitor's site and never visit theirs again, even if they have a better product, price, whatever. I would rather have my money and time go to companies that don't think disrespectfully blasting you with unwanted content and inconveniencing you is a splendid business model.

  60. ThaumaTechnician

    Raymond Hill should get the Order of Canada for uBlock Origin

    I wouldn't bother surfing the 'Net if it wasn't for his software.

  61. d3vy

    I dont have a massive problem with online advertising, I know content providers need to make money.

    That said I did last year install a popup blocker, which gets disabled for sites that Im happy wont spam me with crap. The reg is a good example, 3 tech adverts on this page - I can live with that.

    When I open up the local newpapers site and get 15 adverts for "Millionaires in my area wanting to share their secrets" etc thats when I start to get annoyed.

    I dont even particularly mind targeted ads, when they work - If I search amazon for something I dont mind If I get adverts for that thing on other sites for a while.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More naughty anti-adblocker tricks

    DMCA takedown request to remove filter from EasyList:

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: More naughty anti-adblocker tricks

      I'd have thought that was an easy one to fight. The list itself is copyright by the owners of the list, even though the list contents are privately owned domain names. It's basically a phone book. How that phone book then gets used is not the problem of the phone book maintainers. Rather like the argument used by the creator of the ant-ad-blocking software who is the subject of this article.

      As others have already mentioned, the DMCA works both ways.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Ad blocking puts publishers out of business and it's going to cost reporters their jobs."

    Good riddance. Internet ads are nothing but noise and vandalism.

    When we pay for our internet access, we only want to obtain the content we specifically choose, not 'suggestions' or clickbait ads churned out by algorithms.

    This is even more pertinent on mobile internet data, when you only have a limited amount of gigabytes per month. Ads eat up a chunk of that precious data.

    Fun experiment: try launching an incognito (private browsing) browser tab, where all the installed ad blocking plugins are disabled by default. Some websites, blogs and web portals become totally unreadable. And if you're unfortunate enough to be on a machine with paltry specs e.g. 1Gb RAM, opening a few tabs causes everything to grind to a halt.

    And watching some Youtube videos become very annoying. Some of them are just overflowing with ads... watch 5 minutes, see an ad video clip, watch another 5 minutes, another ad video clip plays.

    The publishers and businesses which have made a living out of plastering and injecting ads into everything should shrivel up and die. The sooner the better. Nothing of significance will be lost.

    Yes and that includes Google.

  64. Spamfast


    I use Firefox with NoScript, CookieCuller & Adblock Plus on my own computers. At work I'm forced to use IE or Chrome without such filters and I'm constantly aghast at the time web pages take to load because of all the extra fetches and the crap distractions all around the content once they do.

    I've posted before about the pointlessness of trying to circumvert ad-blockers. If someone has chosen to block adverts then either live with it or just block them completely and let them go elsewhere.

    1. Compression Artifact

      Re: Bandwidth

      "At work I'm forced to use IE or Chrome without such filters and I'm constantly aghast at the time web pages take to load because of all the extra fetches and the crap distractions all around the content once they do."

      At a place where I used to work, I think I was the only employee who blocked active content. At one point in time, management got concerned about the machines employees were using picking up spyware and they tested all the machines in the building with Lavasoft. When they got around to my machine, the technician said it was the first one that tested clean.

  65. Smitty

    Feels a wee bit illegal

    Is this even legal? If you attempt to block something happening on your computer and a website goes out of its way to bypass your blocks, then that feels just a little bit illegal.

    If the website detects you have ad-blockers or the like they should either refuse to serve the content until you agree to accept ads.... Or maybe the industry could finally figure out a simple way of implementing some sort of working micro-payments system and make things simper for everyone.

  66. stylistics

    I'm happy for sites to serve adverts, as long as they are unobtrustive, don't use use annoying popups and have a reasonable data storage/deletion policy.

    Oh - and so long as the adserving networks accept liability for any malware pushed through their networks.

  67. Craig 31

    Ads! What a pain...

    The fact of the matter is that internet traffic has increased by 60-70% due to adverts so if I want to block adverts then yes, I will, and I will find any means necessary to block adverts even if it mean s blocking the cdn websites because ADS ARE A FKN PAIN. If you want me to browse the internet and watch your ads then start paying me otherwise I'll block them.

    Your using my bandwidth slowing down my browsing and if you don't like me blocking your ads the STFU.

  68. Gary Bickford

    We need a micropayment system

    The original hypertext 'xanadu' system proposed by Ted Nelson included several features that would have made a lot of sense - transclusion and micropayments being two of the most useful.

    I am not going to subscribe to 50 different publishers and pay each of them an annual or monthly subscription rate. This would cost $1000s per year. But I'm willing to pay the same amount they presently get through advertising via an anonymized service that worked with all or most publishers.

    There are two long-standing models of this - YouTube used to be more or less, and maybe is going that way with their premium service - but are they still tracking? And ASCAP and BMI music services have worked with radio stations and others to automatically pay musicians and composers standard rates for songs played. This is not a complicated issue.

    If I could subscribe to an general inclusive subscription service, for perhaps $10/month up to maybe $50/month, bumping up a dollar at a time depending on how much reading I want to do, that simply paid publishers for articles that I read (_not_ just clicked on by accident), and eliminated all the tracking by all the publishers that joined the service and just gave ad-free content, I would totally subscribe to that.

    I'd like to know what the average revenue publishers receive on one page view, based on clickthroughs and whatever else. It can't be that much.

  69. theGhostPony

    One flaw with Instart...

    If an ad makes it through? I will NEVER purchase that product. PERIOD. End of story. I block to keep my machines clean and preserve my limited bandwidth.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One flaw with Instart...

      "If an ad makes it through? I will NEVER purchase that product. PERIOD. End of story."

      And if it's the ONLY supplier of something? Or ALL the suppliers of something show ads that get through? Does that mean you'll never buy that thing again even if it means your life?

  70. Marshalltown


    I've always wondered - but never very much - why not simply redirect ad content to \dev\null. Don't let the server know the ad is blocked. Just lie. I don't mind the well behaved ads, but any that asks for a new window, new tab in front, autoplay video or audio, "sure, you can have anything you want. Right this way."

    1. Unicornpiss

      Re: \dev\null

      An old favorite app called "Proxomotron" used to do that. It's still around, and still works, though it's now a bit dated. Unfortunately the developer of this great freeware app passed away some years ago so it's not being updated and is unlikely to ever be, and web specs and ad purveyors have moved on, so the app doesn't work as well as it used to. Still, it's out there, it's very configurable, can run on Linux under Wine, and you can write your own filters. And choose between multiple proxies with it. So still worth a look.

  71. BreeBree

    In a phone interview with The Register, Peter Blum, VP product management at Instart Logic, said there's a battle going on between "quality publishers like The Register" and people who block ads.

    Its not Usually the QUALITY publishers.. but its the hundreds of others that push things that

    ONE: I don't care about

    TWO: are Obnoxious

    THREE: Take up so much screen its just a pain


    FOUR: take up loading time with dozens of ads and scripts

    so the more I can block the better.. I do white list some sites as they earned my gratitude for publishing good content.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "can detect wireshark and char..." WAITAMINUTE what?

    I don't see how it's technically feasible to detect if wireshark is running through JS served on a website.

    I've been running all sorts of possible scenarios in my head and I can't see any way a website would be able to detect client side software running outside the browser that is passively collecting information going back and forth on the network layer without altering it in any way.

    Part of me thinks someone conflated detecting localhost proxies and wireshark, but part of me hopes someone found a way to do this, I'd be really curious to see how it's done and take a peek at the code.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: "can detect wireshark and char..." WAITAMINUTE what?

      It's probably sensing local proxies, yeah.


  73. Bad Frank

    I could deal with the off to the side ads. It's the ones that are like POW!!!, in your face, blocking relevant site data that are garbage. Personally, if you annoy me with your ad and I remember it, you lost me as a voluntary customer. At that point I'll only use your product or service if I have to.

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