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acme (189)

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Leon Brocard (aka acme) is an orange-loving Perl eurohacker with many varied contributions to the Perl community, including the GraphViz module on the CPAN. YAPC::Europe was all his fault. He is still looking for a Perl Monger group he can start which begins with the letter 'D'.

Journal of acme (189)

Monday October 04, 2004
01:58 PM

Firefox + Adblock

[ #21183 ]
If there's one thing that annoys me about the web, it's adverts. You know, those designed-to-be-annoying animated / not so animated graphics and recently blocks of text. Luckily, I am no longer annoyed, for technology from the future has come back in time and provided me with Firefox and Adblock. "Adblock is a content filtering plug-in for the Mozilla and Firebird browsers". Compare and contrast the same page using Safari and Firefox + Adblock.

Notice the lack of the wide banner add, or the ones on the left. Notice no more Google or Sponsored links. Notice that removing these ads allows me to read a whole extra long paragraph of the story with the same browser size.

Adblock has changed the way I access the web. It's really quite like Tivo: it makes it more efficient for me and thus more fun. I don't know how I could live without it now.

Of course, you have to train Adblock. You have to say, hey, this is an ad, no longer show me things from This is relatively easy to do, just right-click on the image, select "Adblock image", edit the regular expression (mmmm, Perly) and see no more ads like that one again.

Oh, I should probably talk about the web developer toolbar at some point too. Anyway, do you have any other adblocking tips?

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  • The Register is why I started on AdBlock in the first place. Whatever ad server they use is diabolically slow. Installing AdBlock made the page load times vastly quicker.


  • I wonder about the legal stuff connected to using Adblock (I really like Adblock, it takes some time to set up but lets me spend my time online much more efficient and much nicer)
    How long will it take before the bigger sites start sueing?

    Apart from that Adblock ofcourse has the posibility to block content from certain sites (it also blocks flash, javascript, iframes) so it could be used as some kind of nanny ;)
  • You don't need to install anything, Opera has a built in filter mode. It doesn't have a GUI interface or support RegEx, but it can take wildcards like AdBlock, and you edit the config file with any text editor you want. See URL Filtering with Opera [] for more details. A quick google should pull up a list of filters that work in both Opera and AdBlock.

    Another option is to tamper with your hosts file, to redirect well know advert servers into a loopback blackhole. That way you can use any browser you want. Se

    -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
  • Banners exist because big sites cannot be hosted and maintained for free. Many sites depend on donations and banner revenue.

    I understand why anyone would block ads that are created to be annoying, like popups and flashy thingies. But Google's text ads are very simple and do not draw attention away from the rest of the page. They even have some useful on-topic links, sometimes.
    • It is true that a site needs money to function, and it has to come from somewhere.

      I'd be curious to know how much smaller sites get from adverts, if it's actually enough to make a real difference? Larger sites, I'm sure, do get enough eye-balls to generate actual revenue from advertising, however there are only a few really big sites out there.

      To me, most adverts are annoying, bandwidth stealing parasites. Google style text ads are not so bad, and they are often vaguely pertinent, but they are often poo

      -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
      • I'd be curious to know how much smaller sites get from adverts, if it's actually enough to make a real difference?

        For example,, which gets around 50 visitors per day, generates US$ 4 per month. This is enough to cover the domain name and hosting. However,, with 150 visitors per day, generates less that US$ 1 per month. This is not at all worth the trouble of even putting the banner there, and does not cover hosting. What does cover hosting of is the banner revenue of

        • Fair enough.

          I see uses Google. Am I correct in thinking that Google only pays the site if there is an actual click-through? If so, me blocking the ad makes no difference, as I never click through on adverts out of principle. I gather some advertisers pay per page impression, where presumably ad blocking is more critical.

          I don't believe that advertising really works anyway. I also think that advertisers are driving people to the adblockers because the adverts are too intrusive, and annoying.

          -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
          • Anyway, one can chose from "Hide ads" or "Remove ads"... I suppose that if you're not clicking on the ads, the "Hide ads" option (which won't make anything faster but will still be better for your eyes) won't make any difference to them...
      • I'd be curious to know how much smaller sites get from adverts, if it's actually enough to make a real difference?

        Speaking as someone who has had considerable experience of online advertising since about 1997 or so, I can say that it can make a huge difference. "Way back in the day" sites with decent traffic were earning around $1,500 - $2,000 USD/month. These days reasonable sites can still earn around $150-$200 USD/month without too much work.

        I find a lot of these ad blocking tools frustrating. I'm n

        • I find all forms of advertising intrusive and annoying. I live in a country where we still have quality public television and radio that is advert free. I find paying for those channels out of "taxation" as a perfectly acceptable alternative to advertising funding. I also prefer to read magazines that are more expensive, but carry less advertising than cheaper ones.

          I NEVER buy anything from a web site advert, so it doesn't make any difference if I block an advert, if the agent pays the site per click-thro

          -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
          • The internet, like it or not, is a gigantic free market. It is unfortunate that you pay by the amount of informatrion you use, that undermines the progress of the internet. However advertising is what pays for any free site that isnt 100% donation based.

            You can choose not to visit sites whose advertising schemes you disagree with, but instead you ruin the system by patronizing those sites and cheating the ads. This will only make things worse as it removes the self regulating function of a free market (m
    • Banners exist because big sites cannot be hosted and maintained for free. Many sites depend on donations and banner revenue.

      Indeed: the site acme screen-shotted needs advert income to pay the salaries of its journalists and techies (including one YAPC Europe attendee Leon has met!).

      Personally it's the flashing and animation that I find distracting and annoying. I've set Firefox only to animate gifs once then stop on the last frame (type about:config in the navigation bar, search for “anim”,

      • You are right. When blocking ads because you think they are annoying, communicate to the site why you do so. Some sites now use confirm() based popups instead of open() based ones to avoid blocking of the popup, and I believe that this is because people have not made clear enough that popups are incredibly annoying.
  • If you want ad blocking with Safari, you can also do this:

    It works with both browsers.

    I personally do not use any of these. I don't mind the ads. But I tested this one and it worked.
    life is short
    • Or for Safari, there's PithHelmet []. If advertisers could stick to stationary images, I probably wouldn't bother blocking them, since I have broadband. But to me, any animation makes it nearly impossible to read the text of the page, and since so many subscribe to the "annoying flashing monkey" theory of marketing, everyone loses.