So, what browser are you using today? Internet Explorer? FireFox? Opera? Maybe Safari or Konqueror? Even Lynx? No matter what you use, if you’re reading this then you can obviously view my site. This is because I don’t block anyone from using my site… I allow all visitors from all countries and using all browsers. I’m nice like that.
There are, however, some people who have suddenly stopped allowing people using the FireFox browser from accessing their websites. FireFox certainly isn’t the most popular browser, but it’s gaining a larger and larger portion of marketshare every year over the top dog Internet Explorer. FireFox is what I use, and also what I recommend to all of my friends and anyone who happens to ask. I just like it better, it seems to be a bit faster and easier to configure for my needs. The plugins are cool, and it’s just a way for my in my little tiny life to stick it to Microsoft… the big bad computer company. Just a little bit.
So why would any webmaster choose to ban FireFox users from their website? Why would you want to ban anyone at all for that matter? It’s all because of a little FireFox plug-in called AdBlock. With AdBlock running, FireFox users don’t see any advertisements when they surf the ‘net. How cool is that? No more ads! But wait, if you can’t see the ads then you can’t click them, and if you can’t click them then the webmaster of that site can’t make any advertising revenue, and if he can’t make any advertising revenue he doesn’t make any money, and if he doesn’t make any money he can’t offer the content on his site to everyone for free anymore… can he? Hence, FireFox users are universally blocked from these sites.
I think it’s pretty dumb, myself. I mean… to block an entire browser simply because a portion of the population using it also blocks your ads is pretty severe.
It raises many interesting points, and not a few hackles, however, when you start discussing the AdBlocking behavior as it pertains to the web as a whole, and stop worrying about FireFox. After all, every browser is capable of disabling advertisements like that with the right tweaks. So that brings up the question… does a user have the ‘right’ to block advertisements from a website? Does the website then have the ‘right’ to block those users from viewing it? Who should have control over the content that is shown on a user’s computer, the user or the webmaster?
Those questions are pretty black and white, and this issue really deals more in shades of gray. For example, and these are my opinions as a webmaster and websurfer who both uses ads for revenue and feels they are a necessary evil, I think that the end user has every right to block whatever they wish. The webmaster or site owner, on the other hand, should have every right to block whomever they wish for whatever reason. The fact is that this site, the very site you’re viewing this post on (duskrider.com I hope… else my copyright has been violated), is fully owned and operated by me. I paid for the domain name, I pay for the server it’s hosted on, I wrote all the code, I used my own time to write this article, and I even pay for the very bandwidth you use to view this page… every time you view another page it costs me fractions of a cent. This money comes from my own pocket. I work at a job, and the paycheck I get allows me to fund this site (and many other things of course). I could use that money to do lots of other things, but instead I put it here because I want to and I enjoy it. The ads on this site are to help me pay for it… so I don’t need to use my own money, I can use the money from the advertisers. Is it really to much to ask that you at least have the capability of viewing the ads? I mean really… what I provide is free to you… you pay nothing. How much of an insult is to to me to block the few ads that I use to try to break even each month?
I’m not asking you to look at them. I’m not asking you to click them. I merely asking for the opportunity to allow you to view them if you wish.
Now, if I found out that you blocked the ads and are still reading this content that I put out there for free, would it really be so harsh of me to deny you this content? If you don’t want to see the ads, thats fine, but you also don’t get to see my images. You don’t get to read this article. You don’t get to view my site. That’s the deal. You pay for the privilege (and it is a privilege like it or not. I don’t have to do this) by allowing me to show you a few advertisements.
I obviously don’t do this… anyone can view my stuff regardless of if they see the ads or not, but were I to change this policy would that make me a imperialistic monster out to deny the users of the web their freedoms? No. I would merely be protecting my content.
Lots of people try to justify the blocking of advertisements by saying it’s just like going to the bathroom during a commercial break on TV or flipping past the ads in a magazine. This logic makes me laugh, just a little. Perhaps if you were to go to the bathroom on EVERY commercial break in every show you watched it might relate. Maybe if you blindfolded yourself and cut all the advertisements out of a magazine before you started reading the thing it might relate. The point is that if you’re running AdBlocking software (at least if you run it the way most people run it) I don’t even get the slightest opportunity to make back some of the money I lost because you visited my site. You never even see an ad. You see a big gaping hole somewhere on my page where the ad was supposed to be. I won’t even get into the implications of viewing my content in a manner which it was not intended to be viewed. That’s a whole separate kettle of fish my friends.
The bottom line is that, like it or not, I have the right to do whatever I want with my website. I can block anyone I like, for any reason, from anywhere… that’s the beautiful part of being a webmaster on the world wide web. I have total control over my server. If I want to block you because you don’t want to view my ads… then I can. On the other hand, you have right to block the content, no matter what I think. Just know that when you block my ads, you might just be taking a few cents out of my pocket. If you don’t care, then so be it, but don’t be surprised when sites that are currently free and ad supported start asking you for membership fees.