Mike Ormond's Blog

Musings on mobile development and Windows Phone 7 in particular.

The Perils of Blocking Online Ads

The Perils of Blocking Online Ads

  • Comments 3

In a fit of frustration the other day, having waited an eternity for some online ad on some now-forgotten site to load, I decided to revisit ad-blocking, something I haven’t done in a long time. Previously I’d used the technique of blocking ads via the HOSTS file using the technique (and HOSTS file) from http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm.

No reason not to start here again. And with a bit of help from Fiddler I was able to identify a couple of annoying domains and simply add them to the hosts file. The main reason I like this solution is I don’t have to install *anything* and it’s easy to modify / disable.

All was well until a week or so later I was trying to upload a pptx to Slideshare. When I pressed the Upload button nothing happened. The form wasn’t being posted. Weird. I tried the single file upload. Didn’t work either. I loaded up Firefox and tried it in that. Nope. I cursed Slideshare a lot. I tried their email upload facility (that never seems to work for me and didn’t this time). Nothing worked so I do what I always do and asked MikeT to try for me. Of course it worked for him. By now I’d wasted a few hours messing around with this…

Then I had the eureka moment. I realised it might relate to my ad-block changes. I reverted to the old HOSTS file and sure enough, Slideshare was happy. Then a similar thing happened with Digg. I was getting the page but not as expected. Instead of this:

Digg1

I was getting this

Digg2

A bit of ferreting around with Fiddler and I discovered that my new HOSTS file was blocking cotnet.diggstatic.com which happens to be the domain from which Digg serves its stylesheets. Comment that out in HOSTS and we’re good to go.

I don’t know if I’ll stick with the ad-blocking or not. It has pros and cons. I do feel I’m missing out in some small way. On the other hand I now know where the first place to look is when something stops behaving as it should do.

  • Online Ads, I have also expressed opposition to, thank you for talking about this approach.

  • Online Ads, I have also expressed opposition to, thank you for talking about this approach.

  • Just like 90% of the planet, on-line ads really annoy me. Especially the flashing ones that keep drawing your eye away from what you want to read, but I don't think any of us should be blocking them.

    Lot of sites rely on advertising to provide a free service - without that we'd either have to pay, or they would go out of business. Is it really fair to expect the internet to be free, and for the content providers not to be able to make money in another way?

    I do have a bookmarklet that removes flash content from a page, but I only end up clicking it when the advertising is too distracting – every advertiser gets a chance.

    I can't believe I just defended those annoying flashing ads!

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