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Old 09-03-2007, 08:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
Thanks. I know one can identify (and then block, it seems) a particular flavor of browser. Reading all that, though, I wondered why they cannot block or confuse the plug-in. The article implies that there are actually many flavors — and users can customize the filters — so maybe that is the problem.
If AdBlock doesn't "attach" its signature to the user agent string, then there is no way you can recognize at the server end whether it's there or not. At least not by something as simple as inspecting the user agent string - you'd then have to look at behavior (not loading certain linked content) and that is much harder to detect and automate.

Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
The ethical issues are also interesting. The web site managers feel they are being cheated in a transaction. That is, they let you read their pearls of wisdom or pleasure but require you also to view their ads. Assuming that visitors buy into that agreement — and I do, in a general way — there is still the fact that too many ads create unnecessary problems for visitors.
But right from the start of graphical browsers users have had the choice whether to show images or not. And there are text browsers - a browser isn't required to show images. And for a long time graphical browsers have supported user stylesheets. There are aural browsers. Browsers allow to store a local copy as text only, without any embedded content.

The idea that a page with its embedded ads forms a copyrighted design that must not be changed and must be rendered exactly as intended just doesn't fly - it's always been up to the user what to retrieve and what to show, and how; copyright actually allows you do do with your own copy what you like as long it's for personal use. That's true for newspapers and books and magazines (where the double-page ads are the most expensive - yet they are the easiest to skip!), etc., and it's equally true for web pages. And surely users have a right to decide where to download material from to look at, and not to visit (let their browser visit) certain sites - and that includes sites that do nothing but serve ads.

It's not as though AdBlock is anything new (or user stylesheets for that matter). Little software proxies like Proxo have been able to do the same since long before AdBlock. And before even that, users have been able to edit their host files to block certain domains and IP addresses - still a quite effective method to block many ads and otherwise obnoxious material. So why the heck should AdBlock do anything special to make itself recognizable? None of the other methods of user control do.

So if those "small webmasters" start blocking by behavior, what will you get? They'll also block people on slow connections, or people who are blind and never load images anyway, and all who use text browsers. They're free to do so in general, of course (just as we are free to do what we choose with their content for our personal use) - but they may be getting into legal trouble there themselves since more and more countries legally require websites to be accessible...

Marjolein Katsma
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