This may sound like a slightly mundane or preachy post, but it's also entirely necessary.
It recently came to my attention that one of the most-used internet ad-blocking browser extensions is running a fundraiser (get this) to run a series of internet ads. Now, as if that inherent irony (hypocrisy?) wasn't bad enough, the entire logic in this idea is even worse.
For those who don't already know: Most content on the internet is free for a reason. From your social networking sites to your email and news providers, ads provide a way to provide content to everyone while still allowing the website owners to make a profit. Of course, many websites don't make any profit--such as the millions of dreary blogs that haunt the dark corners of cyberspace--but the big powerhouses need money to survive. Advertising is a win-win situation. Site users get free content at the trade-off of having to see some unwanted content (ads), and the owners get a nice profit, dependent on readership.
Along come the ad-blockers.
Belonging to a generation of "everything should be free", the likes of which thinking that it's their god-given right to copy music and movies until their hard-drives are maxxed out, some individuals think that they are too good to be advertised to. That is, they will accept the free content provided by sites such as this one, but renege on their side of the bargain by blocking the very thing that makes the content free. It's the R0 tip to the waiter, the athlete parking in the disabled bay, the rich guy not paying taxes. And, worst of all, unlike these examples, simply viewing adverts costs nothing! It's the worst of the entitlement attitude.
First rant over. Let's quickly talk economics and, sadly, defend this above group of people somewhat. In any group situation, while it may benefit the overall group if most of the members did a certain thing (say, receive ads with their content), a minority of members would be better off themselves if they were the exception to the rule. That is, though I would want everyone to watch ads, I'd have a better time if I didn't. However, in order for this to work, it has to be the case that I'm in the minority of those doing this. Let's take another example: Society needs people to pay tax. If it didn't, there would be no infrastructure. However, some deviants can get away with not paying tax and still receive the benefits provided by the money of those who pay tax. But, and this is the important bit, if too many people stop paying tax, everyone (deviants and good citizens alike) would be much worse off.
This is why the latest ad campaign for the ad-blocker is incredibly short-sighted. It amounts to those people who are cheating their taxes encouraging others to do so! It's the kid in class who's found a copy of the upcoming exam paper photocopying it for the entire class to use. At what benefit to themselves? I have no idea.
Make no mistake, if a majority of people block ads on the internet, the internet will not simple be a nice, ad-free haven (as this company purports). Instead, you can expect to start paying for content, and to see smaller websites shut down from lack of revenue.
If you like free content, don't block ads.
Sure, they can be a bit annoying. But what's far more annoying is having to directly pay to access a site.
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