27 March 2015


You go to one of your favorite blogs or news sites and suddenly your browser becomes slow and only jerkily responsive as three or four tiny video ads scattered around the page buffer themselves and start autoplaying.  You start reading the text and suddenly it jerks to one side as an ad shoves in from the margin.  You read to the bottom of the screen and another ad rises up or scrolls across to cover up what you're looking at, and you have to stop what you're doing to find the X to click on to get rid of it.  One of the tiny video ads finishes buffering and starts playing, an annoying, attention-grabbing distraction, so you click the pause button on it and eventually it stops, but a pop-up ad opens in a new window and you have to stop and close it.

I understand that some people want to try to make money from their websites, but this has gotten completely insane.  I don't know how many times I started reading something that looked interesting but gave up because the barrage of various kinds of ads was simply too aggravating and distracting.

Notable offenders are those bottom-of-the-barrel news sites that have a bunch of links at the end of each post like "10 foods you should never eat" or "7 celebrities you didn't know were part Jewish" (the topics are usually stuff like that, which gives you an idea of the target audience).  Ever click on one of those?  Each one of the 7 or 10 or whatever items is on its own mini-page, requiring you to click "next" to get from one to another, and each mini-page is festooned with ads -- if you actually make it through all the items, waiting each time for all the flashy, jerky things to download, you'll have been subjected to enough ads to last you a lifetime.

YouTube is another big offender here.  Pretty much every video with a lot of views now has a video ad that comes on at the beginning.  The longer ones have a "skip ad" button you can click after the first five seconds, but the shorter ones don't.  Then the inevitable rectangular ad pops up at the bottom, covering a good chunk of the action (especially annoying if it's a video with subtitles), and by the time you've found the X to get rid of it, one of those stupid "annotations" appears, so you have to click the gear symbol to bring up the "annotations off" button, which then shifts out of the way when you're about to click on it.  By the time you've gotten rid of all this crap, you've missed a good 30 seconds of the video and have to drag the progress button at the bottom back to the start to re-watch it.  Some longer videos even have ads in the middle now, interrupting them like TV commercials (this one does, for example, and it was not there when I originally posted it).  If you watch a video embedded on a blog, the beginning video ads usually don't appear (though the other stuff does), but I've seen even a few embedded videos that had them.

The ignorance of psychology here is amazing.  I never pay any attention to what an ad is advertising any more; the instant it starts autoplaying or flickering or pops up on the screen, I reflexively just look for whatever I have to do to get rid of it, and that's all.  They are too numerous and too annoying to do anything else.

I've always been resistant to getting anti-ad software like Adblock because I don't trust an algorithm to distinguish reliably between ads and content, and don't want it blocking things that I actually want to see -- how good is it at distinguishing video ads on YouTube from the actual video, for example?  But these days I'm reconsidering.  Do any readers have experience using such software?  How well does it work?

We've beaten back the attack on net neutrality, at least for now, but there's more than one way to tangle up a web.

[The forest view at the top has nothing to do with the post.  I just thought people might like a more soothing image since the post is all about irritants.]


Blogger Ahab said...

I too hate the barrage of ads that are online now. Whenever video ads start spoiling my news-reading experience, I bring up the Task Manager, select Flash Player, and click "End Task". The videos halt, and I can read in peace.

27 March, 2015 04:33  
Blogger PDiddie said...

AdBlockPlus, Java disabled, all self-starting video only on command, and I STILL see too much advertising.

If I'm missing something, then too bad. They did it to themselves.

It makes me pine for the days when I would complain about the forests that died to serve me circulars in my mailbox and newspaper.

27 March, 2015 06:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want peace and quiet use adblock and noscript. Some drawbacks but for quiet uninterrupted reading it is the best possible set of tools. You can enable scripts one by one to allow content to load with a minimum of unwanted distractions. Blissful.

27 March, 2015 06:23  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I just turn the volume off and ignore them as I read what brought me to the link.

I actually get less junk snail mail and more electronic junk ads and emails.


27 March, 2015 09:01  
Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

Put me down as another one who's getting annoyed by ever-more intrusive online ads (the ones on television are bad enough!). Like you, I hate those inane ones promising to tell you which 10 foods you should never eat or whatever (or, even better, promising to tell you about that "one weird trick" that'll enable you to do X, Y or Z - from what I've heard, those ones are invariably scams); I've even gotten sick of the pictures that accompany many of those (since I've been forced to look at them so goddamned often!). One thing that's resulted in added aggravation for me wrt online ads is the fact that I can't get Flash Player to work properly on my computer (no matter how many times I try and update the bloody thing, I still get messages saying I need to do so - I pretty much just ignore them now). While this has the upside of preventing auto-play videos from running for me, I found that if I went on any site using an ad service called AnyClip (which apparently a lot of people hate), I couldn't click on any of the links - they all seemed to be disabled while the stupid ad video was (futilely) trying to start.

As you pointed out, YouTube ads are becoming an increasing nuisance, particularly when you can't skip them. What makes them worse for me is that whereas the actual video will usually run smoothly for me (once I get the stupid Flash Player working, at any rate!), the ad that precedes it will keep stopping to buffer every few seconds, so the wretched thing (which I usually never wanted to see in the first place) ends up taking twice as long to play as it should! Grrr!

27 March, 2015 10:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ahab: Yes, I suppose that would take care of that particular species of the damn things.

PDiddie: Dang, that's bad if they can get through all those defenses. And actually I still get plenty of paper junk mail in my physical mailbox, even now.

Anon: That sounds encouraging, though I'm a bit hesitant since I have no idea what "enable scripts" means. I don't know much about the technical side of computer stuff. I shouldn't need to be a mechanic to drive a car.

Shaw: The noise, at least, never bothers me. For anything audio on the net, I use headphones so the noise doesn't disturb the neighbors, so for unwanted noises I just take the headphones off. It's the visual distraction and slowed-down browser that annoy.

Zosimus: Maybe your Flash updates aren't installing properly? Some updates can be a bit tricky.

YouTube is getting so annoying I often try to find alternatives when I want to post a video, but unfortunately no other service seems to have as much range of content. It's too bad more people don't use Vimeo, since the general quality seems to be better and it's not infested with ads. It's also a way around YouTube's censorship, as in this case.

28 March, 2015 07:04  
Anonymous NickM said...

Infidel you said it so I din't have to.

The ads are irritating and pointless. They are only done because they are cheap.

28 March, 2015 09:50  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nick: I imagine they don't bring in much money to a blogger, either. People are pissing away their sites' appeal for not much in return.

29 March, 2015 15:22  
Blogger Unknown said...

I used to have same gripes, ┬ÁBlock Origin works for me /good enough/.

05 January, 2016 14:46  

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