Us vs the internet

Ad-blocker blocker
Ad-blocker blocker

Yesterday on Time Goes By, I read how many internet users get frustrated by all the online annoyances when they are trying to browse or read — pop-up ads, regular ads, autoplay videos with their unwanted sounds, jittery GIFs, cluttered sidebars, etc.

There are a lot of ways to minimize these distractions. I’ve written before about getting around pay walls — the limit on how many articles per month you can read for free (“Readability and those pesky pay walls”). But when I looked back at that post yesterday, I noticed one thing had changed. The website that I recommended had been taken down late last year. However, there are other, similar options. If you use Chrome for browsing, as the majority of people do, there’s an extension called Mercury Reader. Use it to read articles without any of the annoying pop-ups, sidebars, suggested articles, etc. The clean interface is particularly nice on long reads typical of The Atlantic and other sites. Mercury Reader only works on Chrome, however. There are similar options for other browsers.

Pop-up blockers like AdBlock suppress many but not all pop-ups. And websites are developing ways around them, now popping up anti-ad blocker pop-ups that don’t let you read the website or story unless and until you turn off your ad blocker. Those are particularly annoying and unless I’m a real fan of that website, I just move on. They’re gambling that you’ll turn off your ad blocker rather than angrily leave and never return (as I’ve done several times). Not sure it’s a gamble I’d take if I depended on views for my income.

As for the annoying, unexpected sounds from ads and autoplay videos, I just turn off my computer’s sound. The problem is that if I forget to turn it back on, I’ll later miss various notifications I want to hear. Chrome now has another way to deal with this. If a page starts playing a sound, a small speaker icon will appear on its tab at the top of your browser. Just click the icon to silence the offender. Saves looking all over the page to find where the sound is coming from. Or suppose you have half a dozen tabs open and a sound suddenly starts playing. From which page? Just scan the tabs and click the icon.

It’s an ongoing war. But remember, as annoying all those ads may be, they are necessary to fund the internet content you enjoy. The internet is my link to the world, my news source, entertainment, companion, encyclopedia, continuing education, communication device, etc., etc. On Time Goes By, Ronni Bennett asked, “Is the internet worth it anymore?” Abso-damn-lutely!

14 thoughts on “Us vs the internet

  1. I agree that all the pop-ups and unwanted noises are annoying and the services that help to get rid of them are useful. The notices that alert the reader of a limited number of “free” articles don’t bother me at all, though. I think we need to support good journalism and it ain’t cheap. I am very willing to pay for an online subscription for a quality publication like the New York Times, for instance.

    1. I’m all for supporting good journalism, and NYT would be near the top of my list. However, I read many different publications and can’t afford to subscribe to all of them. NYT, in fact, has one of the pop-ups that annoys me the most. It tells me I’m almost out of free articles, and when I try to click the x to close it, it moves up and down, making it difficult to hit the x. It’s the only place I’ve encountered this “moving target” strategy and I think it’s a pretty cheesey move for an institution like the Times. Especially when they’re just going to cut me off anyway.

  2. I don’t like the ads, but I don’t block them. I do look for value. If the sites has a reasonable number of ads and still get to read my content, fine I go along. If I have to click for a new page after each sentence, I am gone. If they start sound or videos, I leave. Sites with pay walls don’t my views, unless they have very, very, very good content.

  3. Thank you–it’s really startling and annoying when the sound goes off and I can’t find which page, and usually it’s loud if my dad had to go watch some video first (going deaf). Freaks me out and I’ve spilled coffee on myself because of it once–made me want to break my computer for good.

  4. then there are the sites that turn the sound on – and it goes right over the program I am already listening to – I just dump those sites – and many have so much garbage on them even with a high speed line they are slow loading – and one puts the annoying video in the sidebar if you dare read the article and not watch the video – tons of wasted bandwidth – the ads are the price for getting a site – but when there are more ads than content I draw the line

    1. Yeah, I hate that moving-the-video-to-the-sidebar-so-it-follows-you-down-the-page thing. There’s just no end to their sneaky ideas. I wonder if they lose more readers than they keep when they do stuff like that. Plain, static ads in the sidebar that don’t move or speak are fine; anything else usually drives me away.

  5. In “the old days” ads were relatively easy to ignore, and thus less obnoxious. Now, many of them actively throw obstacles in the path of reading content. It’s those that I try hard to avoid.

... and that's my two cents