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adblock plus sucks

Adblock Plus Sucks

Let us imagine that, for whatever inconceivable reason, you hated WordPress and you wanted to release a software to make browsers block every single WordPress site (maybe because you thought that there might be thousands of people sharing your animosity?).

But how could you implement that? Oh! That´s an easy matter! Let´s just block all the sites that are sending the letters “wp” in their HTML code! Brilliant, uh?

So you go ahead and do that and, supposing you could find anybody out there who is willing to use your piece of crap of a software, your user will never again get anything from The Washington Post either! And I´m not talking about the The Washington Post blogs that run on WordPress, I´m talking anything from TWP, being it on WordPress or not (and I guess from thousands of other “unguilty” sites too).

This is no joke

Well, that little stupid story is just an example of what a browser extension called Adblock Plus is doing to our site.

Adblock Plus is defined as a content-filtering extension for web browsers, where “content-filtering” is just an euphemism to say that the main purpose of this add-on is to disable all the ads from a web page.

Now let me tell you that A and D are the initials of a company I own, so some time ago I decided I would start using the “ad_” prefix for my CSS classes and ids, innocently thinking that I was just using a good coding practice by trying to avoid possible conflicts with any pre-existing classes and ids using similar names.

And then here comes the wonderful Adblock Plus extension! Their code for blocking ads is so “clever” that it will block any CSS class with the letters “ad” included in its name! Really. I learned it here. And over there I also had to read that I am a stupid for using “ad” in the name of a CSS class! What a nerve.

In my case it was a sad coincidence that the name of my company started with “a” and “d”, therefore I was stupid. I guess I should have used my own name´s initials, “la”. But what if instead of Luis Alejandre I happened to be called Alexandre Dumas or Andrew Davis? Then I should have known better. I should have suspected that, for other people, anything which contains the letters “a” and “d” put together and in that order has to necessarily stand for suspicious advertising.

That way of thinking reminds me of an old joke: The father of a student is summoned by the School Principal, who claims that the boy is a pervert. “Look” – he says – “our psychologist tried to examine your son by means of some Rorschach tests, but all he saw in every Rorschach card was an explicit sex scene.” “What did you say you showed to my son?” – the father asks – “Just these test cards” – the principal handles him the cards with the inkblots – “No wonder!” – the father suddenly rages – “YOU are the perverts for showing those dirty pictures to innocent boys!”

Please don´t use Adblock Plus when visiting this site

I realized about all this yesterday, when one of our users spent some time and some emails trying to find out why he was not able to see our site correctly. He was very kind in the first place to send an email through our contact page warning me about his issue and, when I answered him that the site looked ok to me, he sent me a screenshot and didn´t stop until he found what the problem was. Sure enough, Adblock Plus was the culprit. It had been installed in his computer as a recommended option for a new anti-virus and firewall software. By the way, thank you David, I love when anonymous people are so helpful! 🙂

Removing our CSS means that if you try to use this site with Adblock Plus activated, you will get a plain page like this on your screen:

adblock plus sucks no css

Screenshot of our homepage with no CSS courtesy of David Cockroft

You have no ads on your site, but no CSS either because we took it away, sorry boy

Please bear in mind that we did not include any ads at all on that page. So you are left to judge how well this extension is performing its job.

No ads = no CSS?

We are not discussing here whether this kind of extensions are good because they defend the user from “ad attacks” or whether they may lead to the death of many interesting blogs, online tools and other resource sites because they are cutting off their only source of the income needed to maintain them (which is an appealing debate that would certainly be worth another post, by the way).

We are talking here about a lousy job and an obvious lack of imagination when implementing code solutions. And the worst thing about it is that it may damage other people for reasons that have nothing to do with the original purpose of the extension, as it happens in our case (“you have no ads on your site, but no CSS either because we took it away, sorry boy”).

Conclusion

I still don´t know how we are going to handle this issue. For sure we will do some things, and the first step has already been taken by publishing this post. For the time being, we´ll just ask our visitors to please deactivate Adblock Plus if they want to use our free site. I´ll also try to find an effective way to detect if our visitor is using Adblock Plus, so any help about this would be most welcome.

Did you have any bad experience with Adblock Plus too? If so, please share it and tell us about it in the comments.

Luis Alejandre

Luis is the creator of the WPThemeDetector tool and the chief editor of this blog. You can read more about Luis in our About page.
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14 Comments

  1. I use Adblock Plus and I have no problem viewing your site. There aren’t any ads that I see, but the page is formatted just fine. So maybe it’s not Adblock per se but rather what the Adblock user has blocked. Adblock does not suck IMHO because it keeps dumb ads form being shown over and over again. You may think it’s blocking revenue, but if I don’t click on the ad because it doesn’t interest me, you’ve lost revenue because I didn’t have a good choice of ads to begin with that I might have clicked on so I blocked the ad source. You lose revenue because of crappy ads that get blocked taking up space of more interesting ads. Ad distribution is what sucks, not Adblock Plus. Sometimes it’s a little hard to connect the dots.

    • Hi Dave H,

      There aren’t any ads that you see not only because you´re using Adblock Plus: there haven´t been any ads at all on this site so far. So Adblock Plus is not blocking revenues for me, it is blocking my CSS styling for some users, which I don´t think is fair at all and that´s why I say that it sucks.

      Plus, the user who warned me about this issue was not aware of the fact that the software he had installed was going to cause this problems to the site he was trying to use, ads or no ads being present on it, which I don´t think is fair either.

      So I´m still asserting that blocking CSS rules that contain “ad” in its name “just in case” is a very poor way to handle things, even if users are allowed to turn this “great feature” off, because they may not have noticed what it implies and users are not supposed to always be geeks.

      • I use FoolDNS and Host file to block ads and it works fine for me!

  2. Hi Luis,

    I am one if the EasyList authors. EasyList is the deafult filter list for Adblock Plus. Therefore Adblock Plus is not really the culprit here. The title should rather say “EasyList sucks” if at all. 😉

    I have fxed this issue in the filter list. You can force a manual update to check if it works: https://adblockplus.org/en/faq_basics#update-filterlists

    This fix will be distributed to all users automatically. Keep in mind that it can take up to a week until all users get it.

    I have a question though: why didn’t you report his issue in the Adblock Plus forum? It could have been fixed way earlier.

    Best regards,
    MonztA

    • Hi Montza,

      I´m glad and grateful if you really fixed this issue.

      To answer your question, I didn´t even think of reporting it in the Adblock Plus forum after I saw that the forum thread I linked above in my post dated back to August 12, 2011. I didn´t like what I read on that thread and, considering that almost 2 years had gone by and my site was suffering now from something that was reported that time ago, I honestly thought that it would be a waste of time.

      • I thought Gingerbread Man, Till and Michael were very cooperative as opposed to the guy who opened that topic. He didn’t even mention the URL of the site affected. He was simply just trolling.

        If there is anything else concerning Adblock Plus, don’t hesitate to ask in the forum. 😉

        MonztA

  3. I would add that most people who have used AdBlock + for a while know that when a site doesn’t display well you can quickly disable the extension for that page or domain with a couple of clicks.

    For me, and most users, the benefits of screening out ads we don’t want to see far outweighs the hassle of a couple of extra clicks once or twice a month…

  4. Ghostery and ADB make webmasters crazy

  5. Adblock Plus 2.4 has caused quite a few headaches for me when it came to WordPress development. This add-on blocks various CSS elements and I am shocked that it is rated so highly on Firefox add-ons page.

    I won’t be using it ever again. It is simply not worth the grief.

  6. I found it funny how Adblock/easylist admins make money out of donations for this software while we admins are denied of any ad income. Magazines, Journals, TV, Radio, etc, etc Ads are everywhere right? so who the hell gave you the right to decide that you can provide a method to disable the ads on my site, site that i pay to keep online every month.
    So you can make money online but we can’t, who gives you the right to do this? I’ll tell you why you do it. Because you make money out of it. You don’t care about people or the ads, we don’t see you guys muting ads on radio or TV or stripping pages of magazines, there’s no money there.
    Thank God this is internet and for now you can do anything you please but if this get some real laws there will be no place for your software on it.

  7. adblock plus has become a headcahe

  8. adblock is dumb and breaks things. It doesn’t know what ads are and what are not, so it just breaks a huge list of things via regular expressions and hopes that this approach will leave the users with a somewhat functional page.
    Ok (ignoring the stripping away of any chance of revenue) if all you are presenting is some mildly formatted text on a page but if the page has a lot of modern functionality then there is a good chance adblock just broke it. And if, as a developer, the mini-fication of your CSS or JS happens to generate symbols that match this laundry list of regular expressions, well suddenly what used to work might stop working again. Or if adblock pushes an update, something that used to work, might stop working.
    And it does this silently because otherwise it might be bothering the users with every ad it suppresses, so the user doesn’t know WHY things don’t work right. And it creates hard to debug problems for the site administrators who can’t know what crazy extension is installed on a users browser and the description of their problem can be so vague.

    Adblock is the IE6 of the internet.

    And by the way I would also place NOSCRIPT into this category of dumb-ware. Another extension that just barges in and breaks whatever it feels like, leaving the user scratching their head over how to piece together the ruins again. Users might love it, but they’re also wearing tinfoil in their hats.

    Both of them make a pile of money for their creators, and give absolutely nothing to publishers. In their worldview, every site is evil and its content should be either busted up, or free, or both.