Is Firefox with Adblock Illegal, Unethical, or just plain Communism?
Before you read on, spend a minute to take a look at this site using Firefox.
I’ll wait till you get back…
Okay, so the basic theory is that Firefox (and Mozilla Foundation and its Commercial arm, the Mozilla Corporation) allows and endorses an extension named Adblock. Adblock allows users to block ads (or other content) while surfing the web. According to the creators of that site, this is wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
It is “no less than stealing,” and a by some astute legal analysis, Firefox is a “Contributory Infringer.” Yes, you heard me: Firefox (with Adblock) is a grave threat to capitalism itself. In fact, FIREFOX === COMMUNISM.
There are a number flaws with this argument. What if you don’t use Firefox or Adblock, but you have banner blindness and never even notice the ads? What if you still use Lynx, which doesn’t even render the ads? What if you are Googlebot, and all you care about is indexing test and following up links?
Everyone wants to get paid for their work. We have Adsense ads on our blog here, though so far they’re just enough to pay the bills. But arguments like this one display a fundamental ignorance of what the internet is and how it works.
I’m not using the phrase “fundamental ignorance” as an insult – in fact, many intelligent, wealthy people are in the same camp. They are people in traditional publishing companies, phone companies, etc. who think the Internet should work the same way they’ve done business all their lives. But it doesn’t, and not by accident. The reason the Internet and the Web are so successful is that anyone can create content, anyone can create services, and anyone can create and manipulate user agents to do whatever they want with all that content and those services.
Now, the folks at Why FireFox Is Bocked are of course within their rights to block users who use Firefox . I would caution them not to, since search engines tend to penalize sites that serve different content to a spider than they do to a web browser, but it’s their pagerank. And I doubt anyone would even use Adblock if sites didn’t use misguided flashing, moving, text-blocking ads.
But I’m sick of people trying to use the Web to make money, and then complaining about fundamental properties of the Web that make it such and incredible medium. If you want to put stuff online and have complete control, then go back to 1993 and put it on AOL.Written by Jason
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