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Friday, July 14th, 2006, 7:59 am

Blocking Ads – An Example for Digg.com

I already addressed ad blocking controversies several times in the past, the context being slightly different each time, e.g.:

With blocking often comes some guilt, as it is resistance to the developer’s intent (much like modification of source code). But to me, the bottom line has always been that I am never (or rarely) interested in the content of the ads, all of which are promotional and often urge the visitor to expend money (if not merely get exposed to and absorb some brand name). Thus, any click that I am ever likely to make would probably verge the line of click fraud (assuming pay-per-click programs) and this revenue money goes towards many sides. It will most likely pay off authorities through taxation, the advertiser (or mediator, e.g. Google, Yahoo/Overture), and the Webmaster. So, everybody is essentially gaining at the expense of the client of these ads. If you are not genuinely interested in ads, never follow the link. It is probably as unethical (if not more) than the exclusion of ads altogether.

Digg.com is no exception to all of this. It recently seems to have adopted Google ads that are rather stubborn in the sense that most plug-ins or rules cannot hide them well away from sight. When Digg version 3 launched (only a few weeks ago) it took only minutes for me to get irritated by the waste of space at the top — that which is assigned purely for contextual ads from Google. None of my 3 blocking mechanisms in Mozilla Firefox was enough to wipe it off the page, much to my misfortune as I use Digg very heavily and my Web browser is small in terms of its height dimensions (due to kpager at the bottom of the screen). Either way, there was a simple way to suppress those ads, merely by excluding the div in question. This can be done using a simple selector in Firefox, which makes that top banner ad disappear, never to be thought of again.

Find your chrome directory under your main installation:

  • /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/chrome in Mac OS X
  • C:Program FilesMozilla Firefoxhrome in Windows
  • firefox/hrome in your Linux local installation directory

You might also find it convenient to do this on a per-user basis, by locating your chrome settings under individual profiles, e.g. ~/.mozilla/firefox/1ixj9tdk.default/chrome on my SuSE Linux box.

Edit (if already existent) or create a file named userContent.css and add the following selector:

*[src*="banner_ads"] , div[id="top_ad"] { display: none !important;}

This was inspired by Firefox AdBlock, which is far more comprehensive, but appears to be no longer available (it older URI is now broken). You can always append new rules by looking at the source code of pages and add selectors for exclusions, even using simple wildcards.

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