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Firefox as Theft?

I wrote this back in August 2007 in response to a couple of Slashdot articles (this and this) on the use of ad-blocking extensions to the Firefox Web browser.

This is the original text of my response; The Internet Is Not A Flea Market further expounds on this subject.

— Andy West, 28 January 2011.

This is so foolish:

A website is aiming at blocking Firefox users. This because a fraction of the Firefox users installed an Ad Blocker and are therefor stealing money from website owners that use ads. They recommend using IE, Opera or IE tab. From the site: Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers.

Ignoring the ad hominem arguments of the site owner's redneckitude, there are reasons for the foolishness of his arguments:

The guy's Firefox filter is clumsy and ineffective. I visited the site with Safari on an iMac; it identified the browser as Firefox! That's the kind of crap that alienates millions of Mac OS users from his Web sites — users with more money than the average IE stiff, users who can't use IE because it is no longer available for the Mac.

And then there is the problem of users who are clever enough to configure Firefox (using the User Agent Switcher add-on) to identify itself as IE. The guy could have Firefox users reading his stuff and ignoring his ads and not even know it. But then, someone with IE or Opera can turn off Javascript and read his adless pages.

The point is that there is no law or moral absolute, that states that we are obligated to read and click on the ads on a Web site and that to turn the ads off is theft. Indeed, the Web was never meant for advertising: To try to make it into another form of commercial television is folly.

It is obvious that the guy who wrote up this turning off Web ads is theft argument is deeply ignorant of the nature and purpose of the Web; either that, or the guy is a shill for an advertising agency or consortium which wants to treat the Web in the same way as radio or television, and which is angry that people (esp. intelligent ones, as Firefox users tend to be) can ignore ads on the Web. The guy is in the same state of mind as those who believe that religion, politics and education are all televisible. (They are not: In fact television is the worst form of idolatry: But that is another topic.)

Written by Andy West on 28 January 2011.