Monday, September 28, 2015

To Block or Not to Block?

I love adblock for Chrome Browser. It sits in my extensions bar, quietly removing the noisy, irritating, or distracting ads from the sites I visit. But is that always a good thing? Is it even ethical?

About four years ago, I became a "cord-cutter" and stopped my cable subscription. As a result, I now have a list of great YouTube channels to which I subscribe. It's reduced the amount I pay per month, and improved the quality of what I do spend my time watching.

But those kind people don't do it for free. They're supported by the ads which YouTube places in their videos. And if I want to keep watching these shows without having to pay for them, then shouldn't I have to watch the ads that pay for the content creators to be able to do this full-time?

This is why I've disabled adblock from running on many of the sites I visit regularly. Not just YouTube, but other sites like Instructables or other community sites that rely on advertising revenue to pay for things like server costs, or as the main revenue stream for YouTubers. Sure, I don't really like the ads, but they play an important role in the new economy of media creation and sharing.

And for the shows I really like? I'll actually click the ads. Even if I'm not interested in what's being sold, I'll click once in a while, just to boost the revenue that the creators receive.

It seems fair to me, especially since I can contribute to their income without incurring any cost to myself. So consider disabling adblock on the sites you visit most often that are ad-supported. Or just let an ad play all the way through (pro tip: if you're really annoyed by ads, just do something else while it plays. Coffee, anyone?). I'm sure they'll appreciate it, and it's a small gesture that can help ensure great content stays free to us.