The Stack Archive

Reddit considers banning sites that block adblockers – and paywalls

Mon 9 May 2016

A recent post from moderators at Reddit announces that the popular aggregation and discussion site is considering banning the linking of URLs to websites which take measures against adblockers, including Forbes and Wired. Additionally it is considering a ban on paywalls, such as those instituted by the Wall Street Journal.

The initial proposal for discussion reads:

‘It has come to our attention that many websites such as Forbes and Wired are now requiring users to disable ad blockers to view content. Because Forbes requires users to do this and has then served malware to them we see this as a security risk to you our community. There are also sites such as Wall Street Journal that have implemented pay-walls which we were are also considering banning…We would like all of your thoughts on whether or not we should allow domains such as Forbes here on /r/technology while they continue to resort to such practices.’

The poster is referring to an incident at the beginning of the year where the Forbes site was demonstrated to be serving malware to viewers, having put impediments in place the previous December that require readers to disable adblockers while viewing the site.

Though the proposed intent is to block adblock-blocking (!) sites only at the /r/technology section, that is really where the value lies for the sites in question – most particularly Wired. Additionally it is reasonable to foresee that the ban would spread elsewhere at Reddit, if it became popular by consensus.

The anti-adblocker vanguard are not only suffering negative publicity in this period, but seem to be reaping no rewards from the stand they are making, although their apparent decline in traffic seems to be a tectonic shift against the traditional ‘one-stop-shop’ media outlet.

Last week Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde announced a new collaboration with Germany-based Adblock Plus, in which a new iteration of the micropayment system Flattr will be launched, disseminated by the AdBlock Plus infrastructure, enabling users to reimburse sites or pages with content that they value – effectively a ‘Like’ that rolls in a tip. However such a scheme, were it to become popular, would threaten to co-opt the current advertising model which underpins Google, and to destabilise the entire ad industry, so opposition and response from the established players seems likely.


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