On Advertising

I’m a cheapskate. Everyone will tell you. And, as well, I’ve never been organised enough or committed enough to make any kind of living — or even just a modest supplementary income — from Internet Content Creation. Or indeed any kind of creative occupation at all. I just don’t come to it regularly enough.

Which means I’m not in a position to spend a lot of money doing bloggy things or Internetty things: I spend altogether too much time playing spaceship games and shouting at my shitty unreliable Internet connection (thanks, Vodafone!) to spend time doing anything actually constructive online — much less creative.

All of which amounts to my excuse for why this blog is probably covered in adverts when you read it, dear reader. I spend enough just maintaining a domain that I do nothing of any worth with, and I can’t afford an ad-free plan as well.

This, then, is my sort-of disclaimer. I really have no practical choice but to allow ads to run on this site. It’s how WordPress make money for letting me use the thing for free. I don’t like ads. But I acknowledge that they are a fundamental part of the Internet economy: they’re just how things work. And I recognise the quid-pro-quo (not THAT quid-pro-quo 🇺🇦) involved: I get free stuff because I collaborate in pushing advertising on you, my dear reader, whom I would far rather let have an ad-free experience.

I hope and trust — because I read other people’s WP blogs and generally haven’t had too many issues — that WP advertising isn’t all that intrusive. When I view the site logged out, it generally doesn’t seem too bad to me, but your kilometrage** may vary. I also hope any ads you see aren’t offensive to you. I wouldn’t personally choose to have this advertising anything inconsistent with the content, like ‘adult’ material (i.e. stuff about sex), or especially anything I’d consider unambiguously immoral*, such as gambling, weaponry, insurance, or anything to do with Taboola. But I get no say over what WordPress themselves push through the ad spaces on here.

I don’t know how WordPress selects what to show you, and I also don’t know whether WordPress (again, not me) employs tracking software to try to “tailor” what it does show you to the person the Great Algorithm decides you’re supposed to be.

In general, if ads are bugging you, I’d strongly recommend going to your browser’s Extensions store and finding an add-on called uBlock Origin. I can’t link directly to it because it’s in different places for different browsers — but here’s the Wikipedia page about it.

Install uBlock Origin (note there are a couple of different variants with similar names, so double-check: these are what are called ‘forks’ of an original project they all have in common. I’m not aware any of them are likely to cause problems but they might work differently) and you have a pretty comprehensive filter to block known advertising feeds and so on — and if you switch it to advanced mode you have broad control over requests the site you’re visiting is making to other domains. So, among other things, you can start to break the total surveillance of the likes of Facebook and Google — although you should be aware that blocking these cross-site requests can make the site you’re visiting not work properly or at all; and an increasing number of sites are starting to get into showing you pissy little snarkograms if they pick up that you’re using an ad blocker.

Still, I wouldn’t go online without it even so.


(* Important distinction I feel I should make: the immorality I so judgementally refer to is not with the people who buy or use these products or services. It isn’t even necessarily with the people selling or providing them. It’s with the exploitative nature of the product or service. Except for Taboola. Taboola is loathsome from top to bottom and can get right to frak with my sneering compliments.)

(** Because frak you, Jacob Rees-Mogg.)