web analytics

Eh…stop that.

News junky + interesting times = I’m on the web a *lot* lately. And not in a real good mood. And now is the time — apparently — to try to sell me something by really pissing me off.

Have you noticed that? Online presences cranking up the annoyingness, maximising the intrusiveness and generally imposing on whatever relationship you thought you had with them?

Popovers. Popunders. That thing where an ad opens up at the top of an article, shoving the text down while you’re trying to read it, then closes itself, jerking the text upwards again. That thing where the whole screen goes dark and you think your computer is about to croak, and then a cheery ad appears in the middle of the screen and holds it to ransom.

Audio that auto-plays. Ingeniously hiding that little X that closes the ad window. Getting rid of that little X entirely. Running big, bright, colorful ads down the full length of the page on either margin. Ads disguised as newsletters from places where I have actually signed up for newsletters. Articles that should be a single page broken into twenty-page slideshows (every click is a hit!). Firewalls that are trivially easy to get around, but add an extra unnecessary dollop of ass ache to the reading experience.

Or that thing where there are a bunch of semi-interesting pictures at the bottom of an article linking to stuff on other sites, and you click one and it doesn’t take you to the article, but to a whole nother page with a whole bunch of links, and you find the one you wanted and click it and it doesn’t take you to an article but to a page that freezes while it pretends to download content and now you have four useless windows open and you think, “what just happened to me?” I don’t even click out-links any more.

Web ads have always been annoying, but these extra-specially asshole techniques are all pretty new. I know times are tight and people are desperate to make money, but making me want to burn down your office and piss on the ashes is probably not the best way to get your hand in my pocket.

p.s. That illustration was originally animated, but the animation really got on my tits. You’re welcome.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 27, 2013, 11:20 pm

You probably haven’t seen the ones that REALLY piss me off, though. British public service announcements are the WORST.

It’s always an extreme closeup of a brown baby with a cleft palate, or an emaciated dog being menaced with a hypodermic needle or something else that is ugly or gross or horrible. And sites that have those ads usually have two or three copies of the same one on the same page.

The current one that is making me *crazy* is from the NHS. It’s someone smoking a cigarette, and out of the side of the cigarette has burst a big, knobbly, shiny pink tumor.


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: March 27, 2013, 11:34 pm

Not the same thing, but related in a sense. I manage a LinkedIn group, and am constantly amazed at the ingenuity of spammers in finding a way to sneak in a post their content–as at the monotony of the content, I might add. But they keep finding /new/ ingenious ways to post the same old same old. I’d try to derive a comforting “this, too, shall pass” moral from that, with which to encourage you Stoaty, but unfortunately when it passes it will undoubtedly be in favor of something even more awful.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: March 27, 2013, 11:39 pm


“Noscript” is your friend. I skip merrily through the internet, relatively ad-free thanks to it. It does it’s job so well that I gave them money even though it is free. Sometimes it does its job too well, thanks to content that looks and acts like mal/ad-ware, but it is easy to pick and choose which bits of content to allow through.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: March 27, 2013, 11:43 pm

Sounds like a good day to spend more time playing banjo for the Chikins….

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: March 27, 2013, 11:55 pm

Or that thing where there are a bunch of semi-interesting pictures at the bottom of an article linking to stuff on other sites, and you click…

You too?…I used to get suckered into those all the time.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: March 27, 2013, 11:56 pm

Um, Can’t Hark….. can you tell us what Linked in is actually for please?

I was nudged and nagged onto it years ago and I have never yet found a single bloody use for it


I thank you in advance from two puzzled mustelids.

PS We would go out and dance with the chickens, Scubafreak but it’s midnight. And about 30 degrees.


Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: March 28, 2013, 12:02 am

Even more annoying than the ads are the blog owners who complain about ‘free riders’ who have AdBlock.

The thing is, you (the generic blog owner) are trying to attract an audience. Some blogs ‘bait you’, trying to get you to post comments, then trolling the comments to get more comments.

Look at Fox News; they have two sites with the same content. Fox Nation, and Fox News. On one site you can post comments, on the other no. The point being they get a measure of which news stories attract the largest audience, and which treatment of that story attracts the more interest.

But the bottom line for me is this; I ignore ads. If I want to buy something, I’ll go shopping for it. The ad will not tempt me into making a purchase. The only exception are Amazon Affiliates. I’ll use their Amazon link when I’m looking for something or if they post a story about an Amazon special deal in something I’m interested in.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: March 28, 2013, 12:10 am

I’m as bad, Skandia Recluse. I even have my browsers set to clear cookies every time I close them (which I do, frequently).

You want my data?

Pay me!

Comment from Mitchell TAFKAEY
Time: March 28, 2013, 12:12 am

Every once in a while I’ll actually find something neat on one of those ads. Not often though. 🙁

Wouldn’t it be ironic if there was just one weird trick to fix all these ads?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 28, 2013, 12:14 am

I worry about the business model of the American Spectator or NRO, that are real magazines, but beg for donations.

And I’ve bitched before about my hatred of tip jars. I’ve hit tip jars. I like to be a good netizen and support bloggers I like. But it’s a completely unsatisfactory shopping experience, you know? Like, did I just do something? Was it good for me?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 28, 2013, 12:17 am

Amazon ads are really amusing me lately. They’re showing me things I’ve searched for. Thing is, my recent searches have been things I already bought (looking for a link to recommend them, for example). So they keep displaying me my own stuff in the sidebars 🙂

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: March 28, 2013, 12:33 am

Yeah, I notice stores I visited following me around in the banner ads on other sites…some even show the products I looked at…creepy big brother.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: March 28, 2013, 1:12 am

>>Ads disguised as newsletters from places where I have actually signed up for newsletters

Yeah, everything from NRO that doesn’t have “Morning Jolt” or “Goldberg File” in the subject line goes straight to spam. EFF YOU NRO.

I really can’t believe it’s legal to sign me up for spam just because I signed up for the newsletter. Also, I don’t see how that can possibly “keep the lights on” (Geraghty’s phrase) when as a result of it, I have vowed to NEVER give NR ONE THIN DIME EVER. I can’t be the only one.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: March 28, 2013, 1:18 am

We have an ad here for smoking of people who have had some sort of stoma put in their throat. They yap on about things you shouldn’t do because you have it, like spray painting, taking a shower, etc. It’s pretty gross. Thus, my reason to only watch netflix these days. Always looking for suggestions, just finished Catherine Tate, what a hoot.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: March 28, 2013, 1:31 am

I don’t understand advertising, I’ e never, ever bought a single product EVER because I saw it on an ad. If anything, ads make me want to NOT buy something. I have so much security and ad blocking on my system sometimes I can’t even see a website, so I almost never see any ads.

But apparently they work. And web ads are cheap as dirt, so why not bombard the universe with your crap, I guess. Even if 1 out of 1000 people respond, if you put out ten million ads….

Comment from sassamon
Time: March 28, 2013, 1:44 am

I have found that by using a HOSTS file, to block unwanted website access, has eliminated almost all ads from my browsing experience.

I was exposed to the HOSTS file by a commenter at: http://www.dailypundit.com

The HOSTS file, that I use, and explanation of how it works is available from: winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

The download link is in the line before the paypal donate button.

Comment from Timothy S. Carlson
Time: March 28, 2013, 2:06 am

I use Avast! antivirus (free) for my system and AdBlocker (free) for FireFox (free). See a trend? Anywho, I haven’t had a serious virus infection in a long time – cross fingers, knock wood, pound forehead into desk. AdBlocker keeps all of the popups/unders from showing up. HOWEVER – I still have the experience you describe. See an interesting link, click, and instead of the interesting webpage, get an annoying page full of links. Such is the state of the web these days.

BTW: My main system is a 10+yo Sony VIAO desktop, running Windows XP Pro. I have no need or desire to upgrade to System 7 or Vista or whatever crap Microsoft is putting out now.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: March 28, 2013, 2:17 am

I have a pretty firm rule about sites with #$+%@! Pop-Up or scroll around stuff… which never go back if I can avoid it. I usually surf from a Color Nook which is pretty vulnerable to all this crap and sometimes I’ll even have to reboot to kill the ads. 🙁

As for Linked-In they must have one hell of a search algorithm. They have figured out my College, my High School, my home town, and my neighbors and proffered them up as potential contacts. I am that sort of person who has, frankly, ignored them all. Additionally and unfortunately I have have also been found by two old lovers wno I guess wonder whatever happened to that old Vegetable. I’ve ignored them too. Why do people have this urge to dig up the past? None of them can be of any value whatsoever in furthering my career for two obvious reasons: 1. They know nothing of my business. 2. I cashed out and took an early retirement a couple of years back, and thus have no carrer to further. Having said that, I will admit that I did actually get a Headhunter email today. Luckily for me upon retirement I grew the mandatory aging hippy ponytail and goatee to render me unemployable in my particular field so I can’t be lured back into the pit.

Comment from AndStatistics
Time: March 28, 2013, 2:51 am

Adblock plus and noscript for me. Although, if a site asks nicely and has unobtrusive ads, I’ll disable it for their site 🙂 sadly, that practice doesn’t seem to have become widespread, at least not yet. And whoever came up with auto-play videos ought to be shunned. If I encounter a website that has them, I flat out won’t visit there again if I can help it.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: March 28, 2013, 2:52 am

I hate to tell you what y’all are missing out on with your ad-blocking softwares, but I have to go play with my 45-inch dick that stays hard for weeks on end. Actually, my harem of russian brides is going to do all the playing for me. Ta ta!

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: March 28, 2013, 2:53 am

(I really can’t believe that didn’t end up in the spam bucket. Magic?)

Comment from AliceH
Time: March 28, 2013, 2:55 am

I use a lot of the tools described above, like adblocker, but set my browser to “private mode” (so it doesn’t save history or something – I’m really not sure but it sounded good), and I run the Ghostery add-on in Firefox. Ghostery detects all the little scripts running on the web page including trackers, ads, facebook/twitter widgets and analytics – then lets you block them one by one in a site or everywhere. It’s scary how many of those little suckers are running on the major media sites – 17, 20, more.

Here in sweasel castle Ghostery finds just 3: AdBrite (advertising), AddThis (widget) and SiteMeter (analytics). I blocked the widget (because I don’t like widgets as a general principle) and leave the other two running.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: March 28, 2013, 2:58 am

I actually use xombrero (with jabbascript whitelisting), on FreeBSD (with no flash player), running through an ad-scrubbing proxy, so I see very few ads.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: March 28, 2013, 3:03 am

but set my browser to “private mode” (so it doesn’t save history or something – I’m really not sure but it sounded good)

It dumps your cookies, & doesn’t allow some kinds of cross-site scripting, but mostly it’s so your SO can’t look through your history file to see what sorts of horrible naughtiness you’ve been staring at. Google & facebook will still track you everywhere. Yes, open weather.gov & facebook tries to set a cookie & run a script (so you can tell your friends on facebook you’ve been looking at the weather, I guess?).

So, yeah, that’s not going to get less intrusive in the future.

Comment from AliceH
Time: March 28, 2013, 3:06 am

Google & facebook will still track you everywhere.

That’s where Ghostery comes in. I’ve disabled all the google and facebook type trackers/widgets/analytics.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: March 28, 2013, 3:19 am

Here’s a great one:
[code]script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://s7.addthis.com/js/250/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-4b05b2d91f18c9cc”[/code]
So, unless you have addthis.com source blocked, it’s going to try to load that script. From addthis. Giving them your IP address. Which doesn’t seem like a huge deal (I mean, you’re not actually letting the script run, I hope), but over time, & this ugliness being on websites all over, gives them an idea of what sites your IP address is visiting.

If you change IP addresses (some people’s ISPs do this every 12 hours or less, but most don’t, even with dynamic addresses), I’m fairly sure they could still track you by your pattern of visits. & it’s kind of difficult to limit your browser to only loading images & scripts from the same server the page itself resides on, given how much of the content is on sites like flickr, picasa, imgur, photobucket, etc.

We like our cute kittens on other people’s servers.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: March 28, 2013, 3:26 am

What field of endeavor refuses to hire men with ponytails and goatees? The military? Education, tech, IT, civil service, etc all LOVE that hippy look.

If you leave your face alone, tatoos are fine too. No, I have no tatoos, ponytail or goatee — just observing the workforce around me.

Comment from AndStatistics
Time: March 28, 2013, 3:26 am

eeesh, facebook. Don’t have it, and never will. You know that if you’re logged into it, say in another tab, and even *visit* a page that has a like button on it, it notes down that you went there? Doesn’t matter if you click like or not. Google’s just as bad re: privacy. I use DuckDuckGo – doesn’t keep records on you, plus it has a really neat search syntax – !wiki automatically searches wikipedia ,!a does Amazon, !java searches the Java API, and so, so many more. I love it.

Comment from Mike C.
Time: March 28, 2013, 9:50 am

On the ads, what irritates me the most is sites like PowerLine. Run by 3 (usually) fairly successful lawyers with high paying day jobs, and it’s solid with ads and pop-ups. Why? The revenue has to be sofa change to those guys. The other thing is supposedly professional websites (Fox News) that run obvious scam ads on a constant basis. Yeah boy – that lends a real air of gravitas all right.

And LinkedIn is Facebook for professionals. I have a LinkedIn page, but there’s damned little on it. A general description of what I do and where I’ve done it. No picture or address, and a note saying if you want a CV, let me know. I use it mostly to find people I’ve lost track of. As to Facebook itself, forget it. I feel no need to spend time constructing a giant, sucking chest wound of a security hole for myself. And it has eveolved into the very firt thing people check if they want to find out more personal info on you than they need. I mean hiring-wise.

Comment from Argentium G. Tiger
Time: March 28, 2013, 11:34 am

Here’s the tricks that I use to thwart both advertising, and digital evil (malware):

On the workstation:

Firefox + 2 critical add-ins:

Ad-block Plus (turn off ‘allow some non-intrusive advertisements’)


Hosts file gets these copied to it to block any site known to spread the yick:



And finally, my browser lives in a virtual machine running XP, using a free virtual machine product called VirtualBox by Oracle: https://www.virtualbox.org/
(REALLY happy with this one by the way!) Why this step? If the virtual machine gets infected, I revert it back to a known good state with one button. Disinfection made _easy_.

Oh yes, and it runs an antivirus package as well (currently avast.)

Upstream of me on the network, I’ve set up a linux firewall box which denies any unexpected connections from anywhere, but allows _requested_ traffic back through. It also only allows outbound requests on known ports, denying all others.

It also runs its own DNS server, and has its own zones that also have the blocklists mentioned above so all workstations in the network get that protection.

It also redirects web traffic through a squid proxy, and for those workstations that want the protection, they can have their own whitelist of sites they can go to. (Anything not explicitly permitted is automatically forbidden.) It’s a bit of a pain to build the whitelist at first, but this above all else has stopped pretty much anything I don’t want from getting inside.

Comment from Deborah
Time: March 28, 2013, 12:20 pm

Uhoh. I do almost all my shopping via the internet, so I don’t mind the ads. I have a terrible lust for wristwatches, so my sidebars are filled with watch ads, and children’s clothing, because I buy a lot of stuff for my grandchildren and have it delivered. But I also have an eCommerce business of my own, so choosing the internet first is quite natural for me, though I don’t personally advertise on the internet.

Comment from thefritz
Time: March 28, 2013, 12:26 pm

Adblock works like a charm (as I use Firefox). The open source folks who created it probably don’t share my political bent but I sure enjoy their handiwork. Thanks nerdy leftwingers! https://adblockplus.org

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: March 28, 2013, 1:40 pm

Uncle Badger–I have to confess that, for me, LinkedIn is for that one discussion group I manage, which is focussed on a particular topic. Their groups function works more like blog comments or an old-fashioned chat forum than does anything on Facebook (Google+ communities seem to be similar, but they don’t seem to be gaining a lot of traction). Other than that, I’ve made contact with some old friends I /wanted/ to make contact with; through groups I’ve made some good new friends. But I don’t find it particularly useful in relation to my career. So–y’all have this blog, you have no need for LinkedIn.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: March 28, 2013, 2:40 pm

I’m on Linked In and Google+, neither of which seem to do anything. I’,m not even sure what they’re for, to be honest, I just think its a good idea to make sure you control your web presence instead of someone else.

Comment from mojo
Time: March 28, 2013, 3:15 pm

At least normal ads you can filter out, but the crap nowadays, sheesh! My favorite are the websites that do that blackout thing with an ad appearing in the middle. Trying to get you so sign up for their newsletter or some such.

Hello, guys! HOW MANY TIMES do I need to decline your kind offer for you to GET THE FREAKIN’ IDEA?

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: March 28, 2013, 4:36 pm

Totally OT, Stoaty, but I really think you should buy a copy of this book, or at least borrow it from your local library: http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/03/goblinproofing-ones-chicken-coop-wins-oddest-title-prize/

Can’t be too careful about the safety of the girls.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: March 28, 2013, 4:37 pm

Amazon ads are really amusing me lately. They’re showing me things I’ve searched for. Thing is, my recent searches have been things I already bought (looking for a link to recommend them, for example). So they keep displaying me my own stuff in the sidebar

I have had that same experience, many times. Somewhere, our internet overlords are either making a mistake with this approach, or they are simply having a really good laugh at our expense.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: March 28, 2013, 8:21 pm

Tomfrompv – you mean that a ponytail and a beard aren’t voodoo enough anymore, and I’m going to have to get a tattoo – on my face- to keep from being employable by the government? Oh dear.

Another interesting ad feature I’ve noticed lately on car blog I follow is that the ads try to relate to the thread titles or content so that reading about some chap’s water pump problems with his old jalopy will pop up ads related to water pumps, any kind or definition of pumps, and any kind or definition of water. You know you’re being hunted for sure, although most of the time they’re blazing away hoping to (literally) score a hit.

It’s going to worse and worse. Right now Garmin Nav systems show you restaurants and gas stations, etc. Pretty soon they will tie into your Google search history and the Nav voice will be announcing “The whorehouse you were googling is on the right in 300 meters, causing many accidents and divorces. You just wait.

Comment from Argentium G. Tiger
Time: March 28, 2013, 10:20 pm

*tips his hat to Stoaty* Thank you muchly ma’am for retrieving my previous post from the Stygian depths of the spam filter.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 28, 2013, 11:37 pm

If it had made it all the way into the spam filter, Argentium, it would be gone forever. I’m still getting hammered with comment spam. For some reason, it only went into the “you might wanna look at this” folder.

Comment from AltBBrown
Time: March 29, 2013, 12:55 pm

FWIW, Lifehacer’s AV winner:


Comment from Argentium G. Tiger
Time: March 29, 2013, 1:21 pm

Stoaty: Ah, good to know I only made it to the moderation folder.

Sorry to hear about having to deal with a glut of comment spam too. I’m not sure I’d have the patience; A lot of site owners are complaining about the increase in that crud.

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: March 29, 2013, 11:01 pm

On some sites, the dancing, yaking, bounding, blithering, crap makes my computer go tits up and freeze. I’ll have to try some of the suggestions for ad blocking!!

Comment from Tibby
Time: March 30, 2013, 2:41 pm

I’ve used Add block plus for years and absolutely love it. I’m now going to have to try the Noscript. Thanks for the tip.

Comment from orabidoo
Time: April 9, 2013, 4:40 pm

Oh Noes!
The Weasel with Spready Toes is tracking us!!


*apologies to S.Weasel for non/B&W pic.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 9, 2013, 4:43 pm

Huh. I wonder if it’s that ad link in the sidebar. I keep neglecting to take it out, even though the ad company went bust.

I’m going to have to do some housekeeping on my sidebar…

Comment from orabidoo
Time: April 9, 2013, 4:52 pm

Frank Zappa’s album that never were:

“Weasels Sniffed My Mouse Clicks, But Missed My Winkie”.

Comment from orabidoo
Time: April 9, 2013, 5:18 pm

@Can’t hark my cry,

Hark this: http://bit.ly/ZLs0n2

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