If I used an ad blocker Wired’s pop-up screen would be annoying but deserved. Publishers need to sell advertising. Ad blockers undermine their business. You can’t argue with the logic.
Sure some publishers abuse readers. They serve inappropriate, even offensive advertising. Many ads overstay their welcome. Others disrupt viewers with noisy video. Or they get too much in-your-face.
Online ads can make reading an ugly, disjointed business. And yet they pay the bills.
Wired isn’t guilty of those bad things. Or at least not in recent memory.
Journalism is not free
It’s reasonable for publishers to ask for readers to contribute something in return for journalism. That something could be seconds of attention to an online ad or it could be a form of pay-per-view.
But here’s the other thing Wired, I don’t use ad blockers.
My browser doesn’t have one installed. If Wired let me past the front gate, I’d see its advertising in all its glory. From that point of view, I’d be a good reader. Maybe even a lucrative one, because I read a lot of tech stories. Back in the day I’d buy the printed version of Wired if the cover story appealed enough.
I may not have an ad blocker, but I do use a browser extension to block intrusive data collection.
There’s a Ghostery in my house
At the time Wired’s pop-up message appeared, I was using Ghostery. I’ve switched since to Disconnect.
These extensions aim to stop companies from collecting data. I’ve no objection to Wired knowing I’ve seen a page or an ad on its site. I’ve every objection to the commercial snitches watching all my online interactions then selling that data to bottom feeders so they can make my life a misery.
When Ghostery was installed, I didn’t use all its blockers. I customized the settings first to protect against possible malware injections and second to stop tracking firms I’ve never heard of from spying on me. I also object to Facebook knowing what I’m up to away from its site.
But that’s it. So it appears Wired’s pop-up message is doing something naughty.
Either it is over-zealous and springs into action at the merest whiff of a user taking back control of their online experience. That’s the benign interpretation.
Or, it’s more evil and Wired has a commercial arrangement with one of the nastier data collection outfits and damn well wants to intrude on my privacy if I visit the site.
The other option is Wired’s coders are incompetent or its business managers are too clueless to discriminate against different types of blocking activity.
Whatever the reason, it’s not good business to punish your customers. No doubt I’ll return to Wired again, but until this is fixed, it’s going to get less, not more of my traffic.