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The raw brain dump of a software developer

Being Ad-Free

The only solution to the problem is to not be part of the problem

Feb 10, 2019 ยท 4 min read

I don't use ads on my blog. Period.

It's devoid of any form of ads, tracking or any active third-party content. Now you'd expect that, as a web developer, I should know how to exploit the benefits of having property on the web, monetization and traffic patterns in particular. But why don't I use them?

Tracking

Let's say I use ads on my blog. When we load up my blog on a browser, whose caches were just cleared, the ads don't know who we are. So what they'll do is assign us an advertising ID which is stored on the browser. The ads will then report my blog's property ID and our advertising ID to its servers. In return, it renders an ad.

Now the magic happens when we hop off my blog and into another website that uses ads from the same ad network. When the ads load on that site, they'll report that site's property ID and the advertising ID given to us earlier. This is how we get tracked - ads know who we are and where we are on the web.

So in a way, by NOT putting ads on my blog, I'm doing everyone a favor and preventing everyone from being tracked. You're welcome.

Bad content

Ads track our whereabouts on the web for one reason: Maximize conversion (the art of turning window-shoppers into buyers) or engagement (the art of turning lurkers into contributors). Ads tailor ad content to our preferences to increase the chances that we will click the ad.

Let's say I use ads on my blog. When we load up my blog on a browser, it will try to serve the most relevant ad. If we're profiled to be living in a place where cannabis is legal, the ad spots on my blog could render ads related to cannabis. But here's the thing: I don't smoke nor promote smoking.

Here lies another problem I have with ads: I have no control over the content it renders. This is made worse by the fact that most people don't know how ads work and can't recognize ad content from website content. In this specific example, ads for cannabis appearing on my blog would make me look like a user and/or a promoter, which I'm not.

Bad User Experience

Badly implemented ad scripts can cause pages to freeze, saturate network bandwidth, eat up monthly data budgets, trip firewall rules, download malware, mine cryptocurrency, redirect us to phishing sites. The list of problems goes on.

Also, ads are masters in the art of attention and distraction. Eye catching graphics, click-bait titles, blending into legit content - those take away the attention from the real purpose of the blog - my content. I write to share interesting content, not for the ads that render on the page.

Lastly, I designed my blog to be a lean, mean, drive-by machine - short and concise content on a fast hosting service with a minimalist design. In and out as fast as possible, hopefully imparting some insights along the way. Putting ads on my blog would be a big step in the other direction.

Conclusion

The ad industry is at odds with privacy (no data, no sales), in the same way the weapons industry is with peace (no war, no sales), or the pharmaceutical industry is with health (no cancer, no sales). It's a crazy world we live in. And the best thing we can do is to not be part of the problem. In my blog's case, making it ad-free.

Hopefully this article gave you insight on why I don't use ads on my blog. As always, if you have comments or suggestions, feel free to drop a line.

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