Skip the navigation

Firefox ad-blocker extension causes kerfuffle

Irate designer says add-on is "stealing," wants browser folks brought to account

By Jeremy Kirk
August 23, 2007 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - A Web site owner has blocked Firefox users from accessing his site in protest of a popular Firefox browser extension that blocks text and display ads.

Firefox users who go to http://jacklewis.net/weblog/ are redirected to Why Firefox is Blocked, which says the Adblock Plus extension undercuts Web sites dependent on advertising revenue.

"Accessing the content while blocking the ads therefore would be no less than stealing," wrote Danny Carlton, a Web site designer and author, who runs both sites. JackLewis.net is his personal blog site; "Jack Lewis" is a pseudonym adopted, according to a Google-cached version of Carlton's site, as a defense against "crazy people."

"Millions of hard working people are being robbed of their time and effort by this type of software," Carlton added in a posting on the Why Firefox is Blocked Web site.

Though most Web commentators, have laughed off the one-man effort, the fracas underscores the dilemma facing Web sites that make money through advertising and offer free content to users. Adblock is just one of a variety of free tools, such as the "Hosts" file, that block the delivery of ads from servers run by ad networks.

The Hosts file can be employed to block ads for browsers such as Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer. Browsers can also be tweaked to block ads through modification of a Cascading Style Sheet file (.CSS), which contains rules on how content is displayed in a browser.

Carlton writes that he can't block only the Firefox users that have the extension installed, so he's blocking all Firefox users since it's "the only alternative." Carlton also posted PHP and JavaScript code that blocks Firefox users from viewing a Web page.

"The real problem is Adblock Plus's unwillingness to allow individual site owners the freedom to block people using their plug-in," Carlton wrote.

Carlton, who declined to comment for this story, is now enduring the invective of Firefox fans, which hasn't exactly been polite at times, he notes.

Adblock Plus is listed on a Mozilla Corp. Web site as the second most popular add-on for the open-source browser. PC World, which is owned by IDG, named the extension one of the best 100 products of 2007.

Once installed, users can right-click on a banner ad to block it. Users can also subscribe to specific filter lists, which will block common ads delivered in certain regions. Users can also unblock ads, as well as see the full URLs (uniform resource locators) for where the ads were served from.

Although Adblock is not created by Mozilla, Carlton also blames the organization, which is responsible for Firefox development.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
Our Commenting Policies