Ed explains the ads

Like the title says, we all know you hate the ads and some of them are really annoying, but we need to pay the bills and reward our bloggers. This isn’t the Huffington Post, you know — we’re into revenue sharing with our contributors, and to do that we need some revenue.

We also try to let our contributors write freely, which sometimes causes problems. As Ed explains, we lost that revenue stream completely for a few weeks: Google objected to some of our content (reality: even Google isn’t a neutral carrier) and shut us off cold, no warning, just stopped serving ads and money. The objectionable content: Taslima and Maryam posted graphic photos of Islamist violence.

That stuff is important! I think they’re two of our most valuable blogs with some of the strongest atheist content, so our current workaround is to make them ad-free for a while so we don’t piss off the censors who farm out our ads. Keep that in mind: when you’re annoyed at the stupid ads that get served up here, those ads are being used to subsidize the work of ex-Muslims fighting oppression.

Also, by the way, Pharyngula donations to the Ada Initiative are up to $778 this morning.


  1. rq says

    I won’t be able to come here at all if my browser keeps crashing because of the ads – I’m not against all the ads, I’m against that weird one that pops in from the side and wreaks havoc on my browser – sometimes I can’t get the scrollbar back.
    Stupid google, though. That’s really assholish of them.

  2. Julie says

    Is it better to keep with the ads or go with the ad free subscription? I couldn’t see how 30 for a year is very helpful so I just kept with the ads.

  3. Dark Jaguar says

    I understand the importance of documenting that kind of violence, but I personally can’t stomach the sight of such things. I can understand google’s position, as generally photos of that sort are on certain video sites that seem to traffic entirely in “shock value” videos of humanity’s inhumanity to itself. They don’t get the difference here.

    As for the ads, I respect your need for ads, but don’t understand why some ads are coded into basic page interactions. I hate popups, hate popunders more, and hate “casually clicking on links and even empty parts of the page” only to have an ad pop up because of that. I don’t understand the excuse for THAT sort of thing. Plenty of sites get their cash without such things, just using normal banner ads.

  4. says

    Let us know specifically which ads are crashing your system or are too intrusive — use the “tech issues” link at the top of the page. We can blacklist certain ads.

    As for how this works, we don’t control the ads: they’re farmed out to a company with a staff to sell ads. Those extra-annoying popup and slide-in ads pay the most money (if it drives you and us up the wall, someone somewhere is probably throwing a lot of cash at us, relatively). Ed tries to limit those with code that only shows them once or twice a day.

    If it’s crashing your computer, though, that’s unacceptable. On the sliding scale of payments, from innocuous to obnoxious, that would only be worth doing if they paid us $10,000 for every computer reboot they trigger.

  5. says

    When I clicked on the link in the OP to Ed’s post, I got … a popup ad. :-(
    I went back and tried it a second and third time, and it didn’t happen again.

  6. Cardinal Shrew says

    If we block the ads with Adblock plus or some other such browser extension, do you still get the revenue? I use ad-blockers by default when I am browsing. For a few sites I truly appreciate I will turn them off but if you are still getting paid whether they are on or off I would rather not see them.

  7. M'thew says

    $30 buys you 365 days of ad-free FtB and supports your favorite blogging hub. I should have done it much earlier – all the clickbait is now gone (take that, Dawkins!). And if necessary, I can still donate more, innit?

  8. Who Cares says

    As an alternative to Addblock (plus) there is ghostery and to insure that you don’t get autoplay adds might I suggest Flashblock.

  9. kaboobie says

    I had been using Adblock, but I turned it off for FTB and purchased an ad-free subscription instead. Hope that helps more than the ads I would not have clicked on.

  10. gussnarp says

    @Who Cares #12 (and anyone else who knows):
    Does Flashblock actually work for you? I’m running it in Chrome and for a while now it’s only successfully blocking some flash content (mostly the content I want and have to keep clicking) while many of the little autoplay video ads with sound are getting right through. I even checked to make sure they were flash content by right clicking them and the Flash context menu comes up, so they don’t seem to be any new technology.

    Last time I Googled it, there were no helpful results, so I thought maybe it was just me. But a hard drive crash recently means I’m using clean installs of everything now and Flashblock still isn’t blocking the video/audio autoplay ads.

    I don’t mind ads on websites in the least, I’m happy to have folks making some money that way. But when I’m in my cubicle making a quick check in on Pharyngula while I wait for some process, it’s really annoying to have sound suddenly coming out of my computer, particularly if I don’t know right away what browser tab is doing it. I’ll end up going back to Adblock if I can’t find a solution to why video ads are getting around Flashblock.

  11. moarscienceplz says

    Like rq said, that left sidebar ad that shoves the page to the right disables my scrollbar too, but only on the main page. Once I click in, it seems to work OK, no crashing or reboot needed, although I do hate that sideways motion crap.

  12. robro says

    I would happily subscribe…$30 for a year of ad free FtB, you betcha. But is PayPal my only payment option? I have reservations about PayPal…the closest we’ve every come to getting internet scammed was via PayPal.

  13. illdoittomorrow says

    I’m having similar problems to rq and moarscienceplz, but on the main pages of blogs, and every post within. I’ve been able to get around it by clicking the “comments” link on the main page and then scrolling up to read the post. This works about half the time. The rest of the time I’ve been hitting refresh, sometimes several times per post.

  14. paulparnell says

    I have no problem with ads. I like them. I intensely dislike autoplay ads. They make me want to boycott whatever is being sold. Worse than that is autoplay ads with sound that skips in and out. Even worse is autoplay ads that do not have controls that let you turn them off or at least turn the sound off. And then there are autoplay ads that let you turn them off but after a few seconds turn themselves back on. And crash firefox. Firefox is becomming unresponsive now and I’m probably about to get a crash message.

    I would much prefer ads with huge blinking neon banners.

  15. angle says

    Have you taken a look at [url=https://www.projectwonderful.com/]Project Wonderful[/url]? They look like they’re pretty good. I have no idea if they’ll meet your needs or not, but you could look into it. Perhaps try them out on the blogs google won’t patronize?

  16. wanderfound says

    The fact that you have ads isn’t a problem. The fact that the ads displayed here are amongst the most offensive I’ve ever seen outside of a porn site is a problem.

  17. Bluebottle says

    I just sent a note to the tech support, but thought I’d note here that a couple times now on FTB I have had my mobile device (android) redirected to the Google Play store prompting me to install Farmville 2 or some other inane program. Easy enough to close the window and not install, but I’m sure this isn’t the kind of behaviour you want from the ads.

    It’s a moot point for me now, as I just kicked in the $30 for the ad-free subscription. I should have done it a long time ago, considering how much time I spend here, despite just being a lurker.

  18. johnrockoford says

    I don’t mind ads. Put more ads if you want. I’m used to Internet ads, even obnoxious ones.

    What I absolutely HATE is being forced to click and click and click again because recently for every single post I have to click [Read more]. I know it’s a popular stratagem for serving more ads since now I’m opening several pages instead of scrolling on only one (I can’t think of any other reason) but I find it so frustrating that I’m beginning to dread coming here despite the stellar content. Yes, I’ll gladly pay but ask me; don’t make me by making the site so inconvenient.

  19. cicely says

    It’s the noisy ads that get me…and I think they are the ones that are making Chrome crash. At least, there seems to be a co-relation. I’ll pay closer attention next time, see if that is, in fact, a valid connection.

  20. says

    When solvency allows, I’m willing to pay the subscription, but in the meantime, I’m not going to whitelist this place on adblock. I have simple rules for what ads I’ll tolerate: absolutely no popups, popunders, animations, or noises (absolutely and especially no fucking noises). AFAICT no ad service will make those guarantees, so fuck the lot of them.

  21. Steve P says

    @Bluebottle, I used to get the same redirect on previous versions of iOS. Astonishingly annoying.
    The ad free sub’s a bargain. Sometimes I even remember to use it.

  22. gussnarp says

    @bluebottle, Steve P – I get ads on various websites that redirect me to the app store or itunes on iOS. I don’t often browse FtB on my phone though, so I’ve never gotten it here. Every time it happens I think, why, Steve (Jobs, not P), why is this allowed? From the company legendary for having few virus problems, for locking down and controlling the user experience as well as the app store ostensibly to improve performance, ease of use, and to basically censor app content, why do you allow third party ads on websites to automatically redirect my device to the app store without me even clicking anything? Why is that even possible?

  23. says

    Of course, for some of us, the adfree sub is wildly out of reach. The ones redirecting my phone to the Play store are annoying, but on the ‘up’ side, since we never got the mobile menu fix for the front page, I only visit PZ and Mano anymore anyway. So I only have to deal with a few ads per day, which, fair enough, but let’s not pretend that everyone can just go adfree, or use adblock for that matter. 30 bucks, right now if I had them, would leave me only 30 below September’s rent, only three weeks late, yay. Of course, I don’t have the 30, for rent or adfree browsing, so it’s moot in any case.

    Of course, I also don’t get to see 90% of FTB anymore, but oh well. :/

    Sorry for the rant, I am stuck in bed by pain today, and thus grumpy, and it just gets tiresome seeing so many people blithely assuming we’re all financially secure, while prescribing how we should all enjoy the privileged lane. ‘Just take your Bentley or Lamborghini onto the toll road, then…’

  24. magistramarla says

    As I mentioned on Ed’s blog, Mine seems to be following my online shopping habits, with ads for Chicos, Soma, Soft Surroundings, Blue Buffalo dog food and a few others. I also see local ads and an occasional annoying one for xtian dating (really?)
    Since I already happily spend my money with some of them, I have no problem with clicking on the ads.

  25. Fionnabhair says

    Echoing what CaitieCat said about an adfree subscription; it’s not in the budget. I don’t read blogs on my phone, and I use Adblock on my computer browser. I realize that ads are necessary to pay the bills, but I find some ads can be triggering, so they get blocked and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it.

  26. says

    I haven’t seen any really annoying ads. Lots for travel, flights and knitting yarn. Cool.

    Oh, and some popunders that I have no idea what they are because work filters censor them. Easy to just kill.

  27. Rowan vet-tech says

    I was getting those fucking obnoxious side-slidey ads every single bloody time I opened any page on this site, or hit refresh. It drove me so batty that I happily paid the $30 to not have to deal with that for an entire year.

  28. jste says

    Caitie Cat:

    The ones redirecting my phone to the Play store are annoying

    Oh fucking hell yes those are annoying! I want to read your content, not buy someone else’s shit. Who gave you permission to redirect my browser *anywhere*??? That’s a general you, btw – I haven’t actually encountered those on FTB. They’re getting painfully common elsewhere on the internet though.

    I understand many bloggers have to rely on ads if they want to make their content freely available, but why do the ads have to be so bloody obnoxious?? I happily block any and all ads that flash, move, beep, squeak, animate, pop up, under, or redirect. I don’t need that shit, and I don’t need my precious bandwidth wasted on it. Not to mention nearly every virus I’ve ever gotten on a computer has come from an ad network.

  29. Ichthyic says

    As for how this works, we don’t control the ads:

    and until you put in place a system where you can have feedback on the ad streams (control the types of ads, and even reject individual ads), it’s adblock for me thanks.

    I know we used to have feedback for all of the adstream feeds we used when I ran commercial websites, but that was a while ago. Still, I think it highly unlikely that there are no ad servers that offer the ability to control ad type any more.

  30. says

    Ah, well. WordPress seems to have F-ed up there authentication for paypal. So have a mess of other sites, which, instead of transferring to paypal, try to roundabout it. I use the keygen card, so I need to do the password, then the key, and most sites accept the password, then send me to paypal, then make me type it in again, since it didn’t properly log in. WordPress has managed to do one better – it just fails the login entirely, leaving me with no way to pay…

    Maybe its something with the scripts I have turned off, but seriously.. how the heck do you manage to mess something up that worked for years, like so many places have, and no notice?

  31. dmgregory says

    When I get those Play store redirects (amusingly, I got two back-to-back just as I was logging in to post this), I always scroll down to the “Report inappropriate content” link and mention the unsolicited browser redirect.

    I figure/hope that if enough people do that, this advertising practice will be seen by app publishers to be more effective at generating report flags than downloads/purchases, and they’ll stop using it or working with intermediaries who use it.

    On the topic of subscription, I’m leery of PayPal too, but I really like FTB’s content so I think I’ll just swallow that bitter pill and sign up.

  32. says

    Get their 2 stage authentication. Its a credit card like thing, and yeah, you do have to pay for the thing, but people can’t log into your account using just the password and user name, without the keygen code from the card each time. While there is an option to, “log in this time without it”, doing so requires security questions. It definitely has some issues, but most of them arise when dealing with people that may not be 100% trustworthy and legit to start with, and your “middle man”, i.e., paypal has no way to handle the problem in the first place (unlike your bank, who pays a lot of people to do just that sort of thing in their fraud preventions divisions). Its kind of the “best of the worst” solutions, in a sense, but, until banks start letting you get no-monthly charge accounts, with cards, which you have to add money to, as needed, and, unlike the stupid, “monthly fee, even if you don’t use it”, bloody “reloadable” cards, which you also can’t reload without paying cash, and using an unsecure checkout to do it…

    Pretty much, all of the options, at this point, for doing anything online, suck.

  33. says

    Pharyngula has now become one of those websites where I only go if I have the patience to wait a few seconds every time I need to scroll down to read another paragraph. It also slows down every other tab open.

    I’m not positive, but I think it’s the auto-play video ads. Similar ads have similar effects on other websites.

    And that’s in addition to the fact that there’s sudden nose if I open a tab to read later, and then I have a choice between closing Pharyngula, or scrolling down, very slowly, to mute or pause the ad, and hope that it won’t start up again in a few minutes.

    If the ads making this site nigh-unusable go away, I will start giving money every month. It won’t be much, but I’ll give SOMETHING. I want to keep reading this blog, but it’s getting harder as time goes by.