Why its Finally OK to block Pop-up Ads

So IE finally has an integrated pop-up blocker!  This is great news for the millions of PC users that had not yet downloaded the google toolbar.  I believe that it finally became OK for web browsers to do this because advertisers already have alternatives that annoy users more than pop-up ads.  What am I talking about?  Go to weather.com and try and get your local weather.  Go to news.com and try and read the top story.

These new pop-ups are much more annoying. They float across the screen essential raising the stakes in the ongoing game of “whack-a-mole” as you try and hit a 4x4 pixel “X” that's now moving with your mouse.  One miscue will open the floodgates for the real pop-up ad that's not blocked since you did the clicking.  They come complete with sound effects and sometimes short video as well. 

What browsers have always needed is a way to prevent any sound from playing from their process.  We need this now more than ever.  It' so frustrating to be listening to music on my computer while web browsing and mis-click onto a site that blares sound at full volume.  I only listen to music from my Ipod now since I have to leave my computers on MUTE.  It won't matter how cool windows media on the PC becomes if I can't use it while have a web browser open.  Of course this also means I miss out on important chimes from Office or an IM client because I have the sound off. 

I actually think the best improvements in XPSP2 is the combination of the IE Add-On manager that lets me easily see what add-ons have infested my computer and the new “default to no“ dialogs that prevent the user from inadvertently installing more of these because they aren't paying attention. 

I know I should go enjoy the Seattle sun and stop complaining, but unfortunately, I've been struck by some sort of nasty spring virus that leaves me with just enough energy to type up these entries I've been meaning to write.  In the meantime, does anyone know of a browser or add-on that prevents these new distractions?

Comments (23)

  1. David Cumps says:

    IE has an option to not play sounds under ‘Advanced’, but I guess it’s only for embeded sound, and not those irritating sounds in flash animations 🙁

  2. Louis Parks says:

    It depends on how those ads are ade to appear. If they are Flash based, you can refuse to allow Flash to install (and in SP2 you can avoid being bugged about it every time you visit a site that uses Flash). This, of course, will break legit Flash sites.

    If they are just DHTML, you can prevent scripts from running. This too will break legit script based sites.

    If the ad content is external to the first party domain, you can edit your hosts file to block known ad sites (SpyBot Search & Destroy has 300k of known ad/spyware sites).

    None of those are very good suggestions, but they’re the best ones I know of.

  3. josh ledgard says:

    I had forgotten about the sound option, but like you said, it is only a piece of the solution and doesn’t do much to prevent the worst offenders.

    Unfortunately I do visit sites that make legitimate use of flash and DHTML scripting so turning these off.

    I’ll have to look into spybot.

  4. josh ledgard says:

    OK, I think that Ad aware also covers the job of spybot. But unfortunately these ads are "legit" and come from the host domain.

  5. Phil Weber says:

    Hi, Josh: I use AdSubtract Pro (http://www.intermute.com/adsubtract/), and I didn’t see any ads at weather.com or news.com. It’s not free, but it blocks pop-ups, banners, Flash and (optionally) animated GIFs. Well worth the $30 price, in my opinion.

  6. josh ledgard says:

    So far so good with AdSubtract. I’ll have to give it the 7 day test. 🙂

  7. adamw says:

    Obvious, and maybe not the answer you want to hear, but http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

    Standards conformant, crapware resistent, fast and chock full of shiny, modern, useful features (inbuilt popup blocking AND blocking for other javascript trash like window moving etc, tabbed browsing and so forth).

    I’d really recommend giving it a try. If you do, I’d also like to recommend http://optimoz.mozdev.org/ for mouse gesture recognition, http://adblock.mozdev.org/ for regex advert blocking, and http://flashblock.mozdev.org/ which allows you to install flash, but replaces all flash animations with a button to press if you actually want to execute the flash. All XPI installable, so you just click them to install.

  8. milbertus says:

    It’s reallly amazing just how much stuff I don’t see with Firefox. Those ads that you mentioned at weather.com and news.com? I didn’t really know what you were talking about at first, because I just don’t see them in Firefox.

    I don’t know why they don’t display in Firefox, but they don’t. Probably because of its internal pop-up blocking stuff, but I really don’t have any idea. I’m not going to complain, though.

    Huh, here’s a though. The more people the use Firefox, the more people that won’t see those ads. That means they’ll have to come up with even more annoying ways of displaying ads. Maybe we shouldn’t push Firefox anymore, so that they won’t make ads that actually work in Firefox. 😉

  9. Have you noticed that some sights popup errors when they can’t do the popup? They need to learn how to deal with this.

    While we’re on the topic, try turning up the next notch of cookie blocking and have it prompt you for the cookies. Its amazing how many cookies get written to your machine when you browse a site. Sometimes I get cookies from 3 or 4 domains on the same page. Its insane.

    And the spyware! My son’s machine was so polluted it was slowing it down. One site made me go its site to officiate the uninstall. This is an absolute invasion of privacy.

  10. Doug Thews says:

    I hope the new IE popup blocker in SP2 is better than the newly released MSN Toolbar with popup blocker. That one doesn’t even block JavaScript popups executed when the page unloads.

  11. jledgard says:

    I think it’s better than the MSN one. Sights that used to do the "onexit" pageload don’t anymore. Update on AdSubtract: It does a great job blocking those flash and DHTL ads as promised. It’s made it through ay 1 of 7. However I’m feeling like my browsing perf has suffered.

  12. Ron says:

    Take a look at FlashPeak SlimBrowser (http://www.flashpeak.com). It’s a shell on top of IE, has in-page ad filters, site (or partial site match) black and white lists, and tabbed browsing.

    I’ll admit I like Firefox better overall, but SlimBrowsers handling of tabs is more in line with what I like.

  13. Jim says:

    Video Ads Blocker 1.0

    Video Ads Blocker is designed to block the most annoying Internet ads that are almost impossible to ignore. It can block advertisement in the forms of:

    Inline videos

    Background sounds

    JAVA Applets

    Animated gif files

    Macromedia Flash movies


  14. josh ledgard says:

    Cool. I’ll hvae to try this out as well.

  15. Ryan says:

    Ok, dont go bad mouthing Javascript yet, there are people that do have people putting adverts on their pages even though they dont want them, and the only way to rid of these is to use javascript aswell.

    So really, it should be made that people can find that bit of Javascript, and in turn, pop ups will be gone forever.

  16. NA says:

    What about that code that you can place on your webpage that will block pop ups, does anybody know that one?

  17. josh ledgard says:

    I don’t think I’m badmouthing javascript. I wouldn’t blame the technology, just the uses it might be put towards.

  18. Samantha Mallison says:

    Just as I am typing this too you I have had to many x’s too cross

    They should be made illegal Ha Ha

    I lose my concentration they remind me of a Jack in The Box when you was a kid it just jumps out and drives you mad !!!!

    Glad someone else feels the same way x x x x

  19. AdLander says:

    Ad Muncher is the only windows wide ad blocking program that I know of that blocks everything.


    Tiny, fast and it even intergrates into the right click menu of the major browsers.

    Puts adblock and ad-shield to shame.

    weather.com and news.com are both entirely ad free without any page damage.

    It’s an awesome sight to behold.

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