Egyptian blogger from Cairo.
Revolutionary Socialist.
Partner & Creative Director at ThePlanet.

Adblock Plus

At 747,978 download a week, Adblock Plus is the most popular Firefox extension. It is an absolute must have for anyone, regardless of how you use Firefox, or how you surf the web. Despite it’s overwhelming popularity, I was surprised to see that many people aren’t aware of this revolutionary invention, which is way I’d like to discuss it.

Adblock Plus is an add-on to Firefox that automatically detects advertisements on a given web page and completely blocks them, thus giving the user a much more pleasant, ads-free experience. Upon installing, you will find the “ABP” icon on the top right corner (next to the search field), giving you access to all of the options if and when needed. It works based on a long list of online advertisement suppliers and therefore immediately recognizes them and omits them from rendering in the first place. Moreover, you can keep adding filters for those advertisements that are not already predefined.

For example, if you visit masrawy.com (one of the most popular Arabic websites dedicated to news), you will notice that they are so desperate for advertising, that you can hardly read the text without feeling this constant, irritating pressure. Besides the fact that the design and layout is a catastrophe, the ads are quite intimidating:

Masrawy.com with irritating ads

Masrawy.com with irritating ads

However, by installing the Adblock Plus add-on, the page actually focuses on the content for a change:

Using the AdBlock Plus Extension

Using the AdBlock Plus Extension

Needless to say, there are thousands of ad-driven websites that would be much more enjoyable without the adverts. And if the add-on doesn’t automatically detect and ad, you can always right-click on the object, and choose the option: “Adblock image”. After that, you are left with several options regarding the filter that you will apply. The most appealing of which allows you the automatically block anything from a chosen directory. And since many websites place advert-related files in a single directory, blocking it entirely is easy and effective.

Ethical Issues

There have been arguments made against the Firefox extension, claiming that it prevents the ad-driven sites from supporting their cause, and will therefore eventually become extinct. I’m don’t really agree with such arguments, so I wouldn’t be able to speak on behalf of those who do. You can find an elaborate article from Beep.name about using Adbock Plus. While there are some interesting points on the table, I personally stand by my motto of the free internet, and all the power to the user.

We have already seen that the most important websites are community-driven, and take an open-source approach to sharing the information. Websites owners will have to be a bit more creative with their source of revenue, and perhaps look into other options that are geared towards the user. Without a doubt, it has now become blasphemous to not make the user the center of every decision taken in a website or online application.

So if you do not have Adblock Plus installed, you need to do right away – you’re missing out on a lot of painless web surfing.

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