Monday, May 11, 2015

It’s Time For Action

     No, not political action...at least, I wouldn’t call what I’m about to advocate political action. It’s more a matter of the withdrawal of hospitality from those who’ve abused it.

     Most Gentle Readers have families of one sort or another. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of the Boorish Cousin, the guy who tells dirty jokes among minor children, who slurs other family members’ religions, who comments negatively about others’ cooking or child-rearing. You’ve probably wished he’d come down with Adult-Onset Dumbness...and then refuse to learn sign language. You might have considered not inviting him to another family get-together. You might even have acted on such a decision.

     Well, in these latter days of the Renaissance Civilization, we don’t have large family get-togethers as frequently as our parents and grandparents did. In part that’s because family members tend to be more geographically dispersed than in previous decades. But in equal measure, it’s because we’ve lost the taste for them...in many cases because of the Boorish Cousin. Every family seems to have at least one, and among our several deteriorations we’ve lost the inclination to haul such a relative aside and discipline him. To avoid the need to endure him, we forgo the company of others we’d really like to see.

     Our more distant relations aren’t in our homes nearly as often as they once were. No, today, via the miracle of the World Wide Web, we admit total strangers.


     The powers of the Web are in large measure the powers of the Web browser. Every important browser embeds the ability, whether inherently or via “plug-ins,” to play sounds, play videos, service “pop-ups,” and download files that subsequently execute on the target computer. Some of those capabilities are easily disabled; others present a greater challenge.

     In recent years, the desire of the proprietors of popular Websites to make money from their efforts has led in two directions. The first of these is the for-subscribers-only section. Some such Websites have prospered; others, whose content has failed to inspire subscriptions, have failed. At least with such a site the potential customer has a choice about whether to spend his money on what lies beyond the paywall.

     The second approach is embedded advertising. This is the broadcast-media model: the site provides the “eyeballs,” the advertiser provides the revenue. Broadcast television has been having a rough time of it lately, which suggests to this commentator that the paid-advertising model might be on its last legs. But the Web offers more possibilities than one-way broadcast media...and some of those possibilities have had me reaching for my shotgun.

     “Pop-up,” “pop-under,” and “lock-em-in” pages (i.e., pages that attempt to prevent the viewer from leaving) are all annoying, but they can be thwarted by relatively simple actions. What’s harder to deal with are the “auto-play” sound files and videos. Quite a lot of the value the Web provides is in the form of audio or video recordings. But to impose such media on the viewer against his will leaves him worse off than a television viewer with the remote control in his hand – especially in those cases where seeking out the offending source and quelling it is deliberately made difficult.

     For my part, I’ve decided that henceforward I’ll tolerate none of it. Neither will I provide hyperlinks to such sites, for which reason I’ve just scrubbed the link to PJ Media from my sidebar. If the content at PJ Media were of greater value, I’d consider a low-cost subscription to it – but only if it were to forswear all such intrusions on my time and trials of my patience. I won’t have sugary jingles interrupting the music I prefer, and I certainly won’t tolerate the consumption of my CPU power by a video for some product I would never, ever consider purchasing.

     If you feel the same, please consider acting accordingly. Nothing but a wide-scale rejection of sites that indulge in such practices will get them to cease and desist. It might mean forgoing some minor pleasure; that’s inherent in the nature of a boycott. But consider the test of your good nature that’s involved, and how much protecting your bonhomie is worth to you and those around you.


     I’m an old crank; I admit it freely. But one of the prerogatives of the old is to speak one’s mind plainly, without the need for circumlocution or dissimulation. If you’re equally old and cranky, or if you’re younger and still hale but tried by circumstances, and have pondered what you might do to reduce the stress in your life, please consider this course. Nothing else will persuade Webmasters worldwide to put a halt to these noxious practices. At least, nothing else has persuaded them to this point – and the Web browser makers appear determined to facilitate their machinations.

     Thanks for reading.

5 comments:

  1. I scrubbed sites with auto-play long ago. It's rude. I also have AdBlock+ which works very well.

    My favorite dump was Karl Denninger, who spends most his time telling his readers how dumb they are. If you go to his site now, he has a pop up that says he supports the site through his ads and if you have AdBlock to please disable it. Yeah - Karl, I'll get right on that.

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  2. Adrienne, I also have and depend upon AdBlock+; highly recommended for anyone who doesn't already have it.

    And I just left MarketTicker, Karl Denninger's site. He's fond of telling us (actually shouting at us!) that all the bad things happening are OUR FAULT, so we should Do Something About It Right Now, and if we don't then we are just too stupid to live.

    Somehow I don't think running in the streets with my M1 in my hands is going to accomplish much, except my arrest/death, so I'll just hold off on that.

    Also totally agree with the infuriating auto-play; I often open multiple tabs, & it's great fun (NOT!) to find the offending source. I'd make 'em all walk the plank!

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  3. Eskyman, I also have a gazillion tabs open at the same time and go nuts trying to find the one that's "talking."

    I don't get Denniger's whole schtick. He appears to be a very smart guy, so why does he have to continually tell us how smart he is and how dumb we are? He must be massively insecure.

    Thank you for not running in the street with your M1. ;-)

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  4. I've used AdBlock Plus for quite some time, but many things got through it. What really shut everything down is NoScript which I use with FireFox. You can open all the tabs you want and none of their auto run stuff will work unless you let it. Highly recommended.

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  5. ScriptSafe is your friend. :)

    I've never had problems on the PJ Media site...there are a few others that still do, however...and the most annoying thing about them is how the stuff is always set for MAXIMUM VOLUME. Which is annoying enough when you're browsing with your sound playing through speakers, but when you've got headphones on, it can literally cause hearing damage.

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Comments are moderated. I am entirely arbitrary about what I allow to appear here. Toss me a bomb and I might just toss it back with interest. You have been warned.