I see you don't understand how the network works
The point is that I am not taking or using anyone's bandwidth but my own, that I expect websites to do the same, and that advertisers are uninvited interlopers in a private relationship. That's what peering is all about. FIgure out how to phrase your objections within that framework and maybe I'll believe some of your arguments.
What world do you live in? It's extremely obvious that YOU don't know how networking (or the real world) works. Networking is a two-way street.
At nearly ANY provider (above a dime-a-dozen personal blog host), a customer absolutely pays for bandwidth usage. Sometimes they give you a little for "free" - but it's still metered, and you're still paying for some sort of account. And of course, any usage beyond that has a cost. And on some hosts, if you have separate web and db servers (which is needed for heavy data/traffic), they meter that bandwidth, too (terrible host? Yes. But the point is that it happens).
I ran a website for 6 years that ended up with a peak of 5 million users. I co-lo'd my (eleven) servers: that's physical rack space (i.e. 'rent'), that's power, and that's bandwidth (not internal, but external. To the tune of hundreds of GB/day, even with 'optimized' assets and HTML). You can try to pick apart the explanation to spin some self-serving argument, but the inarguable bottom line is that these amounted to real costs - upwards of $1000/month at general cost, and that's not even including buying the physical machines. You're telling me I should have to pay out of my own pocket, out of the kindness of my heart, just because I built something that other used and enjoyed? I was unemployed for the first year I had built the site. It would have never gone anywhere at all without advertising.
I think you're oversimplifying your stance based on some assumption that the only non-commercial websites in the world are some kid talking about his cats or making political rants. There are tons of interactive, entertaining, and/or heavily data-driven websites that cater to, and are useful for, some subset of people - ones not selling anything, and not backed by corporate funding. Advertising is literally THE ONLY avenue for some - possibly 'many'; maybe even 'most' - of them. They do deserve to exist. That's what the internet is about.
If you want to go back to the 'good ol days' where every non-corporate website was a home directory on a university server, that's fine - Lynx is still around, and you won't have to deal with any advertising at all.
Besides, I never did see how showing an ad that is never followed through (meaning the product being hawked was sold because of the ad) can be profitable. Which is why I think the advertising based business model is extremely flawed.
Because companies pay to just have their message heard/seen. It's called CPM (Cost per thousand (Roman Numeral M) [impressions]), and it's alive and well.
Whether those companies continue to advertise with you if they have zero click-through is another discussion entirely, but those rates for campaigns on relevant topics do okay. You don't understand it because you're not thinking like an advertiser... that's okay, but don't damn the entire model just because you don't. Just understand that many websites that you enjoy pay their costs from advertising revenue.
Ah, except you forgot the important part that completely breaks down your argument:
The 'random shop' in your case didn't ask you to wash their windows. You provided an unrequested service.
When you visit someone else's website, you are requesting their content. You're not minding your own business on Slashdot while CNET is pushing their newest reviews on you. You generally have to actually go to their site to see them.
I see you tried to mitigate the fallacy with your last bit, but it falls flat: When you visit a website, you are still requesting their services - their bandwidth, their resources, and everything that comes along with it. I agree there are right ways and wrong ways to do advertising, but just as you said: "The world doesn't operate on wishful thinking." It (for better or worse) generally operates on money. Advertising does that without requiring a direct cost from you.
Cite your sources in which Level3 is unfairly extorting Verizon. Not calling you out, this is just the first I've heard of it in any of the public arguments between the two.
Try TamperMonkey. A little more bloated than native Userscript handling, but it does work.
> The value of the service was not worth the bother of paying
Or the majority of the userbase grew up in a world where they generally don't directly pay for things online. (again - movies, music, software. Those in their late teens/early 20s, especially in the US, have a much different mentality about things online than the people that typically operate amateur radio, who I would imagine are mostly older)
Besides, I'm sure a portion of these folks probably didn't have a way to pay online even if they wanted to.
> I offer a piece of software on my Web site, for money
Okay, you're selling a product (or a series of products) that directly fund the operation of the website. That's great, but not everyone is doing that, and not everyone should have to. Your use-case is different, it doesn't make someone else's service less valid than yours.
> What does that mean, business-wise?
> There is no business model in this activity
Why are we talking about businesses? This is my biggest frustration with these types of conversations - half the people want to "go back to the internet before corporate interest", and the other half say "You need a business model that sustains itself without ads". My favorite are the posts who essentially say both things in the same thread.
Why do I need a 'business model' to create an online service? I made something for fun, and it got popular. I shouldn't need an MBA, or consult with one, to continue operating it. Where is the middle ground where a service can grow without needing to be a business?
I see you don't find any value in such things, and in the end that's okay, as maybe you've never come across one operating in this way that you've enjoyed. I think there's room for the advertising model to help fund ideas and provide entertainment without having to fork over a credit card (which will always be shunned by a great many people, especially those who don't have one).
But it seems we won't change each other's minds. I just hope somewhere down the line, some service will come along that will help save the ad model by increasing the trust from users enough to disable ad blocking.
> I have a Web site. I don't attack people's privacy. And I don't have ads on the Web site.
That's cool. It's good that you have a small enough website that you have the ability to pay your costs out of pocket. It doesn't seem to be the site linked on your user account, though, since I see ads.
But imagine the site you run becomes even more popular than it is... you get incredible word-of-mouth reach from people who just love what you're providing, your database (assuming your site is more than a simple blog) starts cracking under the weight of all the connections and the queries that your users demand to run your site as expected. What do you do?
If you say "charge $1/month", I'll get to that in a sec. If you have another solution, I'm curious.
> Some collectors of paintings offer them for public viewing
That's a bit different than operating a service. You only have three things in play: The cost of the art to the collector, who wants to (and is free to) show them to visitors, in a specified venue (which may provide free 'hosting' (or they may not.. I don't know the art world), with a finite amount of 'bandwidth'). But hanging a picture on a wall in someone's museum is a helluva lot different than what's needed to adequately provide any more-than-trivial service.
> Demand subscription. If 100,000 fans are indeed in love with the Web site they will pay $1 per year to run a few servers at Amazon.
Firstly: No, they won't. In my personal example, when ad revenues started to fall, I held donation drives to try to cover the remainder, month-to-month. You will always have good-hearted people who have no trouble throwing a couple of bucks your way, but by and large it's not an option to many. There's a very similar parallel if you think about $1 music tracks (which is sort of a bad argument since the music industry is still making money hand over fist - but it's also a much larger/different userbase).
Secondly, not all services are in a position to demand subscription. In my particular case - and this is where we come off the pre-scripted path of the average discussion - my service was based on data from Xbox Live. Still a valid site, very heavily used even by Microsoft employee themselves, but I was bound by a user agreement that I could not paywall my services. Advertisements were fine, and there wasn't anything stopping me from exchanging cash for an ad-free experience, but bum deal or not - a direct "pay or no service" was not an option.
You may think this classifies my site as "not viable to exist", which of course it doesn't now, but it did for 6 years due to advertising revenue - and with 5 million total users, I was doing *something* right, even if I may have been doing other business-related things wrong. But as I said initially, I wasn't intending on being a "soulless corporation", I just wanted to maintain and grow a service to meet the (at-times) overwhelming demand.
My point with this story is simply to say that not every site is equal, and even in this response, you seem to be pigeon-holing what kind of websites use advertising.
> Rackspace has these prices...
AWS and Azure are probably somewhat competitive (enough for discussion, at least), and you know the biggest gotchas about these services? The details.
Sure, you've done all kinds of math for bandwidth in your example (which is grossly under-bid; just this isolated comment thread is 19k gzipped for the HTML alone. Chrome tells me the front page HTML is ~45k), but what about compute cycles to parse data and render the comment threads? What about the data passing to/from a separately-instanced database (some providers do count that as bandwidth)?
You're also only counting 100,000 registered users, yet there are UIDs way beyond that (tens of millions? billion by now? Dunno). Sure, a good portion of them probably don't visit daily (and there's probably a sizable chunk that haven't connected in years), but without hard numbers, I'd still venture that the majority of pageviews are by casual passersby without an account.
Regardless, I am unwaveringly confident that Slashdot gets more than a million page impressions per day.
> as long as they don't sell privacy of their visitors
Well hold on, what exactly are you outlining here in terms of 'privacy' and the sale of such? Perhaps I'm wrong, but while it's common knowledge that ad companies know you visited Site A, and Site B, I would imagine the vast majority of the major ad platforms have no way of identifying the true identify of 'tftp' - where you live (beyond IP geolocation), your name, identify of loved ones.
Please separate this from the popular social networks, who we all know sell whatever you type into their system. I want to keep this strictly a discussion on banner-type ads, because those are the ones people keep talking about blocking. This greatly differentiates the conversation from your bar, Stalker's Haven.
You're making a lot of bold assumptions here.
> fuel for his profit-generating machine
Can we just step back and first agree that not every website on the internet is a full-fledged business hell-bent on removing your privacy and liberties for the quickest dollar? Because if we can do that, we can toss this sentence right out. And that's a win for everyone.
> If the site cannot be free, then it should charge money and die shortly after. [...] the internet would be only better off that way.
Why? Do you not derive any entertainment from the internet in any form? Since you first claim that any site that charges money would die in short order, I can only assume you don't compensate anyone for accessing or interacting with someone's web presence. So in your 'none-or-the-other' ecosystem, any website with an appreciable, growing fanbase should put an "Oops, got too popular" closing message once they outgrow a free or nominally-priced host that this essential charity is no longer financially feasible?
> A discussion site like Slashdot is not expensive to run
Perhaps we should more accurately define "expensive", but I would imagine bandwidth costs alone for site ranked among the top ~1600 (Alexa approximation) would be fairly sizable. Then you have hardware: servers, memory, networking equipment.
I just don't see the point of the internet being EITHER smalltime blog or large entity selling a tangible product. In your post, you've outlined that there is no room for being in the middle... which is pretty much where all the most awesome stuff comes from. How do they get to exist?
> Being served ads is not somehow paying for anything
Willing to undo all my moderation actions to wholeheartedly disagree with you.
I once ran a website/service that catered to a gaming crowd. Among other things, it allowed them to compare their progress in games to their friends, people in their own country, and the userbase at large. People of all ages, genders, and gameplay styles used it, and shared it. Over time, it got fairly popular (a little over 5 million total users), and more hardware (and some consulting for other scaling issues) was needed.
Advertising absolutely paid for that. CPM is still alive and well.
When advertising revenues started to slip, due to increased ad-block and general issues within the US economy, and things started coming out of my own pocket again, I held donation drives to try to make up the difference. I quickly learned that while some people are generous and are willing to throw a few bucks to a service they enjoy, the overwhelming majority are not. Casual and curious drive-by users make up a good portion of any website - the compounding effects of a worldwide audience are what incur costs.
I think the biggest issue in these types of discussions are that people focus on one specific aspect: Malware, ad-bait websites that only republish content and have no original thoughts. The web is much, much bigger than that, and not everyone is backed by "soulless" corporations. I was a single guy with an idea that just happened to organically grow popular and be useful to a decent number of users. But in today's society, the general population doesn't generally pay money for something that isn't directly tangible - which is fine, that's why advertisements were supposed to be the middle ground.
Have they been abused? Of course. I vividly remember the 'Punch the Monkey' stuff.
But are they intrinsically evil? I don't think so. And while I absolutely agree that we need to fight back against insecure ad services and terrible ads, wholly eliminating them without thought does much more damage to the Internet at large.
I'd love to hear ideas for a middle ground. I don't often see those in these types of discussions.
Amusing fact about that - the guy that plays Scotty is actually Jimmy Doohan's son.
I personally couldn't watch it because I was never a fan of TOS. It definitely succeeded in emulating it, though.
Well this is kind of the reverse of the discussion, but I'll play:
Your analogy isn't the same. Just because they don't do TV ads doesn't mean they don't have advertising.
As a retail product, the product itself is the ad - a physical one.
When you stand in the aisle for sunblock and you see this large bottle with its bright packaging, being offered for the same price as smaller-sized bottles, I'm sure they will have plenty of customers. But this is a physical product in a physical location, neither of which we're discussing here.
Contrast this to a (presumably non-retail) service, whether that is online content, a gaming stats/community site (one of which I personally ran for several years, so these Slashdot stories always interest me), or even cutting lawns, the parent post was right in that you probably won't stay afloat without some sort of outgoing advertising. And to bring it back on-topic - if you're not selling a product, and provide a service that ends up being popular, how are you going to pay for the additional resources to both serve your existing userbase and handle more? Either you're paywall or you serve ads.
There are three kinds of people: men, women, and unix.