on disabling adblock in my browsers

Clint mentioned that he’d disabled adblock, and gave his reasoning. Stephen somewhat disagrees. Here’s my take:

I have been running adblockers as browser extensions, CSS overrides, and .htaccess filters for years now. It’s not bulletproof, but it sure takes care of most of the ads. The web is a much less tacky place with these tools in place.

But, in my role as a lowly edtech geek 1, I’ve been bitten by this before. Case in point: we’d gotten reports from instructors who were seeing ads in our Desire2Learn environment. WTF? I’ve never seen any ads. That’s not possible. They must be mistaken, or have a popup from somewhere else. Then, I checked on my phone, without Flash and without any adblockers, and saw this:


Not only were there ads in our D2L environment, they were incredibly stale. I checked with our D2L contacts, and the ads were not inserted by D2L. They were put there by Adobe, through their “hey! you need flash!” download “helper”. Working with D2L, they tried to get Adobe to avoid inserting ads on their clients’ D2L learning environments. Not sure if they succeeded, yet, though.2

So, my use of adblockers and flashblockers and privacy enforcement utilities was actually changing my experience (for the better) in such a way as to make it inconsistent with what the people I work with and for were seeing. Now, I could just advocate that everyone must install flashblockers and adblockers etc… but that’s just not realistic. We still have people who insist on using Internet Explorer 6 or 7. They’re not going to install a modern browser, and they’re definitely not going to install any of these other utilities that help make the web suck less.

If I’m going to be deploying, managing, configuring, supporting, integrating and using online tools to support teaching and learning, I need to see what the instructors and students will be seeing, warts and all. if for no other reason than to work with service providers to get ads and their ilk out of our educational environments.

Now, for almost everyone else – please install adblockers. And flashblockers. And privacy enforcement tools. According to the latest neuroscientific research, the web is on average 86% less painful to use with these tools in place [citation needed].

  1. integrator? consultant? advocate? evangelist? what do they call people like me now? []
  2. and before you get all smug that your open source LMS would never (NEVER) have such an issue – if anyone ever (EVER) embeds Flash in any of their course content, this same ad will be helpfully inserted by Adobe. []