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. []

the web is what we make it

Clint responds to Audrey’s decision to nuke comments from Hack Education. I agree – it’s unfortunate that douchebags on the internet1 feel that they can abuse people while hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.

It’s Audrey’s decision to nuke comments – and I fully support her in whatever she decides to do – but I hate that she was pushed to it by misogynistic assholes spewing vitriol and hate. That’s not OK. Nobody should feel threatened or devalued or hated for what they write. Nobody should feel like they need to withdraw because some vocal assholes throw bile at them.

I don’t stand for it in The Real World. I don’t stand for it online. It’s simply not OK to treat people that way.


I completely support Audrey in her decision to nuke comments. Her writing is some of the most important stuff in ed tech at the moment, and we need it. We need more of it. And we need Audrey to be able to do her work without having to waste cycles thinking about misogynistic asshole ranters in the comment threads.

She’s not silencing anyone, or crushing freedom of speech. If you have something to say, misogynistic asshole commenters, man the fuck up and create your own blog. Own what you say. Put your name on it. Don’t hide in the comment section of the blog of someone who is working hard to keep education from sliding into corporate solutioneering hell.

  1. they are also douchebags in The Real World, but don’t get to hide behind anonymous internet comments in meatspace []