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UBlock starts blocking User Generated Content

Summary

UBlock has started blocking ads in user generated content.
Modrinth is a large mod distribution platform for minecraft mods. They host tens of thousands of mods created by small developers.
One of the ways developers can make a bit of profit for their hard work, is by being sponsored by a server host. Many of these developers have this as their main income.
You simply include the server hosting banner in your mod description and get affiliate revenue.

Well UBlock now blocks those banners. Resulting in an uproar in the Minecraft modding community.

Personally I wouldn't see this as news worthy, if it wasn't for the absolute garbage implementation and targeted methods used.
The checks used barely work. Its suppose to only remove the bottom most image, and a specifically targeted ad from Tr7zw. (With is crazy btw)
However as you can see in this pr comment, and this one
It's not even doing that correctly.

UBlock is mindlessly merging bad PR's and not reviewing them.

You can see from the petition PR that this has gotten a lot of people upset. (50+ PR approvals)

If UBlock is willing to block user generated content, it could be a disaster. What else would they be willing to block?

 

My thoughts

I'm one of the modders affected, and I know that a lot of the other modders don't have a full time job like I do. These modders rely on the pay from this sponsors to pay rent.
If AdBlockers are willing to block ads from User generated content. Why stop at modrinth, why not the LTT forums, youtube descriptions, github descriptions, etc...
The outcome that UBlock decides to take, will change how adblockers see user generated content in the future.

However personally, the thing that annoyed me the most was how bad the implementation was, and how easily it got merged in. There should be some kind of review process.

 

Sources

Initial Github Issue: https://github.com/uBlockOrigin/uAssets/issues/24130
Petition PR: https://github.com/uBlockOrigin/uAssets/pull/24161 < Good read if you want to see everyone's opinions

 

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Update:
They have decided to close the revert PR, and reverted it with a message.
image.png.3f5c9dda33dc21e3f57bbfaa3c99c6f9.png

They plan on adding it back, but without the jank...

image.thumb.png.244e1a6edd99f902c4b98efe35c111f1.png

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it's purpose is to block ads, if users put ads inline with their content, it makes sense for it to target that as well.

if i hazard a guess why it's targeting these sponsor things on modrinth - is because it's basicly banner ads.

 

what is a problem however.. is if they implement this in a way that might break actual content on the webpage.

from a quick cursory read, the implementation is extremely dirty and essentially a hard-coded tagret at just modrinth.com... despite every modding platform having the exact same "problem", that goes ignored so far.

 

if anything.. the way this is implemented, this feels more like a targeted attack on modrinth, instead of an actual attempt to resolve a problem... wether the ublock devs realise this or not.

 

on that note.. i broadly disagree with the notion that these ads should not be blocked because the dev relies on them.. because so do the websites where we all regularly block ads.

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7 minutes ago, manikyath said:

it's purpose is to block ads, if users put ads inline with their content, it makes sense for it to target that as well.

if i hazard a guess why it's targeting these sponsor things on modrinth - is because it's basicly banner ads.

 

what is a problem however.. is if they implement this in a way that might break actual content on the webpage.

from a quick cursory read, the implementation is extremely dirty and essentially a hard-coded tagret at just modrinth.com... despite every modding platform having the exact same "problem", that goes ignored so far.

 

if anything.. the way this is implemented, this feels more like a targeted attack on modrinth, instead of an actual attempt to resolve a problem... wether the ublock devs realise this or not.

 

on that note.. i broadly disagree with the notion that these ads should not be blocked because the dev relies on them.. because so do the websites where we all regularly block ads.

I don't feel an ad block should block anything that doesn't get in the way.
People want to block ads on a site as they're normally something like Google ads, that track you all around the place.

A PNG on a project doesn't do that. It doesn't cause any harm, or get in the way. There is no downside to it. Only an upside and that is supporting the mod devs.

If people want to play people's mods for free, I'm sure they can deal with a small PNG on their project page.

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Even as someone with two websites, I say block everything. 

 

Personally I'm more of the opinion this post may have the opposite effect. More of a Streisand effect. It just lets us horrible "ad-blockers" know one more thing we can block.

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Posted (edited)

From a quick glance perspective  :

An adblocker doing what it does, blocking ads.

Though the site breaking side of it (if any) should be fixed of course.

 

Isn't it the user that should be encouraged to whitelist the particular site in the adblocker ??

What's stopping a particular user from blocking the ads even without ublock hand in it ? I mean... it's a filter list, and we can add custom ones.

 

Unless you just don't want ublock to include it in the list of raw installation of ublock.

 

12 minutes ago, OhioYJ said:

Personally I'm more of the opinion this post may have the opposite effect. More of a Streisand effect. It just lets us horrible "ad-blockers" know one more thing we can block.

I kinda agree with that.

Someone might just saved the entry for that site, and pass it around to be used as custom filter or somethin too.

Edited by Poinkachu

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Moved to Programs, Apps, and Websites. Tech News is for discussion of published news articles related to tech, as such it requires articles published by reputable news outlets.

  • Your thread must include a link to at least one reputable source. Most of the time, this should be a respected news site.

 

 

45 minutes ago, IonicFusion said:

If AdBlockers are willing to block ads from User generated content. Why stop at modrinth, why not the LTT forums, youtube descriptions, github descriptions, etc...

Most adblockers will block the ads displayed on this website. Advertisements are prohibited in user generated content.

 

You're inserting advertisements to the page and an adblocker is blocking those advertisements. That's what adblockers do. I'm really not sure what you expect.

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I'm more concerned with the fact that such a broken check can get approved that easily.
It broke a lot of the site, they obviously did little to no testing.

The thing is that you can't stop the fact that tons of people use UBlock, thats not the concern here.
My main concerns are that they can implement changes that are targeted to specific people's sites and broke a lot of mod pages. Which will be the default experience for a lot of users.

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7 minutes ago, Spotty said:

You're inserting advertisements to the page and an adblocker is blocking those advertisements. That's what adblockers do. I'm really not sure what you expect.

I'm not going to comment on whether or not they should be blocked. I will however say that the PR here was very poorly made, removed non advertisements from pages, and overall was kinda a mess. One last thing that is probably mildly important to note is how hard it would be to properly moderate and maintain ad blocks on UGC that don't break anything, so I think a valid point could be made on that front here.

EDIT: I would like to clarify I'm not necessarily in support of the argument at the end of that. I don't think my own personal opinion could be easily conveyed in a single sentence. Merely stating that I don't think such a point can be instantly discounted in a discussion about adblock.

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4 minutes ago, SleepingTea said:

I don't feel an ad block should block anything that doesn't get in the way.

does the singular ad on LTT forums get in your way? because that sure as hell gets blocked.

 

there's an argument to be made about the security aspect of ads existing, but why should modrinth be the one place where they make that distinction? shouldnt it then be a global thing, and a global user-configurable toggle? if that's your viewpoint, you're fighting the wrong fight, and you'll lose that fight because literally no one cares... until you make it something that affects more than just the incredibly tiny niche you exist in.

 

i'm all for a 'global soft list' that would make ublock only block ads with intrusive trackers, but that brings us to the next question: where do we draw that line?

- at fingerprinting?

- at tracking how many page hits happen with the ad on it?

- at loading an image from an external source at all?

- maybe some inline banner PNG's have some REALLY nefareous content that we'd want to see blocked too?

 

also, how do we even define "gets in your way"? i'd argue that anything that isnt the mod's description shouldnt be in the description. i understand your viewpoint of doing ads the clean way and the importance of the revenue.. which is why i have adblocker disabled on modrinth, ltt forums, and many other places... but that is a personal choice, for a 'limit' that is also a very personal consideration to make.

 

the problem is that either you "block ads, because you're an adblocker", or you become the digital content police, that'll probably end in the garbage brave tried doing by replacing "malicious" ads with their own "clean" ads.

 

Just now, IonicFusion said:

I'm more concerned with the fact that such a broken check can get approved that easily.
It broke a lot of the site, they obviously did little to no testing.

THAT is the problem, your revenue is a moot point. yes, that is a very harsh statement, but welcome to the receiving end of what adblockers do. if you want to win this fight, win the correct fight.. because you'll lose the wrong fight.

the problem is the fact this implementation will break more pages than it "fixes", not that your revenue is suddenly at risk. petition for ublock to not implement things until it's right, which i hope will be the message they received from undoing the commit.

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35 minutes ago, manikyath said:

does the singular ad on LTT forums get in your way? because that sure as hell gets blocked.

 

there's an argument to be made about the security aspect of ads existing, but why should modrinth be the one place where they make that distinction? shouldnt it then be a global thing, and a global user-configurable toggle? if that's your viewpoint, you're fighting the wrong fight, and you'll lose that fight because literally no one cares... until you make it something that affects more than just the incredibly tiny niche you exist in.

 

i'm all for a 'global soft list' that would make ublock only block ads with intrusive trackers, but that brings us to the next question: where do we draw that line?

- at fingerprinting?

- at tracking how many page hits happen with the ad on it?

- at loading an image from an external source at all?

- maybe some inline banner PNG's have some REALLY nefareous content that we'd want to see blocked too?

 

also, how do we even define "gets in your way"? i'd argue that anything that isnt the mod's description shouldnt be in the description. i understand your viewpoint of doing ads the clean way and the importance of the revenue.. which is why i have adblocker disabled on modrinth, ltt forums, and many other places... but that is a personal choice, for a 'limit' that is also a very personal consideration to make.

 

the problem is that either you "block ads, because you're an adblocker", or you become the digital content police, that'll probably end in the garbage brave tried doing by replacing "malicious" ads with their own "clean" ads.

 

THAT is the problem, your revenue is a moot point. yes, that is a very harsh statement, but welcome to the receiving end of what adblockers do. if you want to win this fight, win the correct fight.. because you'll lose the wrong fight.

the problem is the fact this implementation will break more pages than it "fixes", not that your revenue is suddenly at risk. petition for ublock to not implement things until it's right, which i hope will be the message they received from undoing the commit.

I'm not in any fight. Just saying that how I feel ads should be handled. I also didn't say that modrinth should be the only place like this.

However, the change to uBlock that were linked specifically targeted Modrinth and certain mod developers' pages on the site. This wasn't a case of blocking other ads incidentally affecting images on Modrinth. uBlock has already taken on the role of digital content police with this change. They chose to block user-created images on Modrinth, affecting not just ads but also other images. These images included links to Discord server, GitHub bug trackers, or information about the mods.

Sure, people will always want to block ads, no matter how I feel. I understand this. But the way poor way uBlock did this is a big issue.

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For those of us who remember the internet from before advertisement hell, there was a limit to what people were comfortable with when it came to ads. 
A banner ad and side box ad were normal, you expected them everywhere you went, and nothing was really wrong with them.

 

Here is Microsoft’s home page in 2003

IMG_3290.thumb.jpeg.1069b6a71f3f0e61261b3da3f77c26e0.jpeg

There is a singular banner ad, a very common thing.

 

But like many websites, you’d rarely if ever see an ad in actual content. Here’s on of those articles linked:

IMG_3291.thumb.jpeg.cf040223f0859b17083559bd3cd54e0d.jpeg

No ads, you’re here for articles, you get articles. Ads were for landing zones.


Now let’s look at a modern web page, a CNN article

First off, there’s our old friend the top banner ad. And even better, it’s not following, so it goes away when you scroll down.
As if it matters because opening this web page you get 2 pop ups that aren’t even malicious, it’s them asking about cookies and asking about their app.

Note there’s a following banner ad on the bottom.

IMG_3293.thumb.jpeg.3f04bf074676cc5cfa8a160374e3070a.jpeg


And for the article?

IMG_3294.thumb.png.1c130072117a92b059d60e35014eb92d.png

 

They simply went too far. Well, like 10 years ago they went too far. Now they’re just stomping on the corpse of their own web design.

But they collectively showed they would not compromise, they wouldn’t reduce ads, they’d rather drive their websites to being unusable without adblockers instead of presenting some restraint at the sight of even a penny of ad revenue.

 

I do not care about anything related to blocking ads. I block every ad I possibly can and encourage everyone else to do the same.

YouTube ads, sponsored segments, any web page ad, any cookies or trackers, you can actually blow me if you think I care about some Minecraft server plug in a mod description, banish that shit to the shadow realm. I will ad a tampermonkey plugin to my browser to block every mention of the server ip or name from my view of the entire internet if required.

 

 

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15 minutes ago, manikyath said:

does the singular ad on LTT forums get in your way? because that sure as hell gets blocked.

I'm of the opinion that it does not get in the way of the content on the page and should not be blocked.

 

Besides that — It's an entirely different story revenue-wise. The issue is that the ads placed in the page descriptions benefit Modrinth in no way. I don't think it's fair comparison to make with LTT's ad, which is for their own brand, and content which is intentionally placed there by the developer of the mod.

 

I personally disagree with Modrinth's in-house ad provider, Adrinth, being blocked in the first place. While it may not be a popular opinion amongst more tech-savvy spaces like ours, a lot of people only install ad blockers because of malicious sites which forcibly put ads in the way of content, thus meaning that ads such as what are on Modrinth would be "okay" for the average person.

 

At the very least, any filter added for unobtrusive ads such as these should be opt-in by default and the UX for it could be improved.

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3 minutes ago, 8tg said:

For those of us who remember the internet from before advertisement hell, there was a limit to what people were comfortable with when it came to ads. 
A banner ad and side box ad were normal, you expected them everywhere you went, and nothing was really wrong with them.

 

I do not care about anything related to blocking ads. I block every ad I possibly can and encourage everyone else to do the same.

YouTube ads, sponsored segments, any web page ad, any cookies or trackers, you can actually blow me if you think I care about some Minecraft server plug in a mod description, banish that shit to the shadow realm. I will ad a tampermonkey plugin to my browser to block every mention of the server ip or name from my view of the entire internet if required.

 

 

You are comparing ads on large pages with teams behind them to a tiny box which barely covers the height of 2 lines of text and a banner ad which isn't even 200px tall. The difference is that the independent developer making content for you to enjoy placed that ad there for the express purpose of being able to continue to be able to maintain and create similar content, whereas companies like Microsoft will constantly chase bigger profit margins and shovel these ads down your throat. You are outright killing these creators' ability to provide you with enriching content.

 

After this issue became apparent today, many mod developers (including myself) have been discussing and contemplating baking the ads directly into our software and purposefully creating and finding ways to workaround the ad blockers. This is not out of greed, or spite for you as a user, but rather so that we can continue to create what we enjoy creating.

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this thread is truly something

the issue we had, on the modrinth server, was that it blocked people's sponsors, or at least tried to.
In practice it was blocking a lot of stuff, like socials or donate buttons.

This shouldn't really need to be a big argument or anything, mod authors have reason in not liking it because it can be their main source of income. Blocking that would just kinda be being a dick.
There's not raelly a good way to block it either, uBlock should just let it be

If they figure out a way to properly block it, i'd like it to be opt in, but I gues it would be fine since it would be blocking an ad.

IN MY OPINION sponsor banners and non obstrusive ads shouldnt need to be blocked, but I can just disable ublock on those sites if I wish, so it's fair enough if they do it

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ublock blocks ads.... complains about ads being blocked. What's the issue here? /rhetorical

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2 minutes ago, SansVarnic said:

ublock blocks ads.... complains about ads being blocked. What's the issue here? /rhetorical

The implementation was really broken, it was not only blocking UGM ads, it was blocking any images at the end of the description

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Just now, blryface said:

The implementation was really broken, it was not only blocking UGM ads, it was blocking any images at the end of the description

Did you see the /rhetorical ?

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7 minutes ago, blryface said:

i'd like it to be opt in, but I gues it would be fine since it would be blocking an ad.

Last I checked ublock is opt-in, it's not installed to anything by default. 

 

As with most sites people are free to ask that you whitelist their site. 

 

I'm going to guess most sites have found a way to operate despite ad blockers since the Internet hasn't ground to a halt yet. 

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Just now, OhioYJ said:

I'm going to guess most sites have found a way to operate despite ad blockers since the Internet hasn't ground to a halt yet. 

The issue isn't the site!!! Modrinth is doing just fine.

The real issue is that it's taking revenue away from the creators on the site.

The banner ads described in this post are part of the user-generated page descriptions, and are placed there because of sponsorships with these server hosting brands.

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7 minutes ago, blryface said:

but I can just disable ublock on those sites if I wish

Exactly.

 

The way I see it.

A newbie to ublock starts using ublock, goes to reddit or google asking which filter they should turn on.

A more savvy user will immediately go look into ublock filter list and see if any will work.

A really savvy user might even make their own filter list, and may pass it around.

So, even opt-in solution isn't gonna work that well.

 

It's the user itself that need to have the willingness to let the ads on a particular site to not be blocked, which can be done by whitelisting.

 

Because whether that kinda ad is considered obstructive or intrusive or not, is subjective IMHO. Just like how some people think RGB is distracting or a beauty.

 

As for the income side of thing, does it really need to be banner ? I mean, there's raw affiliate link.

Sure it may not be as fancy as a well made banner, but those who needs the service provided by the link can still click it.

 

2 minutes ago, Deftu said:

The real issue is that it's taking revenue away from the creators on the site.

Just like it's taking revenue away from ...... youtube creators for example ?

 

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1 minute ago, Poinkachu said:

Just like it's taking revenue away from ...... youtube creators for example ?

Theres lots more ways youtube creators can monetize their video, to be fair

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14 minutes ago, IonicFusion said:

I'm more concerned with the fact that such a broken check can get approved that easily.
It broke a lot of the site, they obviously did little to no testing.

The thing is that you can't stop the fact that tons of people use UBlock, thats not the concern here.
My main concerns are that they can implement changes that are targeted to specific people's sites and broke a lot of mod pages. Which will be the default experience for a lot of users.

Sometimes adblockers break functionality of a website. If somebody is savvy enough to install an adblocker they are savvy enough to disable the adblocker if the website they are visiting is broken. Likewise they can whitelist the website if they wish to support the creators via ads. 

If it's an issue, work with the adblocker to refine the filter so only the advertisement is blocked, and ensure that the advertisements are properly separated from other functional aspects of the website. For example, don't insert an advertisement in to the login form and then complain if adblock users can't login. 

 

The way ublock implemented those ad blocks does seem to have been poorly implemented, however you should get accustomed to the idea of adblockers blocking the ads. If there's one thing the internet has demonstrated over the years it is if there is an ad, there's some nerd who is going to develop a way to block it. 

 

 

Since there seem to be a few mod developers here. Have mod developers received permission from modrinth to publish advertisements within your content on their website? According to their terms of service you are not permitted to use the site to; "transmit, or procure the sending of, any advertising or promotional material". It seems using the description of your mod to display advertisements would violate modrinth's terms of service, however I'm not familiar with the website and I'm not aware if modrinth has issued a statement elsewhere which invalidates or excludes you from those terms of service. If you are a mod developer who relies on advertising within your product description I would recommend seeking an official statement or approval for those advertisements from modrinth. If it's not permitted, you may have to find an alternative way to monetize your content regardless of adblockers.

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3 minutes ago, Poinkachu said:

Just like it's taking revenue away from ...... youtube creators for example ?

I'm sure we can all recall at minimum 5 YouTubers we've watched in the past month or so advertising their Patreon (or equivalent service), a brand deal, their own website (also containing ads or subscriptions) or other social media like Twitch, which also runs ads and has means of making them money. Not all of this is expressly out of greed or want for growth, it's also out of financial necessity.

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7 minutes ago, Spotty said:

Sometimes adblockers break functionality of a website. If somebody is savvy enough to install an adblocker they are savvy enough to disable the adblocker if the website they are visiting is broken. Likewise they can whitelist the website if they wish to support the creators via ads. 

If it's an issue, work with the adblocker to refine the filter so only the advertisement is blocked, and ensure that the advertisements are properly separated from other functional aspects of the website. For example, don't insert an advertisement in to the login form and then complain if adblock users can't login. 

 

The way ublock implemented those ad blocks does seem to have been poorly implemented, however you should get accustomed to the idea of adblockers blocking the ads. If there's one thing the internet has demonstrated over the years it is if there is an ad, there's some nerd who is going to develop a way to block it. 

 

 

Since there seem to be a few mod developers here. Have mod developers received permission from modrinth to publish advertisements within your content on their website? According to their terms of service you are not permitted to use the site to; "transmit, or procure the sending of, any advertising or promotional material". It seems using the description of your mod to display advertisements would violate modrinth's terms of service, however I'm not familiar with the website and I'm not aware if modrinth has issued a statement elsewhere which invalidates or excludes you from those terms of service. If you are a mod developer who relies on advertising within your product description I would recommend seeking an official statement or approval for those advertisements from modrinth. If it's not permitted, you may have to find an alternative way to monetize your content regardless of adblockers.


Just to reply to your last bit Modrinth are fine with you having ads.

They made a tweet in support of devs when it all went down:

 

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