posted by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Aug 2010 14:02 UTC
IconWe're still in the slow news period, so let's talk about something we discussed before: blocking advertisements on websites. Up until, well, today, I didn't block ads - not because of some ethical objection or whatever, but simply because I couldn't be bothered to setup AdBlock. Today, after taking a closer look at some of the websites I frequent, I decided to take the plunge and install AdBlock on all my machines. The following set of screenshots should pretty much explain why.

In the screenshots below, I've indicated the ratio between actual content and crap (ads, navigational nonsense, social media junk) on the story pages of several popular websites - including OSNews itself. Red is for advertising, blue for navigational elements, and green for actual content.

As you can see, there are several high-profile websites - such as Engadget and Ars Technica - which have almost no content available above the fold. Mind that I have a fairly large display, so the height of my browser window is 878 pixels (I don't maximise windows). Since most people use displays with far lower resolutions than mine, this means that most people see even less content - if any at all.

One particular trend that's been emerging as of late is to start stories off with large generic images that supposedly tell you something about the story at hand; Ars in particular has been very active in this department. While this looks nice on paper, the end result is that the stuff you actually want to see (content) is pushed below the fold in favour of some image that barely tells you anything and is supposedly funny but never really is. I didn't label these types of images at all - I wanted to label them pitch black but I'm guessing some people may actually see this as content rather than crap.

I've got two good players as well. As much as I often disagree with John Gruber, his website is an oasis of common sense and peace. It has its UI weirdness (story titles are outgoing links, except on the longer items - arbitrary), but overall, it's a beacon of light in the darkness that is the web.

Time to toot my own horn (a weird expression if you ask me, but alas); OSNews is looking pretty good here. We only have one large blue blob, which is our list of small news items. Technically, you could classify this as content, but since we're talking story pages, it's just navigational stuff.

All in all, when I saw this I realised I had no choice but to install the AdBlock extension on my Chrome installs. Can someone please create NavigationalCrapBlock? I want to get rid of most of the blue stuff as well.

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