Adblockers, Javascript Switch-Off-ers – What You’re Missing Out on

(Edit to add: I wrote this in 2011, two site rehauls ago. A lot of the extras I mentioned aren’t even here anymore. I may repeat the experiment sone time but at the moment, I’m not really doing much that requires scripts or even just cookies, so I’ll wait until I do.  But the general idea still holds up. And I’m more convinced than ever that site designers should always surf with an add-on like Noscript active, just to see what a drag they’re putting on the surf experience. )

A while ago, a thread came up at a forum about how to deal with people using ad blockers. ‘Cause, you know, a lot of webcomics sites are financed by ads, and it’s kind of important to get you guys to see them.

There were two major groups of opinions: Those who put a note on their site asking ad blocker users (politely, to a variety of degrees) to switch those things off. And those who wouldn’t.

I’m one of those who wouldn’t.

Using an ad blocker or any security blanket that makes your browser not display the stuff you don’t want to see is a matter of your privacy, and I’m in no position to challenge that. I want you to be comfortable reading my comics, and if displaying ads makes you wary, you have a right to make yourselves comfortable. (My ads, if and when I use them which is a whole different issue, are non-aggressive, though. No noise, no popping up. Promise!)

Also, the ads I’m using, if any, are from Project Wonderful. I don’t get paid by the page view. I get paid through a bidding process that depends more on who’s around that day to bid on my ad boxes than on who gets to see the stuff. Page views factor in, as they make my site attractive to bidders, but that’s just an indirect connection. And, based on my stats, I don’t think the difference in page views is that large.

I’m using NoScript myself, to avoid displaying annoying Javascript and Flash stuff. It also blocks ads, though I don’t really need it to. (I’m fine with ads as long as they’re quiet and stay within their layout position. I spent decades reading magazines, learning to not get disturbed by them.) Sometimes when I get to a new page, I have to reload it three times with different NoScript settings to make it work. Actually, if you’re a web designer yourself, I highly recommend running NoScript all the time, especially on your own sites, so you can see the first (and, often, second and third) impression you make on a new visitor with filters. And how annoying it is. I’m looking at you, flash intro people!

(Edit to add: Of course, ad blockers don’t always just block the bad stuff. At one site I’m overseeing, two of the image galleries failed to show, but only for some viewers. I couldn’t replicate it until we narrowed it down to an ad blocker I didn’t have. There was nothing at all in the code that would have triggered an ad blocker. Turned out, the plugin I’m not going to name here because that would be mean filtered all images that were in a folder called “ads”.)

I’ve designed my site to work without any of the fancy stuff, and I suppose so did the creators of WordPress and ComicPress. But there may be some functions that don’t work right unless you open the floodgates. I’ve switched them off in my own browser for now so I can point you towards them. So, let’s see what doesn’t work and what works differently.

The Site Basics
Comments function still works. All in all, the layout still looks the same. If this was the German site, I could even tell you that the shop still works. Much to my own surprise. Maybe I should disable cookies as well?
What doesn’t seem to work (it used to, though, in earlier versions) is the comic chapter drop-down menu in the sidebar. I’ll have to talk to Frumph about that at some point.

The Ads
PW’s ad code circumvents ad blockers. Or so it claims. I only know about Noscript, and, yes, the ad still shows. That’s good because if it didn’t, that would screw with my layout.

Social Buttons
I’m using opt-in social media buttons (Shariff), so naturally they show all right.

The Shiny Stuff
As stated above, I don’t have that much shiny stuff that you’d need a plugin for. Sometimes, instead of a graphics-only comics page, I’ll post something more interactive, like the Who’s Who and What’s What cover. You need javascript to fully enjoy that one, but I make a point of testing these things without javascript, too, at least on good browsers. Because I hate it when a site looks like crap.

The Bottom Line
So, if you surf this site without full functionality, you’re missing out on some interactive stuff, but nothing that really matters. If you want to share this site with others, this gets a lot clumsier than it would be otherwise. But all in all, I’m actually surprised how little you miss out on.

I’ll try to keep it that way.

(I wish you could +1 me for that right now, but you’d have to switch your javascript back on first, right?)