December 12, 2011, 2:25 PM — Uber-popular Internet ad-blocking Firefox Add-on AdBlocker Plus got a new feature with the beta-test build of Adblock Plus 2.0, which was posted today: the ability to not block ads.
If it seems odd that an app called Adblock Plus – whose slogan is "annoyance-free web surfing – would change course to the extent not only of allowing some ads, but turning the function that allows them on by default, you're right. It is. Adblock Plus is one of the more useful of a handful of generally ineffective or awkward apps to block ads online. Opening a hole in it isn't a mortal sin, but it's certainly an invitation to let others commit them.
The change comes for a good reason, the developers insist.
By allowing ads that fit specific criteria that define them as "acceptable" and "non-intrusive," the developers claim to be supporting web sites that depend on advertising, but only do so with ads that are not intrusive or annoying.
"By doing this you support websites that rely on advertising but choose to do it in a non-intrusive way. And you give these websites an advantage over their competition which encourages other websites to use non-intrusive advertising as well. In the long term the web will become a better place for everybody, not only Adblock Plus users. Without this feature we run the danger that increasing Adblock Plus usage will make small websites unsustainable." – AdblockPlus 2.0 FAQ, Dec. 12, 2011
The ad-allowing feature ships with the default set to "Allow" because most users won't turn it on by themselves, because most won't change the default settings unless absolutely required to do so, according to the FAQ.
Also, advertisers won't be interested in switching to non-intrusive forms of advertising unless the majority of Adblock Plus users have the "acceptable" ads setting enabled, the FAQ said.
It's a decent argument, or would be if we weren't five years past the point at which advertising became irreparably intrusive and annoying – the primary reason Adblock Plus has an audience in the first place.
The problem with ads is not the pop-ups and flashing graphics and interstitials and all the other annoying little things that flare up when you're trying to get to something else.