Is skipping the ads stealing the content?
Would you pay to filter out every online ad in your home?
Ad-blocking is a sensitive subject, especially when your income comes from editors whose budgets are funded by advertising. At the risk of biting the hand that feeds, I think it's worth looking at AdTrap - a crowd-funded Kickstarter project designed to filter out every ad from your home internet connection.
Ad-blocking is nothing new and we've had browser-based ad-blocking for years. AdBlock Plus is probably the best known browser plugin. I started experimenting with AdBlock Plus back when mobile broadband was insanely expensive and I didn't feel like paying for the privilege of watching multimedia ads.
These days I use AdBlock Plus on all my computers and only turn it off for specific sites. It's not that I have some kind of moral objection to advertising. Like I said, without advertising I'd be out of a job. I don't mind online advertising until it becomes so intrusive that it jumps in front of what I'm trying to read, or makes my browser grind to a halt. You might even consider blocking all Flash and social media content by default for these reasons. Every time I turn off AdBlock Plus the intrusive advertising is even worse than I remember it, just like the odd occasion when I listen to commercial radio or watch live commercial television.
If the advertising isn't too over the top then I'm usually prepared to disable AdBlock Plus on specific sites to support them. I guess that leads into the big question here - if you block the ads, are you "stealing" the content? You could ask the same about skipping ads in television shows. It's a grey area and everyone tends to draw their own moral line in the sand.
And so we come to AdTrap, a $120 box designed to sit between your broadband modem and your home network. This way it can filter out ads not only on computers but also smartphones, tablets and any other internet-enabled device. It even targets the pre-roll ads in online videos. I can see how this would appeal to some people but personally I think it's overkill. The ads on smartphones and tablets don't tend to be as intrusive as desktop ads so they don't bother me too much.
If you're blocking absolutely every ad coming into your home, do you support the provider in some other way such as subscribing or donating? When you're supporting the provider you're also helping people put food on the table. It's amazing how many people expect all their content to be free yet presumably still expect to be paid for their own job.
Does the AdTrap grab your interest? Where do you draw the line in terms of advertising, online or otherwise?
Adam Turner is a gadget guru who contributes news, features, reviews, blogs and podcasts to various publications