My current views on Firefox adblocker addons

February 15, 2015

I normally do my web browsing through a filtering proxy that strips out many ads and other bad stuff, and on top of that I use NoScript so basically all JavaScript based things drop out. However this proxy only does http, so I've known for a while that as the web moved more and more to https my current anti-ad solution would be less and less effective. This led to me playing around with various options in my testing browser but never pushed me to putting anything in my main browser. What pushed me over the edge to do this relatively recently was reaching my tolerance limit for Youtube ads and discovering that AdBlock Plus would reliably block them. Adding ABP made YouTube a drastically nicer experience for me; I consider its additional ad-blocking features to basically be a nice side effect.

(The popup ads are only slightly irritating, but then YT started feeding me more and more long, unskippable ads. At that point it was either stop watching YT videos or do something about it.)

What makes a bunch of people twitchy about AdBlock Plus is that it's run by a company plus their business model of allowing some ads through. Although ABP is open source, this means that its development is subject to changes in business model and we've seen that cause problems before. Eventually various things made me uncomfortable and unhappy enough to switch to AdBlock Edge (also), which is a fork of ABP with a bunch of things removed. In my 'basically use the defaults' setup, AdBlock Edge works the same as AdBlock Plus. It certainly removes the YouTube ads, which is what I really care about right now.

(My honest opinion is that AdBlock Plus is probably not going to go bad, partly because a fair number of people are paying attention to it since it's a quite popular Firefox extension. Still, I feel a bit better with AdBlock Edge, perhaps because I've been burned by changing extension business models before.)

Both AdBlock Plus and AdBlock Edge don't appear to have made my Firefox either particularly slow or particularly memory consuming. It's possible that I simply haven't noticed the impact because it's mild enough to not be visible for me, especially given my already filtered non-JavaScript browser environment. People certainly do report that these extensions cause them problems.

Recently µBlock has been in the information sources that I follow, so I gave it a try. Sadly, the results for me aren't positive in that µBlock did nothing to stop YouTube ads. Since this is the most important thing for me, I'm willing to forgive ABP and ABE a certain amount of resource consumption in order to get it. I do like the general µBlock pitch of being leaner and more efficient, so someday I hope it picks up this ability.

(As far as I know there's nothing else that blocks YouTube ads. I'd obviously be happy with a standalone extension for this plus µBlock for general blocking, but as far as I know no such thing exists.)

PS: I use other technology to block the scourge of YouTube autoplay. It's possible that this pile of hacks is interacting badly with µBlock.

Written on 15 February 2015.
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Last modified: Sun Feb 15 03:01:30 2015
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