You May Also Like, or You Will Almost Certainly Not Like…

20 03 2015

I’m back to complaining about Taboola and its ilk, which I will henceforth refer to as Taboolalikes. They are making the web (and the world) a worse place. Slightly worse, sure. I mean, they’re not Neo-Nazis or toxic waste or… uh… some other really bad thing I can’t think of right now, but they’re still doing it. They lurk down there at the bottoms of articles on so very many sites, including some that really should have more self-respect, and they serve up regular insults to the users’ intelligence, paired with graphics that grab the eye and guarantee that you’re going to read that stupid caption. “30 Hollywood Stars Who Are Really Ugly.” “20 Celebrities You Never Knew Are Black.” Those are paraphrases of completely real articles, and they don’t even touch on all the “One weird trick” garbage. Yes, I know AdBlock exists, and I use it, but every so often something sneaks through and reminds me that the insidious force of creeping stupidity is out there, lurking and waiting to remind us that everything is all about money and dignity ain’t worth a thin dime.

I actually don’t like the idea of using AdBlock. Good sites deserve revenue. Unfortunately, Taboolalikes promise significant revenue with absolutely no effort on the part of the site’s owners, which is why they’re absolutely everywhere. The ideal solution would be ads that don’t suck, but we’ve had years of advertising-supported TV to definitively show us that ads that don’t suck are rare beasties indeed (in fairness, coming up with an ad that’s going to amuse, inspire, or just generally interest a large enough swath of humanity to sell your product effectively is not an easy task). The other option is a subscription model, and I think that’s probably the way to go. I just don’t know if the economics work out. I’m absolutely willing to pay to use certain sites and not get ads, but maybe the money to be gotten from like-minded sorts is a pittance compared to the ad/Taboolalike revenue. I don’t know. I hope not.

Note: I’m pretty sure no ads appear on my posts, but they might – if they do, I have no control over them, and I don’t think I would get any revenue from them, so this isn’t hypocritical.

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