How to get rid of your advertising revenue by advertising

created (updated in this commit)

Are you running an ad blocker? Sure you are. I don’t care. I’m not running ads anyways. But many providers seem to compensate in exactly the wrong direction.

Case Study: – Selling your screen space

I’m writing for the online magazine on the side. This way I can spread the good news about FLOSS, while also making a quick buck. At the same time, I get that the servers of this outlet are not financed by goodwill and love, but advertisements. There is only a small issue with how advertising is done at the moment: It’s ineffective and annoying. Sure, I’ll buy your stuff if you just shove it in my face hard enough. Of course, please inform me about your newest offer acoustically, I just love when my browser suddenly starts making noises. Please, reload the ads every few seconds.

Excuse me, there is some article in my ad!

Screenshot of without an ad blocker

I’ve recently written a small article on how Apple and Google give the US government access to your push notifications. Out of curiosity, I’ve opened this in a fresh and unconfigured browser, just like the one your grandma or father might use. Yup, don’t see an issue here.

It’s not obnoxious enough. Add some cancer ads!

Even better, after throwing it in the background for a moment (just until the page has loaded about 500 Megabyte of data, I wish I was kidding) the page content got overlaid by tobacco ads. Thanks, I didn’t want to view the actual content anyway.

Screenshot of a bit later

I’ve reached out to Lars, the editor-in-chief about this, and his response was pure gold: He’s using Brave – a browser with integrated ad blocking. I wonder why he might be doing that.

Case Study: – Selling you

180 million monthly views for a data-intense application can get expensive, I think we can all agree on that., one of the best online dictionaries I know of, would probably agree. I tend to just “follow” the classic antipatterns through to disagreeing with data collections. Until one day I didn’t. Instead, I almost snorted noodle soup. is sharing information about me with a select group of partners. This select group has 779 members.

Screenshot of’s consent banner

Wow, that must’ve been a ton of work to manually vet all those partners. I can fully understand the need for to pay for their infrastructure and employees, but I personally can’t help but disagree with the means through which this is achieved. I’ll gladly pay you 1 € a month or 10 € a year. This far exceeds the cost you incur through my usage, and in exchange: please don’t sell me to almost 780 “trusted” partners. Especially not right after telling me that you care about my privacy. Obviously not a lot.

We are a part of the problem

Let’s not beat around the bush. Us using the ad blockers is making that problem worse, not better. Just like how servers aren’t running with well-meaning words, neither are writers. Having a team of not-AI writers on staff requires at least some money to come in, and if the average revenue of an article falls below what a writer makes per article, then they have to be paid for out of pocket. But how can we address this issue?

By paying.

If the need for money is the issue, withholding it is not the solution

Similar to how lacking investment in infrastructure can’t be fixed through frugality, the lack of money from advertising can’t be blocked like that. There are two options: pay for what you consume or see how it ultimately falls away, it’s content potentially being lost forever.

Do you want quality journalism, in-depth reviews, someone who actually tells their opinion? You won’t get it by not paying. Instead, you will get some AI-generated rewrite of an existing article, a review paid for by the manufacturer, and somebody watching their every word to make sure they don’t upset an advertiser. Most people tend to avoid paying for information, especially nowadays. Unfortunately this trend is unlikely to revert: Most would rather have low quality for free, than pay for higher quality, because paying means work. Just like with the fall of piracy when Netflix was the go-to solution because it was easy, it is just easier to click “accept all” and move on. And still: few, if any, companies can survive on selling data alone. They are in desperate need of private financiers who care (that means you, not Rupert Murdoch). If you like a good blog, shoot it 5 $ at the end of the year. Not only will it be a huge motivation, it will also help in keeping the offer you enjoyed available and might help in creating more. In other words: you are likely to profit from donating, even if not monetarily.

Quality content is possible

LWN – an admittedly very niche site provides excellent articles while not showing ads and only embedding a moderate amount of trackers. At the same time some of the highest quality articles are only available for members who leave a few bucks there per month.

Would such a model be possible for or I would hope so, but in the end, I am not sure if other people would agree with me on not wanting to be a leech.

Causing the least damage as a working principle

When I move around the internet, I try to cause as little damage as possible. This includes paying for services I use in order to block ads and tracking without a worry and helping Free Software projects reach more people. Then again, I firmly reject the label capitalist, so maybe that has something to do with it. Taking without giving back just seems wrong to me1.

Speaking of giving back: If you are an artist or otherwise create stuff you would like to share, I offer free hosting for artists and other creatives. If you are interested in hosting your stuff with me, feel free to reach out through one of the many communication channels described on the homepage.

  1. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big proponent of try-before-you-buy. All games I buy are installed as cracks and I only later buy them if I actually like playing them. ↩︎

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