Strong opinions, weakly held

The cure is worse than the disease

You know, I expect a certain level of idiocy from half-baked ad blocking shareware, but you’d hope for more from a big company that sells software bundled with millions of PCs. When it comes to Symantec, that’s not the case. Tony Spencer ran into a little problem with his classified ad application:

After getting several more of these I became concerned and managed to get a few users to send screenshots and HTML source. We were all stumped. The page was fully loaded except the links to the classified ads were missing. There were no errors in the logs.

What could be the problem? How about Norton Internet Security running on the users’ computers. Here’s how NIS works:

Ad Blocking maintains a list of more than 200 HTML strings that are associated with advertisements

For example, Ad Blocking prevents Web pages whose URL includes www.ad.siemens.com from being displayed because the URL includes the HTML string “AD.”

That’s dumb, and people actually pay for it.


  1. I have encountered this problem a long time ago and learnt not to use those kind of words anywhere in my code.

    I use the Hebrew equivalent so no software blocks my website elements.

    Did you know that the Hebrew word for “ad” is “pirsomet”?

    Here is the latest such problem I have encountered.


  2. Slashdot just ran a very similar story based on a Cory Doctorow blog post.

  3. I don’t see what the problem is here. The user runs ad-blocking software; the ads in the application are blocked. D’oh.

    There is something of a contradiction in that the user is running both a classified ad application — which implies he/she wants ads displayed — and ad-blocking software — which implies he/she doesn’t want ads displayed. But the software vendor can’t be blamed for this.

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