How to Ban Web Sites from your Computer

Web site advertising is often reasonable, and it is the way that many sites earn enough money to deliver their content. We found our Web hosting service (Pair Communications), which we have used for more than a decade, through a dignified banner ad.

There are unfortunately advertisers that abuse the privilege of access to people’s computers by pushing ads–usually Shockwave Flash–with excessive bandwidth utilization that slows even DSL Internet connections noticeably. (We banned Doubleclick.net from our computer eight or nine years ago, when we were still using a dial-up connection, because it kept refreshing its banner ads.) Other ads superimpose themselves over the page content, and have no button on which to click to close them. Still others vibrate or jiggle back and forth, and are unpleasant to look at. Adding the domains to Internet Explorer’s “Red Circle” list does not keep them off one’s browser, either.

We have found that the following method (which is apparently what at least one shareware package does) will ban a Web site from all access to one’s Internet browser. You need to find the HOSTS file on your hard drive. Ours is at C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC\HOSTS. Edit it as follows to ban Web sites from your computer. Note that you have to add the virtual domain (e.g. ad.doubleclick.net) as well as the base domain (doubleclick.net). Note: the sample banned sites are not part of the original Microsoft material. (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corp. ends with ” # 38.25.63.10 x.acme.com # x client host.”

# Copyright (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corp.
#
# This is a sample HOSTS file used by Microsoft TCP/IP for Windows.
#
# This file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. Each
# entry should be kept on an individual line. The IP address should
# be placed in the first column followed by the corresponding host name.
# The IP address and the host name should be separated by at least one
# space.


# For example:
#
# 102.54.94.97 rhino.acme.com # source server
# 38.25.63.10 x.acme.com # x client host

127.0.0.1 localhost
127.0.0.1 ad.doubleclick.com
127.0.0.1 ad.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1 http://www.doubleclick.com
127.0.0.1 http://www.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1 ds.serving-sys.com
127.0.0.1 http://www.serving-sys.com

As an example, if we put ad.doubleclick.net into our browser line, we get a blank page. We recall banning serving-sys.com from our computer because of a Flash advertisement that covered the page content we were trying to view, and there was no way to close it. It’s possible that the ad did not display properly on the browser we were using, but that is not our problem; it is the advertiser’s responsibility to design the ad so it will work properly on all browsers.

The bottom line is that advertisers’ access to people’s computers is a privilege and not a right, and abusive conduct as perceived by the user (such as overuse of connection bandwidth, intrusive ads, opening new browser windows without permission, and so on) is a good way to have a privilege taken away.

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