Ads in RSS Explained

I've been thinking about my mini-rant against RSS advertising that I posted last night, trying to pinpoint why it bothers me so much, exactly. There's advertising everywhere else, right? It's just a reality of our culture that I should be used to.

I spend time and effort to avoid ads. On the web I block ad image servers and popups via firefox and I add advertising service IP addresses to my hosts file. I opt-out wherever I can. I own a TiVo and fast-forward through any commercials. I listen almost exclusively to listener-funded stations on the radio, and put up with minimal advertising there. Why? It's a simple matter of signal to noise ratio. I want the content without having to tune out noise.

Why do we fight comment spam? Why did Google implement "nofollow"? Why do we install blacklist extensions? Because the extra noise makes comments useless. Likewise, advertising has made some of my favorite sites less useful to me. I can't visit boingboing via the web anymore. The ads make it look like a w4rez site circa 1998—there's more noise than content, and I don't want to manually filter it out.

Hello RSS, my last sanctuary. A place that I have also put much time and effort into by subscribing to those feeds I find valuable. My list of feeds feels like it's my space. Even though it's others' words, it's configured in a way that's uniquely mine. I save time with RSS because this place strips away the extraneous and gets down to business: the content. I can read boingboing there because there is no onslaught of sexy, flashing banners to filter out. It's the content and nothing but the content—highly efficient.

But now ads are starting to appear like graffiti in my RSS neighborhood. I feel like the authors of these feeds don't respect my time or space if they're increasing the amount of filtering I have to do. So it's my choice to tune them out. I can't stop people from putting ads in their feeds, and most likely the trend will continue. But I'm going to try to keep my sanctuary free from advertising as long as I can. I currently subscribe to hundreds of feeds, and it's not always easy to keep up with them. I may loose a few feeds with this new rule, but good information has a way of making the rounds and bubbling up to the top. And I'll have plenty of feeds without ads to keep me in the loop.

Update: I added some less ranty thoughts about this: RSS Ads Continued.
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