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December 09, 2005

Reading Articles Without Ads

I listen to NPR in the mornings on the way to work, but I get most of my news from online sources throughout the day. Google News aggregates stories for me, but it's a little disorienting to read five different stories on five different online news sites. One thing many of them have in common, though, is that the articles themselves are usually bombarded on all sides by ads. And a lot of the ads have moving parts. Also, there are often ads between paragraphs of an article. Ugh.

Now the first thing I look for on these pages is a "Printer-Friendly" or "Print This Page" link. Clicking it usually results in another window opening up with a barebones, mostly ad-free version of the page suitable for printing. That's what I wanted in the first place! Not only does it print better, it's easier to read. So instead of reading the regular version, I can read the printer-friendly version. And when I forward particularly interesting articles to friends, I always give them a direct link to the printer-friendly version. However, I usually have to dig around in the source code to find it.

In general, I don't like "Printer-Friendly" links. It's very easy for developers to code pages so that they just print out friendly without making the user click on a link. But now they're going to look at their stats and say, "Look how many people are clicking the printer-friendly links! People love printing our articles! Let's keep doing it this way!" When really all we're doing is sneaking past the ads.

Posted at December 9, 2005 09:48 AM


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