An Open Letter Regarding AdBlock and Revenue Loss.

CaptureAs many readers would know, WordswithMeaning! is a site that is not founded on the principle of making a profit. Although we never see a rich cash flow, we still have to make ends meet and attempt to break even after the costs of hosting servers and running the site. WordMean currently absorbs over ten thousand hits per day but financially the site is only JUST monetized.

I myself am a user of AdBlock, and I do agree that it is an intuitive and will help you save bandwidth as well as be able to ignore Facebook ads and non-family-friendly ones too – but it actually does harm the smaller sites.

[adblockingdetector id="1"]

Put it this way: I love AdBlock and I would never insist that it be an illegal add-on but when it comes to sites that depend on ad revenue rather than sales, it’s a bit of a pain.

Anyone not using AdBlock would agree that the banner ads we show are non-intrusive and very minimalist. In fact, there are only two banner ads running through the whole website – one is below the homepage and the other is on the right hand side of the home page and selected articles. We hate the ads that display content-rich media and audio as much as you do, that’s why we don’t allow it on the site.

WordswithMeaning!’s Promise to YOU:

We will never charge for content or require registrations.

We will never accept cash bonuses for recommending products.

We will never show rich media advertisements (flash, audio, intrusive drop-downs etc.)


In an interview with Wladimir Palant – the developer of AdBlock – on FirefoxFacts, Palant was asked if he had ever been offered payment to stop blocking ads on sites. “It is mostly owners of small websites who care – and suspect that they would earn millions if it weren’t for AdBlock Plus. But those would never pay”

His answer was not only factually incorrect, but rather arrogant. Small website owners are struggling to keep up with their monthly overheads and that has always been the case – but I would consider WordswithMeaning! to be a larger site. Like I said before, we serve thousands of daily readers. Sure, I would love to be able to watch TV without an ad break, but nobody forces me to watch the ads.

I’m an advocate of democracy and choice but I’m not the corporate CEO of a million dollar company and to continue providing what we love, we have to be able to cope financially.

On the AdBlock blog Wladimir assumed that we have other avenues for revenue

So, where does the money come from? Basically, there are two possibilities. One is purchases done on the Internet. The other is investments by companies who usually hope that these investments will help their products sell better. Advertisements are only a mechanism to distribute this money (one of many mechanisms). And usually, the idea is to distribute the money depending on how much revenue a particular site generated for the advertiser. That’s right, it is not important how many ads have been squeezed into each single web page, it is not important how many times they have been viewed, it is not even important how many users have been distracted from what they were doing. It is only important how many people actually decided to click through to advertiser’s site and to buy something, thus justifying this ad… Now what happens if people start to block ads? First of all, everybody who hates ads and wouldn’t click them anyway now blocks ads…

But what if we aren’t trying to sell a product? We certainly refuse to offer a subscription service to recoup costs – hell; we don’t even have a login policy for reading or commenting because it would destroy part of the experience. I agree with the statement that those who dislike ads wouldn’t usually click them anyway, but sometimes it’s more than just ads that are being blocked. Don’t get me wrong, websites bathing in spam are to blame as well but the ill-informed claim “advertising doesn’t make money” is inexcusable.

We have had many features become intermittent due to the mechanism of the AdBlock’s ‘seek for the ad’ style of system. Also note – not all of the ads on the site are in fact for revenue, with many being for {anarchist, anti-conservative, war-hating, censorship-hating} organizations and activists we support.

WordswithMeaning! has had trouble with the implementation of AdBlock because it undercuts the only funding available. Sites like Facebook, CNet and any other ‘major’ network will have other revenue streams and therefore what AdBlock is actually doing is creating a corporate world wide web. The web is supposed to be ‘open’ and ‘free’ but the small self-governing providers may end up having no encouragement and motivation to continue –  and consequently this could lead to further web monopolization when the heavily institutional websites take their place.

About Author



As founder and editor-in-chief, Cask J. Thomson has exhausted his life as a graphics designer, political activist, freedom of speech advocate, anti-censorship promoter and a published author of several computer science books and a graphic novel. As well as running the publishing company linked to WordMean, Cask has several aspirations as a musician, producer and journalist. Thomson was born in the United Kingdom and currently resides between Sydney, Australia and Alicante, Spain.

  • Simoon

    What do you think about the Acceptable Ads initiative of Adblock Plus?

    • WordMeanTeam

       Well providing that people agree to use it, then yes it is a good idea. What we think of it exactly? Well if it means not blocking the ads that either direct you to a non-profit organization or even if features weren’t flagged as ads. We have reported false-flagging to AdBlock numerous times (the sliders on the site have been playing up with AdBlock on) and we have yet to hear anything back!
      But hey, like the author said – it’s not about generating big bucks, it’s about finding a way to break even without having to force revenue-making schemes upon readers.

      – Site admin

  • Jollibee

    Users sometimes use Ad Blocking to enhance privacy. As using it blocks third parties.

    Thus I recommend Tor ( ) to those people to view your site.

    Using this, I can still see the ads but I have no worries as I am not tracked.

    Using Tor Browser Bundle, I’m not tracked because data (including ads) is relayed from computer to computer.

    • Android

      Absolutely! The site uses HTTPS now which is awesome, but if anyone is truly concerned then the site should promote TOR because they do support the TOR community heavily!!

      • WordMeanTeam

         @5f497781d00834233b43a013af1d60c8:disqus and @bb3f37bcf0a69da795d3d45d3f867edc:disqus  – duly noted, We will be promoting Tor within the next day or so with small link on the header of the home page.

  • Mark01

    Agree with the above comments – this post isn’t JUST about wordmean, but the site does embrace anonymity and even in the footer it says they don’t mind about fake email addresses and stuff so Tor is a sure fire hit, that’s why I love the site

  • Ralf


    I see your concern but I prefer to keep the Adblock running and click once to donate a couple of bucks. So that’s why I am asking if it wouldn’t make more sense to add a donate button when the Adblock is recognized?


    • Mark0

      I think it’s because people don’t donate via mobile phone or other methods. The website for some reason was banned from PayPal because it apparently is against their guidelines (lol obviously because they criticised PayPal so heavily for their views on Wikileaks)