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The ethics of advertising

Just fin­ished read­ing an ar­ti­cle at Tim­o­thy But­ler's site (see here) and it was a weird feel­ing.

On one hand, I find the idea of the im­moral­i­ty of avoid­ing ads strange. I mean, I am watch­ing TV, ads come, I flip. In­stant­ly. That's why I like that my TV has a way to pro­gram it to cy­cle through se­lect­ed sta­tion­s. That way I can keep com­ing back eas­i­ly, un­til the ads end.

On mag­a­zines and news­pa­per­s... well, if some­one came and told me that flip­ping through the ad pages is moral­ly wrong, I would re­al­ly not give a damn.

But the weird thing is not that (or rather, the oth­er weird thing is some­thing else).

His ar­gu­ment goes like this:

  1. TT has to make mon­ey

  2. The way to make mon­ey is sel­l­­ing their in­­tel­lec­­tu­al prop­er­­ty in some cas­es (in oth­­er­s, it's giv­en for free)

  3. Tim­o­thy says that's not ok.

The oth­er hand says:

  1. Peo­­ple who write on we­b­sites has to make mon­ey.

  2. The way to make mon­ey is to put ads on the site.

  3. Peo­­ple are avoid­ing the ad­s.

  4. That's not ok.

Those two ideas don't seem to have much in com­mon, but lets re­think the is­sue, in terms of pro­vid­ing in­tel­lec­tu­al preper­ty, be it a web­site or soft­ware.

Sup­pose TT would make Qt ad­ware. What do you think Tim­o­th­y's po­si­tion on Qt would be if he could use it for any­thing, but the app would al­ways show an an­i­mat­ed ad us­ing 30% of the screen. With sound.

That is what web­sites are pro­vid­ing. In­t­elec­tu­al prop­er­ty as ad­ware. TT is pro­vid­ing in­tel­lec­tu­al preper­ty in two ways:

  • As free soft­­ware

  • As pro­pri­e­tary com­mer­­cial soft­­ware.

Of course we know that both prop­er­ties are the same code, but it is pro­vid­ed in two ways.

I find both de­liv­ery mech­a­nisms vast­ly su­pe­ri­or to ad­ware, or nag­ware. Tim­o­thy does­n't.

So, in the same way he sug­gest­ed KDE and TT to part ways, I sug­gest how he can avoid all his trou­ble with ad­block­er­s.

Tim­o­thy But­ler should turn of­ in­to a paysite. He should charge you if you want to read it.

Or, he should be up­front about it like sa­lon.­com is: see this ad, then you can read. Of course now I check sa­lon maybe once a week.

So, the main prob­lem would be, for that so­lu­tion, that prob­a­bly noone would pay to read it. Well, wel­come to cap­i­tal­is­m, Tim­o­th­y.

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