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Kill Interspersed Commercials (was Re: KidCode: Next steps)

From: Terje Norderhaug <Norderhaug.CHI@xerox.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 1995 19:05:25 -0800
Message-Id: <ac0bd5f60a0210042073@[130.191.9.113]>
To: Darren New <dnew@sgf.fv.com>
Cc: Nathaniel Borenstein <nsb@nsb.fv.com>, Wes Morgan <morgan@engr.uky.edu>, www-talk@www10.w3.org
At 10:38 AM 6/19/95, Darren New wrote:
>Except that people publishing adult material generally don't mind if you
>avoid it, while people publishing ads generally do.

Guess we are ready for a surprise when somebody combines these...
An adult site with interspersed commercials might have quite some interest
in getting visitors.

>Given the growth rate of the web and everything on it, and given the
>number of new links and new documents each day, I would think it would
>cost a *lot* of money to try to police the entire web for commercial
>content, especially since the advertisers won't want to make it easy for
>you. However, if you want to do this, go for it.

It is the same problem that any group has that want to avoid specific
content. It is all to bad it would be hard to search for interspersed ads
automatically :-(

>> 1. Start by building a database of links to commercials (blacklist).
>
>Hmm. Somehow, I expect HP's entire site is one huge ad. Yet, if I'm
>looking for an HP printer, that's exactly where I want to go, and if I'm
>not, then I don't need to go there anyway.

However, they arent the problem.

>The only ads that are actually objectionable (I would think) are the ones
>that are embedded in other documents.  It's a poor ad indeed that you
>don't know before following the link that it's an ad.  (Well, maybe not.
>But it's a poor ad that you don't recognise as an ad right away. :-)

YES! These are exactly the ads that should be targetted, since they are
central in a commercial-based revenue model for the Web. Interspersed ads mess
up what content are produced, as a result of the economical situation they
create. The other ads are just fine, and don't have to be filtered.

>Don't get the web confused with broadcast media.  You don't *have* to
>listen to the ads to get to the information.

No confusion. Any ad interspersed in the information will to some degree
clutter up your reading, limiting how much info you can read at a time and
require your attention to get around. However, the Web might be more
similar to a magazine when it comes to the role of the ad (and in other
ways as well).

>If the fact that there are
>ads there is a problem, you can go someplace else, and advertisers will
>hear about it.   Don't you think that if Purina (say) got a bunch of
>complaints about their new radio commercial where people said "Your
>commercial is so offensive I changed the channel" they would change it?

Research on the topic has shown that people remember better an ad they have
zapped away from, than one that they have seen. Thus advertisers might not
necessarrily be that unhappy for people jumping off a page with an ad.
Currently, you don't get a warning that a link you intend to follow leads to
a page with an interspersed ad.

>OK. How about if I volunteer your site?  ;-)   Seriously, are these
>volunteers going to get sued for libel? What happens when people
>rearrange their sites, and it's no longer ads there?

The combination of  individuals that propose ads to avoid, and a
clearinghouse for approving which to avoid, might solve this.
Alternatively, the rating might be based on voting, where for example a
button on your browser can be used to identify an ad. When a number of
people have notified a server this way about an ad, a filter would be
triggered. Thus just a few people would see the ad, and thus potentially
change the revenue model so that it does not make sense to have
interspersed ads. Again, same technology as for self-censoring.

>> I encourage you to build on this to propose other ideas that might further
>> the purpose of defeating the advertisement based revenue model for the Web.
>
>Well, since I have nothing against advertisements in a medium where I
>don't have to listen to them to get to the information, I'll leave that
>up to you.  I agree that ads interspersed in the middle of a web page are
>very annoying, but I don't see it as that much of a problem, either.

I do, and the main reason is not that the interspersed ad is irritating. I
don't want another medium with "50 channels and nothing on", as have been
the result of an advertisement based revenue model on commercial
television.

>> there might be a wish for seeing _related_ commercials in content, just as
>> many read trade magazines partly for the ads.
>
>Right. I also can't imagine anyone with half a brain paying to put an
>automobile commercial in the middle of a web page about cats.  I don't
>hear pet-food commercials at 2AM, I hear phone-sex commercials. And
>truck-driving school commercials on daytime TV, and new car commercials
>on rush-hour radio.  So I would expect *most* ads to be related to what
>you're looking at.

Well, I have seen several ads in popular search engines. The ads are
not related to what I am looking at. (However, it wouldn't be that hard to
implement the engine so it gives you an ad that match your search ;-)
Just having documents on the web that relates to things you can buy would
be somewhat constrained. Suddenly, the main purpose of the Web became to
sell you things... not information.

>> Exactly! The revenue model of the Web will be changed to the better.
>
>I agree that paying to fetch would probably be an improvement, due to
>being the consumer rather than the product.  :-)

I would like to restate the same without the smiley:

Paying to fetch would be an improvement, due to being the consumer rather
than the product!

>> However, it might be worth considering to support users choice in way of
>> paying. Those that rather view ads should be able to. On the other hand, it
>> would be a bad idea to protect advertisers as web technology is furthered.
>
>Probably the best mechanism would be to include commercials if the person
>doesn't pay, or allow them to get the pages without commercials if they
>do pay.  I think that's probably a better model than how to avoid the ads
>in spite of the content provider.

Agree, and this limits the number of items needed for a "blacklist" of
pages with interspersed ads.

>> Decentralize as much as possible.
>
>Um, that's what KidCode proposes, and lots of people think it's a bad
>idea to trust the author instead of some central authority.

I was thinking about decentralize towards the readers, not the author.

>You're trying to solve a different problem than I am.

Yes. However, they intersects to some degree.

>My concern is not
>"how do I get effective and personalized censorship for myself" but rather
>"how do I get rid of censorship."

My concern is "how do I get only the information I want in the way I want it".
You might phrase this as self-censoring all the irrelevant information...
Ads are just one of many criteria I think should be a part of a general filter.

>> I propose that instead of tagging the content with "ratings", they should
>> be tagged with criteria that can be used to calculate a rating. Thus,
>> instead of coding the document with "Not appropriate for kids below 7",
>> it should be coded with something like "Intercouse, visible penis, blood,
>> rape, no nude women" on which an algorithm can be run to calculate a rating.
>
>Honestly, if you stuck something like this where a kid might see it,
>you're already in trouble.  :-)  One of the advantages of KidCode is you
>don't have to receive a list of objectionable words in advance. ;-)

Hopefully no US kids below 5 read this :-) The suggestion is meant to be
taken seriously - and it appears to be usable within your KidCode framework
as well.
(just encrypt the dirty words if you're afraid anyone will se them ;-)

>> This allows different rating algorithm, in the same way as logical markup of
>> web documents allows tailored presentations. It is less cultural dependent,
>> and more open for various individual preferences.
>> I am sure that it would be possible to create
>> some form for categories based on this. Then, pick a random selection of
>> movies, identify which categories are present, and run this with the actual
>> rating into a fuzzy system. Voila, you have an automatic rather that
>> follows their norm...
>
>Um.... maybe. I'm less impressed with inference engines than you are, I
>think. Again, if something slips thru, are you going to take
>responsibility for it?

OK, just calculate the rating then, after some algorithm which
might be as simple as:

maxAge = 0;
if Murder then maxAge := 3; (might be a little high in an US context :-)
[...]
if Intercourse and maxAge <= 21 then maxAge := 21;
if kidAge < maxAge then dont-show-link-to-this-document;

Parents might fill in a form that defines what is appropriate for their kids.
Kids might restrict that further (!) if they would like to avoid certain
content when they are home alone... ;-) and the scheme still work even when
accessing information located in another country and originally targetted
(and marked up) for another culture.

>I'm too busy to worry about zapping commercials against the publisher's
>will.  It would honestly be inappropriate to try, given the business I am
>in, and perhaps contradictory to my employment contract.  :-)

Zapping interspersed commercials is very much in the interest of FV.
A revenue model based on interspersed commercials are in direct competition
with the activities of First Virtual, as it provides an alternative revenue
strategy to trading content.

Are you afraid to meet an advertiser after dark? :-)

-- Terje <Norderhaug.CHI@xerox.com>
   <URL:http://www.ifi.uio.no/~terjen/>
Received on Monday, 19 June 1995 22:07:14 GMT

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