I had planned on posting about this last night, but a late night in the O.R. kept me from it. Consequently, Chad beat me to it, but better late than never, I say.

I join Chad in apologizing to my readers for the tornado ad that started running on ScienceBlogs earlier this week and includes a Flash animated tornado that flies over the page. I don't mind advertising. Really, I don't. After all, something has to pay for ScienceBlogs, and, as much as I like to think my writing is good, I doubt that many people would pay Seed for the privilege of reading it. However, I detest web ads that interfere with content, and ads that animate over the text of a web page almost always do just that. Consequently, I was not at all pleased the first time I saw that tornado. Not only is it distracting and annoying, but, as Chad points out, it destroys the functionality of any links that it happens to "fly" over in Safari and, from what I've heard, a couple of other browsers. When that happens, you have to refresh the page to get the links to work again, but if you do you'd better be fast about clicking on the links, because the tornado will fly over them again shortly after you refresh. (The mechanism that's supposed to keep it from repeatedly doing that that doesn't seem to work that well.) I assure you that the reaction among us ScienceBloggers has been nearly universally negative.

Please feel free to leave your comments about the ads right here. All I ask is that you refrain from profanity.

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I have seen comments about the tornado but I have not seen the tornado that flies over the page. Lucky me, but I am still having commenting problems with some of the blogs at SB, but not all. Not here, for instance. I use Safari.

By Mark Paris (not verified) on 05 May 2006 #permalink

I haven't seen the Tornado, but I have the FlashBlock extension ( installed which replaces all Flash objects with a play button that you can use to play the animation if you really want to see it. FlashBlock protects you from annoying Flash-heavy sites of all types, not just ads, while letting you click on the 1-2% of Flash objects you really want to view.

And, as a number of commenters over at PZ's place have pointed out, AdBlock works like a charm. Just install, go to "List all blockable elements" and select all with * as a wildcard.
As I think I remarked over at Old Respectful Insolence just as you were making the move, there is some risk that Seed / ScienceBlogs will see widespread ad-blocking as a wanton breaking of their rice bowl. However, in this case I think there is nothing for it but to block the ads anyway.
In an ideal world, the ads are symbiotic with the blog, taking their little bit of nutrient and returning some of it as support for the blogger. But when the ad interferes so egregiously with the reader's experience, the symbiont has become a parasite.
In my view, Seed / SB's management needs to examine what they have done to the blog ecology, and try to restore some balance.

Oh, and I should add that in case the scorched-earth effect of blocking _all_ ads with * leaves the blog a little spare for your tase, you can just zap the tornado, or use a less inclusive filter. I find that *ad* takes care of the most obnoxious ones, while leaving (e.g.) Seed's own links ntact.

I just shut down the ad quickly. I think it's terrible that advertisers feel a need to invade the content on the sites they're advertising on. I can see the show they are trying to sell me well enough in the sidebar banner. Unfortunatly, you have no control over who buys ad space.

By Tara Mobley (not verified) on 05 May 2006 #permalink

Well, I usually read via RSS, and click on articles that seem particularly interesting to read the rest. However, this "tornado" might explain why, suddenly, Safari seems to crash about 50% when I try to click through (it's happened on Pharyngula, too, though I hadn't made the connection to the tornado, which I have "successfully" seen a few times as well)...

I don't mind advertising that isn't intrusive (please, please, nothing that makes noise!), as long as it doesn't misbehave and crash my browser!

At first, the tornado is cute (novelty sake). Then it gets annoying. REALLY annoying!!! I am totally annoyed by it at this point.