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I don't support all the free comics I read Am I a bad person

An argument against comic ripping programs (and one I completely understand) is that the claim that they don't support comic artists. How do they do this? Because they don't show a comic artists advertisements, which is a common form of revenue for cartoonists who create free comics.

It is argued by some that people who don't support the cartoonist by viewing advertisements shouldn't be viewing the webcomic.

So if I found other methods to avoid having to view the ads, such as joining a mailing list for Userfriendly, where someone goes to the index page, downloads the image, and then gives it away free for everyone who is on the mailing list. This would be bad because I'm not supporting the artist, by going to their website and downloading the comic myself.

Forgetting the legal issues, many claim it is morally wrong because I'm not viewing that advertisement which pays for the free comic. However many here, probably by accident, most likely don't view all the advertisements on some of their webcomics.

I'm talking about pop ups of course. Popups are hated by many, but despite this, some websites (including webcomic websites) use them in their advertisements. Making a new window appear that features the advert. By viewing that advertisement, I am supporting the cartoonist who has used them on his website. Which is the exact same thing I'm doing when I view other forms of advertising.

So are people who don't view popups via means of numerous programs, bad people because they're not supporting the cartoonist?

NOTE: Just because at the moment webcomic websites can't tell if you've blocked a popup doesn't make it any less morally wrong.

Bryan Prindiville's picture

By reading a comic you are under no obligation to visit any advertisement that is shown on the page. By going to the page itself you are supporting that comic by being a unique visitor which drives up the pageviews. That in turn makes the visited site more attractive to companies / individuals who would want to advertise on your site to reach a substantial number of potential customers.

No advertiser expects every person that goes to a sight to click on their banner. It would be nice but it'll never happen.

Advertisements, by rule, are ignored unless it is something that an individual finds personally beneficial or intriguing.


Bryan Prindiville's picture

First off, the last thing I want to do is tick off someone named Giant Panda... you have the floor.

Second: Guest, thought exercise or not I think you missed my point. I said viewers SHOULD go to the artists site. However, viewers have the right to not click through a banner that they do not find appealing or interesting. You can't expect me to click-thru to a Hentai site if I'm not into it, sorry, not gonna happen. I don't care if they had to take out a second mortgage to pay for the ad.

Do you read every ad that you find in a magazine, including the classified sections? Its a chance that every advertiser takes.

Finally, in my opinion, pop up ads are spam. They are ussually employed by free-hosting multi-site servers for blind-marketing across a wide number of non-related clients. Of all the comic sites I visit only ones that fit this catagory seem to have pop up ads.

I reconize that you stated your post wasn't an attack but that mine is a defense. I just think it is unrealistic to expect someone to have to deal with advertising that is unaccomodating (pop-ups) or support you by clicking on every link that you happen to put on your site. We have free speach but they do have freefom of choice.

(This has cemented my position against ripping, however, I think.)
((I do believe this is alos the longest forum post I have ever made.))
(((you still awake?)))

Bryan Prindiville's picture

Ok, I think I'm with you now... then again maybe not because I just deleted 2 paragraphs worth of writing after rereading your last post.

I guess I can sum up my opinions as such: Ads that are physically part of the website (designed in) should of course be shown. Pop-up ads are a different animal and are commonly viewed as annoyance. If you choose to use a service (or do so yourself) that promotes this form of online advertising you go into it knowing public opinion ahead of time. Pop up blockers are commonplace plug in you have to expect it.

One thing I want to question: You said by blocking the ads you are "stealing bandwidth"... I'm not sure if this is correct. Because you are actually at the site as a Unique visitor. You just have chosen not to even look at the ads going in and this is not (I believe) information that is available to potential advertisers. I think I have this correct but admit fully that I could be in error.

If I'm right, then I don't care if they are actually looking at my ads or not. Their pressence at my url is giving my site more credibility. They are supporting me by visiting the site.

-bry (this is fun)

Clint Hollingsworth's picture

I have a strip on Keenspot, and I block the damn pop-ups!

even more scary is when the advertising serving company doesn't police their #@!#!! advertisers. Check out this thread...

Clint Hollingsworth

The Wandering Ones Webcomic

No, you're not a bad person for not supporting comics you read.
Hell, I don't even support my own comic - I run on Keenspace's bare necessity for me to put their ads.

This is probably because I have no interest in making money off of my comic. I'm more interested in just getting it out there than anything else.

Erik Melander's picture

I could be wrong about this, but doesnt most sites that sell ads do so using the pageviews as a factor? My point is that it isn't adviews that sell adspace, they are usually used by charging x adviews for x dollars. It is the ability to say "my website has 50 000 uniqe people visiting a week" thats important.
I suppose the equivalent would be a newspaper. Ads are their major income as well and they sell adspace using the number of readers, not the number who actually read the ads.

[edit] Damn you grinningdog for beating me to it :wink: [/edit]

Above and beyond the issue of generating revenue from advertising on a cartoonist's website, tracking your unique visitors can often be an incentive to a cartoonist. Watching that number go up is both rewarding on a personal level and encouraging on a professional level. Watching the number of unique visitors go down is valuable information as well, allowing the cartoonist to evaluate how a recent change in the comic may be affecting its overall readership.

Of course, this is one opinion, but I rely on knowing my traffic numbers for the reasons stated above, and more. It allows me to gauge my audience to aid me in future decisions such as product development, deciding whether my audience is solid enough to invest the countless hours into developing a print comic story for sale, or offering cool free gifts to readers. It is important to see this type of feedback as a creator of an intellectual property.

I'm all for the largest audience possible, however...professional courtesy and tact could have gone a long way from the get go of the comic aggregators being debated in these forums.

With that said, and knowing that the world is less than perfect, I am willing to adapt and find a way to make this work so I can still get the data I need and the readership I desire and retain the distribution control I've earned as the creator of "my" brand. And if I don't like the results, there is always a way out.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

I wouldn't worry too much about blocking pop-ups. Pop-ups are on their last legs. I think every third party browser blocks them and for those still using IE there are tonnes of blocker tools. They were an example of advertisers going too far and getting too into your face and pissing off the people who were their target market. They got a lot more click-thrus but only because people accidently clicked on the pop-up trying to shut it down manually.

Banner ads are very small in file size and they're incorporated aesthetically into the site's design so as not to be too "in-your-face". This is probably the reason why banner ads are still the ad model of choice for most webcomics even though pop-ups pay more. We have more control over where the ads go and they don't interfere with our reader's experience like pop-ups do.

Is it wrong to be part of the User Friendly e-mail list?

How does the author of User Friendly feel about it? Does he feel the e-mail list victimizes him, or is he okay with it. The aqdvantage of the e-mail list is it doesn't steal his bandwidth and it builds a community for his comic. Maybe he likes that. The disadvantage is he loses pageviews which makes his site attractive to advertisers and he loses adviews. How does the artist feel about the e-mail list? If he endorses or supports the e-mail list then it's "no-harm no-foul". If he feels victimized by the e-mail list then yes, what you are doing is wrong.

It's the artist's work, so it's up to the artist to decide what distribution of his work is right and what is wrong.

Some artists have very liberal attitudes with their work.

For most parts I tend to be a "share the wealth" kind of guy. I freely allow people to cut and paste my art to make avatars for chatrooms and BBSes (in fact, I even made a big whopping set of avatars people can feel free to use). I freely allow people to include characters from my strip in cameo and guest roles in their own strips. I freely allow people to cut and paste my panels to create their own "Ghastly's Ghastly Comic" guest strips, if they can't draw (I do prefer ones they draw themselves though. It just feels more special, like a card your kids make for you instead of a store-bought one). I freely encourage people to draw their own "Ghastly's Ghastly Comic" fan art (I love that stuff).

However, I do draw the line at people actually distributing my strips off my site, particularily hotlinking them.

You are only a bad person if you think blocking the ads of comics you view is a bad thing. It's like you said, it's a moral question.

If your moral tells you it's enough to read a comic in a comic ripper in order to support it, why bother?

Pop-ups, as so masterfully characterized, are an exception to a very basic rule exactly because they go too much in the other direction and are *NOT* controlled (by and large) by webcomic site owners. In any case, yes, allowing a page to load as intended is one thing, clicking on the banners is of another species. Like magazine ads, they ask you to put up with them when you buy the magazine, they do not make you (legitimately) buy anything off of them.

This post makes less sense than I'm used to...I'm going to bed.


Eric Burns's picture

I had to wrestle with this question when setting up Websnark. Websnark lives and dies by being able to use the strips I snark about in examples. At the same time, I'm morally opposed to, as Ghastly put it, distributing comic strips without the permission of the artist. (And as for stealing their bandwidth by putting hotlinks to their site? There's a place in Hell for someone who does that on a site they accept advertising for, and I don't intend to visit it, thank you.)

For me, the solution was thumbnailing the strips I use as example, in my bandwidth (so you can sort of see the points I'm trying to make when looking at the post), but linking the image to the page (not the image alone) on the originating site -- so if you want to be able to see the full image, you have to go to their site, seeing the strip in their context, including annotations, rants, advertisements or whatnot.

No one is obligated to click on someone's ads, but fair use or no fair use, the pseudo-commentary/critical community has a responsibility to make sure their readers have the opportunity to *see* those ads. In my opinion.

Except popups. There are limits, you know.

I think calling advertising "spam" is a bit misleading. I mean, SPAM has generally come to mean unsolicited communication. In the case of advertising, YOU are going to that webpage (or television station, or newspaper, or magazine) and by doing so are REQUESTING their content, which happens to include ads. Just a semantic point.

As such, though, I'd say that the morals of the situation are effectively what can be enforced. Personally, I view comics from the page, but this has alot to do with laziness than a moral imperitive. My feeling on it is that if a webcomic producers wants their comic to ONLY be viewable FROM their mainpage, they should find the technology to ONLY be viewable from their page. If they want you to only be able to their comic by viewing ads first, they should hide it behind a page of ads, using a securing script to make sure that only people who go through that ad page to be able to see it. Yes, it's a pain to do, but it's doable. A request on a site, asking that people only view their product in a given way is just that. A request. It's like posting a billboard on 3rd Avenue and requesting that people only look at it from a certain bit of sidewalk. Anything else comes down to a question of copyright and fair use, and if they feel that strongly about it, they should start suing under those legal provisions. It worked for the Music Industry versus Napster.

So, now that we've covered the objective and the necessary, let's look at the subjective and the polite. Most of us here create some form of web entertainment, so we should understand where these folks are coming from. Webcomics are, by and large, FREE CONTENT! We're being entertained, daily, by the hard work of these dedicated artists. Is it really that much of a price to pay to respect their wishes about HOW we view their content? If they make a "polite request" that we view it in a certain way, shouldn't we respect their wishes? I know that not everyone WILL, but still. I'd say that it was FAIR. Meanwhile, if the artist hasn't specifically requested it, and you don't feel a qualm of conscience about it, view them how you will. If they artist REALLY doesn't want you to do something to it, not only SHOULD they but they WILL find someway to KEEP you from doing that.

Just my two cents.

grinningdog wrote:
By reading a comic you are under no obligation to visit any advertisement that is shown on the page.
But you should at least be forced to have the advertisements appear, otherwise your just stealing bandwidth. The purpose behind advertisements is people see them. People aren't going to buy space for ads that others won't see. So if people don't view them, then companies won't buy the space for them and then comic artists won't be supported.
grinningdog wrote:
By going to the page itself you are supporting that comic by being a unique visitor which drives up the pageviews. That in turn makes the visited site more attractive to companies / individuals who would want to advertise on your site to reach a substantial number of potential customers.
And companies won't buy the ad if no-one clicks through.
grinningdog wrote:
Advertisements, by rule, are ignored unless it is something that an individual finds personally beneficial or intriguing.
You have no way of knowing that if you gag the ads via software. If you allow the ads to appear then the chance of you clicking on one increases from impossible.
Gahstly wrote:
Pop-ups are on their last legs .... They were an example of advertisers going too far and getting too into your face and pissing off the people who were their target market
In your opinion. Am I not stealing bandwidth by gagging ads of any nature? Or is viewing the ads not the key to supporting the artist? Am I able to support the artist by visiting their page and gagging the ads? If so, I can use a comic-ripping program. All I need is one that asks the server for the associated webpage. I don't need the comic-ripping program to do anything with the page, as long as it makes the server think I viewed it? Is that enough to support an artist? I'm interested to see what people think. Mainly because people have said you should view ads as a sign of support to the artist/comiccompany (e.g. keenspace). So I chose an ad that most people block, and see if people still agree with their original argument, that gagging ads is stealing bandwidth (because that's what comic rippers do, they gag ads, this is a very popular feature for some people). This isn't an attack against anyone, merely a thought exercise to see what people think and how their opinions differ :)

grinningdog wrote:
I said viewers SHOULD go to the artists site. However, viewers have the right to not click through a banner that they do not find appealing or interesting.
I agree with that, and my argument isn't advocating anything different. Mozilla Firebird let's me block banner ads on webcomic websites in certain situaitons (not going to outline it because I don't want to encourage it). This lets me visit your website and not even have to view your ads. By no means am I saying people should click on all the banner ads they see, or even consciously read them. But they should allow the ads to be displayed. Displaying an ad, doesn't mean you have to click on it. But by not displaying the ad, you make it impossible to click on the ad. To reiterate, I think it's possible to show support by allowing the ad to display. I don't think you need to click on the ad to show your support, but by merely having it displayed on my screen, I am showing support. The inverse of that is, I think blocking banner ads through the means of software isn't showing support.
grinningdog wrote:
Finally, in my opinion, pop up ads are spam.
Then there are two options for you. To either refuse to visit websites that contain pop up ads or to block the ad. But my question is, do you, the viewer of a free site, have the right to control what ads you are shown and not shown while viewing that free service?
grinningdog wrote:
They are ussually employed by free-hosting multi-site servers for blind-marketing across a wide number of non-related clients. Of all the comic sites I visit only ones that fit this catagory seem to have pop up ads.
Here is an argument someone made when talking about keenspace (treating it as a web server, not talking about it's artists). He said that by stealing the bandwidth (not displaying the banner ads) people don't support keenspace which in turn doesn't support the artist. He said he doesn't want people who don't support the artist (by allowing banner ads to display when they read the comic) to view his comic. The same can be said about any webserver. And the same can be said about any advertising method. My question is, it wrong for a reader of your comic to decide your advertising methods are spam, and to make it impossible for your ads to display and to continue visiting your comic?
grinningdog wrote:
I just think it is unrealistic to expect someone to have to deal with advertising that is unaccomodating (pop-ups)
I agree :) But I do find the condoning the blocking of one form of advertising while saying people are wrong to block another form of advertising to be illogical. Who has the right to decide whether or not an advertising method is unreasonable? Everyone has that right of course. But do readers have the right to continue visiting your website, after blocking your ads (regardless of the type of ad)?

Ugly ads and old computers

I never considered that not clicking on ads might be a moral issue. I never clicked on them because until very recently, I had only a cranky old computer that sometimes crashed trying to load complicated ads. I still hate the ones that flash bright colors at me or show me strange half-naked people who want to talk to me.

Let's all follow the moral majority

jdalton's picture

By and large this has been framed as a moral question rather than a legal one. With moral questions, especially those involving a new technology, you will always find a wide range of opinions on what exactly is "right" and "wrong." Eventually, opinions tend to coalesce into something of a consensus. The consensus most people seem to be headed towards is that comics should be viewed in the context set up by the creator, ads and all, but that pop-ups are "fair game" to be blocked because they are on a window not requested by the viewer. This is a logical way of looking at things. It is not the only way of looking at them by any means, but if it becomes the accepted practice, then there is merit in following this rule because it will be the rule that both creators and readers expect to be followed.

It's just like lining up for the bank machine. Leaving a space of a certain distance behind the first person in line has become the accepted moral code- not that someone standing too close would necessarily steal the other person's bank info, or that there is any law saying you have to keep your distance, it's just that if you do stand too close the least you could expect is a lot of dirty looks. Let's all start giving dirty looks to people who view comics sans the page and see what happens.

Jonathon Dalton
A Mad Tea-Party

Jonathon Dalton
A Mad Tea-Party

Yes. Yes, you are a bad person.

Aleph's picture

In order to assuage your conscience, send donations and buy T-shirts.

Seriously, if you have to ask this question, what are you really looking for here?

Popups are a bad idea, not letting the site make money off you for them is just letting people know they are an ineffective means of advertising, which is a good thing. I think if you have conscience issues about not supporting the comics you read (or did long ago when this was posted, holy zombie posts batman!) it's likely going to a deeper issue, the idea that you're getting something for free and not really giving anything back. Most sites have some ways you can show love for free even if you're not able to open your wallet, so click a ranking or add someone to a favourite list or send them a thank-you. Sometimes that's more valuable support than a two-cent popup click.

Another way to look at it.

Tim  Demeter's picture

I haven't read this whole thread, so if someone touched on this above, I apologize, but...

I think the prevailing issue on this matter is this:

No one is going to MAKE you look at ads, or even visit the front page of a given comic, but if you are helping a creator generate traffic/revenue, you are helping ensure the future of that comic you enjoy.

Some will solider on forever, popularity or financial success be damned, but some creators may look at a given project and decide the time invested in it's continued creation is not coming back to them and they may decide to cease it altogether. In supporting a creator, you're not just doing "the right thing" you're helping ensure the future of that comic by providing motivation for the creator to keep at it, which is a little more of a quantifiable thing than "should I feel guilty about this, or not."

Tim Demeter
Reckless Life

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Bustout Odds

As A Practical Matter...

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

I think the debate on this issue has been muted largely because server space and bandwidth are so much cheaper now.  Several years ago Scott Kurtz wrote about the conundrum that a little success could bankrupt the independent webcomic artist.  That's just not the case today.

It doesn't really change the legal and ethical debates we've had on the subject though... 



Xaviar Xerexes 

I am a Modern Major Generality.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.