I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Why Peace 1.0 blocks The Deck ads

One of the most common questions I’m getting about Peace is whether and why it blocks ads from The Deck, my own site’s ad publisher. Most notably, my friend and colleague John Gruber tweeted:

I think if your Safari Content Blocker blocks The Deck by default, it’s wrong. I dare you to defend it.

The Deck is unusually well-behaved for an ad provider: its ads are small, unintrusive, non-animated, and classy, and while it’s loaded by a third-party JavaScript include, it doesn’t set cookies or perform any tracking. That’s why I publish Deck ads on this site, and why many of my friends and colleagues do as well.

But Peace uses the Ghostery database, and Ghostery includes The Deck. It’s classified as “Advertising”, and even though it’s far nicer than most other entries in the category, it’s fair to call it advertising.1

I was therefore faced with a decision about The Deck. I had to either:

And once I looked at it like that, it wasn’t a difficult decision. It’s uncomfortable, but I’d rather be consistent and fair.

In Ghostery’s desktop-browser plugins, users can selectively disable individual rules, so you could, for example, whitelist The Deck if you find their ads acceptable. Peace 1.0 doesn’t offer this level of granularity — you can whitelist individual publisher sites, like, but not ad rules across all sites. That wasn’t an opinionated decision — it was simply cut for 1.0 to ship in time, and I’ll likely add it in the first update.

Whether such “good” ads should be unblocked by default is worth considering. In the past, ad-blockers’ attempts to classify “acceptable” ads have been problematic, to say the least. I don’t know if that can be done well, but I’d consider it if it could.

  1. Some people have requested that I distinguish between “ads” and “trackers” in the options. But this distinction isn’t very useful: most ads are also cross-site trackers, so if you want to block most tracking, you’ll need to block most ads.

    Simply blocking third-party cookies isn’t enough to prevent tracking, either: there are many ways to uniquely identify you without using cookies. ↩︎