Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Can We No Longer View Websites without Getting Pop-ups?

Question: I’m getting a lot of ads popping up when I’m on a site (I guess they’re called pop-ups). It could be anything – an ad for an insurance company, or some other product disrupting my viewing and often it’s very hard to delete it; it just keeps popping up regardless. Is there any way I can eliminate these interruptions and if I do will it affect my viewing or access to these sites? The reason I ask is this: I can remember a few times I had to allow these pop-ups in order to continue accessing a site. Is it impossible in today’s internet that we can’t view the internet without these interruptions?

The problem here is that pop-ups come from many, many different sources and may be of many different kinds. Some are the very legitimate price you effectively pay for viewing a free website, others not so much.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Free isn’t free

First, remember that free websites are not free. They cost money to set up, they cost money to maintain, and they cost money to be informative and useful. Trust me on this – I know!

So, that money has to come from somewhere. They have to pay the people that run the site and the people who help the people who run the site; they have to pay for the hardware, and for the software. You get the idea. There’s really no such thing as “free” on the internet.

Somewhere, somehow, someone has to pay the bills.

No Pop-ups!Advertising is perhaps the single most common way that websites attempt to generate revenue, and many websites will actually use pop-up advertising.

Pop-up ads

Website-generated pop-ups happen in two distinct forms.

The first are pop-ups that actually open up an entirely new browser window. That window might appear in front of or behind the window that you’re looking at. It’s also the kind that’s the easiest for a browser’s built-in pop-up blockers to block. Most browsers already block them by default.

The second kind appears like a small window or an overlay within the web page that you’re looking at. These are nearly impossible to block, because the browsers don’t see them as pop-ups at all. They’re just parts of that same web page that, for a while, were hidden. When they un-hide, they appear to the viewer to “pop up”.

Website owners choose whether to use either of these two types of pop-ups on their sites, or not. For example, Ask Leo! has no advertising pop-ups that make new browser windows. In fact, there’s not supposed to be any kind of pop-up except for the newsletter offer and the social media overlay, which I’ll talk about in a moment.

Other website make different choices. Websites that include more aggressive pop-ups typically make more money because, to put it bluntly, those more aggressive pop-ups work. While they may alienate some readers, perhaps even to the point of never returning, the increase in advertising revenue makes up for it.

Foistware-generated pop-ups

There is another pop-up that’s not under the control of website owners. That’s pop-up advertising that’s generated on your machine by malware.

Sometimes toolbars and other software installed on your machine include embedded pop-up advertising. They actually hook themselves into your browser in such a way that they modify the pages that you visit, and very often the search results. With that modification, they add pop-up advertising to sites that don’t have it.

The site gets no benefit. You just get annoyed. But the advertiser gets seen and the advertising service that caused that pop-up to get added gets paid.

More often than not, these are the results of what we call foistware or “PUPS”: Potentially Unwanted Programs. They get on your machine when you install something else unrelated. There’s often a checkbox in the setup program that you can un-check to avoid installing them. In other words, if you’re not paying attention, they get installed.

And you see pop-up ads from sites that don’t have any pop-ups at all.

But the rest – the honest presentation of advertising by the sites you visit – pop-up or not, that’s how they stay in business.

Yes, I Know, Ask Leo! Has a Pop-up

As you’ll see from many comments, some people get incredibly angry when they visit this page and stay long enough for the Ask Leo! Newsletter pop-up to appear.

It’s the cost of keeping this free resource free. It’s important, and it works. There’s even more on why pop-ups exist, and why I have one, here: Why Do Websites Use Pop-ups? In short: I’ve tested with and without, and to be completely blunt Ask Leo!’s survival requires that it remain. Without it normal attrition is such that the newsletter would fade away, visitor traffic would dwindle and the site would cease to exist.

(And if you’re annoyed because you already subscribe to the newsletter, that’s all about privacy. This website has no idea who you are, or that you might be subscribed. More on that here: Why do I keep getting a newsletter subscribe pop-up on your site? )

The newsletter pop-up is configured to appear exactly and only once every 90 days1. Dismiss it by clicking on the “X” in the upper right corner, or pressing the ESC key.

Newsletter Pop-up X

Many people find it useful. Others ignore it without a second thought. And some, unfortunately, are annoyed.

Regardless, consider them part of the “price” of information being made available for free on the internet.

Update: 2/26/2018: If you have an “” account as the result of making any purchase in The Ask Leo! Store, that gives us a way to know who you are, and the newsletter subscribe pop-up will no longer appear as long as you’re logged in.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

Footnotes & references

1: The fact that you’ve seen the pop-up is saved in a cookie on your machine, so if you clean or block cookies the popup will reappear.

97 comments on “Can We No Longer View Websites without Getting Pop-ups?”

    • And for the record, I’m opposed to using adblockers. Why? Because they hurt the good players as well as the bad. Ask Leo! depends on advertising for its existence. If enough people block ads, Ask Leo! goes away. That’s not some kind of statement of principles, it’s just that if the money dries up I can’t run the site. This is true for hundreds of other good sites that are harmed by adblockers.

      • Leo. I have no argument with your sentiment at all. We live in a “I want” society here in the west (I am English) but most of us are also “yes.. but I don’t really wanna pay anything either if I can help it..”

        There is nothing wrong with this per se, however in recent years (and in the last 2 years specifically) some very nasty (and extremely difficult to get rid of) killware, ransomware, spyware, and virus mutants have been on the radar at software developers like Mozilla and Google (Chrome).

        Many of these horrid critters are finding their way onto respectable servers and even hijacking pop streams from companies like Amazon – and as you can probably imagine, this isn’t going down too well with server engineers or hosts, and obviously the respectable websties themselves.

        The critters then come into the home users lives by way of piggyback adstreams which may do many things, including installing ransomware which encrypts (as good as deletes) a user’s entire PC, bookmarks folders, or just locks the browser and any internet connections – unless a $500 ransom is paid within 24 hours, or else. Killware works in the same way, but just kills your computer operating system. And obviously everything installed on it.


        Good software, like the Mozilla plug in ADBPlus can do a VERY decent job of stopping this happening, by stopping the adstreams from being allowed to manifest themselves within the browser – and therefore any nasty piggybacks that they might contain.

        I – like you – am dependent on advertising revenue to support my servers, but right now, thankfully, I am doing ok. I am well aware of the implications that this software might create for me – but I am also painfully aware of some of the horror stories I am being told by friends who work for Mozilla as software engineers – the ticking time bomb that THEY, and others, are trying very hard to arrest by stopping these idiot malware creators in their tracks.

        Until these adstreams can be cleaned or white-washed, and guaranteed clear of harmful malware, I am very happy for my customers to play on the safe side and use whatever condoms they want to slip onto their machine in order to play on the big bad internet – and protect themselves from the internet equivalents of AIDS. And I will be happy to lose just a little of my advertising revenue to help some of them sleep easier.

        • It’s not the “adstreams” that are at fault, in my opinion. Unless you’re visiting what I’d call “questionable” web sites, ads arrive cleanly and honestly. I have yet to hear of a reputable server (like, say, Amazon’s) being tampered with.

          It’s what happens ON users machines right now that is causing the most problems. Foistware is hijacking the ads, search results and other things, and that’s happening on individual user machines, through no fault of the original advertisers.

          • I don’t agree, logging onto something like SFGate has become torture with the number of ads, and videos and pop-ups. It has reached the point where I don’t bother anymore. When loading a page takes as long now as it did when PC’s were first invented, this is not progress…

          • Nope. It is the fault of the adstream model. Because the way ads work is that the content is generally closed source and hosted on untrusted servers. You aren’t hosting the ads. The ad provider isn’t hosting the ads. The company providing the ads is handling the hosting. And, using the Flash model, only they have the source code.

            All of the big ad networks have been hijacked by rogue ads. I remember when Yahoo! ads and Google ads were hijacked. The way it works is that the provider submits ads that normally work fine, but only occasionally put in exploits. The ad provider only finds out about the problem after people have gotten hit. Even trusted sites with trusted ad providers are dangerous.

            I fix computer for a living. And one of the main security items I use is adblock. It blocks this untrusted third party content in a way that the user doesn’t even have to know it is there. It even helps with the people who can’t get through their head not to just click on ads, since you never know what site they will take you to. They don’t see the ads, so they don’t do the questionable behaviors.

            Sure, there are ways for more technical people to handle it. Use Flashblock to disable third party flash content and NoScript to handle third party Javascript content. But both of these are onerous to set up (NoScript much moreso than Flashblock, to the point that even I don’t use NoScript.) There isn’t a NoScript that has the safe scripts already enabled or a Flashblock that has safe sites already allowed. But adblockers provide this feature. There are Adblock lists that are devoted primarily to safety, even (although I think using them in addition to regular ad lists is better.)

            It really bugs me that you are against adblockers in general when they provide such a needed service. Sure, ask people to unblock your site, convincing them that you are safe (and that you have value, as I stated before). But don’t discourage adblock altogether.

            For those of us who know, you’re just going to make us tune out.

      • I understand why you are opposed to adblockers and I really do want to support the many websites that I enjoy, yours for example. I use an adblocker only because of those horrid little monsters that dance around the screen, flash, and jump. My brain is incapable of focusing on whatever I’m trying to read with all that activity disturbing my peripheral vision.

        Btw, I make it a point never to buy an item that has ruined a web page for me.

      • But it is a statement of principles. That principle is “I am doing what I do primarily for monetary reasons.” There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but, in this case, it’s a bit iffy. Because you aren’t providing a novel or unique service (unless you count being able to talk to that guy from TechTV.) You are helping people with their computers, something a lot of us will do for free. We may not have as much free time with our jobs and everything, but there’s enough of us out there to cover most people.

        Bringing up your site no longer existing is just not the way to appeal to those of us who use Adblock. You need to recognize what it is you are asking us to do. You are asking us to financially support your site. So you need to appeal to the value the site has, not vague threats that the site may get shut down if a lot of people do the same thing. There is no way the less than one cent you lost from me not seeing ads on this page is going to break you.

        The other thing you can do is just point out your financial situation. If you are actually starting to have trouble keeping the site afloat, you can let us know. Then it becomes more about supporting the guy we like.

        The one thing you can’t do is try to appeal to a sense of guilt. We don’t feel guilty for not viewing ads. We see it as our right. You are not entitled to make money off of us, but we are entitled to control what happens on our computers. Arguing about the site getting shut down won’t convince us. Like any other business, if you can’t convince people that your site has enough value to function, it deserves to fail.

        (Also, I note you don’t follow Facebook’s guidelines for how to handle their logo. The square is too big, and the f is no longer off center. It’s not the actual Facebook logo. Show them respect for providing you with the service the provide you and do it right.)

      • Leo, I use ad-blockers. But the first time when on a website I have willingly opened that I see a polite request to disable my ad-blocker, I do so.


  1. I use streaming movie sites sometimes and the relentless pop-ups and pop-unders made it all but impossible to use the site(s), not to mention that ONE mistake like a click on the wrong place can install some very nasty, and almost impossible to get rid of things like toolbars, browser hijacks, etc. I have since installed Adblocker plus and 99% of ad an pop-up problems are gone! I recommend Adblock plus, it’s worked the best for me…

  2. For the pop-ups imbedded in the page (often nasty, wriggling, noisy bastards) I have a simple solution: press ctrl-p to make a pdf print of the page with PDFCreator, and read the print (on the monitor) in stead of the browser page. In general this works perfectly, but not every page is rendered equally well.

    A warning is in place here: when installing PDFCreator, you need to deactivate (untick) the items toolbar and PDFArchitect. These are the guys that bring in the beef for the vendor; the printing tool is in some sense a bait. Get the bait without the hook and you’re set! A second warning: at intervals, the program suggests installing an update. Don’t, for the print utility does not get upgraded, and the installation comes with a fresh hook: toolbar and Architect!
    Once I noticed too late what was going on, and had to de-install the Architect (took a lot of time) and the toolbar (this was a real puzzle). If you might be wondering whether you would like to try the Architect: if you’re not sure, you don’t want it!

    I’m very happy with PDFCreator every time I visit a noisy, bouncing website, as it permits me concentration and gives me great peace of mind.

    Good luck!

  3. One add-on I’ve used in the past was good for this: NoScript for Firefox. It blocks Java, Java Script and Flash by default. Then as you visit a site, you can decide on a case-by-case basic whether to allow these things to run on that site. You can choose to allow just for that session or always for that site. The main use for this plug-in is to prevent malware from rogue or hacked sites, but it also blocks pop-ups. The good news for sites that use advertising is that if you trust a site, you can whitelist them, and the ads will come through allowing the website to generate income.
    Chrome has similar add-ons but I haven’t tried them.

    • Another thing I like to throw out every now and then is Internet Explorer’s ActiveX filtering, especially since it is built into Internet Explorer and is not an add-on. This blocks plugin anything on websites (including flash), unless the user allows ActiveX for that specific site. (I believe that whitelisting is domain name specific and can only be done while visiting the website)

      While ActiveX filtering also works for Flash in IE Metro on Windows 8 and 8.1, it can’t be accessed or controlled from there: the user would have to open the site in IE on the desktop to en/disable it for that site.

      Of course, I also believe that sites should try to avoid plug-in bases ads in general, especially flash ads. I have seen some good HTML based ads that are not static. And besides, an age of mobile devices, such as tables and cell phones (unlikely to have any sort of flash player) is rising and web designers are told that they should makes sites universally accessible.

  4. I use Google Chrome browser which has a built in a Pop-up blocker. I also hate those moving images on sites. I used to use AdBlocker until Leo convinced me otherwise. So now I have installed Flashcontrol and NoGifs, which block most of the moving stuff on sites. It still allows through most ads, which I don’t really mind and ads are what pays for the free internet. If everyone blocked all ads, eventually we would have to start paying for the content that is now free.

  5. I admit to using Adblock and Noscript, but for what it’s worth I disable Adblock for sites that I visit regularly (like this one). An exception is sites with really intrusive advertising. I also allow scripts from the site I’m visiting, but generally disallow third-party scripts except on an as-needed basis. This inadvertantly kills ads that I wouldn’t really object to seeing.

    If it makes website owners feel any better, I would never buy a product based on an internet ad anyway, I think that probably goes for almost anyone that has taken the initiative to install and run these add-ons.

    • And just for clarity the act of buying isn’t the most common way website owners get advertising revenue. More commonly they get paid each time an ad is displayed. So software that blocks the display blocks the revenue … whether you’d buy the advertised prodoct or not.

      • Leo, pardon if this sounds rude – not my intention – You imply that not buying the product has no impact on the advertising industry or trends. That is nonsense.

        The intent of users like me who will NEVER purchase any item on pop-up or ^especially^ automatic running videos is to hurt the product vendor/producer. When their sales suffer and their ad costs stay high, they will stop the ineffective ad stream. THAT is the outcome we want.

        Website owners can place static ads is fine with me. I can glance at them if * I * want to. You have to admit many, many websites now are so loaded with auto run ads, the pages are just too bothersome to even wait to see. I just close that browser tab and move one. If the website cares not about bothering the reader, then shutting them off is fine with me.

        • I agree with MF. Ad blocking software is sometimes the only method of cleaning/clearing accessing a page, as the bloat and bandwidth issues of autorun ads and their sometimes sneaking on/off focus activity makes me hate the product and sometimes the website visited (in the past sites with loud autorun adverts on the side, hidden ads in the supposedly empty margins, displacement ads that move visited content, just the surly nature of it all). Aggressive/counter intuitive advertisement hurts reputable websites more with it’s own conduct than with users finding methods to avoid the conduct….

          • My experience is that the sites with over-the-top advertising also have questionable content. It’s usually inflammatory in some way, or just down right lies. So better to stay away from them all together.

  6. Iused to use AdblockPlus until my son convinced me not to by using the same argument Leo used in favor of using them. However, lately I’m seriously considering reusing it since I am getting so many popups, I can barely read an article without them popping up. Even when I click on the x to get them off the site, that works for about two seconds. Most times I just get out of the site without reading the article because it’s a waste of time trying to read without interruptions. One popup is enough; more is harassment. I will NEVER purchase anything generated from a popup.

  7. I know most haven’t commented on this for months, but I’m soo p’d off with it all for my own sanity I have to say…. They are overdoing it with all these ad’s pop ups etc. It has actually stopped me from using my pc totally. It takes 2 minutes to click the things off each page that comes up so I can see anything. I have actually smashed up the computer now and given up. I actually found it initially very rewarding… now have no pc.
    not good. Better than me going insane and getting nowhere though.
    Is there anyway, if I get a computer again, that I can prevent this, or should I remain pc-less….?

  8. This is a great article Leo. In addition. open internet properties,

    connections tab then click on lan settings. be sure that use proxy

    server is not checked. go to programs tab then check on the search

    provider but ask, trovi etc..then remove them. Use google or bing to be

    sure. Uninstall programs as well like storm alerts, mindspark toolbars

    and the like, ask etc. to be sure, just keep the programs you know you

    installed. If you have issues removing it, use the revo uninstaller

    portable. Install Adblock – very reliable to block pop ups.

    If help is needed, visit {url removed}

  9. I have a addicted and growing fan base on my site. I have an app coming out for IOS and Android so i added a few pop ups to make it annoying to visit in hopes they buy the 99c ad free app..

  10. We do all pay to be on the Internet. You can’t log on without paying a fee to Comcast or whoever your Internet provider is. It’s like paying extra to cable for on demand ,then having to see ads and have your functions disabled.. It really is just another example of the consumer having no real power.

    Yes,you can choose not to participate. Many have given cable up. But only because there are alternatives. What I don’t understand is how they work well when they cause so much uproar. Everyone hates them;are there really enough people who respond positively to them? Must be!


  12. Sometimes these popups contain the dangerous thread or virus which can cause the severe damage to operating system. There is a application called popup blocker which helps you to get rid of pop ups.

  13. The problem is some of the sites “lock” the mobile screen size in (so you cannot pinch) and then the X on the pop up is so tiny…I cannot even close it. What happens..I leave their site never to return. This occurs frequently even when I select (desktop version) and ya know what..sorry I’m not that hungry of the intel on the site. Too much work and frustration.

    I don’t mind the advertisements, but please make it reasonably easy for me to close the pop up window and certainly stop locking websites screenviews so we cannot pinch and get in closer. ;)

  14. lol your site has two popups – not one every 180 days, but two newsletter offers popped up.
    i closed the browser, came back, and got a popup offer again.
    so… i feel you need to change the paragraph that says you only pop up once.

  15. Those overlays _can_ be blocked, too (but going to be site that uses them might not get you the best advice on how).
    Search for “BehindTheOverlay”

  16. BTW, This website had an annoying pop up message. I try to avoid the Internet at all costs if every website is going to nag me to join whatever garbage they are trying to shove down my throat.

  17. I haven’t see this point addressed yet: Adblock Plus has a setting that allows non-intrusive ads, which I have enabled. I understand the need for ads, but hate the noisy, flashing, auto-running ones, and this seems to work pretty well. (I also try to unblock sites like Ask Leo, but honestly, I don’t usually remember.)

    Folks are going to use ad blockers as long as there are offensive, intrusive ads out there, and this feels like a good compromise.

  18. Ah, the irony that in the middle of reading this site EXACTLY the type of obnoxious pop up you discuss. In fact, it was my frustration with this nonsense that brought me to your site via Google.

    Why not advertise your book unobtrusively somewhere on the page? Hell, even a link at the end of the article would be fine. If I’m curious I’ll click.

    However, when you begin your pitch by interrupting my mid-sentence and throwing it into my face it is the surest guarantee that I will instantly HATE your book, and have no interest in knowing anything else about it. I will NEVER consider purchasing anything advertised in this way.

    • Please actually read the article you are commenting on. As Leo says “Free information on the web isn’t free; there are costs to provide it. Pop-ups: advertising, offers, and social media, are all part of the “cost” of free.” – the only person you are really hurting is yourself with this kind of anger. You may want to consider some sort of relaxation class to help you deal.

  19. My problem is not with pop ups but with built in advertising that comes in the video form. I have experienced the most problems with Yahoo who are impossible to communicate with as if their poop don’t stink and I have also experienced this on the software provided by The Sun Paper to view my online paper. What happens is each of these totally annoying individual video ads continue to change taking my cursor off the page I’m on and often freezing my screen. Many times the volume jumps on some of the videos making a horrible noise to go with the other pain they cause. I don’t mind paying for my FREE service with ads but when the ads cause my computer to not work they have gone too far!

  20. DONT READ. Waste of time.
    aside from using the “inspect element” option on your firefox browser or chrome browser, this is a waste of time.
    You can install scripts that help on particular websites (use grease monkey or equivalent)
    Useless article. Presents NO actionable plan/steps for getting rid of nag screens at all!

    • Please read the article you commented on. It is not an article about steps to get rid of them, it simply explains why you can’t.

    • Install ADD BLOCKER PLUS … walla done. No more adds.
      I was hoping for some information on how to get rid of the agressive pop ups that aren’t really adds as much as pop up malware. They say that I have a virus and then a smaller window that won’t let be exit out. I can press back all I want on my phone and it won’t go away. Only happens randomly on links people post via Facebook, within the Facebook external viewer.

  21. I’m gonna be a bit petty, but sometimes things ARE free on the internet, at least for the users. I won’t link any here, since I don’t want you to think I’m just trying to make a link, but I run several websites, which as you said have bills. I pay these bills, but I have absolutely no advertising on my websites. I don’t sell products, I don’t collect information from my users to sell on to third parties, I do absolutely nothing that causes my users to need to spend money (i.e by purchasing a product) or unknowingly provide me money (i.e clicking/viewing an advert). Rather, there are people who DO make money of my websites, article spinners and site rips, and the like, but users on MY site don’t spent a penny. I’m not the only one. There are many people, (likely a small percentage, but more than just one or two people I imagine), who simply enjoy creating content and making communities. This is nothing more than a hobby for me, the same way someone who reads as a hobby spends money on books without gaining any monetary return, I too actively spend money to create, maintain and be a part of wonderful communities. There are many types of people on the internet, but I tend to classify them (rightly or wrongly, but it’s my personal view), in two groups: businessmen who create content or software to make money (I could be wrong, but I’d class you in this group), and hobbyist’s who do it without need for compensation in the form of money. Naturally there are those who are a bit grey, ones who have adverts to cover the bills with no desire for monetary gain, but honestly I doubt such individuals throw away any spare money they make, or only put it towards future hosting costs, there will be times when that’s for personal gain. I’m not saying people who make money with adverts are bad or anything, but I wanted to express my viewpoint anyway.
    >inb4 google makes money with their tracking codes. I don’t use anything like that either, everything on my site is coded by me and doesn’t have social links, google analytics, or anything where a third party could track, set a cookie, or collect data in any form. My website is also hosted on my own server. If you wanted to be petty, you could say that the domain name is a form of advertising, since it naturally shows the registrar in the whois, but I’d be equally petty and say that the whois data isn’t hosted on my server :)

    • Thanks for clarifying that this is a hobby for you. That is definitely common, but it also requires some other source of income or support. So Leo’s article remains valid for those who are offering a service on their website and needing to make a living at the same time.

      Another good thing to think about is that many websites (large and small) also have staff who are being paid. So these websites are not only providing value in their content, they are also providing jobs for the economy.

  22. Leo, here is a report on ads from reputable newspaper sites in Europe that are infected with malware because the respective ad server had been hacked .

    Can you say that google adsense you seem to use is reasonably safe?

    Would it be okay for keeping websites free and ad-financed to use an adblocker that lists the ads it blocks for each site in a little popup, and one can whitelist on the fly if they use something safe, and what would that be? (using ghostery on a mac, maybe there are similar things for windows)

      • : ) I was just going to ask for a list of other safe ad sites, but ghostery is right now blocking 1050 ad trackers, wohoo. I am able to selectively unblock the google adsense etc. trackers, good, so that is a way to go. if you have a smaller list of trackers you are not using but consider safe, I’ll add that.

  23. OK ask leo we get it some adds are legit the ones that strip my gears are the fake sites and some of them are good getting past my routers firewall even when I put them in block mode they generate some sort of other url and unfortunately someone is dumb enough to fall for them someone has got to put a stop to it already at least try….. The so called fake bsod…. microsoft detected a virus the fake fbi is watching you so on and so forth the buggers are very annoying and hard to get out of

  24. The amount of websites using popups within seconds after accessing them has become annoying. It seems we have gone back 15-20 years in time when they were the norm. Some popups you can’t even click off, like Facebook now that puts a popup over 1/3 of your screen forcing you to either open an acount or log in. This is outright criminal. Adblock doesn’t work here either. So the only appropriate answer would be to avoid the website altogether. Not sure whether it is a smart business move trying to blackmail website visitor in this way.

    As for the opposition of some website owners to Adblocks (some even don’t let you access the site with Adblock enabled), I think this is hypocritical, as it is unlikely that persons who use Adblocks would ever click on on advert, let alone purchase anything from it. So effectively, the website owner just lets the advertiser pay for not delivering anything in return.

  25. I take issue with your explanation for these INTRUSIVE pop ups! If I want to buy insurance I go to an insurance website, ect, ect, ect. They advertise by making their web sites available when I ask for insurance, ect, ect. Spam and pop ups should be illegal. completely disagree with your explanation, they are intrusive and annoying, take up space and cause problems on my computer. I pay for internet and when I order something from a company. Don’t need the unasked for intrusive ads!

    • But those are all different things. Your payment for internet goes to the internet company. None of it goes to a news or informational website. It’s really important to be discriminating about what you see online. If you go to a webpage to buy insurance, and you find that the page is full of advertisements and popups, then you have found a bad site and should not be purchasing anything there. A legitimate sales site will only be selling their own company’s products. On the other hand, an informational site (such as Ask Leo!) could likely be relying on advertising to stay in business.

      There are also different kinds of popups. Some of them are very simple like the Ask Leo! newsletter popup. It’s just a request to subscribe to the newsletter. Other popups are advertisements to good and/or bad sites. It’s also possible to have malware in your browser that pops up advertising from the malware writers – advertising that has nothing to do with the site you are on.

      It’s vital to understand how it works, and that all webpages online are created by different people and entities. There is really no such thing as “the internet” as a single entity. It’s a vast conglomeration of webpages created for a million different reasons. Some of those reasons are good, and some are outright bad. It’s important to be able to discern the difference.

  26. The minimal newsletter popup on this page is not an issue. The kind that pops up and blocks the website you are attempting to read and will not go away are. Some even have an X in the ad that does nothing. You have to answer some stupid question that has nothing to do with the website or anything else are especially concerning. Why would any website want to know if I tie my shoes or use a velcro fastener for my shoes? or if I occasionally skip breakfast? They must get extra click revenue by foisting these ignorant questions on you before they allow you to view the site. I would like a company to post a list of websites that abuse their readers with ads in this way so I can copy and paste the list into my blocked sites in my search engine. Nuf is nuf.

    • Exactly – those “force you to respond to a survey” types of pop-ups are all about generating revenue. The site you’re visiting doesn’t care (or probably even get) your answers to the questions, but the third-party survey site does.

    • I so agree with you. I dont mind advertising, its the ones that block what your reading and keep coming without a way to stop them.

  27. So you must be like a millionaire by now, right Leo? Because these annoying popups are so effective at generating revenue and everything? No? Didn’t think so.

    How about you stop peddling crap advice, and deluding yourself that newletter popups are a lucrative and socially useful thing to have on your website. When in fact they are merely the reason that AdBlock exists.

    • Very intelligent comment. If Leo says those pop-ups help make the site lucrative, I’m sure it helps the Ask Leo survive- I don’t believe he’d lie about it. If you don’t think the advice on this site is worth the inconvenience of a few pop-ups, you can find a site more to your liking.

      • I can get advice from anybody I meet on the street, and a passing stranger isn’t going to be enough of an ******* to ask me for a dollar for the ‘privilege’ of asking them something. Leo is monetizing behaviour that has been costless and necessarily so for thousands of years, and justifying it into his five-dollar coffee. Get a ******* life!

        • Ask Leo has a few people working for the site whom he pays. Without monetization, Leo and we would have to work elsewhere and Ask Leo! would cease to exist. If you prefer, you are free to ask a passing stranger for free computer advice. And you’re telling us to get a life?

    • I’ve tested with and without. Bottom line: Ask Leo! would not exist without it. Whether or not you think that’s a good thing is, of course, up to you.

  28. You’ll never post this. Your censorship and blocking of my statement will just be more proof I was correct. Like it it or not, this site DOES (like so many others claiming to be on the “good side” offer only JUSTIFICATIONS for their use of the exact same purposed annoying, pesky and completely irritating advertisements; FAT EXCUSES and reasons that only someone incapable of free choice or independent thought would say: “Oh, OK…! Now I get it! It’s ALL OK now… I’m completely alright with these intrusive interruptions! Thanks for explaining to me!”

    Come on! You didn’t solve anything with this article. You didn’t make anyone better, more clear or change anyone’s mind. You wasted everyone’s time with an excuse so lame, it isn’t worth the space that the 1’s and 0’s are using up on my hard drive. Why would you even poke at this beehive? Was there nothing else you could have wasted our time more effectively or entertaining that could at least have been smart or funny or correct? It’s like you’re taking a stand about water not being wet.

    And nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you’ve said justifies the “CAN YOU HELP US” spam banner on the screen. Minimize it? Click here and click there and it’s smaller… I SHOULDN’T have to do more to avoid your intrusions. Maybe if your site wouldn’t be here without those SPAM BANNERS as Carol said… You know what? You’re right. It shouldn’t.

    • “You’ll never post this.” LOL. You’ll never see this, because if you’re true to your statements you’ll never be back. Bottom line: I gotta pay the bills. You, yes, YOU, have the ultimate freedom of all: to never, ever come back.

  29. I went to a site named couchtuner and got pop up for some porn site named veronicca. I never browse porn or anything similar so why did i get such pop up? It looked like and legimite site. Thank you.

  30. I just want to read and answer my important emails and get off of the computer. I can’t even type a word without waiting several minutes to even get one letter on the response let alone getting a whole word. I’ve never had it so bad. It has taken over 1 hour to type one or two sentences on 1 email. This is ridiculous. I don’t know how many popups came on before I could get one letter to type at a time. I don’t have all day to spend trying to answer one email.

  31. you guys literally have a pop up on your website that i had to click away to read this article. {expletive removed}.

  32. No. I’m sorry but there’s only so much advertising that’s needed. More than that and you’re straining what should be expected even of nonpaying visitors. These days, every page is filled with advertising to the point that many sites are nothing more than ads with a little text. Demanding that your need to make a buck gives you the right to then drop pop-up after pop-up on top of the experience goes beyond the need to pay the bills. And it doesn’t work. All you’re doing is pissing off a lot of people who are less likely to come back for more mistreatment.

    • A web page is a product, and the ads are the price you have to pay to view those sites. If there are too many ads, and you don’t feel viewing that site is worth the price, then the solution is to stop using that product (website).

  33. I landed here in a search looking for an automatic solution to block those CSS overlays like your newsletter invite. Normally they surface when I’m shopping on an e-commerce site, not an ad-revenue supported blog and 3 seconds after I get the nag screen asking for my email address, which they often already have. Of course, the only automatic solution is to disable CSS which, in modern websites, can make the content next to impossible to make sense of.

    Aside from that, the ads on the Internet have become even worse than the first crop of animated banner ads in the late 90’s. People hated those and during the 00’s, those actually virtually disappeared. It was a period of reasonable ad size and reasonable levels of annoyance to the site visitor. But we have gone full circle now. What I wouldn’t do to go back to the 1990’s animated banner ads instead of these obnoxious full screen popups and automatically playing videos and audio. It’s actually gotten to a point where my use of the Internet has decreased quite a bit and there are relatively few sites that I will visit on a regular basis.

    I have never subscribed to a website because of a CSS overlay nag screen. More often than not, I close out of that browser tab and go back to the search results and click on another search result.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it. I’ve been in and around the web design world since 1997.

  34. The internet was pleasant and cool from ’94-04, then the masses come over with ‘goto W W W dot whatever” lol Then everyone thought the internet was there to make money. No, not everyone cares to make more money, only to spread truth of information, checked by the users. I have the right to block ads as well as blacklist any website i don’t care for. Website can make money from the stupid masses, while the smarter ones, move on to better and more affectiveness with our time.

  35. Hi-
    I understand the need to finance a website. Personally, I LOATH popups!!!! However ads that are off to the side or not intrusive are fine. I am much more likely to glans at something that plays nice. People get insulted at having something forced down their throats. That will not change. If you feel that you must include ads then do not lock the page with them.

  36. Hi i have a question. I was at the site where you can watch movies etc for free (wont name it which one) and there was this pop up of one porn site (also wont name it) on which i never go to. Is that normal and is it possible to have something like that if i never look or visit porn sites?

  37. Do pop ups such as oneclickmax and cobalt tailor those pop ups based on your browsing history? I (like many people here) also stream some series and animes for free and usually get pop up for oneclickmax or cobalt which redirects me to some porn sites and live sex sites. I am female and i am not very interested in those pop ups and never go to porn sites. So why would i be showned this?

    • I’m not familiar with oneclickmax or cobalt, but they certainly could. It could also be totally random, or something else. There’s really no way to know.

      • Well i googled it and it says its some kind of adware that show you ads. As soon as i click on play button i get this pop up with oneclickmax and it redirects me to live sex pop up. I guess its just their third party ad and totaly randome.

  38. Hey there, Leo, YOU are part of the problem. Using pop ups to further your own agenda! Thanks but o thanks, i/WE will not be subscribing!

    • I’ll just go ahead and assume, then, that you didn’t bother to take the time to read the article you just commented on which explicitly addresses your objection.

  39. What you fail to understand and address is the end users mindset. They are paying to use the internet in their minds. It is not in effect free. Yes i know that is just a service provider cost but to the user they are paying. Its human nature.

    • It’s not a problem of not understanding the users’ mindsets. This article was written to address that mindset and set it straight.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.