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Present HN: YouTube banned adblockers so I constructed an extension to skip their advertisements

Present HN: YouTube banned adblockers so I constructed an extension to skip their advertisements

2023-11-18 18:54:46

Cool! I recently wrote my own user script to do the same thing. It’s going to be very hard to patch or detect this, as updating video element props don’t trigger DOM updates. They would have to either do lots of JS prototype trickery or check for playback rate when doing adblock detection. One thing to keep in mind here though since you’re doing DOM lookups every time anything on the page changes, is that there could be some small overhead in page render time, and also that using fixed CSS classes means any small change to page code could break the checks. In case it’s a problem in the future, checking .innerText is a hacky way to workaround it.

Arms race towards people running their own private YouTube instances which pre-fetch subscriptions and recommendations to skip ads. If the video hasn’t been downloaded already it pretends to play the ad in the background while waiting. A minor inconvenience, but hardly the end of the world.

Be even easier if they provided an MRSS feed! I wonder if a popular channel on YT started making their content available in an easy to parse format like MRSS if they’d notice a significant loss in YT viewers in favor of it. Of course, they’d then lose the ad share, so probably not a thing that will happen.

How fast would YT issue a C&D if someone created an app that did this for you so that you just entered in the channels you follow, and then it would just check every so often for new content?

I had something similar happen. I’m fine with a blank screen and waiting 5-30sec.
I don’t want intrusive ads before during and after a 5 min video on water heater maintenance.

Making this work would likely mean that the CDN edge servers become much more stateful and the costs of operating that might outweigh the additional revenue.

One can simply “videoElement.addEventListener(‘ratechange’, callback);” to be notified the ad was sped up.

I mean the client can then undo this, as it can any JS the page offers, but there’s nothing harder about detecting playbackRate changes vs something which causes a DOM update.

Wow, faststream works great for normal web players. Doesn’t seem to work on any youtube videos when using the ff extension in the store though. Gets stuck loading forever.

Kind of unrelated, but how difficult do you think it would be to hack support for glsl shaders in a browser? I tried to look into it once, but got a bit lost in the media source side of things. My idea was to try to add glsl shaders as post processing to video streams like in mpv but without having to jump through all the hurdles of passing data to mpv.

Example of a shader I was playing with

They’ve been rolling out rapidly varying and inconsistently-behaving (between users/refreshes) changes in a pretty explicit attempt to break adblockers and complicate developing new ones. You’re probably either just not in that cohort yet for some reason, or have already received the improvements that keep ubo working – people’s experience varies widely with this wave, probably by design and to try to judge impact.

They really only did it on chrome, I think?

At least at work, I kept getting modals saying adblockers weren’t allowed, but I never got those on firefox.

It seems to have gone away though (probably an update from ublock) even on chrome

That’s definitely a technique to keep in reserve if they get better at detection, but uBlock Origin currently works very well on Youtube as long as its filters are up to date.

If i’m logged in it fails constantly when i’m logged in (a few videos daily seem to work ok, after that it refuses to load a video, even though a “anti adblock” popup is still blocked)

…but it seems to work ok in incognito tabs, so youtube gets even less data on me now.

ublock origin folks have asked people to not run any other blocker extension alongside, those seem to trigger the anti-adblock scripts. It might be the same case for you.

You can do the same thing with a device called a computer. You can also do that on Android with Newpipe and could do that with Vanced before Google used (likely specious) legal threats to destroy it.

There’s no good reason whatsoever to pay the Danegeld[0] to Google for their “premium” subscription that sells you the right to use basic functionality that Google arbitrarily and maliciously attempts to block.


You keep doing things based on historic knowledge and suffer those ads, while the rest of us will move along with the times and not suffer those ads. Lest we forget? sure, but it’s not like they’ll be going back to that technique as it’s ineffective for them.

It does. But i think youtube attempts to detect the adblock (which ublock origin continues to evade with new updates?).

This extension does not block, but instead just fast forward the ad (playback speed at 10x – tbh, it could’be been at 100x probably!) and mutes it. So from the youtube js perspective, the ad has played and wasn’t blocked.

uBO works for me, just requires a manual filter update once in a while. Though I like this approach in it’s own way as it still costs advertisers but delivers no value to them, maybe something more like Ad Nauseum which would click the ads too.

Ultimately the conversion rate of spam continuously proves one of the worst advertising methods. They are ripping off companies they lie to about the conflated stats, and irritating the 80% of users that will never buy anything for various reasons.

It is going to be an interesting waste of resources. =)

It seems a lot of work to do this and worth it.

As a surprised customer of YouTube premium having all ads gone across videos and music across all devices really might not be a bad deal for anyone on the fence for a family plan and all your devices.

In terms of working around ads.. There are some neat solutions that seem to work ok for YouTube on tv.. but so far the family plan seems ok.

Was anyone able tog eat off the premium plan and have no ads on their phones, computers, tvs and smart speakers?

I just pay for the product rather than jumping through stupid hoops to avoid paying $3/month/user.

Paying to remove ads is how you get no ads.

Refusing to pay for ad-free services just tells companies that there’s no point in attempting to make a good user experience with no ads.

The average user watches 20 hours of content a month. So that’s not bad I think.

Somehow I suspect the ones obsessively managing ad blockers to make sure they don’t see a single ad aren’t the ones that watch 2 videos a month or less

I still have not encountered any issues with uBlock Origin on YouTube.

There’s 3 hypotheses I have for why this is.

1. YouTube has been gradually rolling out the counter-blocking to an expanding number of randomly selected users.

2. YouTube doesn’t bother blocking me because I’ve purchased a substantial amount of content from them. There’s little benefit in discouraging me from buying more content in the future.

3. YouTube has done some analytics to figure out that I’m the kind of person who will never return if no ad blocking is allowed and doesn’t trust them to keep ads out of Premium.

I don’t suppose you’ve purchased shows or movies through YouTube?

I think I purchased one movie through YouTube a few years ago, but it’s been a while. I received a YouTube notification a few weeks ago letting me know that AdBlock was not allowed, but there was no follow-up.

I feel that YouTube is very deeply entrenched in a streaming architecture which makes it challenging to serve ads that are indistinguishable from primary content. All of the pushback against adblocking extensions feels like an unwinnable arms race until Manifest v3 becomes mandatory.

Contrast this with Twitch – where uBlock doesn’t impact ads at all. I feel Twitch engineered their service to defeat adblock from day 1. YouTube wants to be in the same position, but doesn’t seem willing or able to mirror Twitch’s architecture.

I’m pretty sure the answer is #1. Gradual, per-account roll-outs of new “features” is very common on YouTube, and from the people I’ve talked to, the affected people seem to be fairly random.

uBlock Origin + Firefox here, on both desktop and Android, I haven’t gotten any warnings either. My guess is that since I’m paying $100/year for 2TB storage they’ve decided they’re making enough from me.

> CWS and YouTube are both Google property

So is Chrome!

I have to wonder when Google will will start using the browser itself as leverage (beyond the upcoming Manifest V3 changes).

For the people saying it’s fine for them, YouTube was blocking access but only doing it for certain accounts and only after you watched more than a few videos. My personal account was affected but not my work one.

I was using Firefox + uBlock Origin and the site would periodically stop working. Clearing cache and updating the uBO lists would fix it, but only temporarily. No idea if the situation has changed.

One alternative is pay for YT premium, but they still might target you with ads[1] which is risable. I’ve heard FreeTube is a thing as well.


> Since Youtube no longer allows AdBlockers

You mean “since YouTube attempted to bar adblockers, but instead entered into a war with them that it cannot win, most users of adblockers continue to watch YouTube without issues”.

I remember there was a point where ads on YouTube were tolerable. It’s wild how aggressive they are now. I don’t even bother watching so many videos now that I have to sit through 2 mins of unskippable ads what feels like every minute. My partner recently subbed to Hulu and it’s worse. You still pay monthly and they shove 2 – 3 minute ads every 5 minutes.

On mobile, they don’t play videos unless the screen is on except if it’s an ad, then they have all of these favorable bugs where your phone unexpectedly starts playing a whistling song with a twanging ukulele talking about mattresses.

There’s that other bug where they disable the navigation during the ads and you have to turn the screen off and back on to the lock screen to get rid of it.

Such fortuitous defects.

Brendan Eichs Brave browser bypasses the YouTube bullshit if you want a workaround on android.

More and more sites don’t work with ad blockers. I like this. It means I will visit fewer sites that advertise. Over time the number of sites will dwindle. Eventually there will be a few community funded open sites, and a few paid sites that focus on providing valuable content for their subscribers. The result is better quality and less noise. And far less incentive to advertise on the web.

See Also

Let the death of ads begin!

G needs to Google the Streisand Effect. The ideal amount of fraud or non-compliance is never 0 and they have enough dumb suckers to feast upon. Leave the clever-enough alone or perish reverse-insects-as-future-food in reverse style. This is live-action Silicon Valley and the truth can be stranger than fiction

Extension takedown in 3.. 2..

Honestly though, it will come and it will be in a form of copyright infringement, or something vague like that.

Good luck. Don’t build your castle on top of another castle.

The Chrome Web Store already blocks any extension with the ability to download videos from Youtube with the excuse of it “enabling piracy.” Ironic considering that they allow downloaders for any other site. Only is banned. It smells like anti-competitive behavior to me.

> creators actually get paid

Until I see a report of exactly how much my monthly fee directly goes to each of my subscribed channels, I’m never going to believe that.

I wouldn’t believe you if you told me you’re subscribed to every Patreon of every content creator you consume the content of.

And again: avoiding paying the platform operators no matter the cost.

> I wouldn’t believe you if you told me you’re subscribed to every Patreon of every content creator you consume the content of.

Everyone’s YouTube consumption is different. I’m not the person you directed the comment at but I realistically follow less than a handful of creators on YouTube. Subscribing to all their Patreons (not sure if all of them have it) would be quite doable.

Every time there’s an article about this fight, someone inevitably chimes in with their “Just Buy Premium” contribution. While true, it’s not very useful or topical, and it’s been re-posted so many damn times that it’s pretty much zero-value.

It’s like going into a discussion about building your own custom PC from scratch and posting “Just buy it from Dell!” I mean, no shit!

Everyone obviously knows paying is an option. These articles/discussions aren’t about the obvious, short, straightforward path.

The “just buy premium” comment is usually the lone voice of reason in a sea of people jumping through hoops to justify why they like getting things for free without paying for them.

There is value in reminding people that blocking ads when there is a paid ad free option is scummy behavior.

> justify

i don’t need to justify my actions. I know adblocking is denying revenue to the platform. i don’t care.

The “just buy premium” crowd is assuming that people are rich enough to afford premium. May be they should consider how priviledged they are for having the spare money to dump on premium.

I’d consider paying for Premium if they remove the free with ads version of Youtube. Ideally every single person on the planet blocked ads on Youtube on every imaginable platform so they were forced to restrict all access to content if you didn’t pay for Premium.

At this point I think it’s the principle of the thing. I mean I have premium but I still want them to get smacked down for this because Google made one of the endgame moves to drink verification can.

Ads are supposed to incidental, you run ads and if too many people block them because they suck then congrats sucks for you. If no one sees them then sucks for you. Most people put up with TV ads when they’re not even hard to skip. And for some reason IG ads are well liked. Forcing them harder I think has to make us confront what we’re really doing here and what we’re gaining by all this. Just pay for premium sounds nice when you don’t think about it. If there’s no universe where someone might actually prefer the ads if they were the same price then we’re kinda admitting they have literally zero value to the viewer.

And that paints a very different picture of advertising than “the grease of the economic wheel” ya know? And clearly all advertising isn’t like this, like I paid to see the Lego movie, Barbie was fantastic. I watched a YT video of a woman showing her design process for a product she’s selling and it was fascinating but it was also just an ad. But if YT are there to suck just so you’ll pay for it to suck less than that’s not mutually beneficial trade that’s extortion.

Ah yes I want it so much that despite being able to block YT ads for years and get all the content for free and still able to do that now I pay for premium. Clearly I just want free shit.

I know it’s crazy but what I actually want is an ad model where I don’t feel the need to make it go away and might actually enjoy. An ad model where it doesn’t have to interrupt me and force itself upon my eyes because it’s actually content I would watch on my own.

Like take for example’s blog. It’s is some of the best advertising for the service and is definitely why I use them today. Raymond Hettenger’s python YT series is a fantastic ad for his consultancy. Wendy’s Twitter was/is hilarious. But its a weird dynamic because if the content is good you don’t have to pay for it which seems silly because it’s an ad all the same.

apparently it only happens with google chrome browser (what a surprise!), another reason not to use that spyware that only consumes RAM.

What makes this apparent? I’ve not observed or heard this to be true yet, e.g. the same problem has occured to me in Firefox. I’ve found making sure the adblocker rulesets are updated faster than the normal update schedule was planning tends to fix it.

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