the Dirty Marketing SOBs
Who visits this site? Where in the heck are they all coming from? What kinds of stuff are they interested in? These are the questions that the Dirty Marketing SOBs (DMS) are just dying to know the answers to. The Dirty Marketing SOBs are the ones who pore through server logs, analyze click-through rates, embed subliminal messages in animated advertising bann...oops, you didn't hear that. They are the ones with degrees in Psychology and Sociology, the ones who are at this very moment trying to get inside your head. They want to sell you their shit. Yes, I said shit. 99% of all ad banners, commercial and large corporate websites, SPAM emails (Ok, make that 100%) are just shit to most of their captive viewers. Think about it: If you had an interest in whatever their ad is trying to sell you, you probably would have either bought it by now or decided you weren't ever going to. The DMS are feeling the ill effects of this fact, as click-thru rates (percentage of people who actually click on one of those banners versus the ones who just ignore and/or swear at it) remain abysmally low and the DMS fail to make a highly-profitable return on their ugly little investments. To combat this lack of profitability, the DMS have turned to ever-more pervasive, intrusive, and downright sneaky and conniving methods of squeezing that extra click-thru rate out of the unsuspecting and now-disgruntled audience. While not an immediate booster of the DMS' holy grail click-thru rate, they can over time become a godsend to any DMS who chooses to implement their use. Cookies are a tool used by the DMS to track your movements through sites, where you came from, where you went, how long you stayed, what you saw, what you clicked on. Over time, their spying allows them to compile an detailed profile of your viewing habits, interests, preferences (including your sexual preferences(!), what kind of products you would prefer to buy, and even the probability that you drink/smoke/abuse drugs/have AIDS/have cancer/buy guns... If this does not already strike you as an absolute violation of your privacy, bear in mind that these profiles they are building on you are by no means private or confidential. Suppose you visit a large number of drug or alcohol sites. (Yes, they can tell where you are surfing!) Monday you visit Anhauser-Busch's site. Tuesday you schmooze on the Budsmoker Board, reading a marijuana-oriented discussion forum and maybe even posting to it. Wednesday you visit Ed's 1001 Beer Joke page. Thursday you do a Web search for vodka-related content on the Web. Friday your insurance rates go up. It seems the DMS have sold their collected profile of you to your insurance provider. Yep, you've been identified as a high risk for substance abuse, and your premiums have been doubled. These are an arguably dangerous form of online advertising in which a seperate browser window is auto-loaded, using your browser's Javascript support, containing  some hideous ad for some equally hideous product or service. They are possibly dangerous in that (1) at high dosages, they suck up Windows resources until the system becomes unstable and crashes and (2) the Javascript/new-window support of every browser made to date has been inherently buggy; popping one up can cause browser crashes at any time. Naturally, depending on hardware and configuration, some viewers will be affected more severely than others. Some have seldom, if ever, been hit with a crash from a popup window. I, on the other hand, have experienced data loss as a result of a popup crash, and nearly had to reinstall my operating system. Other popup problems include slow system performance, GPFs on Windows 3.x systems, and 'bluescreen' errors on Windows 95 machines. (Note to anyone who has not experienced a bluescreen error, it is the same thing that results from being 'nuked' on IRC.) When evaluating the full evil-ness of popup ads, bear in mind their intrusiveness. Pop-up pundits argue that it is no worse than television advertising. But I would have to disagree: With TV ads, when they come on I normally peel myself from the couch and raid the fridge, make a sandwich, etc. until the actual show comes back on, which happens automatically. You do not have to push an 'End commercial' button to break out of an infinitely-looping ad spot. Also, unlike the popup, TV ads come in contiguous blocks. Imagine watching your favorite show and  the show pauses, the sound cuts to a loud commercial and the word PEPSI appears on a white screen for five seconds. This happens every thirty seconds. Having fun yet? Now imagine that after every 10 or so of these spots (or every 5 minutes) your TV's screen freezes and it no longer responds to your remote control. So you have to turn off the TV, count to twenty, then turn it back on and wait for it to warm up again. Fast fact: The primary user of the pop-up ad? Pornographic smut sites. 'Warez' pages come in a close second. New riders of this bandwagon include Tripod and GeoCities (Geo popups). Advertisement banners, while often gaudy and displeasing to the eye, have always been a relatively benign form of advertising. Until now. While ad banners are currently ubiquitous on the WWW,  the low click-thru rate has prompted ever-sneakier ways of forcing them on the public. The most recent is a ploy in which the server actually times out during page transfer, refusing to send the majority of the requested page until a banner ad on it has loaded in its entirety and often gone through 5-7 seconds of animated annoyance. Only then will the actual page be displayed. As the 'banner gestapo' have gotten steadily pushier about cramming their ads into your eyeballs, several disgruntled 'Netizens have toyed with the idea of playing equally dirty, writing software that can be configured to block most ad banners. This was nearly a reality until several online business heavyweights complained that this would bankrupt them, that is was illegal (breaching an unwritten contract stating that surfers agree to suffer through the banners in exchange for the content on the businesses' website), and I believe an injunction has been issued
 forbidding the sale or use of this software until the matter can be decided upon by the courts. Don't get me wrong, there are respectable companies such as Hotmail that provide a useful service supported by relatively tasteful and well-managed advertising programs. It's just that some companies have chosen to play hardball with these ads, and an eventual backlash is inevitable. Arguably the most disgusting, revolting, sebum-coated form of online advertising, spamming refers to that unwanted and unsolicited 'God almighty how on earth did this slimy (...choice words here..) get his...hands on my...Email address anyway?' mail that may routinely rear its spammy head in your inbox. Spammers troll for addresses submitted via online forms, USENET postings, online directories and even your own homepage. Characteristics include MLM or make-money-fast drivel, spams for spamming software, links to (not-free) pornographic smut sites, and a generally 'slimy' feel when this mail is opened. More information (indeed, possibly more than you even know what to do with) is availible on Paul Hsieh's ANTISPAM page, which also covers some 'software spam' such as the popup windows mentioned above.

The DMS Survey
How tightly are the Dirty Marketing SOBs holding you?
This fun and fairly short survey is to help us to get some kind of handle on how succesful the DMS' actions have been, and how succesful you as a collective body of Web surfers have been at thwarting them. Please take a few moments to fill out this simple form; all submissions will remain anonymous and confidential, and all fields are optional. Results will be posted below.
Helping or hindering the DMS?
My browser settings for cookies are... 
All cookies disabled 
Originating server only 
All cookies accepted 
Third-party cookie solution 
What's a cookie?
Pop-up Windows
When I encounter one of these, I usually... 
Get pissed off 
Close them right away 
Use profanity 
All of the above
I usually get 'popped' at... Porno sites 
While looking for 'five-finger freeware' e.g. warez 
When I get some of this @#$% in my email, I...
Just delete it 
Hit every abuse@ with a cease-and-desist message 
Hit every abuse@ with death threats 
Phuck with the spammers (see Spam-libs)
Spammers most often address me as... "Dear Sir" 
"Fellow Businessman" 
"Listen, punk, when I get my hands on you..."
Info on you!
On this site, I actually read...
Just the index page 
A few things that interested me 
Nothing more than one link deep 
All of this mindless drivel!
How did you find this site? Web search 
Link from someone else's page 
Word of mouth 
Newsgroup/email link 
URL of page you link-jumped from, or search engine used
I'm sick of this survey Yes 
Ad banners
When I see an ad banner, I...
Turn off my browser's image loading 
Curse under my breath 
Ignore them 
Think about it... 
Click my fingers sore
Link Exchange 
& other noncommercial 
banner exchange programs
I follow these banners... 
Only if they're really good 
Only if they're really bad 
Always! or almost always 
URLs in personl Email signatures
I follow links in the Email I get...
Anti-E-social/Don't get Email
Blowing the whistle 
on DMS and their evils
The DMS or their goons have managed to get my personal homepage edited/deleted/censored/hacked...
3-9 times 
At least once a week 
I have an 'anything goes' provider and/or own my own server. 
Don't have a homepage
I have been threatened with legal action by the DMS or their supporters... Never 
Several times 
More times than I can remember 
(Form is submitted by e-mail.)
The story so far...
out of 16 total forms filled out
Just an overview; not all questions are displayed. Takes too damn long to maintain!
Cookies Pops Spams Commercial Banners The DMS Bites Back And Just What Are You Doing Here, Anyway?  
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