Help me block ads better!
November 24, 2021 3:11 PM   Subscribe

The learning curve of uBlock Origin is, to be charitable, steep. Is there a good tutorial somewhere?

I've been running uBlock Origin for a while now, and I'm pretty happy with it, but I run it in sorta blunt-force mode; I use the element zapper/element picker when I see something I want to block, and mostly just let it run in the background doing its thing otherwise. Most times that works, but a lot of times I find myself wishing I knew how to do some fairly specific things and didn't just whack-a-mole at things and then roll them back when I find that I did something wrong.

There's a whole bunch of things I know it's capable of doing that I have literally no idea how to do, like:

- Block those popover "subscribe to our newsletter" notifications that appear on some websites when you either scroll down or hover over the close-tab X
- block autoplay video windows that appear at the top of the screen then fall to the bottom and stay there

There are other examples too, things I can't think of right now, but I'm not so much looking for MeFi to help me solve for the specific questions I have, as I am looking here to hopefully point me in the direction of a good tutorial(s) that can walk me through what UBO is capable of.

I've been through UBO's github wiki a little bit, but it's mostly not written for the novice user, and it's also not so much situational ("here's how to do this thing") as it is extremely granular detailed definition -oriented ("here's what this piece of UBO functionality can do"), without providing context for why it would be useful to do the thing it's describing.

Does such a thing exist? Is there a "so you want to do this? Here's how!" resource or resources available?
posted by pdb to Technology (3 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe it'd help to view a video. This one should help with the type of things you want to do. Searching "ublock origin how to [thing you want to do] youtube" should get you what you need.

I'd also encourage you to not be afraid of breaking it by just clicking the buttons in the extension. There are only several of them and they have helpful tooltips that will appear when you mouse over them. Since you haven't done much customization yet, you won't be losing much if you have to reinstall the plugin and start over.
posted by michaelh at 7:32 PM on November 24

May I suggest also looking at nextdns ?

I too struggled with UBO but after setting up nextdns and also using uMatrix the number of annoyances fell hugely.

The bonus is also that your nextdns settings will work on all browsers you choose but also on mobile where our ability to block ads is very limited.
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 2:45 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]

I too find ublock customization pretty daunting, so I don't have anything useful to offer there. I will say that I don't see most of the annoyances you mention thanks to general javascript blocking via noscript, but maybe that's a blunter approach than what you're looking for.

I used to use Adblock Plus (I think?) and its Element Blocker (I think?) back in the day, before everyone started moving away from it when it started (optionally) whitelisting sites that paid. I remember the interface being much easier to understand and work with and have sometimes thought about switching back to see if it would make some things easier. It's been a long time, though, so I'm not sure if it's still a good option these days.

also on mobile where our ability to block ads is very limited.

(Just in case it's useful to someone: on Firefox's Android version, both ublock origin and noscript are available as extensions/addons.)
posted by trig at 2:48 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]

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