Apple has taken what was once a marginal industry in ad blocking software for various devices and pushed it out into the mainstream. This will mean that a lot of people who were looking at ads previously won’t be seeing them any more.

This is not a positive development.

Like the rest of you, I find online ads annoying at times, and downright confounding at others. But as an online publisher I can tell you that the long-term ramifications of blocking ads aren’t going to be very good.

For one thing, this site you’re reading right now relies on online advertising. Were it not for the ads that run here I wouldn’t be able to publish In fact, back before writing was my livelihood, were it not for the revenue coming from ads on the blog the costs associated with hosting and maintaining the blog would have caused me to quit.

I’m sure that some of you – those who don’t like my politics and don’t like this blog and come here day after day to hate on both – aren’t going to care very much about that. So think about this as an issue larger than SAB. Think about that sports blog that you like, or that video game forum where you like to discuss the latest game, or that outdoors website where hunters and anglers come together to share tips and reports and stories.

These sites, too, depend on advertising.

Over the years I’ve had many readers tell me, proudly, that they block the ads on SAB. I’m not sure how they expected me to react to that statement. Essentially what they’re telling me is that they feel it’s fine to visit my site and enjoy the content I create without needing to do me the courtesy of looking at the ads from my sponsors. It’s sort of like telling your mechanic, after he’s changed your oil, that you’re not going to bother to pay him.

To be sure, the large publishers will be fine. They have the audience and the appeal to find other revenue streams, though if the rocky transition from print to digital the newspaper and magazine publishers have gone through tells us anything it might be a real challenge.

But the real people hurt will be the smaller publishers.

Publishing online has become very cheap in a lot of ways. But good content still takes time and capital to create and publish. Some people might still do it just for the love of doing it, but with fewer chances to profit fewer people are going to take the time.

That would be a shame.

Yes, I understand that some websites have intrusive ads. Even here on SAB, though I try to strike a good balance between the site’s usability and revenue functions, I sometimes get complaints. But ad blockers aren’t the answer. Ad blockers are like taking a sledgehammer to a gnat. Ad blockers mean hurting the creators who are trying to entertain and inform you.

So please, don’t block the ads. On a related note, if you want to support SAB [tinypass_offer text=”please consider getting a subscription”]. That helps make the ads a little less necessary.