A less painful way to install Adblock Plus filter-subscriptions in Firefox

I have moved my blog from WordPress to a static site — currently http://dpb.bitbucket.org/. Atom feed is available at http://dpb.bitbucket.org/feeds/all.atom.xml.

Thanks for reading on WordPress up to now.


Adblock Plus, an “add-on” for current versions of the Firefox browser, is a powerful tool for suppressing advertising. After installing Firefox, you have the choice of installing any number of add-ons, and this is normally the very first one I do.

Adblock Plus uses filters to determine what is an ad. Finding filters, unless you write them yourself (a most tedious procedure), requires you to subscribe to existing lists. I subscribe to eleven in all, and I almost never see an ad — either graphic or text-based — when I use Firefox. It makes the Internet a liveable place for me.

But subscribing to filters is unpleasant because it requires many repetitive mouse-actions. A faster way is to create a file called patterns.ini containing only the following:

[Subscription]
url=~wl~
title=Exception Rules
defaults=whitelist

[Subscription]
url=~fl~
title=Ad Blocking Rules
defaults=blocking

[Subscription]
url=https://adversity.googlecode.com/hg/Adversity.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=http://adblockrules.org/download.php?type=all
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=http://adblock-chinalist.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/adblock.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easyprivacy.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easylist.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=https://secure.fanboy.co.nz/fanboy-adblocklist-addon.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=https://adversity.googlecode.com/hg/Adversity-Tracking.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=http://fanboy-adblock-list.googlecode.com/hg/fanboy-adblocklist-current-expanded.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=http://fanboy-adblock-list.googlecode.com/hg/fanboy-adblocklist-stats.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=https://adblock-chinalist.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/adblock.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

[Subscription]
url=https://secure.fanboy.co.nz/enhancedstats.txt
downloadStatus=synchronize_ok

(This is my own list, of course.) I save patterns.ini to the adblockplus directory, which is typically at a path something like this:

… Firefox/Profiles/<hash>.default/adblockplus/

where <hash> is a random-looking eight-digit alphanumeric sequence that identifies a given user profile to Firefox. (Each <hash>.default user profile needs its own set of Adblock Plus filters in the appropriate subdirectory.)

Then I go to Firefox and open the filter preference window for Adblock Plus. On OS X, that means Tools -> Adblock Plus -> Filter Preferences. In the bottom right corner of the window there is a checkbox marked “Allow some non-intrusive advertising”. If I click it, either to check or uncheck it, the filters in patterns.ini immediately repopulate from the URLs I have placed in the minimal file.

So it doesn’t seem to be necessary to go through the tedious manual installation method in order to get the filter subscriptions. I save a copy of the minimal patterns.ini file above in a normal directory for fast replacement if I need a new user profile for some reason.


The “Allow some non-intrusive advertising” option was introduced in v. 2 of Adblock Plus — in other words, it is recent. At the moment, only ads associated with two German sites, netzwelt.de and guruads.de, are involved, but surely this is the beginning of a much more pervasive trend, since advertising now funds most internet content, or so it appears to me. When I was a boy, all television was free as long as you had a TV set to receive it; apart from public broadcasting, it was paid for entirely with advertising. So I recognize the smell of this business model.

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One comment on “A less painful way to install Adblock Plus filter-subscriptions in Firefox

  1. [...] Readers sometimes write to ask how a certain ad got onto my blog. You know, I don’t see any ads at all when I read my blog. Or anyone else’s blog. Or, basically, anything on the Internet at all. Now, how could that be? [...]

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