The theory behind open source software is a paragon of cooperative optimism: anyone may modify the software and share it freely. While this can be beneficial, resulting in specialized programs for people with diverse needs, it can also clutter up the software marketplace with a bunch of similar apps with no real differentiating qualities.
A perfect example is ad-blocking browser extensions. These things prevent advertisements from loading on Web pages. They all make use of the browsers’ built-in ability to filter content from a given domain, since most ads on a site are actually loaded from different servers than the content itself. There are a few unique extensions and a whole mess of rip-offs and charlatans.
AdBlock Plus is, as far as I can tell, the original. Well, aside from the original original AdBlock from years ago — that one seems to be gone altogether. AdBlock Plus works on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Opera and Android. By default, it does not block what it calls “acceptable ads,” which do not interrupt the flow of a Web page. It claims to be “the most popular browser extension.”
AdBlock was “inspired by” the AdBlock Plus and first AdBlock extensions for Firefox and makes a point of saying that it’s “100% user-supported.” That means it doesn’t take money from some companies to be exempted from its block lists. It claims to be the “#1 most downloaded extension for Google Chrome and Safari” and also works on Opera.
Adguard AdBlocker is a subset of the full Adguard for Windows product, which also includes malware protection, parental control and priority tech support. There are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari and Yandex.
µBlock for Chrome markets itself as more efficient with the computer processor and memory than other ad-blocking extensions, as well as more complete. It’s pronounced “myoo-block.”
AdBlock Premium appears to be nothing more than AdBlock repackaged with a new adjective. It says it’s the “most popular Chrome extension, with over 15 million users!” despite the counter reading “741,377 users” when I visited its download page. It even links back to AdBlock’s site, but AdBlock disavows any involvement with it. Maybe don’t use this one.
Adblock Pro for Chrome has a non-capitalized b and contains a bunch of ad-blocking extensions for specific Web properties, like Google, Yahoo, Bing and “all other Sites.” Refreshingly, it makes no popularity claims whatsoever.
Adblock Super for Chrome has a description identical to Adblock Pro and a slideshow identical to AdBlock.
Simply Block Ads! for Chrome fully acknowledges that it is adapted from AdBlock, and just claims an easier user interface.
Adblock Edge for Firefox is a fork of the AdBlock Plus project, without the “sponsored ads whitelist” that allows some ads through.
Adblock Advisor is just a collection of three other extensions — namely, AdBlock, Adguard AdBlocker and µBlock.
And there are plenty more. The respective add-on sites for each browser do a decent job of curating the most legitimate titles to the top, but you still need to be careful when searching for software of any kind. Check out alternatives and reviews for any app, extension, program or utility you’re thinking of installing on your system.
Trust only the genuine @CitizenjaQ on Twitter.
As seen in the August 7, 2014 issue of the Hippo.