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Tue Mar 23, 2021, 11:48 AM

Latest update on the ongoing problem of some Star Members seeing ads

Last edited Wed Mar 24, 2021, 12:38 PM - Edit history (2)

This discussion thread was locked by EarlG (a host of the Announcements group).

UPDATE 3/24:

There is a new announcement about this issue here.


ORIGINAL MESSAGE:

As you may be aware, some Star Members are experiencing a bug which causes them to see ads on DU. To be clear, if you are a Star Member, you should never see an ad on DU. If you are a Star Member and you are seeing ads, the problem is not at your end, and your Star Membership is intact. You have run into the bug.

I want to give you an update on what we know about the issue so far, and what you can do if you run into it.

WHAT WE KNOW

We use a third-party company to serve ads on DU to all visitors except Star Members. When you are logged in as a Star Member, a background process in the ad company's software simply removes the ads from your view -- at least, that's how it SHOULD work. However, about a week and a half ago, something went wrong with that process.

Unfortunately, because the bug is only affecting a small number of Star Members, it has been hard to track down. Most Star Members have not run into this issue -- myself and Elad included -- and the ad company cannot reproduce it. It is very difficult to hunt down a bug which you cannot reproduce. Nevertheless, the bug clearly exists, because a small number of Star Members are running into it every day and reporting it to me! So we're having to piece together what has happened through circumstantial evidence.

For most people who run into this bug:
  • It appears to be device-based. In other words, if you log into your account on different devices -- say, on a desktop computer and also on your phone -- you may find that you run into the bug on one device, but not the other.

  • There's no surefire way to resolve it. At least one member has reported to me that logging out and then logging in again fixed the problem, but unfortunately that has NOT been most people's experience. In most cases is seems that logging out, clearing cache, hard-refreshing pages, etc. does not make a difference. However, you MAY find that logging out of DU, clearing your browser's cache/Internet history, and logging in again does work -- it's up to you if you want to try this.

  • It does not last too long, and then goes away on its own. Everyone who has reported this issue to me has reported that it resolved itself, although the amount of time that it can take to resolve varies. Some members report that it goes away within minutes, although for most people it seems to last for a few hours. As far as I know, it has not lasted longer than 24 hours for anyone.

  • Once it goes away, it doesn't come back. At least so far, I haven't had a report from anyone who has run into this twice. If you run into the bug, it doesn't seem to come back once it has resolved.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

If you are hit by this bug, unfortunately there's not a lot you can do to get around it. The simplest solution -- which is obviously not available to everyone -- is to log into DU on a second device until the problem goes away on your main device.

However, you can help us collect circumstantial evidence which will help the ad company troubleshoot this issue, and the best way to do this is to give me some information about your system. If you are experiencing the bug, please send me a DU Mail message with the following info:
  • The type of device are you using (Desktop, laptop, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, Android phone, etc.)

  • The type of browser you are using (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, etc.)

  • Whether you are using any browser extensions (if you don't know what these are, say "none" )

Additionally, if you are a Star Member who is seeing the ads, it would be helpful to know if a particular piece of code is present in your DU pages. You can locate this by doing the following on a desktop or laptop PC:
  • Right click anywhere on a DU page which has the problem. From the browser menu which appears, select "View source" or "View page source" (whichever is applicable).

  • A page with lots and lots of code will appear. While on this page, hit CTRL-F to open the "Find" dialog, and search for the string "no ads"

  • You should see a line of code highlighted. The code should say meta name="paid user" content="no ads". If you see that line, report "Yes, I'm seeing the meta tag!" If you don't see it, report "No, I'm not seeing the meta tag!"

This has been a very frustrating bug to deal with, and once again my apologies to anyone who has experienced it. We are trying to resolve this as quickly as we possibly can.

-- EarlG

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Replies to this discussion thread

Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 12:06 PM

1. Thanks for the update, Davidd. If it happens to me, I'll click the ads...

...so you get some loot!

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 12:38 PM

2. I just started to see ads

and here is the code from this page:





















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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 12:49 PM

3. Yes, I am seeing the meta tag..below is the copy-paste...



Thanks for all you do..

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 12:50 PM

4. On Sunday I saw ads only when I clicked on an article or OP from the Front Page link.

Not on the main page itself except for when I initially opened the site using the Front Page as my initial connection;, they were there for a few seconds, then the Front page reloaded and they were gone there.

Has not happened since Sunday.

PC. Windows 10 with all current patches. Chrome all latest patches. Using Privacy Pass, Tamper Monkey.

Hope this helps.

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 12:54 PM

5. Thank you for the explanation.

I have not had any other issues since I emailed about ads showing up while on my tablet a few mornings ago.

If any other ads show up, I will send you the information you requested.

Again, thank you.

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 12:55 PM

6. KnR to read in full later. TY so much for keeping us updated...

...especially since I seem to gave caught the bug too as of this a.m.


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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 01:00 PM

7. Who doesn't love intermiittent faults that you can't replicate?

It was a tough sale to installations that had one of the systems made by the company I used to work for, when the system might have cost $30-50,000, the fault was annoying their employees or tenants, and inspection departments were breathing down their necks.

Intermittents were the bane of my existence.

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 01:23 PM

8. Happened with my Chromebook but not my desktop

It went away after a day. Thanks.

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 01:26 PM

9. It happens to vaccinated people near 5G cell towers

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 01:37 PM

10. This must have been what happened to me, over the weekend or...

...late last week, I'm not really sure of the day, but within the last 5-6 days.

On my Android phone only, using Chrome, with an ad blocker. IIRC when I clicked a tweet embedded in an OP, viewed the tweet in the Twitter app, & then switched back to viewing the DU OP there would be a dialog box onscreen saying "popup blocked" or "2 popups blocked." I don't know if they were ads because they were blocked, but it had never happened before. It stopped happening later in the day & hasn't happened since.

Unfortunately I don't know how to examine the page source code on my Android phone, I looked around in menus & didn't see a way to do it. I guess I might have to save the html file & open it in a text editor?

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 03:58 PM

11. Good to know I was wandering what was going on yesterday

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 04:48 PM

12. I'm one of those. Everything was fine on my laptop, but on my iPhone? Nope.

Problem prevailed all day yesterday. But it appears to be gone today. Laptop DU, AND cell phone DU - all back to normal.

For whatever you did (or might have done), thank you!

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 05:11 PM

13. It is only happening on my iPhone.

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Tue Mar 23, 2021, 11:49 PM

14. I saw ads earlier today, but they went away just as you said they would.

Thanks for keeping us updated.

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Response to EarlG (Original post)

Wed Mar 24, 2021, 06:52 AM

15. I started seeing ads Monday, I think, but only on my

smartphone. I had been involuntarily logged out, and the ads appeared after I logged back in. Appears to be corrected after logging out voluntarily then logging back in.

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