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Ads (both intentional and unintentional)

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I'd first like to say VJ is a great site and I'm indebted to it for all the amazing advice, tips, and guides its provided during the years of dealing with US immigration processes. So, thanks! I visited the site today for the first time in months, maybe even a year, to reply to an old post and noticed two things regarding ads. These aren't really complaints, as aside from replying to an old thread of mine someone quotes I don't have any intention of visiting this website again (no hard feelings, I'm just thankfully done with USCIS). I just thought you might want to know.

 

1. There are malicious pop-up ads that appear on this site, it seems. It looks like this has been discussed before (there's a thread here), but it was never address as as VJ-based issue, people were mostly under the impression it was their browser. If visajourney.com is serving malicious pop-up ads it has been compromised in some way, and you should really look into how to fix it. It's not only annoying but dangerous for users who don't know any better. The pop-up I kept receiving led me here: THIS IS SPAM, CLICK KNOWINGLY, which I really doubt is a legitimate Adobe Flash update (does anyone even use that anymore?).

2. Since I've last used the site it looks like there are legit, VJ-approved ads being shown that are inserted at random intervals inside user's posts. This can apparently happen within their actual post, or their signature. While I understand the apparent need for ads to maintain the site, this seems like a really huge breach of trust and speech on behalf of the users, as their authored posts are being injected with ads they have no knowledge of. I've seen lots of bad practices for serving ads but this seems really bad. I guess if it's never come up people don't seem to care, but I can't help but add at least add one voice of disapproval for this. Especially with a potential crowd of people viewing the site who potentially aren't internet/web advertising literate it seems really unfair to place ads offering various services (which you've experienced in the past you have little control over) in amongst the advice they are giving to other members.

 

As mentioned, I post this not as a complaint but just letting you know. Obviously feel free to ignore!

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29 minutes ago, jjjdddlll said:

I'd first like to say VJ is a great site and I'm indebted to it for all the amazing advice, tips, and guides its provided during the years of dealing with US immigration processes. So, thanks! I visited the site today for the first time in months, maybe even a year, to reply to an old post and noticed two things regarding ads. These aren't really complaints, as aside from replying to an old thread of mine someone quotes I don't have any intention of visiting this website again (no hard feelings, I'm just thankfully done with USCIS). I just thought you might want to know.

 

1. There are malicious pop-up ads that appear on this site, it seems. It looks like this has been discussed before (there's a thread here), but it was never address as as VJ-based issue, people were mostly under the impression it was their browser. If visajourney.com is serving malicious pop-up ads it has been compromised in some way, and you should really look into how to fix it. It's not only annoying but dangerous for users who don't know any better. The pop-up I kept receiving led me here: THIS IS SPAM, CLICK KNOWINGLY, which I really doubt is a legitimate Adobe Flash update (does anyone even use that anymore?).

2. Since I've last used the site it looks like there are legit, VJ-approved ads being shown that are inserted at random intervals inside user's posts. This can apparently happen within their actual post, or their signature. While I understand the apparent need for ads to maintain the site, this seems like a really huge breach of trust and speech on behalf of the users, as their authored posts are being injected with ads they have no knowledge of. I've seen lots of bad practices for serving ads but this seems really bad. I guess if it's never come up people don't seem to care, but I can't help but add at least add one voice of disapproval for this. Especially with a potential crowd of people viewing the site who potentially aren't internet/web advertising literate it seems really unfair to place ads offering various services (which you've experienced in the past you have little control over) in amongst the advice they are giving to other members.

 

As mentioned, I post this not as a complaint but just letting you know. Obviously feel free to ignore!

Quick note on #1.  These ads come and go and are from downstream networks.  They are a plague to the internet and hard to stop at times.  We need data from the actual user to debug.  This does not indicate anything wrong on our servers (just a bad actor showing a bad ad from downstream).  Reference here for more information:  https://www.wired.com/story/pop-up-mobile-ads-surge-as-sites-scramble-to-stop-them/


I am an Ewok. I am here to to keep the peace. Please contact me if you have a problem with the site or a complaint regarding a violation of the Terms of Service. For the fastest response please use the 'Contact Us' page to contact me.

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Posted (edited)

The Flash Player ad is back with a vengeance, and I was also going to mention the reappearance of ads randomly within and between posts.

 

Edited to add:  Interesting wired.com article.  Is there anything that users of Safari 12.0.2 can do?

Edited by TBoneTX

06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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5 hours ago, jjjdddlll said:

2. Since I've last used the site it looks like there are legit, VJ-approved ads being shown that are inserted at random intervals inside user's posts. This can apparently happen within their actual post, or their signature. While I understand the apparent need for ads to maintain the site, this seems like a really huge breach of trust and speech on behalf of the users, as their authored posts are being injected with ads they have no knowledge of. I've seen lots of bad practices for serving ads but this seems really bad. I guess if it's never come up people don't seem to care, but I can't help but add at least add one voice of disapproval for this. Especially with a potential crowd of people viewing the site who potentially aren't internet/web advertising literate it seems really unfair to place ads offering various services (which you've experienced in the past you have little control over) in amongst the advice they are giving to other members.

I mentioned this problem in another thread early last year, where the owner @Captain Ewok said it shouldn't be happening/wasn't done on purpose.  Hopefully he'll chime in on this thread.  It did stop for a while, but seems to be happening again:

 

 


Applied for Naturalization based on 5-year Residency - 96 Days To Complete Citizenship!

July 14, 2017 (Day 00) -  Submitted N400 Application, filed online

July 21, 2017 (Day 07) -  NOA Receipt received in the mail

July 22, 2017 (Day 08) - Biometrics appointment scheduled online, letter mailed out

July 25, 2017 (Day 11) - Biometrics PDF posted online

July 28, 2017 (Day 14) - Biometrics letter received in the mail, appointment for 08/08/17

Aug 08, 2017 (Day 24) - Biometrics (fingerprinting) completed

Aug 14, 2017 (Day 30) - Online EGOV status shows "Interview Scheduled, will mail appointment letter"

Aug 16, 2017 (Day 32) - Online MYUSCIS status shows "Interview Scheduled, read the letter we mailed you..."

Aug 17, 2017 (Day 33) - Interview Appointment Letter PDF posted online---GOT AN INTERVIEW DATE!!!

Aug 21, 2017 (Day 37) - Interview Appointment Letter received in the mail, appointment for 09/27/17

Sep. 27, 2017 (Day 74) - Naturalization Interview--- read my experience here

Sep. 27, 2017 (Day 74) - Online MYUSCIS status shows "Oath Ceremony Notice mailed"

Sep. 28, 2017 (Day 75) - Oath Ceremony Letter PDF posted online--Ceremony for 10/19/17

Oct. 02, 2017 (Day 79) -  Oath Ceremony Letter received in the mail

Oct. 19, 2017 (Day 96) -  Oath Ceremony-- read my experience here

 

 

 

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Yes I am getting the ads in the middle of the posts also. Been happening for awhile now.


October 31, 2016 I-130 sent to Chicago Lockbox

November 4, 2016 Received text case sent to Nebraska

November 10, 2016 Received Hard copy of NOA1

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Going through said:

I mentioned this problem in another thread early last year, where the owner @Captain Ewok said it shouldn't be happening/wasn't done on purpose.  Hopefully he'll chime in on this thread.  It did stop for a while, but seems to be happening again:

 

 

 

There's an ad in the middle of your signature, ironically. I can't speak to the web admin's intentions (and I assume the best, this website is incredible), but the ads in the middle of posts are certainly done on "purpose," albeit maybe accidentally in terms of what the web admin is hoping. They are being injected in the middle of posts via a script running on the site at a semi-random but pretty predictable interval. For example it looks like the thread has to reach 3 posts before it happens. Some coding speak, but the ads are literally appearing in a <div> called "google-auto-placed" which is hard-coded into the website. As the web admin you are in control of a website, and could prevent this if you choose: if you google "google-auto-placed" you'll get loads of results of people complaining of the same thing and steps to fix it.

 

That's a really interesting Wired article, thanks @Captain Ewok. It's unbelievable that even through "legit" advertising solutions you can get ads that serve malicious pop-ups, that's frustrating. Seems like both #1 and #2 are potentially caused by the same thing: VisaJourney not having enough agency over who is displaying ads on the site and where they are displaying. Again I don't want to criticize, as these are decisions that are up to whoever runs the website, just at least making them known. I hope it works out and thanks for paying attention to it.

Edited by jjjdddlll

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2 hours ago, jjjdddlll said:

 

There's an ad in the middle of your signature, ironically. I can't speak to the web admin's intentions (and I assume the best, this website is incredible), but the ads in the middle of posts are certainly done on "purpose," albeit maybe accidentally in terms of what the web admin is hoping. They are being injected in the middle of posts via a script running on the site at a semi-random but pretty predictable interval. For example it looks like the thread has to reach 3 posts before it happens. Some coding speak, but the ads are literally appearing in a <div> called "google-auto-placed" which is hard-coded into the website. As the web admin you are in control of a website, and could prevent this if you choose: if you google "google-auto-placed" you'll get loads of results of people complaining of the same thing and steps to fix it.

 

That's a really interesting Wired article, thanks @Captain Ewok. It's unbelievable that even through "legit" advertising solutions you can get ads that serve malicious pop-ups, that's frustrating. Seems like both #1 and #2 are potentially caused by the same thing: VisaJourney not having enough agency over who is displaying ads on the site and where they are displaying. Again I don't want to criticize, as these are decisions that are up to whoever runs the website, just at least making them known. I hope it works out and thanks for paying attention to it.

My technical take... didn't proof too carefully but it should read long but accurate:

 

It's hard to stop things downstream.  Here is how ad networks work...  Let's say we have 7 ad networks that fill ads (Google, AOL, Yahoo, Amazon, etc... all big names).  Each ad network may directly match "buyers" (folks with ads) to Publishers (VisaJourney) on their ad platform.  Let's say they have a "reach" of websites that offer 100M impressions a day and their own in-house "advertiser direct sale to publisher" banners can only fill 70% of the 100M ad opportunities.  To fill the rest they partner with multiple downstream providers that can run their "banners" through their system (3rd party, so to speak... and they skim a little profit off the top).  Next, imagine downstream providers doing the same thing...  Imagine how many different sources that is. 

 

Rolling back to the top, imagine on a website that each ad slot is bid across all 7 networks (and all their downstream partners)... when a bad ad pops up... who did it?  As the website owner I can't tell unless that ad is served to me.  In fact the malicious ads tend to target "lucky folks" with old browsers, located in random places, etc... to prevent detection.  Taking an image of the landing page or url doesn't help because of redirects.  We need the actual "raw" logs that show the low level detail on what ad network "chain" the ad came from.  With that we can make a complaint to the right people and they can either ban the offending advertiser, or issue a complaint downstream and let them ban the offender there... etc.  It gets complicated quick.  The good news is that browsers (chrome especially) are starting to release "stronger" versions that block these redirects. It's cat and mouse but they are getting better.

 

Regarding the auto ads, Google Adsense (their ad network) allows "auto" placement of ads based on machine learning... fancy way of saying they automatically place ads.  We use static locations (the ones that never change) for most ads but also use limited dynamic locations.  In the past we worked with Google to help them improve where they place things.  My best suggestion is to take a screen shot of a bad ad location and tell me.  I can forward it to the ad network to see if they can optimize it.

 

Whew! :P

 

 


I am an Ewok. I am here to to keep the peace. Please contact me if you have a problem with the site or a complaint regarding a violation of the Terms of Service. For the fastest response please use the 'Contact Us' page to contact me.

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Whew!

 

So, in short, no way to block the "icu" Flash Player intrusion?


06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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1 hour ago, TBoneTX said:

Whew!

 

So, in short, no way to block the "icu" Flash Player intrusion?

Actually there is hope!  Like I said, there is software you can install to provide me trace logs of this happening. Charles Proxy being a good one (http://www.adopsinsider.com/ad-ops-tools/catch-mobile-app-store-redirect-ads/).  I'd even cover the cost for your to buy and collect logs of the bad behaviors.  I will see if I can't replicate myself and lets go from there.  Trust me -- I want to fix this too :-).


I am an Ewok. I am here to to keep the peace. Please contact me if you have a problem with the site or a complaint regarding a violation of the Terms of Service. For the fastest response please use the 'Contact Us' page to contact me.

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10 hours ago, Captain Ewok said:

My technical take... didn't proof too carefully but it should read long but accurate:

 

It's hard to stop things downstream.  Here is how ad networks work...  Let's say we have 7 ad networks that fill ads (Google, AOL, Yahoo, Amazon, etc... all big names).  Each ad network may directly match "buyers" (folks with ads) to Publishers (VisaJourney) on their ad platform.  Let's say they have a "reach" of websites that offer 100M impressions a day and their own in-house "advertiser direct sale to publisher" banners can only fill 70% of the 100M ad opportunities.  To fill the rest they partner with multiple downstream providers that can run their "banners" through their system (3rd party, so to speak... and they skim a little profit off the top).  Next, imagine downstream providers doing the same thing...  Imagine how many different sources that is. 

 

Rolling back to the top, imagine on a website that each ad slot is bid across all 7 networks (and all their downstream partners)... when a bad ad pops up... who did it?  As the website owner I can't tell unless that ad is served to me.  In fact the malicious ads tend to target "lucky folks" with old browsers, located in random places, etc... to prevent detection.  Taking an image of the landing page or url doesn't help because of redirects.  We need the actual "raw" logs that show the low level detail on what ad network "chain" the ad came from.  With that we can make a complaint to the right people and they can either ban the offending advertiser, or issue a complaint downstream and let them ban the offender there... etc.  It gets complicated quick.  The good news is that browsers (chrome especially) are starting to release "stronger" versions that block these redirects. It's cat and mouse but they are getting better.

 

Regarding the auto ads, Google Adsense (their ad network) allows "auto" placement of ads based on machine learning... fancy way of saying they automatically place ads.  We use static locations (the ones that never change) for most ads but also use limited dynamic locations.  In the past we worked with Google to help them improve where they place things.  My best suggestion is to take a screen shot of a bad ad location and tell me.  I can forward it to the ad network to see if they can optimize it.

 

Whew! :P

 

 

 

Great explanation, thank you. Good luck with pinning down those annoying third parties!

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