Do Not Disturb for Chrome blocks annoying things on the web

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The web can be annoying at times. Sometimes on purpose, at other times not on purpose but with the same end result.

Think about popups for instance, screen overlays that ask you to subscribe to a newsletter, or auto-playing videos or media files on websites.

Not all annoyances are clearly visible on the other hand. Most users may not even realize that they are being tracked, and that data that they enter on websites and their activities are being used to profile them.

The Google Chrome extension Do Not Disturb looks on first glance much like the popular Disconnect extension.

Disconnects concentrates on third-party scripts that run on many websites to trigger irritating features such as ads or media. Do Not Disturb on the other hand does not do that.

While Disconnect works fine in blocking third-party scripts, it does not do anything against annoyances running on the server of the site you are on.

do not disturb chrome

It does not catch popups, screen overlays and other annoyances that originate from the website itself.

Do Not Disturb blocks a variety of items on the active page and displays the overall count of blocked items in its icon in the Chrome toolbar.

So what is the extension taking care of?

  1. Potential Content Overlay.
  2. Potential URL Hijack.
  3. Content Widget.
  4. Data Miner / Consumer Survey.
  5. General Annoyance.
  6. Prestitial Page Attempt.
  7. Pop Up / Pop Under

While some do not require explanation, others do. Unfortunately though, there is no help file or explanation what each item covers.

It is easy enough to determine for pop up and pop under items, but there is no information about general annoyance for instance and what is included here, or what prestitial page attempts are (the latter is an ad unit that is displayed before the actual site that you are about to visit).

Content Widgets are related posts or "from the web" posts that are displayed on websites. They are powered by companies such as Outbrain or TAboola, and often not related to the web page you are on.

So how well does this blocking work?

It worked quite well during tests but is not a catch-all solution. It will block quite a few items on many web pages, but you may still be exposed to elements that it did not block.

I have not tried it in conjunction with Disconnect or another third-party script blocker, but it is likely that you can improve the blocking significantly if you run both extensions at the same time in Chrome.

A whitelist is available in the options that you can use to put sites on the ignore list. Websites that are on it are not affected by the extension at all.

The only other options you have here are to disable the extension for the time being and to disable the blocking of content widgets on websites.

Closing Words

Do Not Disturb is an interesting extension for Google Chrome that can help you block annoying items that you encounter on the web.  It won't protect you from all annoyances but it does remove quite a few of them.

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Responses to Do Not Disturb for Chrome blocks annoying things on the web

  1. Dwight Stegall April 17, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    I've forgotten whether it was PCWorld or PCMag that used to have a very annoying newsletter sign up popup that wouldn't go away unless you signed up for their newsletter. It covered the content so you couldn't read it.

    Things like this are very easy to get around. I use the Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox. I disabled all JavaScript and reloaded the page so I could read the content. Then re-enabled JavaScript when I was done. Another way would be to use a Stylish script to hide it with display:none !important.

    • Martin Brinkmann April 17, 2014 at 11:32 am #

      While annoying, displaying such a prompt to users is very effective as the sign up rate is much higher than from traditional newsletter sign up options (e.g. sidebar form).

    • Zeus April 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

      Yeah, it's a shame when websites are too obnoxious like that. I remember there was a very fine horror movie review site, respected in the community. Their writing was quite high quality, and when I came across their reviews, I enjoyed reading them. The problem is, every time I looked at their homepage for updates, a HUGE blue banner would slowly drop from the top of the screen, nagging me to follow them on Facebook. I couldn't find a way to stop it (short of disabling JavaScript, which broke the rest of their site), so I just shrugged and moved on to greener -- less blue banner -- pastures.

      If they had just dedicated a static portion of their site to plugging Facebook, I never would have minded. But the fact that, for one glorious second, everything was fine, and then the Facebook nagware slowly lowered itself over the page's face. I couldn't stand it. :D

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