What is adcruft?

You may have noticed by now that the Google AdSense test I’m running in the navigation bar (to the right side of the screen) goes under the heading of adcruft. I figure I owe an explanation.

In the techy world, the suffix -cruft is used to denote content that is generally worthless, lacking in quality, selectively biased, or esoteric; basically, junk. Fancruft, for instance, would describe Wikipedia articles that are created by fanatical fans of some obscure television series. It’s stuff that nobody else really cares about. Wikipedia has lots of fancruft; in fact, it has over 100,000 articles on individual episodes of various television shows. So keep that in mind the next time someone is bragging about Wikipedia’s 1.6 million articles. The thing about Wikipedia’s cruft is that it’s so pervasive it’s just not worth trying to get rid of. If you polled the majority of the population they’d want it deleted, but start actually trying to delete it and the fancrufters show up in disproportionate numbers and bitterly contest it. So basically, it’s just not worth the trouble to delete this kind of stuff.

But I digress. Another kind of cruft would be adcruft, which I would argue, applies to all advertising, and thus the words ad and adcruft are redundant. Anyway, the label is just there on the navigation bar to delineate it from the content that I consider worthwhile (you know, the actual content of the blog). It also serves the purpose of letting people running ad-blocking software know that there’s something there that’s not being displayed. I’ve been using the AdBlock extension for Firefox for a good while now, and there’s lots of sites out there that I don’t even realize are running ads because they are removed so completely. Even if the ads aren’t being displayed, I generally like to know which sites are running them and which aren’t, hence why I’ve made it obvious on my blog.

By the way, the term cruft most likely originates from Cruft Laboratory at Harvard. The laboratory has been used for heavy research in the past, and so it was always throwing away obselete equipment that had become worthless. As Wikipedia says, “By the whimsical humor of the student body, if the place filled with useless machinery is called Cruft Hall, the machinery itself must be cruft.” I should point out that I actually saw Cruft Laboratory at Harvard during Wikimania 2006. It was interesting to see the physical roots of a word. Anyway, one of us took this picture.

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