Like pretty much everybody who doesn't have a Core subscription, I've been seeing the "we know you aren't here for the ads" message lately. Because like pretty much everybody who doesn't have a Core subscription, (or just most everybody in general,) I use an ad blocker. And sure, I get it - DeviantArt is a business, they have servers to run and people to pay, and ads generate some revenue out of us non-Core peasants. When people like me do our dA business with ad blockers, we're parasites on the system, taking bandwidth but giving nothing. So turning off the ad blocker seems like the decent thing to do, but that's where things get complicated.
See, it's kind of a funny story why I started using an ad blocker in the first place: I got poison ads in my dA browsing, and only my dA browsing. I was just browsing along as usual and suddenly my familiar ugly dA drab green page goes to a big scary warning screen from Chrome saying bad things are happening on that tab and it stopped them. After the third time it happened in about a week, having made sure my system itself wasn't compromised and confident it must be bad ads in dA's rotation, I decided to install an ad blocker and the problem was definitely solved from then on. As such, the recent orange requests (and seriously, I still hate that new Core orange color by the way,) to turn my ad blocker off were a bit of a moral dilemma. On one hand I understand the need for ads, on the other dA has a known history of giving me bad ads. Ultimately, considering those original bad ads happened years ago, it was with some trepidation that I decided to turn my ad blocker off. Everybody deserves a second chance, right?
After that setup, you've probably guessed where this story's going. I had my ad blocker off for about three weeks before dA itself reminded me why I started using blockers in the first place. I wasn't even on dA's tab when suddenly its tab came into focus on its own, now on some page with a pop-up message box claiming my computer had been scanned and found to have all sorts of malware. Malware I had to call them to fix, or they'd cut me off from some unspecified network somehow. And once I actually got that message to close, dA's previous tab itself was on some totally separate page trying to pass as an authentic Microsoft support site, but a totally wrong address. And it started playing an automated voice reading exactly what the initial pop-up said, because yeah, cheaply voiced error messages are definitely what you expect from the real Windows support page experience, right? Obviously it was a phishing site, and obviously the redirect originated in dA's tab, since that's the one inactive tab the browser suddenly jumped to. My first step was to turn my ad blocker back on and continue as normal for about two hours, since on the off chance the problem was coming from inside my computer, turning dA ads off shouldn't make a difference. The problem didn't happen again, but just to be safe, the next thing I did was scan my computer with three additional security apps beyond what I already use to be sure my system wasn't compromised, and the worst I found was a few cookies. As such, confident that once again the problem was entirely the result of a bad ad from dA, I left the ad blocker on, and now I've gone nearly a week without further incident. I'd say the evidence is pretty conclusive at this point.
Thus, until DeviantArt can give me some definitive and meaningful assurances that it's finally made sure no more malevolent ads will be served, I'm keeping my ad blocker on, and I'd recommend the same to anyone else. Not because seeing ads is such a problem, not because I don't care about fairness and the reality of running a business, but for essential online safety. With bad ads still sneaking into the rotation, and ad spaces auto-refreshing regardless of user activity no less, getting served ads here is a risk I'm not comfortable with. Otherwise, at any time my dA tab can be hijacked by who-knows-what, and nobody should be expected to tolerate that. Such practices make returning to parasite mode not merely justifiable, but the prudent choice.
...Well, semi-parasite mode. I'm not one of those accounts that posts nothing, and some of the people viewing my stuff probably don't have ad blockers, so that's some revenue they're getting from me regardless. And speaking of getting revenue, I'd be a lot more likely to go Premium/Core again and avoid ads that way if they hadn't jacked up the price along with the name change, at the new prices it just doesn't seem worth it. Though as a matter of principle, avoiding malware by cutting out the ads shouldn't really be a selling point in the first place. Also, if money is so tight they gotta price gouge subscriptions right out of the market, maybe dA could try saving some money by putting reasonable restrictions on those pages with about a million animated gifs up front that take forever to load. Those gotta be guzzling some server resources while mostly just being annoying.