This whole thing sounds really weird.

Google Contributor, the service that let you pay fractions of pennies to remove Google-served ads from websites, is being shut down in mid-January 2017. In an email set to Contributor subscribers, Google says that there are "important changes" coming to Contributor ... mainly, that it's being shut down.

Google Contributor

The full email:

Thank you for being a part of Google Contributor, a service that helps readers enjoy fewer ads while funding the sites they love.

Early next year we are launching a new and improved Contributor -- your input throughout testing has been invaluable! As we build this new service, we will discontinue the current version of Contributor.

What this means for you

Starting in mid-January 2017, you will no longer see Contributor ad replacements as you browse the web and you will be unable to access your Contributor account.

About payments and billing

You will no longer be billed for the Contributor service starting mid-January 2017, and we will refund your remaining account balance to your credit or debit card on file.

Since launching in late 2014, Google Contributor has gone through a few different iterations of how it removes ads and charges users. The most recent (and user-friendly) model was to simply charge a flat rate of $6.99 per month and calculate the cost of the ads you removed, refunding you any money that wasn't put toward ads. It meant you never overpaid, and also didn't really feel the effect of being charged for every single ad that was removed.

Contributor needed improving, but handling it this way is odd.

While Google says that a new and improved version of Contributor will be launching next year, it's odd to see that its process for doing so involves completely shutting down the current version of Contributor and locking everyone's account. Considering how it's being handled, we could be in store for a pretty dramatic change to Contributor (including the name, perhaps).

Contributor was certainly an interesting idea and one that aimed to counteract the high usage of ad blockers on the web, but I find it hard to believe that there was any substantial number of users actively paying Contributor to remove ads. For as good of an idea as it is in its current form, Contributor needs a restructuring if it's going to catch on at the scale of any other Google service. Those who wish to be notified of the relaunch of Contributor's replacement can fill out this form and find out first.