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Launched Stack Exchange sites display ads picked by the community. On Stack Overflow, these ads are specifically for open source projects. On SU, SF and Stack Exchange 2.0 sites, there is no particular constraint; the suggestions include “anything else your community would genuinely be interested in”.

Besides offensive or “NSFW” content, are there any constraints as to what may be suitable for a community ad? Are commercial ventures ok? Does the ad have to be at least somewhat related to the site's topic?

Are there rules that moderators should enforce, or is it entirely up to the community?

Note that Stack Overflow is out of scope for this question. Also, beta sides don't get community ads. Only SU, SF and launched SE 2.0 sites are concerned.

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2 Answers 2

Going back to the announcement for this feature, a few examples of appropriate uses are given... Followed by:

  • Anything else the community would genuinely be interested in

That seems pretty sane to me. Therefore, the answer to

Besides offensive or “NSFW” content, are there any constraints as to what may be suitable for a community ad?

...would be "only stuff the community is genuinely interested in". Moderators don't really need to be watching these with their finger on the "delete" button, but if they get complaints then they should take a good hard look: is the ad on-topic? Relevant to the sort of work being done on the site? Likely to be of interest to most of the users visiting?

If not, then it probably doesn't belong.

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From a related discussion on Super User, I'll offer same the guidelines I issued below:

Define Scope of Community Promotion Ads?

Maybe we should look at this from the other direction.

Community ads are a service TO the community. The top-voted ads should build a unique "community bulletin board" where users can pin up notices to let the everyone know about intriguing events or services which might otherwise have been missed. It's there for those situations where you say

"Man, I wish there was a way I could get the word out about …"

So what fits that criteria?

  • Community events — contests, meet-ups, giveaways, elections, etc. — GOOD
  • Conferences, tradeshows, etc. - GOOD
  • Blogs, podcasts, video tutorials, educational resources, etc. — GOOD
  • Stack Exchange API apps and scripts (Stackapps) — GOOD
  • Open source projects actively looking for contributors — GOOD

  • Broader announcemenets not really specific to that community — DEBATABLE

  • Ubiquitous applications and websites already well-known by the community — NOT SO GOOD
  • Commercial applications and services that are more advertisement than announcement — BAD


My wish is NOT to have to wrap a hard policy around what is permissible. This isn't really about "commercial" vs. "non-commercial."

Perhaps If we could instill these criteria into the submission/voting process — make it clearer what the INTENT of the ads are — the community voting can better decide which ads provide community value and which should remain at the bottom of the pile.

But right now a bunch of "Hey, cool! I use that!" ads and voting does not add anything to this community.

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