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I know Spolsky said you "can't clear a market at these levels" and "people won't answer questions for small amounts of money" but I can't help but think that with the right promotion people like John Skeet could make a good amount of money off their personal SO pages. Most bloggers out there don't make much money but I know there are some really prolific ones that actually do. What about giving users the option to put their own advertising on their own page and see what they can do? Perhaps if the opportunity is there then they will strive to use the site more to see what they are capable of making.

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umm. three words. Expert. Sex. Change. – belgariontheking Sep 10 '09 at 20:23
-1: Horrible, horrible, horrible, idea. There is more than one way to make money off the Internet than advertising. <blink>insert Viagra advert</blink> – Stu Thompson Sep 10 '09 at 20:25
@Nick too late. bwahaha! – Troggy Sep 10 '09 at 20:43
was originally trying to think of a way to motivate people to use a stackexchange site. maybe drive more traffic and get more interest to help cover the ummm "tad" high price tag. – Nick Sep 10 '09 at 20:53
@Troggy i know! i'll just never earn those rep points back! going to cry a bit now in the corner... – Nick Sep 10 '09 at 20:55
@Nick you should contribute your experience to:… – Troggy Sep 10 '09 at 21:12
@Stu That ad just didn't live up. Seems rather... limp. – random Sep 11 '09 at 1:27
sarcasm dude! ill see you on the facebook anyway and we'll chat. ~snicker~ a little more – Nick Sep 11 '09 at 2:48
Nick, posting an idea here is an exercise in masochism. The "Ask Your Question" button should be adorned with blood and warning stickers to be sure. – novatrust Sep 11 '09 at 3:36
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I play on Server Fault because I enjoy helping people and I like the warm and fuzzy "I helped somebody" feeling that I get.

I'm not "making money" using Server Fault, but I certainly consider my rep. and ranking a part of my "personal brand". Since I put a fair amount of work into (most of) my posts I want to be sure that they're able to be associated easily with me, my company, and my general online "persona". Being an independent IT consultant and contractor, anything that adds to my body of references and experience is helpful.

I want to fulfill the criteria of being an honest and helpful participant in the community first. Any enhancement to my personal reputation is desired, though secondary.

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+1 Aye, and that's the way it should be. If you want to you can, and already do have the avenue for doing so. No need for direct commercialization. – squillman Sep 11 '09 at 1:50

I think this is an excellent idea. Think of the fortune I could make. I bet I could make answering questions on SO my job. That way, if I didn't feel like working and killed time on SO instead, I would still be working! It's brilliant!


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Can't Get Enough of That Pesto! Try it Today! On Toast! – Shog9 Sep 10 '09 at 20:23
Subtle. I like it. – squillman Sep 10 '09 at 20:23
For this to really work, the SO Team is going to have to allow embedding of Flash. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Sep 10 '09 at 20:26
Is there somewhere I can click for less flashing Pesto? Or perhaps "no flashing" Pesto? – tvanfosson Sep 10 '09 at 20:27
Was that "Flash" or "flash" -- oh, wait, it's the same thing! – tvanfosson Sep 10 '09 at 20:27
@tvanfosson: I could be persuaded to remove the image for 4 easy payments of $29.99. Act in the next 15 minutes and I'll throw in a free Welbog, a $10 value! – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Sep 10 '09 at 20:29
No thanks. I already have a disembodied head, now where did I put it? – tvanfosson Sep 10 '09 at 20:30
But wait! There's more! Call in the next 5 min and Pesto will delete it twice! He will delete, rollback, and delete again! You know we can't do this all day! – Troggy Sep 10 '09 at 20:48
You're getting ripped off, tvanfosson. A Welbog isn't even worth $5 Canadian. – JSONBog Sep 10 '09 at 22:03
+1 - I am impressed with this response, it made me smile. :) – James Black Sep 10 '09 at 22:34
Please, Pesto, don't flash us. – Joel Coehoorn Sep 11 '09 at 1:09
I can't believe I hadn't seen this until now. I am going to wear out my upvote button. – Jeff Atwood Nov 4 '09 at 10:11

One of the biggest problems with making money on Stack Overflow, even just for the people that built Stack Overflow, is that SO's user-base is probably one of the least likely on the planet to click on ads. I'm sure a huge chunk of them have adblockers installed and don't even see the ads.

So good luck making money there.

Outside that, people who are great on SO do tend to get noticed, and it certainly may translate into personal benefit for them.

But I, at least, say that the creators of SO (and all the rest) should be making full-time money from it before anyone else does...

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There's even careers.SE now... just saying. – RobotHumans Jun 12 '15 at 21:26

It is not a "bad" idea in itself... People have been trying to motivate others to do good (or even creative) work by paying them. It (almost) always failed. Why? Human nature? Perhaps. Great philosophers have rumbled about this same issue, the one that comes to my mind is Arthur Schopenhauer in his "Parerga und Paralipomena" discussing copyright and how pernicious it is (hey, that was back in XIX century, a real visionary...). Here is a quote from the English translation:

There are, first of all, two kinds of authors: those who write for the subject’s sake, and those who write for writing’s sake. The first kind have had thoughts or experiences which seem to them worth communicating, while the second kind need money and consequently write for money. They think in order to write, and they may be recognised by their spinning out their thoughts to the greatest possible length, and also by the way they work out their thoughts, which are half-true, perverse, forced, and vacillating; then also by their love of evasion, so that they may seem what they are not; and this is why their writing is lacking in definiteness and clearness.

Consequently, it is soon recognised that they write for the sake of filling up the paper, and this is the case sometimes with the best authors; for example, in parts of Lessing’s Dramaturgie, and even in many of Jean Paul’s romances. As soon as this is perceived the book should be thrown away, for time is precious. As a matter of fact, the author is cheating the reader as soon as he writes for the sake of filling up paper; because his pretext for writing is that he has something to impart. Writing for money and preservation of copyright are, at bottom, the ruin of literature. It is only the man who writes absolutely for the sake of the subject that writes anything worth writing. What an inestimable advantage it would be, if, in every branch of literature, there existed only a few but excellent books! This can never come to pass so long as money is to be made by writing. It seems as if money lay under a curse, for every author deteriorates directly he writes in any way for the sake of money. The best works of great men all come from the time when they had to write either for nothing or for very little pay. This is confirmed by the Spanish proverb: honra y provecho no caben en un saco (Honour and money are not to be found in the same purse). The deplorable condition of the literature of to-day, both in Germany and other countries, is due to the fact that books are written for the sake of earning money. Every one who is in want of money sits down and writes a book, and the public is stupid enough to buy it. The secondary effect of this is the ruin of language.

A great number of bad authors eke out their existence entirely by the foolishness of the public, which only will read what has just been printed. I refer to journalists, who have been appropriately so-called. In other words, it would be “day labourer.

... Parerga und Paralipomena, On Autorship and Style (circa 1852)

Now, of course, there are ways to reward contributors, and if the reputation system really work, I believe that there could be some kind of reward, but I still would try to avoid financial rewards, because even a great contributor, if paid by quantity of output, not quality, will be tempted to write as many answers as possible, certainly lowering overall quality...

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There's an "About Me" box on the user profile where you can put links to whatever you want, even obnoxious advertising if you like.

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do you think the ads on the answer pages are obnoxious? what if there were some of the same looking ones allowed on the personal profile pages as well? – Nick Sep 10 '09 at 20:11
He was saying you could put obnoxious advertising. – devinb Sep 10 '09 at 20:25

Then it will drive people from the site, as ads will crowd some responses, and there may be a competition for who can get the most ads.

It would also take away from the culture.

SO is designed more along the Unix model than the MS model.

I found it interesting, years ago, I would ask for help and Unix programmers would give answers for free, MS developers would offer to help for a cost.

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but there are ads on question page already. just not on the profile pages. perhaps some unobtrusive ads on the profile page for the benifit of the person doing the work asking and answering the questions? – Nick Sep 10 '09 at 20:08
I don't think the question was about ads in questions or answers (those should be deleted immediately), but about being able to place ads on your profile page (which I'm still not in favor of, but it makes slightly more sense). – Gabriel Hurley Sep 10 '09 at 20:20
@Nick: Ads, yes. But highly, highly regulated by Jeff Atwood, filtered for relevant content, etc. to ensure the quality of SO remains. – Stu Thompson Sep 10 '09 at 20:28

You want money and SO stickers? Some people are never satisfied.

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no chance i could ever make ANY money on SO! just a thought and for discussion purposes. stickers (only) it is! – Nick Sep 10 '09 at 20:24
(-1) Not an answer, it's a comment. – devinb Sep 10 '09 at 20:26
+1 since I enjoyed it regardless. – Spencer Ruport Sep 10 '09 at 21:11

I think the site would lose a lot of credibility in the dev/sysadmin communitys' eyes with ads plastered all over a user's profile, and that is IF people chose to do so. I could see the desired "I'm here to help" mentality start shifting over to "I'm here to make money" and a lot of fluff posts begin to pop up as people try to draw attention to themselves.

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you'd make more money charging an entry fee for the monthly "Stump Jon Skeet Contest"

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