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I don't see any problem with companies sponsoring tags that are products/proper names, like or being sponsored by Adobe or being sponsored by Android. However, I just noticed that the tag is sponsored by Red Gate.

Does it really make sense to let someone sponsor a tag that represents a general concept? I mean, if they're willing to pay for it, so be it. But it just seems silly to think that someone might be able to sponsor tags like or .

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Also see OregonGhost's comment under this post: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/30187/what-does-rg-mean/… –  Ether Dec 16 '09 at 1:12
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So someone appears to think that this is an exact duplicate of this question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/32516/…. Huh?! –  gnostradamus Dec 16 '09 at 1:24
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Maybe Viagra can steal the performance tag away from Red Gate. –  gnostradamus Dec 16 '09 at 3:53
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It is probably for this reason I've always used optimization and not performance because I thought performance might have been some new product that I hadn't yet heard of, and thus was sponsored by the owner. –  Earlz Feb 23 '10 at 0:47
    
That works too :) –  Daniel Bingham Apr 22 '10 at 15:04
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In seriousness though, I really don't like that the unit-testing tag is sponsored. I have nothing against Telerik, but I have nothing to do with them and their stuff is useless for Unit Testing in the fields I'm active in. This really sucks. –  Pëkka May 24 '10 at 16:23
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Slippery. Slope. –  bananakata May 25 '10 at 18:38
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Was it just me, or was this idea of sponsored tags touted as a user-friendly idea? Like, look at this, Adobe is sponsoring the Adobe tags, so you can find things more easily. I half bought that, but this new wave is totally indefensible. –  Skilldrick Jul 9 '10 at 13:47

18 Answers 18

up vote 31 down vote accepted

Based on the feedback received, we evolved our tag sponsorship policies and at this point in time finished winding down all campaign obligations under the previous policies. Therefore, you can now expect all tag sponsorship's to fit within the following framework.

Potential tag sponsorship elements:

  1. Sponsored links and brand logo at the top of the "questions/tagged/[tagname]" page (below the navigation bar, but above the tag summary description)

  2. Upper Leaderboard, Mid-Leaderboard and Sidebar static display ad inventory that associates with the questions that are tagged with the sponsored tag. (Note that users with a reputation over 200 don't see the leaderboard ads).

  3. Brand logo on the tag itself throughout the site

Summary of the Tag Sponsorship Policies:

The core of the tag sponsorship product is item #1 and this is what differentiates it from a normal display ad sale. As a general condition of tag sponsorship, most especially with tags that aren't obviously associated with a single brand, we require a large share of voice of the available static display inventory (#2) in that tag to be purchased in combination with the tag sponsorship piece.

In other words, the brand must commit to buying ad space on questions within a tag before they can sponsor the tag itself. This will really only make sense for the advertiser if there is an endemic connection between the content associated with the tag and their brand message and/or products. This requirement has proven to strike a nice balance relative to if/how/who the more generic tags can be sponsored.

Finally, element #3 is only available to the tag sponsor if they are the owner of the name or trademark associated with the tag name or, if no actual owner, an entity that is clearly highly associated with such tag. Generic tag names that do not associate with any particular brand, company or entity, have no sponsorship icons.

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These newer policies sound more sensible, and should provide some counter-balances to sponsors buying up bunches of generic tags. –  gnostradamus Sep 1 '11 at 17:34
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Why does the gpgpu tag have an Nvidia logo? I quote: Generic tag names that do not associate with any particular brand, company or entity, have no sponsorship icons. –  rubenvb Apr 27 '12 at 18:53
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@rubenvb - This one might be somewhat open to interpretation as there is no strict trademark to make it clear cut. However, "GPU" itself was coined and popularized by NVIDIA (conversely ATI used the term VPU) and then GPGPU was later coined by Mark Harris, a current employee of NVIDIA. –  Tall Jeff Apr 30 '12 at 15:19
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@TallJeff I'm sure "FPU" and "CPU" and "cluster" have had similar histories (one company promoting the concept, the rest jumping on the wagon). I don't think having history dictate branding is a very solid idea. –  rubenvb Apr 30 '12 at 15:35
    
@rubenvb Thanks for the follow up thought and point taken. Perhaps the question is just one of timing of when in most people's minds the brand specific affinity is gone. To some extent this may largely depend on one's age....as an old timer like me can still remember when this stuff was invented. ;-) –  Tall Jeff Apr 30 '12 at 16:34
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At least for the GPGPU tag, timing has nothing to do with it. Prior to NVidia's CUDA marketing blitz (introduced in 2006), AMD was just as prominent in the field, and the GPGPU acronym was popular by 2003. Letting NVidia buy that tag is as innapropriate as letting Intel buy a CPU-related tag. –  user134391 May 22 '12 at 5:44

I don't like the red-gate icon next to sql-server as it is not their product tag, likewise for the performance tag.

Selling them clearly labelled space at the top of the tag page is not a problem, if they choose to put links in that space so be it.

I think tag sponsoring without the tag icon is the way to go for tags like performance.


Just had a thought…

What will happen if Microsoft Sponsored the iPhone tab and put lot of link on how to developer for the Windows 7 Phone?

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I always wondered what the "r" icon was for... it's pretty confusing to some I bet –  Joe Philllips May 31 '10 at 20:50
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And now DevExpress sponsoring [C#]... –  Porges Jul 9 '10 at 1:36
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I don't mind the ads @ the top of the page, or slinked inbetween posts, or whatnot. Why bugs me is the Dev Express next to C#. It's a Microsoft Product... Not Dev Express' –  Aren B Jul 9 '10 at 17:17
    
How long before extjs sponsor jquery! –  redsquare Jul 11 '10 at 10:44

I think companies should only be allowed to sponsor tags that are products/proper names they own. Otherwise, it opens the door to all kinds of abuse and problems.

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Or at least companies should not be allowed to sponsor tags that are proper names of products of other companies. I think that Red Gate sponsoring sql-server-2005 tag is more confusing than Red Gate sponsoring performance tag. –  Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski Jul 11 '10 at 10:50

Update to this, a more annoying set of tags just appeared for Devexpress, due to the sheer volume they appear, they're sponsoring some of the most common tags on the site now. I'm not for blocking ads on SO, but with this change I'll be actively blocking the tag icons, this is a big (at least to me) visual change to the site (as it would be with any batch of popular tags).

Here's a list of the Devexpress tags:

Though they're fewer in number of tags, they're higher in volume, and their icon stands out a great deal more than others, at least Telerik's colors weren't a big visual impact, since their main color was already the same as the site background.


Previous content: It may be me, but Telerik seems to have one-upped Redgate with their recent tags, they have picked up the following (out of tags with over 50 questions, as of the time on this posting):

If the Silverlight team from Microsoft offers to advertise with that tag, what happens? It's their product and a trademarked name (as most products would be), so I'm curious what happens in this case...or are there no restrictions, first come first serve?

My main problem with this: If I'm a user looking for help, this doesn't help me find an answer, if it's related sure, it might. But...doesn't letting a sponsor claim a general tag, or worse, another company's product tag confuse the users? I don't see how it helps, but it could definitely do the opposite....isn't that counter to the goal here?


As an aside, a little funny to me are the unclaimed tags: devexpress, telerik (and all the telerik-xx) adobe (and all the adobe-xx), redgate did claim their tag at least.

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I too found this disconcerting. As a longtime user of DevExpress products, I feel conflicted between my support of the company and my revulsion at the garish and pixelated logo being plastered all over the front page. Not cool. –  Aarobot Jul 9 '10 at 1:20
    
I am all for tags being sponsored by legitimate authors or owners. But DevExpress just seems like false advertising. Although some of the tags in your list are now not branded as DevExpress, there are still some which are. DevExpress in no way represents asp.net and barely even supports mvc. Tags still "owned" by DevExpress: asp.net,asp.net-mvc,asp.net-mvc-2,asp.net-mvc-3. –  Travis J Apr 25 '13 at 18:00

Yeah. Specifically, the file tag should be sponsored by Jeff himself, with a single link pointing to the International Backup Awareness Day. I propose a floppy disk icon for it.

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Also status-declined and status-bydesign. –  alex Dec 16 '09 at 9:11

The one that most irks me is Red Gate sponsoring performance. It is clearly a general tag, intended to be used for any question related to improving performance. Most of these questions have nothing at all to do with Red Gate related tools or products. Red Gate does not own performance. I'm sure they would love to have their name associated with it in the minds of developers, but so would every other software company on the face of the Earth. Every time I see the performance tag with the little "rg" in front of it I think of "Red Gate Performance". It makes me think the question has something to do with a Red Gate product. It's very misleading, and I believe it is inappropriate.

It's one thing when a company is paying to sponsor a tag about a product they own - such as Microsoft sponsoring the various .NET tags or the SQL-Server tag, or Oracle sponsoring the Oracle tag, or even Java sponsoring the java tag, etc. It's a whole different deal for a company to sponsor a general tag like performance, optimization or object-oriented design patterns. And it'd be even worse if SO were to allow companies to sponsor tags for products they don't own. Can you imagine the cognitive dissonance that would result from Apple sponsoring, and having it's little Apple logo on, the Windows tag?

I believe that having the tag sponsoring system work as it now appears to is inappropriate, misleading and downright offensive. SO Team, any chance you guys can change the way this is done? Posthaste?

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I think it's fine. Just think, next time I'm searching for an answer to a C++ performance question, I'll see Red Gate's sponsored links and follow them to find tools that'll... um...

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When I first came to SO, I figured out what was going on with the icon'd tags pretty fast, and found it quite off-putting to see advertising injected throughout something so basic and fundamental as tagging. Being able to Adblock |http://sstatic.net/so/img/tag-*.png probably kept me from leave the site at that early point.

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Great tip, thanks! –  Max Toro Jul 9 '10 at 18:38

While seeing a company logo when dealing with specific technologies is kind of cute and all (though it clutters the UI a bit), having an arbitrary logo on anything related to performance seems so wrong!

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I don't have a problem with Red Gate sponsoring SQL Server tags. They don't sell SQL Server, but they do sell products which enhance SQL Server.

However, I don't think they should be sponsoring the "performance" tag. That's too generic.

If a future version of the SO software permitted them to sponsor (sql | sql-server | sql-server-2005 | sql-server-2008 | tsql) + performance, then I'd have no problem with that. They would, in effect, be sponsoring "SQL Server Performance".

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+1 for the tag combination idea. That's much better in terms of targeting the marketing. –  Jon Seigel Apr 22 '10 at 20:08

The main problem is it is decreasing SNR

I am considering boycotting all tags that don't make sense like "rg performance"

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This is a sad day. Stackoverflow is one of my favorite sites, but I'm not going to stand this "advertising in tags" abuse.

Who are you to tell me I should relate "C#" and "DevExpress" !? With normal ads I can make that choice, I can say DevExpress sucks, or DevExpress rocks. I won't let you brainwash me.

So, goodbye Stackoverflow, I hope it's worth the money.

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well you can block the tag images pretty easily, too.. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 12 '10 at 5:40
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@Jeff Atwood: FF+AdBlock works, but what about other browsers ? Still, I think you are 'dissing' users. –  Max Toro Jul 12 '10 at 17:21

As long as they pay, and are first to ask for it, what's the problem?

It's like creating a new tag and earning the Taxonomist badge, you just gotta be first!

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The problem is that it just becomes a bully fight. "I'm bigger and stronger and have more money so I get to sponsor whatever tags I want". This leaves SO open to all kinds of abuse. And sorry, IMHO, Jeff has not exactly shown good judgment when it comes to advertising. –  David HAust Jan 20 '10 at 22:11

Actually I don't mind performance with Redgate. Redgate on sql-server and Telerik on Silverlight bother me more. Things like performance can go with whoever, but it's confusing to see the wrong icon with a product.

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I'd suggest some sort of "conditional tag branding" - show the branded tag only in combination with other tags, that is relevant. For example [testing] + [c#] could have [testing] branded with Telerik's logo, but [testing] + [java] should not.

Then, on the page for the [testing] tag, the sponsored links can be displayed depending on a GET parameter, supplied with different values by the two different tags (branded vs unbranded)

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Iconified tags look much nicer than non-iconified. I used to dislike it, but now I think that they're pretty. Unrelated? Perhaps. But it makes the site look more... cozy.

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Well, it depends on the quality of the icons and the relationship between the tag and the entity the icon represents. –  SamB Nov 25 '10 at 20:18

Why not have a full-sized banner on top or side (or both) of every page which is sponsored by someone who purchased association to tags shown on the page. It has multiple advantages over these tag icons:

  1. Tag icons are not clickable (and please leave them that way). Banners are. I might actually click Dev-express banner few times, when I constantly read questions with DataGrid tag.
  2. Tag icons are tiny. Banner is large, descriptive and can be customized for each individual tag of the current page.
  3. Tag icons are confusing for everyone. Everyone knows what c# is, but like Earlz and Daniel Bingham mentioned above performance with some weird tag next to it appears like some software package. On the other hand everyone knows what banners are and they are visually separated from other content.
  4. Tag icons do not identify a product: today to figure out what is that "D" icon next to c# tag I had to right-click/view-image-info on it.
  5. Tag icons are a negative publicity. You might say there's no such thing, but this is not politics or generic products placerments. StackOverflow is a tool for professionals and tags are a distraction and an annoyance. Look at the users fuming about them!
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There is a huge banner for them as well. –  Grace Note Jul 9 '10 at 17:02

Can we put the sponsors icon on the right?

Surely the key thing is the actual tag text and not the sponsor image. Putting the image to the right of the text will make it much less of a distraction.

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