Stack Overflow delivered a little piece of coal to me, today (or I noticed it for the first time today). Animated GIFs as ads. Like, the old-school, flashy-flashy kind:

Here are two deanimated frames:

enter image description here enter image description here

The ad (sourced from here) flips back and forth a few times before settling on the first frame. This is the only ad I've found that doesn't present the little "like this"/"don't like this" thumbs, possibly related to its GIF nature (in Chrome 31. I can mark it down in IE 11, but I've restrained from doing so, for science).

The thought crossed my mind that this was malware, but I've reproduced this on my locked-down work laptop.

It's really irritating, flashing away while I'm writing an answer. Can we, here and now, say NO! to animated GIF ads?

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    Please, Jeff, come back! – Arjan Dec 26 '13 at 10:17
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    @Arjan the "no animation" policy is still in place, this was a misbehavior of the advertiser, most likely innocent mistake. It was fixed really fast, in the holidays, so thumbs up to the team! :-) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 26 '13 at 16:16
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    Yeah, @ShadowWizard, that's what Anna and stevvve want you to believe. Now, if Michael would not have been paying attention during the holidays, who knows what really would have happened... ;-) – Arjan Dec 26 '13 at 16:33
  • Then someone else would've picked up the pitchforks, @Arjan. But seriously, as I say to stevvve below, I was pretty sure this was a mistake. Fixed, as far as I can tell, at 6AM in the morning during the holiday season. – Michael Petrotta Dec 26 '13 at 17:51
  • (Sure, I guess my smiley wasn't too obvious. Maybe I should clean up the comments then, Michael & @Shadow? And indeed, kudos for the quick fix.) – Arjan Dec 26 '13 at 17:59
  • Meh, it's Meta, I wouldn't worry about it, @Arjan. – Michael Petrotta Dec 26 '13 at 18:13
  • @Arjan no, all in good spirit here. :D – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 26 '13 at 18:26

We are explicit in our stance against allowing animated advertisements on Stack Overflow. We do all that we can to prevent them from blinking and flashing and dancing in your face, because they annoy us just as they do you. Unfortunately, HTML tags allow the creator to update said tags on the back-end-- and occasionally they do so without letting us know.

I've turned off the relevant placements to avoid any further serving of the ad, and reached out to the client to make the necessary changes.

Update: I noticed the related top leaderboards are also serving animated, so those are off now too.

Update: Client has updated ads on their end to be completely static. Turned the ads back on. Please let us know if you see this issue again!

Editor's note: Animated ads were temporarily allowed during the network-wide advertising test from June to December 2019. However, the company has since reverted to the previous policy of disallowing them.

  • Double hat suits you! By the way what are "related top leaderboards"? Couldn't see any ads here. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 26 '13 at 14:39
  • Ah, sorry for using the lingo-- when you spend so much time operating ads, it's second nature! What I mean by "related top leaderboards" is top leaderboards in the same flights (thus subject to the same targeting). – stevvve Dec 26 '13 at 14:45
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    @ShadowWizard media.tumblr.com/bf218405e151534e4bc83fd05d61b1a7/… – stevvve Dec 26 '13 at 16:19
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    <blink>thanks man</blink> – Jin Dec 26 '13 at 16:56
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    Don't you do it, @Jin. DON'T. YOU. DO. IT. – stevvve Dec 26 '13 at 17:01
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    @Jin you mean <blink><marquee>thanks man</marquee></blink>? :D – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 26 '13 at 17:26
  • Awesome, thanks stevvve. I may have laid the hyperbole down a bit thick, up there - just so you know, I didn't really think there'd been a policy change to allow twitch animated ads. Knew it had to've been a mistake. – Michael Petrotta Dec 26 '13 at 17:45

So from what I hear, SO isn't supposed to have animated ads at all, so one must have slipped through. I hope they get to the bottom of it soon, to know how it got past their filters.

Can we, here and now, say NO! to animated GIF ads?

Sure. It's called AdBlockPlus, but I prefer not to use the adblocker on SE on principle, even though I never click on the ads.

In all seriousness however, this can be really annoying, and I think one of the first no-nos of web design, right up there with no using <blink><marquee><img src="animatedrainbow.gif"></div></span></imsoawesome>" is no using flashy gifs. Perhaps a gentler transition would be better?

Or maybe just blacklist animated ads completely

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    I know you're joking, but I'd really prefer not to sic my ad blocker on SE sites. – Michael Petrotta Dec 26 '13 at 3:26
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    Yeah, SE has helped me so much, I disabled my ad blocker on a site for the first time – scrblnrd3 Dec 26 '13 at 3:28
  • OMG! <marquee> totally still works! – Michael Petrotta Dec 26 '13 at 3:29
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    We shouldn't be serving animated ads at all as far as I know, so this normally shouldn't be an issue. These must've slipped by somehow. I'll check on it. (cc @MichaelPetrotta) – Adam Lear ModStaff Dec 26 '13 at 3:41
  • This is good to hear @AnnaLear and I hope you get to the bottom of this... and get rid of those insidious flashy ads. – user234239 Dec 26 '13 at 4:07
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    @AnnaLear why not post this as answer? – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 26 '13 at 8:29
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    @ShadowWizard Because it wasn't actually an answer. All I knew was "uh, that shouldn't have happened". I pointed Stevvve at this post since he can actually look into what happened and fix it (which he then did). – Adam Lear ModStaff Dec 26 '13 at 16:52
  • @AnnaLear makes total sense... just hope you were gentle with Mr. Stevvve, after all he's currently blinded by his hat! ;) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 26 '13 at 18:27

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