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?

  • 15
    Please, Jeff, come back!
    – Arjan
    Dec 26, 2013 at 10:17
  • 3
    @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! :-) Dec 26, 2013 at 16:16
  • 1
    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, 2013 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. Dec 26, 2013 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, 2013 at 17:59
  • Meh, it's Meta, I wouldn't worry about it, @Arjan. Dec 26, 2013 at 18:13
  • @Arjan no, all in good spirit here. :D Dec 26, 2013 at 18:26

2 Answers 2


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. Dec 26, 2013 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, 2013 at 14:45
  • 6
    i.stack.imgur.com/xHmQl.gif ;-) Dec 26, 2013 at 16:12
  • 5
    @ShadowWizard media.tumblr.com/bf218405e151534e4bc83fd05d61b1a7/…
    – stevvve
    Dec 26, 2013 at 16:19
  • 4
    <blink>thanks man</blink>
    – Jin
    Dec 26, 2013 at 16:56
  • 1
    Don't you do it, @Jin. DON'T. YOU. DO. IT.
    – stevvve
    Dec 26, 2013 at 17:01
  • 3
    @Jin you mean <blink><marquee>thanks man</marquee></blink>? :D Dec 26, 2013 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. Dec 26, 2013 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

  • 2
    I know you're joking, but I'd really prefer not to sic my ad blocker on SE sites. Dec 26, 2013 at 3:26
  • 1
    Yeah, SE has helped me so much, I disabled my ad blocker on a site for the first time
    – scrblnrd3
    Dec 26, 2013 at 3:28
  • OMG! <marquee> totally still works! Dec 26, 2013 at 3:29
  • 22
    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 StaffMod
    Dec 26, 2013 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, 2013 at 4:07
  • 2
    @AnnaLear why not post this as answer? Dec 26, 2013 at 8:29
  • 1
    @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 StaffMod
    Dec 26, 2013 at 16:52
  • @AnnaLear makes total sense... just hope you were gentle with Mr. Stevvve, after all he's currently blinded by his hat! ;) Dec 26, 2013 at 18:27

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