Just now I found this ad at the sidebar area of StackOverflow:

#2 Programming book on Amazon - The Betterphoto Guide to Digital Photography http://web7.twitpic.com/img/30467379-4f87c79e32809949ed0ebdfe331ebfcc.4ab321bd-full.png

I found it so ironic (being both a programmer and a photography buff) and my first instinct was to tag it as "not-programming-related", which is of course impossible since it's an ad.

Who should deal with these things? Or should we just ignore them? I know Jeff totally hates those Evony ads but this is almost tantamount to one (albeit it has none of the, ermmm, smut).

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    Have no idea what the image is since it's been deleted. – random Sep 18 '09 at 6:13

You should only be seeing not-programming-related advertisments on the Amazon Book ads... we are aware of it, and are working on addressing it. It's just an unfortunate result of automated selection and improper categorization by Amazon.

Few things to keep in mind about the Amazon Book ads ...

  • It's experimental right now
  • The ads are powered by the Amazon Product Advertising API
  • The ads all come from the “Books > Computers & Internet” category or some subcategory
  • When we query the Amazon database, we sort by review, not by sales rank. This is because the best-selling computer books are always the “for Dummies” or “Teach Yourself”, which we’re guessing the Stackoverflow audience would not want to see. Specifically, we only pull back books with 5/5 stars, and then order by the number of reviews, believing that a book that is getting actively discussed is better than a book that isn’t being discussed. We don’t factor in sales rank at all.
  • All of the queries are done by keyword search, which is why you’ll see books about Java or C# in the tag for “regex”.
  • We’re only querying the Amazon API on the 500 most popular tags. For every other tag (and there are 25,000+), we simply get the highest-rated books in the Computers & Internet category and display those. That’s why you’ll see The Code Book, for example – it’s improperly categorized by Amazon, and with its 213 5-star reviews, it rises to the top of our review-based ranking.
  • Good to know that you are trying to carefully select programming only ads. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 21 '09 at 6:42

I guess they are still being carefully selected. Most programmers are into photography so that's an easy call. The Photoshop book that's being advertised is a more dubious call in my opinion, but still, ads need not be programming related (sadly), but programmer likable, which are two different sets.

EDIT: Luckily, it turns out that I'm wrong. They are indeed trying to get programming only ads, but Amazon conspires against that wish.

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    But it's an outright lie when it says "#2 Programming book on Amazon". – Skilldrick Sep 18 '09 at 8:11
  • SO isn't for just code-typing programmers but also for developers in general. And development is more than just writing code. Question is, is it development-related? – Wim ten Brink Sep 18 '09 at 11:09
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    @Alex: You are wrong, just read the FAQ, second line. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 18 '09 at 18:07
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    "Most programmers are into photography" No they're not. – tripleee Mar 4 at 18:36

I found it so ironic (being both a programmer and a photography buff) [...]

It's not like a free ride that you've already paid.

So it hit you on both counts? Sounds like the ad targeting algorithm is a success!

  • LOL. Still not a programming book! – Jon Limjap Sep 18 '09 at 6:14
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    But it just knew you were into photography right? – random Sep 18 '09 at 6:15

I just looked into the best sellers list for "Books > Computers & Internet > Programming" and at the time "The Adobe Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers" was number four on the list. If you actually look around on the page for a bit, it looks like the book is getting tagged with "Digital Image Processing" which makes sense; however, that tag falls under the "Books > Computers & Internet > Programming > Algorithms > Digital Image Processing" which isn't exactly accurate per se.

So in Amazon's defense, it looks like they are making an effort to deliver ads that are relevant to programming; however, the tagging system that they are using on their books needs some work.


Interesting how true that is! A colleague of mine is a freelance photographer next to his daily job as programmer. I myself am also interested in photography but also do plenty of things with 3D rendered artwork.

But is Photoshop not programming-related? I don't know, since web development these days does involve the use of many small icons, pictures and graphics. Almost every application will start with it's own splash-screen and plenty of sites use logo's and small pictures in their websites. And with the Copyright Police monitoring the Web very closely, these days, I think it is practical for developers of small projects to be able to at least generate their own logo's, icons and graphics.

Of course, graphic design should not be done by developers in general but by Graphics specialists. But to be honest, if you're working on a small project, it's a lot cheaper when you can just create your own images.

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    And it's even cheaper if you use The Gimp instead of Photoshop. Photoshop is certainly not programming related. That you may use its output as part of programs doesn't make it programming related. That's like calling the weather data in a weather forecasting application programming related. Photoshop does probably appeal to a lot of programmers, just like photography. That shows ads are being selected carefully. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 18 '09 at 7:37
  • Photoshop is more user-friendly than the Gimp. But personally, I still prefer Paint Shop Pro 8... And if weather data isn't related to a weather forecasting application then I wouldn't trust any of those forecasts! :-) But as a developer -not programmer- I do have to deal with the occasional image manipulations. (Fortunately, we're often just hiring some outside help for this.) – Wim ten Brink Sep 18 '09 at 11:07
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    Nearly any user facing GUI development work nowadays (web or stand-alone) is going to involve at least a little bit of image manipulation. Photoshop/GiMP are definitely a part of the programming process! – Brian Knoblauch Sep 18 '09 at 12:25
  • Yep. Another example I just considered is when documentation or helpfiles need to be generated. In those cases, you'd be dealing with diagrams, screenshot and even complete presentations. As developer, I sometimes have to explain a design and tend to use Powerpoint for this. Additional graphic art makes the presentation more alive... – Wim ten Brink Sep 18 '09 at 14:22
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    Come on, that's not part of programming! It is graphic design, regardless of what you do with it. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 18 '09 at 17:51
  • In fact, why don't you go ask on Stackoverflow how to do a layer merge in Photoshop claiming it's a programming related question and see how it fares. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 18 '09 at 17:55
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    @Alex: Weather data is related to the application, but not to programming that application. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 18 '09 at 18:08
  • @Vinko, Weather data would also be part of the data that you'd use to test the weather application! Or even what you analyse so you know what data your application will need. – Wim ten Brink Sep 18 '09 at 18:21
  • @Vinko, talking about how to layer a photoshop image is no Q for SO. But if you'd ask how you can display such a multi-layered image inside your c# application, you probably get 4 plus votes and 5 answers. Or you could ask how to write a plugin for Photoshop. That would work too. – Wim ten Brink Sep 18 '09 at 18:26
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    @Alex: And how is displaying an image inside a C# application Photoshop related? It seems you don't want to understand. Creating an image in Photoshop is not programming related, period. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 18 '09 at 18:45
  • The image can be in a photoshop-specific format. Also, if you have a specific image library, you might want to know how to optimise that image for this library. But the simplest relation: when you're working on a document describing the design of the project you're working on, you definitely want to brighten up it all with screenshots and perhaps a few other images. I would have agreed with you 15 years ago, when MS-DOS was still the top dog. Those days are over and the GUI is very graphical-oriented. No wonder many programmers are interested in images. – Wim ten Brink Sep 18 '09 at 20:09
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    I fundamentally disagree. Applications do use a lot of graphics and programmers might be interesed in creating those graphics, just like many are into photography. But the process of creating those graphics, unless done via code, it's not programming related. It may be related to the software process, that process includes designers, salesmen, lifecycle management and so on, but none of those are directly programming related. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 18 '09 at 20:31
  • Well, we can agree that we disagree. You're looking at the programming process, I focus more on the whole software development path, which includes much more than writing code. – Wim ten Brink Sep 20 '09 at 10:01
  • My only disagreement was that you were calling it 'programming'. If you had called it from the start 'software development related' then we would have had no disagreement. – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 21 '09 at 6:41

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