[Update 2]
I've provided feedback and this doesn't seem to be going anywhere different. So I'm done with this question and all the responses and comments. Let this RIP.

[End of Update 2]

OK guys, for all you funny people out there, here's a screenshot of what I see (with the ads highlighted in red). I find the Red Gate Software ads very distracting and ugly on a useful website like Stack Overflow. On a quick look (the way humans usually browse) can you tell whether the question on this page is "Zero in on memory leaks rapidly" or "store image in database or in a system file? [closed]"? I find the single ad on the sidebar to be somewhat OK, although it's also huge. But the ads interleaved between the question and the answers just don't look good. They should either be smaller in size or removed from that column altogether.

It's not just the Red Gate ads, many other ads look distracting and make it difficult to read the actual question and answers.

[End of Update. Read on for the original post.]

I'm marking this as a bug since it's making the site painful to use.

Why has Stack Overflow become so bloated with heavily distracting graphical ads? Weren't the previously displayed ads on the sidebar making enough money?

I understand the need for money to run a heavily loaded site like this, but it's getting worse with time. It used to be better looking some months ago. Now huge graphical ads show up everywhere and make it difficult to even read the question and answers (on the side, between the title and question, between answers, and so on).

I'm hoping someone from the core Stack Overflow team would respond before anyone else decides to trash this question as irrelevant.

  • 11
    Where are these ads people keep talking about? – random Oct 1 '09 at 1:19
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    Just get to 200 rep and you won't notice them anymore, for 2 reasons: 1, you'll be too addicted, and 2, they won't be there anymore except for in the sidebar. Mostly 1. – deleted Oct 1 '09 at 1:23
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    I never knew about the larger ads until I saw a coworker browsing the site for the first time. – Chris Farmer Oct 1 '09 at 1:26
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    Pesto...I can't believe you are interested in shoes. How boring. – jjnguy Oct 1 '09 at 3:00
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    I like how the ad is physically destroying the site. Nice touch. – belgariontheking Oct 1 '09 at 3:08
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    @jjnguy: I love shoes! I like to wear them, I like to buy them... sometimes I dream about them. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 1 '09 at 3:14
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    Even without blocking, have never seen those ads. – random Oct 1 '09 at 8:07
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    he's on the database tag, so those must be tag-specific ads. A very high percentage of our ad inventory is tied to one or more tags. – Jeff Atwood Oct 1 '09 at 8:11
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    The answer is clear then, focus on less popular tags. – random Oct 1 '09 at 8:18
  • 1
    You guys can't paint! – Ladybug Killer Oct 1 '09 at 8:46

It's all part of the master plan.

alt text

But you know, one step at a time and all.

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  • 5
    Well yeah, but where are the ads on the tags? – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 1 '09 at 3:42
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    This is actually the reduced advertising version you get with the $99/yr Platinum Membership. The free version only has 496x50 pixles of non-advertising space. It involves a lot of scrolling. – Alex Papadimoulis Oct 1 '09 at 3:46
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    Ha! This isn't my first time dealing with a Q&A site. I'm going to use the free version and just scroll down to the bottom to get the answers. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 1 '09 at 4:17
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    The Internet bubble didn't exist, ads are the future of Internet, ads are the best and smarter source of revenue. Actually, ads are so cool that I want more ads please. I want ads on all sites, ads on the tags, ads on my body, ads everywhere, I love ads. I repeat, ads are the future! PS: Those who don't love ads are fat bastards at the grocery (c) Alex – Pascal Thivent Oct 1 '09 at 10:01
  • In all.. seriousness.. Idiocracy's adverts are arguably less bad - they are completely separate from the real content - at first glance, the screenshot in the question looks like it's about "Zero[ing] on memory leaks rapidly", whereas the question in your masterplan in no way looks like it relates to "Virilade".. – dbr Oct 1 '09 at 13:00
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    @Pascal - I'm glad you see the light now. Speaking of which... I noticed you had some unsold ad inventory on your forehead. We can help you with that. – Alex Papadimoulis Oct 1 '09 at 13:54
  • @Alex "I pointed out to you the stars (the moon) and all you saw was the tip of my finger." – Pascal Thivent Oct 1 '09 at 19:50
  • I will be waiting patiently for payment by Pascal Thivent for his Stack Overflow Premier Member Subscription :) – Jeff Atwood Oct 1 '09 at 20:52

Earn 200 reputation and the leaderboard ads are suppressed.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what you're talking about. Can you be more specific? Maybe with a screenshot pointing out what you find so very objectionable?

OK, now that I've seen your screenshot:

show me another ad-supported site ...

  • without ad animation of any kind
  • with only 3 ad slots per page
  • that automatically disables 66% of the ads for users who participate on the site

... beyond that, this is just "all advertising is bad!". So you'd prefer to pay a subscription fee, then?

| improve this answer | |
  • 4
    I think you forgot to mention the drop shadows and hand-drawn circles. But you are speaking the truth...I dislike ads and usually tune them out...but I've actually clicked on two or three ads on SO just to check out the product and see what it was all about. – Thomas Owens Oct 1 '09 at 1:58
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    I really like the Woot ads FWIW. – jjnguy Oct 1 '09 at 3:00
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    You ask for "an ad supported site without animation of any kind". Well, there's this site called Google that I have seen sometimes... Also I think the obtrusive ads for low-rep users might have one strategic flaw. Some communities aren't well represented on Stack Overflow (e.g. C programmers IMHO). I'm guessing many C experts have zero rep. The ads might put them off. – MarkJ Oct 1 '09 at 11:08
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    @Jeff: I think more to the point is the specific quality of the redgate ads. They're worse than normal in two ways: (1) The header text inside them is similar in size and weight to the question title font, confusing the eye. (2) They contain a massive, bright red bar. Perhaps the OP is merely suggesting that the the site have slightly more restrictive standards on the visual appearance of leaderboard ads. – ベレアー アダム Oct 1 '09 at 12:12
  • Critically, the OP says "many other new ads" look distracting, and not "all leaderboard ads". – ベレアー アダム Oct 1 '09 at 12:13
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    @MarkJ - Wait a sec... Google is now the champion of responsible advertising? Here's the quality served up by their AdSense network: thedailywtf.com/Articles/Alex-Sells-Out!.aspx. That's right, pokemon cursors. And even when you say "text only please, with these fonts and colors", they pick whatever font they want and make it in the largest possible font size to be really distracting. Google makes its $$$ by quantity, not quality. – Alex Papadimoulis Oct 1 '09 at 13:41
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    If you feel so strongly about the advertising, I urge you to find other sites on the internet that you're more comfortable with. The internet's a big place, and life is too short to be unhappy. – Jeff Atwood Oct 1 '09 at 16:22
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    "Well, there's this site called Google that I have seen sometimes" Does Google disable ads for frequent users? – Jeff Atwood Oct 1 '09 at 16:25
  • @Jeff: This was a critique to see if you'd be interested in improving the site. Instead of reading my update (and re-reading to understand what's said), you go on about "Show me another site that does..." and "If you feel so strongly about the advertising, I urge you to find other sites..." Definitely not the attitude we'd expect from someone who writes a blog like codinghorror and speaks about usability. What I posted shows how terrible StackOverflow looks. It doesn't matter whether there's a better site out there or not. Question is, are you willing to take feedback and fix things? – www Oct 1 '09 at 18:30
  • @Jeff (continuing because of the 600 character comment limit): You could continue writing about programming and usability and other stuff on your blog, but it comes down to whether you're willing to take a critical look at your own work product and see how it can be improved. Also, I don't see why new users should be put off and punished with larger and distracting ads. Your reputation and badge system are enough to encourage users, don't you think? Or are you targeting bots and evil spiders for these ads? – www Oct 1 '09 at 18:32
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    If only everyone used Firefox with Ad Block Plus. Then web developers wouldn't have to discuss about ads at all. – www Oct 1 '09 at 18:35
  • Mr. unknown: you have stated your opinion and Jeff disagrees with it. That doesn't mean he can't take criticism. He is not obligated to make every change that someone requests or suggests. – Graeme Perrow Oct 1 '09 at 19:02
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    "What I posted shows how terrible StackOverflow looks" I disagree; we go to great lengths to advertise responsibly. Furthermore, earn 200 rep and you'll see none of the leaderboards. Is there any reason you can't or won't avail yourself of this solution? – Jeff Atwood Oct 1 '09 at 20:54

Just two words commercial imperative

EDIT: Jeff seems to be taking the reasonable view

'What objectionable ads? Show me which you mean'

but I think the OP is saying all ads are objectionable and the more there are, the more painful it is.

I must admit, I tend to agree with the OP, but a little rep does the trick.

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It's still only one on top and 2 on the side. And it reduces to 1 on the side when you're logged in and have a little rep.

Really, is it that bad to have to ignore a couple of ads?

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