Specifically the one that tries to masquerade as SO content. I find this the electronic equivalent of the "special advertising sections" in print magazines that join the stiff cardboard ads in the trashcan on sight.

For anyone who hasn't see it yet it's this ad in the sidebar:

noxious Woot! ad masquerading as SO content

closed as off-topic by random, James, Werner, ale, CRABOLO May 12 '15 at 1:19

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    Probably. (padding) – gnostradamus Oct 1 '09 at 16:07
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    Yes, you are ;) – Troggy Oct 1 '09 at 16:12
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    @Pesto: +1 for the edit. Brilliant. – squillman Oct 1 '09 at 16:17
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    I find it obnoxious , but I don't find it noxious. ( i.e. it won't kill me as fast as a noxious gas. ) – Brad Gilbert Oct 1 '09 at 18:02
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    @Brad Gilbert: You're not playing the game correctly. The object is to use adjectives that are extremely over the top to showcase your displeasure. – TheTXI Oct 1 '09 at 18:56
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    Yes, I'd like to see a border around such ads, or something else to distinguish them from normal site content. – John Saunders Oct 3 '09 at 1:22
  • Follow up! meta.stackexchange.com/questions/25005/… This just had to be linked here. – perbert Oct 10 '09 at 1:52
  • the problem is I clicked on it to see what it was a add for, but would never buy from them. It it has just cost them money.... – Ian Ringrose Oct 12 '09 at 13:15
  • No, you got me. – Shimmy Nov 3 '09 at 1:20
  • @DanBron where did you find a copy of the image? After the dead link edit earlier today I looked for one without success. – Dan Neely Jan 10 at 22:04
  • @DanNeely There were some related questions in the sidebar, or in the sidebar of a question linked from the comments here. Not entirely positive. But some other Q on Meta had this screenshot, so I copied the URL. Glad to know it was the same image, I figured it would be similar and illustrative but not identical. – Dan Bron Jan 10 at 22:06
  • @DanBron it's close enough. I'm pretty sure my original image didn't also include a job ad located on the other side of the ocean from where I live. Just looking at the original URL, I think I linked directly to the image shown instead of screen-shotting it. – Dan Neely Jan 10 at 22:11

11 Answers 11


It's satirical. The whole point is to poke fun at that sort of ad. It's very meta, which is our raison d'être.


I used to really hate ads. I thought they were the bane of the web. Then along came StackOverflow. But it's not what you think. I didn't change my mind because StackOverflow is ad supported. I changed my mind because the hyphen-site isn't (at least, not relative to subscriptions).

Now, when I look at these two specific sites and compare the non-ad site vs the ad-supported site, I'll take the ad-supported site every time. Of course, these aren't the only two business models out there, but the dichotomy really changed my mind about the place of ads on the web and what the alternatives might look like if ads ever cease to be a viable option.

  • That's a very good point. – ceejayoz Oct 1 '09 at 18:05
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    Hyphen-site has lots of flashy, green-underlined, and other obnoxious ads. Best of both worlds? – Alex Papadimoulis Oct 1 '09 at 18:09

As I already said, I like it. I think it's funny. That's the problem with humor though: I'm the only one who has it It's very subjective.

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    -1 for saying I have no sense of humor. I find that offensive. – Super Long Names are Hilarious Oct 1 '09 at 20:09
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    -1 for not finding it offensive. I have no sense of humor. – mmyers Oct 1 '09 at 21:37
  • +1 to offset these grumpy guys. – Graeme Perrow Nov 2 '09 at 22:33
  • +1 for the comments, even thought that probably goes against the grain of the SO system. – Jim Deville Nov 2 '09 at 22:48
  • -for going against the grain. – DVK Nov 5 '09 at 18:35

I actually thought these were pretty clever as far as sidebar ads go. Particularly the tags on the bottom "fake" question. When the sidebar ads are obviously tailored for SO specifically, they immediately grab my attention way more than "generic" ads.


I would much rather the advertisements actually attempt to work within the context of the system than just some random AdSense. Creativity goes a long way in attracting users.

If you are that turned off by it, there are plenty of ways to do ad blocking with your choice of web browser.

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    -1 for a moderator advocating ad blocking on a site that bases its revenue on ads. – GEOCHET Oct 1 '09 at 16:32
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    Last I checked I'm a moderator, not an employee of StackOverflow LLC. – TheTXI Oct 1 '09 at 16:33
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    @Rich B: I disagree. Ads that annoy have the opposite effect of that intended by the advertiser. Advocating a wholesale block would be bad, but the ability to block a specific ad someone finds annoying is a feature for both the user and the advertiser, even if the advertiser doesn't always like to admit it. – Joel Coehoorn Oct 1 '09 at 16:35
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    My responsibilities towards the websites lies solely in keeping the peace and helping clean up the mess after you go through your near daily rounds of rubbing your ass on the carpet. – TheTXI Oct 1 '09 at 16:35
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    Well you certainly won't be an employee of StackOverflow, LLC after this bout of insubordination! – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 1 '09 at 16:35
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    TheTXI, you're becoming an unethical fat bastard, just like that shady Alex Papadimoulis character (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/24017/…). Shame on you. You should try to be more understanding of the need for advertising, like Alex Papadimoulis (meta.stackoverflow.com/posts/24092/comments#comment-50147) – Shog9 Oct 1 '09 at 16:42
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    I heard that Alex Papadimoulis and Alex Papadimoulis got into a fight recently over a heated debate on the ethics of ad-blocking. It should come as no surprise that Alex Papadimoulis won. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 1 '09 at 16:45
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    @Shog9. I'm not fat, I'm big boned! – Alex Papadimoulis Oct 1 '09 at 16:47

Well, look guys/gals it's really a witty advertisement. I can tell they put some thought into it to make it look like the site , and there's a little self-deprecation comedy there too!

Ha ha ha good on them to be able to poke a little fun at themselves! It's really a testament to their dedication and desire to "fit in" with the "community" that they spent all that time and effort. Boy, I sure wish other advertisers could be this clever and considerate!



Welp *opens up adblock blacklist*


This ad placement/strategy is not unique to SO. You will see that on many websites.

Personaly, they are just another ad to me and a part of advertising.

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    I find them second only to the sort that should be banned on public health/disabilities grounds as a seizure risk. – Dan Neely Oct 1 '09 at 16:54
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    @Dan Neely: I think you take ads way too seriously. – TheTXI Oct 1 '09 at 17:04
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    @TheTXI I know, I ALWAYS have hot singles waiting for me. – Troggy Oct 1 '09 at 17:07

This isn't the first ad of its kind I've seen on Stack Overflow. There was another a while ago that confused users by imitating the tab-style layout of the Stack Overflow navigation.

Any ad that attempts to trick people by imitating site content, or pretend it's not advertising, is underhanded.

Attempting to weasel out of that with "but WE'RE not doing that, we're IRONICALLY poking fun at people that do that!"

... well, maybe you're doing that as well, but you crafted an ad that imitated site content to do it, so mainly you're engaging in the very activity you're deriding. Slightly clever, but wholly hypocritical, and still underhanded.

It annoys me that a site I enjoy as much as Stack Overflow allows advertisers to use these tactics.


I use AdBlock Plus for Firefox.

What woot ad? (rhetorical)

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    Please don't take offence Steven, but this comment is starting to get old as is repeated every time that an ad is mentioned in Meta. – perbert Oct 10 '09 at 0:06

When I first saw the ad, I thought that I would upvote it if I could.


It gets old after 3 or 4 viewings, but it's fairly legitimate, and fun, to use that kind of device in order to get noticed. The woot ad that really made me laugh, though, was the yellow flashy one (“Click here to prove me wrong against my boss and make me cry” – felt like at the office :-)

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