Occasionally the side bar on any SE site displays individual questions from the Hot Network Questions list as advertisement images in the usual 220x250 format (changed to 300x250 as of January 2016). Those are based on a specific design template that is in turn based on the advertized site's individual design (or the beta design).

enter image description here

But the ad that is shown is entirely random (or more specifically, subject to some mysterious heuristic) and I haven't yet found an easy way to take a look at a specific HNQ's advertisement image, let alone the design template used for building the ads for a specific site's questions, other than repeatedly refreshing the page and hoping for the best (in vain, though).

So is there any way to view a specific question's HNQ ad image or even a specific site's template image? I would be really interested how they look.

  • 1
    A bit of refreshing later, and I can at least tell you that the beta ones aren't even an image at all. They're built out of HTML5, and thus the name of the site, question title, username, tag(s), are all separate links to the appropriate places. Even the "N answers" links straight to the answers section of the question. So probably no way to get the image for those. Jul 21 '15 at 16:26
  • well I think ads for questions from beta sites look really weird
    – gnat
    Jul 21 '15 at 20:29
  • @BillyMailman getting base image is possible , It have distinct format :- sstatic.net/stackexchange/Img/launched-ads/site name.image format (png or jpg) like this sstatic.net/stackexchange/Img/launched-ads/chemistry.png Sep 7 '15 at 11:42
  • @AnkitSharma Those are for launched sites, the URL even says so. I was talking about beta sites, like the last one in the image in the question. Sep 8 '15 at 13:07
  • @BillyMailman this one also available in plain format sstatic.net/stackexchange/Img/beta-ad-bg.jpg Sep 8 '15 at 13:10
  • Yeah, but that's just the background. Non-beta ads are one big compiled-together image. The beta ones aren't. They're text on the page the ad's displayed in. Sep 8 '15 at 13:29
  • @BillyMailman how non-beta any different, they also have a background image + text with same font and colour. It just the case that every non-beta have their own background image. Sep 8 '15 at 13:59
  • The images will be automatically updated, just not yet...
    – nicael
    Jan 14 '16 at 8:53
  • @nicael I thought so, too. But there are images (like SciFi or Arqade or Movies as shown below) that are still in the old dimensions in their original location, while their respective HNQ ads already have larger images. So clearly the location of those images has been changed entirely and not simply been replaced with the new images. Jan 14 '16 at 14:23
  • It' just caching; just add any query parameter to the link or force refresh.
    – nicael
    Jan 14 '16 at 14:26
  • So, there's no point in the bounty.
    – nicael
    Jan 14 '16 at 14:28
  • @nicael Yeah, so what, I'm not gonna undo the bounty. At least it got Ankit to update his answer and he's deserved the bounty. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Jan 14 '16 at 14:32

Note: In the absence of any official word will try to answere from what i have gathered so far.

The base images for all the beta sites use the same image as you might already know

enter image description here

For the launched sites they mostly follow similar formats

sstatic.net/stackexchange/Img/launched-ads/ + site name (base name from site link) + image format

I only encountered two image formats till now (png and jpg).

Few examples below:

enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

There is one catch in the latest launched HNQ image ad case for Movies & TV. The link is formed with an additional "-ad" before the image format.

enter image description here

Their font and colour for the ad text is to complement the background image.

Below are the links to check HNQ image ads:

https://stackexchange.com/ads/launched-question -> For Graduated sites

https://stackexchange.com/ads/beta-question -> For Beta sites

They are randomized based on the current HNQs, though. There doesn't seem to be a way to reach a specific HNQ, but at least using those links you don't have to wait for them to be shown on a specific site.

Update:- For the updated new sized image, just need to add ? after the old link given above.




But the are using ?v=2 in the ad code, which is giving same result as ?.

Below are the new images for the same examples from above:-

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description hereenter image description here enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

Most of the images are similarly made as per their old design. Except movies and TV and Android. Android is also given HNQ image as per there new design this time.

  • If you could add that general link to the random HNQ ads to this answer, I'd consider it acceptable. Sep 15 '15 at 16:53
  • @ChristianRau done Sep 15 '15 at 17:42
  • ? is just to force-uncache. There could be any parameter, which SE have done.
    – nicael
    Jan 14 '16 at 14:27
  • @nicael thanks for the info. Jan 16 '16 at 8:05

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