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Update: this change is now live across the network. You'll still see some narrow 220px ads because it's going to take us a good while to update all of the old ads, but if you see any other style issues, please report here on meta.

Stack Exchange sites are ad-supported. We run relevant, unintrusive ads that don't get in your way--but they help us keep the lights on. Even sites that don't have paid external ads usually have a few internal ones, used to promote other sites on the network and whatever else each community feels is important. We don't run a lot of ads, and folks who've earned a nominal amount of rep see even fewer, but the ones we do run have one crippling problem:

The sidebar ads are currently a weird non-standard size. Yes, standardized ad sizes are a thing. And apparently if you ignore them, folks are more reluctant to advertise and have a tendency to make uglier ads. We don't like ugly ads, and we do like selling ad space. So starting next week, we will switch to the industry-standard size for sidebar ads. The new ad units will be 300x250 and the sidebar will be expanded to 300px wide to accommodate them. We won't be reducing content size or doing any sort of weird overlay; the ads and other sidebar content will just extend an additional 80 pixels to the right.

However, even though the sidebar is growing by 80 pixels, by reclaiming some margin space, the overall page width is only increasing by 60px. Here's what it's going to look like:

enter image description here

Over 98% of Stack Exchange users won't be affected by this change. Either they already use a viewport big enough to accommodate the new width, or they already use a viewport too small to accommodate the existing width. (And those who do find themselves affected won't be losing any content, the juicy stuff we all come here to look at. They'll just see a bit of the sidebar cut off unless they scroll.)

We're planning to roll this out on Tuesday, January 12. (There will be a transition period after that date while we work on getting all ad types swapped over; you'll still see some of the old size ads during that time.) In the meantime, let us know your thoughts.

  • 22
    @HDE226868 Legacy 220x250 ads will be replaced with 300x250 versions; any ads still running that haven't had updated creatives yet will just run as-is with extra whitespace around them. – hairboat Jan 7 '16 at 23:05
  • 30
    Will Community ad submissions need to comply to this new size? – Catija Jan 7 '16 at 23:08
  • 26
    The most important piece of information (and oddly apt): english.stackexchange.com/questions/298312/… – Andrew Grimm Jan 7 '16 at 23:17
  • 15
    While I can't upvote this, because when you increase ad space, the terrorists^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^hcapitalists win, I'm very grateful you didn't decrease the main content width, and you have the horizontal set up correctly so the main content stays centered and doesn't shrink when the overall width changes. Cutting off the sidebar is much better on smaller displays. Can you comment or screenshot on how this will look in mobile browsers? – Adam Davis Jan 7 '16 at 23:39
  • 17
    Does this mean I'm going to lose the mod tools in the left gutter on my 1280 wide window? Changing the window size to 1200 to simulate this causes it to collapse into a little asterisk I have to hover over to get the information I want, which is not really a tradeoff I want to make to get standard size ads. – Undo Jan 8 '16 at 0:29
  • 10
    @TylerH Through black magic and trickery (and dev instances with interchangeable skins). – hairboat Jan 8 '16 at 1:18
  • 13
    Abby, while you're considering @Undo's question about that mod widget, please think about this related problem. Y'all are gradually making SE wider and wider and it breaks things sometimes. That widget is really important and even though the "official" minimum was 1024px wide when it was rolled out (still true?) it doesn't work at that width. Are we now looking at a de-facto minimum width of 1280 or higher? That would be bad. I don't care if ads are cut off on the right, but please try to avoid making that widget even harder to reach. – Monica Cellio Jan 8 '16 at 3:28
  • 118
    I'm just going to put this out here - pejorative jabs at us doing minimally intrusive things to ensure that we succeed as a company and continue to provide these sites absolutely free have the strange side effect of us tending not to bother listening to constant sources of noise. If you don't want to be left talking only to yourself, try to have some constructive things breaking the monotony of complaint, or try thinking just a little before slamming rubbish into text input boxes - (posted after removing certain comments). That is all. – Tim Post Jan 8 '16 at 5:39
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    @TimPost in case you're interested (you did tell us to think a little before posting stuff) there's some great reports like atkearney.com/documents/10192/760890/… combined with epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/refs.html and epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html that can show you the immense energy waste and environmental cost of delivering garbage over the internet. – user159773 Jan 8 '16 at 5:55
  • 16
    Haven't you heard of responsive design? Why does a horizontal scrollbar appear when something smarter could be done instead? (Sorry if I sound annoyed, but vertical space, which a horizontal scrollbar takes, is even more valuable than horizontal.) – otus Jan 8 '16 at 10:15
  • 13
    @Sabuncu If you don't like a particular paid ad, you can downvote it and give a reason why you don't like it. Then you will not be shown that ad again within that targeted placement. You may, however, see it again if it is part of a placement that has different targeting (can downvote again). I'm not sure of any other site that offers that ability. – Danny Miller Jan 8 '16 at 15:37
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    @TechnikEmpire Stack Exchange has some of the least intrusive ads on the web. Pretty much all their ads are just static images. I've never once seen an animated ad on an SE site. Would you rather SE was a subscription service like that hyphen site used to be? Complaints like yours are exactly what Tim is talking about. If you don't like this free service, don't use it. – nhinkle Jan 8 '16 at 18:46
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    @TechnikEmpire I view it as a mutually beneficial relationship. I've learned a lot from Stack Exchange, both in reading others' content and contributing my own. Stack Exchange as a company benefits, I benefit, and millions of people on the internet benefit. They need ad revenue to be profitable, and we need them to be profitable to provide the service. If you dislike that arrangement, you are here by choice. I stand by my statement. I don't always agree with Stack Exchange's decisions, but your complaints about their advertising aren't grounded in reality. I wish more sites did ads like SE. – nhinkle Jan 8 '16 at 18:59
  • 14
    I can see absolutely no problem with this. I don't see how anyone benefiting from SE can begrudge them keeping on the lights. Stack Exchange has always been limited and thoughtful in their advertising. Ads are relevant, unanimated, don't slow things down, are even removed for higher rep users, and SE even gives you the ability to get rid of ads you don't like!. I don't see how anyone can really complain. Especially when you compare SE's ads to the insidious awfulness of everyone else's. – Linuxios Jan 8 '16 at 19:00
  • 19
    I complain about a lot, but this is one change that's totally fine by me. And, by the way, thanks for writing a clear, concise, focused question documenting it, without the several paragraphs of non-sequitur preamble that sometimes appear in these posts. – Oleksandr R. Jan 9 '16 at 3:18

33 Answers 33

1

And I always right click on the side bar and configure ublock origin to hide it.

Too often the sidebar questions take my on a merry-go-around, I can't afford that if I'm at the office!

0

I don't know how much this change is good or bad for anyone, but I am happy with it.

At last, I can see the full title of the job in a single line rather than 2 separate lines.

-5

Do it, please. I see this as a complete non-issue. People still use monitors less than 1280 wide? Why? I migrated away from 1024x resolution like 16 years ago. No offense, but if you're using a display that small, spend 20$ on eBay and buy something better.

In all seriousness, however, I would be hard-pressed to even find a display small enough to have problems at home or at work (and we have a ton of old junk lying around). My 12.1" laptop is 1920x1080, heck, even my tiny 5.1" smartphone screen has a 1920px width.

An as for the ads, just tune them out like every other site on the internet. Stack Exchange is ad-supported, so get over it.

  • 3
    Looks like you missed the fact it has already been done. This answer is pointless. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jan 20 '16 at 11:41
  • 2
    Not everybody uses applications full-screen and thus one at a time, you know. – Monica Cellio Jan 20 '16 at 16:32

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