I understand a lot of people really dislike ads and are happy to have the reduced ads privilege at 200 reputation.

Personally I've really come to appreciate SO, and in support I don't mind seeing ads as it generates income for SO/SE. If I had the option, I would choose to see the regular amount of ads because I like this site.

I think it would be good to give a user with more than 200 reputation the option to support SO and choose to see the normal amount of ads or use the privilege to see reduced ads.

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    The other amazing thing I've noticed about the ads is they aren't offensively irrelevant clickbait "ten super secrets of X" nonsense.
    – Flexo
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 7:11
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    @Flexo Yes im actually interested in seeing them here as they are very mute, and surprisingly close to what I actually want. Also no offensive colors or stupid antics a la "download here" button. I even put an exemption for SO in my Adblock.
    – Magisch
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 9:17
  • If SO is funded by the ads, they should stay. SO is a great resource for developers, not to mention all of the other sites they have created, and I would hate to lose them because their revenue dried up as users turned this off. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 13:28
  • @KarlGjertsen The current discussion is about wether or not users can turn ads back ON, not off. Currently, at 200+ rep, you start seeing only sidebar ads, and fewer of them. The question is basicly about the ability to "opt out" of the privilege of seeing less ads.
    – Magisch
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 13:30
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    @Magisch: sorry, thought it was the other way around! Explains why I cannot see the adds! Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 13:32
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    @Flexo The ad sales team takes great pride in making sure the ads that are served on our sites are relevant to the audience. We have a detailed approval process that involves multiple people seeing each ad and landing page before it goes live on the site. We turn away business that is not dev/tech related and regularly send ads back to advertisers for changes - the user experience is very important to our team. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 19:03
  • @DannyMiller that strategy seems to be working well, at least on the sites I'm active on. I struggle to think of any other major sites that has such relevant, tasteful ads.
    – Flexo
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 19:50
  • Maybe someone could write a userscript to show the ads. This might actually be quite easy, depending in how the ads are implemented. Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 8:32

3 Answers 3


This has been enabled for non-employees, and will roll out with the next build. Once it's live (sometime in the next couple hours), it will appear under the Preferences section of your user profile:


If you have the "Reduce Ads" privilege (>= 200 rep on Stack Overflow or Meta.SE), you'll now see the following (about mid-way down the page):

Show more ads setting

This is disabled by default, and must be explicitly enabled to see more ads. If you never touch this setting, your experience won't change in any way.

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    Awesome, better mention this somehow in the help center, in my opinion. Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 20:38
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    Great point, that's been done.
    – rossipedia
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 21:15
  • Could you clarify which sites this "Reduce Ads" privilege is active? All? Just the trilogy? Something else?
    – Werner
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 7:14
  • The setting should be available on most (if not all) sites, but only will apply to sites with leaderboard ads, as described in the help center
    – rossipedia
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 8:17
  • @rossipedia, could the Reduce Ads privilege also be added to the relevant individual StackExchange sites' help centres? Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 15:09
  • Which site(s) are you not seeing that on? I've checked a few and it seems to be there, as long as we're serving ads on that site.
    – rossipedia
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 16:32

Funny enough, we recently added a user preference for employees to turn this privilege on and off for testing purposes. We've been talking about rolling it out to all users since it's been asked for before. We mostly don't want people to feel pressured to turn on more advertising. You earned the privilege... you should feel free to use it.

I guess that's not an answer exactly, but I'm saying it's possible. So... maybe? I'd be interested in hearing opinions. Obviously the default would always be to enable the privilege, and in order to change it you'd have to dig into your user preferences, so it's probably not a big deal.

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    Didn't look at the SE meta, that's why I couldn't find it. That is exactly what I mean, the availability of the choice to support SE financially by viewing ads.
    – SilentRevolution
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 2:56
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    @SilentRevolution that's exactly what I don't want. You should only re-enable them if you like seeing the ads. For example, if you learn about interesting products from them. However, you shouldn't feel guilty about seeing less advertising because you're worried about SO finances. We get plenty of value out of our contributing users without showing them banner ads. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 3:01
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    I never said I felt guilty about seeing fewer ads or anything about being worried about SO's finances. All I'm saying is that if a user doesn't mind seeing ads, like me, and wants to contribute in a financial manner he or she should have the option to not exercise the reduced ads privilege.
    – SilentRevolution
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 3:11
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    @SilentRevolution But Bret is covering the possibility that by simply having the option there, users may feel guilty for not opting in. Maybe something worth trialling? I don't think I'd feel guilty for not opting in, and I'd be interested to see how more ads affect my experience.
    – andrewb
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 6:02
  • @BretCopeland I want to see those ads. Sometimes when browsing, I log out so I can see the ads. Some of them are interesting.
    – Magisch
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 7:46
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    I don't think Ads should ever be an issue for a free service. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 8:26
  • The only reason I'd hesitate from opting in, is that some the banner ads seem to use flash for some tracking thing -- which I've not seen on the sidebar ads.
    – TZHX
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 9:41
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    To alleviate the guilt part, perhaps have it not be a prominent setting. Maybe don't even announce that it's been changed, and allow users to stumble onto it? Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 12:24
  • To be honest I don't mind the ads, and as you suggested I'd like a option to choose if I want to see ads or not. Because I want to give something back to SE/SO itself the bills aren't going to pay themselves and if ads help out(never thought I'd say it but)I want ads.
    – BRoebie
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 15:59
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    Does SO get ad revenue per click or per view? Obviously if it's per click, just having them enabled but not clicking them won't do anything for SO financially, @SilentRevolution. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 17:47
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    @ThisSuitIsBlackNot we negotiate on a CPM (impression) basis, but that's not really the right way to think about this situation. The only way the ads have value to us is if they have value to you. If we show impressions and you don't click on them, our CTR goes down. If you do click on them, but don't engage with their products, then the value of the traffic we send them goes down. Either outcome is a net-negative for us when trying to negotiate ad prices. That's why we don't want people to turn on extra ads simply because they feel like they'd be supporting us. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 18:23
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    @TZHX - The ads we serve in the sidebars are exactly the same as we serve/allow in the leaderboards. Some third-party served ads (Doubleclick, Atlas) use services such as DoubleVerify or Intregral Ad Sciences to ensure we are not serving fraudulent ads. Some check for bots, some to make sure they are being served to the correct geographic location. while others check for ad viewability, clutter, multiple ads on the same page and more. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 18:46
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    @BretCopeland It might make sense to add that to your answer, considering that the OP's suggestion is based on the idea that just seeing ads == money for SO. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 18:47
  • @DannyMiller ok. I've never noticed flash in the sidebar ones I see, or had a tab open in SO report flash crashing like when I view other sites in the network (mainly Sf or Db). I understand some different ad networks will have different providers, and they want their own technical "safeguards" in place, but flash has just had too much bad press.
    – TZHX
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 18:51

I think this should be an option. Consider following implementation:

  • Upon reaching 200 Reputation, ads are automatically set to "reduced"
  • In your profile preference settings, you can again set them to "display all ads"

What can happen as a result of this?

  • People who like the ads (like me) can turn them back on
  • People who dislike the ads do not need to take any further action to remain in a reduced-ad state
  • People who are apathethic to this change will not notice and probably never find out

None of these outcomes is negative in my opinion. According to @BretCopeland this feature is even already implemented - it just needs to be enabled for non-staff members.

We mostly don't want people to feel pressured to turn on more advertising. You earned the privilege... you should feel free to use it.

I don't think this is a problem for various reasons:

  • People need to specifically care and opt in to this feature
  • Nobody is forced or even pressurized into anything
  • People who haven't been thinking about this won't notice either way.

So in conclusion this feature will:

  • Not inconvenience normal users in any way
  • Not inconvenience people who don't like ads in any way
  • Not take up development time (it already exists, just needs to be enabled.)

I think that these arguments speak very much in favor of enabling this.


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