We knew that the Stack Exchange Network would eventually play a bigger role in contributing to the financial end of our business, but we didn't know how long that would take. Turns out, it was roughly six years from the time that we decided to put all of you in charge of the topics that Stack Exchange serves.

TL;DR: See the title, and scan this post for a bulleted list of sites that will soon be showing advertisements. "Display Ads" are advertisements that aren't job listings.

We always knew that the value of the Stack Exchange network of sites would be realized in ways that translate into things that are way more important than money. We're home to over 150 of the safest communities on the internet where anyone seeking knowledge can learn from very high-quality information, a fact that makes me (and I believe many of you) insanely proud of what we've done.

But money is important, too, at least for now. It helps us do things like pay our data-center bill, keep Joel caffeinated, and continue to grow the company so that we can continue to find new ways to serve your needs that aren't being very well served elsewhere.

Without further ado, here's a list of sites that will soon be displaying excessively considerate, ludicrously on-topic advertisements:

Hey, you – stop looking at arbitrary numbers in order to figure out why these sites were selected; I'm going to get into that now. The first thing that is important to note is our client base consists entirely of companies that want to reach or hire programmers.

The above sites share the following characteristics:

  • The topic serves developers in ways that Stack Overflow didn't or couldn't when they were created,
  • They have a minimum of 50,000 questions and answers combined,
  • They receive a minimum of 15,000 visits per day (on average),
  • It became clear that our clients were not going to stop asking us if we'd be expanding our inventory to also cover these sites (to which the answer was a very firm "no" until now).

We do not, and will never define the success of a Stack Exchange site by the fact that it became part of our advertisement inventory.

And it's very important that none of you do that, too. Advertisements aren't in any way a measure of success of the site. Success for your site remains people being able to ask questions and learn in the safe environment that our moderation philosophy fosters. Keep the focus on quality, friendliness, safety – that's what works.

Will my favorite site be showing ads one day?

The answer to that question is most likely going to remain probably not for a very long time. Let's imagine that Pets overtook everyone else in its topic space and became the size of Super User. That'd be fantastic, because pet owners would all be looking at much better information! And that would remain the reason that it's fantastic for probably years to come.

Why? Because engagement at that level has to be consistent over a long period of time before we'd even dream of looking at advertisements, and we'd need quite a few clients that want to reach programmer-y pet owners – that would take a while.

What do you mean by excessively considerate, ludicrously on-topic?

We annoy the heck out of our customers by telling them nope more often than saner for-profit organizations would be remotely comfortable doing. We have a very strict criterion for ad quality and relevance and we positively refuse to lower that bar.

Instead, we work with our clients to better understand the folks that they'll be reaching, and help them design campaigns and creatives that are respectful and relevant to you, while being profitable for them. It's an insane amount of work.

Does this affect community ads?

No. Most of these sites have a dozen or so community selected ads in rotation; you'll just soon see advertisements from our clients, too.

Thank you, all of you.

We placed what our communities would mean to people ahead of any and all priorities to make money through facilitating their creation; every single one of you has helped us prove that this was the best possible choice that we could have made.

To those of you that so graciously give your time to our sites by helping others learn and keeping them the safest places on the Internet for people to do that, you should always be very proud of what you're doing.

Today, it got a little easier to keep the lights on, and a few extra treats in the snack jar. And for that, thank you.

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    So, what exactly is the new thing here? More sites being eligible for ads? – Wrzlprmft Nov 23 '16 at 8:55
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    Yeah, it'd be helpful if you can be more specific about what you mean by 'display ad'. I take it is one of those 250×300px ones on the right-hand sidebar? Or will they also appear as banners intercalated between posts? (Not all of us are experts on advertising lingo ;-).) – E.P. Nov 23 '16 at 11:02
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    That said: the tone and content of this sort of move, as well as the recent blog post, are very much noticed and appreciated. Keep it up :-)! – E.P. Nov 23 '16 at 11:04
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    The first thing that is important to note is our client base consists entirely of companies that want to reach or hire programmers. Boring! Why not diversify a bit. One day, companies will stop shelling out crazy money to find programmers. – Pëkka Nov 23 '16 at 11:14
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    Ads in the sidebar would be fine IMO. Related, well-curated ads at least. Interleaved between answers? I can't think of a worse idea. That's demoting the importance of the content relative to advertising, and the content is what pulls users here in the first place. – railsdog Nov 23 '16 at 12:03
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    While a good bunch of programmers hang around CrossValidated, I hope the ads don't revolve much around programming. The number of great analysts and data scientists around there is astonishing. – Firebug Nov 23 '16 at 12:12
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    Will the content of the site be available if i use ADBlocker? – Mladen Oršolić Nov 23 '16 at 12:44
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    @Mladen Yes. – James Thorpe Nov 23 '16 at 12:46
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    I don't have strongly held opinions about ad blockers, but I do have strongly held opinions about respecting user's preferences. I think many on our ad sales team shares the same sentiment, @MladenOršolić :) – Tim Post Nov 23 '16 at 12:59
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    @TimPost if that was true, then we would have an option to disable ads within site, and wouldnt have to be forced to use 3rd party solution for it. – Mladen Oršolić Nov 23 '16 at 13:01
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    @MladenOršolić high rep users already see less advertisements than low rep users. IMO it's fair enough to always show ads, even if minimal amount, otherwise the advertisers will pay much less. Stack Exchange is, after all, a business. – Shadow Wizard Nov 23 '16 at 13:09
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    @Alex The term "display ad" is meant to distinguish these from job ads, the other kind of advertisement shown on Stack Overflow. – David Robinson Nov 23 '16 at 15:16
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    @Dilaton No ads on MathOverflow. We have a very specific agreement with the MathOverflow foundation which puts the idea of ads far out into the realm of impossibility. Speaking more to the academic sites as a whole, I struggle to see a day when our client base would be topically-diverse enough to warrant offering inventory on them. You need more than a few interested clients for a starting inventory and I just have a hard time envisioning that happening, at least in the next few years. Anything is possible, though. – Tim Post Nov 24 '16 at 5:44
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    you wrote so much about how your intentions are clean and beautiful that this made me recall that I doubt this. I doubt this because you harm the sites for page views by advertising close-worthy questions (example proof of the harm here, ignored request to change that here). Consider pretending less to be as white-knightey as you try to look here. Or, alternatively, making some effort into really being closer to the way you want us to believe you are – gnat Nov 24 '16 at 8:07
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    "a very strict criteria" --> "a very strict criterion" or "very strict criteria" – Mathieu K. Nov 25 '16 at 15:27

19 Answers 19

I think enabling advertisements is a good thing. The method of advertisement Stack Exchange uses is the least annoying advertisement I know, and often communities have asked can you show me ads now I have gained enough rep to hide them? or can our site have ads too?. That demonstrates the good mindset SE has to their users.

Today, it got a little easier to keep the lights on, and a few extra treats in the snack jar. And for that, thank you.

And that is the main reason I think this is a good idea. In order to keep the sites running, Stack Exchange needs revenues, as it is a company. Money has to come from somewhere. These advertisements will bring in more to secure the future of our sites. Thank you for that!

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    My exact thoughts. Thanks for putting them so well in words. – Jorge Leitão Nov 23 '16 at 10:24
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    For the sake of completeness - how do you show ads after you gain that much rep? – Jeutnarg Nov 23 '16 at 16:22
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    @Jeutnarg To ignore the "Reduce Ads" privilege, go to your profile > Edit Profile & Settings > Preferences > Advertisements > Show me more advertisements. – Hexaholic Nov 23 '16 at 17:03
  • Lights and snack money, oh...right... :) – rogerdpack Nov 24 '16 at 12:46
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    Advertisements themselves aren't a bad thing, it's websites that have plastered them everywhere and made them obnoxious which drove us to adblockers. I still agree that a website who places relevant advertisements in non-obnoxious places (and not too many) should be whitelisted. – xorinzor Nov 29 '16 at 0:06
  • the only thing I'd never want to see on SE are those ads which overlay the content and you know, in an attempt to close the thing you are redirected and presented with a lot of boobs and an offer to enlarge your... stack. Let's hope this will never happen here. – Droidman Dec 5 '16 at 18:07
  • @Droidman You obviously don't have any experience with ads on SE. They are never obtrusive, they never overlap content and you can vote on them if you like or dislike them. These are strong points in the SE advertisement model. – Patrick Hofman Dec 6 '16 at 7:40
  • Ironically, the higher rep users are generally the audience that would be most apt to want or need the products or services featured in ads, but are served the least amount of those ads. – Chris Pratt Dec 6 '16 at 16:08
  • The higher rep users can choose to see those ads because they care @ChrisPratt – Patrick Hofman Dec 6 '16 at 16:08
  • @PatrickHofman: Understood, but how many think to do so or even know they can. I've been using SO for almost 6 years and never knew there was an option to increase ads. I'm probably not alone in that. – Chris Pratt Dec 6 '16 at 16:14
  • Good point. I think that is a good follow-up question. (You can find it here btw) @ChrisPratt – Patrick Hofman Dec 6 '16 at 16:15

I think display ads on SE are a fine thing.

SE is so far the only site that has managed to serve ads that are interesting enough that I'd consider deliberately enabling them (for Stack Overflow) for my benefit, and not only the site's.

I think expanding these well curated and deliberately picked display ads to other parts of the SE network is a savvy move and not hurtful to the user experience at all.

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    I found the ones on JSFiddle being very reasonable as well. I glance / click on them from time to time when they show a new and pertinent product. – WoJ Nov 24 '16 at 20:24

As a user of one of the more non-programming sites (Electrical Engineering), I'm concerned that ads on our site will not live up to the "ludicrously on-topic" statement. The first hint for concern is given above:

The first thing that is important to note is our client base consists entirely of companies that want to reach or hire programmers.

There is a very large segment of electrical and electronics engineers that do not program, and the majority of the programming that is on-topic is embedded systems programming. These ads were served on EE.SE, and I do not consider them to be on-topic.

This is not on-topic Neither is this one I don't even know what this is.

I am not opposed to ads, but I don't think your advertisers will get the bang out of their buck that they were hoping if similar ads are posted. I can list many electronics-related companies that do advertisements on sites (not StackExchange) that have similar topics of interest, and they have generally considerate ads.

For example, here is one done by a major distributor/reseller of electronics components, and another from a company that makes software for electronics engineers. Both are static images, reasonably informative, definitely on-topic, and are about as considerate as ads can be. I know what thse words mean! Software that I would know how to use if I bought it

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    I had the same concern. The existing crop of clients will most likely work well for sites like Code Review and, to a lesser extent, User Experience, but some of the other sites feel like a reach. I think if you guys want to extend ads to these additional sites, you'll ultimately need to open up your client base to more than just "companies targeting programmers". However, I see no problem with that as long as the same standards remain in place. – Chris Pratt Dec 6 '16 at 16:13
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    As someone who works in hardware and gets annoying software-oriented spam some days (not to mention software recruiters): hardware is a very different marketing space. And it's obnoxious when it's targeted wrong. – user2943160 Dec 6 '16 at 23:30

I am hoping that 'excessively considerate' will also relate to the amount of bandwidth and processor overhead consumed by the ads. For various reasons I have been using some low-powered machines recently and I've noticed that

  • Some websites are so bloated as to be unusable, and this usually seems to be in direct proportion to the amount of advertising content
  • Stack Exchange is almost always fast and smooth; it seems nicely and efficiently coded.

So I'd just hope that the second point will remain true, even with the ad content.

  • If push comes to shove, the ADs stack overflow uses are very lightweight. Usually only images with no moving parts (no gifs), and no videos. If it does bother you though they aren't doing anything to stop you from using an adblocker. – Magisch Nov 24 '16 at 7:34
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    Interesting downvote... someone wants the ads to break the site? – topo morto Nov 27 '16 at 21:35
  • Besides all of this, what about malvertizing associated with "active" ads? – user222300 Nov 30 '16 at 19:21

If the ads will have the same quality that the community has, no problem. Furthermore, the "Career Ads", I like the way it's being advertised, it does not annoy me.

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    I think they mean "external" ads, like we have on many sites already, e.g. Stack Overflow in the side bar, or for low rep users inside questions as well, in the middle of the page. Their "quality" isn't assured, but SE disallows animation and flash which is awesome. – Shadow Wizard Nov 23 '16 at 15:10
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    I know that. This community can assure quality of the answers, I believe they will find a way to assure the quality of the ads, even being external. Career Ads, in some way, are external adds too. – John John Pichler Nov 24 '16 at 9:24
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    No, Careers (now called Jobs) ads are made by employees of Stack Exchange, it can't really be external. As for external advertisements, SE employee makes a quick review, but I doubt it's very deep or thorough. – Shadow Wizard Nov 24 '16 at 10:20
  • @ShadowWizard what, ads WITHIN posts ...?! And SE does not even guarantee the quality of those ads? Happily I have never seen such a thing on SE so far, but from observing similar things in blogs for example I know that placing ads within (blog or SE) posts is higly spammy, disruptive, and annoying to say the least. I certainly dont want to see such things on scientific sites I visit ... – Dilaton Nov 24 '16 at 13:12
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    @Dilaton yeah, see this. The ads are not on all sites, but if you'll browse questions on Stack Overflow for example, you will see them. :) – Shadow Wizard Nov 24 '16 at 13:27
  • @ShadowWizard hmmm I did not know that. – John John Pichler Nov 25 '16 at 13:36

The decision to display ads on Stack Exchange Sites seems to be fine and we should all as a community member should support it. As the community has given us a lot in these years.

They are running best servers and keep the community running always and that is where the need of money comes, that is to keep running such a big network uninterrupted.

It can be a fun and profitable to every community user also as they can get some deals via ads and save some bucks :)

Guys support the decision. And yes always thankful to the Stack Exchange providing such a good platform.

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    Can i have comment from the downvoter please, as just to know what wrong i did – Veerendra Nov 23 '16 at 13:09
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    Usually on Meta a downvote means disagreement. Since all answers agree on placing ads, and we all got downvoted, I guess it was from someone who don't like the ads (or maybe they are not familiar with the type of ads SE uses) – Patrick Hofman Nov 23 '16 at 22:35
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    I suspect that there are also users who will downvote whenever anyone asks why someone has downvoted. – PolyGeo Nov 23 '16 at 23:55
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    @PolyGeo Yeah there will be some peoples with not a normal mind :) – Veerendra Nov 24 '16 at 5:20
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    what servers, AWS? – SuperUberDuper Nov 24 '16 at 12:05
  • @SuperUberDuper I exactly don't know which server stack exchange uses but they must be costly for sure to manage this huge platform – Veerendra Nov 24 '16 at 12:08
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    They run their own - Its smaller than most people think blog.serverfault.com/2015/03/05/… – Journeyman Geek Nov 24 '16 at 15:56

Please do not give advertisers control of their ads

There have been reports of malicious parties using ad networks on tech websites to push javascript, flash, or other executable code ... as they know that there will be a high number of people with elevated privileges using those sites. Even if they're not on a privileged account when viewing those sites, if they can get a foothold on your personal machine, they might be able to use that access to hop to your work machines.

As such, I would hope that StackExchange would accept only static images or HTML, tweek & re-save images (to prevent JPEG exploits or similar from coming through), and serve them from machines that StackExchange controls (so third parties can't swap out the image after it's been approved, or insert cookies to track people to sites where they can force code on us).

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    You do know that they only use a very limited set of well-known partners, so your worries are taken care of already (as it does on SO and others now). – Patrick Hofman Dec 2 '16 at 9:43
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    @PatrickHofman : and those well-known partners can't be hacked? Most of us sysadmins get paid to be paranoid, and this is a potential avenue of attack. (hell, before the Snowden stuff came out, I used to joke that the FBI or CIA should set up a company to run an ad network, so they could easily target people and make money doing so) – Joe H. Dec 2 '16 at 9:48
  • They use a third-party ad CDN which does all the filtering, etc. – Patrick Hofman Dec 2 '16 at 9:49
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    @PatrickHofman so in other words, I should go and shut off ads now. I work for a US government agency (not one of the 3-letter ones), and they've been known to block websites for many, many months (6 to 9 months) when an attack comes through an ad network used by that site. Of course, this is the same agency that makes us take IT training that says we should turn off Flash & Java ... but the training requires Flash & Java. – Joe H. Dec 2 '16 at 9:54
  • Then just block Adzerk if you want to. – Patrick Hofman Dec 2 '16 at 9:59
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    I would suggest posting this as a separate question, since it really has to do with the existing SO implementation just as much as anything else. (That is, it's a concern shared by all ad-displaying sites, not a new concern.) – Nathan Tuggy Dec 2 '16 at 10:18
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    Joe - question asked here: meta.stackexchange.com/q/287657/154443 – Rory Alsop Dec 2 '16 at 13:44
  • Any sysadmin, developer, or other computer user who is using the web with a graphical browser that has elevated privileges should have their access taken away. There's a reason sudo was invented. If you're logged in as root or Administrator or whatever and are visiting external websites, you've got a lot of problems. – MattDMo Dec 4 '16 at 7:04
  • @MattDMo : We consider an account in the sudoers file to have 'elevated privileges'. So we have to maintain two accounts on each machine -- one to log into, then one to su over to (that can't actually log in) so that you can sudo. I'm not talking about people stupid enough to log in as root. (About 13 years ago, I worked w/ someone who did that on her desktop ... and ran web browsers on it. And I had to leave access on all ports to one of her machines, as it did all of the service monitoring for our group). All they need is a foothold, and then alias su to something that logs. – Joe H. Dec 4 '16 at 19:07
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    What risks should I be aware of before allowing advertisements being placed on my website? security.stackexchange.com/q/7840/396 – random65537 Dec 5 '16 at 18:30
  • Agree completely with @JoeH.'s original answer. Unfortunately this only affects the most vulnerable, least clueful of users, who don't use an adblocker. Those who are unlikely to run vulnerable software are the same type of people who run an adblocker. An adblocker is like a protective barrier (using a euphemism here) in that you should never visit the Internet without one. – Horn OK Please Dec 7 '16 at 23:55
  • @allquixotic : not necessarly the clueless -- think of all of the people who have jobs who lock down the systems so hard you can't install anything? (our department has an exception, so I don't know if it's possible to lock things down so far you can't install extensions ... but I know people in other groups can't delete Flash like I can). And there's also those of us who actually disable the adblocker for some sites, so get revenue rather than being a complete leach. (but I have things set to not accept javascript from certain sites, to reduce the risk) – Joe H. Dec 8 '16 at 1:28

I've just started seeing the occasional ad on the GIS Stack Exchange and as you can see at lower right in the image below they are relatively unobtrusive and something that I am happy to see in exchange for the availability of our site.

enter image description here

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    Not being active on GIS, I have to ask: do you consider that ad "ludicrously on-topic"? – user642796 Nov 24 '16 at 4:47
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    @ifajra Many GIS companies, departments, and developers are using Azure so it is certainly relevant to a significant proportion of our users. Calling it "ludicrously on-topic" would be a stretch. – PolyGeo Nov 24 '16 at 4:52
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    We just got zones set up so you'll start to see these trickle out. It's Thanksgiving for the folks working on ads and there's a lot of fine tuning to do (along with getting feedback and helping clients better target creatives), you'll see that getting to work next week. – Tim Post Nov 24 '16 at 5:59
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    Perhaps "ludicrously on-topic" is simply a euphemism for "related to IT hardware or software in some way" – bye Nov 24 '16 at 14:47
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    F'ing MS Azure ads. Ugh. Before I was blocking ads on Stack Overflow, those were the only ads I'd ever see. I've never used it, and none of my favorite tags are in any way related to it. Not relevant to my questions or answer on the site in any way. Yet all the ads I ever saw were MS Azure ads. – user1118321 Nov 25 '16 at 6:11
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    @PolyGeo Many GIS developers are looking for a soulmate, so by that logic "hot singles in your area" would be on-topic, too. – Federico Poloni Nov 25 '16 at 13:44
  • @user1118321 Considering that you can host absolutely every kind of software on Azure, the only way for it to not be on-topic at SO would be if you were only doing embedded or client-side only (we have tags for that?) programming. You might not like it, but that's a personal preference, nothing objective. Certainly more relevant than an Azure ad on GIS. – Voo Dec 2 '16 at 18:09
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    @FedericoPoloni shouldn't those ads go on Parenting? ;) – Display name Dec 4 '16 at 22:56
  • @FedericoPoloni A GIS developer/professional could be tasked with finding a hosting service for a GIS application. They would not be tasked with finding a date so the ad type you suggest would be off-topic. An Azure ad is a bit peripheral to the mainstream of on-topic but we do get questions about it at GIS: gis.stackexchange.com/search?q=azure – PolyGeo Dec 4 '16 at 23:30
  1. No developer should worry on ads, they can simply install an adblocker into their browser (or use any similar solution).
  2. Using ads means the SE (Inc) will have financial interests to make also these smaller sites well-going. It is very useful; it means there will be probably more attention from the side of the CMs to produce communities which are working actively to improve the well-being of their new members. Small core teams of the sites, although they are relatively active, but they produce only few hits in absolute sense. Furthermore, they have a significantly smaller chance to click into a banner.

We will see, what is coming out from this. Happy company budget :-)

Generating revenue to keep the Stack Exchange Network vital and growing is obviously important if one considers it valuable (and I, for one, do). In the original post, a primary stated concern is that the advertisements be "excessively considerate, ludicrously on-topic"; however content is not the only issue with advertisements. The form of the advertisements is also important. This is implicit in the post of @JoeH who makes the request to "not give advertisers control of their ads".

I am currently re-reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death (Public discourse in the age of show business) and in the fourth chapter of the book (The Typographic Mind) he gives a very brief review of the history of advertising in America. Of note for present purposes is that throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, advertisers assumed that "potential buyers were literate, rational, analytical" (p. 58) and so "advertising, [...] understood to consist of words, was regarded as an essentially serious and rational enterprise whose purpose was to convey information and make claims in propositional form. Advertising was [...] intended to appeal to understanding, not to passions" (pp. 59-60).

I would characterize most Stack Exchange readers as "literate, rational and analytic". Consequently, I would suggest that the advertisements respect the character of the user and be restricted to text advertisement without images.

  • 1
    Advertising principles have changed a lot since the 18th and 19th centuries... – Cai Dec 4 '16 at 14:23

Independently on whenever you believe that ads should be shown or not, you can improve the topicness and quality of the ads presented voting for them. That way you can improve the quality of the ads shown to you and on your site, that doesn't depends on click through.

Do developers even see ads? I can't remember the last one I saw.

As far as I understand, the page stats will show that the ad has been viewed by users, but because it's blocked at the user end, it isn't seen. So companies will be paying money for a low visibility rate. "A lot of traffic" doesn't equate to "a lot of good traffic".

  • You see ads only in the sidebar, e.g. see here, but not always. Refresh SO homepage 10 times and you'll most likely get such an ad. As for page stats showing the ad has been viewed while it's not, I'm really not sure about that. – Shadow Wizard Nov 26 '16 at 16:57
  • No, I don't see ads anywhere! – user3791372 Nov 26 '16 at 17:01
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    So you have some AdBlock. You asked in general, so I assumed you don't have. – Shadow Wizard Nov 26 '16 at 17:04
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    That's my point. I don't know a developer / technical person who doesn't use some form of adblock. – user3791372 Nov 26 '16 at 17:05
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    Now you know. Never used, probably will never use. Ads usually don't bother me that much, and when they do I simply leave the site. Happened so far in one forum I used to be active in, years ago. – Shadow Wizard Nov 26 '16 at 17:05
  • Many ads can avoid the blockers, unfortunately. – peterh Dec 31 '16 at 17:01
  • @peterh get a better adblocker. – user3791372 Dec 31 '16 at 20:34

I like SE very much as it works now.

One very important to me is, that all sites of the Stackexchange Networks are NOT distracting when doing hard work on code and research. But perhaps its a personal issue, I find all ads more or less distracting and they consume my concentration bit by bit, because I have to subliminal filter out the background noise from the information.

Could SE perhaps offer that: I have no problem to pay, e.g. let's say 1-2 US-Dollars a month, and so could everybody do with the same wish to keep the site as a distraction free environment. All other may accept the new ad policy. That means using SE will be free for all to use.

What do you think? Is this concept too unfriendly? Everyone could choose their preferred model, but in the end SE can pay the bills and perhaps more.

Ads are a good thing because I want Stack Exchange to be around forever.

If it means getting a few little annoying ads to "help keep the lights on", I'd vote yes any day.e

That being said, if these ads get too extreme, or they are of the "cheap ad" nature, I will be using adblock.

It would be cool if these ads were intermittently on pages too, similar to how (I believe) the "network" ads are. It make it more likely for people to not leave because they were annoyed at ads.

I love it. I use ad blocker, I will disable it for a while because I'm just curious what ads you have.

I don't mind Ads if it helps support SO. Love it more if we, as users can vote up/down and add comments on the ads.

It will probably help the company who pay for the ads to improve the product and the ads.

Also if MSFT put ads in the linux tags would likely got vote down more often than if they place it with Windows tags.

MSFT should pay more if too much down votes for their ads on Linux tag. :-)

  • Well, we do have "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" icons, though I am not sure what exactly is their impact. – Shadow Wizard Nov 30 '16 at 7:51
  • putting comments on ads? Great idea! Let's begin... "WAAAAaaay overpriced fees for a poor service" ... "Don't bother clicking on this, people" ... "Great service, good product" . Guess which comments are from competitors, from the company and genuine users. Oh and guess whether the company would want to pay to advertise on the site if comments such as the above were allowed. – user3791372 Dec 1 '16 at 14:34
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    Allow other users to vote up/down on the comments? :-) And only show the few high score comments on top. Similar to current SO, reddit or Amazon's comment system. Yes, competitors can hack a few negative comments, but should be easy to spot by any human and down vote them. – tony-p-lee Dec 1 '16 at 23:51

I am sure you have your reasons. But ads are still a bad thing.

The flood of advertisements is one of the major illnesses of public communication. It's paid manipulation, and there is way to much of it everywhere. You promise to put up an effort to keep the damage low, but that does not make ads a good thing. Just less evil. All the positive reactions make me doubt the rational capabilities of the crowd here.

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    Like it or not, societies in their current state cannot function without advertising, and it would require a truly heroic effort to address this, if it's even possible. SE is not in the business of fixing the attention economy, so expecting them to go far out of their way to try to accomplish something very difficult that really isn't that high a priority for them is unrealistic, like expecting Microsoft to bring peace to the Middle East. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 6 '16 at 2:32
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    @NathanTuggy: So we have to live with it currently. But we don't have to like it. I don't like it. – Erwin Brandstetter Dec 6 '16 at 2:36
  • Point is, there's no sense in grumbling about something that just can't be helped. There is no realistic effort SE could make that would actually make the problem better that they are not already doing, so this is not a suggestion, but mere complaining about a problem that SE really doesn't have anything to do with. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 6 '16 at 2:40
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    There are many shades of grey. If nobody happens to mention he does not like it, SE will much more likely start displaying more, less restrictive adds. "just can't be helped" is missing the point here. – Erwin Brandstetter Dec 6 '16 at 2:44
  • You act like Adblock isn't a thing. If you don't want to see ads, block them. – Catija Dec 6 '16 at 4:43
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    @Catija: Your line of argument seems to be: there are gas masks, so poison gas is alright ... – Erwin Brandstetter Dec 7 '16 at 2:52
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    And yours seems to be that ads will kill you. One of us is exaggerating and I don't think it's me. – Catija Dec 7 '16 at 2:53
  • You are missing the meaning of "line of argument". Your argument has a logic error. – Erwin Brandstetter Dec 7 '16 at 2:56

Your focus is on quality, but this thread says otherwise:

Clearly Rejected Answer - Upvotes and Rep

Direct quote: "Helping the specific person who asked the question is nice side effect." From Nick Alger

You have a new focus in your business model, which is to sustain current user patterns but also keep your new clients happy (the ad companies that write the checks). It's easy for you to say a firm "other forums won't suffer" just as you said a firm "no" to protecting the code related forums. You had a reason to protect those forums, and now you've compromised that.

You heavily weight the power of those who post answers over the power given to those who ask questions, and are confused why some don't accept any answer given. Follow the link in this answer. You've already begun a pivot for your business, it's time to update your business model and philosophy to reflect that.

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    "Quality" and "helping only the person who asked the question" are two very different things. You appear to be taking the quote out of context to pretend it refers to benefiting advertisers or some other party, but the preceding line is "The goal of stackexchange is to build a timeless database of high quality questions and answers for the benefit of the internet at large." -1 for misrepresentation. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 6 '16 at 4:48
  • Not misrepresentation at all. The link shows that the benefit of a poster's question being answered is second to an answer being popular in that thread. If a poster thinks they'll get an answer, but finds out they won't how many more questions do you think they'll ask in the future? – nope Dec 6 '16 at 15:56
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    And, in your view, how does turning away askers benefit ad companies, never mind SE? SE's official explanation is that higher quality is a bigger draw to more people than being catered to — that asking users are second to users who have questions that they don't need to ask. Your complaints aren't consistent with each other, and ignore SE's history of design (which was based on turning away askers from quite early on). – Nathan Tuggy Dec 6 '16 at 19:25
  • Nowhere did I recommend turning away askers. Where did you misinterpret that from? – nope Dec 6 '16 at 21:29
  • The exact point I'm making, is that turning away an "asker" is in direct conflict with anyone benefiting. The higher quality hinges on the existence of questions, and if the person who wants to ask something can't even be assured their question will get answered, why ask the question? – nope Dec 6 '16 at 21:31
  • According to you @NathanTuggy, we don't even need anyone to ask a question, all the users can just do the Q&A with themselves and this site would be better off for it. That isn't a false analogy, it's the logical conclusion of your quoted history of SE. Do you see any absurdity in that? – nope Dec 6 '16 at 21:34
  • My point is that your answer here is talking about advertising, and alleges some sort of conspiracy to harm users in order to benefit advertisers and therefore profit. But you don't actually give any connection between "harm users" and "profit". If you want to argue about whether or not SE's quality policies are self-defeating, this is very definitely the wrong question to do it in. (Also, I would strongly urge you to look again at the second sentence of my last reply, as it holds the key to the paradox that helping people with questions does not necessarily mean helping askers.) – Nathan Tuggy Dec 6 '16 at 21:34
  • Oh come on, this is nothing of the conspiratorial sort. You're being dramatic. Have you ever run a company? Or studied business at any level? My point is too much emphasis has been against those who ask questions, but the site can't function without them. If you aren't going to facilitate those who ask, then those who answer will continue to suffer in the form of not having their answer accepted, and thus time wasted. – nope Dec 6 '16 at 21:36
  • SE has to answer to ad companies and share holders now. If those boards can't justify money put into this site, the money stops. If SE is writing off half of the people their business model relies on (askers) then the disproportionate burden of maintaining the site's feasible marketability rests on those who answer. If this doesn't translate to ad-clicks, then the burden shifts more to random visits of people who don't sign up. If this becomes a norm, then SE misses new sub chances and lessens the growth they can reasonably project. – nope Dec 6 '16 at 21:39

I am not going to brown-nose you like most of the people on here.

If you enable ads then you better ensure that at least some of the money goes towards moderating questions for better quality answers, some of the answers I've seen over the years are so unhelpful, vague and I've even seen bullying of new members.

If not then I'll just be damn sure to enable ad-block on this website whenever I use it.

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    You should make that plea to the community that obviously doesn't flag, down vote, close vote, delete vote and/or edit those unhelpful and vague answers. Thinking that problem can be solved by money is a little bit odd, given the size of the company and the size of some communities and the number of posts they get per day.. – rene Nov 27 '16 at 17:03
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    The community I speak of I often find are the 'cool kids' that like to gang up and exert their power by crushing those that seek help. I think money can solve this issue, if it means that people get a better quality standard then why would people not want this? – Daniel Nov 27 '16 at 17:13
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    Being one of the cool kids: send me the money – rene Nov 27 '16 at 17:16
  • Some of the money goes to paying for the developers, servers, offices etc. (shocking I know). These things cost a lot more than you can even imagine (granted you clearly never had to pay for developers). – gdoron Nov 28 '16 at 5:57
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    gdoron - thank you for enlightening me with your wisdom... I would NEVER have guessed that the money would pay for servers, offices and administrative effort... – Daniel Nov 29 '16 at 2:03
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    What are you practically saying here... SE staff should be moderating Q&A quality? Or users (who are the people who currently moderate Q&A quality) should be compensated to moderate better? – Cai Nov 29 '16 at 21:27
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    "by crushing those that seek help". Ah, the persistent refrain of those who claim to be asking for help but are typically asking overly broad questions that end up being "code this for me" or "fix my wall of code". The false positive rate on down/close votes is next to nothing (at least on high traffic sites like SO, can't speak for the others). – BradleyDotNET Nov 29 '16 at 23:56
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    Bradley you must remind yourself that your help is voluntary, you don't have to comment, you don't even have to thumbs down. Yet you chose to comment, with inclinations to spite me, that is something I have seen often to members. In fact in my experience in going through the issues people present on SO, their questions tend to be quite specific, if a little poorly formatted, but who can really be bothered to spend half an hour making their broken code look nice to then be told "it's too broad". – Daniel Nov 30 '16 at 2:55
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    Also I would like a reason why someone decided to vote to delete this comment - I am simply giving my opinion - much like everyone else on this page, is it because mine is contradictory to popular opinion? – Daniel Nov 30 '16 at 2:58
  • @Daniel see Are we abusing our delete votes on Meta? "delete votes hanging around on controversial answers are somewhat counter-productive, even if they don't actually result in the post being deleted..." – gnat Nov 30 '16 at 7:30
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    @Daniel I think you're mistunderstanding this. If you ask a question or answer one, you are deliberately exposing your work to public scrutiny. It's true that Bradley didn't have to comment, but he certainly has the right to. No part of the Q/A is private here, and the "If you don't like my question, don't answer" thinking doesn't cut it. You put the content out there, for others to judge and peruse. – Magisch Nov 30 '16 at 8:55
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    I agree. Moderation is crucial. The concept of "Power to the people" is dellusional. Moderation is a problem here and given the type of people who have lots of time to amass a high score to then be able to moderate here is not generally the most rational of types. – user3791372 Dec 1 '16 at 14:38

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