As most of us active here know, all Amazon links that are posted here (at least for U.S. amazon.com, not for Amazon in other countries, e.g. amazon.co.uk, amazon.in, etc.) are rewritten to go through rads.stackoverflow.com, which adds in Stack Exchange's affiliate referral code so that SE earns a cut of sales in case the user clicking the link goes on to purchase the item.

Unfortunately, there were and are quite a few bugs with it, which of course require resources to track down and fix. For instance, initially, links to the above internationalized Amazon sites were also being rewritten, and in turn redirecting to the U.S. site, occasionally resulting in 404 errors since ASINs aren't global; HTTPS links weren't being converted; and more recently, links to promotions (and not specific items) are currently being rewritten when they shouldn't be, breaking those links.

How much money does SE make through this affiliate program, and is it enough to offset the resources needed to resolve the current and past bugs with it?

Maybe, if the program isn't making SE that much money, it may not be worth spending the resources to keep it intact, and perhaps it might be worth just terminating the program?

  • 22
    Probably status-not-our-business. (literally :)) Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 8:13
  • 11
    Since it is "not-your-business" how much they get, but probably it is our business when the implementation kick us in the back by creating invalid links (maybe even links to a *different item from the one that was originally linked if you are lucky enough), I suggest you flip the question so it sound more clear. A title like "Is the revenue generate by the amazon affiliate program worth all the bugs the url rewriter is generating?" should probably be a little better at expressing the issue you have with the current system. Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 8:28
  • 1
    How much money does SE make through this affiliate program, and is it enough to offset the resources needed to resolve the current and past bugs with it? do you really think SE is going to release that sensitive piece of information to users who are using their platform free of charge? Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 12:48
  • @Mari-LouA well, depends, could be effective "either the links get rewritten, or you pay XX$/month"
    – Federico
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


Update as of October 4th, 2019:

To follow up on this, Amazon link rewriting has been disabled across the entire network. – Nick Larsen

Original answer (November 2018):

I can't speak to the actual numbers today because I don't know them anymore, but it certainly was a non-trivial amount. About 3 or 4 years ago when we were tossing around ideas for new content types, it was enough that I invested time in speccing out a library feature for the site as a content type with an expected immediate turnaround. You should read "enough" as "paid for far more than my salary each month". If it's still on that same order of "enough" I'd guess we'll fix the problems soon. It's a nice stream of revenue that, with the exception of bugs, is fairly non-intrusive to goals the site.

  • 4
    You sure that it's been disabled? I just edited an older post that had a rewritten link and it still gets rewritten. Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 17:21
  • 5
    Just followed up with the team, and my understanding was wrong. Everything stays the same, only we no longer apply our referral code to the redirect. This in effect strips referral codes from all raw amazon links. Any caveats that were true under the old system are true under this system, e.g. we don't touch smile.amazon links. Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 14:09

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