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I know how affiliate marketing works (though not an expert) but I can't comprehend in certain cases, where is the benefit of the ads (as in, who benefit from it?) when they relate to an open source project, that doesn't necessarily accept donation?

For example:

minimalist green-and-black ad for a line-oriented text editor

This ad was posted on one of the posts on Unix.SE. It links back to the GNU website. I'm aware the GNU project accepts donation, but I never thought they would use ads to get traffic...

And while they do accept donation, it's unsure whether they actually use the ads for that purpose. This is just one particular example where I'm unsure of the purpose of an ad (don't have other example at hand since I usually use an ad blocker).

Just curious and that doesn't mean I'm criticizing the ad itself or any of the concerned sites.


Just found out about the Free Vote-Based Advertising for Open Source Projects post by SO, but that still doesn't explain what's the benefit here?

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  • Thanks for the edit btw. Didn't notice i posted the question two times... – Nord The Lofty Wizard Oct 31 '20 at 20:54
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    It seems you ran into this bug. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Oct 31 '20 at 22:40
  • yep, i think i did :O wasn't sure if it was a bug since the form took a while to process, and i clicked multiple time on refresh and the post button...(so i initially thought it was my fault) @SonictheK-DayHedgehog – Nord The Lofty Wizard Oct 31 '20 at 23:13
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It's mentioned in the blog post by Jeff:

Rather than let this go to waste, we thought it might benefit the programming community if we could let the programming community use our remnant ad inventory space to publicize open-source projects in need of programmer assistance.

So who benefits? The programming community in general. By getting more exposure, the project has a chance to get more contributors, and become better. By becoming better, the open source project will benefit the programmers themselves better. It's a win-win situation.

The above applies to the beginning of the project, however since then it evolved into the Community Promotion Ads program, which spans the whole Stack Exchange network, and that's actually what you saw on Unix.SE site. Quoting what Robert said in the blog:

The goal is to help visitors find out about the cool stuff your community is doing and help promote activities they find important. And it’s all visible right there on the sidebar next to every question, and the homepage

This pretty much sums it up nicely. It means, essentially, that the active members of each SE site (i.e. those who gain enough reputation to take part on meta and vote there) can put their own ads.

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