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(title stolen from Will there be Community Promotion Ads in 2020, if so when?)

Community promotion ads were usually posted in January, but this didn't happen in 2021 yet. It's not urgent but I've just advised a user on Writing about them, and I don't think it would be a good idea to let them create ads on the 2020 editions if the ones for 2021 are just a Community Manager's mouseclick away.

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    Ideally, creating a post with the community-ads tag would automagically tie the post to the ad system, rather than a dev having to do so manually... – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Feb 6 at 7:59
  • They are reset in December: movies.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4644/69970 - newest: stackexchange.com/… - we've not had any for years on MSE: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/community-ads – Rob Feb 6 at 22:49
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    We haven't shipped them in December in... a really long time (ever?). I think last year they were posted in March, @Rob - To be clear, we haven't forgotten about them, we're just trying to get things together. Unlike the year in review posts, which are scripted, JNat posts each question manually, so it takes about a day to do it and... we've been busy with other things. Also, as far as I know, until the new post is created, the old ones still give the required info to the system. – Catija Feb 8 at 14:40
  • @Catija "They are reset (turned off) in December". - Source JNat (Mar 5 '20 at 11:22): movies.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4644/… '"We reset the ads once a year, every December."'. Please don't rely on a translated version, ask an English speaker to translate for you. – Rob Feb 8 at 14:56
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    @Rob That's just boilerplate text - they don't actually reset until we tell them to reset. It's part of a template but it's likely something we should clarify for the new one when we get to it. – Catija Feb 8 at 14:59
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Update: See this post for more updates.


TL;DR: Open Source (on SO) and Community Promotion (on the rest of the network) Ads are gonna happen in 2021, but not on the usual schedule. We will revisit these in Q2, and work with the community and our Ads team to figure out how the program can best serve the communities going forward.

First, some general thoughts about the project as a whole: the boilerplate text used in the posts for this program mentions ads being reset in December, and... I don't think I (or Grace Note before me) ever did that. In fact, last year I only got to refresh these in March, and refreshing Open Source Ads on SO for the second half of the year (as is usual) ended up completely slipping through the cracks. It's worth noting, though, that despite this slip up, no one seemed to notice (or at least no one asked about it, as far as I can tell). Furthermore, many sites show very little or no engagement with the initiative at all. I think all of that says something about the effectiveness of this project... Does the community still find the value we set out to provide when we launched this program back in 2009? As the program and its rules have stayed pretty much the same for 11 years, are there any bits that need to be adjusted? Are there ways we can change the program to provide more value to the community today, or should we replace it with some other program that brings that value? The program is currently not available to sites in Beta, but would it prove a good community building opportunity for sites as they're getting started? These are some of the questions we'd like to answer in Q2, when we do some discovery work around the program as a whole, before resetting the ads for 2021.

Now, to move on to some technical limitations: these ads are not served through the same mechanism the rest of the ads on the network are served, but instead through mechanisms the Ads team has been moving away from. Furthermore, the current mechanism is ruled by code no team currently owns or maintains, and that does not feed into the Ads team's current ad-serving systems. These mechanisms do not allow for reliable reporting either, which is bad for the Ads team and to you, neither of which can reliably measure the effectiveness of the ads the communities are putting up.

On to our current thinking to address all of the above: in Q2 we'll kick off discovery work around these ads (as well as Hot Network Question Ads1), and we're thinking of treating these (conceptually) as regular ad campaigns, where you (the community) are the client, the Community Management Team does any support needed, and our Ad Ops Team would be responsible for trafficking and monitoring performance. We'll need to figure out some stuff surrounding guidelines (using our current ad guidelines as a starting point) and reporting stats with you, and how some internal workflows are going to work before we're able to refresh ads in 2021. Ideally we’ll get to a place we’re all happy with, and we’ll continue giving back to the community by providing you with a space to highlight projects and pages of interest to your communities through this project.

All of that being said, the 2020 versions are still active and running, and we're not planning on taking those down until we refresh for 2021 in Q2.


1 Yes, they're a thing! In addition to the HNQ feature you might be familiar with, our system was picking some of those questions and generating an ad that was being displayed in a fashion similar to Community Promotion/Open Source Ads. We disabled these in late 2020 after getting some reports on some of the ads displayed, and it seems like folding these into this discovery work might be reasonable since we'd been struggling to get the ball moving on them again.

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  • Great update, using legacy things is never a great plan, so seeing how this can be done better and more useful moving forward is great! Hopefully SE can revisit a lot of features in this fashion so the entire network get's up-to-date once again in 6-8 timeintervals. – Luuklag Mar 29 at 10:52
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    I believe big part of the "lack of interest" is the very low rate in which the ads appear. Personally, in all my views ever, I've seen open source ad maybe.... 20 times. Not more. I'd say it has 1% chance to appear, and 99% to get actual ad, so only very few people ever see it. The mechanism itself is broken by design. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Mar 29 at 11:59
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    It's major embarrassing to see an ad for a conference that happened (online) in August 2020 when the next online conference scheduled for the beginning of August 2021 can't reasonably be posted. Several conferences for the community associated with tex.stackexchange are affected by this decision, and we aren't happy. This lessens the expected value (and authority) of other postings to the site. – barbara beeton Apr 30 at 16:59
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I think that the 2021 Community Ads Meta Q&As should be posted sooner rather than later because our communities are already looking for them.

For example, the GIS Stack Exchange is already looking for its 2021 Community Ads Meta Q&A at Should we promote FOSS community events?


The Community Ads for 2021 request appeared on Meta GIS SE today (18 Jun 2021) with voting to be completed on them by 2 Aug 2021.

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  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Feb 7 at 22:43
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    @SonictheCuriouserHedgehog it supports the case for SE staff posting Community Ad Meta Q&As sooner rather than later because our communities are already looking for them. – PolyGeo Feb 7 at 22:58
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    @Sonic I agree with Poly, it's a valid answer which elaborates the request in a way that doesn't fit as edit, in my opinion. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Feb 8 at 9:59

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