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On Super User, it was announced that the site would be sponsored by Amazon Web Services beginning September 27. I can see the announcement wasn't popular (it had a score of +3/-9 at the time this was asked) and that members of the community expressed concerns and objections.

This leads me to ask:

  • If there's an upcoming sponsorship deal for a site, can a community object to the deal?
  • Will the team cancel a sponsorship on the basis that a site's community disagrees with it? If so, under what community-provided reasons will termination of the deal be considered?
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    I can't see the vote split on that post, but it stands at -6, I don't call that heavily downvoted.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 9:42
  • +3 and -6 right now Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 9:48
  • @JourneymanGeek It's actually +3 and -9, for a total of -6. (It's been upvoted now to +4/-9) Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 10:02
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    Lol, if -3 isn't popular, you should check some meta posts counting thousands of up- or downvotes and reconsider heavily. It's an opinion for sure, but it's not even of a statistical significance to be honest. Perhaps the question is whether the rest haven't noticed yet, have no opinion about it or simply do not care what SE/SU does anymore (at least regarding the financial side). Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 12:57
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    @PeterBadida The post was standing at -6 (with a total of 9 downvotes) when this was posted. I already changed the original 'heavily downvoted' to 'not popular' because of that score, to reflect reality a bit better (like you said, 9 downvotes definitely isn't thousands ;) )... but I'm not going to keep it updated every time the score changes, which is likely now that a link is posted here ;-)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 12:59
  • @Tinkeringbell fair point :D Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 13:00
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    I mean, we've already proven that communities can object to their sites being sponsored. Whether or not their objection has any effect on the other hand... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ presumably by the time we know about it, money's already been spent.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 15:41
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    "..can a community object to the deal?" Yes. "Will the team cancel...?" No. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 22:07
  • Super User does not have thousands of active daily users, so I am not shocked, a meta post submitted at Meta Super User hasn't be view a ton.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 15:58

3 Answers 3

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Having sponsors and advertisers is obviously a good thing. Stack Exchange needs to make money and nobody can seriously object to that part of the bargain.

But,

We are not talking about a Coca Cola sponsorship, or some other brand that is quite obviously unrelated to the site topics. We have a brand that is very off-topic for the site it sponsors, yet at the same time can be rather easily mistaken as an invitation to post such off-topic questions about the brand on the site.

I am not familiar with Super User and its problems or lack of them when it comes to moderating the site, but I am pretty sure that the Stack Overflow community would not welcome a sponsor that could potentially (read: will) bring more off-topic questions to the site.

We already have a huge problem with moderating the influx of completely off-topic questions and the prospects of having some more is extremely worrisome.


I know that we don't have a say in what sponsors SE should accept and on which sites, but SE should take this objection into serious consideration nonetheless. Not just for the wellbeing of the community and the negative impact sponsoring "wrong" sites can have on a community, but also for the wellbeing of SE as a whole and for the benefit of the sponsor.

The negative impact that a poor sponsorship can have on a site can reflect poorly back on the sponsor itself. I am not sure why any sponsor (beyond more broad, general brands) would want to advertise on a site that is not hosting suitable questions for their product(s) nor where a majority of their potential customers reside.

This also opens up a question about whether sponsors are familiar with the sites that they sponsor and whether they are not fully aware about potential downsides.

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    Off topic as far as scope - but I'd guess if you're a techie, they want to reach out for you, even if you're looking for help on your PC. As far as SU goes - I don't think it would make the problem any worse than helpful folks pointing low quality questions our way :D Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 10:59
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    @JourneymanGeek I think "everyone has a computer" is rather poor targeting ;) On the other hand maybe more appropriate sites don't have enough views to be interesting. In that case building more traffic on those sites would be beneficial... I already have initial proposition how to do that: allow migrating well received off-topic questions to appropriate site regardless of the age. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 11:37
  • @ResistanceIsFutile For what it's worth, I would say SuperUser's audience isn't anywhere close to "everyone that has a computer"... An even more targeted audience might not be that useful for their marketing goals, either, if the viewers are all people who are already intimately familiar with AWS and their range of services. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 19:34
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    Super User does indeed have it's fair share of the "that question isn't even remotely within scope" problem. AWS being a sponsor is only a problem, if questions about AWS are not closed, due to their sponsorship or (I suppose the real concern) AWS directs users to ask questions about AWS on Super User.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 16:02
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We're so sorry for any confusion. The sponsorship has not been canceled and is now live. The team that oversees sponsorships ran into some instrumentation issues with the assets they were sent and they were fixed this morning. This happened late yesterday so I apologize there was no update until now.

The original post on sponsorships details the purpose of them well. I know that some questions have been raised around how sponsorships are decided and how they work. I've reached out to the team about putting together some FAQs we can share on Meta in the near future to address this feedback. We're also working on improving communication around sponsorships as well and I'll be sharing details on that too. Be on the lookout for it later this fall.

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    Are you aware that adblockers (UBlock Origin in my case) are blocking the image?. Many people have ad.doubleclick.net and variants blocked. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 16:48
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    This doesn't answer my question: can communities object to their site being sponsored, and will SE consider ending a sponsorship deal based on community concerns? Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 18:09
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    @DavidPostill Of interest: stackoverflow.blog/2016/10/26/…
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 19:34
  • @animuson, we know ;) But it just looks awkward to see a text "sponsored by" and then not seeing a name or logo or anything else. To those less tech savy it might be reason enough to post a bug report.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 19:45
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    @Luuklag Not any less awkward than other UI elements that get removed by ad blockers.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 19:51
  • @animuson that UI is something I haven't seen in ages ;) But yeah, that's awkward too.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 20:02
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As far as we know, there's no real process for that - and least as it went for us, most of the deal between the sponsor and SE was done.

Now that there's rumours already started...

At time of this posting - there's no confirmation for or against anything going on with the AWS sponsorship of SU. We were told it was going to happen, raised a few points, and I believe they've been taken into consideration.

Firstly, I'm personally deeply disappointed that the assumption was made that this was cancelled. This could be potentially harmful to something that could help sites get a little bit of a higher profile with the powers that be at what seems a minimal cost/ change.

I'm also unsure if this would count as a strong objection - simply because the voting numbers were relatively small. We haven't been informed as such by staff, and the delays could be due to anything. I suspect if there was a change, that we'd be informed, and we have not been yet.

I'd also point out that, aside from my answer, setting out my views of this initiative– disagreement seemed to be for different issues, from whether AWS is a good fit for our subject matter, dislike of AWS as a whole, and in one case, the dislike of SE's corporate parent. There was also a downvoted (-4) answer (now deleted) asking whether having the sponsor's logo on our site was necessary.

I would assume that SE is going to vet their sponsors well (So CMOT Dibbler's house of canned cat meat isn't going to sponsor pets or cooking). I haven't seen a case of a broad strenuous objection to a sponsorship, either on my site, or others so far.

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    the sponsorship has not been canceled. There was a technical issue that came up late yesterday and is getting fixed now. The sponsorship will be live soon. I'm getting details from the team that oversees sponsorships so I can post more as an answer later, but I just wanted to give you all a heads up.
    – Rosie StaffMod
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 13:57

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