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Should ads that mimic StackOverflow UI be allowed?

I have a complaint. I'm not sure if this has been mentioned (I did a quick search), but the recent ads for Startups.com that are formatted to look like they're a part of Stack Overflow are especially aggravating.

Whenever I see an ad like this: http://ads.stackoverflow.com/ads/startupslookingSOfineline.png

... I keep thinking I clicked on the wrong link in my search! I end up saying to myself, "I was looking for help about such-and-such, not something about business quest..... oh, right, it's another &@#*ing ad."

Could you at LEAST put some kind of box around it or give it a different background color? That way they'd stand out from the actual content of the page. My brain has enough to worry about when I come here; I don't need to actively separate ads and content.

Heck, I just realized, THE NAME OF THE AD is "startupslookingSOfineline.png"! So unless that's just a weird coincidence, the ad itself admits it's already on a fine line.

Sorry for griping about this, but it's been driving me nuts lately.


3 Answers 3


At least the magazines have learned to put "This is a paid advertisement" on the top of pages or columns and use a slightly different typeface where an ad is similar in appearance to normal article content...

  • Thanks, that is exactly my point.
    – Brown
    Commented Feb 10, 2010 at 21:16

I am delighted that this is the worse problem we've had with the advertising on this site.

Go visit any other site, and you'll realise how tame SOFU is in comparison.

You should be expecting to be bullshited online anyway. Even in real life. Are this ads really so deceptive to be a problem? I remember people complaining about the Woot! ads, which were not deceptive, in my opinion. This one has a completely different color scheme, and is obviously an image, not text rendered by the browser.

One more thing, Jeff said he'd be putting a black border around those ads. I don't know why he haven't.

  • 2
    +1 Agreed. I'm amazed at how much people complain about the ads. The question views only have 1 ad, a question with one answer has 2 ads, and a question with more than 1 answer has 3 ads. Oh the horror!!! Commented Feb 9, 2010 at 18:49
  • Look, I don't have a problem with ads. Sites need to make money. All I'm asking is to make it mess with my head less. I thought it was a simple and sane request.
    – Brown
    Commented Feb 10, 2010 at 21:15

Think of it as incentive to gain 200 Rep. Once you get that, you can enjoy reduced advertising that only appears in the column on the right of the page (it's mentioned in the list of Rep-based abilities in the FAQ).

  • -1 this is a real problem.. It's like saying "you should wear a body vest from now on" to someone who has been shot instead of finding the shooter [ok the analogy sucked] Commented Feb 9, 2010 at 18:35
  • @Koper: It may be a real problem, but it's certainly not a major problem, especially since the color scheme for the ad is substantially different than the SO color scheme. Also, I'd hardly call it stealthy, since it's in the same position as any other ad. I would just be thankful that SO in general (both below and above the 200 Rep threshold) has minimal ads compared to other sites. Seriously, there are only 3 ads maximum! Commented Feb 9, 2010 at 18:43
  • 2
    @Koper - no, it's more like saying, "if you volunteer at the carnival then you can walk in the back door, skip all the money-pit games of chance, and go directly to the rides."
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 9, 2010 at 18:56
  • Missed my point entirely. If I hated ads in general, I'd just use AdBlock.
    – Brown
    Commented Feb 10, 2010 at 21:17

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