Fundrasing options / opt in advertising / post and community sponsorship

I have mentioned this before on the discuss side but repeat it here in case it is lost in the noise floor.

I believe that advertising as a source of revenue should be left on the table.
First not to do so is irresponsible and presumptuous of community desires.
Second it may occasionally be essential to survival.

I suggest it is coded in and implemented in ways that are flexible and configurable. Make it opt in and make it user tunable. Let the user decide how much of his details leak to the advertising algorithm. Adverts may have just the right job or wireless router to market to him that he is needing. I do not propose to design the business model to rely on such advertising but I would be happy to see adverts if I do not have to make a monthly payment to enjoy answering questions. Remember everyone in a community wants to help a community effort and if seeing a few ads is the only way that a user can help why should he be prevented from helping. There are people who live on under a US$ a day who cannot donate but can click through an advert occasionally in a show of support.

Secondly as a possible ongoing funding model have posts and communities sponsored by companies. The community can have a main sponsor and popular posts could be adopted by sponsors using a voting system. So a really flattering answer about Microsoft might get sponsorship from them if they choose to outbid the Linux foundation or private sponsors. These can be time limited depending on the amount or competitive pressure.

My real point here is to bake in as many possible means of automated and network sponsorship models as possible so distribute risk and prevent single points of pressure from outside.

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I certainly do not want money to influence the content of the site in any way. Sponsoring of individual posts almost certainly leads to such influence.

Sponsoring sites is less problematic, but it needs to be that only established sites can be sponsored, or else we get situations like the AskUbuntu besides Unix&Linux on SE.

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Given the current state of advertising practices (tracking, malware, disguising ads as content) on the web, I wholeheartedly advise against running ads on Codidact.
People who can not afford donations have the opportunity of contributing to the site in non-monetary ways: Improving posts, for example.

I think Wikimedia did a great job on making donations, also recurring ones, easy. I’m not saying that Codidact should have huge fundraising banners over months, like Wikipedia does, though.

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  • Paid ads - No, just no. I mean no. I mean NO!!! Half the time (maybe more) that I go on site to a customer I am installing AdBlockPlus and removing browser notifications (which generally amount to “more ads”) even though I am really there to fix “real” problems. Nobody likes web ads. Plus, for the people who can’t afford a subscription (which we’re not doing anyway), those people are the ones who also can’t afford to buy the products in the ads - so while we might get the 0.02 for the click, it is actually unfair to the advertisers because they are trying to get “quality traffic” == “people who might buy”. So just no.
  • Sponsorship of communities or entire site. That is more of a possibility. But it has to be handled in a way that makes it clear that there is no pay-for-play. If Microsoft is a sponsor, how do we avoid (even subconsciously) a bias towards Microsoft products (e.g., would there be more emphasis on MS SQL over MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc. on a database question?)
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Sorry, but I’ll have to prove Kalle right on this one. I’m OK with web ads.

Obviously I’m not OK with web ads ruining UX, like more ads than content, pop-ups, etc.
However, I would be perfectly fine with seeing a banner ad on Codidact.

I get value from this website. The only thing I have to do in return is to ignore an ad, like I have been doing on the rest of the internet for 20+ years. Doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me. I’m actually quite happy that this is possible, and I don’t have to pay for each and every service I use.
Now, knowing that it’s “for a good cause” - keeping the knowledge free for everybody - you bet you got a deal, sign me right the f up!

My personal attitude towards ads goes even further. I know teenage me wouldn’t approve because, like, totally, THE MAN has like, all my data and stuff.
However, nowadays “the algorithm” knows I’m a developer. The ads I get are for CircleCI and stuff like that. Stuff I might very realistically buy and use, be it personally or at work.
So to me, it looks like this little slave working for me, trying his very best to find things I like, on the off chance that I might go for one in a thousand things he shows me. Completely non-committal - it’s not like I have to buy any of those things. The things I do end up going for are all things that have value to me.

The point being, this also wouldn’t be unfair to advertisers, because I am one of the “people who might buy”.

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In my experience, the more savvy users - which includes typical developers and the more “expert” users on any site - are both the most useful to advertisers (e.g., developers or others willing to spend not just time but money on their chosen hobby or profession) are and the most likely to use Ad Blockers.

I honestly don’t get too troubled by web ads because I don’t see them that much, except for occasionally if I turn off my ad blocker in order to access a particular site for a news article or blog that is otherwise blocked. I just checked the main SO page - there are a couple of ads - not “evil” and in fact the kinds of things I might be interested in, especially if I were job hunting - but I don’t normally see them at all. Who are the most likely to see the ads, especially on a site like this? IMHO, the people who are least likely to buy/get hired/etc.

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I’m fine with ads, as long as they’re done in a blocker-friendly manner. Sites get really annoying when they try to block you from reading when they detect an ad-blocker. Easy to bypass, but annoying nonetheless.

Brave has a very interesting ad-replacement model - essentially opt-in ads with a tip jar. It may be worth looking into that. Downside is it only works on that browser for now.

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I like the way ReadTheDocs does ads - they say it’s newspaper advertising, on the internet.

I think it will be a great idea to consider when there is some traffic on codidact.

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That definitely would address my concerns as user.

But there’s still a danger to avoid: Advertisers getting indirect control over the content. Taking the newspaper analogy, it is not unheard of that newspapers didn’t run a story because it might piss of a main advertiser. Also YouTube video rules are largely affected by advertisers.

So if advertising is enabled, there must be a mechanism in place that ensures that no decision is influenced by advertising.

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Thank you for your considered replies.

To just make it clear. The site must be in control of the advertiser and not the other way. There can even be a group where ads are vetted by thick skinned cynical members who can say mean and unsavoury things about adverts that have manipulative content or use weasel words. Make the adds have to conform to such rigorous standards that people come to Codidact just to see the spectacular fact based adverts.

The adverts can be 1-3 in one side bar with a image, text and a single link (via a tracking link so that statistics are maintained and billing is accurate) each. Make them OPT-IN and let us stop having people react negatively to adverts. Make it so that it is fun to find flaws in adverts and vote them down and into oblivion. Make the adverts part of the fun of the site instead of evil. Have the advertisers vie with each other to make the highest rated adverts. Good ones sort of like those mind numbingly expensive superbowl adverts but selected by the end users.

Who cares if the advertisers sell any product to the impoverished masses who would struggle to pay a subscription instead or to the established code developers who have all the tools they need. It hardly matters, actually it does not matter in the least. If an advertiser will offer US$0.01+ for a click through on our terms then we are duty bound to take it and run. It might even repair online advertising if the system works and the media gets wind of it and large corporate advertisers insist their adverts are tested at Codidact first before wider distribution (This could in fact become the true revenue model for the whole site, volunteer specialist advertising critics that have to click through before they can criticise). The advertisers can then use our community vetted adverts in other campaigns knowing that they do not irritate humans on a visceral level.

So to those that say NO, you have to have more than personal revulsion to vote down an OPT-IN benign system and to those that say maybe or perhaps or even yes, thank you for supporting a wider base revenue collection model.

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It’s possible to have ads but limit the malware potential of ads. Bluntly stated, the advertiser gets to submit text and an image. We generate the ad itself from the content. No JavaScript or similar BS; just a schpiel and a link. Any advertisers found submitting “fake out” ads (e.g. making it look like part of the site’s functionality) are banned

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Ads are such a hot-button issue that I’d rather we try to avoid them. We don’t have to say “we will never have ads of any type anywhere”; we know how badly that goes if you have to change course later. But… let’s explore other options and leave ads aside.

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Limiting ads to static images and links, possibly with a hover tooltip creates a really nice UX which I think is tolerable and easy to implement. Partnering with people who have the same ideas of a non-disruptive ad experience is the difficult part. Also, displaying relevant ads and data privacy is a huge concern.

A few other monetization options:

  • Company sponsored tags or sites
  • Pro mode - I hear Reddit does this, not sure what codidact would offer
  • Donations through codidact (like Wikipedia)
  • Selling consultation and support for private instances

Thoughts?

Go with the donations model first , If the donations can no longer bear the cost then add ads model . I personally don’t mind ads as long as they don’t track my activity and don’t ruin the Ui . People who are not ok with ads can always turn on adblocker .

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Ads can be good if they are not too ‘agressive’.

There can be also some kind of sponsor badge that will switch off ads for annual fee, though I wouldn’t connect paid account with anything like answering/questioning options - this should be free. However maybe some kind of extensive UI customization for sponsor accounts?

The other idea is someting like bounty for real money, and here come two possible profits for the site:

  • paid bounty fee - lets say 5$
  • when user decides for paid bounty he sends money to the site, bounty lasts couple of days and money is frozen, so the site can have some interest from it.

Some people (I guess many) use Q&A for their professional work as me, and I’ve noting against rewarding somebody with real money if they help me to solve my urgent work issue. Lets say I raise bounty for $50, pays the site $55 (50 + fee), the 50 lays somewhere on deposit and site gets some interest.

However this may be also little sloppy and need more caution to avoid fraud from both sides - like friend upvoting/downvoting, when to pay and how much - eg. fully accepted answer gets all the money, when there is no accepted but highly voted maybe some percentage.

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Even assuming of an Ethical Ads nature, for me there is a huge difference between ‘a few times’ and ‘nearly always’. There is next to no chance I will ever buy anything shoved in my face but I might well appreciate being made aware of the availability of whatever is being plugged (as well as the contribution to site revenue of course). What drives me away from promoted products and towards an ad blocker is the water torture of seeing the same ad over and over and over again.

So, I would quite likely be in favour of being presented any specific ad say one day a month or for half dozen successive visits. I would be very strongly against being shown the same ad at every visit for months at a time (assuming I visited roughy every other day on average). .

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Fascinating idea. But I think there are some serious roadblocks in terms of:

  • Many users will not normally provide their real name to a site like this (or almost any site except “real” banking, etc.), let alone address, SSN, etc. needed to handle money flowing around. So if they actually get a bounty and want to collect, they have to decide whether to provide all that info. or not. There might be a way around that using, for example, PayPal where you can essentially send email from one email address to another. But in a worldwide system like this, PayPal may not be nearly universal enough (for many different reasons) to work either.
  • I can see this being used as a fraudulent way to funnel money around. Sounds crazy, and you would think moderators could catch it, but people who want to cheat the authorities (in any country) get a bit sneaky. And if not caught/prevented by moderators then that might even make moderators legally responsible for aiding/abetting and that is an absolute no go in my book.
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I’m not as far as concerned about the first point as about the second.
The first can be easily solved with verified account - if you want to collaborate within paid bounties, you need to have such account with specified and verified money transfer (paypal, bitcoin, bank transfer etc.). The thing is easier as the site should be the one who transfers the money so both users doesn’t need to know about their accounts.

The second point is a bigger pain - I’m not sure if moderators/community along with something like bounty history can be sufficient to handle this properly.

Nevertheless it’s just an idea, I’m not even convinced to it myself. Sponor badge with ads removal I like much more.

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I would not mind affiliate links on a Photography site, as long as they go to a reputable vendor and it’s clear that they’re not introduced in a biased way. Linking to products for sale can legitimately add value, and might as well help support the site in that way.

On ads in general: advertise to the drive-through visitors, not to the regulars. (Even just: log in to hide ads.)

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One option would be to make some paid post rewards, like Reddit Gold. If you see an answer you really like, you can pay a dollar or two to give it a fancy star or something.

Paid bounties was rejected at SE. If we introduced that we’d have to be careful to address the concerns here.

And those answers don’t even consider the money laundering angle.

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