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Making Ad Banners Suck Less

By Anonymous Zero in Internet
Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 08:31:21 PM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

My name is Kurt Gray, I'm the lead programmer for OSDN's ad system which serves ad banners on sites like Slashdot, Freshmeat, SourceForge, Themes, and partnering deal with Kuro5hin, etc. I open sourced our ad delivery code sometime last year and have been maintaining it in-house here as well. My quest now is to create a better ad banner delivery system, not only better for you the audience but also more useful to our sponsors. So I have some ideas about our ad system that we want to pitch to you all sitting out there reading this and your feedback on these ideas would be of great value to us. Note that this is being posted to both K5 and Slashdot because we want to get feedback from everyone we can.

Sponsor: rusty
This space intentionally left blank
...because it's waiting for your ad. So why are you still reading this? Come on, get going. Read the story, and then get an ad. Alright stop it. I'm not going to say anything else. Now you're just being silly. STOP LOOKING AT ME! I'm done!
comments (24)
active | buy ad
First let me address two issues that have been discussed on Slashdot just recently on Micropayments instead of ads and Ad banners may soon get bigger and how these issues pertain to ad banners on the OSDN sites.

Why run ad banners? What about a tip-jar, or subscription fees, or micropayments, or donations, or bill-the-ISPs instead of ad banners?

When you're running a web site, depending on your content, your audience, the size of your staff, your overhead costs, the size and nature of your audience, and many other factors, it might be possible to get by on just subscription fees, or micropayments, or some other revenue model that does not involve selling banner ads. But the size of the audience on OSDN's web sites and the nature of the content within is such that the subscription models break down. For a network of this size and content ad banners are the only realistic way to cover costs and hopefully earn a little profit (someday we hope). Another way of looking at it is to ask yourself why does Yahoo, CNet, and ZDNet still rely on banner ads? Because for a web sites that have a lot of traffic no one has proven that there is a better way to earn more revenue with less overhead. In any large media company, advertising is it. Even with print magazines the subscription fees and cover prices don't come close to covering the costs for a large circulation magazine: the subscription fees and cover price is just a barrier-of-entry to assure the advertisers that the readership paid to read the content and therefore is the right audience to see their ads.

....but ad banners don't work! There's too many ad filters now days!

Yes, a lot of people, even entire ISPs, have ad filters and proxy rules to block out banner ads but even still there are plenty enough ad impressions delivered every day. In fact those who filter ads are doing web publishers and advertisers a favor by making sure that no time, bandwidth, or impressions are wasted on people who definately will not respond to any kind of ad. So please, filter the ads out if you feel that strongly about it, in fact, I'll pitch you some ideas further on in this article in which our ad system could help you filter out the ads which is why I'm posting this.

...but too many people ignore banner ads, and nobody clicks on them! Advertising sucks! Free your head! Prioritize, man!

Yes, many people, including myself, scroll right past banner ads and ignore them completely. But chances are you did glance at many of the ads in a web given page, perhaps you saw a logo or brand name. In that sense the ad delivered just what it intended. It's called "branding": advertising for the sake of increased brand recognition and its most of what large advertisers hope for when advertsing in any medium including the web. Smaller advertisers will obsess over response to each ad, whether that be a click, or even a sale, and thus they become very unhappy when the click-thru is not to their satisfaction. So just because click-thru percentages are low across the board doesn't mean Internet advertising is doomed, but rather advertisers expectations and ad pricing schemes are changing accordingly. The smallest fish in the pond may be doomed but the pond remains.

What can we expect from OSDN web sites as far as ad banners? Bigger fatter ads? More ads per page? Flashing noisy ads that will read my browser cache and report all suspicous keywords to the NSA?

As you might expect, we are debating internally what OSDN sites can do to stay competitive in the ad banner business. Right now we are not competitive in many areas: we only accept the most basic ad formats, most OSDN sites only accept one ad size, our average click-thru rate is as low as anywhere else, and our rate card prices are higher than most. We've been able to get away with it so far because our web sites are very well known and our audience has just the kind of demographics advertisers drool over, but lately its become a buyers market, the ad budgets are drying up and the few big advertisers still spending online are having their way with the web publishers left groveling for the business. It's times like these when advertisers can force outrageous new ad formats down the throats of the web publishers, and other web publishers are stepping up their ad offerings to entice advertisers to their space -- it's a free market economy after all.

So what are we doing about it? First we're telling our sales people to go after more main stream advertising accounts: entertainment, auto makers, food and beverage, whatever we think fits our audience. Second, we're looking at which newer ad formats and what we're willing to accept. Third, I have to rewrite our ad delivery system to improve our ad targeting: platform targeting, geotargeting, and topic targeting at the very least. Along these lines I also have some ideas I want to bounce off you there reading this here article...

Let the users control the ad delivery. User preferences. Ad filtering. User feedback. Interactive, or as George W. would say "Interactivfulness"

Here's a few scenerios, ideas I've been pitching around:

Comment forums for each ad banner:

What if you could comment on the ad banners, such as each ad banner has its own discussion forum? So if an ad bothers you, offends you, confuses you, entices you, anything about that ad, you can speak and be heard. Let's face it, many ad banners suck because nobody tells the ad agency that the creative needs improvement. On the other hand the ad may be messing with your browser and you just want someone to know about it. Or maybe you wanted whatever was being advertised, you clicked, and you still didn't get the information you were looking for, the ad feedback forum would be the place to get a response on that.

Turning off annoying ads:

Suppose you become absolutely sick and tired of seeing that "Fawking DSL!" ad or that "Punch the monkey" banner, suppose you could click a link right next to the banner "Never show me this ad again or I swear I will lose it and someone will have to call security." And you just click that link and bam, you'll never see that ad again. The number of people who turn off a particular ad could be a way of truly knowing how counter productive certain ads are.

Choice of ad topics and categories:

What if you could select which kinds of ads you want to see, and which kinds of ads you don't want to see? For example what if you could explicately set your ad preferences so that you're are more about networking, movies, gadgets, and events but you don't want to see ads for alcohol, web design, or luxury items... and these ad preferences would apply to you within whole OSDN network of web sites. Would we use your information to for demographic studies? Yes absolutely, we'd tell advertisers that we have X number of people over here who explicately told us that they'd prefer to see ads about their kind of product. The overall effect we won't waste our effort chasing after advertsiers that have nothing of interest to our community and we won't waste your bandwidth downloading ads you don't want.

What about ad system karma?

I'm thinking there could be a point-based reward system that gives you credit for everything you do that helps our advertising business. As you accumulate karma points in our ad system you could redeem them gain access to an extended set of features in the ad system itself...

To increase your ad system karma you could (Hypothetical examples)

  • 1 point for every time you load a paid ad
  • 0 points for clicking on an ad (I don't want to encourage excessive ad clicking)
  • 50 points for loading bigger ads
  • 100 points for loading a pop-up ad
  • 500 points for filling out an advertiser's survey
  • 100 points for loading a Flash ad
  • 300 points for posting a meaningful critique on an ad
  • 200 points for alerting us if an ad is broken
  • 500 points for helping us test an ad before it goes live
(Just assume for the sake of this disussion that this point system is mostly immune to people running bots to accumulate points. We're still in hypothetical land here.)

Redeem your points to gain access to such features as (Hypothetical examples)

  • Turn off all ads
  • Upload your own ads
  • Get stats on the ads you uploaded
  • Specify which sites you want your ads to run on
  • Whetever else anyone can think of...
Note that this entire karma point system is just my own personal ideas and not officially sanctioned by anyone else working here. I figured I'd bounce this off you all out there in the audience and see how it plays with you all.

How would ad system karma affect web site user karma?

It wouldn't. The ad system is totally disconnected from any web site user database. Our ad system runs ads on many web sites, so even if we felt compelled to tie it into the user accounts of any web site it would be a lot of work, too much work, and I don't see any reason to even attempt it.

So the ad system would have its own user accounts independant and unrelated to web site accounts. Does that complicate things? No, the ad system user account is low maintenance, transparent, maybe as simple as cookie, nothing too visible, not in your face all the time nagging you to come play. The ad system preferences web page could be one click away, simple web form, nothing too fancy.

Hey I don't like you spying on me! I'm going to wear a metal bowl on my head and warn the others that you're all sneaky opportunist-type people. You are one of them.

That's OK. I have my metal bowl on too. As far as these ad system ideas go, you wouldn't need to have an ad system user account if you want to be anonymous and outside the loop as far as the ad delivery goes that's fine. This user account would be something you'd actively choose to create, and if you don't bother doing so then fine, you're anonymous, unknown, you'll see the normal general rotation of banner ads, and maybe later hopefully you'll find that out food tastes better when you try out some of these features and take advantage of the bonuses.

We're a community, damnit! We're not your ad-clicking sheep! If you can't sell ads then that's your problem! One day this web site will be free of your commercial opportunist tryannical business, all the trolls will leave, this site will be cool again, and then food will taste better!

These web sites have grown way beyond the realm of affordable to operate by volunteers and donors. If OSDN and/or VA collapsed someday then the OSDN web sites would not be simply released back into the wild but rather be liquidated as assets to the highest bidder, and you can bet the new owners would gladly run these sites into the ground for every last penny they can quickly earn from them. So at least you can be glad the original founders of these web sites still work here and they care a lot about how this web site works for you, the community. And if we're not able to turn a profit here despite our best efforts, whoever ends up grabbing our helm here will most likely toss this whole crew overboard, and I can assure you that the new crew will care far less about "community" then we ever did. But that's not your problem anyway because there are plenty of other web sites out there like this one, and if you log off now you may even discover that there is whole world of amazing life outside the Internet, I don't know much about that myself so I can't descibe it to you but I've downloaded pictures of it. So is this as good as it gets for these web sites? No, we can do better here, and last week resolved to be a lot more focused. We're determined not to give Jesse Berst and his ilk any reason to gloat.

So I can't think of what else I was going to pitch here. So please if you have feedback on any of the ideas pitched above then post them here.

Kurt Gray, OSDN, ad system engineer


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


What sucks most about ad banners?
o Message on most ad banners is vague or unclear 8%
o Products advertised are things I don't care about 34%
o Ad banners use too much bandwidth, make web pages load slow 29%
o Ad click target pages are typically vague, bothersome, or broken 7%
o How should I know, I filter out all ads 19%

Votes: 157
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Yahoo
o ZDNet
o Freshmeat
o Kuro5hin
o ad delivery code
o Slashdot [2]
o Also by Anonymous Zero

Display: Sort:
Making Ad Banners Suck Less | 178 comments (173 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
It's all about targeting. (3.83 / 12) (#1)
by tunesmith on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:38:08 PM EST

You know, it's not really all ad banners that annoy me. It's just the ad banners that have nothing to do with me that annoy me. But when an ad banner shows up that actually advertises something that I'm interested in, I actually kind of like the opportunity to learn more about it. Doesn't mean I'll click on it, but it doesn't annoy me.

So, what you have to do more than anything is find every possible way to keep targeting things more and more. Drill down for more and more information about each person.

Maybe you should use clustering technology. Cookie people with a unique id, then keep a database of what ads each unique id clicks on. Then do the clustering trick: "Hmm, this guy clicked on these three ads... but this guy clicked on those three and also this on, so guy #1 would probably like the fourth ad, too!" Sorta like moviecritic.com .

Finally, give out free ad space to people that write timely, intelligent current events articles, or educational tutorials, or whatever. If ad banners were more than just corporate product placement, people wouldn't hate them so much.


Yes, I have a blog.

donating ad space (4.60 / 10) (#7)
by rusty on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:49:07 PM EST

I'd really like to give some ad space to interesting projects or people. I think that should definitely be considered.

Also, a few times, the idea has come up here of having a paid promotional area, where basically companies can post press releases (and other kinds of projects can promote themselves). Possibly posting would be free for non-corporate projects, and paid at some kind of reasonable rate for companies posting PR.

I have no idea if any companies would actually pay to post press releases, considering that the vast majority of tech "news" is just press releases anyway, but it'd be interesting to find out. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I am interested (4.33 / 3) (#39)
by Midnight Ryder on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:57:05 PM EST

Hi Rusty -

Also, a few times, the idea has come up here of having a paid promotional area, where basically companies can post press releases (and other kinds of projects can promote themselves). Possibly posting would be free for non-corporate projects, and paid at some kind of reasonable rate for companies posting PR.

I'm always looking for more 'interesting' advertising options (however, my money is very limited at the moment - like, oh, almost non-existant ;-) However, I think this would be a really cool idea / feature (and not just at Kuro5hin)

I have no idea if any companies would actually pay to post press releases, considering that the vast majority of tech "news" is just press releases anyway, but it'd be interesting to find out. :-)

I'd be interested because it provides near-instant feedback to what the potential customers that are affected by the Press Release are thinking about it, and the opportunity to answer questions the Press Release might have brought up! Granted - for me, Kuro5hin.org isn't the ultimate place for something like this (because I'm a game developer, not a high-tech whiz-bang newest Internet technolgy developer ;-)

Heck, I've already got one thing that be interesting to watch people's opinion - I've been setting on a Press Release over a Microsoft contract for a while, but, haven't released.

Anyway - if you ever implement something like this, I'd love to know about it :-)

As a K5 reader - this could be interesting, but, just like advertisments, I would skip anything that wasn't immediately interesting to myself (or had some sort of 'pull' that got my attention. Plus, there's always the concern of K5 becomming a little 'too' sponsored - IE, there should be some serious indication that it's a company-submitted advertisement / press release, not a 'story' per se. I'd hate to start reading stuff, and suddenly realize "wait... this sounds like marketspeak....!"

Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things

[ Parent ]
PR Section (4.00 / 3) (#59)
by rusty on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:18:06 AM EST

Yeah, if we ever did anything like that, it would be *really* clear that it was paid PR. Stuff would probably appear in it's own section, or possibly it could appear in normal sections as applicable, but with clear notice that it is a paid posting. Might even include how much it cost too, just for kicks. :-)

What makes me think it's an idea that isn't totally without merit is what you bring up -- that there would be the usual forum attached to each paid posting. Anything that forces corps to confront their own customers is a Good Thing, IMO. It's high time we ended the ingrained culture of fear that companies have for their customers and the loathing that customers have for their suppliers.

Still, it's a highly theoretical concept at the moment. If we ever do it, you'll absolutely know. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Create a Paid Section, but keep the queue (4.33 / 3) (#108)
by gauntlet on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:21:00 PM EST

I'm not clear on the difference between topics and sections, but what I'm thinking is, create an "AD" icon, and allow advertisements into any section to which they legitimately apply. But make them go through the queue to get there.

Make a different submission page that requires a credit card, and the user agrees to pay $X for the privilege of posting to the queue, $Y if it gets posted, or $Y+Z if it gets posted to the front page. Have the fact that it is an ad visible at all times (including in the submission queue, so people can opt-in on editing it). Then, create a user preference to filter out paid advertisements. If they want our mind-share, they can share their minds.

This will have the (positive, I think) side-effect that articles that are interesting, but are construed by the community as advertising will be voted down with editorial comments to the effect of "This feels like an ad. Pay the $5."

I'm perfectly willing to read something written as an advertisement by Microsoft if it's interesting, and if there's a good discussion to be had. I'm even willing to go to the trouble of reading and voting on a submission, given the knowledge that the submittor has paid for the privilege, and the site of which I am a part will benefit. I think most of us would feel the same way. And for those that don't, they can opt-out.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

put news.com and zdnet out of business! (3.75 / 4) (#49)
by kellan on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:29:12 AM EST

If K5 starts posting press releases then what would news.com and zdnet do? They'ld have lost their unique place in the market as the voice of the industry.

Not only that, it would probably be cheaper for the companies to post to k5, because they wouldn't have to pay a PR firm to place the press releases for them, and then buy all those ad impressions to expidite the news stories getting written.


[ Parent ]

Doubleclick (4.50 / 6) (#31)
by fross on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:34:52 PM EST

Maybe you should use clustering technology. Cookie people with a unique id, then keep a database of what ads each unique id clicks on. Then do the clustering trick: "Hmm, this guy clicked on these three ads... but this guy clicked on those three and also this on, so guy #1 would probably like the fourth ad, too!" Sorta like moviecritic.com .

This is exactly what doubleclick (among others) already does. and people get completely up in arms about privacy issues and whatnot. i guess you cant combine "i want to have stuff targeted and what i like" and "i dont want anyone to know what i like or do".


[ Parent ]

Just a note about ownership... (4.58 / 17) (#2)
by rusty on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:41:41 PM EST

If OSDN and/or VA collapsed someday then the OSDN web sites would not be simply released back into the wild but rather be liquidated as assets to the highest bidder...
I just wanted to note, before someone panics, that this doesn't actually include us. K5 is not an OSDN asset. This article was meant to be cross-site, so some of it isn't as strongly applicable here as on, say, slashdot.

Nevertheless, the ideas here and your feedback will very much apply here, so do let us know what you think.

Not the real rusty

... really? (3.70 / 10) (#8)
by Philipp on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:50:19 PM EST

So, what happens if OSDN goes down and takes the advertising deal with it. You are suddenly in the situation where you don't have any income anymore, but you got used to it. What are going to do then?

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]
It would suck... we'd go on (4.42 / 7) (#21)
by rusty on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 08:09:34 PM EST

Yeah, that would suck. I'd have to get a regular job again, and wedge K5 support back into my spare minutes, or we'd have to find a network that was doing better. Still, K5 would go on. If I absolutely couldn't afford the time or energy to support it, I'd turn it over to someone who could. I wouldn't fret too much.

But we do really really appreciate having the income. I've gotten more Scoop code written in the last week than I have in the six months before that.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

There's always the K5 community. (4.00 / 12) (#24)
by kwsNI on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 08:26:33 PM EST

I think the K5 community would be there to support this site if OSDN did fail - at least long enough for you to find another source of income.

OSDN isn't the only way to make money. And if you really needed to spend less time with K5, I'm sure you'll find others out there that would be more than willing to volunteer their time to keeping K5 one of the best sites online.

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]

If I had a buck... (2.25 / 4) (#104)
by fester on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 11:51:03 AM EST

..everytime anyone said "community" on K5, I'd move to Cancun and never work a day again.

[ Parent ]
Retirement fund... (3.80 / 5) (#147)
by kwsNI on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:30:04 PM EST

Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community, Community.

Just thought I'd start you a retirement fund.

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]

you ought to spread the word... (3.28 / 7) (#9)
by regeya on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:53:21 PM EST

I know of at least one "serious" journalist type (won't tell you who, but he's concerned with freedom in the binary world) who went on a major, major rant when he found out about the OSDN ads here...he refuses not only to write anything here, but to even consider looking at kuro5hin because of the supposed OSDN "ownership." Then again, save your breath, the guy doesn't want to learn any better. He wouldn't be able to rant as much then.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Really? (3.00 / 6) (#11)
by rusty on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:07:34 PM EST

I'm surprised. I didn't know there was that kind of acrimony betwen him and OSDN. Or that he didn't know about our partnership thing. Is any of this rant online? I'd be interested to see it. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
um...sorry... :-} (3.00 / 6) (#19)
by regeya on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:57:53 PM EST

It was actually on IRC, and I don't have a log. I'm being totally serious and totally honest here, though. :-} I don't know if it's the OSDN connection or not...he's given to rant a lot on IRC (don't we all? :-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Tease.. (3.33 / 6) (#55)
by driph on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:13:00 AM EST

You tease you...

Although I do question his ability as a reporter if he hasn't managed to figure out the nature of the K5/OSDN relationship by now... :]

OT:By the way, glad to see you've stayed around...

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
some feedback, and adwords. (4.64 / 17) (#3)
by kellan on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:42:45 PM EST

This is one of the most clueful conversations about banner ads I've seen. I still don't think they are neccessary, but as long as we are thinking inside the box this is very creative.

Some quick feedback:

  • You're probably right micropayments and subscriptions would never work for a site like k5. There are too many sites similiar enough to k5, that I imagine you would quickly see zero growth, and the community would stagnate. Not to mention the conundrums of charging people to participate in a site built by the community.

  • I really like the idea about being able to give feedback on particular ads, block annoying ads, reward creative or informative content. However, I think the ad system karma idea is a total dud. It suffers from many of the same problems as micropayments, namely too damn complicated, and unpredictable. It would also just be dieing to be abused, trolled, and manipulated.

    Its also overkill. I imagine the motivation behind it is to reassure advertisers, but it seems unneccesary. I severly doubt that each visitor will take the time to block each banner ad. As long as their reaction to the ad is neutral, they'll probably go on ignoring it. Why not start with a simple system, and add complexity as neccessary?

  • Take a look at google's adwords. If ads are a neccessary evil, lets at least make them, a quick to load, relevant, and easy to use neccessary evil, shall we? Most of the OSDN websites categorize their content in several different fashions. Text ads that correspond to these various classifications would seem to make the most sense. Also an ad consisting of a blurb, and a url is much easier for a small time advertiser to produce. Cheap, cheapilly produced ads could really lead to a renissance in your advertiser base. Imagine open source project leads taking out $15 dollar ads for developers, or beta-testers. That would be so much cooler then large corporate banner ads.

  • Whatever you do, try to avoid the obvious flaws of the current banner ad system. The ads should not have a perceptible impact on the loading time of the page on a reasonably fast connection. None of these hanging pages as the browser tries to download an image from an overtaxed DoubleClick server. When and if I click on an add, I should be taken somewhere relevant to the ad, otherwise I will (and have) stop click on them. And can we keep cookies to a minimum?

(i tried to be good, and wait to post a topical comment until it got out of the queue, but....)

Great machine learning problem! (3.57 / 7) (#4)
by Philipp on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:43:57 PM EST

As a previous poster (and you) pointed out, it is all about targeted advertising. Luckily, here at kuro5hin we know a lot about the users, since they post so many stories, comments and diaries. If you throw these together with ad-clicking habits, you can devise a machine learning method to figure which users like which kind of advertising. So, you deliver them the advertising they want. Come to think of it, marketers might be interested in this kind of information as well, so you could sell it to them. Maybe it even helps the FBI to track done loonies. This is so cool!

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
Good ideas. (4.42 / 14) (#5)
by Hillgiant on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:45:21 PM EST

Its nice to see that someone out there is putting some thought into banner ads from a user perspective. I love most of your user options. I have often wanted to comment on stupid ads or ban whole classes of ads. I hate popups, flash, and whatever-the-streaming-POS-format-that-C|NET-is-using-for-the-stupid-monster-middle-of-the-article-freaking-infomertial-things. *pant* *pant* *eyes rolls* *mouth foams* You get the idea.

Like I said: most of your ideas are good. The karma one though is a little weak. I could care less if you give me a scoobie snack every time I jump through a hoop. I will lie on the surveys. I will NEVER volentarily download a flash ad. At most I would figure out the most painless way to get to the "turn off all ads" level and leave it at that. The only scoobie snack I would be interested in is a way to turn off the animation. Twitchy ad banners only detract from the browsing experience IMHO. I got so tired of hitting the [ESC] key every time a page loaded that I decided to disable animated gifs alltogether. As an aside: some ads look really odd when only the first frame is loaded.

As for the "post your own ad" scoobie snack: The potential for abuse is extrodinary. >=] This options would opent the flood gates to a whole new class of troll.

"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny

if it were the real world (3.76 / 13) (#6)
by Seumas on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:48:24 PM EST

The thing is, in the real world, someone performs a service for you and you give them money. In the online world, you give people free stuff and they take your free stuff. Case closed. Advertising, even when you find a legit advertising company that won't either bilk you or provide a zillion crazy restrictions, just doesn't really pay the bills.

Either you run things for free and let people walk all over you, or hope to god your service online is good enough that people will pay for it if you make them, instead of turning away.

I've been running my site for a couple years now and have put so much time into it that I think I'm probably a little crazy for it. I don't plan to put advertising on it, because it's near impossible to succeed at that -- plus, it makes a site look extremely shitty.

Once I redo my site with mod_perl and SQL and tighten some features up, maybe I'll start charging. But considering I'm still learning SQL, am only an intermediate perl coder (at best) and there is a ton of code to handle, this may be a long time coming.

I'm not sure why so many of us webmasters are like this -- I guess we are just masochists at heart.
I just read K5 for the articles.

re Subscriptions/Tip Jar && Karma (3.66 / 12) (#10)
by tetsuo on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:04:58 PM EST

True, at 1600x1200 they don't take up that much of my screen; still I dislike ads.

While I somewhat like the idea of 'karma' (insomuch as one from k5 can like a term used on "the other site") why not let registered users decide wether or not to see the ads via a subscription system?

If I could, say, paypal k5 $2 a month not to see ads, I probably would; I like the site, I wouldn't mind paying, and it's more money than they'd make off of ads from me. What are impressions now? $0.001? If that? $2 a month is a killing compared to.

What I see is something akin to allowing someone to enter either a class C address or 5 static addresses in user preferences, checking "do not show ads", and not dishing out the ads for that user on those addresses. These limits would prevent someone from paying and then distributing that login(for whatever retarded reason, I can't imagine, but there it is.)

And of course, unregistered users wouldn't have a say in the matter; they would just receive the ads =).

My idea might be more of a scoop issue, but I just wanted to throw it out there.


Filtering out ads? (3.00 / 4) (#12)
by xriso on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:08:59 PM EST

Does lynx count for this? It doesn't download the ad, but it does show the alt text.
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
Ads: the dirty diapers of the Internet (4.62 / 16) (#13)
by spaceghoti on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:26:47 PM EST

I will freely confess that my reaction and experience with ads have been routinely bad. Spam, popups, opt-outs, the whole thing leaves a monumentally bad taste in my mouth. However, some intelligent and thoughtful discussion about possible options is welcome and gets my vote.

A few things I never, ever want to see: popups, opt-outs and ads linked to spam email. Let's discuss those in order. Bear in mind these are all personal opinion, and not applicable to anyone else who doesn't chime in to agree.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I've moved my website from at least two different hosts because they started using popups that I had no control over. I accept that it's their site and they're going to place ads if they want to. I also accept that my option is to not draw traffic to their site when they impose this upon me. Popups are intrusive, annoying and guarantee I will never follow the link or give my money to that business so long as there are alternatives. I'm vindictive that way. Forcing me to close a window I didn't choose to open (which frequently results in even more windows being opened until I can get the drop on them and close them before the javascript finishes loading) annoys me and helps me decide just how much I do not like the advertiser or the host who allow such ads. Popups are bad, and will always return negative results for me.

Opt-out is all the rage among the advertising industry. Right now there's even a battle brewing in Congress over legislation requiring opt-in or opt-out advertising. Opt-out means that the advertiser has free and clear rights to advertise their service or product so long as the consumer does not deliberately request not to be bothered by those advertisements. Opt-in means that the advertiser may not broadcast their advertisements to consumers unless those consumers have deliberately indicated that they are interested in the products or services being advertised. Obviously, the advertising industry prefers the former, as it allows them to reach a much broader spectrum to increase their markets. We, as users and consumers, prefer opt-in because we don't like dealing with spam. Let's look at some very real consequences of opt-out legislation. It means that all fifty of the junk email spammers who flooded my inbox in the past couple of days may do so as long as they provide a means for me to "opt-out" from future advertisements from them. This does not mean that they cannot sell my email address to someone else before removing me from their list. So I would have to take the time to go through each of those emails to find the "opt-out" requirements and satisfy them. And if (gods forbid) any of those options fail (bad email address or web address, no option provided, etc), it is beholden on me to track down the source of the spam email and report them to the necessary authorities. All of these consequences mean, in sum and in part, that I must make extra effort to avoid being spammed by advertisements I don't want. And spammers wonder why I request their email and web accounts be shut down. Spam email isn't mentioned in the topic of banner ads, but it's related. They're advertisements I didn't ask for, but must legally suffer (even if I have to go to extreme lengths to avoid) because companies of unknown legitimacy hope to attract my business. I therefore favor opt-in advertising, even if it does restrict marketing possibilities. If I'm interested, I'll look you up. If I'm not interested, the best you can hope for is to annoy me.

Which brings me to my last point: banner ads linked to spam email. I mention this because I've caught several banner ads that mention in very small letters (fine print takes a whole new meaning) "by clicking on this link you agree to receive email advertisements..." or the like. Yet another way to guarantee that I will not ever consider using the service or product advertised, particularly since the ad was designed in such a way that the company can claim a legitimate agreement was made, but set up so the users wouldn't notice if they didn't look closely enough. Never, ever do this.

Okay, so I've listed my complaints about advertising on the Internet. What would I accept or want? In all honesty, very little. I really don't like ads taking control of my browser (I refuse to return to one site after they set up a banner ad frame I found annoying but couldn't disable) or website and I don't like large blocks of screen flashing annoying animation to try to get my attention. I'm not an impulse buyer. On my website, I advertise a number of sites that I'm interested in, support or have used services from and provide the link as a courtesy. This link is not set up so my readers are forced to deal with the banners if they don't want to. They are notified by the link that such advertisements are there, and if they're interested they can follow them. It's very passive and I'm sure it doesn't generate a lot of traffic (clue!), but it's fair to the users while providing the sites advertised a chance to get some attention. That may be something you want to think about.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

Foreign Spam and Law. (3.60 / 5) (#26)
by HypoLuxa on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 08:56:12 PM EST

Something to consider is the point of this Wired News article (I'm linking wired enough this week that I should count as an advertiser). The article takes a look at spam to US users, and what our Congress is attempting to do to limit spam, and makes note that more and more spam is coming from foriegn countries.

To duck the calls of "US-centrist post -1!!", I'll say that I think this applies to just about everywhere. Regardless of what can be done by any legislation, there will always be someone out there who is willing to sell people the ability to spam for money. Laws to prevent spam in a country will simply move the sources of spam to places where they do not apply.

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]

Overseas spam (4.00 / 4) (#38)
by FyreFiend on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:51:42 PM EST

Most of the spam I get from overseas hosts is from people in the US raping open relays.

Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we".
-- Mark Twain

[ Parent ]
ad ratings (3.80 / 10) (#14)
by enterfornone on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:32:53 PM EST

Someone mentioned it when ads were first introduced, rating ads like we rate comments. Perhaps it wouldn't serve any useful purpose (it wouldn't hide ads people don't like), but it would be fun and advertisers would get feedback as to which ads are most effective.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Problems with Compensation for Ad-Views (3.91 / 12) (#16)
by Delirium on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:34:58 PM EST

Compensation for ad-views seems to me to always be a bad idea, simply because people who want the compensation will just cheat to get at it. (Look at AllAdvantage.com's failed attempts for one example). With your proposed system it seems that I could just set up a script (possibly an intelligent one so it'd be hard to detect) to just load some banners/popups/whatever which I'll never see and thus accumulate points with which I can upload my own ads. If enough people do this (and given the ease with which it can be done it seems many people will, if only to the extent of hitting reload lots of times) the entire system becomes worthless and polluted.

What about paying for extra features? (3.87 / 8) (#18)
by khym on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:57:12 PM EST

For instance, paying $2/month (payed for by the year) to get the privilege of getting the headlines mailed to you every evening. Or introduce a new service, sending out an email as soon as a new article is posted to Slashdot (so you can comment on it early without having to constantly recheck Slashdot) and pay for that. Set up a service to mail you comments that match a certain filter (like, say, all comments by Bruce Perens). Or introduce some feature that people would like, but would take too much processing power or bandwidth, then make people pay for the use of it.

Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
services, donation, and zmag (4.75 / 4) (#44)
by kellan on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:20:34 AM EST

Yeah, something like that could be cool!

A story. Zmag is probably the premier US monthy magazine of the left. It has been limping along, barely staying in business for years using the traditional newstand sales, and subscription model.

Several years ago they started a program they call their Sustainer program. For a relatively low monthly amount (encouraged to pay a year at a time) you can recieve, everyday, and intelligent essay on a variety of left issues. This is cool, and people pay for the service because they want it (especially as the likes of Chomsky, Zinn, Said, Norman Solomn, and others all regular submit pieces) but more importantly it gives people that critical "excuse" to give. Tip jars barely work face to face, in the anonymous world of the web, its very simple to walk away from them. But if there is a reason to give, that simple excuse that gets people over the hump, you can be very successful.

They still aren't raking in the cash by any stretch of the imagination, but rumor has it, they no longer worry about printing next month's issue, and the community has grown stronger.

That said, I think we would have to be very creative to think of a service that wouldn't cut out the very heart of what k5 is. Giving only a select group of people access to these stories works in Zmag's case because the magazine is left whole and bowdlerized. K5 is its online presence, and one must not mess with that.


[ Parent ]

Slashdot headline emails (4.00 / 4) (#46)
by roblimo on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:24:46 AM EST

You *can* get daily headline emails for Slashdot - and NewsForge and freshmeat - and I'm sure that sooner or later Rusty and Inoshiro will add some sort of headline email facility to K5.

You can even get "multiple site" OSDN headline emails chosen by general interest area. The signup page is here.

- Robin

[ Parent ]

K5 Email Digest (4.25 / 4) (#54)
by driph on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:41:14 AM EST

I'm sure that sooner or later Rusty and Inoshiro will add some sort of headline email facility to K5.

You can do that right now...check your user preferences, down near the bottom there is a Receive Email Story Digest option..Daily, Weekly, or Monthly...

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]

lol (3.50 / 4) (#60)
by rusty on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:19:36 AM EST

We move fast, Robin. You have to visit more often. :-)

Mystic is to thank for the email digest feature BTW. I love when open source code means I don't have to write everyhting myself.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

great ... (3.00 / 1) (#148)
by Arkady on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:50:36 PM EST

All we need around here are _two_ guys who sign their posts "-robin", only distinguishable by whether they capitalize the "R". That's gonna cause some confusion; as long as I don't start getting complaints about Slashdot stories, though, I guess it'll be OK. ;-)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
wow (2.66 / 3) (#70)
by warez d00d on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 06:41:41 AM EST

Sounds more like email alerts for the first-posters to me...

[ Parent ]
Community (4.16 / 12) (#23)
by ODiV on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 08:14:28 PM EST

What I find interesting about this article is the idea of creating a community around the ads themselves. Do people have enough time for this? Not only do I log onto k5 for a half hour to check the news, vote on stories, and maybe comment on something, but I spend another half hour talking about, voting on, and looking at the ads? I realize it's completely voluntary, but doesn't it just seem just a little odd?

One thing that I don't like about this article is the seeming non-serious treatment of genuine concerns. Everyone who is concerned about privacy is a nut-job and everyone who is worried about their community run site turning into a marketing blitz is overprotective and paranoid. I do realize that the author was probably just trying to put some humour into the piece, however.

[ odiv.net ]
Ad community (3.75 / 4) (#25)
by rusty on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 08:47:25 PM EST

That is an interesting idea. I think some advertisers would have a pretty good turnout, and some would be ignored utterly. I bet the Thinkgeek ads would get a lot of feedback. Some of them would probably turn into flamepits from hell. But either way, never underestimate the amount of free time that people can find. :-)

And the second point, I agree with too. I think the intent was just to put some humor in it, and I think he's actually just referring to the serious paranoids n the "metal bowls" comment. But it comes off a little patronizing. I know Kurt is just as concerned about his own privacy online as any of us are, so I don't think it's meant to paint everyone with the same brush.

Honestly, some people do go overboard though. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Especially graphic design elements... (3.00 / 3) (#115)
by Cplus on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:00:31 PM EST

I think that I personally would get a kick (and a lot of experience) from critiqueing the ads that I see and hearing others opinions of my critiques as well as other opinions. Surely the easiest way of improving the ads that we see would be to open them up to criticism and set a certain standard. I'm not proposing that we only allow Open Source ads and geek ads, but finely constructed ads. Ads that make us laugh, ads that make us smile, ads that make us think, are far more valuable than just the ad from the company that had the money to put it up. If you want to compete for my mindshare........take my opinion into account.
I'm always dissapointed when I read sigs that aren't meaningful or funny.
[ Parent ]
click throughs (4.20 / 10) (#27)
by SEAL on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:07:12 PM EST

A very good point here...

Yes, many people, including myself, scroll right past banner ads and ignore them completely. But chances are you did glance at many of the ads in a web given page, perhaps you saw a logo or brand name. In that sense the ad delivered just what it intended. It's called "branding": advertising for the sake of increased brand recognition and its most of what large advertisers hope for when advertsing in any medium including the web. Smaller advertisers will obsess over response to each ad, whether that be a click, or even a sale, and thus they become very unhappy when the click-thru is not to their satisfaction.

This is what gets me the most. Advertisers see a low number of click throughs as a failure of the Internet advertising model. As a kneejerk reaction, they start planning schemes to use more popups, and larger ads (both banners and popups), or dropping their internet advertising budget completely.

When you look at it compared with, say, television though - I think the internet ads aren't bad at all. As long as people see the ads, they are doing their job. Sure people may tune them out... but same goes for people channel surfing on a television. Click throughs are a stupid metric. Advertisers should realize that often times the subtle, curiousity provoking ads are the ones that really sell a product. Not some 200k animated gif that takes 30 seconds before you even know what it's for. Not some 640x480 popup. When you do this you just end up pissing people off.

Just my $.02 (but not a micropayment... egads)


It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

Highest bidder (4.28 / 14) (#28)
by aphrael on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:16:44 PM EST

If OSDN and/or VA collapsed someday then the OSDN web sites would not be simply released back into the wild but rather be liquidated as assets to the highest bidder, and you can bet the new owners would gladly run these sites into the ground for every last penny they can quickly earn from them.

This is *exactly* why I thought it was a mistake when Slashdot was bought by Andover, and it's why I hope Rusty doesn't allow K5 to be purchased, either.

No free lunches. (3.33 / 6) (#41)
by chuqui on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 11:23:25 PM EST

> This is *exactly* why I thought it was a mistake when
> Slashdot was bought by Andover, and it's why I hope Rusty
> doesn't allow K5 to be purchased, either.

there are no free lunches. Would you prefer paying for k5 yourself? Or do you somehow think this stuff magically is paid for by the open source fairies?

well, I'm sure the fairies are paying for a part of it, given how big high tech is in the castro, but that's not my point... (grin)

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
No free lunches (3.80 / 5) (#62)
by aphrael on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:47:12 AM EST

sure ... and when rusty has some sort of subscription program in place, i'll pay. My point is merely that, more often than not, the bargain with the money-lender ends up hurting more than it helps.

[ Parent ]
so will I. (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by chuqui on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:16:30 PM EST

>sure ... and when rusty has some sort of subscription program in place, i'll pay.

So will I. I actually pay for all the shareware I use, too, and abide by open source licenses. That puts us in a tiny minority, compared to the people who use shareware without paying, see "open source" as "free software", and seem to think sites like these don't have bills to pay or people to support, and get upset at the thought that the person doing all the work for some reason ought to get something for it.

I admit to being against junkbuster and anti-ad proxy software, not because I'm pro-advertising, but because I think if you're not willing to accept the terms the site offers you to use the site -- don't use it. I *have* stopped using sites that turn themselves into Las Vegas Casinos with all of the animated gifs, but people who 'fix' things by doing away with taht will cause one of two things to happen: cause the sites to go under, or cause the advertisers to get ever more invasive and sneaky. Advertising is part of the agreement for using a site. Don't like it? don't use it.

IMHO, of course.

Personally, I'd *love* some way to pay a fee to turn the advertising off. but I'll live with the advertising if that's how the site is supporting itself, because it's more important for the site to survive than it is for me to live without the ads.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Morality of ad blockers (none / 0) (#159)
by kmself on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 09:22:05 PM EST

Don't know if you've tried them, but most of the filtering proxies I've used allow site-by-site exceptions on blocking or not blocking content. For a long time, I'd expressly allowed ads on Slashdot because I both believed in the site and needed to know who was advertising on them as part of my job. I changed my mind when several annoyingly animated ads snuck through. Mentioned this to Jeff "Hemos" Bates at the time.

Filtering puts the choice in your hands. Use it.

Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

This is just to say... (2.11 / 9) (#29)
by perdida on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:30:52 PM EST

it says something really cool about K5 that this was posted here and not on Slashdot.


Oh, and the trolls ARE cool!


The most adequate archive on the Internet.
I can't shit a hydrogen fuel cell car. -eeee
It will be on /. too (4.33 / 3) (#34)
by rusty on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:56:18 PM EST

They're lagging a little, but this article will also appear on Slashdot. I suspect they thought it would take longer to get voted up. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Some considerations (3.60 / 5) (#30)
by brent on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:31:47 PM EST

Ok ads have come along and you want to get your target audience and reel them in. Get them to your place, scope out the product, or more likely a service, do some comparisons, and eventually see that your product/place is the best. Wanting to build a better mouse trap.

Bigger is NOT better. What a web site used to be just 5 years ago compared to what the same site today is remarkable. Crude example: CNN article from Sep. 11, 1995 compared to one of the many on the side bar today. Do I need a change every once and awhile to stay fresh or do I need such a change that sooner or later all traffic must be subject to 3.5 seconds of clutter in the way of what I came to the site for? Granted it is a run of the mill news versus a computer info, discussion haven.

One other thing, not everyone in your target will understand what exactly your ad is saying or conveying. That to me is the biggest turn off.
The readers you covet in order to follow the click throughs and "eyeballs" you are paid for, for one example, "2/3 of the world's critical data is running on EMC." this may not lead us/me there since many/I have no idea what they want nor do I care right about now.

Choice is best. Leaving the choice in the targets hand in what they see is the best. How do you handle browsing a magazine that I want to see/read. I can skip the advertisements that are either out of my price range or just a wild fantasy. Heck all of the recent business publications, are mainly a form of advertisements. Do I really want to read through 200+ pages from cover to cover? If an insert for a promotional or more detailed information comes along that I feel is worth my time, I'll send it in. Keep in mind the web site advertisements you currently are loaded automatically. So how do you let us select what we want to see? Can we collapse, choose to skip until the next one, edit or respond to the ad in question, choose a color scheme? Length of repeating?

Voluntary Payment sites *do* work. (3.91 / 12) (#32)
by lb on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:37:57 PM EST

I'm an active member of livejournal. With a growing user community, the servers that Brad Fitzpatrick could afford were not doing the trick anymore. He created the opportunity for an expanded account, with more features if you paid a small yearly subscription. He didn't nag anyone to buy accounts, but the sense of community was strong enough that people were willing to pitch in, and continue to pitch in at a steady rate.

I will admit that LJ is still a somewhat young site, and we can't be 100% positive of how the voluntary subscription will continue to work 5 years down the road.

I'm sure there are other sites out there that can do it. Do any of you know of any other success stories?

livejournal, blogger, and others, not k5 (3.60 / 5) (#42)
by kellan on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:10:08 AM EST

thats cool! i hadn't heard about livejournal or that it was community funded, but i know that blogger has been in financial straits several times, and has been bailed out by its users.

this is incredibly cool, and its good to know that people will feel ownership of, and pay for, tools that allow then to publish. (perhaps there is hope for the p2p meme beyond file sharing)

i think these are a very different sort of site then k5. with a site like k5, where it is easy to go elsewhere (however much we've come to care about the site) i imagine you would get a much lower percentage of people contributing. it might be enough, but i'm skeptical.


[ Parent ]

Another difference... (3.80 / 5) (#58)
by rusty on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:12:23 AM EST

I think another major difference is that K5 is a collective enterprise, not a private thing. Sure, we have diaries, but they're more like scratch pads where you can blow off steam. They're not the whole point of the site. This means that everyone who contributes here, with comments, stories, votes, and ratings, is contributing to the site as a whole. That is, you're doing work for us, and everyone else. I think that deep down, what you're identifying is the feeling that people shouldn't have to pay to do work. I feel like that too.

I really don't want to ask you guys for money. If there's any other choice, I'll probably tend toward that, because you already do the important work of the site, which is making it worth reading and being a part of. If I have a page on blogger, it's more obvious that I'm taking advantage of a service that they provide for my own personal uses. Paying for it is not hard to justify. Here, the line is a lot blurrier, I think.

Nevertheless, if people want subscription options, I'm not going to say you can't do that. There are some other possibilities in the works too, involving collective patronage, that I think we're going to be hearing more about real soon.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Why "collective patronage" is better tha (3.50 / 4) (#64)
by Philipp on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 04:12:00 AM EST

The way you phrase it - "people shouldn't have to pay" - may be a real misunderstanding of what that paying entails. Currently, if you want it or not, since OSDN is paying, there is the perception that OSDN has some form of power over kuro5hin. Instead, if the users of the site put up the money, they have the feeling that they have this power, they feel like it is truely theirs.

Give it a try. The IT types who frequent this site are loaded with dough, it might be easier than you think...

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]

People shouldn't have to pay (3.50 / 4) (#116)
by ubu on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:07:45 PM EST

In any case, "people" will end up paying for whatever they use. Payment doesn't always mean money but it always occurs. Advertisements are nothing more than a clever way to redirect and disguise the payment. No one person must say, "I paid X dollars for this", and therefore it's never necessary to make a discrete value judgment.

It's the same principle used for general tax levies. "Someone else" is always paying for what you use -- or so it seems -- and thus it is easy to avoid the scrutiny that would accompany more direct government funding methods.

I don't have a major problem with it... I just find it incredibly hard to take anything on K5 seriously these days -- given that this whole discussion is a grotesque parody of everything K5 purports to oppose.

It's inevitable, of course. The site's entire method revolves around majority-finding and consensus-building. If a coalition can be constructed the decision is made -- story posted, comment highly rated, meta change implemented. The monkey wrench, naturally, is that there is no consensus. There is only a temporary alignment of opinions along a particular axis... a statistical tyranny, really. Sound the trump, play the drum, "after extensive review we have implemented a new policy," says the press release or Rusty's new story.

Time to give it up and bring back the middle-management. This experiment has discovered nothing of value... except that you still get what you pay for.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
You're imagining things again. (4.00 / 1) (#142)
by rusty on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:33:04 PM EST

I just find it incredibly hard to take anything on K5 seriously these days -- given that this whole discussion is a grotesque parody of everything K5 purports to oppose.

And what was it we "purported" again? I don't recall ever purporting anything, let alone opposing anyone. I'm glad you know what everyone here "purports", cause I sure as hell don't.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Mmmm-hmmm (2.00 / 1) (#157)
by ubu on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 05:59:49 PM EST

And what was it we "purported" again? I don't recall ever purporting anything, let alone opposing anyone. I'm glad you know what everyone here "purports", cause I sure as hell don't.

You don't speak for Kuro5hin, for whatever reasons. I don't have to guess your motives anymore, Rusty, and I don't have to imagine anything. I'm just reading the conversation...

<whisper>Just reading the conversation...</whisper>


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Regardless (4.00 / 4) (#73)
by titus-g on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:54:38 AM EST

that it is a collective enterprise, the fact is that you have costs associated with running the site, and you Inoshiro and the scoopy gang etc. have to spend time working on it. Even co-operative societies have overheads that have to be paid for somehow.

Also by relying on OSDN for funding it becomes conceivable that K5 may at some point become dependent on them, which really doesn't sit easily with me. Even if it's fairly unlikely that they would manipulate that to affect the site, it is possible that they may not be around for ever, or that they may become unable or unwilliling at some point to continue the relationship.

Personally I'd rather that the existence of the K5 community was dependent on only the K5 community, even if it did involve me parting with some of my hard-earned.

Difficult call though, I believe K5 has enough to offer to make it worth it, but others may not, and also there's the student population who may not have the readies to hand even if they wanted.

Heh glad I don't have your job, one wrong move and you could have a 10, 000 strong lynch mob after u :)

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

collective patronage? (3.50 / 4) (#112)
by kellan on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:46:52 PM EST

rusty said, "involving collective patronage, that I think we're going to be hearing more about real soon."

tease. what about collective patronage?


[ Parent ]

off-the-cuff name (5.00 / 1) (#136)
by Arkady on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:22:30 PM EST

That was the name I gave the model I proppsed in this K5 article. It's a way of expressing the model's derivation from Renaissance artistic patronage and collective support of an artist (or web site or software project or whatever). It seemed a snappy name that got across the basic point (the users directly supporting a producer or project), so I went with it.

I was lobbying Rusty in a bar last night to take a seat on the Board of Directors for the non-profit (or consumer cooperative) I'm incorporating to offer the service. And I've been bugging him since last spring about getting something like that into K5. I think it was the first email I sent him, though the first might also have been a complaint about the HTML not working on a BeOS browser. ;-)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
For Example (3.00 / 6) (#33)
by Phage on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:53:59 PM EST

Have a look at this company which Compaq have just bought a chunk of.

I rang Interfusion, regarding some issues I had with their privacy policy that they appeared to take on board quit readily.
They have an opt-in model that is cached at the ISP level and lends itself to a number of business models.

Sure, it is closed source, but the model looked as if it could be worth a buck or too.

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.

A couple of ideas for ads (3.50 / 10) (#35)
by Luke Francl on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:01:30 PM EST

Hi Kurt,

First off, thanks for asking us our opinions. Ads effect us, and I hope we can make it a better experience for advertisers and users.

Here's a couple of ideas:

  • I mentioned yesterday on Slashdot that I kind of like the bigger ads, because they contain more useful information. That's the main thing -- I'm interested in an ad if it has enough information to be useful to me. You should seek to maximize this.
  • I would probably pay some sort of subscription to turn off ads for every OSDN site. I know you say this wouldn't work, but hey, it works for the pr0n industry. I sort of talked about this yesterday too.
  • I would like to see HTML ads, like Google has. Again, more information, less anoying. Perhaps the format could be a small picture, some text, and some links. Combined with the demographic stuff you talked about above and ad filtering, I think this could be a win for users and a wet-dream for advertisers.

Some things I really, really hope you decide not to do:

  • Flash or Java. For the love of GOD, NO!
  • Anything that makes sound
  • Pop-ups. This is non-negotiable. If Slashdot starts using pop-ups, I'm going to start filtering.

Hope this helps...

Second-class (2.63 / 11) (#36)
by sugarman on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:06:24 PM EST

I'm disappointed in this article, mostly for the fact that it's [META] and therefore shouldn't be on the front page. "k5: stories about k5, by k5'rs." C'est la vie

Anyhoo, I ruminated on this before in a diary, but I may as well ask here. If k5 is part of the "OSDN Netwrok, how come it does not show up in a single one of the speedbars of any of the other affiliates sites? This is based on just a quick glance through, the ones available above, and ever one they reference without repeating. Freshmeat, Sourceforge, Themes, Thinkgeek, et al all benefit from exposure on k5. How does the network benefit k5?

As for the answer to your questions: bandwidth and speed. Ad networks can best serve themselves by not slowing things down. The thing that drives more people to Ad filters is when a whole site hangs on loading due to a slow ad-server. Well, that and the blinky-blinky shite. Seroiusly. The ad should be as seamless to the rest of the process as possible.

Think about it. Do you lose reception of a TV Station when the commercials are on? Does your car radio go out of tune during an ad break, while forcing you to seek for the station again? No. They are part of the 'flow' of the programming, but they do so without hanging the rest of the system. So either get the system to handle the demand, or get out of the way.

For the rest of the ideas, it sounds like you might have something there, but make sure it is an option. If you want to run a weblog that talks about the ads that it runs, and gives rewards to people who chat on the site, that's your deal. But the ability to participate in the rest of the network damn well better not be predicated by chatting on the ad network.

Lastly, the vieled threat in the last paragraph was entirely unwarranted, and should have been enough to kill the story entirely. The same has happened for other submissions that attempt to argue with a "This is important cuz...".


voting, intrusions, and threats (4.57 / 7) (#37)
by rusty on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:30:34 PM EST

I'm disappointed in this article, mostly for the fact that it's [META] and therefore shouldn't be on the front page. "k5: stories about k5, by k5'rs." C'est la vie

Indeed. This was voted there just like any other story, so you're in the minority on that view, I guess.

Think about it. Do you lose reception of a TV Station when the commercials are on?

Yes. The TV model of advertising is equivalent to, say, if we ran one full-page ad for every ten pages you load. Think about it: when ads come on TV, you get nothing but the ad. You can't block them, you can't skip them (without paying for a TiVO or something), you just have to wait till they go away.

Does your car radio go out of tune during an ad break

No, but same as above, there's no music. I think the ads in broadcast media are far, far more intrusive than web ads have ever been.

I agree that it's important to make them load quickly and not bog down the site. No question there. But I think your examples are ill-chosen. A better one might be: when you open a newspaper, do you have to cut the ads off the page to unveil the articles below? That's more analagous to the situation, IMO.

Lastly, the vieled threat in the last paragraph was entirely unwarranted, and should have been enough to kill the story entirely.

It really wasn't supposed to be a threat, and as I explained elsewhere, it doesn't even particularly apply here. I told him that last paragraph didn't come off so good. Oh well. Read lightly over that bit. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Newspapers (3.33 / 3) (#51)
by sugarman on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:19:28 AM EST

A better one might be: when you open a newspaper, do you have to cut the ads off the page to unveil the articles below?

But when someone cuts the coupons attached to the ads, what happens to the content on the other side? j/k

Agreed, the newspaper analogy is far better than the ones I gave. But how often does content suffer because the paper has to ensure that the prepaid ad space is accounted for? Sure space isn't as much of an issue as it is for newspapers, but I'm kinda getting sick of the "paragraph-a-page" review style that seems to dominate some tech sites.

Of course, k5 is unlikely to be affected by that as things currently stand, unless more staff content becomes the norm. That would likely change the very nature of the site, though.

[ Parent ]

Yes! (4.33 / 3) (#61)
by rusty on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:26:24 AM EST

but I'm kinda getting sick of the "paragraph-a-page" review style that seems to dominate some tech sites.

I HATE that! Hate hate hate hate. It drives me nuts when each page has barely one screen of text on it, and you have to read three sentences, click...wait...wait...wait... read the next three. I usually will walk away when stuff is presented like that. I would much much rather have them load a single page that has all of the article, even if the page was literally 75% ads. Put the article text in a narrow column down the center and surround it with ads, for all i care. Just for God's sake don't make me load the damn thing over and over!

Phew. You hit a personal hot button there. :-) No, that's not going to happen here. Eventually (or, soon, rather) we'll get optional comment paging, but I don't forsee us doing that awful paragraph-a-page thing, ever.

And staff content will not likely ever be the norm here, as we have virtually no staff. Which pretty much takes care of that. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

More ads like Google (3.50 / 6) (#40)
by bobcowboy on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 11:05:51 PM EST

Google ads are great (as much as ads can be called 'great' anyways)... perhaps something like this is possible? Their ads are quick (being text), and also they are geared toward the user. If I do a search for "linux driver cd burner" I'll see a small little ad for a Plextor, or for Red Hat. I like that. I know it didn't take long for google to send me that ad, and I might just be interested in whatever its advertising. One thing though: cookies are disliked by a large portion of the net users that go on the websites of the OSDN network. Try to avoid using these. Bill
-- I use vi because you can't spell evil without it.
Some good ideas but it doesn't solve everything (3.28 / 7) (#43)
by BigZaphod on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:12:56 AM EST

I liked some of these. Actually, the idea of earning a certain amount of ad karma and then getting occational awards is actually pretty cool. Very much open to abuse, of course, but cool nonetheless.

Anyway, one of the major problems with ads that is often ignored is what happens to middle to small sites like my own (bebits.com). The problem with us smaller sites is that often we don't get the traffic needed to cause advertisers to select our site and we don't get the high number of users needed to have a decent click rate. When you run a smaller site the audience tends to be more tech-savvy or experienced and are therefore more likely to ignore ads or use blockers, etc. So that's a huge double smack in the face. And the make matters worse, we can't sell ads on our own (generally) since the audience just isn't there to attract buyers.

So, what other methods do we have? Well, basically just micropayments and donations and maybe online sales commissions. But even still, the vast majority does not spend money on small websites and have no intention of ever doing so. This of course is made even worse when half of your audience is outside the USA where credit cards are less common.

In short, it just sucks. It especially sucks when you (the site operator) can't justify charging a subscription fee and are just trying to provide a helpful service without breaking the bank. I think it's a huge problem and one that needs some serious attention.

Anyway, this turned into more of a rant. Sorry. :-) I'll shut up now.

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
Ad Filtering (4.78 / 19) (#45)
by mcelrath on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:23:06 AM EST

Should I post this? Should I not post this?

As the author of an ad-filtering proxy, I'm loathe to give information to potential advertisers. I'll probably look back and smack myself for posting this. However, it may interest you to know what I don't filter.

  1. The OSDN Navbar. I consider this an ad, but it's also so completely unobtrusive that I deliberately decided not to filter it. It even uses the same colors as the site! If this were a "real" ad, I might consider not filtering it.
  2. Google's adwords. Others have mentioned it here...very effective.
And some things I go add a filtering rule for as soon as I see them:
  1. Popup windows.
  2. Framed ads (just load one of the frames) i.e. Wired news.
  3. Anything animated. Ugh they use a lot of bandwidth, they spam my processor spinning the stupid ad, and I haven't seen one yet that wasn't horribly annoying.
  4. Ads that reload themselves using javascript.
So now I've sold my soul to the very thing I hate. sigh If you can't see the trend here, everyone likes small, unobtrusive ads. One sentence, no graphics, that's all you get. If that's not enough, then give more money to your product development people and less to your marketing department, because you don't have anything interesting to sell.

Oh, and if you're serious about wanting people to block your ads, make it easy for us: delimit your ads with something like <-- Begin Ad --> ... <-- End Ad -->. But seriously, filtering the ads out of the HTML isn't that hard. I think it's kind of interesting that I haven't seen any sites yet that go to great lengths to try to obfuscate their ads.

1^2=1; (-1)^2=1; 1^2=(-1)^2; 1=-1; 2=0; 1=0.

a site that obfuscates ads (3.60 / 5) (#66)
by SEAL on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:17:03 AM EST


Yes, this is the home of those !@#$ing annoying Shock the Monkey ads.

If you play the game on their site, they check for filtering proxies somehow, and when you click through to one of their sponsors, they actually keep track of how long you spend there to make sure you're not just clicking and closing the window.

Note that this site is one huge marketing bonanza, so if you're actually playing the game, you deserve to get the advertisements. I don't know if I'd spend the time figuring out how to circumvent them, although it might be fun to see how much you can get away with.


It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]

Re: a site that obfuscates ads (4.20 / 5) (#95)
by mcelrath on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:20:10 AM EST

Interesting...it seems my proxy successfully removed all the ads! It's a pretty dumb game anyway. But you're right, this site is just one big ad. Maybe I should add a rule to replace anything at treeloot.com with "You really don't want to go here...". ;) I'm not sure about them checking for proxies, but if the ads don't appear, it's moot anyway!

1^2=1; (-1)^2=1; 1^2=(-1)^2; 1=-1; 2=0; 1=0.
[ Parent ]

I'm for filtering too (4.00 / 1) (#146)
by Anonymous Zero on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:15:07 PM EST

I would be willing actually engineer ways in which our ad system helps filters ignore ads, afterall it saves us the effort and bandwidth of serving ads to people who absolutely don't want them, that's fine. I would much arther take the eyes-open approach to serving ads then esculate a cat-and-mouse game with ad filters, especially since ad filters would win such an arms race anyway. So yeah, cooperation with ad filters, even filtering standards, I'm all for that.

[ Parent ]
Re: I'm for filtering too (4.00 / 2) (#149)
by mcelrath on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 11:19:56 PM EST

So yeah, cooperation with ad filters, even filtering standards, I'm all for that.
I would not say such things so quickly. A button on netscape/mozilla/ie like "disable all ads" (made possible by standard delimiting of ads) would seriously jeopardize your ads as a revenue stream for web sites. I suspect that >50% of users would choose to disable ads (in their current form -- if they were less obtrusive and annoying this number would go down). As it stands there is only a small minority of web surfers that are sophisticated enough to install and use a web filter. (even including the simple windoze ones like webfilter, proximotron, etc.)

While I choose to remove ads for myself, I would not advocate an ad-less web. Ads have a purpose in our economy, and they provide an important revenue stream for content that otherwise would have a hard time finding funding.

1^2=1; (-1)^2=1; 1^2=(-1)^2; 1=-1; 2=0; 1=0.
[ Parent ]

Advertiser-driven stories? (4.00 / 8) (#47)
by zephiros on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:25:39 AM EST

So I realize I'm probably talking crazy talk here, but creating a mechanism for advertisers to deliver their own content sounds like a win for everyone involved. Of course, I'm not talking about traditional one-to-many press releases, I mean using the existing story system to create a dialogue between users and advertisers.

This would be a two-way street. Yes, on the one hand, I'll read about their products and services, and possibly buy them. On the other, if I have questions about the features, compatibility concerns, or a negative past experience with the company, I expect a reply from the vendor. Yes, in a public forum and everything. Likewise, if another reader had good experiences with the product, or had solved a problem I was concerned about, I'd like to hear it. In fact, for really expensive products (like line-of-business stuff), I'd like to hear complete stories from some of the previous implementations.

It would make sense, as well, to include some flag for indicating that these are advertiser-driven stories. People who are interested could take this as a sign that yes, there really will be serious discussion of the product/service. People who are rabidly anti-advertising could just skip these stories.

I guess, in the end, this is a pretty consumer-oriented suggestion. It strongly favors companies that are tech-savvy, deliver a solid product/service, and provide top-notch customer service. If you find any, though, I'd probably want to give them money.
Kuro5hin is full of mostly freaks and hostile lunatics - KTB

Micropayments (4.00 / 11) (#48)
by yuri on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:27:58 AM EST

What about a system that allowed you to block ads from a site for a specified period of time/pageviews for a suitable micropayment. If the micropayment tech was sufficiently advanced to easily and securely allow me to give $2 to kuro5hin to block a couple months worth of ads I would do it because I spend time here and it would be worth two bucks to me. The current problem as I see it with this idea is getting people signed up for micropayment ability and convincing the few to pay for the many. (similar to the new-Napster problem)

My question is what would be the cost per month/year to block ads if 10% of K5 users had to replace the current ad revenue with micropayments? Is this approach even close to feasible?

Are there enough K5ers who would spend a buck a month/year to have clean site and actually pay. How about a dollar per x number of page renderings. What would x have to be to equal current ad revenue assuming a 2-5% payment rate by heavy/regular users.

I would be surpised if Rusty or OSDN were willing to divulge the financials of their operation but this sort of info is essential to be able to even think about alternate systems to fund good sites.



re: Commenting system (1.71 / 7) (#50)
by flameboy on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:58:09 AM EST

How about in addition to the commenting system idea, users could also be able to vote on a ad. And then you could use the votes to show the ad suppliers how each ad is doing, hopefully this would mean that we would have less flash/java ads around and more aethetically pleasing ads (purple writing on black background is just plain wrong!).

All this had to happen today... (2.85 / 7) (#52)
by mystic on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:26:27 AM EST

when I finally decided to use Junkbuster and am on active look out for good junkbuster filters.

It is truely ironical that one of the first ads that I blocked was the osdn ones and slashdot.org/banner! But then as said in the above article, I am doing everyone a favour, am I not?

good junkbuster filters. (4.33 / 3) (#72)
by pallex on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:27:17 AM EST


I use it, its cool - noticable speed increase browsing now.

But expect to hear people whining `oooh, you expect sites for free, what about the poor ickle web site designers`! :)

[ Parent ]
response (4.00 / 2) (#101)
by spaceghoti on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 11:48:25 AM EST

you expect sites for free, what about the poor ickle web site designers

I said it before and I'll say it again. If I'm interested in a product or service, I'll go look for it. If I'm not interested, spamming me with ads isn't going to change my mind. Using an ad filter simply means that I'm focused on content, not noise.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
re: good junkbuster filters (2.00 / 1) (#138)
by psyclone on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 04:22:51 PM EST

what about the poor ickle web site designers?

those highschool kids making the bulk of ugly, bloated pages out there will finally have some time to do their homework. ;)

[ Parent ]
Yet another comment... (3.57 / 7) (#53)
by psyclone on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:30:21 AM EST

  As said several times before -- the Google style is cool. I think expanding this idea would work. While I'm reading the science section of /. or the Technology section of K5, the ads should be targeted to that category. And for sites that wish to do so, removing banner ads altogether and placing small, non-animated relevant ads near the material may work well.

  I think the banner rating system is a great idea -- I'd love to click on a scale of 1-5 as well as the option of filling out a comment. This process should not stray from my browsing that particular page though -- the 1-5 rating should be easy and shouldn't reload the page or spawn a new window. The "comment" should politely spawn a new, small window so I can quickly write a few lines of constructive criticism, then get back to reading the content I came here for.

  Personally, I would never use the ad-karma system and I feel many others would not take the time to do so as well -- everything's worth a try though ;)

  One last thing -- (fairly unrelated so no need to read if skimming) -- if any of my favorite OSDN sites did ever fall/fail, then I'd be more than willing to help sponsor a distributed community site -- I'd allocate a small amount of space for caching some content and people "close" to me could use my bandwidth to view the site. Of course this would render content and comment updates quite slow, but it'd be better than nothing (assuming overhead isn't too great, would probably work much better for archived content).

Why I'm blocking every ad I can. (4.20 / 15) (#56)
by Dion on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:29:14 AM EST

I don't really mind ads, what I do mind is the blinking animated hell that is typically unleashed on me by ads, I absolutely hate anything animated on a page, it distracts me and annoys me.

I've thought about spending a little time with libgif to make it throw away every single image that's animated, after all I've yet to see an animated image that actually held any valuable information.

The reason that I filter adds and go out of my way to scroll by them is that they are annoying, animated, globs of worthless pixels that bring me nothing and cost me time, if they weren't animated I'd probably just ignore the irrelevant ones, but as it is I see no option other than to filter them out.

Mozilla (4.50 / 6) (#67)
by Kev Vance on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:53:04 AM EST

Recent versions of Mozilla have some features you might like. Try adding this line to your user prefs file:

// Image animation mode: normal, once, none.
user_pref("image.animation_mode", "none");

[ Parent ]

Also Opera (3.75 / 4) (#71)
by titus-g on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 06:48:51 AM EST

gives you the option to disable gif animations, or you can click a button and turn off images altogether, great for speeding up chat/news/etc sites.

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

Come to think of it... (3.60 / 5) (#79)
by Yer Mom on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:42:14 AM EST

...even Internet Explorer lets you disable animations. (Tools/Internet Options/Advanced, IIRC)

Mind you, AdSubtract lets you do it on a per-site basis if you're running Windows. You do need to shell out $29.95 for the Pro version to get that functionality, though - but the free CE version just blocks the ads in the first place :)
Smoke crack. Worship Satan. Admin Unix.
[ Parent ]

Junk buster (3.20 / 5) (#83)
by Dion on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:23:47 AM EST

Uh well, there is a Free program called JunkBuster it runs on just about everything, even windows:)

[ Parent ]
Junkbuster (3.33 / 3) (#91)
by Yer Mom on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:58:37 AM EST

True, but AFAIR it doesn't hack animated GIFs so they don't animate, which is why I mentioned AdSubtract.

Junkbuster's a lot more flexible at blocking sites, though. We like regexps, oh yes :)
Smoke crack. Worship Satan. Admin Unix.
[ Parent ]

ad subtract (3.66 / 3) (#106)
by Sikpup on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:02:29 PM EST

I've been using it since it was intermute 1.2

Absolutely the single best piece of software I ever bought. The PRO version filters: Ads, animations, auto-refresh, pop-ups, background images, background music, cookies, referers, java applets and java script, all configurable globally and site by site.

(I don't work for them, just a great product)

I love the differnce in page dl speed, and don't even need to comment on those pop up windows...

my .02

[ Parent ]
mozilla kills animations, and popups dead (4.25 / 4) (#86)
by kellan on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:37:23 AM EST

Its not just that you can turn on animated images, its that you can turn off animated gifs, popups, and other annoyances on a per site, with a great deal of flexibility.

from the mozilla 0.8 release notes:

// Image animation mode: normal, once, none.
user_pref("image.animation_mode", "once");

// Use configurable security policies to override popups, see
// http://www.mozilla.org/projects/security/components/configPolicy.html
// Turn window.open off for particular sites:
"http://www.annoyingsite1.com http://www.popupsite2.com");

// Or turn it off everywhere:

// Override popping up new windows on target=anything
user_pref("browser.target_new_blocked", true);

sorry for the lack of formatting, without <pre> tags, it was easier to post this as plaintext.

for more info: http://www.mozilla.org/releases/mozilla0.8/


[ Parent ]
Focus groups (3.62 / 8) (#57)
by tono on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:29:34 AM EST

Don't most people get paid for participating in focus group testing? That being said, thank you for trying to pander to what we like about both slashdot and K5, the comments and moderation and such. I personally want relevant ads, for cool junk I want to buy, I don't want ads to other ad banner driven services. I don't think I'd ever actually "moderate" an ad, nor would I care about my ad "karma" as I don't care about it on slash. I just want small, relevant ads that don't "suck."
spam tastes like ham in a can.
This is the Answer! (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by Captain Frisk on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:08:45 AM EST

I personally want relevant ads, for cool junk I want to buy

This is the answer. OSDN could have some place where you could specify your ad preferences. Users who prefer to have relevant advertising could go to this site and set up some kindof an account, which specifys which ads you would like to see.

Then when an OSDN site loads an add, the ad server looks at your preferences, and spits one out for you. I think this could actually be a good idea. <BB>
Ideally, this preferences thing would be bigger than just the OSDN ring, so that advertisements everywhere could tap into the system. Hey... this really isn't a bad idea.

I don't personally object to the idea of advertising, but I ignore most of the stuff out there because it isn't relevant. I have clicked on banner adds before, but I'm certainly not going to be clicking on banner adds for clip art images (just what my last ad was).

Comments, suggestions, flames?

Captain Frisk out.

[ Parent ]
y'know what I'd like? (1.92 / 13) (#63)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 04:06:43 AM EST

I'd like to see more ads that gave me the opportunity to win a big, green PT Cruiser with a Slashdot logo on the side. That would be cool.


Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Unwort des Jahres (2.60 / 10) (#65)
by Philipp on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 04:27:21 AM EST

A side note: There is every year a competition in Germany what is the worst new word of the year. There is also currently a poll on kuro5hin, what is the worst new e-word.

I hereby nominate ad system karma as the worst word of the year.

Reflect about it for a few seconds and try not to scream out loud.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'

worst word (2.33 / 3) (#78)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:33:02 AM EST

I hereby nominate ad system karma as the worst word of the year.

But it's a phrase,not a word.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#161)
by kmself on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 09:54:42 PM EST

...that's one of the reasons it's such a bad word ;-)

Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Targeted Ads (4.25 / 12) (#68)
by fishy on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:55:28 AM EST

I think you need to get back to the basics of advertising, targeting.

Lets look at the last two ads on the top of the page.

1. IBM ebusiness, do you think my boss reads this site?

2. Wireless Panasonic phone, it won't work in the UK.

Come on, that was hopeless. You need to get ads that actually tell me something, make me want to click on it.

You are still thinking of ads as TV and print media, eg put some flashy image up, all you have changed is that now it is flashy html. Why isn't the ad treated as a news service? Instead of some flashy crap, give me some info, tell me what new products are available, keep me up to date on what company X is making(even before they start to sell it!) and most of all keep it relevent.

Do that, then start back on the mad karma schemes.


Egads !!! (3.00 / 3) (#80)
by retinaburn on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:03:08 AM EST

You mean all advertising is not specific to YOUR needs.

Personally I like the IBM ads, and I don't live in the UK so the phone will work for me.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

[ Parent ]
specific advertising (3.50 / 2) (#84)
by dave.oflynn on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:25:35 AM EST

Exactly! so *you* should be seeing the ads; not fishy. I think you just proved a point about targetted advertising...

[ Parent ]
General Target has been reached (3.00 / 3) (#93)
by retinaburn on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:07:56 AM EST

No other media targets so specific. I don't see the purpose in having a super-specific target on this website or any. Computer User - Advanced is just as good as Computer User,Age 24, OS of Choice - Linux, Open Source Zealot, Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes, Basement Apartment, Flossed last night, 12 Pack condom box unopened

[Note: This comment in no way reflect my personal situation, only what was on my mind.]

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

[ Parent ]
Micro-Targetting is sometimes needed (4.00 / 1) (#155)
by dave.oflynn on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 12:04:48 PM EST

Some products need to be micro-targetted. Some don't. It depends on the specialisation of that particular product. Everyone drinks Coca-Cola and eats in McDonalds. Maybe you don't. But those companies want you to, and you're a valid target for their ads.

OTOH, there's no point in Ericsson pitching GSM base stations to you if you do anything but run a mobile phone network. Even "near-misses" can be extremely counter-productive. Consider the reaction of readers of that other site to an ad for Win2k... not pretty ;-).

I could waffle on for ages, but I'm not going to....

[ Parent ]

Advertising Doesn't Work On The Web (3.70 / 10) (#69)
by the trinidad kid on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 06:22:32 AM EST

Jacob Nielsen put it quite succintly when he said Advertising Doesn't Work On The Web back in 1997.

The click through rate on banner ads has been dropping consistently, eyeball tracking studies indicate that users don't even look at banner adverts so the branding issue is spurious. There is evidence that users associate animation with adverts so strongly that they won't even look at animations. Any business model based on banners is never going to work. You should set up a subscripton payment (using something like Paypal) for premium facilities. Anyone can read kuro5hin for free, but posting will cost you $1 a month. Put a revenue stream in it, I will pay you 0.01 cents per page impression on the entries you write, or money for readers ratings or whatever.

Deal with the 'money is sleazy' issue by allowing writers to donate their fees to open source sites, or charities, or whatever.

If advertising doens't work then affinity does, what businesses does kuro5hin have affinity with (software, hardware, blah-blah) how can you structure affinity round that relationship, and nurture relationships that will generate money.

A quick way to do this would be to have a book reviews section and affinity through to Amazon (or whatever book shop meets the patent-free criteria I suppose), but that is being a bit over done at the moment...

Call me a communist, but... (3.20 / 10) (#74)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:56:06 AM EST

...why do I care how you make money?

There are literally millions of people creating sites, most of them chock-full of useful info/discussions. 80% or more of these sites are free, created in the spare time of some passionate person (like the original /., I might point out). In the last 7 years I've gotten used to vast amounts of free information and the Internet snowball has gotten to the point where it can't stop.

Not to be a hardass, but if you start charging money, I leave, period. Information has reached the commodity stage. Everybody has some--driving the price down to zero. Even a lot software has reached that point. I search for software that does XYZ. I find a site charging $29.95...and a package on freshmeat that's GPL'd. As the guy on Simpson's says: "Yoink!" K5 may be "not slashdot", but they ARE competitors. And when one competitor is offering the product for free....

I'm sure to get a bunch of responses like "but they gotta eat". I'm not saying I want you to NOT make money. All I'm saying is that *I'M* not going to give it to you. Maybe you'll find an investor with poor math skills. In any case, how you make money is your business, literally.

Play 囲碁
Well, duh! (3.66 / 3) (#111)
by nagora on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:37:36 PM EST

Basically, you're saying "I don't want to pay for anything". When was the last time you tried that in a shop? When was the last time you tried working on the Web? Or at all?

The fact is the Web has not reached the point where it can't stop and in fact the reverse is true: the size of the audience and the effort required to provide them with a 27/7 stream of information is making it harder and harder for people to run useful web sites while working somewhere else to pay the rent. That's why this is an important issue for everyone.

If there is no way to make money on the web then the only large websites will be the ones which are cross subsidised from the real world by large corporations or small, infrequently updated ones.

I'd also be interested in how often you have found a good encyclopedia or game on Freshmeat. Obviously, if games programmers and information researchers can't afford to spend months putting together their works it's not your problem because the web is so full of "vast amounts of free information", pity so much of is unreliable crap.

I take it that you think the list of sponsors on the right margin of this page have "poor math skills", I also take it that you have poor life skills.

No one likes banners, the question is "where can money be made to support the work that goes into the web?".

Congratulations on adding exactly nothing to the debate.

[ Parent ]

Do you USE the Internet? (3.66 / 3) (#118)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:22:03 PM EST

If there is no way to make money on the web then the only large websites will be the ones which are cross subsidised from the real world by large corporations or small, infrequently updated ones."

Ummm, no. Go out on the Internet some time and search for a random topic "geothermal heat pump", "disposable contact lenses", whatever. You'll get some companies--and a BUNCH of schmoes (or schools) with their own information up. My wife runs a completely ad-free, very frequently (several times per week) updated book review site.

"I'd also be interested in how often you have found a good encyclopedia or game on Freshmeat."

Game? GAME? Are you serious? I've paid for exactly two computer games in my life. CivII and The Incredible Machine. ALL my other games (not a huge number, but also non-zero) are free. As for encyclopedia: depends on what I want to know. I've never lacked for free information on topics ranging from athlete's foot to solar physics. Sure, there's crap out there--that's why I check multiple sites. Yes, MULTIPLE sites have the information I'm looking for. In fact, a lot of my search time is spent picking the site I like best from among the many sites that match.

"...the question is "where can money be made to support the work that goes into the web?"."

That's the question, all right. THEIR question. If they want to charge me money (and making me look at ads must be costing me something since the advertisers are willing to pay for it and TANSTAAFL) they'll have to come up with something I'm willing to pay for. What they (in this case slashdot) are doing right now isn't it. If they go under it will be their deficiency in this task--not MY fault because I refused to pay.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Bollocks (2.00 / 2) (#119)
by nagora on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:41:02 PM EST

Go out on the Internet some time and search for a random topic "geothermal heat pump", "disposable contact lenses", whatever. You'll get some companies--and a BUNCH of schmoes (or schools) with their own information

Yep, so what? Which ones are accurate or even based on an interest in the subject? Quality information costs money, because it costs time to get it/research it/invent it. If you don't want to pay for it you have to make up for it by doing that much more filtering of the dross.

My wife runs a completely ad-free, very frequently (several times per week) updated book review.

Where does the money come from to support this? It's not from ads and you can't be working since you're so against the whole reward/effort thing.

ALL my other games (not a huge number, but also non-zero) are free

Well, I've yet to see a free game which was up to much with the single exception of FreeCiv which had the advantage of being designed and market-researched etc by companies (Microprose and Hartland Trefoil) who did charge money for it.

If they go under it will be their deficiency in this task--not MY fault because I refused to pay.

The question here is how can people support their efforts in making good websites when people like you think it's some sort of crime against humanity to charge others who benifit from those efforts.

Never mind ranting about the glories of being a sponger, tell me how to run a website which has costs associated with it without relying on charging and/or mathematically challenged investors.

[ Parent ]

Nope, it's true....try it (4.00 / 2) (#121)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:51:50 PM EST

"Which ones are accurate or even based on an interest in the subject?"

The one that, in this case, cured my athlete's foot. Or, in another case, gave me the right answer when I plugged the numbers in. There are very few people who would take the time to create an entire medical or scientific site full of fake facts just for the purpose of tricking me for a few minutes.

"Quality information costs money, because it costs time to get it/research it/invent it."

From scratch, yes. But it clearly doesn't cost all that much later on--look how much is out there. I'm not arguing theory here--I'm saying look on the Internet, right now see all that information? It's free.

"...you can't be working since you're so against the whole reward/effort thing."

Could you provide a quote where I say I'm against "the whole reward/effort thing"? What I'm against is paying for something I don't need or can get elsewhere. The company I work for can't get programs written without a programmer--so they pay me. *I* am perfectly capable of finding out that Mandrake 8.0 is out (or that Natalie Portman is hot) so I don't need to pay for /.

I've yet to see a free game...which had the advantage of being designed and market-researched etc by companies..."

Nonetheless, I download free games and have fun playing them. For me the fun comes from the concept--maybe for you the fun comes from the market-research.

"The question here is how can people support their efforts in making good websites when people like you think it's some sort of crime against humanity to charge others who benifit from those efforts."

Again, please provide a quote (from ME) saying that I want them to get no money. What I WANT is to pay what the product or service is WORTH. If it's worth nothing, I pay nothing.

"...tell me how to run a website which has costs associated with it without relying on charging and/or mathematically challenged investors."

Here's a way:

Come up with a product or service that people are willing to pay for
Sell said product or service on your website

If you don't want to follow that proven formula, you are on your own.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Och! (3.00 / 1) (#131)
by nagora on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:48:40 PM EST

I'm begining to think I'm dealing with an Eliza here.

You keep saying that you will not pay for useful information etc. which you can get off someone else for free and then ask why I don't believe you when you say you are happy to pay what information is worth. You have a contradiction there.

For me the fun comes from the concept--maybe for you the fun comes from the market-research

I'm mearly saying that taking a proven high-quality design and producing a high-quality copy is a lot easier than doing it from scratch.

Come up with a product or service that people are willing to pay for Sell said product or service on your webs

Actually I do, but I have the advantage that what we sell on our website has all sorts of legal requirements which mean that it is difficult for someone else with deeper pockets to simply copy what we're doing and give it away for free, which is what happened to our original business.

This is the real issue I have with your attitude in the context of the web; it is hard to come up with a new, useful, web-based service but it is easy to copy ones which have been done and proven successful by someone else's hard graft. If the copier is a large company then they can undercut the original by cross-subsidising from the real world.

The fact that you (for example) think that in such a case it is the undercutter who is worthy of praise and not the poor mug who came up with the original site just shows how difficult it is to make money on the web. It is this attitude which leads to the commercialisation of the web and the current situation with WIPO vis-a-vis DNS. As long as people say "I want it all for free" the advantage is with the people who can afford to give it for free.

[ Parent ]

Look... (3.50 / 2) (#134)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:07:48 PM EST

....this is a very simple concept. I have athlete's foot. I don't know how to cure it, so I go to a search engine and type in "athlete's foot". There are, say, three sites that claim to have cures to athlete's foot. One has the cure printed on the front page. Another has the cure in their searchable database, but I have to submit my personal information. The third wants me to send them a check, they'll send me a password.

Are you saying I should (in either the moral OR strategic sense) go with the paysite? That's ridiculous.

Your points about copying are well-taken--but also only adding confusion to the original discussion...unless you are alleging that ALL redundant information on the Internet is the result of copyright infringement. I'm sure there are sites out there that suck information from a hard-working site and coast along on a free ride--that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about independent entities offering the similar products for dissimilar prices.

"You keep saying that you will not pay for useful information etc. which you can get off someone else for free and then ask why I don't believe you when you say you are happy to pay what information is worth. You have a contradiction there."

You are confusing yourself with ambiguous words. What is information "worth"? "Worth" of a product or service is defined by supply and demand. If the demand is high ("I really need to know this!") and the supply low ("web searches come up empty") I'll pay. But the exact opposite holds for most of the information I need. The demand is pretty low ("my foot is itchy, how can I stop it") and the supply is very very large ("web hits in the 10's of thousands"). Therefore the worth is extremely low. Thus when a site asks me to pay a high price, I just scoff "I can get the same thing across the street for free".

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
You are exactly correct! (none / 0) (#166)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:13:22 PM EST

(1) Why pay for a subscription to a cooking site when soar (searchable online archive of recipes) exists? It is possible that some of the 70,000 recipes in the soar database are copyright infringements, but I doubt that all (or anything approaching a majority) are. Most are home made recipes that one person or the other contributed. The only reason for someone to pay for a cooking sight when places like soar exist is if the cooking sight offers something that soar (or any other freely available resource) doesn't.

(2) The value of any object is only what people attribute to that object. The for-fee contents of most web sites have little value for most people because the information (or similiar information) is available elsewhere for free. There are exceptions to this. The web sites of the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times come to mind. But for most web sites, there is little money to be made in selling content.

Here is another example. I want to take up welding for a hobby. After a couple hours of searching I can't find any free welding tutorials on the web (I did find plenty of blacksmithing and soldering tutorials, but no welding ones). The next step is for me to go to the public library over the weekend. If I don't find anything there, only then will I consider spending money on the information I desire. For information to be valuable it must not be easy for me to acquire for free with little effort.

(3) It is my experience that despite the general public wanting things for free, that the general public is also willing to support quality free resources. Users of web sites are often more than willing to buy merchandise, give donations, and display other forms supporting the web sites that they like. Perhaps this support isn't always enough to cover the cost of providing the website, but it must be of some value. For example, I can't imagine that the folks at Ars Technica would continue to run the Ars store if it didn't bring in significant revenue.

[ Parent ]

Nevermind.. (none / 0) (#163)
by DeadBaby on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:27:39 AM EST

I'm glad I read some comments before posting. These are my thoughts exactly.

Please, Make your ads 10x the size they are. Make them play annoying flash and audio. I'll gladly go find a site run by people who actually CARE about the content instead of "Slashdot" or various other sites.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
Inflection point (2.75 / 4) (#75)
by slaytanic killer on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:02:30 AM EST

That is interesting, creating a value-added service (yes, I can't get the late-'90s buzzwords out of my system yet) where advertisers get feedback. An advertiser one day could go to the length of doing something rather extreme, angering potential customers, and win PR by solving the problem visibly.

Former Intel CEO Andy Grove spun the Pentium Bug fiasco to great effect, saying it was one of the best things to happen to the company.

In fact, this is what OSDN is doing at this very moment by reaching out to the user community. I hope it works, since these actions have a way of defining a company and making them think about what they want to become. And only half-cynically, it seems to me that one's best customers are those who feel part of the company in some way.

Never show me this ad again! (3.37 / 8) (#76)
by davidmb on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:06:05 AM EST

I think this is the best idea to come from the article.
If I could turn off the ads that irritate or bore me, perhaps the system could learn my preferences in the background and target the ads more effectively?
Ad agencies would benefit by learning which ads were a real turn-off, I'd benefit by never seeing that monkey again.
re: Never show me this ad again! (3.33 / 3) (#87)
by douper on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:37:37 AM EST

About a year or so ago I saw a report on TV where they were having a big to-do about "privacy" on the net... all because yahoo was displaying certian ads for certian keywords. Imagine if computers "learned" what you liked? the press would likely have a field day...

They would beable to do a story on privacy... like they did before... I they tried putting in the key words "Credit Card" or something, and a visa ad came up. The humanity!

Besides this, how could you get a privacy nut to agree to have his preferences logged?=)

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to never see the monkey again...(but then again I'd REALLY love to never see that '99 bottles of beer' TV comercial again... you Canadians know what I'm talking about...) but perhaps this isn't the way?

[ Parent ]

Killing bad ads (4.00 / 2) (#105)
by Sikpup on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 11:54:35 AM EST

I have to agree that this would be wonderful. If only we could do it for tv and radio. My one day of glory was telling a car salesman that I was going to buy my $55k car at another dealer because of the radio ads his dealer participated in. I'm sure he went staight to senior management and told them he lost a sale to annoying advertisements.

(For those of you in silicon valley, i'm sure you had the mis-fortune to hear last years stevens creek auto row ads.)

While banner ads don't bother me, I filter everything, I might actually look at some if this rating system became available. Normally I will blindly click an ad at a site I really like, just to help out.

...back to the grind...

[ Parent ]
The Best Ads On OSDN Have To Be... (2.40 / 5) (#77)
by Peej on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 08:30:48 AM EST

...the Thinkgeek banners. I always pause to read them if they show up, mainly because they are witty yet interesting at the same time. They also help push the Thinkgeek brand into my subconscious, whereas I have no idea who the "zap the monkey" ads are for, only that I scroll them off the screen asap.

Just a few bytes of code (2.11 / 9) (#81)
by hardburn on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:08:24 AM EST

Would it be so hard to put this little bit of code at the top of the perl script generating the ads?

print "<!--";

And later:

print "-->";

Really now? Would it?

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

Kinda Google (2.80 / 5) (#85)
by schporto on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:27:22 AM EST

I think the important things about the google ads are that they're quick to load, and they're targeted. So why don't you make one more side box. But this one based on some key words they will link to more information about the article. OK that may be confusing so here's an example.
Take this article - on advertising. So the companies that are buying ads are say {Buick, Pfizer, Doubleclick, Microsoft, OSDN, Netscape, and AOL}. Well because "internet advertising" is talked about Doubleclick gets added. So naturaly too does OSDN. Buick, Pfizer, wouldn't. Microsoft, Netscape, and AOL might - if they have an ad targeted towards this stuff. Like if AOL sold ads on their system (I've never used AOL so I have no idea how it works).
Or another example - an article a while ago about SUVs. Well Buick would appear but none of the other's would.
These 'boxs' would just be links on the side that would go to the companies actual site, maybe a specific page even. And the idea is to link the article (maybe the discussion even) to the specific advertisment. And let the user search out more information about it.

Good, Bad, Ugly. (3.42 / 7) (#88)
by broody on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:44:05 AM EST

I hate banner ads! I had to say it and now I feel bettter.

You are already off on a good foot by asking the users of the sites in question what they would like see. It is obvious you have been thinking about this in depth and I hope you are really looking for feedback.

The Good.
  • Turning off Annoying Ads.
  • Ad Comments.

  • The Bad.
  • Ad Karma

  • The Ugly.
  • Ad Topics and Targeted Advertising

  • The reward of uploading ads might intice me to comment on individual ads, submit bugs or suggest information that should be clarified but that would be where I would draw the line. I am targeted enough, I want no more of it.

    The only ads I want to see are like these. Actually slipping some of these in might get me looking at the top of the page again. <:

    I would like to see a hybrid where one could "buy out" of ads for the site. If it were available and the information was not to be disclosed to the advertisers then I would likely jump at it.

    ~~ Whatever it takes
    oooooh, i like it! (3.75 / 4) (#92)
    by kellan on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:07:22 AM EST

    If you started splicing in adbuster ads into the rotation, or other nifty stuff (different forms of culture jamming, scenic vistas, etc) I would definitely be less likely to totally ignore and tune out the ads.


    note to self: why am i doing this? trying to build the better banner ad? hmmm, probably has something to do with that failed startup

    [ Parent ]

    it's in the pipe (4.50 / 2) (#132)
    by Arkady on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:56:38 PM EST

    I obviously can't be certain that K5 will adopt it, but I wrote the code for it last spring and I'm working on setting up the organization to support it. I guarantee the org will be either owned or controlled (if we go non-profit, we have no "owners") by the users.

    I've written about this on K5 before:

    Like I said, the proof of concept code works and is running on a demo system, so the organizational issues are the big thing to finish up now. We should see the service live and available this spring (depending on my financial situation for things like incorporation fees and taking time to do a final version and a web site), at which point we can lobby Rusty to put it on K5; he's expressed sympathy for the idea before.


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

    [ Parent ]
    You've Got a Winner. (4.00 / 2) (#133)
    by broody on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:05:16 PM EST

    The proof of concept and writeups are well done, IMHO. Something akin to your work would be quite nice and the direction that I would like to see this wacky advertising monster travel.

    Thanks for pointing out the old articles, until now I was unaware of them.

    ~~ Whatever it takes
    [ Parent ]
    Text based ads (3.33 / 6) (#89)
    by Global-Lightning on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:56:46 AM EST

    When I'm on K5 or /., I'm there to read content, not to look at pictures. I think the reason why so many people ignore ads is because they subconsciously don't notice them. (Bad FTP analogy: we're in ascii mode, not binary) Therefore bigger, flashier ads will fail as well.
    The way to overcome this will be to switch to small, un-obtrusive text blurbs located near the content
    For example, on K5 near the Moderate Submissions queue locate links such as:

    UPS tracks 16 million packages a day using IBM DB2

    Find the latest open source news here

    [Penguin Red == Caffeine * Cinnamon] >> ThinkGeek

    These will have a better reception than the same banner ads located on the top of the screen, as well as cut down on bandwidth usage

    Don't make ads look like content! (4.33 / 3) (#96)
    by Mabb on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:45:14 AM EST

    Somewhere on Jakob Nielsen's site (www.useit.com) you'll find a study that reveals users HATE to follow a link, expecting content, and getting an ad or another site.

    Not a good idea at all, for the site or the advertiser as users will feel betrayed and lied to. Credibility will plummet.

    Same goes for those dumb ads that have fake dialogue boxes on them... it confuses people and they bail.

    QuiltBlog: WIP, SEX, WOW, MQ, LQS, HST...

    [ Parent ]
    I wasn't implying... (4.00 / 2) (#123)
    by Global-Lightning on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:52:05 PM EST

    That advertisers should use misleading tactics in efforts to get "clicks"
    Like most other surfers, I hate clicking on a link that takes me to something I wasn't expecting. Deceptive practices are something any decent organization should avoid.
    Advertisers will get achieve the best results by acknowledging their audience. Not only should they <PHB>"target the demographic"</PHB>, but they should also follow the rules, conventions, and ideals of the site. For K5, I believe this would mean short, clear, informative and unobtrusive text links that don't camoflauge themselves as content.

    Going back to my submission queue example, the ads links wouldn't be easily confused with submissions, but rather they may be in their own table, with differing font, or some other means to differentiate the ads from the user-created content.

    [ Parent ]
    Nooooooo!!! (3.66 / 3) (#98)
    by BJH on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:48:59 AM EST

    I prefer to have my ads well-separated from the content I'm trying to read - if there's one thing that's guaranteed to wind me up, it's clicking on a link that I expect to take me to something related to what I'm reading, and instead being diverted off to some advertiser's site. I think the best idea that Kurt had was commenting on ads - with a little work, he might even be able to use it as a selling point ("Get feedback directly from consumers without having to lift a finger!") The only problem I can see with it is that people would mainly file negative comments - we all love to have that goddamned Punch the Monkey thing, but when was the last time an ad got you fired up enough that you wnated to write something positive about it?
    Roses are red, violets are blue.
    I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
    -- Oscar Levant

    [ Parent ]
    Argh. (3.50 / 2) (#99)
    by BJH on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:50:11 AM EST

    Of course, that should be "...love to hate that goddamned Punch the Monkey thing..."
    Roses are red, violets are blue.
    I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
    -- Oscar Levant

    [ Parent ]
    Separation of ad and article (none / 0) (#175)
    by arcterex on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:59:20 PM EST

    I completely agree with separation. This is why I like (ok, deal with) banner ads now. They are 99% of the time at the top of the page separated from the content. I generally use my scroll wheel to scroll down by one click, just enough to block out the annoying flashing animated gifs, and go on with my business.

    Google's way of doing things is also accepted by yours truely. The ads are at the top of the search, in a blue box, and are (praise $DEITY) text.

    What I'm scared about is banner ads being put right into content in such a way that they are indistiguishable. I've seen some search engines that have the ads in the middle of search results, and hard to tell apart. This is dangerous IMHO. I actually saw something on TV a while back about an older couple who saw one of those ads on TV that is designed to look like a news-spot and thought it was a real report on painkillers or something like that.

    There has to be separation or dangerous bad things could happen. What happens when suddenly you go to cnn.com and there is a report that tylenol is the best painkiller out there right on top of the rest of the news, looking just like any other cnn story? Is it the real thing? an ad? a slip of journalistic integrity? I know I'm paranoid, but I'm just taking things to a semi-logical conclusion :)

    [ Parent ]

    Feedback loop (4.55 / 9) (#90)
    by kellan on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 09:57:00 AM EST

    Kurt, I think its very cool that you brought this to the community. I'm a little bummed not to see you here in the trenches making comments, and replying to threads.

    Now that you've tapped our collective wisdom, it would be cool, if, at some point in the future when you've had a chance to digest the response, you gave us some feedback. What did you think of the response you got? What trends did you see? How did that effect your thought process, etc.

    I remember on Usenet, when you asked a question, you pledged to do a summary of the response you got; collect, and sift, and report back on what was useful. I think this is a tradition that should not die.


    Yeah, I'm reading all this (5.00 / 1) (#145)
    by Anonymous Zero on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:06:38 PM EST

    (I'm Kurt, BTW) The comments here on K5 and on Slashdot are very helpful and a lot to read! I'm pooring through it all and will probably write a followup article. In the meantime I'll comment on a lot of these comments too. Thanks.

    [ Parent ]
    What I would would like about ads. (4.00 / 8) (#94)
    by dave_d on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 10:15:08 AM EST

    While some of Kurt's ideas are interesting - I like the idea of commenting on an ad, and the ability to never see it again. Shoot, I might even create a profile if I could do stuff like that - maybe.
    In truth, though I don't buy that much stuff off the internet, and when I do, it's from a few sites that I know and like. So I'd like to be able to 'suggest' companies that can send me adds. Obviously, targeted ads from companies that I didn't 'suggest' would also be displayed - who knows, they might peak my interest at some point, but if could say to OSDN

    'hey mister OSDN guy, this is the company I buy my cd's from, I'd like to see ads from them'

    that would be cool. I'm kind of an impulse buyer, especially when it comes to CD's. If I have an ad that gets displayed every now and then for a CD, and it's from the company I buy CD's from, I'm probably pretty likely to click on it, and buy something. Of course, this would require someone from OSDN to go out and try to get company X to sign up, so I don't know how feasible it is - especially since I may have been the only one that requested ads from them. On the other hand, if a lot of people suggested the same site, then that may help convince the company to advertise with OSDN.

    'Hey company X. We have Y number of people that explicitly said that they'd like to see ads from you on OSDN. Why don't you sign up with us?'

    My main point is, that I've been on the internet long enough that I've found some companies that I like to deal with, and I'm more likely to click on an ad from them.

    One foot in the door, another in the grave., (4.30 / 10) (#100)
    by appleflesh on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 11:45:24 AM EST

    Dear Mr. Kurt Gray I am slightly troubled by the implications of rating or commenting on advertisements.

    Suppose that a banner ad is poorly though out, offensive, or annoying. It is so distasteful, in fact, that I feel compelled to comment negatively on it, or give it a low numerical ranking. What does this accomplish? As strong as my criticism is, I will probably remember the ad just as strongly. Which is more or less what advertisers want from potential customers: energy and attention directed towards them. It is a self-defeating exercise that promotes awareness of the advertisement, when it would be best ignored.

    I find myself wanting to draw a connection to people who watch the Superbowl "just for the commercials" (besides the fact that I hate the idea of TV commercials as genuine entertainment). Even as many people will claim that they aren't actually persuaded by the commercials to patronize Superbowl advertisers, it still allows them to get the proverbial foot in the door. I'm not trying to imply that once an ad is viewed that it controls the viewer. I just think it is better to cut down the chances of being persuaded to desire something you never really wanted before. Maybe this connection is underdeveloped, and maybe I'm belaboring an easily taken point. I don't know.

    Besides that, the commenting and rating of ads, it lets the advertiser refine their ads to greater effectiveness. This, in my opinion, is not a good thing. As I see it, comments and ratings say to the advertiser, "I recognized that you were trying to sell me something. I noticed your attempt, and thought it crude. If you want to effectively sell me something, you have to do better than that." Why do we even bother? It comes down to providing free focus group information to the advertiser. I'm sorry, Mr. Gray, but I have no interest in "tell[ing] the ad agency that the creative needs improvement."

    As a college student, I see this ploy tried everywhere around the university. Promotions for websites keen on getting free demographic information, in the luandry room and tucked in the school newspaper, scream: "You're so young and hip and in-the-know! We want to UNDERSTAND YOU! Express yourself to us! (in the form of your household income, age, gender, education level, music preference, and frequency of video rentals, of course...)"

    I'm sorry, but I don't want to do your job for you, Mr. Gray. I'm afraid that seducing commentary-driven fora like k5 and /. with another area in which to "express themselves" is rather insidious, and I hope it will be recognized as such. Maybe I'm being bombastic and off-the-mark. Perhaps by reading this, you will realize that the commentary and rating tactics are transparent to some people. Oh well.

    Banner ads are fine as they are, because I can easily ignore them.
    No cookie for you.

    Andrew Roidoulis

    Probably a long one... (2.60 / 5) (#102)
    by Wah on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 11:48:55 AM EST

    (Just assume for the sake of this disussion that this point system is mostly immune to people running bots to accumulate points. We're still in hypothetical land here.)

    let's assume for the sake of discussion that people don't die.

    You really just want the real world address don't you? And a telephone number. That's the real benefit. It's about information. Information that is worth money. But, information wants to be free and what not. Anyway, that's one thing you should be after, and should be content to get it. Once you have that, go on to the next step.

    Make it Real Easy (tm) to login to your account (should be displayed next to every ad served). Checkboxes for different brands. Hell, set up a slash-site front end for the ad network. Post new ads as stories. Ad Critic seems to be pulling to off. Keep stats on numbers of ads served and some other interesting stuff. Despite our general dislike of love, people love statistics. Especially ones concerning money.

    Ditch the Karma thing, it's being overused, and bots will screw you (just read /. at -1). What you want are kickbacks. Discounts and what-not. I did like that guys' idea for having a kind-of buying club (quick search didn't turn up the link). With all the affiliate memberships, you can get a decent rate of return on your spending. Collect this and then divy it up. I don't want more Karma points, but I don't mind buying from someone who takes care of me. And while branding is great, billboards can brand, but banner ads can sell, directly.

    Another thing you might want to do is increase your inventory. You have 1 freakin' ad on each /. page. While I like that from one sense, it is really stupid as a business. Some pages have 1 ad per 500 pages of "content". It's a ratio that's off the chart, but I'm not sure how sustainable it is. Yes, you will probably chase away some people by increasing it, but if you ask nicely and do it well, I'm pretty sure you could and least quadruple the number of ads shown in about two day.

    The / code actually is pretty much made for this. Just put an ad in between every 5th story or root comment. It's even better, especially considering how the ads now are wasting away in the margins.

    I'm sure some finds these thoughts pretty despicable, but there are realities to the situation, and competition has never been easier. So don't bitch, compete (if you can or want to).
    Fail to Obey?

    insightful? (2.50 / 2) (#127)
    by regeya on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:05:20 PM EST

    You really just want the real world address don't you? And a telephone number. That's the real benefit. It's about information. Information that is worth money. But, information wants to be free and what not.

    I was about to flame you, but then I thought, "hey, that's right, I suppose." You better believe that sort of information is worth money. Some companies' bread-and-butter is mailing lists.

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
    [ Parent ]

    it's an old euphemism (none / 0) (#129)
    by Wah on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:30:37 PM EST

    but I think it's best known as a sword having two edges (except for those weird middle eastern ones). And I used to work for marketing company. Pretty much it goes like this...if you live in the U.S. and you do not "wear a metal bowl on your head" (i.e. privacy FREAK) most of your information is VERY available for a price. There are massive companies that collect, correlate, update, and, yes, sell this information. People need to understand that the accurate information has value, and if they wish to share it, they can find a certain market for it. This would help put credit card companies out of business. Or at least cut into their profits.

    I have been thinking for a while now about some type of open source (tm, bz) marketing information database, but I couldn't really get a grasp on how to make it worthwhile.

    This is one area where Europe is way ahead of the US, the protection of personal information. Since information wtbf, any protection you give it raises the price.
    Fail to Obey?
    [ Parent ]

    New add code for you (2.33 / 9) (#103)
    by GreenCrackBaby on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 11:49:44 AM EST

    Here's the perfect add-serving code:

    sub SendAdd

    Seriously, your whole argument about why adds work even if people don't click on them ("branding") is bogus. There are a numerous studies that show experienced web surfers don't even look at the place where banner adds typically go. The only reason you ever get hits is due to inexperienced web users. As more people turn into those experienced web users, those hits are going to drop (as they are already).

    I'm an experienced web user (4.00 / 2) (#107)
    by weirdling on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:15:02 PM EST

    I've spent most my time ignoring these ads, but one think geek ad caught my eye, and I actually clicked through (I click through about one in ten thousand), and even bought the advertised thing. Internet ads, like most ads, are normally ignored, but are also quite cheap compared to the payoff. I wouldn't have even known Think Geek existed if it weren't for advertising on kuro5hin, but now I know they exist and have an idea what they are.
    I personally actually like banner ads. They are simple, quick, and get the message out. Every once in a while, there's something in the ad that catches my eye, and I will inspect it.
    Branding does work. The idea is to as subtly as possible reinforce the brand name in your target so that one day, when someone asks, 'what brand of x shall we buy', you think their brand first for no other reason than you've been bombarded with advertising. For people steeped in the market, it doesn't work, but for executives, they think 'Microsoft' or 'Red Hat' for exactly these reasons.
    Actually, one of the best-branded sites on the internet is google. I think google automatically when I think search...

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    Google (3.75 / 4) (#117)
    by bjrubble on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:10:35 PM EST

    Actually, one of the best-branded sites on the internet is google. I think google automatically when I think search...

    I agree with your point -- I also bought stuff from ThinkGeek following a banner ad -- but I find it funny you should mention Google, because I can't recall ever seeing an ad for them. Truly superior products sell themselves, it seems.

    [ Parent ]
    Did you really? (none / 0) (#174)
    by arcterex on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:50:06 PM EST

    I agree with your point -- I also bought stuff from ThinkGeek following a banner ad

    I know it's a thin point, but did you really buy the item because of the ad? I too have seen an ad on /. for thinkgeek and thought "hey, they have those now?" and clicked on the ad (instead of just ^othinkgeek.com\n) and went to buy the stuff. I know that this is the point of the ad, however, if I had simply surfed to TG and seen the item (in this case the "I read your email" shirt) I would have bought it anyway. So while it seems that the ad worked (for all their tracking for clickthrough->buy anyway), IMHO I think it was just coincidence.


    [ Parent ]

    The ads I hate (3.50 / 6) (#109)
    by weirdling on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:22:58 PM EST

    I hate the ads that pop up in a separate window, for two reasons: one, they needlessly clutter up the desktop, and two, they tend to get lost under everything else and now I have to close forty-two browser windows when I'm done browsing.
    Anyway, whenever I see one loading, I immediately close it, so I don't even see their content, so it is a total waste and an annoyance to me.
    Banner ads I don't mind, and targeted advertising I like because I *do* buy things, so I think some sort of tracking system for ads where one can tell when an ad is actually used (click-through, purchase, whatever), so that you can tell if your demographics care might make you able to more closely target the ads.
    Now, let me say that the Think Geek ads are a triumph of branding, because, without clicking through, you know who they are, what they sell, and if you want, later you can go to their site and buy stuff.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    Ideas... (3.57 / 7) (#110)
    by mathematician on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:36:41 PM EST

    I don't see advertising as evil. I don't see how people could have that meme planted into their brain. Instead of thinking advertising == bad blindly without reason, try thinking what in particular you dislike about it.

    Here's what I dislike:

    1. Vague banner ads that don't give me any new information (eg corporate logos; messages that are confusing)
    2. People tracking my personal surfing habits without my permission/knowledge.
    3. Ads that are about stuff I don't care about or disagree with on a level of principal.
    4. Ads that insult my intelligence (a lot of thinkgeek ads fall under this) or ads that try to trick me into clicking on them
    5. Stale banner ads. Ads that have been in rotation since 1997. If people really cared about marketing and banner ads, they would have new ads all the time (see: weekly, every three days, and even daily).

    Ideas on how to make it better:

    • Improve the administration side code to allow companies to be creative with their banner space(change their ads daily, view statistics)
    • I love those ads on themes.org that are on the side of the page. It may simply be because they are so nice lookin', but it may also be that horizontal ads at the top of the page are nasty.
    I love the discussion idea. You have to implement that! Good luck Kurt

    ThinkGeek's "Warm Bawls" ad (2.50 / 2) (#113)
    by lucas on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:48:01 PM EST

    This advert was so lame and repeated so often that I installed a filter. There was no hope for those of us who don't know what the caffeine/guarana drink "Bawls" is... as I didn't.... much less why tepid Bawls is bad.

    The fact that some dude and his wife/gf were frowning and suggesting by way of a pun that he had heated testicles was enough to pretty much make me sick over the months that it ran. I haven't bought anything from ThinkGeek since; although I've probably seen their whole product catalog in their banner ads.

    [ Parent ]

    it's not all or nothing (3.75 / 4) (#114)
    by Arkady on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:57:33 PM EST

    It's quite simple to set up a mixed ad/subscription system. I've written more than one article about it here on K5 (the most recent was here. I've already written a small set of Perl scripts as a proof of concept, so I know it can be done since I've done it. ;-)

    The financial aspects of the model are less certain, of course, since it hasn't been set up on a live site yet, but I can't see how you could actually make less money on it. The basic idea is that your subscription, or patronage fee, is set to equal or exceed your ad income from an average user, so you're not going to make less.

    It's quite a coincidence that this got posted today, since I was just outlining a plan for a non-profit that would offer this service to web sites, independant journalists, artists and whatnot to Rusty in a bar last night. It's based on the model I outlined in the article linked to above.

    Basically, the web site simply signs on to the service, changes from static as HTML to an SSI (or other script to validate the user's ad status) and either shows an ad if the user is unknown or not if they're a patron. It'd be great if OSDN were to offer this as a general option to the users of their affiliate sites. I know I'd pay never to see an ad on an OSDN site again. ;-)


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

    I actually like most of your ideas... (3.40 / 5) (#120)
    by Refrag on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:49:00 PM EST

    I'd probably create an account for OSDN's ad system if a lot of what you speak about were to be implemented. If I can get 100 points for displaying a pop-up ad, I also assume that I can turn off pop-up ads completely... and this is good. I honestly don't mind ads too much (except for pop-ups), and actually click on some every now & then when I'm interested in the product and the design of the ad isn't annoying.

    However, I think you're wrong on the subscription point. I believe that Kuro5hin and other Websites could exist on a subscription format. First, Websites don't have the high distribution costs that magazines and newspapers have to cover. And their infrastructure costs would probably be lower too despite all of the servers and pipes, because magazines and newspapers more than likely have these costs as well on top of their production equipment. Finally, there are magazines out there that have zero ads in them an turn a profit from subscription fees only. One such magazine is Cook's Illustrated. I subscribe to it and am provided with information-packed, hardcopy issues six times a year for about $12 (to my recollection).


    Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches

    Internet ads (2.25 / 4) (#122)
    by venve on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:51:50 PM EST

    Letting the users design how the system functions... What a totally new old idea! 8-) I agree with everyone who said animated ads annoying. I scroll them off the screen as quickly as I can. I also agree that pop-ups, flash, etc. are bad. The new C|Net jumbo-ads-in-the-middle-of-the-article took me two articles to start ignoring. (They ARE better than those horrid X10 ads that used to pepper every page they served!) So most of what's out there right now isn't doing what the perpetrator intends. Here are the features I'd like to see: Ads that load quickly. The spoof ads on adbusters.org are a perfect example. A simple 7 or 8K graphic that loads in a couple seconds, even over a dial-up connection. For those who would rather see the Adwords style ads, give us the ability to choose one or the other. Because that single picture doesn't give me too much information, put a float-over description on it. For instance, with the computer light ad from ThinkGeek, the graphic would have the light on top the monitor and maybe the ThinkGeek logo (if both can be displayed in 8K). When my pointer goes over the ad, the verbage - 25 words or less - about it appears. Having the ability to rate an ad is a take-it-or-leave-it feature for me. I can see where being able to tell a designer their ad is good or bad would be a great tool but since I'm talking about a single picture with some float-over text, they don't have a lot of room to work. I would say the rating system would be more for animated banners and those have been voted out. Being able to make a comment is also a cool idea but I, for one, don't have time to comment on ads. (If you can find a way to comment on TV ads through the internet, THAT would be truly useful.) I also suspect this would be like other surveys: lots of negative feedback and very few positive comments. Likewise, if the ad link is broken I'm not likely to comment. I just figure the company doesn't need my business. I won't take the time to debug someone else's web code. Displaying ads which are related to the content is definitely a great idea. Unfortunately it also limits the range of available ads significantly. In my opinion, a better system would be one where I can specify which categories of ads I want to see. In order to do that, I have to create some type of profile that's attached to my unique account. It can be a function of setting up a user account on any of the affiliated web sites, like the one I had to create to post this comment. If you want to put in the code and use the processing power to track which ads or categories I click thru, that's fine with me because it means I'll see ads which are relevent to me. If I choose not to set up a profile then I see whatever ads are being displayed that day. The "ad karma" idea is neat but it reminds me of the old S&H Green Stamps. (If you don't know what those are, ask someone over 40.) If you set up a way to redeem my points for prizes (i.e. 10,000 points = one computer lamp) then I might think about using it. Otherwise, tracking points is a waste of your processing power and storage space. So, that's what I would like to see. To me, banner ads are a lot like billboards. They take up space, make the world look tacky (at best), and obscure the scenery I really want to see. The likelyhood I'll remember one for more then 15 seconds is just about nonexistant. And I can block them out easily, especially when I'm seeing the same one over and over. Thanks!

    uhuh (2.18 / 11) (#124)
    by A5triX on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:58:31 PM EST

    So why didn't you just ask us what our total annual household income was? Get to the point. I can't help you do your job.
    Brendon M. Maragia
    Of what are you afraid? (3.50 / 4) (#125)
    by dj@ on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:59:23 PM EST

    I like most of your suggestions, some of which have already been made on this site. The karma thing appeals to me much less because it's too threatening to the community nature of the site, but the other suggestions are good.

    No matter what, please, please, please put the ads in their own section!!! If there is anything to advertising beyond forceful brainwashing, you shouldn't mind putting the ads off to the side in their own section. Allow me to go see the ads of my own free will. That's what the web is all about. Having ads in their own section might encourage advertisers to provide real information about a product.

    I don't know whom advertisers try to target, but an ad that tries to trick me to going to the site by offering "Click here to win $250,000.00", is just annoying. It's like those spammers who put a subject line completely different from their e-mail, like "Your friend Matt gave me your address".

    Why can't we have an honest market????? Provide honest and candid information about a product or service that is on the market, without the pushy, tricky, in-your-face advertising. You may think the pushy, sneaky, sales technique is more effective, but most people find it obnoxious. Why else do you think marketers get excited about a .05% response?

    eeeh (2.90 / 11) (#126)
    by A5triX on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:00:42 PM EST

    If OSDN and/or VA collapsed someday then the OSDN web sites would not be simply released back into the wild but rather be liquidated as assets to the highest bidder, and you can bet the new owners would gladly run these sites into the ground for every last penny they can quickly earn from them.

    So I guess we should be thankful we have such kind gracious advertisers. Give me a break.
    Brendon M. Maragia

    Keyword targetting (2.66 / 3) (#128)
    by redelm on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:14:17 PM EST

    Unlike many here, I will admit that I like advertising. I buy the Sunday newspaper mostly to read the sales flyers from certain stores. Has everyone forgotten about Computer Shopper?

    I also think advertising is the prefered way to fund websites, in spite of the quantative problem well described by The Economist here. Micropayments have a disproportional inhibiting effect akin to Europe's charge-by-the-minute local phone rates on Internet usage. Without funding, only self-funded websites would survive: hobbyists and corporations. Who wants to see the demise of the independant websites?

    So what should be done?

    I dispise cookies and other personal identification I fear might be used unpleasantly in the future. So strongly I will forego the content. Rating ads as you suggest is much better, but I suspect you will be swamped with noisy 'bots.

    More important is the targetting you are tasked with. When a user hits a website, they give a good deal of useful information out just by where they click next. This can be used to target ads: Keyword off the content to determine the banner(s). Google does something like this now. Where geography is important, dig out the IPaddr and map it. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be.

    How much do you think we care? (2.60 / 5) (#130)
    by atom on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:38:23 PM EST

    I don't mean to bash your job, your article, OSDN, or anything else. But I think I'm an average OSDN user; I visit several of the sites daily and others once in a while. I click ads occasionally.

    However, how you run your ads is up to you. Sure, some people who reload kuro5hin twice a minute and slashdot thrice, might be annoyed by ads enough to care enough about the ads to participate in your various ad moderation systems. But ad karma? Count me out. Woohoo, if I volunteer myself as a test dummy for OSDN, then maybe I'll earn the privilege of turning the ads off. If I wanted to, I could anyway with the use of a filter. But to be able to slightly control the ads that appear on a very small fraction of the sites I visit regularly just isn't appealing to me, not enough to join a focus group for analyzing ads.

    I think you'll find that many people feel this way. If you're only looking for a very small fraction of your users to act as said focus group, then perhaps you'll find what you need. It will be the people who visit your sites the most often - not a very random sample. If the whole internet had this kind of moderation, I'd gladly participate. But, obviously, you don't have the power to do that. Your system of bribery is not going to work very well if you don't have very good rewards.
    dotcomma.org - Resource for programmers
    A lot, actually (4.00 / 1) (#151)
    by charon on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:36:00 AM EST

    Funny you should say this, but I know a lot of people who actually care a whole lot - and also, if you didn't care, why post this?

    Anyway, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and nobody said mine was right, either. I just feel that since this is a subject of grief for so many people, they should be equally interested in making it work "better" for them. I think it is great that Kurt tries to pull some ideas from the community - he is actually doing his job even more so. Do you think this means less work for him? Not even so. He has to read up on all these ideas, think them over, make a plan incorporating as many of them as possible, talk it over with managers, revise the plans, etcetera. Instead, he could just have gone with the plain, simple, irritating old method of putting noisy banner-ads at the top of pages

    I am one of those strange people who actually click on banner-ads that interest me or puzzle me. How many haven't visited Thinkgeek due to their banner-ads? Either by clicking them, or by visiting the site later because of the effect from them? And how many people loathe the "Punch the fscking ape?"-ad? So why not have a system where you can remove those annoying banner-ads, and instead have ads of interest.

    Somehow, as someone else mentioned, bannerads have gotten that evil nickname to it, but I don't think of bannerads == spam. Too bad, because their aren't always a source of evil - both slashdot and K5 earn money this way, and I'm sure they wouldn't do without the few pennies they actually get (or OSDN, for that matter)... Why not support that, and get some more quality?

    [ Parent ]
    No damn animated GIFs! (4.50 / 4) (#135)
    by bruce on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:11:24 PM EST

    Please, please, please deep-six the blinking ads! I'm not currently a user of anti-ad filters, but in this case I'll make an exception.

    I can sort through the visual garbage of ad-laden sites just fine, thanks. Sometimes I even click on one, or at least giggle at it, if it's entertaining. However, the flashing animated gifs are purely annoying -- they're distracting, a drain on my attention, they simply have negative utility. Even if I wanted what they were selling, I'd be less inclined to buy it after seeing it advertised via animated GIF.

    If I ever find the bastard who came up with "punch the monkey", he'd better dodge fast...

    Mozilla lets you turn gif animation off (5.00 / 1) (#143)
    by RavenDuck on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 06:14:10 PM EST

    Recent (> 0.8, I think) of Mozilla let you modify the behaviour of animated gifs. Setting:

    user_pref("image.animation_mode", "once");

    if your prefs.js will lets the animation run only once, instead of looping infinately. If you needed an excuse to migrate to Mozilla, this might be it.

    For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
    With most miraculous organ.
    [ Parent ]
    Gif animation toggle (4.00 / 1) (#160)
    by kmself on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 09:27:11 PM EST

    For older versions of Mozilla, or most other browsers (Netscape, Konqueror, also Opera, as I understand), James Vasile's Gif Animation Toggle works on both Linux and Windows platforms to do a binary edit of program or library files to prevent animation of gifs by a similar mechanism.

    Karsten M. Self
    SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
    Support the EFF!!
    There is no K5 cabal.
    [ Parent ]

    Find the Perpetrator of "Punch the Monkey&quo (3.00 / 1) (#153)
    by jck2000 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 10:30:51 AM EST

    Has anyone tried to actually track down the perpetrator of "Punch the Monkey"? I am just curious -- I am not suggesting that all the people who hate "PtM" do anything in particular to this individual once he is found.

    [ Parent ]
    Question re K5 Color Scheme and Ads (3.00 / 1) (#137)
    by jck2000 on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:52:34 PM EST

    Did the K5 crew or IBM intentionally do anything to ensure that the various IBM banner ads work with the K5 blue-gray color scheme? If so, this is a nice touch. (Some of the ThinkGeek ads also seem to be "in scheme".) I recognize that some sites need ads to live. But, as others say, the ads should be as unobtrusive as possible and shouldn't detract from the viewing experience -- so long as a viewer can recognize the ad as any an ad, anything else is rude overkill. For most sites, this just means (i) small image size and (ii) no or limited animation. For a site like K5 that has tried hard to put together a "look", things like color start to be important.

    No (4.00 / 1) (#141)
    by rusty on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:18:09 PM EST

    No, that is completely coincidental as far as I know. I'm kind of fond of that ad, though, for exactly that reason. :-)

    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]
    Ad/Color Scheme Coincidence -- I Figured (3.00 / 1) (#152)
    by jck2000 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 10:27:17 AM EST

    I figured that K5 did not (as yet) have sufficient clout to require IBM to color code IBM's ads for K5. Additionally, I suppose that few sites have the power (or could afford to) pose significant limitations on their advertisers -- Anonymous Zero mentioned in the original article that OSDN needed to broaden its permissible size and other characteristics for ads.

    It wouldn't be too tough, however, to run the ad images through a filter that turned their color spectrum blue-grey (or whatever a particular site's color scheme is -- shades of pine green for Slashdot, sky-blue for Freshmeat. Why do you guys try it and see what the advertisers think.

    [ Parent ]

    Nope (4.00 / 1) (#144)
    by Anonymous Zero on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 06:53:44 PM EST

    Color schemes on the ads as far as I know are not intenional to any web site.

    [ Parent ]
    One click only... (4.00 / 2) (#139)
    by error 404 on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 04:26:36 PM EST

    OK, this would require an account or a cookie, but some of us would be willing to deal with that, if the deal is very up-front.

    Anyway, what about a deal where once you have clicked an ad, you never see that ad again? Increases click-through, reduces annoyance, improves rotation.

    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    blocking clicked ads doesn't really work (none / 0) (#165)
    by olim on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:37:09 AM EST

    Only problem is that people that click on an ad are exactly the target of the advertisers. You are assuming that advertisers don't need to repeat their messages, and that a single click to their site will convey the entire message. This is not true. Maybe you click on a banner, are interested in a product, but decide no to buy at that time. Later, you are likely to forget. If you see the same banner again you may go back and make the purchase. Aditionally, much of the advertising is driven by pure branding as opposed to a direct response like a purchase. The average person needs to be told something about 22 times before they remember it -- K5 readers may be above average, but not by that far. No advertiser would buy ads on a site where the self-selected core that wants to see their ads is prohibited from doing so. Keep in mind: everyone hates advertising; but everyone has changed their purchasing decisions because of it. If you deny that, then you aren't being honest with yourself.

    [ Parent ]
    mySpam (4.50 / 2) (#150)
    by Sunir on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:21:44 AM EST

    I think many people have already hooked onto the idea that the readers should be telling the advertisers what information they want. Moreover, people really do want information that's important to them. I, for instance, read the ads more often than the articles in trade mags so I know what's going on in the industry.

    I think vastly more people have pointed out they hate flashy spam. In fact, no one looks at flashy spam any more.

    Furthermore, the OSDN is a community-based system of web sites. You have a large amount of user feedback streaming at you. You can use this desire of your demographic to involve themselves to your advantage.

    Personally, I would like a sufficiently large organization representing the rough market sector in which I work to act as a clipping service to find useful things that other companies are doing. I'd be perfectly happy for some portion of that to be paid positioning, because often only those companies that can afford advertising are the only ones worth considering. Consider this to be the inverse of real world magazines where the cost of magazine is a barrier to entry for the readership; i.e. only those really interested in the magazine's target audience will likely purchase the magazine, thus targeting the demographic enough that advertisers will pick up the rest of the costs. Here, by charging for position, I automatically remove small companies that won't be able to service my requirements.

    So, I propose that you create a Bucket o' Spam, Planet Spam, or mySpam, or whatever (heck, even call it mySpam; it'd get into a lot of people's heads faster than "My services"). Do this on some central OSDN server. Allow users to select their targeted categories. This brings revenue to OSDN.

    Of course this service has no users, and the affiliates have no money. This makes for a business negotiation that you are by now familiar with. Downstream capital to the affiliate websites in return for integrating mySpam into their site, thus upstreaming users.

    As the system improves, the mySpam clipping service can be used to provided relevant links next to context instream. Which is exactly what I want. I'd really like to comparison shop. When Slashdot announces a new version of Mandrake, I want to know what the current version of Red Hat is too.

    It is crucial that the information be edited to provide enough value to the reader for her to keep returning, and with more readers returning, more companies will pay for positioning. Also, really motivated companies will also pay for better editing to increase readership.

    Time is money; save time, make money.

    "Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r

    Thinkgeek: the ads, the products (3.00 / 1) (#154)
    by ODiV on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 10:55:00 AM EST

    While we're on this topic, I figured I'd bring this up. Thinkgeek has a line of products called "demotivators". We see ads for them, something along the lines of "what better way to take the fun out of 2001". Does it strike you as odd that an online retailer which prides itself in being all things geek carries these? Is there anything especially geekish about demotivation? Is there something demotivating about geeks? I realize it's humour (it seems like I'm going out of my way to ruin everyone's fun in this thread so far), but I find it a little depressing.

    Anyone else find this odd? Am I just hyper-sensitive? Don't get me wrong, it doesn't bother me, it just seems strange and out of place.

    [ odiv.net ]
    They're clever (none / 0) (#162)
    by DeadBaby on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:10:30 AM EST

    They're clever. Every geek probably has or has had a boss with the real ones hanging all over their office.

    As far as ThinkGeek goes, what does a mug have to do with being a geek? About as much as wanting a poster that says funny things I expect.
    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
    [ Parent ]
    They're everywhere! (none / 0) (#173)
    by arcterex on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:41:20 PM EST

    Yup, we have them all over the office. I *SO* wanted to get a few of the demotivators around, for humor's sake. Too bad the boss thinks that the whole "corporate image" thing is important :) Something about not making investors think that we hate our jobs or something... (To be honest, I think that you'd have to look closely to see it's a demotivator poster, as in the overall look of things, it's just like the other "motivators" hanging all around).

    [ Parent ]
    If only we all cared so much about advertising (4.75 / 4) (#156)
    by thippo on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:14:27 PM EST

    I appreciate your enthusiasm for this project, but it seems you're attributing to advertising a bit more mind share than it deserves. Unlike reading /. or kuro5hin, advertising is not a passion. Most people could care less about it. For all the hyped potential for interactivity, people prefer to let ads wash over them, at best. It's a passive relationship. I don't want to work up points so I can change the ad delivery -- what ads, if any, I will see. I want you to serve up the relevant ads, period. Leave me out of it. Yes, obviously, I think people would prefer to have ads targeted to their interests, but I don't think people are staring at their computers saying, 'Damnit, serve me the right ads for a change!" I'm sorry, but they're checking out the site's content.

    Yes, it's true there are people who watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, or buy magazines for the ads. But this is not the case on the Web, where there is not enough screen space for advertisers to provide enough compelling information. It's a matter of size. Banner ads, while disproportionately annoying, take up a small percentage of the screen. They're just not big and bold enough to be effective. But this doesn't mean C|Net has the better way, because to make them big and bold enough, you have to take up too much of the screen. It becomes a hindrance. Again, I'm not here for the ads, I'm here for the content (or offline, the article, the TV show, the centerfold, whatever). So until everyone is accessing the Web on 25-inch monitors (which would make for a damn inconvenient PDA), advertisers are going to be stuck with this problem. A banner ad may be the biggest ad on the page, but in reality, it's the equivalent of a small, inexpensive ad in the back of a magazine, and is treated accordingly by the reader.

    So what is there to do? I agree with an earlier poster who said a space for ads, preferably vertically down the right side, would be more effective than the horizontal slab at the top. Why? For one thing, it adds some stability to an otherwise anarchic world. 'This is the ad space, here is the ad.' I don't have to have them peppered all around me, or have to guess if it really is an ad or not. I can focus on it - or choose not to - but regardless I'm more likely to be receptive to it because we both agree it has a place.

    For another thing, it would give the advertiser more creative room to work with, but without intruding too much upon the reader and the content space. No doubt this will take some mental reengineering -- how the hell do you make a vertical ad that's only 200 pixels wide? Lots of stacked text? Yuck. Of course, I don't know the answer to that question, but I'm not a creative director. But my sense is that it offers more possibilities.

    And as for the "threat" of site closings due to lack of ad money, or disinterest in subscribing or micropayments, or any combination thereof, the issue here is what happens to the middle man, the site that isn't a Yahoo or CNN or even /, nor is it the one-person hobby site. Can that mid-level site exist as a money-making entity? It will if advertising plays a large role. But advertisers and ad deliverers will in large part be responsible for making that happen, and making that happen, not by attempting to overturn the passive relationship readers have with advertisers, but by accepting it and instituting the technologies to satisfy it.

    Accept that we're lazy. After all, that's what advertising is: a device to make it easier to find what we want, even if we didn't know we wanted it.

    Community service (none / 0) (#158)
    by kellan on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 09:11:22 PM EST

    One of the things I have liked about the OSDN banner ads is the high proporition of community ads, banners for open source projects, and related websites.

    Might it be possible to work in a few to these from OpenProjects?


    Doesn't break out of the banner circle-jerk (none / 0) (#171)
    by pin0cchio on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 02:49:28 AM EST

    One of the things I have liked about the OSDN banner ads is the high proporition of community ads, banners for open source projects, and related websites.

    Which in turn get most of their revenue from banner ads for web sites that get most of their revenue from banner ads for web sites that get most of their revenue from banner ads, etc. Such recursion makes it clear that banner advertising is just a big circle-jerk unless a retailer is involved. The only surefire way to make revenue is to use your site to sell something, either merchandise or a subscription to premium content.

    [ Parent ]
    Hmm... (3.00 / 1) (#164)
    by Elendale on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:14:34 AM EST

    Not sure if this has been said before- though even if it has it bears repeating- but i would like to take this opportunity to thank OSDN for funding K5. Now i'm not saying i like ads, because i don't. I loathe banner ads. I loathe the fact that TV and radio ads are starting to be like banner ads (big, shiny, loud) and i certainly don't like the fact that some less scrupulous companies have been using banner ads to track people and recording the information. I couldn't even choose which poll option to go for (i decided on "obscured URLs" because that is the single greatest reason i don't click on ads- more than once or twice i've been sent to somewhere completely unrelated to the ad and been flooded with popups/javabombs/flash lameness, even on legit sites). Seeing as how the community hasn't decided to pay for this site someone has too. K5's userbase is growing and the sheer amount of bandwidth (not to mention CPU power) required to run it is increasing. Ideally, K5 would be payed for by voluntary contributions of its users and/or companies- but then, ideally we would live with no government, companies, war, etc.


    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

    Ad filtering vs. sponsorship (3.00 / 1) (#167)
    by RadiantMatrix on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:04:14 PM EST

    I've been thinking a lot about filtering ads. One of the reasons that I don't centers around the number of free-content sites I visit (like K5) that depend on advertising revenue.

    I have an idea - though not the skill to implement it. What if someone were to take ad-filtering software (like JunkBuster) and modify it so that:

    1. the space normally occupied by the ad is filled with a simple "blocked by Proxy" image of the same size as the original image [to help preserve formatting]
    2. the ad was still loaded, thus helping to fund the site, but just not displayed.
    What does everyone else think?
    I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

    stop the ads! We'll pay! (4.00 / 1) (#168)
    by gps on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:37:09 PM EST

    Sheesh, I would -gladly- pay $10/year to -NOT- see ads on the websites I frequent such as the OSDN sites, yahoo, etc. For two reasons: 1) I like the site. 2) I don't want to see the ads.

    If my reason were just (2) I would not pay and rely solely on filtering software.

    Why can't you set up low cost no-ad subscription services?

    [ Parent ]
    You can (none / 0) (#169)
    by Arkady on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:59:19 PM EST

    You can, and we're working on it.

    My comments here and here and Rusty's comment here mention what's being done for this.

    I'd be quite happy to pay rather than see ads (not to mention all the reader tracking stuff that's in most ad systems, too).


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

    [ Parent ]
    What would that do to the click-through rate? (none / 0) (#170)
    by pin0cchio on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 02:35:35 AM EST

    the ad was still loaded, thus helping to fund the site, but just not displayed.

    This would drive the click-through rate through the floor. Click-through is currently thought to be the second most important thing in web advertising (next to building the brand in consumers' minds, of course).

    [ Parent ]
    Not why I don't like ads (none / 0) (#172)
    by arcterex on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:36:08 PM EST

    I don't like ads for a few reasons. A lot of them have to do with the fact I hate commercialization. The other reasons I don't like them are twofold.

    1. load times on pages (bandwidth).

      I have DSL at home, so it's not a big deal, but I recently stayed in a place where I was on a (bleah) modem. I was on vacation so I shouldn't have been surfing anyway, but when it takes 3min+ to load /., something is seriously wrong. Ads these days are bigger, flashier (another thing I hate) and sometimes are flash or java. All of these things contribute nicely to increasing the amount of MY time that I twiddle my thumbs while waiting for some text to download.

    2. load times on pages (time).

      A lot of ads are coming from a different server, some far away, so there is often a notable pause while waiting for a page to finish drawing because it's missing a banner ad image. Again, more of my time down the toilet.

    My 0.02.

    [ Parent ]

    Something like that before... (none / 0) (#176)
    by mutok on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 12:41:34 AM EST

    I've seen something like this happen before. Tweak3D requested that since the site was costing a lot of money out of the guys' pockets, that if you would click on a few ads to help them out... etc. Well, everyone clicked on every ad (because we all love our hardware news) and what does that show to the advertisers? It means that we like the site, but it also means that their ads were ineffectivee as most people immediately closed the windows without looking at the content. Click-thru or view numbers don't mean anything if they are artificial in representing the effectiveness of an advertisement. Next, they said "click on ads if you like them." Bam. I've found some sweet deals from Crucial, etc. just from those ads. How about they offer incentives for the ads. I would click through ads if they offered something like hardware at discounted rates...

    [ Parent ]
    And the solution is.... (3.00 / 1) (#177)
    by fitascious on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 10:17:25 AM EST

    I know people will cringe at this notion but...

    Why not just add a "spam" topic to sites like slashdot and k5, one where advertisers pay to post a story about their products or services.
    That way everyone will know the "story" its an add, or at least a biased opinion, and people can comment on how good or bad the the ad or propaganda is. This method combines the whole mentality of sites like these with the need to generate income. And since these stories would have active comments we as "users" know what kind of information the people paying for the stories are gathering about us, rather than some anomymous script gathering statistics from a apache log file...

    Making banners suck less: (none / 0) (#178)
    by funwithmazers on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 05:14:51 PM EST

    My solution is to make them very, VERY small. :)

    Making Ad Banners Suck Less | 178 comments (173 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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