You got a problem with Text Ads? October 22, 2001 12:06 AM   Subscribe

TextAds. As Matt promised, unobtrusive and inoffensive. I certainly don't have a problem with these. What does everyone else think?
posted by toddshot to MetaFilter-Related at 12:06 AM (108 comments total)

Great minds... or two people with nothing better to do on a Sunday night? :)
posted by owillis at 12:13 AM on October 22, 2001


I'm a little disappointed it isn't membership. It's not going to do a thing to help MetaFilter reclaim it's filter. *Sigh* I'm such an economist; always looking for the externality potential.
For ads though, it's the best implementation I've seen. I hope it at least pays for Matt's probably copious aspirin needs.
posted by dness2 at 12:13 AM on October 22, 2001


Looks like the system is using Aversion Ad Manager.
posted by gluechunk at 12:15 AM on October 22, 2001


Kudos, Matt.

I don't think I've ever seen any ad be as unobtusive as these.
Plus, they look like they might work.
I think we were all bracing for something much more in-your-face and garish. These ads not only don't upset you, but since they're pretty close to the format of a regular link, are even interesting enough to click on. I know I did.

posted by signal at 12:16 AM on October 22, 2001


How many times a day do I have to click on the little buggers to make a buck for our benevolent leader?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:17 AM on October 22, 2001


yep, you're right gluechunk. it offered all the features I needed, and was faster to just buy and integrate than code from scratch.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:19 AM on October 22, 2001


::clicking furiously::
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:20 AM on October 22, 2001


Great minds... or two people with nothing better to do on a Sunday night? :)

Ehhh, a little from Column A, a little from Column B.

posted by toddshot at 12:23 AM on October 22, 2001


> How many times a day do I have to click on the little buggers to make a buck for our benevolent leader?

Matt's selling impressions, not clickthroughs (at least so far) -- so it doesn't matter if you ever click. (Of course, I guess the advertisers would be happier and more likely to buy more if you clicked and read or bought or whatever, but it doesn't make any direct monetary difference.)
posted by sylloge at 12:27 AM on October 22, 2001


They actually work as ads, too. They're unobtrusive and yet highly visible. I'm guessing when they're a few going, they'll add up to a pleasant classified-ads effect, MetaFilter style.
Well, I've just joined the twentysomething club and I'm freaking 46. :-)

posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:31 AM on October 22, 2001


anecdotally, the clickthrough rate seems really high, so far. the ads have been up for what, an hour? and i've had nearly 20 visits so far.
posted by judith at 12:40 AM on October 22, 2001


Maybe I should read the info first before gettin' all first-posty excited, huh? Thanks sylloge.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:42 AM on October 22, 2001


I don't see anything to clickthrough! Am I missing something? I see the description but not the link..
posted by dness2 at 12:44 AM on October 22, 2001


stavros: np -- funny that something goes on which I would call the opposite effect, except that it isn't really opposite and I am too sleepy to think of the right term: I keep reloading the front page to see all the different ads, thus adding to the server strain and blowing through the advertisers' impressions. Economistize that, dness2.
posted by sylloge at 12:53 AM on October 22, 2001


sylloge :)
Faulty metrics if they get no value from you viewing the ads. But hey, you are actually SEEKING the opportunity to view ads. So I bet there's value to them of you blowing up Matt's computer playing with the randomize feature. At the point of implosion, however, that becomes a border condition, and no economist would touch those even if their life depended on it.

But I still can't see the ads :(
posted by dness2 at 1:00 AM on October 22, 2001


I keep reloading the front page to see all the different ads

Huh? I'm not seeing ads on either MeFi or MeTa, what gives?
posted by nikzhowz at 1:00 AM on October 22, 2001


But I still can't see the ads :(

We're an advertiser's dream!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:04 AM on October 22, 2001


The ads are only on the front page (not on thread pages) and only on MeFi, not MeTa. They align with the sidebar (can people still elect to not show that?) so maybe if you don't get the sidebar (browser issues?) you don't see the ads.

What browser/os are the two of you using?
posted by sylloge at 1:06 AM on October 22, 2001


WinMe IE5.5 - No ads, whether the sidebar is showing or not... I'm gonna give Mozilla and Opera a try in a minute here...
posted by nikzhowz at 1:10 AM on October 22, 2001


Win 98 IE 5.5, yes on the pretty blue box where the ad is supposed to be, and yes on the text -- (20 sites, 20 minutes comes to mind) but no on the link. Curiouser and curiouser.
'Course I'm thinking of asking Matt to ban me from Metafilter because I swear I get no work done anymore. I've gotten exactly 5 papers graded in the last 2 hours. Darn pathetic. If I can clickthrough the links, then where will I be? Assigning grades by dartboard?
posted by dness2 at 1:15 AM on October 22, 2001


And I can go to the All Currently Running TextAds page and see a tower of blue boxes with descriptions inside (Note the pancake one) but still no links.
posted by dness2 at 1:17 AM on October 22, 2001


then where will I be? Assigning grades by dartboard?

Works for me.

(joke)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:19 AM on October 22, 2001


I'm now getting ads in IE, but they're skewed -- unformatted and on the left side of the page. Oddly, the CSS rules for the text blocks aren't getting served up with the page. Looks good in Moz 9.4 though.
posted by nikzhowz at 1:20 AM on October 22, 2001


I'm not sure what I was expecting when Matt made that rather ominous comment about That Thing he was going to do -- but this new (and clever) ad system certainly wasn't it. Adding my kudos onto the pile.

I suppose all I can say is thanks, Matt, for not making MeFi a members-only pay place. Many here are all for it, but some of us can't afford it.

[ Btw, this genuine sentiment so doesn't fall under brown-nosing. My nose is too brown naturally to tell the difference anyhow. ]
posted by precocious at 1:21 AM on October 22, 2001


For debugging purposes : me = WinXP + IE6, all is cool.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:21 AM on October 22, 2001


I was expecting something draconian like a shutdown and reboot. This is subtle and rather sweet. Another set of interesting links.
posted by worldsystema at 1:24 AM on October 22, 2001


hmmm. Anyone with a version 5+ browser should see them. I even went back and hacked in a ugly table for netscape 4 users.

Odd that you're getting some of the code but not all the CSS nikzhowz.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:25 AM on October 22, 2001


stavros, will you build me a grade-assigning, comment-generating applet?
Oh, back to debugging.. I was avoiding IE6 because I thought it's even worse about Java and non-Microsoft addons. Are you saying that Metafilter is going to be the app that pushes me over that cliff?
posted by dness2 at 1:26 AM on October 22, 2001


It looks good under Opera though.
posted by dness2 at 1:28 AM on October 22, 2001


Opera 5.12 worked fine too (until it crashed. Dagnabbed thing has been no end of trouble since I moved up from 5.10).

Odd that you're getting some of the code but not all the CSS nikzhowz.

Yeah it's weird, but I'm still not getting getting them. All the ID and class selectors for textad, menuad, etc are missing from the page.
posted by nikzhowz at 1:30 AM on October 22, 2001


Greetings Matt

My name is Sajjad and I am addicted to Metafilter. Thanks.
posted by worldsystema at 1:32 AM on October 22, 2001


Huh?
I keep getting told to punch Jason Kottke and find out what I've won...
Surely that can't be right.
posted by Hima Otsubusu at 1:32 AM on October 22, 2001


Matt - these are the only styles that I'm getting embedded in the body in IE:

.page
p.sidebartext
.sidebar
.bringitbacknow
posted by nikzhowz at 1:42 AM on October 22, 2001


.bringitbacknow

What, no .takeittothebridge?


posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:53 AM on October 22, 2001


.dragmyselftobed

Maybe by morning the ads will be there, all perky and inviting. Sweet dreams of clickthrough ads...
posted by dness2 at 2:43 AM on October 22, 2001


Matt, what happened to the neverending goatse.cx onLoad popups you were going to do for ad revenue?

Or are those going live tomorrow?
posted by fooljay at 3:01 AM on October 22, 2001


here's a wee feature request - is there any chance of using javascript window.status to display the actual ad url in the browser status bar, rather than "http://www.metafilter.com/adsystem/redir.cfm?adid=x" ?

I know you're vetting the ads, but it would still be nice to know where we're clicking through to, especially when this isn't obvious from the text of the ad...

this is one of the few times i've found web advertising inoffensive, best of luck with it

also, hima: LOL
posted by sawks at 3:04 AM on October 22, 2001


Matt -

I love it. It's a great move.
posted by pooldemon at 3:47 AM on October 22, 2001


Nice. Reminiscent of Fark's ads, but much more elegant.
posted by Nothing at 4:06 AM on October 22, 2001


He's got style and class, our Matt.
Good job. I hope it's successful
posted by nprigoda at 4:27 AM on October 22, 2001


I like it. It works because (1) it's so minimalist and (2) something advertised on Mefi will most likely be worth looking at.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:55 AM on October 22, 2001


Anyone else think that the ad should be centered on the page to give it some more freespace?
posted by machaus at 5:17 AM on October 22, 2001


I too believe that the ads are a good thing - they certainly don't detract from MeFi, but it leaves me wondering a little about the increasing information overload we're experiencing. That aside, Good work.
posted by williamtry at 5:19 AM on October 22, 2001


The MetaAds look very good. I don't know why more people don't see the joy of text for ads. (well, besides google and mathowie)... A good step 1 on the path to having MeFi generate, rather than suck away, money.
posted by andrewraff at 5:30 AM on October 22, 2001


Hey! Anil bought me an ad! That was nice.

The new holiday gift: MeFi ads in your stocking.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:36 AM on October 22, 2001


ohhh, wait, maybe it's a mac ie 5 thing. on my mac, I got the ad squashed on top of today's date, left justified. Now, at work on IE 5.5, it is nicely placed on top of the sidebar.
Is it a browser issue, or are you actually awake at 6 in the morning Matt?
posted by machaus at 5:55 AM on October 22, 2001


I was *this* close to buying an add for a certian series of humorous cartoons until I saw the part about URLs needing to be approved.

Damn.
posted by bondcliff at 6:11 AM on October 22, 2001


It looks workable. Now I wonder:

• Are the advertised sites fair game for criticism on Mattafilter, or should we take it easy on paying customers?

• What is an "inappropriate destination" URL? Will you, for example, sell to Playboy but not to Juggs, or not to anything sexual? How about political sites?

• When do the in-thread ads start?

In any case, I like it -- this is much better than having to register and pay a subscription fee and so on.
posted by pracowity at 6:23 AM on October 22, 2001


2 suggestions:

Make the ads link pop up in a new window when clicked on (I'm just too lazy to right click->open new ;)

Put one at the base of each thread as well (under the text box etc) ... it will still be unobtrusive.

Otherwise, good idea & brilliant execution.
posted by walrus at 6:26 AM on October 22, 2001


Are the advertised sites fair game for criticism on Mattafilter, or should we take it easy on paying customers?

IMO it damages the integrity of MeFi if we can't talk about the sites (Matt can always put a warning in the buy adverts page: "advertising a crap site on MeFi may be considered online suicide").

But here's the big question: would it count as a double link if someone threaded an ad-site?
posted by walrus at 6:30 AM on October 22, 2001


I just saw a text-ad for text-ads. I think I need to sit down.
posted by skallas at 6:35 AM on October 22, 2001


cheap, doesn't suck up bandwith, and google enough to work... metafilter: this here is genius

i feel bad about plugging my site on mefi, but for matt? anything!
posted by lotsofno at 6:54 AM on October 22, 2001


I had a dream last night that I ran into Matt while shopping at the Kroger on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta, GA. We rolled our carts up to computer terminals and had a IM based conversation about the changes on Metafilter. I woke up this morning excited to see what Matt had done.

I'm sleepy, but not disapointed. I think I'll buy an ad.
posted by jennyb at 6:56 AM on October 22, 2001


good move matt. stream lined. nice ad. nice idea ."product" cool. you rock...carry on.
posted by clavdivs at 7:03 AM on October 22, 2001


ohhh, wait, maybe it's a mac ie 5 thing.

I am using IE5/Mac, and it works fine for me.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:06 AM on October 22, 2001


walrus:
if the links open in a new window then those of us who don't want that behaivour have no way prevent it (sorry, this is a pet peeve)

use your non mousing hand to hold down shift (or apple, or control, depending on your os/browser) when clicking to force a new window, that's marginally easier than right clicking :)


we were talking about how to comment on sidebar links earlier, maybe each textad should have its own special thread opened up for comments (under a textads category) ?
that would get around any dp issues and give us a familiar vehicle to comment on the advertised site


i'm another ie 5 mac user with no problems seeing the ads btw.
posted by sawks at 7:27 AM on October 22, 2001


I'm using IE 5.5/Mac under OS 9.0.4, and it looks like this:



And... there's no sidebar! Not even the little hide/show control.
posted by nicwolff at 7:44 AM on October 22, 2001


Nicwolff's screenshot is what it looks like for me on IE 5.5 on PC. So I switched to Netscape 6 (which I hate surfing on), and the ad looks great.
posted by jennak at 7:54 AM on October 22, 2001


There is no Mac IE 5.5 for Classic Mac OS.

If you're using the beta that some Microsoft engineers released at MacHack a couple years ago, which they called 5.5b1, I've found it's buggy as heck; I don't recommend it.
posted by kindall at 7:56 AM on October 22, 2001


I'm using Mac IE5 and I don't get the style. Just the text of the ad left aligned and looking kind of sick.

In fact I'm not seeing the right side bar either. It was there yesterday. After clearing my cache, the image in the top right corner of the screen doesn't seem to want to load.

Sometimes the metafilter image in the left corner loads, but the It's a joke get over it image does not seem to want to load.
posted by willnot at 7:57 AM on October 22, 2001


I was *this* close to buying an ad for a certian series of humorous cartoons until I saw the part about URLs needing to be approved.

You never know until you try.

if the links open in a new window then those of us who don't want that behaivour have no way prevent it

That's not true. Drop a bookmarklet on your links bar and you can stop links from opening windows with a click.
posted by sudama at 7:57 AM on October 22, 2001


I'm sorry to be the wet blanket here, but this is only a good thing because we were fearing worse. Better than banner ads, better than shutting down the site, yes - but not better than yesterday.

Advertisements are, no matter how well executed, visual clutter. An advertisement that fails to distract you and break your train of thought is called "a waste of money". MetaFilter has been gloriously ad-free until now, and I've loved it. I'm happy that Matt has found a minimally obtrusive way to support MetaFilter, but the statement this change makes about the web and its economic underpinnings makes me uncomfortable.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2001


i really think there ought to be ads on the threads as well. why? well, i for one never see the front page. i keep tabs on MeFi through fyuze, which pulls MeFi's xml feed. when i see something of interest, i click on it. if there are no ads on the threads, i'll never see them. the same thing probably goes for anyone who does the same thing, or uses the xml backend in some fashion.
posted by ikarus at 8:12 AM on October 22, 2001


Kindall: I've been using 5.5b1 since about the day it was released — sure, it wasn't a formal release but it's not as if Microsoft tests its software anyway! — and it's been very stable for me (but then I give it a lot of RAM). And, I use the command-shift-click to open a link in a new window behind all the others about a million times a day, so I couldn't go back!

Anyway, this looks like a pretty general IE problem, since a Windows and a Mac IE 5 user have ratified that screenshot...
posted by nicwolff at 8:25 AM on October 22, 2001


IE 5.50 and Opera 5.12 on Windows 95: no problem.
posted by gleemax at 8:49 AM on October 22, 2001


hurray for opera. we deserve the love, damnit.
posted by lotsofno at 8:55 AM on October 22, 2001


The ad should now work for the people that weren't getting it before.

I'll add the url status thing showing the actual destination URL as well.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:59 AM on October 22, 2001


Also - I took away the collapse/expand functionality. I figured since the ads have to be there, there might as well be the rest of the sidebar.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:14 AM on October 22, 2001


Still no link for me. I'll upgrade to IE 6 if I have to..
posted by dness2 at 9:15 AM on October 22, 2001


I'm using IE5x on Mac 9x.

Looks great, Matt!
posted by silusGROK at 9:19 AM on October 22, 2001


Mac IE 5.1.3 on OS X no problem.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:29 AM on October 22, 2001


... the statement this change makes about the web and its economic underpinnings makes me uncomfortable.

What statement is that? High-bandwidth, high-CPU web sites like MetaFilter have always required someone's money to run.
posted by rcade at 9:34 AM on October 22, 2001


Matt: I'm sure it doesn't seem like a big deal if you browse with the sidebar turned on all the time, but losing the ability to collapse the sidebar is far more annoying than the ad itself. This morning it was great - as good as Google's system - with this big old box taking over a quarter of the browser window, it suddenly became much more intrusive. Please can I have the collapse button back?

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:39 AM on October 22, 2001


sawks: thanks for the tip. Lazy me ... aLaLaa ...
posted by walrus at 9:45 AM on October 22, 2001


Well, of course, rcade. But the fact that there's no way to distribute the cost of a web service means that cost is a function of popularity, and every community service will thus eventually become a victim of its own success.

It didn't have to be this way. The web was originally designed with the idea that pages would be mirrored around the net from one proxy cache to the next; instead of loading every page from its source, you'd load it from the nearest cache, and resource use would thus be distributed throughout the system. Someone with something interesting to share could safely put it up on a server without worrying that they'd be slashdotted into oblivion the next day.

This broke with the transition to CGI-based, database-backed sites like MetaFilter, where all content is (more or less) generated on the fly. It happened on a site-by-site basis; there was never, so far as I know, any attempt made to design a web-wide architecture for database propagation. The cache system is now effectively dead, and every site that wants to provide data has to bear the full cost of serving that data to everyone who wants it. It no longer makes sense to share interesting resources with the world.

And that's the statement about web economics that makes me sad.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:04 AM on October 22, 2001


I actually think it's great to have the opportunity to advertise your own site on MeFi without creating a self-post -- and my own site isn't even built yet.

If anything, Matt's prices seem to be too cheap -- 21 ads (my count on his All Textads page at this moment) ordered in this first morning of business? Maybe it's just a deluge because of the novelty at the moment, but perhaps $10 is too modest a fee....
posted by mattpfeff at 10:26 AM on October 22, 2001


MetaFilter has been gloriously ad-free until now..."

We could always pay Matt to run "ads" that aren't actually ads. You know, $10 here and there to run linkless bits of "textual art" in that spot. "F U CN RD THS, U'L FYND D OTHUR CLMN EZ-ER."
posted by aaron at 10:37 AM on October 22, 2001


but perhaps $10 is too modest a fee....

I keep it low purposely, so the ads are for "Jane Doe's Blog" instead of "Exciting New Norelco Razors." I wanted it to be a tool for self-linking, something anyone here can use.

And frankly, I'm a crappy salesman, so if I have to sell something, I'd rather it be aimed at someone I understand (the typical metafilter user) than someone I don't (big company ad sales department). If I sold every single front page view of MetaFilter, my guess is I'd take in about a thousand dollars in a month. That's plenty to pay for a new motherboard and processors (something I need to get asap) and other updates along the way. I could have also just said "hey everyone I need these $600 worth of parts, go donate" but donations have a tendency to peter out soon after a big push, and the ad stuff seems like it will be consistent.

I hate ads as much as anyone, and this was low on a long list of things I could have done with the site, but it was easy to implement and in the current incarnation, it was low on the annoyance meter.

I would have rather gone with a monthly membership "pro" option to raise revenue, but unfortunately, all pro features are database intensive, and that's exactly what I am trying to reduce at the moment. With this new ad revenue, I'll make the appropriate upgrades, and get the pro stuff going (and I suppose, the ads will be optional for paying people) soon after.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:38 AM on October 22, 2001


sure, it wasn't a formal release but it's not as if Microsoft tests its software anyway!

I and the other Microsoft Mac beta testers salute you.
posted by kindall at 10:43 AM on October 22, 2001


Works fine now — I can see what everyone was raving about, it's very clean and well integrated. And I guess I'll just get used to having the sidebar shown...
posted by nicwolff at 10:56 AM on October 22, 2001


"It no longer makes sense to share interesting resources with the world."

You missed me with that one. I visit 10-20 weblogs a day. I spend lots of time at Metafilter, Slashdot, etc. Now that my site is down for technical issues I'm getting flooded with people asking me when it will be back up. I'll keep running the site. People will keep reading and enjoying it. All of this makes great sense to me. Even though I get no revenue.

If you're just saying that it doesn't make economic sense, then I have to ask why that is your measure of worth. And on top of that, I just don't agree. Tell Slashdot, The Onion, Metafilter, CNN.com, etc, that what they're doing makes no economic sense. You'll get different answers from each, but they'll have no trouble countering your assertion.

"An advertisement that fails to distract you and break your train of thought is called "a waste of money"."

Tell it to Google. They are making big bucks on these "waste of money" ads. In short, you are wrong. Google has found a way to be non-annoying and still make money on ads.

The path to economic feasibility of content driven sites may not be easy or obvious, but that doesn't mean it won't happen, it just means you haven't thought of it yet.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:56 AM on October 22, 2001


Thanks for your comments Mars, I'll bring back the collapse button today.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:11 AM on October 22, 2001


mathowie: unfortunately, all pro features are database intensive

two servers? or would it be too difficult to synch them?
posted by walrus at 11:25 AM on October 22, 2001


I'm with Mars, please put the collapse button back in soon, Matt.
posted by briank at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2001


Well, the ads show on my IE5.5 computer at work, but not at home. I downloaded IE6, but nada. It must be a setting somewhere, or a lingering file or something. WHY O WHY does Microsoft persist in making me feel stupid.
posted by dness2 at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2001


Anyone else really LIKE the ads?

Perhaps it's because they are so relevant to our community, but I'm having a great time just clicking on them!!

If you're like me, don't bother reloading the front page. That causes stress on the DB and costs Matt in bandwidth. Instead just check out all of the ads!

How fun. I already bought $10 worth and I'm looking for something else to promote. I almost bought some ads for other people. hehe
posted by fooljay at 11:47 AM on October 22, 2001


I might also mention that, if I remember correctly, my 8% clickthrough rate is astronomical...
posted by fooljay at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2001


I think the ads are great, I was very pleasantly surprised by them. My only question is, will we be able to renew an ad when its time runs out, or will we just sign up again completely? Either way works for me, because it's easy, but it would probably be a lot easier on Matt if all he had to do was put something extant back into rotation.
posted by headspace at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2001


Yeah, once it's approved, it would make less work for you Matt if we could just add to the balance...
posted by fooljay at 12:07 PM on October 22, 2001


Does anyone know of a Perl/PHP application that could do something like this? Inquiring content creators want to know.... :)

(although I suppose I could hardwire in ad packages...)
posted by owillis at 12:23 PM on October 22, 2001


What is the average clickthrough rate for these ads?

posted by corpse at 12:42 PM on October 22, 2001


Right now I'm holding steady at 7.6% after showing about 1,000 ads which is pretty good...
posted by owillis at 1:00 PM on October 22, 2001


I'm over 10%. Now if only my Web host hadn't picked today to start doggin' it.
posted by kindall at 1:10 PM on October 22, 2001


y6y6y6:

You missed me with that one.

No problem. Let me try again.

I'll keep running the site. People will keep reading and enjoying it. All of this makes great sense to me. Even though I get no revenue.

Agreed - I could say the same about my site. I've been running it for two years. People have been reading and (presumably) enjoying it the entire time. It makes great sense to me. There is no revenue involved.

If you're just saying that it doesn't make economic sense, then I have to ask why that is your measure of worth.

It makes economic sense for me to run Edgecase because I can spare ten bucks a month for the bandwidth it uses. It might still make sense if it cost $100/month. But it most definitely would not make sense if the site cost $1000/month - that's more money than I am willing to spend on a web site. Everyone who runs a web service has to decide how much they are willing to give to keep the service running. There will always be a point at which a site's growing popularity will drive maintenance cost above what the site's creator is willing to pay.

It says nothing about the value of the site. There's just no way to distribute the cost of running a web service. That means that every site which grows in popularity must eventually either shut down or pay for itself.

And on top of that, I just don't agree. Tell Slashdot, The Onion, Metafilter, CNN.com, etc, that what they're doing makes no economic sense.

All four of the sites you mention run advertisements.

Tell it to Google. They are making big bucks on these "waste of money" ads. In short, you are wrong. Google has found a way to be non-annoying and still make money on ads.

I'm not saying that Google's ads are a waste of money. I'm saying that ads exist in order to divert some of your attention from the web page, magazine article, television programme, or whatever that you were looking at.

Google's ads may not annoy you, but you still see them; they still take up room, they still take up bandwidth, they still make you pause for a second while you notice what the text says. Google's ads are some of the least intrusive, least manipulative, and least obnoxious ads around. But doesn't it tell you something that the best ads on the web are the ones which come closest to not existing at all?

The path to economic feasibility of content driven sites may not be easy or obvious, but that doesn't mean it won't happen, it just means you haven't thought of it yet.

I don't give a heap of monkey shit about the economic feasibility of content driven sites, or of any other kind of site. Humankind already has hundreds of thousands of ways to make money. The web as yet another money maker gives us nothing we didn't have before. We had (have?) a chance to do something new: to share information and build community on a global scale. But in the massive land rush for the commercial web, we let that go: instead of continuing to develop technologies that distribute network load and reduce the reliance on central servers, we went whole-hog into ecommerce and built everything around the assumption that one organisation would control and pay for one server. Technology now constrains us, and the economic model it implies leaves no room for large community projects like Metafilter. Every project bigger than one person's pocket change now faces this problem: make money or die.

I'm not complaining about Matt's decision. Frankly, I'm surprised he didn't do it sooner - I doubt I'd have stuck it out as long as he did. I'm also not complaining about the way he chose to do it - not only are the ads not obnoxious, they all seem to be advertising interesting web projects. Other than the non-collapsible sidebar thing, I have no problem with this change.

I have a problem with the fact that there appears to have been no other choice.

Hmmm. I think this is more of a rant than I planned to indulge in. Sorry to take up so much space, folks. I think I've said everything I can say on the subject, so I'm going to drop it now. And aaron, I love your idea - maybe I'll try that.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:10 PM on October 22, 2001


Mine's at 20% for 325 views. Not too shabby.
posted by corpse at 1:18 PM on October 22, 2001


Mars, thanks for the rant. I enjoyed and agreed with it. Idealism can't always be implemented, but it's always worth stating.
posted by liam at 1:23 PM on October 22, 2001


wouldnt it be great if matt actually started charging people to post new items to the front page of the site? he could sell blocks of posting rights -- twenty posts for $10, for example -- and your account would be debited every time you posted a new thread...

a boy can dream, i s'pose...
posted by msippey at 2:06 PM on October 22, 2001


Aaargh. It's tough when you find yourself wavering between two well-thought out positions, like those of Matt and Mars. I see myself having to make the same decision soon...
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:37 PM on October 22, 2001


:o( like 520 of my views have already been used up. at this rate, my ads are gonna be done with in eight days.. maybe i'll get twenty dollars worth next time..
posted by lotsofno at 4:01 PM on October 22, 2001


Here on IE 5.0 for Mac, with Colorsync engaged, the ads make the upper right corner of the Mefi screen look a little crowded. Moreover, I find the different color of the ad somewhat annoying. Matt: do you really think the ad would be less effective if it was the same color as the rest of the Mefi Front Page?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:51 PM on October 22, 2001


The ads go quickly, but I'm very pleased with the price and clickthrus I've received thus far. Nice idea and execution, Matt.

owillis: The frontend of a PHP ad database like this would be fairly trivial (imho); the maintenance backend thing is another matter.
posted by hijinx at 5:18 PM on October 22, 2001


Surprised no one has bought an ad linking back to Mefi yet.
posted by riffola at 5:47 PM on October 22, 2001


Better yet: link to MeTa. ‘still ad-free’
posted by gleemax at 7:03 PM on October 22, 2001


hmm... a metafilter members' banner ring...


who said that?
posted by lotsofno at 7:28 PM on October 22, 2001


I'm holding steady at about 15% and about 11% on my two links, and I love it. Great job, Matt.

Although I'm coming to a sad conclusion -- when my impressions run out, my hits will return to normal. Then I might need to start worrying about that whole "stickiness" thing everyone keeps talking about. ;)
posted by jragon at 9:03 PM on October 22, 2001


Everyone who runs a web service has to decide how much they are willing to give to keep the service running.

Scary isn't it? You could always try these people. Or if you're doing art/music/poetry/whatever, get in touch. I still have some space left on my philanthropical hosting site, which I amn't self-linking to.

I'm intending to pay for hosting free websites until I can no longer afford to, and then try and find people to mirror parts of them. I don't want to use advertising, but I might consider it to prolong the agony. Hosting video files starts to get costly very soon btw ...
posted by walrus at 2:57 AM on October 23, 2001


that really didn't come out the way i meant it ... i'm not trying to advertise ... just think there are lots of people out there willing to do their bit to keep the free web alive
posted by walrus at 3:07 AM on October 23, 2001


walrus: announcing you're paying for hosting free websites is the opposite of advertising. I guess what you mean is you don't want to sound generous or for people to think it's like, er, charity or something.
But generosity is what it is, anyway. Good on you!

*chokes up. sits himself on abandoned railway platform, pulls out spit-rusted harmonica and wails against those who dem done the free web in*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:29 AM on October 23, 2001


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