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As you all know, advertising is an important source of revenue for Stack Overflow and it helps us support all the sites across the Stack Exchange Network and the resources that go into maintaining and improving the experience on the platform. We are going to be introducing middle sidebar ads, which have been on the main Stack Overflow site for years, to some of the tech sites including Retrocomputing.

The middle sidebar ads have the same standards as any other ads on the platform. Ads are non-intrusive and static. Ads go through a vetting process to ensure they are appropriate for the communities on Stack Exchange. If you see an ad that may not follow our established standards and guidelines, you can let us know by using the "report this ad" functionality. Here is a mockup of what these will look like when two ads are showed (the existing ad placement and the new middle sidebar ad placement):

Mockup screenshot of a Retrocomputing post with adverts

This ad space won’t be available for display until May 10 because we wanted to give you a heads-up before you started seeing them. Ads are an essential line of business for us and we’re committed to giving you advanced notice whenever we introduce a new form of advertising on the network sites. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

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Does this mean we'll get Community Promotion Ads, too? That used to come with a site design, back when that was decoupled from leaving beta; but sites without a site design didn't have any advertising on them, either.

What does this mean for user privacy? I've seen several ads on Stack Overflow trying to provide my data to international mass-surveillance companies: while this isn't something you're okay with, it is still happening. In 2016, Danny Miller guaranteed:

The ad sales and ad operations teams at Stack Overflow are very careful about user privacy and make every effort to put the user experience first. This includes but is not limited to running only static, non-animated banner,keeping all ads relevant to software development, not participating in real-time bidding or selling our inventory to ad networks. We are not selling user data or targeting ads to you based on any personally identifiable user data.

Will you be able to provide this guarantee to Retrocomputing's users?

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In regards to @wizzwizz4's questions:

Community Promoted Ads: Community Promoted Ads are on pause because we’re still determining next steps. Assuming it keeps taking place, we’d like to extend it to all sites not just “graduated” sites. Once we have clearer steps on what comes next, we’ll communicate them on MSE.

User Privacy: Stack's stance on protecting user privacy remains a priority and we make various decisions in the interest of protecting privacy to mitigate those concerns, not unlike those referenced that were taken back in 2016. We have been very transparent about our use of Google as an analytics/ads partner and have taken measures to ensure that restrictive personal data processing configurations are in place. If you have any concerns about specific data points or specific companies, you can always email [email protected].

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    Who would see our email if we wrote to [email protected]? May 6, 2023 at 2:03
  • @NikeDattani Somebody with a very quick response time, who genuinely cares, apparently. (Words fail. I cannot express how much this means to me.)
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Jun 9, 2023 at 19:05
  • @wizzwizz4 I don't get it. You emailed them? Jun 9, 2023 at 21:02
  • @NikeDattani I did. Not about the sidebar ads, but yes. And there exists at least one person at Stack Overflow who both genuinely cares and is empowered to do their job properly, who sits behind [email protected]. (If you had asked me two hours ago, I would not have expected to be saying that sentence. I am really glad that I can.)
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Jun 9, 2023 at 21:05

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