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This may be more on topic for MSE, I might move it there if so. For now, I believe this is directly applicable to us

The Community Ads for 2021 post was posted earlier today, in a trial run of the new advertising system. Currently, at writing, it is at +1/-6 and has 4 "Needs details or clarity" close votes. The three biggest changes with this new system are:

  1. Improvement: The ability to advertise specific questions, on both main and meta, that we the community decide are important to advertise
  2. Restriction: "Ads can not be promoting products nor soliciting programmer time or resources for: knowledge sharing or collaboration tools for technologists, or for sites where ad buyers are primarily targeting technologists." This seems to be the biggest reason behind the close votes - a lot of users are finding this vague and are not sure whether specific services are allowed or not.
  3. Feature loss: "This post will remain open for ad submissions and voting until August 2nd. At that point, the question will be closed/locked, and no more ad submissions will be accepted.". Additionally, ads will not be editable after this date, nor will they be able to be modified in any way if properly locked (e.g. voted on, flagged, comments etc.).

This is specifically about point 3 (with a bit about point 1)


From the Community Ads posts:

Why do we reset the ads?

Some services will maintain usefulness over the years, while other things will wane to allow for new faces to show up. Resetting the ads every year helps accommodate this, and allows old ads that have served their purpose to be cycled out for fresher ads for newer things. This helps keep the material in the ads relevant to not just the subject matter of the community, but to the current status of the community.

This is completely accurate, but also applies to shorter time frames than a year. Community Ads have been used to advertise products relevant to the site that were created or that are relevant at times other than the start of the year (when the Ads thread is started). The dynamic part of the former system meant that advertisements didn't have to wait for a year to get started - they could just post and go.

This new system is bad specifically because it doesn't allow this. Even if the only change made to the system was implementing this "window", I'd be against it. However, to compound things, the fact that we can now advertise specific questions makes this lack of flexibility even worse.

I can think of two extremely useful ways we can use point 1 to our advantage:

  • We can advertise our winners. It's already difficult to appropriately award good challenge writers as bounties are answer-only, but by advertising the winning posts, we can draw more attention to the best challenges of the year.

    Unfortunately, by having only a small window to create adverts, this isn't doable. It'd require the Community Ads to be posted around the same time as the Best Of voting, and we'd then have those posts around for the rest of the year - not necessarily a bad thing, but not exactly ideal.

  • We can advertise ongoing community events, for example our Biweekly Mini Golf or the Language of the Month threads. Currently, LOTM is an Upcoming Event, but having an ad for it could be a way to encourage even more engagement

And I'm sure there are more ways this can be beneficial.

In short, the ability to advertise specific questions is most useful (especially to us, but I think this applies to multiple other sites in the network) if it is dynamic. Showing the same few posts for a year is a helpful thing, and it'd be a good way to get more engagement in the "canonical" posts (Hello World, Fibonacci, Quine, Is it prime? etc.), but that shouldn't be the only thing it's used for.


Therefore, I'd like to request that either:

  • the Community Ads be left open and unlocked until the next cycle (Jan 2022), at which point a new post happens and that is also left unlocked and open, or
  • Community Ads be refreshed every 3 months, which requires dev work
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's interesting though, that none of the other SE sites seem to have complained about (or closed) their equivalent post. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17 at 23:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user1271772 I can't speak for them, but there was a lot of complaining/feedback given on the Mother Meta post that largely went ignored, which is why I'm posting this. Additionally, I posted it here because I know that CGCC (largely) agrees with this (discussions in chat). I'm not sure if other sites do \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very interesting indeed! \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17 at 23:36
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Under this new system we're testing, ads get manually collected and submitted to our Ad Ops team. That means that leaving the question open and unlocked makes absolutely no difference other than possibly leading to confusion, since users may be led to think that they can still submit ads or impact what ads get displayed by voting on the ones already proposed.

I've mentioned on MSE before that once the trial is over we'll reassess how frequently ads need to be rotated, and potentially if there are bits that we can automate to assist with that (potentially faster) rotation (as you noted in the question too).

For the above reasons, I'm going to this. If I completely misunderstood your request, though, lemme know.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If, after the trial, you decide to run ads every 3 months (or more frequently), will this be marked [status-completed]? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm reading this post as specific to the trial, so I'm inclined to say no. But whatever changes we make will be made clear upfront in the following cycle's collection posts. \$\endgroup\$
    – JNat StaffMod
    Jun 24 at 10:36

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