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LWN advertising update

The reader survey back in February provided lots of interesting feedback, from the responses as well as the comments. We have been slowly implementing some of the suggestions and we are not finished yet. Some of the comments indicated that more advertising would be tolerated, perhaps even encouraged. With that in mind, we have been exploring more options in that area.

We are very aware of the fine line that must be walked here. The last thing we (or our advertisers) want to do is to annoy our loyal readers, so we are proceeding cautiously. The latest advertising technique we are trying is "in-text advertising". The idea is to serve ads that are relevant to keywords in an article by highlighting those words and popping up an ad when a reader rolls over the word with their mouse.

We have also added the ability of subscribers – at any level – to choose whether they see them or not. Our "project leader" subscribers have long had the ability to turn off all advertising via the customization options behind the "My Account" link. For in-text advertising, we defaulted the option to "off"; subscribers can alter that if they wish and "project leaders" can control those ads independently of other advertising. As with Google ads, those running with Javascript disabled will not see the ads.

These new ads were just added late last week, and we are still fine tuning, but we hope it is a relatively painless way to bring in some needed revenue without filling every square inch of the site with ads. We will be looking at other advertising options in the near term as well, with an eye towards maintaining a reasonable balance. As always, we are very interested in the thoughts of our readers, either via a comment below or email to

While we are on the subject, please keep the LWN text ads in mind for a very cost effective means of reaching LWN readers. If you, or someone you know, is trying to get the word out about a product, service, job, or project, the text ad box has a prominent place on roughly half of our pageviews. We are always open to hearing other advertising options, feel free to contact us at to discuss.

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LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:02 UTC (Mon) by jordanb (guest, #45668) [Link]

In-text ads are by far the most annoying ads I see (because I don't have Flash installed).

It breaks up the story and makes it difficult to read, with the different colors and double lines, plus having all the obnoxious javascript popups whenever you roll your mouse across the page.

Generally if I see a story with a bunch of those ads in it I'll just close the browser tab and go elsewhere. If I really want to read the story I'll paste the text into emacs or something to get rid of them.

I'm ambivalent to LWN doing this as I'm already a subscriber and won't have to see them, but as a practical matter, if you're really interested in taking a 'measured' approach to advertising, you're jumping straight from the pan into the fire with this one. I read LWN for a month or two without subscribing before deciding it was worth my money. If I had been subjected to in-text ads during that time, I would have left long before I got to that point.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:40 UTC (Mon) by elanthis (guest, #6227) [Link]

Why don't you read the freakin' article? It is not "in-text" as in "a big ad breaks up the content." Read. It's easy. The second paragraph explains it all.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:57 UTC (Mon) by jordanb (guest, #45668) [Link]

Perhaps you should read my post. It should be quite clear that I know exactly what in-text advertising[1] is.


LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 22:20 UTC (Tue) by ernest (guest, #2355) [Link]

Actually, the remark was imho quite clear and correct. It is you who may
need to "freakin'" read.

And I think in-text ads are annoying too, but they are not at the top of
the most annoying way of displaying ads by a significant margin (I
reserve that to in-windows, javascript, popup ads that scroll in view, in
the middle of the text, waiting until I press the little cross in their
corner, which I never do since I always leave the site as fast as I
possibly can).

Hopefully it will be easy to distinguished between normal references to
other articles and ads. I often click on these ads thinking they might
leed to some other interresting tid bits of information, and find myself
annoyed when I figure out where they actually go.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:18 UTC (Mon) by bartman (subscriber, #3476) [Link]

I second this.

In-text ads are my least favourite form of advertising.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 0:08 UTC (Tue) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Animated ads are worse. Just. (Mind you my antipathy to ads is such that I
discarded TV a decade ago to avoid ads, and choose routes to work to avoid
ad billboards: maybe I'm extreme.)

Avoiding obnoxious advertising

Posted Sep 4, 2007 12:31 UTC (Tue) by tekNico (guest, #22) [Link]

Yes, you're extreme, and quite reasonable at the same time. You'll hopefully be less extreme, as time goes by, without you having to change anything. ;-)

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 23:32 UTC (Tue) by socket (subscriber, #43) [Link]

If you're too extreme, then so am I. My TV exposure for the past couple years has been filtered through the lens of Netflix. I'd rather wait a year to watch an interesting show on DVD than subject myself to television advertising. I too believe there are better things I should use my brain for than soaking up ads.

That said, I've also decided it's important for me to support organizations financially that deserve it, like LWN, and to wield my purchasing power accordingly.

animation? np =)

Posted Sep 8, 2007 11:57 UTC (Sat) by gvy (guest, #11981) [Link]

You can stop animations in mozilla-based browsers by simple <Esc> keypress and having FlashBlock in place. JS runners would escape that but then again, I personally tend to just escape such sites.

PS: 2 lwn: maybe paid links, no?

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 6:56 UTC (Tue) by hawk (subscriber, #3195) [Link]

I "third" this.

In-text ads makes the text into a minefield where you, if you accidentally point your mouse cursor at the "wrong" word, are interrupted in your reading.

I think the in-text ads are actually worse then having the ad visible in the text from the start (with the text going around the ad). That way it's at least obvious where the ad is and it doesn't really interfere with your reading much.

Now, if subscribers have to opt-in for this extra advertising, I guess it won't necessarily affect me much personally, but the in-text ad implementations I have seen on other sites have been truly frustrating.

I tried enabling it and see how it works in the LWN case, but didn't find any such advertising on the site yet.
I think that the key to having this advertising form work as well as possible (when it comes not to frustrate the reader) is to make the in-text ad words clearly marked (in a way that is not confused with regular clickable links).

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 7:37 UTC (Tue) by IkeTo (subscriber, #2122) [Link]

Indeed, for many sites I won't care in-text ads, because links in those articles are useless, and I just remember to never click or move my mouse to anywhere near any text. But for LWN where useful links are the norm, I think I *really* don't like in-text ads.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 22:01 UTC (Tue) by mikov (subscriber, #33179) [Link]

I enabled it as an experiment and there are ads on the site - for example here:

They are clearly marked, but that doesn't make them any less annoying, at least for me, because an accidental mouse movement pops them up.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 5, 2007 9:37 UTC (Wed) by hawk (subscriber, #3195) [Link]

I see the extra javascript if I look at the page source, but no words on that page are made into in-text advertisements when I go there.

Either way, I agree, that it's still an annoying form of advertising. I do however think that it's even worse in the cases where the in-text advertised words sort of look like regular links.
Which I take from your comment is not the case.

same here

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:56 UTC (Mon) by i3839 (guest, #31386) [Link]

Most annoying form of ads ever, those in-text ads. They're slow too. All right, perhaps animated flash is worse.

Please don't do it, nothing wrong with image ads as long as they aren't too large and not animated (or abysmal colours).

same here

Posted Sep 4, 2007 9:29 UTC (Tue) by Cato (subscriber, #7643) [Link]

I already commented on this the first time I saw the in-text ads - they are by far the most annoying ads, after animated images/banners. Google-style text ads, even if in a box in middle or side of text, would be far better - in addition, such ads seem far better targetted and I'm therefore more likely to click on them.

Having an in-text ad that puts green underlines on 'IBM' means I will actively try to avoid clicking or mousing over that word, because the ad is entirely useless to me...

just say NO to in-text ads

Posted Sep 5, 2007 1:30 UTC (Wed) by grouch (guest, #27289) [Link]

I thoroughly despise in-text advertising. It is obnoxious and disruptive. It makes the author of each article appear to be a snake-oil salesman.

Plain text ads in the sidebar would be a better idea, IMO. I don't block those as I do with advertisers who use animations or glaring images. I don't 'blacklist' websites with text ads as I do those with pop-ups and mouseovers.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:13 UTC (Mon) by rsidd (subscriber, #2582) [Link]

I don't know whether it's just me, but I have no problem with well-demarcated, non-animated ads. (Like the ones in magazines, but you can click on them.) Flash and animated GIFs are annoying, but I don't insist on only seeing Google text ads.

In-text ads, on the other hand, are an abomination. When I see a link on a respected site like LWN, I like to think that it goes somewhere that the editor judged relevant to the article. I do not like to play guessing games about where the link came from and what the intent is.

I just renewed my subscription for another year, so I won't be bothered by LWN's in-text ads for a while. If I were a non-subscriber, I suppose these ads may annoy me into a subscription. On the other hand, they may just annoy me elsewhere. The former is more likely because of LWN's quality, but then, that's exactly why I have been a subscriber for a while.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:36 UTC (Mon) by sveinrn (guest, #2827) [Link]

I tend to agree. I can tolerate quite a bit of flashing and bouncing as long as the ads don't cover or interfere with the article in any way.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 4:40 UTC (Thu) by (guest, #33287) [Link]

Everybody's different I guess. I react strongly negatively to anything that moves. I find it so distracting that I will take a few seconds to tell my browser to block it.

Sadly I still encounter sites that use scrolling content, which I can't figure out how to disable ;-( .

I also am annoyed by (what seems to be) preloaded flash. It introduces extra/unnecessary delay and, of course, bandwidth consumption.


LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:47 UTC (Mon) by marineam (guest, #28387) [Link]

I also find in-text ads annoying. When a site starts using them my impression is that someone was thinking "Well, we put ads above, below, beside, inside, outside, underneath, and on top of our content. I guess it is time to turn the content itself into an ad." Please stick with the basics of above, below, and beside. Anything else starts to get in the way of the story.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:50 UTC (Mon) by Quazatron (guest, #4368) [Link]

My preference also goes to non-animated ads. In-text advertising is just distracting and wrong...

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 17:41 UTC (Tue) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

I agree with this; I think in-text ads would deeply damage the perceived editorial integrity of the site. If I see an underlined link in a corbet post, I generally assume I'll be interested in reading it. If many of the underlined words are actually advertising, not a link for my benefit, I'll be much more resistant to reading the links, and I'll generally have a level of distrust of the content.

At the moment, LWN is among the best news sources I know, in any field, on any subject. I'd hate to see that compromised.

I believe a very clear separation between content and advertising is critical. I want very much for you guys to make scads of money and prosper, but I think this particular move would hurt you more than any other kind of advertising you could possibly consider. You would make money over the short run, but I think you would cripple your growth rate over the long haul, because the words you put on the page would become less trustworthy.

As so many others have said, I think image and text ads, set out from the main text in an obvious way, are okay. I'm even known to click on them sometimes. :)

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:30 UTC (Mon) by charris (subscriber, #13263) [Link]

I'll join the chorus: in text ads are annoying. And I actually like ads when they aren't intrusive because they can tell me about new or useful products and events. Why not put up an ad page for browsing or maybe have topic sensitive ads in a separate column like google does?

ad page

Posted Sep 5, 2007 4:14 UTC (Wed) by grouch (guest, #27289) [Link]

And I actually like ads when they aren't intrusive because they can tell me about new or useful products and events. Why not put up an ad page for browsing [...]

I like that idea. If there are enough advertisements, there could be a 'glossy' section and a classifieds section. (I confess to having pored over the ads in Popular Electronics, back before ZD killed the content of the magazine.)

People do buy stuff. It makes sense, to me, to make it easy for them to do so without disrupting their reading and without making them mad enough to find something else to do.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:30 UTC (Mon) by ballombe (subscriber, #9523) [Link]

I find it extremely sad the increase of ads in quality site like LWN.
What would you say if apt-get displayed an ad each time you install/update
a package ? Why is there a difference of standard ?

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:36 UTC (Mon) by jospoortvliet (subscriber, #33164) [Link]

This site costs money, and those running it are looking for the best,
least intrusive way to make enough to keep it going. Is it that hard to

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:42 UTC (Mon) by ballombe (subscriber, #9523) [Link]

Writing free softwares, developing a linux distribution etc. cost money. Is it that hard to understand?

Cost of operation

Posted Sep 4, 2007 3:07 UTC (Tue) by Max.Hyre (guest, #1054) [Link]

ballombe notes:
I find it extremely sad the increase of ads in quality site like LWN. What would you say if apt-get displayed an ad each time you install/update a package ? Why is there a difference of standard ?

[Intervening comment]

Writing free softwares, developing a linux distribution etc. cost money. Is it that hard to understand?

No, it's easy to understand, but is an invalid comparison. Writing software, developing a distribution, &c. is done by volunteers, or those who get paid for it by a company. The volunteers (e.g., much of Debian) do it at their own pace, and are free to get money elsewhere. The paid workers are hired by companies (e.g., Red Hat, IBM) which make their money indirectly from the developer's effort.

LWN is a direct service. No third party pays for the work of Jon, Rebecca, Forrest, or Jake (did I miss anyone?) It's enough work, and under such time constraints, that it's got to be a full-time job. The only way to keep LWN a quality site is to pay the editors a living wage. The money must come either directly from its readers or from some source that depends on the readers.

That means subscriptions or ads. It's apparent there aren't enough subscribers to do the job. (And shame on the parasites. [1])

I'm certain Jon would be delighted to find some other, non-advertising, income for LWN, but that's a catch-22. [2]

So, if you object to the very thought of in-text ads [3], buy some side-line ads [4] for your favorite cereal, football team, whatever. Maybe even your Linux-related services. If enough of that shows up, in-text ads won't be a question.

[1] I'm not talking about the casual readers. I mean hard-core LWN readers who aren't subscribers. You know who you are.

[2] Supporting LWN makes sense only for Linux players. But income from a Linux player would give the appearance of a conflict of interest: not good. That sort of blows away the whole idea.

[3] And don't get your knickers in a twist. The ads are turned off by default for everyone, subscribers and casual readers alike. You gotta ask for them.

[4] I once asked Jon to allow higher subscription rates, not for additional privileges, but purely for those who'd like to pay more, (relatively) painlessly. He declined, and suggested buying a sideline ad instead.

Cost of operation

Posted Sep 4, 2007 3:15 UTC (Tue) by Max.Hyre (guest, #1054) [Link]

[3] And don't get your knickers in a twist. The ads are turned off by default for everyone, subscribers and casual readers alike. You gotta ask for them.
Oops, I was reading too fast. On second look, I see that non-subscribers get them unconditionally.

Cost of operation

Posted Sep 4, 2007 3:25 UTC (Tue) by Max.Hyre (guest, #1054) [Link]

The end of the third paragraph:
As with Google ads, those running with Javascript disabled will not see the ads.
On third thought, anyone can avoid them by turning Javascript off.

Cost of operation

Posted Sep 7, 2007 7:08 UTC (Fri) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

Or more practically, by getting adblock and blacklist * which gets rid of these hugely annoying ads with no detrimental effect whatsoever. (infact sites will load sligthly faster)

That's not the point though. I don't want LWN to be one of those trashy sites where you need to go to great lenghts to remove misfeatures and crap that is purposefully added by the site-owner to make it half-usable.

LWN is much too classy for that, and should remain so.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 20:44 UTC (Mon) by elanthis (guest, #6227) [Link]

To people who are into free software instead of Free Software, yes, it probably is hard to understand. These are the same people who probably also run Windows on a different partition or machine (pirated), run commercial Linux software like many games (pirated), and have a great many gigs of music and movies (pirated). "Paying" isn't something they're going to welcome, no matter what the cause is, or even whether they can afford it. And hell will be raised if they have to be inconvenienced by ads in something they'd rather not pay for in the first place.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:05 UTC (Mon) by jordanb (guest, #45668) [Link]

You know, the fact that everyone posting here about how we don't like in-text ads is a subscriber means that we are all already PAYING for LWN. None of us are "freeloading" in any way. Like I said, these ads won't affect me much as I'm a subscriber and won't see them, but I would be disappointed if LWN were to gut its future ability to attract subscribers by shortsightedly choosing a nearly universially hated advertising technique and driving all the casual readers away.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 7:28 UTC (Thu) by rhertzog (subscriber, #4671) [Link]

> You know, the fact that everyone posting here about how we don't like in-text ads is a subscriber means that we are all already PAYING for LWN. None of us are "freeloading" in any way.

Well, that's not 100% accurate. Some big companies pay the subscription for some of them. That's the case for me, as HP is offering LWN access to Debian developers.

That's also the case for Bill Allombert (ballombe)... that's why I didn't like his comment, he dismisses the work of the editors and their right to get some money out of it. That's not correct.

As for the ads, I don't like in-text ads either.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 0:12 UTC (Tue) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Paying with money is fine, it's renewable.

Paying with attention wasted on entirely unproductive stuff like ads is
not. Attention is a strictly limited resource (for some of us, extremely
strictly limited).

I didn't know the project leader level let you turn off ads: even
though I can't afford it I'm now considering an upgrade. There's very
little I won't do to avoid ads.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 14:20 UTC (Thu) by jospoortvliet (subscriber, #33164) [Link]

No subscriber has to see ads. Only casual readers do. You won't see ads as long as you pay, even at starving hacker level.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 7, 2007 14:25 UTC (Fri) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

You do see ads at non-project-leader level, just not so many.

Did I mention how violently I hate ads enough times yet? Flashing and
blinking and over-text ones make me navigate away instantly, but *any* ads
I'll pay to get rid of.

(Obviously I'm extreme in this respect.)

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 3:32 UTC (Tue) by viro (subscriber, #7872) [Link]

Pathetic. If you are unable to ejaculate your indignation better
than that, I'd suggest another venue. Lavatory wall or political
meeting, for example.

For what it's worth, no Windows (pirated or not) here, I see no
reason to run a commercial distro on any local boxen (pirated or
not), no pirated music or video (if I want to watch or listen, I'll
bloody respect the author's copyright, TYVM, and I sincerely doubt
that digging through the piles of garbage on p2p networks is anywhere
near a feasible way to find something I wanted anyway) and I have
no hesitation in blocking all ads I can block or going elsewhere if
I can't.

As for the costs... I have no problem paying with patches, paying for
CDs, DVDs (and vinil back when it had been there) and paying for
subscription in case of LWN. If it's not enough, the other party can
raise the price; I'll either pay or drop the matter entirely and do
without. If the price includes lending my brain to advertisers, it's
definitely "do without".

Trying to conflate all kinds of behaviour into "freeloader" label,
pretend that it all goes together and use that to support a baseless
claim ("there is no valid reason for avoiding all ads") is a tactics
worthy of politician. And execution in this particular case would
be piss-poor even for one of those...

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 12:12 UTC (Tue) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Actually it's a tactic worthy of an advertising executive.

(I recall a series of letters in the Economist a few years back, in response to an article about guerrila marketing which had stated that the average citizen of some country (the US? the UK?) saw three thousand `commercial messages' a day and that of course this should be increased. There were a stream of letters saying no! there are too many! ... and one from an advertising executive expressing bewilderment that anyone wouldn't love adverts no matter what their shape or form and stating that he had always watched adverts for *pleasure*. Some people just don't think like the rest of us.)

LWN advertising update

Posted Jun 28, 2011 6:50 UTC (Tue) by spaetz (subscriber, #32870) [Link]

And exactly because preferences differ (some people would rather pay with "attention" than with money, while others rather cough up more money to avoid any ads), there should be options (as there are on between, no fee-many ads, and high fee - turn off ads.

This, being online media, is no problem at all to implement (in contrast to say the printed Economist edition).

LWN ad astra

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:18 UTC (Mon) by ncm (subscriber, #165) [Link]

Like most matters commercial, whether it's good or bad depends on how much money is involved. If it means LWN can be operated as a going concern rather than as a charity with the employees the biggest donors, I'm all for it.

I want LWN to be the place where the best of the best hope to work, someday, after they've proven their worth. I want interns cycling through, exposed to the highest standards of technology journalism, and who look back on their short stint at LWN with longing and with resolve to establish such a standard wherever they go. I want multinational CTOs to cancel their appointments when the LWN reporter calls. I want ordinary reporters from other papers fighting one another to serve as Jon's ottoman when he sits down during a tiring day at a conference.

That's not so much to ask, but it does take money.

LWN ad astra

Posted Sep 3, 2007 22:30 UTC (Mon) by jbw (guest, #5689) [Link]

> I want LWN to be the place where the best of the best hope to work,
> someday, after they've proven their worth. I want interns cycling
> through, exposed to the highest standards of technology journalism,
> and who look back on their short stint at LWN with longing and with
> resolve to establish such a standard wherever they go. I want
> multinational CTOs to cancel their appointments when the LWN reporter
> calls. I want ordinary reporters from other papers fighting one
> another to serve as Jon's ottoman when he sits down during a tiring
> day at a conference.

Although this is completely irrelevant for the discussion of the (truly amazingly evil) in-text ads, I completely agree with the above paragraph.


LWN ad astra

Posted Sep 4, 2007 3:04 UTC (Tue) by ncm (subscriber, #165) [Link]

I'd be satisfied if the last sentence came true.

LWN ad astra

Posted Sep 8, 2007 1:15 UTC (Sat) by pimlott (guest, #1535) [Link]

Wow, that's a beautiful vision! I had not really contemplated it before. But (going off-topic), I would sadly say I don't see things going in this direction. First, LWN is not getting the exposure and recognition that its quality merits. In part, the community LWN represents has not advocated it loudly, and in part LWN has not really sought to make a splash. I do believe that the subscription requirement has hindered the "break-out" of LWN. (Compare groklaw on all of these points.)

Second, LWN has not been particularly successful with new contributers. This is my opinion, of course, and I mean no disrespect to the other writers, but there is still a wide gap in quality between Jon's work and the rest. LWN has not attracted the most promising tech journalists (perhaps because of its limited exposure), and Jon has not held them to his own high standards. I just don't see evidence that your vision is Jon's priority. It is possible he's just too preoccupied with keeping the lights on, though.

I apologize if this seems like a rant here. If there is a better place to follow up the discussion, I would be happy to continue.

In text ads

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:18 UTC (Mon) by jmorris42 (guest, #2203) [Link]

I don't have a problem with the IDEA of in text ads. But unless LWN's web team has managed to pull off a miracle of programming that exceeds any other implementation in current production it will only annoy because I have yet to see one that put in useful links. When an LWN editor puts a link in an article it is pretty much 100% useful. Machine generated ones hover in the low single digits so one quickly learns not to click on one.

It isn't the fact the link is for an ad that annoys, it is that the link is almost always pointless. So make sure they stay a different color and we can just ignore em here like we do everywhere else. Bummer about that low click through number you will have though. Look, this isn't rocket science. If Rupert Murdock's billions can't make em work on (or any other big high budget site using them, lets not go off on a 'hate fox' tangent) what makes anyone think they will work here?

Google's Adwords is based on similar keyword/context tech and it kinda sorta works but that is only because they are Google, with more brainiacs than NASA during Apollo, more compute power than anyone with the possible exception of No Such Agency and more big sacks of money to toss at problems than the Pope has big gaudy gold crosses. And Google only barely crosses the useful/waste of space line on a lot of topics.

In text ads

Posted Sep 4, 2007 17:14 UTC (Tue) by jzbiciak (subscriber, #5246) [Link]

Actually, I think WalMart may be ahead of Google and NSA in data mining capacity. Scary but true.

I definitely agree, though, that in-text ads are pretty obnoxious. Not nearly as obnoxious as some of the spastic animated ads I've seen, though.

Now, if the in-text ads were the same color (or nearly so) as the rest of the text, required an explicit click, and perhaps brought up their text in a screen corner rather than directly over the text, then perhaps that wouldn't be too bad. I hate having a screen full of bright, shiny booby traps, especially since I tend to read by highlighting. (I'm very distractable, and highlighting helps me keep my place.) I really hate the pop-ups that in-text ads throw at me if I get my mouse too close to them.

It's a matter of class

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:22 UTC (Mon) by marduk (subscriber, #3831) [Link]

I hate to jump on the bandwagon, but my experience is that sites with the so-called in-text advertising are the ones I usually visit exactly once. I understand that subscribers will have the option of turning it off, but the whole idea of having them in the first place puts LWN in the category of sites I would normally consider as having no class.

I understand the need for LWN to generate revenue and its contributors to be compensated, but isn't there any other way? I'm willing to pay a higher subscription fee if need be. LWN is indeed one of the classiest online periodicals out there (technology-oriented or otherwise). Perhaps a gradual interference with content is necessary for the bottom line, but in-text ads is a huge dive.

It's a matter of class

Posted Sep 4, 2007 1:25 UTC (Tue) by smitty_one_each (subscriber, #28989) [Link]

I support Corbet, and enabled the ads on my account page.
Not that I really groove on ads, or mind paying for the subscription, but it's really all a tradeoff.
Maybe, someday, an ad will show me a product I even need.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:52 UTC (Mon) by dhess (guest, #7827) [Link]

I'm an LWN subscriber, and I'd be willing to pay double the price of my current subscription to keep LWN from using in-text advertising.

All of the browsers I use are configured to delete cookies when I quit. Most of the stories I read on LWN don't require a subscription. This means that I usually visit LWN without being logged in, so if LWN were to implement in-text advertising, I'd usually see the in-text ads.

My reaction to seeing these ads would probably be similar to my reaction when visiting other web sites that employ in-text ads, no matter how useful I might find that site: realizing that it's difficult to distinguish words that are highlighted for advertising purposes and words that are highlighted to provide links to useful information, I would stop visiting that site (in this case, LWN). Obviously, if I stop visiting the site, I'm probably not going to renew my subscription next time that comes around, either.

It's possible, though not probable, that I'd react in a different way: see the ads, get annoyed and log in. In either scenario, though, I'm getting annoyed, and that's not something I'm likely to want to do for very long.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 1:28 UTC (Tue) by mattdm (subscriber, #18) [Link]

I'm an LWN subscriber, and I'd be willing to pay double the price of my current subscription to keep LWN from using in-text advertising.

Same here. Even if we can turn it off.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 15:45 UTC (Tue) by a9db0 (subscriber, #2181) [Link]

Same here too.

If there are links embedded in an article, I expect that they were placed there by the author/editor because they take me to relevant articles, supporting comments and the like. I don't want to be guessing whether a link takes me to lkml thread or a vendor website.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 8:31 UTC (Thu) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

Me too. Infact I hereby pledge to go project-leader the moment this silly decision is reversed.

Lwn has a pretty good (Norwegian for beyond belif stratospherically good) record of listening to its readers, so I'm pretty convinced this will cost me. But that's ok.

According to the FAQ, advertising makes less than 10% of the sites income. Which means, raising subscription-revenue by even 10% is equivalent to doubling advertising-income.

Well, the revenue from *my* subscription will DOUBLE if Lwn refrains from obnoxios advertising. Despite the fact that I personally would not even see the ads. More ads than today is perfectly ok, just make them unobnoxious-ones.

I too, am among those people who think that the staff here deserves to make three times what they make today, and have a gourmet chef on staff. I am *very* interested in hearing how we as loyal supporters can help out achieve that. Even if the answer is just gonna be "send more money", I'll seriously consider it.

Infact that's my first suggestion, I think I've made it before: Give us an easy way of paying more than project-leader. Offer $15 and $25/month. Few people will do it, but more people will go for project-leader. That is because people hesitate to choose the extreme.

Sell Coke in 0.3l, 0.4l and 0.5l sizes, call them "small" "medium" "large" and most people will choose "medium" to go with their meal. Start offering 0.8l "xl"-size, and though only a few will choose that, the main effect will be a lot more people choosing to go for 0.5l.

Other than that, obviously we want to boost the *number* of subscribers. Unsure how to go about that though.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:52 UTC (Mon) by mitchskin (guest, #32405) [Link]

I'm sure we all want LWN to bring in more revenue, and I support that effort. LWN for a long time has erred a bit too far on the classy, minimal-advertising side of the spectrum; I've always liked the class, but I'm willing to give up some of that if that means that Jon & co can get paid more.

However, in-text advertising tilts the balance too far over toward the low-class end of the spectrum. I think Adwords/google ads strike about the right balance; they try hard to be relevant without actually invading the content. Also, given that they calculate relevance using the entire page rather than just one word, I think they can do a better job of being relevant. All the in-text ad implementations that I've come across have been a bit annoyingly irrelevant, but I'm often impressed by how hard adwords tries to be relevant, even in highly rarefied domains.

How to make money by advertising on the internet is still an unsolved problem, clearly, and it's right and proper for LWN to experiment. But I don't think in-text ads are a good answer.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:53 UTC (Mon) by shalem (subscriber, #4062) [Link]

All I have to say really is +1, if not +10 to all of the above comments. In text adds are horrible.

I hate it, I really _really_ hate it when a site has those and if I accidentally move my mouse they pop up. I'm a subscriber from almost day one (and I plan on staying one), so I won't be bitten by this, but I think you will drive potential new subscribers away by this, I know I would not renew my subscription if I couldn't turn them off.

If you want context based adds, why not do it in a sidebar at the left side as some other commenter already suggested. The way google handles this doesn't bother me.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:53 UTC (Mon) by ms (subscriber, #41272) [Link]

I suspect that there's very little point saying "If I wasn't a subscriber I wouldn't be reading this site". If LWN's non-subscribers stop coming here, the weblogs will show that, the advertising will have forced off pretty much everyone who would have been a target of it, and LWN would have to do something else about it.

I'm quite interested in why it is thought that LWN readers are likely to click on adverts at all - it just seems fairly unlikely to me. But then I've probably clicked on about 2 ads in my entire life...

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 22:45 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

I clicked on an LWN ad today, the first time ever. It was for Linux-based VPSes from someone I'd heard of before (Verio?) Discovered it was 20 GB for $89.00 -- holy cow, my dedicated server costs less -- and bailed. So, it didn't result in anything useful for me, but I hope the cent or two will serve LWN well.

I'll click on ads if they're relevant to what I'm reading and I trust the site that's hosting them. OK, that's maybe 2 or 3 ads all year... but LWN could compel me to triple that in a month if they can find the right sponsors!

And I'll never NEVER click on over-text or in-text advertising. Blecch!! Your site has to be incredible for me to even consider visiting again.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 21:57 UTC (Mon) by arcticwolf (guest, #8341) [Link]

Don't go there, guys... in-text ads are one of the worst, most annoying and underhanded forms of advertising there is, second only to seizure-inducing audio-playing, content-covering flash ads.

You won't lose *me* as a reader over them simply because intellitxt is already residing in my adblock filter list, but if it weren't for that...

Really, you should get rid of these again as soon as possible.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 22:21 UTC (Mon) by jbw (guest, #5689) [Link]

Oh my god! Anything but in-text ads! Please!

I'd rather have the entire frame surrounded by flashing animated gifs than in-text ads. Please, no!!!!


LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 22:23 UTC (Mon) by tbrownaw (guest, #45457) [Link]

The last thing we (or our advertisers) want to do is to annoy our loyal readers, so we are proceeding cautiously. The latest advertising technique we are trying is "in-text advertising".

WTF? In-text ads are one of the worst kinds of ads, right up there with sound-playing ads and those fake popups that always stay centered. If I couldn't block them, they'd be reason to never come back here.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 22:41 UTC (Mon) by tomsi (subscriber, #2306) [Link]

Like most others, I hate in-text ads. Looking back at the sites i have stopped reading on a regular basis, I quit reading them after introducing in-text ads! I wouldn't even consider a subscription to avoid them; if that was an option.

The small ads that you have are fine. I am also fine with you increasing the number a little bit.


LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 22:54 UTC (Mon) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

I have been a 'project manager' level subscriber since the beginning, but I just went in and turned on the in-text ads.

the good news is that they do look different from normal links, so there's little chance of confusion between the two.

the bad news is that the first one I ran across was horribly inappropriate for the page. I don't mind ads that are relavent, but ones that aren't are annoying.

this case was 'opensource' was an advertisement for solaris ("Solaris is opensource and free") as part of the job title for the IBM VP opensource and standards.

please at least put in a 'this is a horrible ad placement' button so we can vote against the worst ones. that way either the placement can improve, or LWN can at least see how bad it is.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 23:39 UTC (Mon) by Zack (guest, #37335) [Link]

LWN is not a rag, and it shouldn't be treated as one.

As it is a high quality publication with a loyal readership it shouldn't be too hard to find willing advertisers directly.

A big part of advertising is not direct sales but also association to a particular well-known name or institution.
This was one of the reasons my business took out a small text ad on here a while ago, not just to sell something, but also to be associated with a high-tech high quality free software publication.

Another reason was the knowledge that the costs would directly go to useful and important writing that would serve the free software community.

I would suggest turning on the sideline text-ads and one or two modest banners for the complete readership, raise the price of those to meet your demands, and deal with commercial open-source/free software businesses directly.

I think LWN can get away with not just selling as many eyeballs as possible, but monetize on the prestige it has so painstakingly build up over the years as well.

How can LWN make more money

Posted Sep 3, 2007 23:45 UTC (Mon) by smoogen (subscriber, #97) [Link]

A lot of the complaining is all negative with few ideas of how to make
LWN better. Currently LWN has had a pretty steady number of
paying subscribers even though the content has been top-notch. From
what I have heard from others, it is also losing money steadily... and
has been propped up out of the pockets of the people writing it.

In the current world of on-line advertising, advertisers will pay the
most for Flash ads, and second with In-Text ads as they are able to
get strong marketing statistics about what is working for them and if
a site is paying off or not. The old-fashioned ads that LWN has been
using are considered classifieds or filler these days.. they can
actually cost a website more in managing them than what they make off
of the ads.

If people do not want ads, then I am guessing we will need to see fees
go up.. probably double what they currently are (to make up for the
people who think it is too much, etc).

How can LWN make more money

Posted Sep 4, 2007 22:17 UTC (Tue) by mikov (subscriber, #33179) [Link]

That is a very informative comment. I had no idea that in-text ads were more expensive - that is really perverse and sad, because, firstly, they are universally hated, and secondly, I have never seen a relevant one. So, who clicks on them ??

The arithmetic of making a (commercially) successful site is an ugly one. It is sad that LWN has to face that too.

Even though some (many?) of the subscribers (including me) would pay double the rate to save the "classiness" of the site, I am not sure this is a good long term solution. The question is, would all subscribers do it ?

How can LWN make more money

Posted Sep 5, 2007 2:55 UTC (Wed) by smoogen (subscriber, #97) [Link]

Who clicks them?

If my understanding is correct.. the mousing over gives them a statistic traffic to see what words gave the most feedback... my guess is that there are enough people looking for what ridiculous links occur that it generates enough 'views'.. However maybe not all in-text use AJAX in such a way.

The big issue is that we viewers forget that the internet is NOT free... or if it is going to be free it will end up being in the same format as most American TV ... Most Extreme Kernel Crashes with 2 minutes of info and 58 minutes of tripe and commercials.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 23:46 UTC (Mon) by jimmybgood (guest, #26142) [Link]

It's pretty hard for me to believe that the LWN staff posted this article with the expectation that the readers should take it seriously. OTOH, they're a rather grim and humorless lot and I wouldn't expect them to post a complete put-on, on September 3, anyway. So, I don't know. Is this a joke or not?

Assuming they are serious, they're being way to easy on their readers. If their goal is to annoy the hell out of us, why identify the ads with double underlines and green font color? After all, when you lay out a mine field, do you put up double green flags at each mine? Of course not! And why bother having the option to click. I mean, the article has already been obscured and can't be read. If I try moving it out of the way, it won't go away at all. Why not just take us straight to the ad?

Another big mistake is going with Vibrant Media, which doesn't place adult ads. I'll pay a nickel a click for the following words and phrases:

Back-end server
Hard link
Soft link
Warm boot

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 0:20 UTC (Tue) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Oh thank you very much. I'm not going to be able to use GNAT without
nightmares now. :)

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 3, 2007 23:58 UTC (Mon) by boog (subscriber, #30882) [Link]

As everybody else is voting... I would have little very problem with non-flash image ads, say down the right-hand border. Images tend to be quite effective (so would bring in more revenue); animations and overlays would be much too annoying, though. In-text ads generally seem to be poorly-targeted and waste your time, because you have to hover the mouse and read the pop-up to see if it's of any interest. Still, non-subscribers can hardly complain, and if subscribers don't see the ads, I don't see why they should complain either.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 2:28 UTC (Tue) by dmarti (subscriber, #11625) [Link]

Why not just check User-Agent and serve big obnoxious partner site ads to anyone running a non-free browser/OS combination? Anyone who runs a Free OS and browser, or tweaks User-Agent, would get the simple look.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 3:08 UTC (Tue) by freemars (subscriber, #4235) [Link]

Strangely, I haven't seen the in-text ads, even when I'm not logged in. If I did see them they would be highly annoying.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 5, 2007 1:22 UTC (Wed) by freemars (subscriber, #4235) [Link]

OK, now I've seen some of them. They're horid.

No other alternatives?

Posted Sep 4, 2007 3:29 UTC (Tue) by emk (subscriber, #1128) [Link]

I've been a subscriber for years (except when I wasn't working with Linux), so I'm never going to see these ads.

But still, in-text ads are really ugly, and detract from the uniformly high quality of the site. Google text ads would be great. So would Linux-related graphical ads, as long as they didn't blink.

Are there any other options for raising funds from subscribers? You produce an excellent publication, and I'm quite happy to support it directly.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 3:38 UTC (Tue) by hugh (guest, #928) [Link]

Please don't go with in-text ads. IMHO they make the site look cheap and nasty. They won't bother me, because I'm a subscriber, but I'm concerned that they might scare potential subscribers away.

Almost any other form of advertising would be better, except for big, singing and dancing flash ads. I find Google's context sensitive text ads to be quite useful (and sometimes entertaining), I click on them fairly often. How about a strip of 5-9 text ads down the right hand side.

Thoughts on how to do advertising on LWN

Posted Sep 4, 2007 4:50 UTC (Tue) by pjm (subscriber, #2080) [Link]

Advertizing should be looked at in terms of how to help readers find products they want, or inform them of things they wouldn't know to search for. There's no point showing ads that people don't want to see: it doesn't even help the advertizers, let alone help readers or help LWN to attract/retain readership.

People who click to read this article might do so because they wish to avoid advertizing, in which case some relevant links might be to adzapper and anon-proxy (both Free Software); they might be interested in how to put advertizing in websites, in which case they might appreciate links to some advertizing providers (google ads, Vibrant Media) or some links to javascript programming resources (tutorials & reference manuals, and tools including commercially-provided ones), or links to material and tools for other ways to make money from web sites (perhaps including links to commercially-offered data-mining tools, as well as links to articles on business models or or some of the pages linked from there).

Including non-paying links helps to increase the usefulness to readers, which makes readers more likely to read these link lists, and perhaps even help to make LWN more useful to them (and hence more likely to continue to provide advertizing/subscription revenue to LWN).

We already know that relevance is important for advertizing, and that people are less annoyed by ads if it seems likely that one of these ads will actually be useful. I suggest that we can quantify that importance in this way: an ad should only be included in the content if its net value to readers is positive, and we should try to increase the net value. The net value of an ad to reader Fred is the probability that Fred uses that product, multiplied by the expected value to Fred of that product, minus the annoyance to Fred of having the ad in the content. In the case of products that people are likely to actually look for if they would find the product useful, maximizing net value means making ads less annoying, not more annoying (noticeable); whereas making an ad more noticeable may justify the increased annoyance for products where Fred mightn't know that there are any products to search for, and if making it more noticeable (annoying) will make the difference in whether Fred finds a useful product. When Fred sees an ad, will he appreciate that it was placed in the reasonable expectation that the ad would be useful to him, or will he think that it was placed despite knowing that it would be annoying to him?

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 6:00 UTC (Tue) by wilreichert (subscriber, #17680) [Link]

I am a subscriber & I'd rather see the cost of my subscription go up than LWN resort to in-text ads. Even if I don't have to see them.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 6:35 UTC (Tue) by csawtell (guest, #986) [Link]

Like everybody else who has posted, I too find those in-text pop-up adverts to be particularly loathsome. Honest to God Jon, Don't do that! After reading this thread, I recon that you'll make your readership not merely grumpy, but so incensed and flighty that they will take off to your competition without so much as a good-bye.

If LWN needs more money, imho a much better way than selling advertising would be to increase the subscribed readership. I happen to be the person who arranges the meetings for a Linux Users' Group. I would be happy to put a link to LWN in the meeting announcemnt posting to our list. However, to be effective, it has to point at a page which is a "Welcome to LWN", "Here's our Mission Statement", and "Now don't be tight, Buy a Subscription" type of thing.

Have you got something like that at which I can point a link?

How about something which has a couple of links at the bottom, one offering a single guided tour of LWN, and the other a link to the subscription purchase form.

Also you could probably increase the subscription fees a bit. iirc, they haven't changed since you started having subscriber-only content. Although I've retired and live on a pretty minimal income, I could afford another dollar per month for a "Starving Hacker" subscription.

Finally: Come on fellows and fellowesses, LWN is a publication which would leave a huge hole if it died. Let's each try to get one more subscriber. Jon: If we managed that, would it give you enough money to grow a bit?

Sounds sensible

Posted Sep 4, 2007 6:45 UTC (Tue) by ringerc (subscriber, #3071) [Link]

It sounds reasonable to me, frankly, if it helps keep LWN going and it keeps the animated ads / popovers / javascript crud away.

I'm an always-meant-to-subscribe-r (just need to get a credit card - and I've been saying that for two years) who'll be glad to see the site keep going and remain a worthwhile and rewarding thing to work on for the staff.

In text ads are annoying, but overall they're not too bad if they're well identified by the CSS. The convention seems to be green link text and a double underline, and that's quite clear enough that I for one won't get confused.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 8:09 UTC (Tue) by evgeny (guest, #774) [Link]

Strange. I enabled the in-text ads in the prefs and disabled adblock yet see no such adds. Does it mean the criticism from above comments has been enough to shut the idea off?

In any case, I passionately agree with other posters that such adds would have a negative net effect: those who know about adblocks will disable them (no revenue), while a majority of the rest (which by itself is a minority, I guess) would be put off the site for ever. In fact, I thought it's just me whom "intellitext" adds drive absolutely crazy (on the rare occasions I'm forced to use IE), but, apparently, I'm far from being alone. On the other hand, the sidebar ads are fine with me, as far as they are not animated and don't occupy half a page.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 8:14 UTC (Tue) by danieldk (subscriber, #27876) [Link]

As much as I could try loving in-text ads, I have started to avoid sites that use them. They mess up the structure of a page, because it breaks the semantic that everything that is underlined or in some other way visually different, is a link to another useful page.

The most elegant solution would be more subscribers, and that is where we readers seem to fail. We need more word of mouth.

Multilingual Content?

Posted Sep 4, 2007 8:33 UTC (Tue) by mlawren (guest, #10136) [Link]

For quite a while I've been wondering if LWN could expand its readership by offering translated content to non-English (as a mother tongue) speakers. By most accounts English speakers are becoming a minority on the net, which indicates a potentially significant untapped market.

I don't know if a reasonable percentage of those non-English speaking groups are interested[1] in the technical level of detail of LWN. It is possible (likely?) that non-English speaking (as a mother tongue)[2] technical people already have a good understanding of English. However given the number of articles and books I've seen in the German language sphere I think it is worth considering. If the extra subscriptions for a language group turn out to be worth more than the cost of a translator then maybe there is a business case.

LWN doesn't necessarily have to employ professional translators either. I'm sure certain existing multilingual subscribers would consider a reduced subscription or a rebate scheme for providing translations.

Unfortunately, having worked on a multilingual CMS I'm aware of just how much work it takes to engineer such functionality into an existing tool. The easy way out (to avoid presenting foreign language content to the wrong people) is to duplicate instances (a la Wikipedia) but that has it's own issues. Doing it The Right Way[tm] means you bear the cost up front, but can add languages to your hearts desire afterwards...

Hopefully this gives some food for thought.

[1] Maybe adding the Accept-Language header to your apache logs would give some interesting results?

[2] non-English-speaking-as-a-mother-tongue is bloody convoluted. Anyone know of a better way to describe this case in less words?

Multilingual Content?

Posted Sep 4, 2007 12:48 UTC (Tue) by i3839 (guest, #31386) [Link]

"Not English as native language"?

But I think the bigger target would be people who don't speak English at all.

Maybe a crazy idea, but what about setting up language specific sister sites which are run mostly independent, but license articles and then translate them? Only problem would be to find the people who would run those sites.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 8:45 UTC (Tue) by knan (subscriber, #3940) [Link]

In-text advertising is extremely annoying, diverting attention from the relevant links in the story. I religiously filter such ads out, and I'm less likely to come back to a site using such measures. You'll scare off potential subscribers this way, trust me.

Various thoughts

Posted Sep 4, 2007 9:26 UTC (Tue) by yodermk (subscriber, #3803) [Link]

I'd agree with most that in-text ads make LWN look "cheaper". Plus, despite trying, they are almost always irrelevant. For example, the "developers" link in the kernel documentation story goes to Solaris ... what the?

If you have to keep them, could they go away *immediately* upon mousing out of the word, instead of about 3 seconds later?

What about a Classifieds section? My initial thoughts on how it could work:
* Make it monthly, like a magazine. All ads would display for a month.
* Divide it into categories, each of which is a page of ads.
* Some kind of auction system for top placement in the category?
I usually read classifieds sections of magazines, they can be interesting. I bet it could pull in several hundred dollars a month.

Also, what exactly is wrong with large static image ads? No one objects to full page magazine ads. I could live with maybe one large image per article, perhaps between the article and comments. If they were from Linux-related companies, I would be interested in seeing them.

Various thoughts

Posted Sep 4, 2007 19:25 UTC (Tue) by riel (subscriber, #3142) [Link]

I think Google text ads between the article and the comments would be quite acceptable, as well as effective.

If somebody wants to read the comments, chances are they simply want to read more about the same subject. Google ads (and/or link units) can help the reader get that content, plus there should be some separation between the article and the comments anyway.

A simple text ad box with two (or three?) text ads side by side, causing no more than 5-6 lines of separation between the article and the comments.

To other LWN readers: if this kind of ad placement annoys you, please speak up now. If you like the idea, please speak up too - LWN could probably use the money generated by people looking for related content once they reach the end of the article :)

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 9:37 UTC (Tue) by alankila (guest, #47141) [Link]

As one of the long-term freeloaders, I've now happily become a paid subscriber. The final push came from a commenter above: yes, I've been a hardcore reader, checking back religiously every thursday for another update. Thanks for making this awesome magazine.

To stay mildly on topic: For IntelliText, and its ilk, I quit reading many sites until I realized that the world had somehow been overtaken overnight by IntelliText, and I could hardly click a link without hitting another page infested by that disease: so instead, I implemented some ad-zapping hackery to get rid of IntelliText instead. Some simple blocking rules for what looks like intellitext .js files have worked well for many years.

If LWN goes this way, just make sure you don't freeze the browser or make simply swiping across the page a dangerous minefield. These automatic ad-links are so irrelevant, yet so obnoxious, that they should be a crime.

Ad-zapping Hackery

Posted Sep 6, 2007 16:39 UTC (Thu) by GreyWizard (guest, #1026) [Link]

Could you post a link to that ad-zapping hackery? Others might find it useful too.

Ad-zapping Hackery

Posted Sep 6, 2007 18:05 UTC (Thu) by alankila (guest, #47141) [Link]

Oh sure. It's trivial. Based on debian package adzapper, hooked into squid, there's this:

% cat adzapper.conf|grep extr

And adzapper.extra holds basically this:

ADJS http://***

It worked well for a long time, but there are clones nowadays and I guess you'd have to extend it.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 9:51 UTC (Tue) by cate (subscriber, #1359) [Link]

As noted by someone before, the user that will click LWN ads are new (first time) users.

It seems that a lot of users do the following step: 1) check with a search engine a topic, 2) go to a relevant page and 3) they click the ads on the site (ads is context relevant, and LWN normally is better view by search engines that product pages).

So I think that LWN could do some statistic and customize ads: less ads to registered users, but a lot more ads to new users (this is an additional service to these users ;-) )

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 11:08 UTC (Tue) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

For whatever it is worth, in-text javascript-handled links rub me the wrong way, no matter what. Even on sites where these mouse-rollover popups are designed to be informational, and not to hold advertising, I find them distracting and unpleaseant. Sometimes they have very *large* overhead in terms of network traffic, or browser overhead. In all cases they really break of the flow of actually reading the dang article.

When I encounter the javascript-controlled popups in the body of text of an article, I try to use NoScript to disable them. If this is not easily done, I leave the site and do not ever return.

In short, if lwn had had these sorts of things in the past, I would never have subscribed, because they would have driven me away from the site.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 13:06 UTC (Tue) by ikm (subscriber, #493) [Link]

Would it be a better idea if you just allow people to attach their own ads to individual subscribers-only pages during the subscription-only period? When new article comes out, subscribers start to read it and if some of them may have something to say, not just in comments, but in some more prominent way, they could pay for the privilege. Once the page would go out of subscription-only period, everything they have wanted to say would be available to everyone.

Their words would probably be highly targeted, and it would only add value to the article, plus some money to lwn.

The bottom line is, we should really do better than in-text ads. There already is a send-a-link thing, why not continue in this venue?

Please change the in-text links

Posted Sep 4, 2007 13:35 UTC (Tue) by farnz (subscriber, #17727) [Link]

I've just turned on the in-text links; they do the horrible pop-up on mouse over stunts that earn an instant browser close from me.

Can you please change the adverts to not do anything if I just move my mouse over the link? I really dislike anything covering up text I'm reading unless I've specifically clicked; it's too easy to accidentally hover the mouse over a hotspot.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 13:50 UTC (Tue) by vblum (guest, #1151) [Link]

I am very sceptic about the text ad idea too; LWN is a site that is ALL about text, and it's precisely that content which will be encumbered with advertising. The potential is high new readers will be turned off instantly.

A well-placed immobile image somewhere on the page might be much less distracting, and perhaps much more palateable to someone new coming ... but maybe also much less of a cash-cow?

What kind of revenue are we talking here - how much extra safety for LWN, to make text ads worth it? What are the possible alternative forms of extra advertising, and how much (or how much less) would these yield?


Posted Sep 4, 2007 13:55 UTC (Tue) by vondo (guest, #256) [Link]

I lasted through banner ads, flash ads, inline block ads, everything until certain tech sites came up with this stupid in-text ad idea. THEN I got Adblock and the ruleset for it. Now I hardly see anything, but that wasn't my intent. These in-text ads are just that annoying. It was either block them or quit using those sites. Think about that for a second, Jon.

Not to mention, that at least back then, it might highlight the words "disk drive" and take you to a page where you could buy a disk drive. Real useful, right? Maybe they've gotten better in the last two years, but I for one don't intend to find out.

I've let my LWN subscription lapse, but I'm not seeing anything different in the articles, so Adblock must be working.

I like this site and I will probably re-subscribe in the future, but I refuse to pay to make annoying ads go away. I pay because I find the content interesting whether or not I can get it free.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 14:43 UTC (Tue) by jfranks (guest, #1213) [Link]

Please reverse the decision to use in-text ads. Google-like adds on the side are acceptable. I just renewed and upgraded to "project leader" since you seem to need the money. This is not a reaction to the ads since I could opt out of them at my previous level.

In-text ads are really just web based spam. We will filter them out (by paying or adblock), but potetial new users will just avoid the site.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 15:45 UTC (Tue) by xuxa (guest, #29601) [Link]

For what it's worth, I'd much rather pay more for my subscription than increase the ads at (whether or not those ads are only seen by non-subscribers). I think advertising is fundamentally bad for society. The consumption encouraged by advertising, often by making people feel inadequate or scared, outweighs its benefits of information distribution.

For these reasons, I hope lwn can find ways to be productive and profitable without resorting to increased advertising. I worry that with increased income from ads, lwn will incur increased costs and become dependent on an anti-social form of income. As a musician trying to design my life around creating GPL-style music, I understand how difficult it is to eschew traditional, entrenched forms of income. But I think lwn, with its intelligent, aware writers and readers, is in a position to explore exciting, new business models that do not resort to the implementation of increased advertising.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 15:56 UTC (Tue) by foom (subscriber, #14868) [Link]

I totally agree with everyone above about in-text ads. Unlike some of the other people here, I haven't bothered to install an ad-blocker to disable them. I just don't read any sites which have in-text ads, and if I across one in a google search, I'll pretty much always go back and click another result instead.

I've just enabled the ads temporarily in my account prefs here, to make sure they are as bad as I remember. One good thing I can say about lwn's implementation (and I'm not sure if this is by design or just because it's new) is that the ratio of ads to words is actually quite reasaonble. On some sites, every third word is an ad-link, but here, there's only two in an entire article. If the number of ads stays like that, I wouldn't be so turned off by them that I leave the site.

However, the ads themselves are, as usual, completely worthless. Looking at the two ads on the " Documentation and user-space API design" article:

The word developers in And that can help to prevent a great deal of pain for both kernel and user-space developers. gets an ad Solaris is open and free. With Solaris™, you can do a lot more.

The word device in he raised the hypothetical idea of a /dev/exit device gets the ad Want to call someone? Just tap the number to dial. It's a Palm thing.

I really wouldn't mind seeing either of these advertised in a banner-ad, but it just seems silly to have them "ad-linked" from those words.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 16:10 UTC (Tue) by johnkarp (guest, #39285) [Link]

So what financial state is in, anyway? If there is difficulty in
making ends meet, letting people know this could result in some support
from the community. For example, several people in this thread have
decided to contribute more money after hearing lwn was insufficiently
funded by its current advertising.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 16:25 UTC (Tue) by johnkarp (guest, #39285) [Link]

I think more could be done to get income from subscribers. For example:
  • Subscribers of a particular level could have a short profile accessable in their comment posts
  • Higher-level subscribers could have snazzier markup of their name (with dollar signs or other minimal bling)
  • Publishing lists of supporters the way non-profits often do ("Platinum members: ... .. ... Silver members: ... .. .. . Erbium members ... .. .. .")
Though I know many people don't like the money-centered atmosphere the above creates. They could be offered these features:
  • Higher subscribers could opt out of the above
  • Subscribers could hide their ID #

In text ads

Posted Sep 4, 2007 16:30 UTC (Tue) by Thalience (subscriber, #4217) [Link]

Please don't.

I feel that in-text ads make a site look "trashy". I associate them with low-quality sites with little original content (or content that is mainly gossip and rumors). You know, the kind of site where every story is a short summary of the real article (on someone else's site), plus a misleading headline designed to attract a link from Digg.

It is not that in-text ads would annoy me personally (in fact, I just enabled them in my preferences). Rather, I am concerned that they would create a negative first impression for people seeing LWN for the first time.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 17:02 UTC (Tue) by tokiko (guest, #21085) [Link]

In-text adds are by far the worst - they look very much like links. I refuse to read any websites that display them.

No animation please.

Posted Sep 4, 2007 17:44 UTC (Tue) by xorbe (guest, #3165) [Link]

Just don't animate the ads.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 18:27 UTC (Tue) by frazier (guest, #3060) [Link]

I'm with about everyone else on this... ...I hate "in-text advertising". I don't like it there even though the subscriber level allows me to turn it off. I'm less likely to send a link out to someone if their view of LWN has these ads in there.

I don't mind non-animated graphical banners (no flash) but the in-text advertising trashes and cheapens the LWN content.

Please, no in-text advertising for anyone!


LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 19:02 UTC (Tue) by brouhaha (subscriber, #1698) [Link]

I don't understand the point of all the complaints about in-text ads. Get a grip. If they bother you, but you want LWN content, just subscribe. On the other hand, if LWN content isn't worth the few measly bucks to you, then why are you bothering to read it at all? I pay more money for print magazines that contain far less useful (and timely) content, and don't complain about the expense or the advertising in those.

I'm an LWN subscriber, and it's fine by me if LWN puts an in-text ad on every other word, as long as I can disable them with my subscription. (Though obviously it would be counterproductive for LWN to do that.)

Thus far I haven't been annoyed enough by any advertising on LWN to bother disabling it. It appears that my account already had in-text ads disabled, so I've turned them on, and browsed the site for a few minutes, and haven't found them to be objectionable.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 21:19 UTC (Tue) by cworth (guest, #27653) [Link]

> I don't understand the point of all the complaints about in-text ads. Get a
> grip. If they bother you, but you want LWN content, just subscribe.

I'm a subscriber that agrees with the many commenters that think that should run, (not walk!), away from in-text ads.

Long ago, I read (one week late) for quite a while before
becoming a subscriber. And to this date, is the only online
subscription I have ever paid for. I subscribe because has
some of the best technical content I've ever read. I'm constantly
amazed with Jon's ability to digest complex technical issues and
describe them in simple ways that many people can understand. I recall
sitting next to a speaker at a technical conference reading a
description of his own talk on and saying, "That's much more
clear than anything I said."

I share all that because I think in-text ads will actively discourage
new readers from having the same experience I had. In my opinion, these
ads provide an initial impression that is cheap and tacky and
unbecoming of the technical quality of I think the ads
could actively discourage new readers from sticking around long enough
to appreciate the true quality here. And anything that discourages new
subscribers could threaten the team from continuing their
excellent work.

So that's why I'm bothered by the presence of in-text ads even though
I'm a subscriber that will never see them. I think the messaging
should encourage readers to subscribe to support the high-quality
content, rather than subscribing to squelch the obnoxious noise that's
obscuring that content in the first place.

-Carl Worth

quality of LWN

Posted Sep 5, 2007 4:49 UTC (Wed) by jbw (guest, #5689) [Link]

> And to this date, is the only online subscription I have
> ever paid for.

Same with me, but in my case it is more extreme: LWN is the only subscription of any kind (delivered via the Internet or via the physical post) that I have paid for in the last 20 years.

> I subscribe because has some of the best technical content
> I've ever read. I'm constantly amazed with Jon's ability to digest
> complex technical issues and describe them in simple ways that many
> people can understand. I recall sitting next to a speaker at a
> technical conference reading a description of his own talk on
> and saying, "That's much more clear than anything I said."

Agreed completely.


quality of LWN

Posted Sep 5, 2007 9:22 UTC (Wed) by dany (subscriber, #18902) [Link]

I agree too, please just dont use in-text ads. If you have to, use google text ads on left panel, or after arcticles (and before comments).

My alternative suggestion is to more propagate this site (much much more). Many linux sysadmins dont even know you exist ;-)

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 19:30 UTC (Tue) by tnoo (subscriber, #20427) [Link]

A high quality site like LWN deserves high quality ads. They should be
always visible, static, and easy to block (or to switch off in the
preferences). Advertisements should hint to high quality products of
trusted companies (think of a sort of buyers guide), that are somehow in
the high tech / Linux / gadget business and target the interests of a
sizable fraction of the subscribers.

In-text-advertising on the other hand is low estethics, makes a site
unusable and usually links to low quality products, that need this sneaky
way of getting into the (sub)consciousness of people. Personally I rather
pay more for my subscription than having cheap, unrelated advertisements.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 4, 2007 20:30 UTC (Tue) by jlgreer1 (guest, #29948) [Link]

I particularly dislike the animated ads. For example, a banner at the top with a dancing chorus line and flashing colors.... It is like a cell phone ring ad on the radio... I change stations (web sites).

I have low vision, so in text ads that produce a pop up are very distracting.


"in-text" ads are horrible

Posted Sep 4, 2007 21:56 UTC (Tue) by mikov (subscriber, #33179) [Link]

This is just another me too post, in case you need something like an informal readership poll.

I consider "in text" ads extremely annoying and, as others have said, it would decrease the greatness of the site. Please, consider not doing it.

Truth be said, LWN is way too valuable, so I suspect that "guests" who read it will probably continue to do so regardless of the horrible ugly ads, and some might even get annoyed enough to subscribe, but I am not sure this is a good strategy.

On the other hand, regular, clearly visible ads, don't bother me, as long as they don't slow down my browsing. I wouldn't mind terribly seeing them even as subscriber.

I would point to ArsTechnica as an example of a site with ads which is OK. (Their page layout is not great though - I much prefer LWN's, which resizes with my browser)

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 5, 2007 12:15 UTC (Wed) by nlucas (subscriber, #33793) [Link]

Have to say I also find in-text ads obnoxious.

I believe you could do other things to add value AND revenue to LWN,net. An example could be making mp3/ogg files of the articles, and then people could buy them (or pay more to also include this service) so they could ear LWN while riding home/work, at the bus, jogging with their OpenMoko phone, etc.

Off course this service costs money, but I believe adding a subscription option to users interested in this service could pay for it. And you could start by providing a "pay-per-view" 1 or 2 talked articles per week and go from there.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 5, 2007 12:23 UTC (Wed) by stuart_hc (guest, #9737) [Link]

I am a lapsed subscriber and read LWN when I have time (I stopped subscribing since I was spending too much time reading all the articles due to the high quality of the articles). My thoughts are:
  • Flash or animated GIF ads I am indifferent to - I have these disabled by default which is a basic survival strategy on the web today and acutely necessary for users who have photosensitive epilepsy
  • Google ads and static image ads are acceptable since they don't interfere with reading, are familiar from print media and are occasionally useful
  • In-text javascript ads are highly irritating, breaking the concentration of the reader when following detailed articles. What makes LWN unique is its in-depth and detailed articles, requiring concentration to understand deeply complex ideas.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 5, 2007 15:01 UTC (Wed) by dkite (guest, #4577) [Link]

Since I for one haven't shown up with a casserole to feed you, or filled
your gas tank, or paid your dentist, I don't feel that my opinion on how
you generate money has any meaning.

Do what you feel necessary. I trust you based on a long track record. I
don't think you will do anything that you wouldn't want to see.


Putting things in perspective...

Posted Sep 5, 2007 16:38 UTC (Wed) by pr1268 (subscriber, #24648) [Link]

I generally agree with a lot of the previous posters that in-text advertising is at best, tacky-looking, and at worst, utterly annoying with the in-your-face JavaScript and popup windows blocking my view. But, more importantly, I find the mere fact that our editors felt compelled to resort to such revenue-generating tactics disturbing.

LWN has provided its viewers with the most straightforward, understandable, and honest news regarding Linux and Open Source for like ten years now. Plus, I cannot tell you all how much I learned about Linux just by reading the (often spirited) discussions that succeed each article. So, it concerns me that the there's a threat of this wonderful site going under due to dwindling revenue. At least that's my perception having read our editor's original announcement and nearly the entire thread of postings above.

C'mon, editors! Raise our subscription rates if you have to. I do realize you all have to put food on the table and keep the servers running. I'll even turn on the ads if it'll help, but just please, PLEASE don't go HTTP 404 on us!

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 5, 2007 20:44 UTC (Wed) by ami.ganguli (guest, #9613) [Link]

I wonder if there might be some new and innovative way to make ads work for everybody.

One possibility: since many LWN articles actually have long-term value (they will be relevant for a fairly long time and keep bringing readers through search engines), how about allowing readers to attach paid ads to specific articles? They could show up between the article and the comments.

So if a certain article is highly relevant to my particular product and I see it (as a regular reader) then I attach an ad to the article in the hopes that it will draw slow-but-steady and highly targeted hits for months or years to come.

Obviously this would only be practical if it could be highly automated. But it would a service for everybody. Readers would benefit not only from highly relevant ads, but also from the opportunity to advertise to a well-targeted technical audience. This level of targeting would be difficult for even Google to match.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 3:27 UTC (Thu) by paulmfoster (guest, #17313) [Link]

Argh! Let me add my vote *against* in-text ads. More and more sites I visit have these ad popups when you mouse over a word. They are endlessly annoying.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 4:27 UTC (Thu) by amikins (guest, #451) [Link]

When I saw the article title, and glanced at the body, I thought to myself, "Wow. There's going to be a lot of complaints."

I wasn't disappointed.

I'm going to go ahead and concur with the vast majority of the comments so far.. I believe in-text advertisements are obnoxious, unattractive, and get in the way of getting the task done: reading an article. Not only do I personally dislike them, I believe the presence of in-text ads lowers the overall professional appearance of a website, and presents a level of potential frustration to new viewers. So you can disable them by turning off Javascript. Does EVERYBODY know that? What of the people you're trying to bring into the fold, who aren't using a well designed browser?

If the bottom line needs some boosting, then I would support the addition of more static ads (static as in not changing while you're looking at the page; google ads and friends are fine) and possibly adjusting subscription prices/introduction of additional subscription levels. Even non-animated graphical ads would be welcome if they're of sufficient quality.

Lose the in-text ads!

Posted Sep 6, 2007 5:54 UTC (Thu) by fyodor (guest, #3481) [Link]

I love LWN and have been a subscriber ever since you started that program. But I'm disappointed that you would even consider in-text ads, much less implement them! Even though I won't see them as a subscriber (except when I lose the cookie and read while logged out), I am repulsed that such ads ever show up on such a fine publication. Whenever I see such ads on a site, I think "trash". They are like an admission that a webmaster has given up on attracting new users and improving the site, and is just cashing out on the dwindling userbase as the site dies. I know this isn't the case with LWN--and that is why I object to giving that appearance.

Anybody can make a mistake, but I'm particularly disappointed that this article is 2 days old and LWN has not responded by canceling the program. Are you actually considering keeping these obnoxious ads even though they obviously piss off hundreds of your actual subscribers?

Raise the subscription fees if you have to, but show us that you still care about your users by losing the in-text ads!

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 8:10 UTC (Thu) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

Hate them too. Like apparently everyone.

Granted, I don't actually *see* any, both since it appears that it defaults to off for subscribers, and because I've got ** adblocked since way-back-when.

But my guess is, if you made a survey as to which kinds of advertising people find acceptable, this kind of bullshit would be second-last. The only thing worse is advertising that is actively *above* the content and requires action to remove before one is able to read at all.

Ok, so possibly animated gifs/flash-files with music gets to share that second-last place with the "in-text" insults.

Relevant text-ads can actually *add* to the attraction of a site, and even if not, certainly annoy very little. Normal still-standing image-ads are also perfectly fine, bonus if they're correctly implemented (mainly the img-tags should provice width and height so that the page can finish rendering without needing to wait for always bog-slow advertising-servers.)

Even image-ads that are in the content-area, say in the right margin or even between chapters in a longer text are much preferable to these things.

I'm very disapointed with this decision. Please reconsider.

I'm not against advertising as such, but it should be clearly recognizable, and it should not interfere with normal use of the site, which this does, you need to treat the page like a maze and actively avoid ever having the mouse over certain parts of the page.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 8:45 UTC (Thu) by cdamian (subscriber, #1271) [Link]

I want to add my "metoo": inline ads are the worst, it makes clicking on every link full of fear of yet another horrible ad.

On the other hand: I really couldn't care about any kind of ad which is easily blocked with adblockplus. So as long as they come via a common javascript script or are contained in a identifiable div tag I don't really mind.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 10:18 UTC (Thu) by endecotp (guest, #36428) [Link]

LWN is devalued by association with the other sites that use these ads, which are universally of very poor quality.

The ads make reading the article harder. A random unimportant word somewhere in the middle of the article is emphasised and draws the eye.

The ad relevance is much worse than AdWords achieves.

My initial, slightly cynical, reaction: are you actually trying to raise revenue from these ads, or are they just intended to encourage readers to subscribe to get rid of them?

I'm not a subscriber. I have considered subscribing in the past, but it comes down to this:

- Why is it that other sites are able to make a living from advertising but LWN can't? Maybe it's because you are kernel hackers and writers, and don't have the right skills to get a good deal from advertisers. The "other sites" that I have in mind are places like theregister and EDN, i.e. real journalism, not slashdot.

- If I were going to give some money to a Linux-related good cause, would it be the LWN travel fund, or would it be to pay developers or to pay for Debian's bandwidth bill?

LWN history

Posted Sep 6, 2007 11:07 UTC (Thu) by vblum (guest, #1151) [Link]

LWN's editors refused the subscription idea for a long time. When LWN was officially being shut down, it was us, the subscribers, that asked for a subscription option, rather than have the site go away. The only reason there are subscriptions is because else, there would be no LWN. The adveristing-only model was tried. It did not generate enough revenue, at least in 2001.

LWN's journalism is also far more high-quality that those other sites. Incidentally, when opting to pay for LWN, you also opt to pay a rather important expert on Linux device drivers in general. It's not as though it's the travel fund.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 11:20 UTC (Thu) by mendie (subscriber, #46973) [Link]

I'll umptieth the parent comment. I also read LWN for a couple of months before taking my hand from my wallet, and would have been somewhat deterred from doing so had the site been full of blue and green double underlines. I have to say I REALLY hate in text ads (Intellitxt article fills with lots of rubbish links, and if I so much as touch the mouse I get a pop-up. I most associate this form of advertising with low-end gaming and hardware "review" sites and would have to suggest if you do decide to stick with this method, please don't do as these sites do and underline every second word!

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 13:24 UTC (Thu) by freemars (subscriber, #4235) [Link]

From the fine article:
While we are on the subject, please keep the LWN text ads in mind for a very cost effective means of reaching LWN readers.

Given the hostility to text ads in the comments so far, a business might find itself 'reaching' LWN readers in an entirely negivive way...

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 23:30 UTC (Thu) by fyodor (guest, #3481) [Link]

Actually those text ads are different, and much less offensive/intrusive than the hideous in-text popup ads they recently implemented. The regular text ads are just a short message and link near the top of the left sidebar of each page. They are specific to LWN and usually advertise for Verio.

But yeah, anyone who buys the in-text ads won't get my business. I think those are generally sold by Intellitxt and then distributed among the thousands of (mostly lame) sites which use them.

Guest-only (to date) perspective

Posted Sep 6, 2007 15:09 UTC (Thu) by csigler (subscriber, #1224) [Link]

Well, I'm quite late to the comment party, but thought I'd chip in my two bits.

I decided to comment because the in-text ad links are continuing to be used up to this morning (Thursday). Hey, I realize I'm a long-time free loader, and as such my input may be discarded without comment, and rightly so. But I'm quite surprised, as much opposition as has been expressed by paid subscribers to the in-text ad links, that they're still being used a number of days later.

I second the suggestion posted by others above: PLEASE let us know about your financial requirements (and difficulties)! Perhaps there could be a funding status page for LWN (if that's not too cheesy). I promise I will subscribe -- plus make up for back time. Knowing what the funding situation is will provide incentive for me and many others to finally get off our lazy asses and subscribe.

I also second many other comments: In-text ad links are horrible! They just scream "low-rent, do-anything-for-a-half-penny" website.

LWN is _the_ premium Linux news, information, and learning website on the web. Please let us know what you need to keep it that way, Mr. Corbet.

Those darn things that pop up and block what you're reading and won't go away and drive you crazy?

Posted Sep 6, 2007 15:56 UTC (Thu) by amazingblair (guest, #2789) [Link]

I always thought animated ads were the worst annoyance, but then along came the in-text pop-up ads. Paragraphs became minefields, and you couldn't move your mouse freely across the screen without triggering the little turds. (Pardon the expression.) I don't like having to THREAD the mouse pointer carefully around these in-text ads to get it to it's destination. It doesn't matter how well marked they are -- they totally change the way the mouse must be handled and it is terribly frustrating.

-Amazing Blair

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 6, 2007 16:26 UTC (Thu) by ranmachan (subscriber, #21283) [Link]

One more "I don't like in-text ads" from me. They usually slow down loading the page, and it annoys me quite a bit to get a popup because I accidently moused over an in-text ad.

me too

Posted Sep 7, 2007 0:40 UTC (Fri) by ordonnateur (guest, #6652) [Link]

I wish this was to add something new but it looks like it will just have to be another 'don't do it' cry.

I don't see flash unless I am using my mac; those irritating block ads that fill the space after the first para, I can scroll past with my eyes closed; the add-words type in a side bar don't bother me, just occasionally they may be relevant; banner ads, provided they are not the all-singing-dancing type can usually be consigned to a blind spot. But in-text pop-ups NO. Put mouse in middle of page, use scroll wheel to move down text, with in-text ads it become a slalom course. I turned on ads just to see what the fuss was about, saw nothing, so enabled the intelitext cookies, ok, so far few ads but as always, of no relevance to the text. If you never have more ads than the few you have it will annoy more readers than the income could possibly be worth, if you get a worthwhile density of ads then you have lost your readership - unless it drives them all to an increased sub.

LWN is the only online subscription I have, it is worth it, I probably get more out of it in a year than spending the same on printed manuals would give me. From a magazine publishers perspective your readership is the product you sell to your customer the advertiser, with such a select and paying readership I would suggest you need to sell your advertising selectively to the advertisers who really want and will pay for the special reach LWN surely has.

What I am doing personally

Posted Sep 7, 2007 3:20 UTC (Fri) by jbw (guest, #5689) [Link]

Okay, here is my reaction to this whole affair.

I have now placed on my website a statement:

(1) linking to LWN,
(2) explaining that LWN is the best source in the world for news related to software,
(3) mentioning that it is the only thing I have felt worth paying subscription for in decades, and
(4) that people should go read it and subscribe.

I suggest that everyone else do likewise.


What I am doing personally

Posted Sep 8, 2007 3:06 UTC (Sat) by mikov (subscriber, #33179) [Link]

I don't have a personal website (that anyone visits anyway), but I am curious to see what you have put on yours.

Please keep interrupting ads away from LWM!

Posted Sep 7, 2007 8:33 UTC (Fri) by ber (subscriber, #2142) [Link]

My opinion (as subscriber with my company): Keep LWN free from advertisment as much as you can; depending on your readers money is much better. If you cannot avoid ads, seperate ads from editorial content clearly.

I consider intext-ads and google-ads as disruptive and not clearly seperated. For intext-ads this is obvious. For google-ads they will make it hard to find a link fast as they are too similiar to other content on a side.

Use of the mentioned advertisment techniques will lead to me linking less to LWN and thus will dry out a very important fundament on which LWN is build as I will not be the only one. I also much less inclided to pay for LWN if I cannot link to it and other have to bear the advertisments.

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 7, 2007 16:01 UTC (Fri) by pm101 (guest, #3011) [Link]

Personally, I hate in-text ads. They're one of the most annoying types of advertising -- they get confused with real links. I actually react to them, rather than filtering them out (ad blocker, or mental filtering). I move my mouse over them if it is something that looks interesting, and then I get an ad.

If there's no alternative to keeping LWN afloat, go for it. Otherwise, I'd kill them. Hell, put in a fake Windows dialog telling you that your system isn't optimized that goes to a spyware download site. It'll be less obnoxious than in-text ads. The only worse ads are Flash (fortunately, most of my computers do not have Flash), and ones that block page content (15 second long pre-content ads, or ones that pop up over text that you need to explicitly close).

Also, FYI: I use LWN not logged in 90 percent of the time. I value my anonymity. I log in to see new content. Much of the time, I'm a few weeks behind anyways, so I don't need to be logged in. As a result, disabling ads for subscribers does next to nothing for me.

"in-text advertising"

Posted Sep 8, 2007 11:54 UTC (Sat) by gvy (guest, #11981) [Link]

That "latest" is exceptionally ugly, I personally tend to run from websites that suffer from those double-underlined, quad-annoying links.

Hope it won't plague LWN...

attracting more subscribers via better search engine placement

Posted Sep 9, 2007 3:39 UTC (Sun) by jbw (guest, #5689) [Link]

I just tested several searches on Google.

Searching for “open source news” yields 447 results. The main LWN web page does not appear anywhere in these results. LWN only appears via a feature article at the URL “” at position 405.

When searching for “free software news”, the main LWN web page appears at position 173 in the results. One of the weekly editions of LWN has an earlier appearance via the URL “” at position 138.

When searching for “linux news”, the main LWN web page appears at position 3. So at least it is on the first page, but bizarrely Linux Today and LXer are listed ahead of LWN.

Clearly, these results need to be improved! It is outrageous that the world's best source of news on open source software does not appear in the Google web search for “open source news”.

I suggest two actions should be taken.

First, LWN should change its official name to “LWN: Free and Open Source Software News”.

Second, every subscriber should place a link like this on the most significant web page they control:

<a href= "" >LWN: The world's best news on Linux and free and open source software</a>

It is important that the key words are inside the “a” element. If the only thing inside the “a” element is the name “LWN”, search engines won't be able to automatically determine that LWN is the place to go for news on Linux, free software, and open source software.


attracting more subscribers via better search engine placement

Posted Sep 10, 2007 6:51 UTC (Mon) by hawk (subscriber, #3195) [Link]

Indeed. The current tag line - "Your Linux info source" isn't even written out anywhere on the page!! (Just as text in an image.) That doesn't help the situation much...

I don't think LWN should be doing any kind of nasty SEO tricks, but currently, it doesn't even have have the key words for what it's actually all about on the page (except the very front page for non-logged in users). "" is pretty much all there is on the site, and if you already know that, you don't need a search engine to find the site.

attracting more subscribers via better search engine placement

Posted Sep 10, 2007 17:19 UTC (Mon) by endecotp (guest, #36428) [Link]

This may be an unintended consequence of changing the name of the site from "Linux Weekly News" to "LWN".

LWN advertising update

Posted Sep 14, 2007 7:25 UTC (Fri) by robbe (subscriber, #16131) [Link]

My bias: non-subscriber with JS turned off everywhere, so blissfully ignorant of in-text ads

What about ad links that are in the text flow, but very tiny, and that you must click on (mouse-over not being enough to unleash them)? E.g.: blah blah SAN[ad] blah blah

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