2 housekeeping notes (ads, and a new commenting feature)

Two housekeeping notes for you:

1. Ads

I’ve been experimenting with some different ad formats over the last week (taking advantage of the fact that December traditionally has lower traffic, so it’s the least bad time to do it). You’ll notice, for instance, that there’s a new ad box above the comments section (except on mobile devices), and I’m experimenting with options for ads on mobile.

You may see ads that are more noticeable than in the past, because ad conventions are changing. I don’t like invasive ads, and my goal is to make it easy for you to scroll right on past ads you’re not interested in. But I do need to keep up with changing ad trends because the site needs to generate revenue to support the amount of time and upkeep needed to keep it alive.

If the ads are annoying you, please know you have my blessing to install an ad blocker. (I’m not generally a fan of ad blockers because ads are how sites provide free content to you, but if ads are causing real problems for you, don’t feel any guilt about doing it.)

A bunch of ad-related questions have come up lately, so I thought I’d answer them all in one place:

What can I do if I get an ad that auto-plays sound?
Ads that auto-play sound are supposed to be turned off entirely on this site, but some advertisers have found ways to send them through anyway. If you encounter one of these, I’d be grateful if you’d email me the URL it links to since that’s the only way for me to get those tracked down and banned.

What’s up with that celebrity news that keeps appearing in the new above-comments ad box?
The above-comments ad box definitely has some different content than the rest of the ads on the site. Ultimately, I’m balancing that against my desire to financially support the site long-term.

Could you let people subscribe to access a separate ad-free version of the site?
Setting the site up to work that way would be a pretty major (and possibly expensive) undertaking requiring big technical changes.

How about funding the site through donations instead of ads?
I really appreciate people’s willingness to donate, but it’s not an economically viable model for the site. The number of regulars (the people who would presumably donate) is dwarfed by the number of non-regulars who just come for cover letter or resume help and then leave. Currently their visits make up a huge portion of the site’s revenue. So ads are really the model that makes sense.

2. New commenting feature

Loads and loads of you have asked for a way to spot new comments, so that if you read the comments and then come back later, you’re able to tell what’s new since you were last there. I am excited to announce that it is now so!

You’ll notice that comments that are new on a page since your last visit now have a blue border to the left so you can more easily spot them. (Or at least you might notice. We’re still working out some final issues, especially with the very stubborn Internet Explorer.)

This uses cookies to work, so it won’t function if you have cookies disabled or set to clear on exit.

And keep in mind that if you leave a comment of your own, that will cause the page to refresh — meaning that any new comments you hadn’t yet gotten to won’t have the blue “new” indicator when the page reloads.

Much thanks to Laura Moore of smallestdecisions.net for making this happen.

{ 150 comments… read them below }

  1. some1*

    I usually read the site on my phone while riding the train to work, but the new ads make the internet crash so I can’t do that anymore :(

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The two ads currently on mobile are pretty low-resource so that shouldn’t be happening. Can you let me know what device you’re using (what type of phone), what browser, and what operating system? That’ll help me troubleshoot. (Same for anyone else.) Thanks!

      1. squids*

        I’ve been noticing that the site is crashing for me fairly regularly. I’m not sure if this is due to ads or the new commenting. Using chrome on Windows. I haven’t had crashes in mobile but I haven’t used it much this week.

            1. limenotapple*

              Ditto for me. Chrome on windows is almost unusable with this site. I am also pretty sure it started this week.

              1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

                Interesting. On Chrome on Windows 7, no crashes. However I run an adblocker on this machine (work laptop)

                1. Spice for this*

                  I use Chrome on Windows 7 too (laptop at home & no ad blocker) and I never have any problems.

                2. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

                  Chrome on Windows 7 at work has always given me problems. Runs very slowly & eventually crashes. So I typically only read on my phone which seems to have no problems with the site.

              2. Homemade Hedgehog*

                Yep, same her. Chrome on my work computer (no ad blocker) running Windows 7. I keep getting messages that the flash is crashing. It has only been a problem this week. Also the site runs really slow for me. :(

              3. Nina*

                Same, but it was happening long before the new ads arrived. Always crashes on my work computer (Chrome, not sure of Windows) and IE, although I use Chrome more than IE.

          1. Evan Þ*

            I’m using Internet Explorer on Windows 10, and the site’s crashed a couple times for me this week too. Before the change, it hadn’t crashed for a couple months.

            1. blueiphone*

              Work machine is a Dell laptop (3-4+ years old?) running Internet Explorer (oh God) and Windows 10 (not my idea at all). AAM constantly crashes the browser (granted, sometimes google.com is enough to crash the browser and IT apparently doesn’t see anything wrong with this even though my team’s entire workflow is internet-based).
              With Chrome on a MacBook (Mac OS 10.10?), it’s much more stable. Yes, I could just stop going to AAM while at work but look–if the tools (work websites and intranets) I need to do my job are going to take 5+ minute to respond to every command (and then just crash or freeze anyway), then I’m going to need something to do during that lagtime. So excuse me for clicking over to AAM during all that lagtime ;-)

          2. GigglyPuff*

            Mine used to crash all the time, months ago (but my phone is pretty crashy when it comes to the browser), typically just with this site. It stopped for a while, but then again last week, I couldn’t keep it open more than 30 seconds without it crashing the browser, after about 3 crashes, it clears out all my open windows in the browser and reopens to the home page.

            This is a Casio Commando GTE, just the standard Android browser.

          3. Clara*

            I’ve had multiple crashes daily on this site on both iPad and iPhone since the new ads started.

            It also crashes in Chrome on my work desktop running Windows 7, where I cannot install AdBlocker. But it is fine on my home laptop where I have AdBlock installed.

        1. dragonzflame*

          Was just going to mention it, too – IE on Windows phone running Lumia Denim . The site used to be rock solid so I can
          only assume it’s related to the new ads.

          Separate but possibly related: The site’s search function doesn’t work on my phone either. After I hit search, nothing happens.

        2. IT Kat*

          Just putting in my two cents – I use Chrome on Windows 8.1 exclusively when browsing this site, and no crashes for me… I also have no extensions or adblockers enabled, so it’s just basic Chrome, not sure if that has anything to do with it.

      2. Honeybee*

        I sometimes use Chrome on a Galaxy S6 Edge+ (Android), and I see the ad box above the comments sometimes but not all of the time. It did crash my browser once but after that it’s been not the celebrity ads but some other companies (and less resource intensive ones, as you said).

      3. Honeybee*

        Addition: I normally browse this website using Firefox on Windows 10 on my work Lenovo laptop, and I have zero problems. It never autoplays the ads.

        I just opened Chrome to check it and Chrome autoplays all of the above-comment box ads (the celebrity ones, although they usually play a pre-ad ad first, which is weird). It also had significantly longer loading times for this page than Firefox, particularly when opening the comments section. I never use Microsoft Edge for this site, but I checked it briefly anyway, and Edge browser also autoplays all of the CelebTV ads (again, with another ad that comes before the ad). For both Chrome and Edge there’s like a 15-second delay so by the time the ad has started playing, you’ve probably already scrolled down the page.

    2. Special Snowflake*

      It’s been killing the functionality of safari on an iphone 5s for me. It will load continuously and force other windows to reload and then I lose everything until I close AAM and reload the other sites.

    3. Talvi*

      Yeah, I’ve been getting that this week as well. I cannot read the main page of the site without the safari app crashing three or four times before I’ve managed to read all the new posts (I’ll quickly scroll down to where I was so I can read a little more before it crashes again). I never used to have problems with crashing – it would happen on the rare occasion if I was loading a post with a particularly large number of comments.

      This is using the built-in safari app on my ipod (ios 6).

    1. danr*

      I just did too. Will try no-adblocker for awhile. I also upgraded my router and the speed improvement may also help solve the ads problem.

  2. MusicTeacher*

    Lately I’ve been getting these mobile ads that pop up, cover the whole page, and don’t allow me to view the page until I pick an app and download it from the list! It is the worst and it is actually completely impossible to read the site without “buying” something at that point.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The ad over the weekend was causing that issue, so I turned it off on Monday. Has it happened within the last few days?

      If so, would you try clearing your cache and seeing if it still happens? (Maybe it’s holding on to the old code.) If it continues to happen, would you let me know what device you’re using, what browser, and what operating system, so that I can troubleshoot?

      1. MusicTeacher*

        I actually haven’t visited your site at all via mobile over the weekend. I first experienced this yesterday via the Feedly app on iOS. I tried it on Chrome just now though and am not getting the same ad, but I’ll come back and let you know if I get it again.

      2. Juli G.*

        Allison, just got that one. Ads don’t bother me unless they knock me out of my browser so if that one is out of rotation, I’m happy.

  3. Kelly L.*

    I saw the blue lines this morning! I wasn’t sure if they were new, or if I’d just utterly failed to notice them for years. :D Awesome!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I noticed it right away, and I love it! At first I was a little obsessive about finding new comments (who, me? obsessive?), but that’s a little unpossible in the Open Thread, at least. But it’s great for everywhere else! And even for individual threads in the Open Thread!

  4. Rachel*

    I think the ads are fine. Do people not realize that’s how bloggers make money (bloggers who work for free, may I add)?

    1. Rita*

      This. I also stopped skipping ads on YouTube for vloggers on there. Not sure if they get more money or not if someone doesn’t skip an ad, but I’m assuming so.

      1. alex*

        On youtube I think you have to watch at least 30 seconds (or the full ad, if it’s shorter) in order for the video maker to get $$.

    2. Stephanie*

      The loud auto-play ads can be a bit jarring, but I get that Alison needs the ad revenue to fund this awesome site.

    3. Natalie*

      I’ve never really seen anyone here complaining about the mere existence of ads, just the specific functionality of ads recently – ads that autoplayed, tried to download aps, took over the whole screen, or crashed browsers.

    4. not*

      It’s not the existence of the ads I object to, it’s the nature and intrusiveness of them. Autoplay, taking over the screen, impossibility of scrolling past without accidentally clicking one of them, redirecting to app stores – these are not good behaviors for ads. Plus the tackiness of the celeb gossip ads is just embarrassing – my boss came by and saw me on AAM the other day as the page loaded and he told me off for looking at “trashy gossip sites” at work. :(

      Plenty of other sites do ads well (and this used to be one of them!) It can be done.

      1. Andrea*

        Ads were auto playing for me last week but they haven’t since. I use safari; it happened when I was using my laptop but I haven’t had the issue when using my iPad.

  5. Daisy*

    I would love the feature of having the time stamps on comments being links. I would love to bookmark my comments on open threads so I can just go to them later.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It actually works that way! Just click on a time stamp, and that’s a link to that comment. To easily bookmark, it might help to open it in a new tab when you click.

          1. Daisy*

            User error as it often is then ;)

            Thanks for everything you do. I recommend your site to everyone I know. The ads aren’t bothering me and I am happy to support your site but seeing them. It is a small thing to ask for such a great site.

  6. AdsInPosts*

    Am I the only one now seeing ads in the middle of posts, repeatedly, when I read this from my iPad?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s intentional. There are now up to two ads per post on mobile devices. (For a long time, there were no ads on mobile devices even though they’ve been on the desktop version the whole time, so that’s probably why it feels like a big change.)

      1. AdsInPosts*

        Alison, thanks so much for answering. This makes much more sense to me and clearly I should have read the post better ;). Have a great weekend!

      2. Violet Rose*

        I’m also reading on an iPad, and for me the ads have reached a nice stable equilibrium, so thank you! For a while I either had one HUUUUGE awkward one at the bottom of a post, or some ridiculous number like four or five that made it hard to read the actual content, but one or two in the middle are not nearly so disruptive as even the big one at the end used to be.

        Are you able to influence the ad placement at all? I only mention it because sometimes the ad awkwardly chops off the last line of a question instead of falling between two questions or in the middle of a larger block of text. If you can’t, it’s hardly ruining my browsing experience :)

      3. Aline*

        I’m seeing five ads on the latest Short Answer post (today) on my iPad (Chrome browser). Two would be manageable, five is ridiculous.

    1. fposte*

      I had them this morning and now they’re not turning up, also on Firefox 42.0. Clearing my cookies didn’t seem to change anything.

      I’m not seeing them in Chrome either, but I’ve only looked once–maybe stuff only turns blue at update and not the first look?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’ll only highlight comments that are new since your last visit to that post, so if it’s your first visit to that post nothing will be highlighted. Knowing that, does it seem to be working how it should?

        1. Anonicorn*

          In Chrome I could see which comments were new in the 5 questions post, but it did something weird in this post. Only new comments from you were showing up with the thick blue border, not anyone else’s. (For reference, I did not clear my cookies and probably allowed something like a 3 hour span between originally reading both posts and checking back again.)

          1. Anonicorn*

            Well, for further reference, after commenting I can see my own comment marked new as well as a few others. Maybe something cleared up?

          2. Meg Murry*

            I am in Chrome and also only seeing Alison’s comments with a thick blue left edge – no other blue borders. Could you maybe post a screenshot so I could see what the blue is supposed to look like?

            Although I commented below that I turned off a ton of things. I’m going to go try clearing my cookies from AAM and see if that helps – I don’t want to clear all my cookies, I need some of them on for work.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I’m definitely seeing weirdness in Firefox 42.0. The first time I loaded the page there were no blue lines, which was expected. Then I reloaded it about 5 minutes later and comments from 30-60 minutes earlier had a blue line. I’ve waited a bit longer before reloading, and the one new comment (I’ve checked the comment count and the timestamps) does NOT have a blue line.

          I’m looking at the code, and I can see how it’s being done but I’m not sure what is going on WRT the inconsistent application. If I have more time I’ll try to look at it this weekend.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe it’s something I am doing or not doing here, but I can’t see the blue line in Chrome. The line is there, it’s as thin as a human hair and I can’t tell if the line is blue or gray because it’s so thin. Will look again tomorrow to see if it’s different. I really wanted this feature to work here. Yep, I tried leaving the page and then coming back. Will try clearing cookies, again, also.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            [Next day.] All is well, I can clearly see the blue lines even if I sit way back in my chair. It’s wonderful, I love them.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      Not a developer but I hate IE. It always makes everything crash for me – smartphone, tablet, laptop. I am pretty much a Chrome person now.

  7. Traveller*

    This seems nitpicky, but frustrating…..when I load a page to look at comments, about 15-20 seconds after the page loads, it auto-scrolls me to a different spot than I was looking at. Then it auto scrolls me again to a 3rd different point, randomly somewhere in the middle of the comments. The page jumping around is infinitely more aggravating than the ads themselves.

    I tried it a few times, and I think it seems to be happening when a video ad shows up in the top right slot on the page (it tries to jump me to look at the ad??).
    I am on a Windows desktop using Chrome.

    1. Evan Þ*

      That’s happened to me a couple times, too (Internet Explorer on Windows 10 desktop). It happened a lot more often a couple months ago (when I was on Windows 8.1). Given that the scrolling always managed to make ads visible, I’m pretty sure it was the ads.

    2. hermit crab*

      That problem was driving me up the wall recently. (Also in Chrome on Windows.) I finally just blocked Flash and that fixed it.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s not nitpicking; that’s legitimately frustrating! Let me see if there’s anything I can do about it — but also, an ad blocker or blocking Flash will absolutely fix that, if you’re open to one of those solutions.

    4. Rana*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if what’s happening is that an image is loading more slowly than the rest of the page, so when it finishes, it suddenly takes up space and pushes the text down (or up, if it takes up less space than planned).

      At least, I’ve had this experience with emails, and it was due to weird, out-of-sequence loading of images.

    5. Andrea*

      This used to happen to me, too, usually when on my laptop. I haven’t been trying to read comments much lately so I don’t know if it still is.

  8. Aussie Ruth*

    FYI, I don’t see any ads when I read through Facebook on my phone (i.e. When I follow the link from Facebook and the site opens in Facebook, rather than in a browser). I have an iPhone 6+. When I open the same page in Chrome, I see the ads.

    1. Dottie*

      Oh, that’s interesting! I barely use FB but I might for this, it’s annoying but possibly less so than the ads. Thanks!

  9. Erin*

    I appreciate your sharing all if this. I have my own blog that does reasonably well (not anywhere near yours of course ;)) so this information is really helpful as a blogger in addition to an AAM regular reader.

    My techie husband is in charge of my ads and he’s experimented with what works and is least intrusive. After having my blog up for a couple years now I have made a few hundred dollars. :) I imagine we’ll revist the ad system at some point to keep up with changing trends. I’ll definitely show him this post.

    Like you, the majority of my visits come from people who find me through a Google search, then leave after they find what they’re looking for. I’m shocked everyone who finds you isn’t immediately pursuaded to become a full time reader!

    Good luck with finding the right system, you know we’ll all keep coming back regardless. :)

  10. hermit crab*

    I actually kind of like the celebrity news ads! I don’t usually follow any of that otherwise, so this week I have felt very in-the-know whenever pop culture comes up in conversation. So now reading AAM has yet another benefit for me. :)

    1. Merry and Bright*

      I’d go for them! I didn’t get ads on AAM until this week but mine are all money-related – banks, gambling, loans etc. I can live with that but I wonder how random it is.

      This site still rocks :)

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve been enjoying the celebrity news, too. The only time I read People magazine or catch up on any celebrity gossip is when I go to the doctor’s or dentist’s office, and it’s a guilty pleasure. So I feel like I get a sneak peek at the gossip between appointments now. :-)

    3. Honeybee*

      I don’t really like the celebrity news ads but I do like all the Nordstrom and Amazon ads. I have often found out about sales on items I am looking for through AAM!

  11. hayling*

    I hate the new ads. I had turned off AdBlock for AAM but turned it back on earlier this week. There were ads in the middle of posts, and giant annoying video ads. I want to support the site but it was just really interfering with my ability to actually read it.

    1. Evan Þ*

      Are you seeing ads literally in the middle of the post? I’m seeing them at the bottom of the post, right before the comment section – it’s still mildly annoying there, but only mildly.

      (The video ads are annoying, too, when they autoplay. Even without sound, the motion is distracting to the eye.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        On mobile, there are up to two within the post itself (but you should be able to scroll right by them without issues). On desktop, they’re in the sidebar and right above the comments.

    2. Oh Susannah*

      Me too! I’ve AdBlocked everything on desktop and laptop that I can, but mobile is hell. I need to get out of the habit of reading AAM on the bus to work.

  12. Meg Murry*

    I’m not a fan of the ads on mobile because I was so used to the site without them, but

    My mobile browser (Chrome on Android 4.4.4) will often crash or hang up on loading threads with lots of comments (like the weekend threads) – I think it gets hung up when loading the “collapse X replies” part, because usually the post and comments will be up at that point but not the collapsing part. It usually just tells me Chrome isn’t responding and asks me if I want to wait or close the browser, and either way it usually comes through eventually. My phone is also way underpowered for everything I try to make it do at once, so I just consider that part of the “cost of admission” for this site and for buying a cheap phone instead of a better one. If there was an “even lighter” mobile version of the site that turned off features like collapsing, gravatars etc I might try that on weekend threads – but overall I love the collapse function so I live with knowing it’s going to take a while to load (and my wifi speed at home doesn’t help anything either).

    For a future request that probably seems a little more difficult but maybe do-able, is there a way to highlight when the OP’s chime in like how when Alison joins the conversation her comments are in a blue box? I suspect it would be more difficult, but maybe something like if Alison emailed them and said “your letter is going up today, use the email address in this letter and you will be flagged as the OP” the code could compare those email addresses to the post and flag them a different color? I only know a teeeny tiny bit about coding, and nothing about blogs or WordPress etc, so that might be beyond what you want to get into.

    But either way I just wanted to say “good job!” to Laura. This site is one of the best I’ve seen on the internet, and you and Alison seem to make excellent decisions together about how to balance it looking good and functioning in a useful manner. I will admit to using AdBlocking software though, because I can’t chance video ads ever showing up at work. However, right now it is only showing me that there are 5 blocked ads on this page, which is way better than the dozens I’ve seen on some other blogs.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks! I’m going to make sure Laura sees this comment.

      I looked into whether there’s a way to highlight OP’s comments, but there isn’t a reasonably easy way to do it (without their comments also being highlighted on all other posts, which would defeat the purpose).

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        I wonder if you notice OP updated or is otherwise participating in the comments, if you can just to a small edit in the main post saying “OP participating” or something to that effect? Especially since they often give greater context in comments they excluded from the letter that changes how the commentariat advises.

      2. Kyrielle*

        There was a web site I used for a while – now defunct and gone – that had a little ticky box claiming to be the letter-writer/OP, and when you ticked it, it put a flag on that one comment that would put the name the person chose (or the whole comment? not sure which) in pink – I think it basically applied a css class to the comment, or the equivalent.

        The ticky-box was never remembered, so if you used it once, it wouldn’t automatically repopulate on your next comment (possibly on another post) and make a mess of things.

        I’m just thinking if that could be done, then the OP could pick a memorable name for their comments on that thread and mark the box, and they wouldn’t have to mark it every time, anyone curious could scan for the color/styling and then search on the name. (Encouraging them to use something more unique than ‘OP’ might be good tho…searching on those leads to a lot of false positives.)

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I should also add that Laura bears no responsibility for anything that’s gone wrong with the ads; they’re separate from her jurisdiction! She just gets the credit for all the good stuff.

    2. Meg Murry*

      Although I can’t see the blue lines, even after turning off AdBlock. I went crazy turning off plugins and messing with settings before installing AdBlock though, so I might have turned off something else that was necessary to make the blue lines show up. It also could have to do with our work server, which blocks some things as well, maybe.

      I’m using Chrome Version 47.0.2526.80 m on a Windows 7 computer, if it makes a difference, and I’d be happy to poke into more of the settings on Monday if you or Laura want to explore why the blue lines aren’t showing up.

      1. Liza*

        I can’t see the blue lines either; Chrome 47.0.2526.73 on a Mac running OS X 10.10.5. I tried turning off the ad blocker and now I do see ads but still no lines. I also tried opening a post in a separate tab (instead of refreshing the existing tab) and no blue lines there either. I am very excited about the idea, though!

        1. Liza*

          And I initially had the same result in Firefox 37.0.2 on the same Mac (before and after disabling AdBlock Plus for the site) but after installing the Firefox update to version 42.0 and restarting Firefox, now I do see the blue lines! I don’t know if it’s because of the Firefox update, because of the browser restart in general, or if I needed to restart it after disabling the ad blocker. (I haven’t tried restarting Chrome yet, I have too much going on in Chrome.)

          …except I just refreshed in Firefox, and there is a new comment but it doesn’t have the blue line. And then I refreshed again and there are blue lines.

          Also I’m intermittently seeing blue lines in Safari 9.0.1–I loaded a page, waited a bit, refreshed and saw new comments with no line, waited a bit, refreshed and saw blue lines by those same new comments. So maybe it takes a bit for whatever’s generating the blue lines to notice?

  13. AndersonDarling*

    Hi Alison, I appreciate the honest post about using ads. I want you to make $$ so I can keep reading your wonderful blog!
    The ads on my end are really well targeted and I don’t mind them at all. They have lured me in once or twice. … What’s that, Harry & David? Moose Munch coffee?

  14. Steve*

    Hi Alison,

    I’ve noticed from some of your comments about ads that you might feel uncomfortable about advertising (in general). Please don’t! If your advertisers add value to your audience, then it’s a good relationship. I am always down to hear about great companies who can help me solve problems!

    Keep the advertisements coming,


    1. Honeybee*

      Yeah, I agree! I actually really like the sponsored posts. They’re well-written and I feel like I trust them more because I trust Alison as an authority and because she actually uses the items herself.

      I actually really like ads, because I like to buy things.

    2. Meg Murry*

      I’m ok with ads in general, especially ones that are out of the way, like the ones in the right sidebar – and those often show me things I’ve been shopping for anyway, like items I clicked on at Amazon or clothes at certain department stores.

      However, I think the huge celebrity videos in the middle of the page are concerning. In the past when I’ve been browsing AAM at work (between tasks) it didn’t look like I was goofing off, and I have genuinely learned enough from the posts and comments that I think it counts as being validly work related. However, now, if one of my coworkers were to see my monitor when I’m reading here, the celebrity video ad is so large and in the middle that it looks like I’m just goofing off reading gossip sites or watching youtube. I also wonder if this type of ad would be more likely to get the site blocked at companies that have blacklists of sites or categories of sites that aren’t allowed. Two of my last jobs subscribed to services like this, blocking categories of sites like “dating” “gaming” “blogs” “social media” “streaming media” etc. At the time AAM was sometimes blocked as being a blog, but sometimes not. The only good thing about it was that a lot of the advertising was blocked, so it was like having adblock on the sites that were allowed – but it was pretty annoying overall.

      So, long story short – celebrity video ads make the site look less professional and aren’t good for the sites image and reputation in my fuddy duddy mind. I use Adblock at work so I don’t see them anyway, but I’m not sure if it would make a first time visitor feel like the site wasn’t quite as professional.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think it’s a fair point and it’s something that’s concerned me too — but I’ve also seen the same ads on a lot of political and news sites, so I think it may just be that it’s a jarring change from what’s been here in the past. I definitely hear you though.

      2. Ife*

        Yes I had that impression too about the celebrity ads. It really seems to clash with the overall message of the site. But, they’re better than some I’ve seen on other sites so I can learn to get used to them.

      3. Amanda not Mandy*

        Yeah, the awful celeb gossip ads make the site look very inappropriate for work. I’ve stopped reading the site at work because of that.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Can those of you saying this tell me more about why? I frequently read sites with ads that I don’t like (auto-play video ads annoy the hell out of me), and I just arrange the page so that it’s above or below the visible area where I’m reading so I don’t see them. Is there something about the new set-up here that’s making that hard to do?

          1. Lucy Through The Wardrobe Door*

            The ads are right in the middle of the content, and you don’t know they’re there until you read down. So preemptive action isn’t possible. And there are several of them, all over the site, so finding a section where no ad is showing is hard. Plus, you have to scroll past them even to find any actual content and they are obnoxious and in-your-face when doing so.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Is there something about it that’s different from, say, most articles on washingtonpost.com or on inc.com that have video ads mid-articles? That’s the part that’s confusing me; this ad set-up has become pretty common, so I’m trying to figure out if there’s something different about the way it’s working for you here.

              1. Lucy Through The Wardrobe Door*

                I don’t read those sites. None of the other sites I do read regularly have advertising like this. They use static, text based ads that are outside the main content frames so can be easily ignored.

                Your site seems to be the first one where I’ve encountered this awful advertising style combined with content I actually want to read. Normally I just click away when I hit a site with video ads autoplaying, because no content is worth dealing with that crap.

                1. Lucy Through The Wardrobe Door*

                  How disappointing. It was interesting reading your site for the week or so I was aware of it before you changed the ads. I really appreciated the advice you offered. Unfortunately, the ads are just too off-putting for me to keep reading here. Good luck with the site.

  15. MoinMoin*

    Just curious, does it help you if readers click on the ad if we pretty much immediately close the ad window after?
    I find the ads generally unobtrusive. I use IE at work and Chrome on a Galaxy S4 otherwise.

  16. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I don’t think so, and I think advertisers wouldn’t want me encouraging people to do that regardless — so click if you’re interested and ignore if you’re not!

  17. Blue_eyes*

    I noticed the blue lines today in open thread and I really like them! It will definitely make it easier to keep track of long threads.

  18. Shell*

    Alison, I really hope I’m not beating a dead horse here, but instead of donations replacing ads (which you say is nonviable), could you have a donations thing set up but still keep the ads?

    I see ads when I view this site on mobile/iPad but I have an adblocker on my work desktop, where I do most of my reading on this site (the site had caused some trouble for that computer in the past). If there was a donation option available alongside the ads, I’d feel less guilty about the ad blocker, since I use my mobile/iPad a lot less for viewing this site!

      1. mander*

        Me too! I have an irrational hatred of ads but I feel guilty blocking them on pages that I actually use a lot.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m so touched that you want to, but please do not worry about it at all. The ad model is handling the financial side of things just fine, and you have my blessing to use an ad blocker guilt-free!

      If you want other ways to support the site, recommend it to others and just keep reading. No guilt! (Maybe buy an ebook for a job hunting friend if you must.)

      1. Meg Murry*

        Ok, but is there a charity you would like us to donate to instead, so we can feel less guilty about it? Only half joking – I’d be happy to make a moderate donation to a good cause as a way to say thank you for all your great advice that I get for free.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That is really kind of you. Any cause close to your heart! But if you want my input, I’m a big fan of the Innocence Project (which gets wrongfully convicted people released from prison) or the Polaris Project (which helps victims of human trafficking).

    2. Natalie*

      Ah, interesting idea. I guess Wonkette does something similar because they have AWFUL ads (seriously, it looks like Encyclopedia Drammatica over there) but they make a lot of money from them. So if you use an adblocker they ask you to throw them some cash.

  19. Michael*

    Have you considered trying an alternative to ads for support in running the site? I feel like something like Patreon could be good – you could do something in the vein of waitbutwhy, where they have a couple brief mentions of it on their site, and still they are getting $10,000 a month in donations.
    It is super unintrusive (less so than the ads you have currently) and could help a lot of us feel like we’re supporting you more directly than by looking at and occasionally clicking on ads.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      See the question about donations in the post above! (Essentially, not a viable model compared to ads.) But I really appreciate your willingness to do that!

  20. Sonya*

    I’ve been redirected to scam “win a free iPad!” sites that then pop up with a button that forces me to either press OK or clear my iPhone 6’s cache, because once that button pops up it disables me from closing that tab. Please get rid of that kind.

  21. Talvi*

    I’ve now had a chance to sit down and read some of today’s open thread on my desktop, and the blue lines are fantastic! This will be very useful when checking in on those posts that get a lot of comments.

  22. Sara*

    I haven’t had issues with the ads last week or this week. (I typically view the site using the Chrome app for iPad.) One feature I would love to see added to the site is a “return to top” button that would take me back to the top of the comments section. A couple other sites I frequent have one that kind of floats along on the right side near the scroll bar, and I think that given the length of some of the comments sections on this site, it could be a useful addition. Just an idea!

    1. Rana*

      That would be really useful, especially on mobile. (On laptop, I use keyboard shortcuts to jump to the top, but that’s not an option on the phone.)

      1. mander*

        If you happen to be using Firefox on Android, there are a couple of extensions you can install that add this feature in the form of a floating button that appears when you flick up or down quickly enough. One is called Smarter Scrolling, the other is Scroll to Top Mobile. I’ve used both and they both seem to work fine.

  23. bkanon*

    On Firefox for Android, I’m getting four or more ads in long posts. Currently on the front page, the self-harm post, there’s an ad
    — immediately before last line of italics in #1
    — after third paragraph in #2
    — middle of last para in #2
    — after last para in #3
    — after last line in #5

    Three more posts on page 2 have several ads apiece, up to six in one post. So I’m loading 15+ ads on each page. :(

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa. There should only be two ads on mobile and this is the first report I’ve heard of anyone seeing more than that! It definitely shouldn’t be functioning that way. Any chance you’d be willing to email me so I can try troubleshooting this?

  24. gsa*


    #1 ads. I see them on my droid maxx. They are about the same as others I see. Definitely google like based. I searched something on REI recently. I have seen REI ads multiple time today on this site.

    No worries, but providing feedback.

    FWIW. There are other sites I frequent. Those sites are ad free and rely on user donations to keep the lights on… I give at least $100/yr per site.

    All my best,


    1. GeekChic*

      Hosting a popular site like this gets expensive, and as Alison points out above, donation-based models put the cost of that onto regular readers. I happily chip in for sites I read, but in all honestly I normally only think to do that when the blogger takes the time to post about fundraising – I bet the time cost of doing that enough to make the site break even would be higher than configuring ads and getting a consistent stream of income from them.

      If they bother you, why not do like she says and block ’em and recommend the site around instead, or buy an ebook?

  25. GeekChic*

    Happy experimenting! I hope you find a good set of ads.

    Some notes on user experience:

    – Site was SUPER CRASHY in the Chrome-like browser on my Samsung tablet. I loaded the page 4 times and it crashed after 5-10 seconds each time, both in normal and ‘desktop view’ mode. I suspect it’s the type of video content those ads are loading? It’s an old tablet, but it’s generally more stable than that.
    – Disabled the ad blocker on my laptop and the site behaved itself (no autoplay with sound) and the page load time does seem loads slower. I’ve only advertised on syndicate networks, never displayed them on my site, but if you have an option to do load them asynchronously (‘lazy loading’) or load video content that’s below the fold after the site content, that might be worth playing with to do some tuning —

    – While writing the above comment, I clicked on a link and opened in a new tab to check I wasn’t just being complainy, and the combination of two different sets of videos quietly autoplaying away made Chromium (Linux port of Chome, on release 44.x) freeze up. I turned ad-blocking back on, and the site became well behaved and responsive again.

    For now, I’ll stay ad-blocking and keep recommending the site to people. If you ever swap to text and static image ads only, please do mention it and I’ll happily whitelist the domain!

  26. KW*

    Previously this site always ran really slowly – it didn’t usually quite crash Firefox, but it would load very slowly and then sometimes freeze the whole browser for a minute or so. (I think this was both before and after your changes on Friday.) But I just installed an ad blocker and it’s so much better!

  27. Mrs. Tiggywinkle*

    I don’t generally have a problem with ads, but I noticed that this site takes forever to load, and sometimes it affects other pages that I have open. It slows them down and finally, I’ll end up closing this one. I tend to have a lot of tabs open at one time, so maybe that’s part of the problem.

  28. Violetta*

    I don’t mind the size or content of the ads at all, but the ever since the video ads at the top of the comments appeared the site has slowed down so much for me. It’s worse in long threads – I haven’t been able to read to the end of the open thread because my browser just freezes up and crashes :(

  29. irritable vowel*

    Hi, Alison — I can’t see the blue lines in either Firefox v. 42 or Chrome v. 47. (I’m on a Mac.) I’ve tried clearing my cookies but still nada.

Comments are closed.