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Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by Taluntain, Oct 25, 2012.

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  1. Taluntain

    Taluntain Administrator Staff Member

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    You're all probably aware that websites not made by rich kids who can pay for all the running costs themselves need advertising to help pay the bills. Amazingly, Terra Arcanum is no exception here. It's a big site with a lot of (downloadable) content, which consequently requires an appropriate server to handle it all. We've got all that, thank you.

    Where you come in is advertising. Terra Arcanum doesn't require you to pay anything. Terra Arcanum doesn't even ask you to click anything (but it's nice if you do). What we do ask you, respectfully, is to not be a bloody leech and block all the ads. By blocking any advertising here you take away even those few cents a month that the site would otherwise get from your visits. Those few cents require no action whatsoever on your part. You can even close your eyes and scroll past the banners (if you can manage that), it's cool. So merely letting those ads at peace is not really much of a request. Some of them do pay merely for showing (rare, but it happens), so it's not a "I won't click on them so it makes no difference if I block them" situation.

    The consequences of a few people blocking ads are unnoticeable. But when it gets to the point that ad blocker discussions regularly take place in any community and there's indication that many in the community use them to block advertising on the site they enjoy, it's a big problem.

    Why is it a big problem? Because 99% of advertising available to independent sites today pays next to nothing. The kind that would pay at least moderately (pop-ups) has only been used on Terra Arcanum sporadically and infrequently. Which consequently means that every cent made from advertising is earned in blood and needed. It won't not matter if you and half of Terra Arcanum visitors do your best to block all the advertising here.

    I won't say that it will result in shutting down of the site if you do, because it won't. What it could result in is progressively more and more ads for those honest, well-meaning people whose first reflex isn't to disable all ads on any site they frequent. I realize that you could be a cold-hearted bastard who doesn't give a damn about that. I'm not fooling myself that I'm going to convince you or anyone else set on getting a free pass not to block all ads.

    What I can do, however, is respectfully remind the people who might care about the consequences of ad blocking that there's more to it than a few clicks on your end. It eventually creates a sizeable problem on the management's end.

    So, in short:

    1) Please don't block ads on Terra Arcanum.
    2) If you're intent on blocking them, or do block them, keep your dirty little secret to yourself and don't discuss it here. Too many people are blocking ads as it is so don't expect any sympathies for any kind of ad blocking software promotions.

    Having said that, I do realize that now and then there comes an ad which makes everyone twitch. And no, we're not just going to remove every mildly annoying one - you'll just have to live with those (if it's flashing, pressing Esc will usually freeze it). But if there's anything malicious or REALLY excessive about any ad, like carrying a trojan, virus, constant audio, seizure-inducing flashing, spawning more ads and such - this will NEVER be tolerated, and will be reported for removal as soon as I hear about it. Which brings me to

    3) You can always report a supposedly bad ad to me and have me look into it.

    WHAT CONSTITUTES A BAD AD?

    * Malicious ads. This includes browser session hijackers, auto-installers, trojan/spyware-carriers and the rest of the crap that won't be tolerated here.
    * Non-user-initiated audio ads. This means any ads that make any sound on their own, without any action on your part. (This does not include the infamous "Hellooooo!!!" smiley ads which only make a sound if you move your mouse cursor over them. Such ads are annoying, but their sound can be avoided.)
    * Adult ads. This means any ads with nudity and the majority of suggestive ads.
    * Excessively flashing ads. Any ads that flash ridiculously fast and/or with colours hard on the eyes are bad.
    * Pop-ups that make closing them difficult. Any pop ads that don't want to immediately close after clicking the [X] in their window's top right corner are considered bad.
    * Pop-ups that spawn another (or more) pop-ups. Each pop-up should be unique and a single ad. For example, a pop-up that spawns another pop-up once you close the first one is bad.

    Here's the holy trinity of valid reports about problematic ads:

    1. Take a screenshot of it.

    2. See where the ad points to (target url), and copy the url. If you can't get the target url by right-clicking on the ad and Copying Link Location, click on the ad and copy the url that you land on.

    3. Describe what the ad is doing that is problematic.

    Then send me a PM with all of the above (screenshot, target url of the ad, description of why it's a problem), and I'll look into it. Opening separate threads about it or posting pictures here is only wasting your time, because without the information requested above I can't do anything to remove such ads, nor do I regularly monitor all the threads here.

    If there are any other ad-related problems you are having, feel free to discuss them here. Feel free to also ask any other questions either here or via PM. Thank you.
     
  2. Zanza

    Zanza Well-Known Member

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    Never noticed ads that are intrusive on this site because I tend to ignore everything except the threads I'm reading. I occasionally click on the gog link as I heard that helps. I'll be sure to take note from now on though.
     
  3. Taluntain

    Taluntain Administrator Staff Member

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    Yea, GOG is an affiliate program so it essentially enables you to support the site at no cost to yourself by simply going there via the button on TA.
     
  4. Crypton

    Crypton Member

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    I do understand that you need some income to pay the hosting bills, however I don't think that you need so many ads on this site in order to keep it running. Years ago, this site had much more visitors (more traffic = bigger bill?) and there was only one ad on these forums - it was a *normal* ad, not a flashy & noisy ad that distracts you by it's noisiness, or sometimes by it's content.

    Here's what I'm talking about:
    http://web.archive.org/web/201012242033 ... com/phpBB/
    http://web.archive.org/web/200312030136 ... com/phpBB/

    If you have a lot less visitors and you have to compensate that by adding more and more ads, then why is that? I could think of these possible reasons:
    -It wasn't a good idea to remove those TOEE and V:TM forums, as you lost *many* potential and periodic visitors.
    -Noone hasn't posted any Arcanum/TOEE/V:TM/Troika-ish related news for very long time, even where there such news.

    I definitely don't think that it's because the Arcanum and the rest of Troika's games have became much less popular in last 2 years, as when you look at GOG.com's Arcanum subforum and ArcanumClub forums, then you'll find out that these are more than alive.

    Anyway, I cannot see your ads even after I disable the ad blocker, because I have also the FlashBlock enabled, so I'll have to disable/whitelist both in order to see your fancy ads. I don't have FlashBlock installed because of ads, but because those flash videos really slows down the loading or even hangs the whole browser. (Also, as developer, I do have about 50 tabs opened every day. The reason for using FlashBlock is that the memory usage of firefox and it's flash plugins grows greatly with every flash video it loads and I really need all that memory.)

    That's why I was *asking* for *normal* ads, like all the others forums have.

    My suggestions for improvements to your ads policy:
    -Separate newly registered, not registered users and registered users. Display different ads and different amount of ads to each group. For example, newly registered users would see more ads than registered (50+ posts) users. It's really easy to implement, directly in the template files.
    -Implement an sponsor bot (see my links below), and move those flash ads into a second post of every topic. Then put some extra static ads into the emptied space in the header, like it was before. Also, put some larger ad into the footer.
    -Implement an reputation system. Users that clicks on ads will receive a reputation point (or skill point á lá Arcanum, if you want). The amount of points will be then visible below the user's avatar as a fancy picture or simple text. This is also easy to implement, without need to modify the phpbb's core scripts, just only extra db table, one tiny script and template mod will be required.
    -Detect adblockers and display a polite request to disable it, in the background instead of the ad.

    Edit:
    -Add a GOG.com's game wishlist, that will be displayed below user avatars. Just add a custom field through the admin panel and using javascript, you then append your affiliate id to the game urls, so when anyone clicks on the link and buys some game, you get your part of the deal.

    More on this topic:
    www.phpbb.com - Advertisements in phpBB3
    www.phpbb.com - Advertisement Management MOD

    Cheers :hippy:
     
  5. Taluntain

    Taluntain Administrator Staff Member

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    Reading my first post here before responding would have been a good idea, but I'll explain things for your benefit again since you like to throw incorrect assumptions around and state things which have little to do with reality or are outright wrong. But you should still read the first post, as it's obvious you really haven't, or at least not well.

    We've been using the same advertising providers for the last 7+ years. What kind of ads they serve is up to them and they've certainly been serving Flash ads for at least that long, exactly the same as every other advertising provider. Ads are served based on visitors' geographic location so people in different countries see different ads. The fact that there's only been one ad on the forums for so long has no relation to the amount of forum visitors, merely the fact that phpBB had such poor ad placements (and still has) that we couldn't really easily put another one up, but it's been on the to-do for a very long time. Now was just convenient to do it since everything was being revamped. If you consider 2 ads "so many", then it's really obvious that you're blocking all ads everywhere and don't see the reality of Internet advertising, because only 2 ads on any page is very little. By far the majority of websites and forums have many more than 2.

    In the last few years, the usage of AdBlock has skyrocketed and in my estimation at least a third of visitors are now blocking ads, which means that fewer ad impressions. Since the recession started, the ad rates have gone down as well, and there hasn't been a single donation until today for as long as the PayPal button's been up. TA has a large and constantly growing amount of downloads, which are still very popular and amount to a considerable use of bandwidth (about 400GB this month alone), which has been growing over the years.

    If you're unhappy with how the news on the site is being posted or how the forums are being run, you should take it up with the site leaders as I've got no hand in that. I make sure that the site has a stable environment to run on and that it's got everything it needs to operate and grow without needing to worry about the hosting and that's for the most part the extent of my involvement. Oh, and I handle the ads.

    Personally, I don't really care if you specifically are blocking ads. I know that a large number of people do so you're neither the first nor the last. The reality is, however, that most people using AdBlock have no idea that doing so is in any way problematic because AdBlock is shoved down their throats the second they install a browser like Firefox and people are constantly bringing it up as a "solution" to ads in forums, so they see no downside to installing it. Hence my above post explaining the side that most people don't understand or ever get to hear.

    As I wrote above, I'd just appreciate it if you kept it to yourself that you're blocking ads because promoting the fact is not doing the site any favours. The site management here are in discussion about providing site supporters with ad-free access to the site, which will be a completely legitimate way to see the site without ads. AdBlock is, unfortunately, not.

    And while I appreciate feedback, personally I'd never presume that I know enough about another website to go telling the person(s) responsible how they should run it. If nothing else, it's just plain rude. The fact that you're apparently allergic to ads does not mean that the site should revolve around you and your wants.

    Just as an aside, providing any incentive for users to click on ads is strictly forbidden by literally all advertising providers.

    Thanks for the links though, we'll almost certainly need to install that ad manager since phpBB3 apparently provides no such facility by default.
     
  6. Crypton

    Crypton Member

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    You're right, I haven't finished reading your post, and not I'm going even this one, as it's really painful to read - because I have a strong headache and it's hard to concentrate, not because it's really painful to read ;)

    I'm not sure if you get my message from my previous post, but I was trying to say that I did disabled the adblocker, but still, I cannot see the ads because I have FlashBlocker installed, so if you add some static ads, then I'll see them.

    Also, install that AdBlocker detector.

    Have a nice day.
     
  7. Taluntain

    Taluntain Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm sorry to hear about your headache, maybe after it subsides then. ;)

    And yea, I get what you're saying, but I pointed out that I don't really have control over what kind of ads are served. Flash is almost exclusively used for graphic advertising today and has been for quite some time, so apart from text ads ala AdSense (which doesn't work well for us, since it gets very few clicks and pays very poorly), any ads not using Flash are a rarity today.

    We're looking at the AdBlock detector, yes.
     
  8. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    As I said the two I noticed were a Cillit Bang (a Britsih cleaning product) ad and some sort of stool softener ad (maybe Ducolax, I muted my laptop pretty quickly) that were noisy (and not initiated by me), unfortunately I've not seem them again to take a screenshot or find out where the link went to so I can't be anymore useful than that.
     
  9. Taluntain

    Taluntain Administrator Staff Member

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    The ads go in and out of rotation fairly quickly and sometimes annoying ones are also taken out by advertising providers themselves eventually. But if that doesn't happen, or not quickly enough, I need to go in manually and weed them out.
     
  10. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    I noticed that the adverts have stopped working entirely, the top of my screen looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    Thought I'd make mention of it here as it may just be a problem that only I'm experiencing in which case it's not so concerning, but if it is a problem on other people's systems I wouldn't imagine the site would generate any revenue from adverts people are not seeing? The redirect it mentions as far as I can tell never occurs.
     
  11. Taluntain

    Taluntain Administrator Staff Member

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    That's due to CloudFlare CDN testing (DDoS protection) we're doing on sorcerers.net at the moment... but when it showed up in ads on the Codex, the ads showed up just fine after the 5-sec check, so I'm surprised to hear that they didn't here. Did anyone else see this or did they show up after the check for the rest of you?
     
  12. Muro

    Muro Well-Known Member

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    I've seen the same thing Jojobobo did. Just once, a few hours back. Didn't pay enough attention to check if the ads returned to normal after 5 seconds in that particular tab, but they worked normally in subsequently opened tabs. Still do.
     
  13. werozzi

    werozzi Member

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    I get that same 5 sec check or a server not found error.
    Might be because of slow internet, no one knows.
     
  14. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    The adverts are loading like normal now anyway, guess it might just be my rubbish internet.
     
  15. Charonte

    Charonte Member

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    Out of curiosity what would the approximate cost be for you at the moment in order to keep TA running for the month?

    I hate flash and I hate ads -- but I can appreciate the need for them in some circumstances [such as these]. I'm willing to make a sizable donation if it'll help keep TA going (not that I post much here anymore).

    Cheers.
     
  16. Taluntain

    Taluntain Administrator Staff Member

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    There's no easy answer to that because we're running several similar sites on the same server to bring the costs down. So all the sites' ad income is pooled together to pay the hosting bill every month (which is currently around $250, but will rise as early as next month when we move to a better server).

    We discussed the option for ad-free access for donors - I think that's the best possible option and we've implemented it on most of the other sites already.
     
  17. wobbler

    wobbler Well-Known Member

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    How many sites are run on the server?
     
  18. Taluntain

    Taluntain Administrator Staff Member

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