Ad server changes on Identi.ca

Evan Prodromou's picture

Some users on identi.ca have noticed that we've changed our ad server on the site. I wanted to take some time to explain what's happening there, and why.

As mentioned before, we have been using AdBard on Identi.ca for almost 8 months. Although we support what AdBard is doing, we haven't been getting the kind of ad rates that we expected. AdBard is covering about 5-7% of the hosting costs of running identi.ca, with nothing left over to cover any percentage of the salaries of the people who support the site.

StatusNet, Inc -- our business -- is a small Open Source business focused primarily on a) selling software subscriptions to enterprise customers and b) providing premium upgrades to the status.net cloud service. We continue to support identi.ca single-handedly because we believe in the idea and in the community. It's a great "home planet" for the federated network of social sites we're trying to build. We love the site, we love the community, and the last thing we want to do is spoil the experience for people there.

But we do want to make sure that the site is sustainable for the future. Over the next few months, we'll be experimenting with ways to cover costs on identi.ca. We'll be extra careful to be responsive to users -- you can't run a community Web site without being responsive to the community.

Please feel free to let us know how you feel about the changes in the comments below (or on identi.ca itself).

Comments

no objection

No objections, provided the advertising is not intrusive.

I guess that people running their own instances of StatusNet can support AdBard, if they so choose :-)

Thanks

moderation...

meh. Moderation kept me from being first. It was good while it lasted.

I use AdBard on one of my sites and I have found the money back to be quite low, though I'm sure identi.ca was pulling in tons more than I was.

add local ads

On statusnet site
add with a reasonable local advertising,

such as this site: http://swisen.com/

Spam and Google

Well, if you'd taken steps to remove all spam I'm sure Adbard would cover 40% of the hosting costs. (I'm only partly joking. Identi.ca is overrun by spam, which in addition to keeping real users away, surly must have a significant impact on the hosting costs)

I hope you will stay away from Google ads. They have almost a monopoly on online ads, and that is very scary. Maybe you should take a look at TextLinkAds, I've had some good experience with that.

PS: "The name you used belongs to a registered user." How do I log in?

Not, in fact, overrun by spam

I don't think you're giving credit to the great job our support team, and the Identi.ca community, have done to clean up spam on that site in the last month. We've silenced more than 25,000 spammers on the site in October alone.

How'd it happen? First, we added a community-monitoring role, ModHelpers, who can silence spammy users immediately. Second, we've added some heuristics to silence other users who registered from the same address. In this way, we've been able to eliminate clusters of spammer-registered accounts, and prevented those spammers from creating new ones.

We've also made it possible for moderators to delete groups, and we're going to push soon some fine-tuning for the rel=nofollow functionality to disincent spammers in the first place.

You can see the results on the main page of Identi.ca. Where there was once about a 1:2 signal-to-noise ratio, or worse, I think it's now about 30:1 or 40:1. It's been an incredible transformation.

We're also using the accumulated data on spammy users to train Bayesian filters and fill our IP, URL, and nickname blacklists. So, the data we have now will make it harder for spammers to post on identi.ca in the future.

Is there still spam on Identi.ca? Yes. I don't think a community with open registration policies will ever be 100% spam-free.

Yes, it is a lot better now.

Yes, it is a lot better now. But that's not saying much, since it was horrible before.

Of course we'll never get rid of spam completely, but why haven't you used some of the FLOSS spam fighting systems out there already, instead of just relying on us poor users to report everything and creating a new database from scratch yourselves? I'm sure you remember I've mentioned a few alternatives before. Or if you are using them, I wish you'd told us. Spam fighting is so vitally important, and I as a user feel that this issue has not been dealt with in an adequate way. I know that many have deleted their identi.ca accounts, and even more have left them totally unused. Of course it's not all because of spam, but I'm afraid that's a big part of it. I'm also sure lots of people have turned away before registering just from seeing the front page overrun by spam (this is sort of an other issue: We need a more welcoming and explanatory front page. I know you've said you're working on that. How's that coming along?)

You say you've cleaned up a lot of spam, and I'm sure you have, but you don't have to do more than a search for weight, jewlery, mortage, or any other spammy word to find hundreds, if not thousands of more spam accounts. Even a search for ur1.ca returns a list full of spammers, and nothing but spammers (and all the updates are 3 months old. I guess there's a bug in the search system?) . And I'm often bombarded by e-mails about spam accounts following me.

Evan, you know I love your work and I don't want to be bitchy and annoying! But SN and identi.ca is so important, and it frustrates me to no end to see it drowning in spam with all the negative consequences that has. Identi.ca shouldn't be a miniature social network for ardent nerds and freedom lovers, it should be for everyone!

why we dont make a spamm hunt quest?

Spam is one of the biggest problems here in identi.ca, these accounts of spammers consume valuable resources that should be in use by real users.

my suggestion is to do something fun to end on a larger scale this problem with spam, organize contests or reputation system within the community of identi.ca to give symbolic recognition to those users who report many spam user accounts.

would be an interesting solution.

also wonder if there is no possibility of using two servers together ads, is it mandatory to hold just one?.

I agree with @purge, a

I agree with @purge, a statusnet plugin that provides an easy UI for people to make their own ads and target them at specific groups would be great. For example, a linux server hosting company could run ads on the ubuntu and fedora groups. Bonus point if you manage to make it distributed and share revenue with people running their own status.net although I'm not exactly sure how that would/could work...

By the way, if you support adbard you could still use it to advertise your cloud offering :)

I think you should try

I think you should try creating a donation page on identi.ca. I think most of the users would be willing to donate if it meant it covered the costs and removed the ads. We are a community after all!

flattr

you could start by adding a flattr button

Donations

I'd be happy to see that happen, but I think that there would have to be significant changes in the way Identi.ca is operated.

Google Adsense ads don't

Google Adsense ads don't bother me a bit. Thanks for taking the time to share your thinking on this.

MORE COW BELL!

The ads need more cow bell. Creative Commons cow bell, of course.

Also, I appear to be first. so rah, rah cis boom ba.

Ad server changes on Identi.ca

Getting returns from advertising via 'ads' from google or AdBard etc is always tough, especially when you get such a small slice of the cake.

Maybe a plugin to allow 'users' to build their own ads for display would be the way to go, with an easy to use UI that allows the building and billing in one go much like how you can run ads on Facebook, this to me seems by far the best way to generate income for any site.

With the limited space on the Staus.net software to pile on the ads (which would ruin the look anyway) having one ad sqaure (like the google adsense plugin)displaying a 'uers' advert paying for click's or impressions surley means you get to have you cake and eat it to!!

On the ads

As long as it doesn't become something intrusive, AdSense is fine. Someone has to pay the hosting bills...

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