Oh for crying out loud. Loomis, I get and enjoy your belligerent whimsy, but this is just silly. This is the Sarah Palin School of Law definition of freedom of speech.
If you don’t get that what Loomis was doing with this post was 90% belligerent whimsy, then you’ve dreadfully missed the point. The other 10% of what Loomis was doing was a coherent and quite correct argument that Google’s policy was being badly misapplied in this particular case.
Why the fuck are you guys running adsense anyway? You’re making what, 50-100 bucks a month from that? Get rid of the stupid ads (which are irrelevant at best to your readers’ interests, completely contrary to their political and moral beliefs at worst (no, I do not want to purchase a Russian bride or see Newsmax’s “one weird cure for diabetes”), frequently crash or redirect their browsers, and make the site slower. Choosing this as your hill to die on is pretty absurd given that I can’t even load this site half the time with my adblocker off.
Adsense returns about 50% of LGM’s monthly revenue. The estimate in this comment (of Adsense alone) is off by more than an order of magnitude; I don’t feel like opening up the books for the world to see, but Four Krustys either had little understanding of the traffic the site enjoys, or of how that traffic translates into revenue.
Moreover, Adsense (and Sovrn, the other provider you see in the right sidebars) has only rarely been the problem. The recent redirects to gogarden were caused by Sitemeter (now eliminated); the mobile redirects to porn sites have been due to problems with WordPress updates. The slowness of the site is much more often caused by the social media tabs (which clearly remain a problem), than with the ads on the right sidebars.
Bleg for money. We’ll pay. OK? Do a dildos-in-dead-horses-in-American-history series or something. I’ll be the first to donate.
We do. Donations last year (which I considered *extraordinarily* generous) constituted roughly 13% of site revenue. Thus, LGM readers would need to become approximately 7.7 times as generous as they have been in their most generous year on record in order to replace the revenue lost from advertising. It’s possible that we could approach *something* along these lines, if we turned the site into a semi-permanent pledge drive, but to my mind this is considerably more annoying than any problems created by the ads. If an angel donor decided to effectively bankroll the site for a year, we certainly consider reducing advertising, but barring that it’s difficult to replace.
Frankly, if your concern is Google deciding what is appropriate or inappropriate for people to see, why have you *chosen* to be part of that system? The same system that has basically destroyed journalism because sites are just trying to get clicks rather than do actual reporting? Don’t be a part of that. Don’t put your labor towards perpetuating a shitty system. There are a lot of other ad networks, and there are a lot of other ways to make money that don’t piss off your readers and sell out your values.
Right. Most of the other ad networks that can produce revenue as reliably as Google have similar effects on side readability. Most of them (Google Adsense included) place limitations on the extent of advertising allowed, meaning that you need to use more than one in order to generate the revenue you need. And many of them have similar restrictions on content.
It’s also worth pointing out that the internet advertising provision industry, as it were, has a bit of the fly by night to it. LGM has, over its history, lost *thousands* of dollars to vendors who ceased to exist between advertisement and payment. Say what you will about Google, they pay in American dollars, they pay on time, and I have reason to expect that they’ll be around for a while. This doesn’t mean that we give up our right to complain about their most annoying (or poorly applied) policies.
I should also note that LGM turns down most of the ad requests that it receives from vendors. These vendors are normally looking for three things; sponsored posts, pop-up ads, and in-post image ads. We could make a *lot* more money if we embraced a full revenue maximization model and allowed these three kinds of ads, but we decided a long time ago that there were limits to how much readability we’d sacrifice. LGM receives 3-5 requests of this sort every day; most of them go straight into the trash.
BUT WHERE DOES ALL THE MONEY GO? Several places. Our server fees have recently gone up, partially as a response to all of the problems we’ve suffered from hacks and redirects and what nots. The site, like any complex machine, requires maintenance now and again from professionals who like to be paid.
Once a site has been monetized, a variety of complications ensue. We pay taxes to a variety of different Caesars. We pay licensing fees to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and public school fees to Fayette County. We have legal representation (thank you, Goldberg Simpson!), and a Certified Public Accountant (Jesse at Fister, Williams and Oberlander, you’re a hero to me).
But most of all, we pay our writers. Since we’ve had enough money to actually spread it around, Scott and I have been committed to ensuring that everyone who writes for LGM receives some (usually meager) compensation. This includes guest posters. Regular posters receive more, based on an ill-defined formula involving magnitude of recent contribution, and long-term tenure at the site. Part of the reason for compensation is a principled belief that we shouldn’t profit off of people working for free. A bigger part is that everyone who regularly posts at LGM could write, for money, somewhere else. LGM usually can’t compete with the cash that other outlets can offer, but the combination of near-complete editorial freedom, an outstanding commentariat, and beer money is apparently enough to inspire consistently outstanding work.
And the term “writers” really short-changes the work that LGM front-pagers do. The administrative work isn’t evenly distributed, but most of the contributors do their share of behind-the-scenes work necessary to keep the site going. This includes sharing on social media, sharing on listservs, hunting and expunging trolls in the comment section, managing site hacks, keeping the twitter feed and Facebook page updated and functional, responding to e-mail requests, putting together ESPN groups, and a host of other activities too numerous to mention. None of that is easy to see on the site, but would be badly missed if the work wasn’t done.
And since we’re all already here, let’s take this one on, too:
OK, that’s a surprising amount. I still think you could do better. (Or you know, just go whole hog and become a mesothelioma blog)
Yep. It’s entirely possible that we could do better, and we’re trying to do better all the time. Unfortunately, none of us have the ability to commit full time to the site in a 40-hour-per-week, professional sense of the term. This kind of commitment is necessary to fully work out the implications of different ad strategies, and different providers. In the absence of this sort of commitment, we default to reliable, easy to use advertisers such as Google Adsense.
I’m referring to the Cracker Barrel/Chik fil A/Mozila/etc. definition of censorship. What I’m equating is you saying that a private company making a business decision is a violation of your freedom of speech. You entered into a voluntary contract with Google AdSense. If you want to violate the agreed-upon terms of that contract (even if they’re silly!) and they don’t want to do business with you as a result of that, that’s not a violation of your freedom of speech.
And there is nothing whatsoever in Erik’s post that could even faintly be interpreted as an argument along these lines. Rather, he’s complaining (in pointed language!) about the silly implementation of the terms of the contract. And once we grasp this, the next three paragraphs of the comment are nonsense.
When you load a page on LGM, over 3MB of bandwidth is used. 2.7MB of that bandwidth is advertising bullshit, add this, twitter widgets, etc. That sucks, especially if you’re on mobile and paying by the MB.
If you’re on a mobile phone, you’re using the mobile site, which demands far less bandwidth. And I think we can all agree that the social media buttons and the twitter feed are categorically different than the advertising that has formed the core of the complaint in these comments.