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Unsuitable adverts on my blog

  1. I understand and accept the need to have adverts on my WordPress.com blog. I am aware that I can pay so my readers don't have to see them.

    However, I think WordPress should re-evaluate whoever it is they have providing these ads. A reader today complained to me that an ad at the bottom of a recent post was a GIF that looked like a playable video. He claims that it went directly to an EXE download.

    Having ads may be a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean that the adverts themselves have to be evil. I've since browsed around a bit using a different browser, and the other adverts don's seem much better: 'Win an Apple product'; 'Whiten teeth'; 'Fight fat'; Fake download and play buttons, etc.

    I guess my questions are:

    1. Will WordPress.com please improve its standards for what ads it places?
    2. Can adverts be placed in a way that properly identifies them as adverts?

    Some of these look like they are a part of my posts. Just having the word 'Advertisement' above would be enough.

    For one, I would prefer more people see relevant text ads more often, than have a few see these unethical horrors.

    In the meantime, I'll be ending all my blog posts with <hr /><div align="center"><h3>ADVERTISEMENT</h3></div>

  2. To support the service (and keep free features free), we sometimes run advertisements, and the agreement for this has been in our terms of service since 2006.

    We try hard to only run them in limited places. If you would like to completely eliminate ads from appearing on your blog, we offer the No-Ads Upgrade: http://en.support.wordpress.com/no-ads/

    However, that doesn't sound like an ad we want to run. Would you please send us a screenshot to support@wordpress.com so we can report it to our ad provider?

  3. Hi macmanx, thanks for the canned reply. I wrote the first sentence of my post above carefully hoping to encourage someone like yourself to read beyond it and find my actual questions.

    I realise WP don't need to explain to justify their ad policy to me, so I will be equally satisfied with a 'none of your business' answer or a 'sure, here is how we find ads and why we don't separate them from your content...' answer.

    I'll send screenshots along, but that seems like a convenient way of doing something without fixing the problem, IMO.

    Rgds.

  4. I did read all of your post, I was just more concerned with tracking down and eliminating this ad.

    We do plan to have clearer advertisement notices in the future.

  5. The future, eh? That never comes.

    I'll be evaluating the relative merits of paying to remove ads or shifting to self hosted then.

    I appreciate your replies nonetheless. I'm about to hit send on that email.

    Cheers.

  6. James -

    I think you have a major major problem here - WordPress.COM is undoing major good will with the porno spam download a virus click here or die ads - and no amount of better notices will help the bad will - someone needs to bash a few heads in the advertising department - maybe even bash a few out the door - this has been an ongoing issue for some time now with no visible change in the feedback we see in the forum.

    Remember not many people complain - they just leave or never go back and visit that blog again - BUT they will go to work on Monday and say "watch out for WordPress.COM blogs - gave me porno spam" - - but what you want is for them to go to work and say "hey I saw this great blog on............you should see it" or send the blog link in an email - they get porno click here or die stuff and they will not pass the site on - so you loose traffic and the resulting ad revenue - I have spent my whole adult life in some sort of customer, engineering or what ever support function - and I saw first hand that very few people complain about problems - even major safety issues - I had to go out onto the factory floor and ASK what was going on - so you see only a very small %% of the true picture here.

    Some people think that you are putting on the porno - click here or die ads as a way of driving people to the no ads upgrade - it sure looks like they might be right - but I doubt the smoking email will ever surface to that effect - maybe the ad people get some sort of bonus for a short term bump in revenue - I imagine the porno click here or die people will pay more -

    You want to sell more no ad upgrades? I mean really sell them? Make a tiered upgrade so the bottom tier is only $ 10 or $ 15 for low traffic sites - you are not making squat for ad revenue from the low traffic anyway - even high traffic sites don't generate a lot of revenue - I know some people that have web sites - do great traffic and great sites and they struggle to make the site work -

    Remember the brand - think long term - short term is stupid - go bash a few heads - I can't believe that WordPress.COM could not get rid of the porno click here or die ads in a couple of days if they really want to

    Yes I know that WordPress.COM has grown a lot over the last year and that you need new revenue to pay you and the other engineers and such - also the US economy is still in the tank that probably makes selling ads tough - none of us want WordPress.COM to go under and most of us understand that you need to make money to pay for our blogs - that the cost needs to be covered somehow - I personally have the no ads upgrade on my main site to keep the site clean and do what I want for branding.

  7. Round of loud applause for Auxclass.

    Agree 100%!

    I have the no-ads upgrade, but even so I am thinking of moving my site merely because of the complaints I see here and the damage I perceive will flow to me from the damage to the WP name if this continues.

  8. Forcing people into No Ads is definitely not, has never been, and will never be the plan.

    Rather, the head-bashing that you described is the plan. The ads are some-what geo-targeted, and at this time, most of the bad ads seem to be shown to folks visiting from outside of the US. I'm not sure if it's because there aren't enough fish in the sea for our ad provider in this case, or if they just aren't vetting their foreign ads well enough.

    The more screenshots we get at support@wordpress.com , the more action we can take to remove these ads from the network, and hopefully we'll have this all under control soon.

  9. Wouldn't it be simpler just to change ad providers? I know you're a big customer but it seems unlikely that you have the kind of clout to stop them accepting these ads at all. Complaining about individual ads and getting them removed after the fact is just playing whack-a-mole. It doesn't do anything to stop similar ads popping up again. Sooner or later you're going to get malware slipping through (it's happened a couple of times on livejournal) and the fallout from that is going to be exponentially worse than what you're getting now.

    Something as basic as labelling advertisements with 'advertisement' should be able to be handled from your side if your ad providers continue to refuse to do it. Personally, though, I would question whether you really need to be doing business with people who think those kinds of shady practices are OK.

  10. Who controls the placement of the ads? There seems to be complaints not just about the ads themselves, but the placement of the ads, which often, if I read correctly, seems to fly in the face of WP's published policy.

  11. We control the placement of the ads, and they aren't violating our own policies, but we are looking into other ways to denote the advertisements.

  12. Is it just me or before the change of ad providers, we virtually had no complaints about the ad content on the forums?

  13. Correct again @airodyssey - the only complaint a year ago was just the presence of ads and people like lawyers did the upgrade to keep the site clean and in some cases to meet professional standards - no content complaint that I can remember - now a study stream of content complaints - like I said above - some head bashing is needed.

  14. It seems like I've stumbled across known problem, and one that clashes badly with the values of WordPress. Thanks for everyone's feedback here.

    I've written a pretty detailed blog post about the issue: Low quality advertisements damaging to WordPress.com, featuring some of the comments made in this thread.

    I don't want to start a campaign against a company and a product I have a lot of respect for, but this is in everyone's best interest to resolve. At the very least I would like to hear an official response to my two main concerns (why these ads, why aren't they better signposted) and a clear statement of whether a fix is planned or not.

    It's Automattic's service to run how they choose, but I would like to make my decision to stay or leave based on good information.

  15. Sad to say that despite getting a bit of coverage on WordPress Tavern, I haven't seen any traction. It looks like crappy ads are here to stay until WP decide to do the right thing by themselves.

  16. The majority of wordpress.com users don't frequent the forums or check out wordpress-related blogs, so it's quite difficult to get the word out to them. There's never been a strong sense of community here and people don't seem to get terribly passionate about the platform. (After all, if you really love wordpress then you're not going to stick around here with all its limitations, you're going to want to use the full version of the software.) Social networking features are weak compared with rival sites like livejournal or tumblr so it's very difficult for anything to go viral. And comments on the news blog are heavily censored, so even if people are deeply unhappy with a new feature they're not going to know that other people are equally unhappy because none of their comments are going to appear.

    Ultimately, the best thing you can do if you're unhappy with the way things are is take your custom elsewhere. If you require any degree of control over your site's appearance, then a platform where anything on your blog can be changed or removed without warning at any time is probably not the most appropriate place for you.

  17. I have two sites created for not-for-profit societies in the UK, having convinced these good people of the merits of WordPress.com and the suitability of the product for their audiences. I now have to explain to these cash-strapped societies why their august web pages are infested with garish and obtrusive ads, and how they must pay to eliminate them.The ads we see are totally irrelevant to the websites' content, and are crude (unsophisticated) and extremely intrusive in that they bounce and flash unnecessarily.

    Shouldn't ad placements be site/location-sensitive to maximise impact, and minimise annoyance? That's how things happen over here......

    I cannot figure out why the ads come and go (yes, I look for them when logged out), and why one of my sites suffers from them less than the other. I had thought that using tags attracted subject-relevant ads, but the random and awful ads would suggest that this is not true. I had also assumed that traffic volumes affected the number of ads, or how long they stayed on each post, but that appears not to be true either in my 2 cases.

    I understand why we need to have the ads, but they really must be relevant, appropriate, more sophisticated, less intrusive, placed entirely below the posts, made much smaller, and labelled as ads. My feeling is that the ads situation has got a lot worse over the last few months.

  18. I do feel that there really ought to be a free opt-out of ads for educational establishments and non-profits. There is something irredeemably tacky about trying to make money off those organisations, let alone forcing charities to pay if they don't want flashing download links on their site.

    I would suggest transferring those sites to blogger, since Google is flush enough not to need to force ads on to people's blogs. I believe tumblr is also ad free at present, but I have more faith in blogger's ability to remain so.

  19. Ok I am glad I checked in here. I too am now displaying ads on my blog as readers have told me. I will not advertise for tobacco companies, so in light of the above correspondence, I shall probably have to leave Worpdress and I shall be very sorry because I have enjoyed being here. But there's no such thing as a free lunch and I guess I have had mine. Thanks WordPress, you have some fabulous products but random junk ad placement is just a step too far.

  20. @threadspider
    If you feel an ad is inappropriate please take a screenshot of it and send it to Staff by emailing support@wordpress.com or upload it into your Media Library and contact Staff and let them know it's there for them to view.

    To get rid of all advertising on our free hosted WordPress.com blogs is to purchase an annually renewable No-Ads upgrade.

    WordPress.com has been running advertising on our free hosted blogs since 2006. Many bloggers do not know this because despite the fact they ticked the box required to get a free blog, they did not read the ToS. Many also do not read features page, or advertising entry in the support documents after registering their username and blog(s). Also note that as the ads do not display to us when we are logged in, and as many use browsers with ad blockers when logged out, they may not realize they are there at all.

  21. The adverts are horrible, but I do understand that WordPress needs to get income somehow, and that we have had a pretty good run for our (no) money.

    I have upgraded to a No-Ads site today.

  22. Some people are clearly upset about these forced wpadvert's.
    So am i!
    It was never (at least not as far as i could see) announced that WP.com will force this upon us that's the sneaky part.
    Maybe we should all put an alert text at the bottom of our posts, something like:
    "Beware, this advertisement is a forced ad by WordPress, no guarantee to what happens when you click it".
    This just as a disclaimer to make people aware of bad ads.

  23. @becelergized
    WordPress.com has been running advertising on our free hosted blogs since 2006.
    announcement > http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2006/09/06/on-ads/

    1. You have to agree that you read the ToS to get an account here:
    ToS http://en.wordpress.com/tos/

    10. Advertisements. Automattic reserves the right to display advertisements on your blog unless you have purchased an Ad-free Upgrade or a VIP Services account.

    2. The features page is commonly viewed previous to registering an account Features page http://wordpress.com/features/

    Advertising
    To support the service we may occasionally show ads on your blog, however we do this very rarely. You can remove ads from your blog for a low yearly fee. We also have an option for high traffic blogs to show their own ads.

    3. Those who have an interest in advertising either for or against it may also practice sue diligence by reading the support documentation: http://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/
    Note: To support the service (and keep free features free), we sometimes run advertisements. We try hard to only run them in limited places. If you would like to completely eliminate ads from appearing on your blog, we offer the No-Ads Upgrade.

  24. I got the ad-free upgrade. I really was pretty much forced to do that, or leave. You can't have ads for videos of the hottest women on a pastor's blog.

    So as far as I'm concerned, whether WP intended to force me to upgrade or not, that's what they've done. And I can't send screen shots, because I never saw the ads. People like my mother told me about them. They never appeared when I went to the site.

    I'm in the UK, not the US, but inappropriate ads were appearing for both US and UK readers.

    I'd be hesitant to recommend free WP blogs. I'd have to tell people that it really isn't free, you are going to have to spend $30 a year to block ads, so that has to figure into your decisions. It does sour me on WP somewhat.

  25. So as far as I'm concerned, whether WP intended to force me to upgrade or not, that's what they've done. And I can't send screen shots, because I never saw the ads. People like my mother told me about them. They never appeared when I went to the site.

    I agree with this 100 percent. I've had a blog for quite a few years and have not been aware of the ads, as they don't show up when I'm signed in, and adblock gets rid of them when I'm not. But others see them constantly.

    It's like the city coming by and putting advertisements all over my house.

    I won't be paying to not have the ads, regardless of how much WP browbeats me with them. First of all I like open source, and not paying money for the free internet. Secondly, if I ever stopped paying, the blog and history disappear. $30 a month for 10 years is $3600. I can't really afford that now anyway.

    IMO it's a bad business decision by WP.

  26. I too have just had an exe file ad just appear on my blog (in my IE non-logged-in view) in a way that looked like it was part of the post. I have sent screenshots to WP but I suspect this is actually just a ploy to force the no-ads option on me, because it can't possibly be any serious company's idea of advertising is to stick a random, spammy "trick" link into the middle of a completely irrelevant post.

    The only people who'll click this ad will do so because they're wondering whether I've gone completely mad.

    Genuine, relevant, content appropriate advertising I can live with - but unethical assaults on my readers I will not. I already pay WP for various services and have previously been happy to do so. And if it was purely my own decision I'd probably egard the $30 a year as acceptable - but being blackmailed into preserving my reputation is not something I will put up with.

    WP - I seriously suggest you respect your customers above these spam merchants, or you'll simply lose us.

  27. This is a peer support forum manned by your fellow bloggers who are Volunteers. If you feel an ad is inappropriate please take a screenshot of it and send it to Staff by emailing support@wordpress.com or upload it into your Media Library and contact Staff and let them know it's there for them to view.

  28. For every person who leaves over ugly, spammy, inappropriate ads, there are probably another hundred new users who sign up not knowing or caring about them. So I doubt they're too bothered about the occasional person jumping ship.

    Hopefully they will implement WordAds across the board and get rid of some of the more dodgy providers they're using at the moment. I won't hold my breath, though.

  29. D'oh. I signed up for WP to support open source and all. It never occurred to me that when/if I get a blog up and going that WP might put ads all over it. I don't see ads because I use adblock and a few other add-ons. Anyone have suggestions about a better alternative to WP?

  30. Have you considered Blogger?

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