Hide
Need a quick chart or graph for your blog? Try our reStructured Text renderer. Join Siafoo Now or Learn More

We've recently been integrating the ads better with the rest of the site. You'll see these changes soon when R9 is released.

Advertising is tricky: you don't want to annoy your users, but you want them to notice the ads, and annoying ads get noticed more. We've tried to walk a fine line, placing the ads in places where they will be noticed but not get in the way.

Privacy is also a concern when advertising, and is a harder problem to solve. As webmasters we're allowing advertisers access to our site and our users; we have little control over what information they collect or how they use it. When I first heard about Google new 'interest-based' advertising, I was worried about the privacy implications: Google learns about your "interests" by tracking every Adsense-based page you visit. After some research, I discovered that many, if not most, advertising companies already do this; at no point do they conspicuously notify you of this, much less ask your permission.

This information about you could be sold to other companies. It could be released to the public accidently or purposefully. It could be hacked or subpoenaed by law enforcement. As the AOL Search Data Release showed, peoples' identites can be reconstructed from their web searches alone. With the knowledge of many of the sites you visit, your identity could be reconstructed just as easily.

This might not seem like a big deal right now, but imagine having your car insurance rate go up because you browse racing forums, or being denied a loan because you play online poker. One could make an argument that privacy protects us from abuses of power. Whoever controls your information has some power over you, even if you aren't doing anything wrong.

Because our business relies on advertising revenue, we have to show ads. Ideally we could choose our advertisers based on the information they collect, but there don't seem to be significant differences.

We have opted out of Google's "interest-based" advertising. This means that while you will still see advertisements on Siafoo based on your browsing history, no information will be recorded by Google about your visit to Siafoo. If you want to prevent Google from collecting any data on your "interests", you can start by opting-out.

There are bills in the works in the United States and the European Union to restrict the information that advertisers can collect, and to require labeling of ads that collect such information: if you are concerned about internet privacy, I would recommend that you look into how you can help such legislation succeed.

We'd welcome your comments regarding these matters. You can comment below or send us feedback privately.