Mondey evening -- trying to fix someone's old Compaq by reinstalling Windows XP. Not the best way to enjoy the long weekend but I guess someone just needs to do it. I was having some issue with the software that I was trying to install so I googled it with the vanilla IE7. First result came back was a Whirlpool forums discussion thread. Whirlpool has always been a great resource on technical discussions so I click through to see what other members are talking about that specific product...
And then I discovered something that I have never seen before on Whirlpool. Google AdSense ads!
Whirlpool has always been an example of a community site shun away from any kind of commercialism. Quite a few people questioned the Google Ads displayed at OzBargain at the beginning, and used Whirlpool as the example how it's possible to create a free site without any ads. I guess it is no longer the case. For more discussion on this new development, see this discussion thread. A few points:
AdSense ads on Whirlpool is never shown to logged-in users. In fact it is never shown on the discussion pages either for guest users. It really has minimum impact by putting ads only on the archive pages indexed by the search engines. I don't even have an idea how to navigate to those archive pages in the first place, so effectively the ads are only shown to the search engine referrals.
It's costly to run a community site with 2,000+ online users during most hours of the day, and its far more than just the hosting cost. We are not even talking about the cost of Simon's time. Ads would be the easiest way to recoup that cost.
After all it's Simon's baby and he is free to do whatever he pleases.
It's just an experiment right now. However, how much can Whirlpool make? 50% visits are organic where ads are shown. Low 4-digit Alexa ranking. Very tech-oriented content. $500/month estimate seems to be very very low. Especially after the cat has been out of the bag and the advertisers start to bid on the placement...
To the nay-sayers. Do you see ads? No. So what's there to complain about? One common trend I found is that rather than intolerance of ads (which can be easily fixed with browser plugins), it's the intolerance of web site owners making money from them.
All the best to Whirlpool on their development and hopefully what they make will be more than enough to cover their costs (maybe to a point that they can get rid of WebCentral and move the server down to Sydney :) Meanwhile, I felt easy that no one is going to use Whirlpool against website owners who decided to monetise with ads.