Jim Wilson wrote:

It probably is, because high ethical standards are fundamental to the
open-source concept.  A few general ethical issues along those lines:

- more commercial appearance to site.
- ads are not particularly effective for advertisers (compared to adwords on
the google search engine pages), but they make a lot of money for Google.
- the content being linked to is not necessarily on the up and up. Google
does not screen new advertisers like aol and overture do. So ads for snake
oil and free software with spy/adware can show up. Just do a google search on
"viagra" or "baldness" and you'll see what I mean.

Hi Jim,

I don't want to get caught up parsing nuances here. Commercial vs. non-commercial is a continuum, but I'm not sure there is any "ethics" attached to that. I might be more concerned with "tacky" vs. "non-tacky". I don't know if having a more commercial appearance is an ethical issue ... it maybe an issue relating to what appearance we want to convey, but to me it's not an ethical issue in and of itself.

From our perspective, we don't care about the effectiveness of adds, that's not our problem. ;-)

We don't have complete control over the content that get's advertised, but we do have some control. We can filter out specific sites we don't want, and we can filter out some broadbased categories, such as "adult" adds or "death/chaos/war" adds.

The idea of google adds is not to display any random viagra or low-rate-mortage advertisement, but target the adds based on the specific content of the page using advance google search technology (probably TM.) That makes the service more attractive to vendors and [hopefully] makes the adds a little more appropriate/relevant to people that visit our page. That said, google is ultimately in control of what goes in the space we give them. It may very well be that google already know everything about everyone, and rather than placing page-relevant adds, places user-relevant adds. (Could be why you only see those snake-oil adds.) :-)

You could add a couple more items to the cdrom page and call it a "Store" like
Mozilla does. PostGres runs their own ads, but not on the home page and only
one per page. It seems prudent to look at other high profile projects
(Flightgear is getting there!) and try not to stand out to much in the area of
commercialization. Google might be easy, but if there is an option that
might be a little more work (and better) I'd be glad to help out (rather than
just being a nay sayer ;-)).

I'm told there are several choices for how much space we give google, supposedly we can do graphics or text only adds, even single vs. multiple adds. I imagine that the rate of return is proportional to how much space we give them, but they don't really say.

Clearly we can make this more or less obnoxious depending on what size / qty. adds we enable. Can we make it suitably non-obnoxious is the big question for me.

One good thing might be just a "Donations" link like a lot of oss web sites
show. Make sure that it is clear that even small donations are appreciated
(so that folks don't think they can't afford it).

Do these sorts of "donation" links actually work? I'd be tempted to point the donations link to tsunami relief or other charities, but then I'd risk being political in my choice of organizations. With google, they get to take the heat. :-)


Curtis Olson        http://www.flightgear.org/~curt
HumanFIRST Program  http://www.humanfirst.umn.edu/
FlightGear Project  http://www.flightgear.org
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