New Ad Policy takes effect immediately

Friday, October 10, 2008, 12:51 AM Readers:

In a separate blog entry, I introduced myself and described how I’ll be helping Chris. The post included an explanation of the need to add site advertising so we can continue to offer the Crash Course and Chris’ blog for free.

I was surprised and delighted by the number of responses. This is a vibrant and passionate community, and many members shared their views about advertising. I’ve taken the feedback to heart, and I am pleased to announce our new ad policy incorporates your feedback.

What you said

There were many comments in response to the prior blog post. Here are the main points I identified:

  1. No ads for paid subscribers; they are already paying for premium site access.
  2. Several members felt an easy method for donating would be preferred over site banner ads.
  3. Others thought the current subscription options were a good way to monetize the site, and a few suggested we should have less free content.
  4. Some suggested we also build an alliance with Amazon; many readers are inclined to purchase books on Chris’ recommended list from Amazon.
  5. You asked for the ability to use RSS to subscribe to individual forum and blog conversation threads.
  6. Some concern was expressed about losing direct access to Chris as the site grows and the readership base becomes larger.

What we’re going to do about it

You spoke, and we listened. I’m ashamed to admit, we hadn’t thought about removing ads for subscribers until you brought it to our attention. Thank you and please continue to share such ideas! Ads will be set so paid subscribers will not see them upon login.

You also suggested an easy method for donating would be valuable. Our new donation page provides the option to contribute by direct credit card transaction (which costs a bit less in fees) or via PayPal. The same page also explains other ways you can help, such as sending all your friends an e-mail about the Crash Course.

In regards to Amazon referrals, we have now added links in several areas of the site, including the home page and the Essential Books section. Chris will receive a commission from Amazon for everything purchased on their site when using these referral links. That’s everything you buy, not just Crash Course-related books. I really hope everyone will make a mental note to use these links for all your Amazon shopping.

Several who made comments felt donations, Amazon commissions, and/or subscriptions would be a better way to monetize the site than advertising. We’re going to monitor each and see how things progress. If these sources prove to offer a better solution, we’ll consider using them instead of banner advertising.

We’ve added the ability to subscribe through RSS to blog comments and forum threads. While he was at it, Ron threw in a "who’s online" box to give the forums a warmer, more personal feeling. Along these lines, I’d like to encourage regular forum users to upload a photo or unique avatar. It’s always easier to read online discussion groups when the recurrent authors have unique visual identities through photos or avatars.

Paid subscribers wanted to receive more of Chris’ direct attention as part of their membership investment. Therefore, Chris will be focusing more time on subscriber-only reports. Please be patient; we need to get Ch. 20 online first. Once it’s published, look for more subscriber-only content on the site.

Effective immediately, we will have Google AdSense ads on the site. I’ve asked Ron to do this “conservatively and respectfully,” meaning ad content will be separate from site content, and clearly labeled for what it is. If you’d rather not see these ads, sign up now as a paid subscriber and you’ll never be exposed to an ad on the site. If you’re already a paid subscriber, just log in and the ads will be removed.

What you can expect next

We’ll be monitoring this approach to advertising, donations, and subscriptions. If it becomes clear certain approaches make more sense than others, we’ll adjust our plans accordingly.

Google Ads are designed to be context-sensitive, meaning Google automatically monitors site content and traffic, and attempts to load compatible ads. In other words, you are likely to see ads for services like precious metals dealers. That’s just how Google Ads work. We are not endorsing any company in any ad. It’s up to you to know the difference between advertising and site content. We promise not to do anything to intentionally blur the distinction.

I want to assure everyone Chris continues to be our strategic leader and at the center of all site activities. He will continue to review feedback received through the site and e-mails. The unfortunate problem is there are only so many hours in the day, and much demands on Chris’ time. He would like to be able to develop much more primary content (such as Chapter 20), send more newsletters, answer all e-mails, and respond to every forum post. However, this is impossible to do. Therefore, while Chris will continue to review open forum discussions, he has decided he will no longer be responding to those outside of the subscriber-only forum. I hope everyone will understand why this is necessary, and if there are questions, certainly contact

In closing

Thank you for your understanding and patience. For Chris to continue sharing all this free content, it will be necessary to recover expenses. We want to do so in the most respectful manner possible. Please bear with us as we strive to optimize this solution for everyone’s greater benefit.


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jeanius2's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 23 2008
Posts: 14
The ad policy sounds fair

The ad policy sounds fair enough to me.

 Q for Chris: any hope for the Aussie dollar? (TIA)

Fogle's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 18 2008
Posts: 35
Thanks Erik and Chris

I would like to thank you Erik.

I for one, can see that Chris has much more time to write content. That is, I suppose,  because you are taking all kinds of practical work off his hands. This frees Chris to help and warn us.

Thanks again.

A q for you both: Do you have a back up system if this site goes down? Maybe a simple forum type format, just to exchange vital information.

Anyway, I am proud and very thankfull to be part of this. 



danaroypatton's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 2 2008
Posts: 4
Thank you

Thanks, Erik.

Your solutions seem very reasonable to me.


machinehead's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 1077
High noon

Given the focus of this blog, today -- right now -- is "HIGH NOON."

Fears about the financial sysem are as great as they've been since the late 1970s, when everyone understood that the pervasive inflation was due to dollar depreciation. Interest and site traffic should be at a maximum.

But the economy is cyclical, and the authorities are working furiously to ignite Bubble III. It will be important to roll with that tide. Although there will be a "long tail" of worried people searching for bearish news long after the bear market bottom (which could be near), the focus needs to subtly shift from "die, stocks, die!" to "go, gold!" and "shame about the bonds," and perhaps commissioning a new symphonic work, "Requiem for the Dollar."

Chris will doubtless remember a certain bearish-oriented site whose proprietor -- the self-styled Dr. S -- recognized and published the fact that his site traffic hit an all-time high in early March 2003, during the final test of the Oct. 2002 stock market low. Yet, he kept pounding the bearish drums all the way up, during 2003, 2004, and 2005, as the runaway bull market refused to listen. Lesson learned: stay flexible; stay in gear with the trend. With VIX at 64, fear is extreme and a violent reversal is probably near in stocks. But if an "American icon" company goes bankrupt, and Hank starts running banks and producing Sheeplewagons, the US dollar could fall off the cliff.

The main focus of this site has been on our defective monetary system. Bretton Woods II is dying before our very eyes. This is the story of the century. The measures the authorities will take to continue propping the broken global monetary system are likely beyond our imagination. Somebody needs to design a better system, whether they adopt it or not. Dr. M can do it, if anybody can.

wsohn's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 14 2008
Posts: 2
Thank you both.
Treah's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 12
new ad policy

Overall, I think the new policy is fair & necessary. However, I have one comment: This seems to be at cross purposes to one of Chris' messages, that of community & locality. Buying from Amazon may bring in a few bucks, but buying from your local bookstore or dept. store will help keep part of your community intact. Isn't that what we're all about?

By the way, I LOVE the site, & Chris is just a stellar person! I took one his first series of lectures a couple of years ago & am amazed to see how his program has developed. Congrats, Chris!

SteveS's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2008
Posts: 358
ad policy
Thanks for listening; sounds like you have done a good job of working out the best solution for all (including Chris). I appreciate in particular identifying the potential problem of targetted banner ads and whether they may be seen as being endorsed. It is very important for your reputation that banner ads that you can't control are positvely identified as not having implicit endorsement.
Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
I agree, but...

Overall, I think the new policy is fair & necessary. However, I have one comment: This seems to be at cross purposes to one of Chris' messages, that of community & locality. Buying from Amazon may bring in a few bucks, but buying from your local bookstore or dept. store will help keep part of your community intact. Isn't that what we're all about?

By the way, I LOVE the site, & Chris is just a stellar person! I took one his first series of lectures a couple of years ago & am amazed to see how his program has developed. Congrats, Chris!



I haven't introduced myself yet, but I'm part of Chris' behind-the-scenes team. 

I agree with your belief that buying books from local booksellers will contribute more to the health of the local community than purchasing through Amazon.

But the fact is, Chris needs to subsidize this site somehow, convenience is a priority for many people, and is easy and fast for people who want to buy books and need it to be easy and fast.  I think there is a need and that people will make use of this feature; if this doesn't play out when we look at how our revenue-building options are doing, we will reconsider it.

Our goal is absolutely not to take business away from the local guy, and I hope people will remember this.  I think the best scenario would be to buy from your local bookseller AND send a donation to Chris.  That will be possible for some people and not others.  But everyone has to weigh all the pros and cons, and the impact of their choices, for themselves.

Glad you like the site!

- Amanda


jrf29's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 453
Great Job with the Ads

Hello Chris and Erik,

I think you guys have done an excellent job with the ads so far. They are tasteful, discrete, and most of all, they do not create the impression that you have a commercial interest in the ideas which you are presenting. Regardless of what kind of break subscribers get from ads, the main free site is the filter through which all first-time visitors and skeptics must pass.

 P.S. Personally, I think the new intro at the top of the page is just the trick.

Pandabonium's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 30 2008
Posts: 88
Re: New Ad Policy takes effect immediately

Wow. Fast action.  Thank you Chris and Erik for being on top of things. 


jrf29's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 453
Gold Advertisements and Testimonials

Hi Guys,

I just saw the video advertisement for at the bottom of the page.  You know I personally think such things could have a serious impact on the credibility of the site.

Anyway,  for a while I have been intending to draw the attention of several economics professors at the University of Massachusetts to the web site.  I am personally curious to hear whether or not they happen to mention any apparent commerical interest in their responses.  Though they may be wrong in their conclusions, this could be a good test of how the average intelligent person might react to the site.  I'll keep you posted.

P.S.  I have a comment about the "testimonials."  If I am not mistaken, the traditional purpose of a testimonial is to provide a real person as a reference for a product or service; a person who has enough faith in a product to attach their name and address to it.  A testimonial that does not give a person's name, but says only "A," for example, is not a testimonial at all, it is just a quote that was in all probability made up by the salesman himself.  I think the testimonials might carry some weight if they had people's names attached to them.

Put another way---if the person giving a "testimonial" is too embarassed to attach even their name to it, that would appear to the outside observer to be more of a damnation than a rousing endorsement.  Do you see what I mean?

eternal sunshine's picture
eternal sunshine
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 24 2008
Posts: 50
Re: New Ad Policy takes effect immediately

Hi Erik


I've noticed some Google ads appearing, advertising (wait for it) The Nationwide Building Society (UK), cheap motgage and loan deals.

 The ads are also occasionally overlaying the title banner of the home page



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