I originally linked Rob to this post because he is the one that deals with ads. Sometimes he asks my opinion, and often times I give it unsolicited, but this is his domain so I'll bow out in a sec and let him take this one .
With that said though - I don't disagree that a second post in between the first couple might not be a better idea, by any means. It will push the rest of the content down a bit further, I guess is the drawback there. But I certainly don't agree that it would be considered identity theft nor inappropriate, unethical, etc etc, to do it this way.
I see this all the time. When I say that, I say it because it is true - not because I've got some limited scope in what I see. I spend a large amount of time daily, just due to what I do, searching on Google for help and looking for discussions with nuggets of gold.. going to various forums. I'm sorry it's being considered "disturbing" that we consider it a widespread accepted practice. I hope that the thought there is more toward 'the way the internet is going' vs some sort of other comment on our thought process. When I say it is "fairly common", I say it because it is in fact fairly common - not because I'm trying to give some excuse.
I just did a few searches, random topics. "linux help", "help forums", "car help forums", "real estate forum", "google forums". Within top two or three results for each:
Tell me URl's of Lab scenarios for practice and preapare for RHCE exam
Information - Acer delays Windows RT tablets | PC Help Forum
WHat is Grand Prix - Automotive Forums .com Car Chat
I'm not making this stuff up, feel free to search around and see.
Honestly, I think the severity of this is being taken a bit far. I mean really - this is a pretty minor thing to complain about. I'm not trying to disregard any feelings here when I say that. I'm just saying.. if this is the biggest thing we catch flack about this quarter we're doing darn well! Everyone knows they are ads when they see them. They clearly say it, and I think most people that live on the internet skim right by it if they don't want to pay attention to it.
The feedback is of course welcomed and we may very well make some changes from it. I spend a pretty decent amount of time arguing on behalf of the user, and ad placement is often times part of that argument. But again, this is FAR less of a concern in my view than some of the ad placement here. The good news is changing this one to under the first post, should we decide that's a better option, is a much easier fix I would think then some of the other ad issues we've been discussing outside of this.
p.s. Will fix typo in title for ya.