BuyMyStuff

We’re spending a LOT of time planning a complete re-vamping of the  www.ASP.NET web site.

Recently I came across this comment in a blog entry discussing what Microsoft should do to improve the web site.

The justification that the ads exist to offset the cost of running the site is indefensible for a company Microsoft’s size.

Though most folks don’t care about the ads and many folks tell us they even find them useful, this is not the first time I’ve hear this.

The last time I made a comment about the cost of running our little collection of web properties a “community member” with a healthy sense of entitlement basically called me a liar and demanded to see our accounting :)

Some times folks don’t want to hear it, or don’t “get it” but Microsoft is a company like any other.

A few notes as it pertains to operational funding at Microsoft.

  • Microsoft is not permitted by the government to print it’s own money. The company’s operating expenses are acquired by way of SALES, just like any other commercial entity.
  • If, after all is said and done, if there is any money “left over” from the difference between the COST of developing and supporting our products and the revenue from sales – it goes to the people who OWN Microsoft – OUR SHAREHOLDERS.
  • There is no “Vault” at Microsoft where teams go with their shopping cart to get the money they need to do what they need to do.

So as to avoid the nastiness I experienced that last time i discussed how much it costs to run the .NET sites, lets just agree it is a non-trivial amount of money.

Apart from “pure operational costs”, where do all the articles, videos, whitepapers, code, design, new features, etc come from ?  One way or the other, they all cost money. Some we pay for outright, some are paid for by way of the salaries of the Microsoft staff who have commitments to deliver those materials.

To me this seems like basic math (though maybe I’m missing some magic formula).

  • Everything costs money.
  • Each dollar can only be spent ONCE.

So given the costs of delivering the .NET community web sites and all the content they contain we can …..

  • Find ways to supplement our Microsoft budget in order to deliver MORE to our web site users.
  • Don’t supplement our operating budget (with things like ads) and do whatever we can with the budget we have. (Which clearly means less content for our developers.)

I’ve always assumed that our developers would prefer that we run ads in order to be able to afford to deliver more Videos, Samples, Articles, Whitepapers, Code, Features, etc.

Maybe I’ve been wrong about this.

Understand that we ONLY accept ads for things that are of interest to DEVELOPERS.

Given our traffic, we could make TONS of money if we sold ads for Cars, Hair Replacement, Viagra, etc. but we don’t. We only run ads for software development related products and services.

So, what would you suggest ?

  1. Keep the current model of Developer only ads discreetly displayed?
  2. Remove all ads and publish less content?
  3. Broaden the advertising policy to advertise “anything” and generate more content?
  4. Do something else (and you email me what to do and HOW to pay for it :) )

Thanks !