<mouser> i guess one problem with doing it as an experiment is
<mouser> people visiting will not know about the experiment
<mouser> they will think its how we always are
That danger cannot be overstated; I joined because I was blown away by the incredible sincerity
of the site and many of its visitors. Had I read your intro pages and the (2006?) letter that was my entry point to the site a few days ago while simultaneously seeing ads, I would have simply thought 'yeah, right; nice software collection, but no way I'm donating on top of your ad revenue.'
I would not have thought, maybe I've finally found a home on the 'net.
I would not have thought, maybe I've found a place genuinely interested in pursuing a life financed without crudity, crassness, or desperate grasping greed. Maybe they'll fail in the end, but I'm damned proud to see someone trying it. I would not have thought that, had I seen ads.
Seriously, it makes that much difference. No, I can't speak for everyone. I can only speak for me. But...at least some of the other new visitors to your site will be like me.
<mouser> we could put a little message under every ad
<mouser> saying something like
<mouser> "dc advert experiment feb 1 - 28"
<mouser> which can be clicked to read more
<mouser> about how we dont normally have ads, etc
Would have made zero difference to me. I would just have assumed that either you were lying, or that the original Great Experiment was over and the ads were here to stay. I would not have clicked to read more. Once you see an ad, you already know (or think you know) what you're dealing with. I am
sure that I'm speaking for a lot of people there, again assuming we're talking about new visitors.
Please don't do this. Find another way to run the experiment. Run it on another site. Anything but here. Buy the domain 'advertcoder.com' or something, put the experiment there, let it be an anthropological comparison between what kinds of communities grow up in the two places, but I'm begging you not to do it here.
A heartfelt plea shouldn't have to describe itself as such, it should be obvious, but I'm not a good enough writer to be sure what's coming across (and I'm really really sleepy right now, too) so I will state it flatly: this is, truly and sincerely, a heartfelt plea not to change the tone of the site that way, not even temporarily for an experiment.