black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.


Maria Popova - have you made $1M on affiliate ads while soliciting $500k in donations for your “ad-free” site? Then maybe go easier on your fellow writers for how they make a living.


Maria Popova is a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree, regular author for The Atlantic, and was named to the Fast Company 100 Most Creative in Business list. I let her know I was a regular reader of her site when I sent her an email a few months ago after she wrote an article about the dangers of advertising in journalism. She detailed a scenario in which a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist was offered money from Xerox to write an article. I sent her a message to ask for clarity in what she meant, given that I was aware of her practice of putting affiliate advertising links in her articles while at the same time asking users at the end of each article to donate to her site by telling them that she runs an ad-free site that is subsidized by user contributions (screenshot). It is often controversial for a site to make money off of affiliate ads without notifying users in any terms of use (i.e. Pinterest), or to write reviews on products without notifying users they are making money when the reader clicks and purchases those products (the FTC enforces laws for certain types of blogs), but Popova has been going a bit further - while keeping the ads undisclosed, she also writes at the end of each article and in each email newsletter that the site is ad-free and needs user donations to support it.

Read on.

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