For most people who put content on the internet, the deal provided by one company or another is this: you provide the content, we will put ads beside it, and we will pay for the servers and bandwidth necessary for hosting a website. More sneakily, sites like Facebook make their money by selling the personal information of users, in addition to selling targeted advertising (which is increasingly the same thing).
Some sites do all this earning and paying indirectly, with the people running the site outside the advertising/hosting cost loop. Alternatively, it is possible to do both yourself: sell ads and pay for hosting.
Lately, this site has followed the latter model. I pay for hosting and I have revenue from automatically-generated Google AdSense ads. The costs largely balance out. Between 1 January 2010 and 1 January 2011, this site and BuryCoal.com collectively received C$296.38 in advertising revenue. During the same span, I paid US$249.70 collectively to DreamHost and Flickr.
Would people feel more comfortable if this site was hosted by a third party that kept the advertising revenue, rather than self-funding in this way? One consideration is scaling hosting to demand. With a third party they would handle it, but I couldn’t choose to pay for performance improvements. For instance, moving to a private VPS account on DreamHost would cost US$15 per month, but would probably make the site quicker and more reliable.
[Update: 11:36pm] I have always encouraged readers who disliked the ads to use Firefox with the AdBlock Plus plugin.