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The future of our service and our obnoxious ads



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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In the next few days we will be trying out ValueClick Media In-Text format, a new type of advertising that we think is less intrusive than many other formats. Basically, keywords on our pages that correspond to an advertiser's product or service will be double-underlined in blue. Upon scroll-over a small pop-up window will appear with information about the product advertised, links to more content, etc. Move your cursor away from the underlined keyword and the window will disappear.

As with other ads on our pages, we have very little control over what is advertised. We were assured by the agency that will be providing the ads that no inappropriate ads are ever served as part of their network. But, as always, we depend on your diligence, and if you see something that seems untoward please let us know.

On the other hand, please keep in mind that it is advertisements that make this site possible. We know nobody likes ads, and some formats (especially the pop-ups and the pop-unders) are particularly obnoxious; we know how frustrating it is to have to run a gauntlet of ads in order to get to a page. Yet it is advertising that continues to be our principal source of revenue.

Like with other media, allowing the purchase of an ad on any of our sites does not imply endorsement of whatever product is being advertised, or the company doing the advertising. Television stations and newspapers and magazines and radio stations and other media are not assumed to endorse ads they carry that promote political candidates, alcoholic beverages, health products, pharmaceuticals, etc. It is reasonable that the same assumption should apply to online publications. Besides, unlike established media companies, we have neither the resources nor the expertise to sell our own ads. We belong to several online advertising networks which do all the selling, choosing and servicing of ads on our sites (and they naturally keep a good chunk of the proceeds). Consequently, we don't really have much control over what we advertise. We have made a special point of banning provocative ads as a general category because they are evidently offensive to many of our readers. But we cannot ban many other general categories without a drop in revenues that may force us to make the site accessible by subscription only.

Some may translate our decisions as showing a willingness to compromise our principles in the pursuit of profit. Well, the pursuit of profit is the whole idea behind our free enterprise system, and it's hard to see how we can be faulted because we would like our company to remain solvent. However, to make our situation clearer it is important to lay out our fundamental conundrum: While we are an independent, for profit company, we also consider our reviews to be a public service. If we wanted to just make a nice profit, we would simply make our reviews accessible only by subscription -- the New York Times, for instance, which is far larger and more profitable than we are, does exactly that with archived articles; and the Wall Street Journal will not allow any access to any of its articles, new or archived, without a very expensive subscription. Instead, we opted for creating two websites, one free and supported by ads and the other ad-free and supported by subscriptions. So, for a totally ad-free experience, you may consider subscribing to our mirror site at

Since we will be trying to both maximize our revenues and make ads less intrusive, we will be attempting to balance two often mutually exclusive objectives. Please be patient with us.

As always, feel free to send us your comments and complaints -- as well as any compliments.

Aris T. Christofides - Editor, Critics Inc.


Although our site remains very popular, the current economic climate has reduced our ad revenues and, as if that wasn't enough, it has become the target of hackers who don't like what we do and are determined to destroy it. To protect our reviews we moved to a much more secure, and expensive, server and we need your help more than ever. If you think what we do is worthwhile and helpful to you, please consider donating or becoming a member and make sure we continue to publish -- as an extra benefit, members have access to our premium website, which is totally free of ads.

INAPPROPRIATE ADS? We have little control over ads since we belong to ad agencies that serve ads automatically; a standing order should prevent provocative ads, but inappropriate ads do sneak in.
What you can do



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