On Capital

This site was founded in 2005.  Over those seven years, we have had occasional internal debates about advertising. The consensus we've reached is that Popehat will remain free of advertising until Popehat can no longer remain free of advertising.

That day is today.

As much as Ken loves you all, there are more of you than there used to be.  As furiously as I try to drive you all away, more readers keep coming, and the cost of running this site goes up. So advertising it will be.

In making this decision, we were guided by three considerations: 1) We need help to pay for the costs of running a site whose traffic has increased beyond anything we anticipated; 2) We want the means of acquiring that help to be as inoffensive and unobtrusive as possible; and 3) We want the site to remain a hobby, rather than a commercial endeavor.

We weighed various options in determining how to meet these goals. Initially, we had considered exchanging links and banner ads with pornographic websites, with payments to be directed to us on a per-click basis.  We haven't activated the feature for readers, but this is what it looks like to a site administrator:

Unfortunately Grandy, who runs our forum and much of this site behind the scenes, is a bit of a, well let's just say that we wanted a solution that made each of us comfortable.

We considered a slight modification of the site's content.  For instance, this is a list of draft posts that Ken was planning to publish later in the week:


Ultimately we decided that this was taking things too far.

What we have decided to do is this.

We are putting up an Amazon link on the sidebar. If you purchase through Amazon, we would ask that you consider doing so through that link now and then. It will cost you nothing extra, but Amazon will remit some portion of its own profit to this site.

We have blogged for years, very occasionally, about products that we've enjoyed such as books. The frequency of such "product blogging" will not increase. But when we do it, we will include links to Amazon within the post.

What will we do with the money? It will go toward paying for the cost of running this site. By cost, we mean out-of-pocket expenses, bandwidth and hosting fees. Our salaries for running this site will remain zero.

Any proceeds from Amazon in excess of the costs of running this site will be donated to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a non-profit devoted to First Amendment legal advocacy and education.

If you have questions or comments, please fill out the little box below.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. says

    Thanks a bunch. In here looking for a link and my wife comes in to kiss me goodbye and jokingly says "Quit looking at Porn" I'm like what the hell are you talking about and then finally notice the Playboy logo smack dab in the middle of my screen.

  2. Jingles says

    If you guys wanted to go the AdWords route too, I'd be willing to add you to my AdBlock whitelist in a heartbeat.

  3. Grifter says

    While I will definitely use the link next time I make an Amazonian purchase, I wouldn't have faulted you for

    1, having a more direct revenue-generating type of advertisement (albeit preferably one that is moderately unobtrusive), and/or
    2, keeping the extra money.

    So if you changed your mind and did either/both of those things I wouldn't complain (not that you'd listen…I just wanted to be one of the first to say that if you guys wanted to make some burger money off of us maroons, it would be totally legit)

  4. Jared says

    I'd probably donate directly if you setup a paypal link… fairly sure others would as well (if the Amazon thing doesn't pan out).

  5. Luke says

    Amazon is probably one of the less intrusive means of gaining revenue. And if you guys ever need to take donations I would be glad to chip in. Since first reading this site around Christmas (Anatomy of a Scam Investigation) it has become one of my daily reads.

  6. says

    Quick question about purchasing from Amazon through your link: Do you only receive a cut if I purchase the specific book in your link? Or is it possible to end up with a portion of the profit if I purchase something else from Amazon after following your link?

  7. says

    Snarky, when the link is up, anything you purchase will be credited to Popehat as long as it is purchased from the same window and session to which the link brings you.

    It will actually be a big button or a small banner.

    In other news, we're considering a line of t-shirts, sweat shirts, and coffee mugs with the Popehat logo (designed by our friend Roger Kirk, aka Quipp), but that's a longer term project.

    We admire Quipp's cartoonish style of art. We hope, one day, that it will make him rich.

  8. says

    Thanks, Patrick.

    To clarify: the funds raised will also go to the cost of monitoring (through Woopra) traffic, which is often helpful in responding to comment and criticism, watching for stalkers, and giving you the "Road to Popehat" feature.

    To repeat: the money will not go for salary, bonuses, liquor, cars, video games, or the like. It will go to the hosting, tracking, and maintenance of the site.

  9. says

    Patrick, Ken, et al…

    If and when you do get around to selling Popehat gear, please be sure to make "Popehat Signal" t-shirts, coffee mugs, thongs, etc available.

  10. says

    It's under consideration Jack.

    Another reason we're doing this is so that I can direct a portion of the unconscionable amounts I personally spend at Amazon toward something useful.

  11. Orville says

    I currently have other sites that I use Amazon links at, so my contribution would be diluted by that.

    A donate button, and/or a store would get my money.

  12. says

    @Christopher: the article titles bit was top notch, especially because of the closer.

    @nlp: with a helpful arrow.

    All PopehatGear will come with a written promise to seek pro bono representation for you should you be arrested for wearing it in public.

  13. Library Nachos says

    I would also like to second, or third, or fourth the suggestion that we might be able to make donations (or subscriptions) directly. I have ad blocking software so strict that sometimes entire sites don't work at all. It is doubtful that I'll see the Amazon banner but I want to help keep this site afloat.

  14. says

    We'll consider it Nachos, but only if the Amazon process doesn't pan out. We had a big hair-pulling knockdown dragout to get this far, which Ken only won because he has no hair to pull.

  15. says

    Correction: the portion of the money that David and I skim from the Amazon proceeds, via computer virus that may or may not contain a rounding error, will absolutely go towards liquor and video games. And other things. At least my part will.

    There are a number of factors we have to weigh before proceeding down the merchandise path, among them: liability, artistic integrity, and the efficacy of David and myself's computer virus. We're a long way off but it seems likely we'll at least dip our toes in that water over the next year to year and a half. Truthfully, every time Patrick and I get to talking about it we have to stop and discuss what makes an excellent T-shirt, and then somehow we always wind up discussing 80s movies. So we're probably like 3 months behind because of that alone.

  16. Orville says


    The sooner you make a Popehat shirt the sooner I can buy one to send to Charles Carreon.

    Honestly, I'm not sure if that is an argument for or against the idea.

  17. Rail Rogue says

    I'm a newbie here, only about a month or so (I easily lose track of things like time). If your Amazon link preserves my Amazon Prime membership I'll be happy to use it and so provide a day or two of restroom supplies each year.

    Also would have no problem with a modest donation/subscription/grant/handout button either.

  18. says


    Do you only receive a cut if I purchase the specific book in your link? Or is it possible to end up with a portion of the profit if I purchase something else from Amazon after following your link?

    We're not sure whether, when you follow a link, the specific product must be purchased. We're also not sure how persistent the kickback will be when you start in our Amazon search box and then click around the Amazon site for a while. We'll just have to see!

    We have had the knockdown and dragout regarding a Paypal Donate! link. Perhaps we'll escalate to that if the discreet Amazon stuff fails to generate enough revenue to put a dent in the infrastructure costs.

  19. liza says

    As a new viewer here I am sure that I am part of thr increased traffic. I am also sure that I will not be part of the solution. I have my bookmark to buy from amazon and use that. Although I know that clicking through the affiliate link will earn my favorite sites money I just never think about it when I go to buy from amazon, most of us don't. My advice after seeing this happen at many good popular sites, sell advertising but your own way.

    Dear Author is how I found you and you might want to take a looksee over there. They tried affiliate links but needed more. The advertising in well done.

  20. Anglave says

    I don't purchase much through Amazon, and I fear that when I do I'd fail to remember to come here and do it through your link.

    But if you set up to take PayPal donations, I'd donate.

    And if there's ever a "Snort my taint!" shirt, I'll seriously consider purchasing one.

  21. says

    It's OK if it doesn't cover all costs (which can approach $250 per month right now). It would be nice for it to cover some.

  22. says

    I'm a kindle junkie, so I'm on board.

    Will there be a t-shirt saying, "Snort My Taint"?

    I'd buy one.

  23. says

    I'm now using Amazon a bit more than I used to, and I'm willing to make some of those purchases through your link (my coworkers and I started visiting your site recently, so we're probably part of your problem). I am not, however, a big fan of Paypal at the moment. Kickstarter is another good idea, as is the possibility of swag.

  24. Kelly says

    I am on board with all the ideas, to include paypal if necessary.

    The post titles were inspired, thanks for making me laugh.

  25. Hannah says

    Fourth, fifth, and sixth on the donate link. I'm one of the new 'hoardes' to recently join this site and am blown away by its quality. I would happily donate some money to keep you going.. And yes even buy a cigar or two.

  26. Martin Doms says

    How about posting a book recommendation so we can "donate" to you right now?

  27. Anita says

    I'll try to remember to use the Amazon link when it's up. Can't promise much since I tend to just type the word 'amazon' into the address bar when I want to buy something from there. But I will try.

  28. GrimGhost says

    I just got a call from Charles Carreon. He's going to sue you to take over administration of Amazon's royalties to your site, supposedly so he can be sure that you spend the money on only what you say you'll spend it on. Carreon also told me to tell Ken that Tara likes ponies. Especially pink ponies.

  29. KronWeld says

    It sounds like you are trying to find a way to help pay the costs of this site in the least annoying way, thank you for that.

    But… I don't buy from Amazon and I don't do PayPal. I rarely click on advertising links at websites – I just don't trust them (the advertising companies) – I like to try to keep what little privacy I have. The swag, yeah I would buy. The kickstart, likely I would donate.

    Just an FYI from the peanut gallery.

  30. Stephen says

    You should probably remind those using your Amazon banner, that they should clear their cookies before using it, if they can remember or have the time. It is just something I overheard as being a problem, could be nothing.

  31. JWH says

    Have I ever mentioned that Fruit of the Loom (R) is the superior underwear for Internet commenters?

  32. says

    @Ken — Be careful not to use PayPal… if you do Charles cannot sue you to complain that the court must make a collective trust out of your taint.

  33. says

    Here's the thing about Kickstarter: while we have a modest and growing audience, it's nothing like the size of Penny Arcade's (et al). Still, I'm sure we could raise some money to help pay for the site. But how much? If we aim low and hit low, we're going to be having this conversation again in 3-6 months. If we hit high (regardless of where we aim), that money is going to have to sit somewhere, and there are implications based on that we aren't really ready to face. Not to mention that Ken is more than a little untrustworthy with the purse strings, as evidenced by the fact that Popehat actually has had 5 platinum memberships paid for in the past 3 years, and yet we're here now.

    If the affiliate program with Amazon is wildly successful and we're raking in dough, there are certain bridges we would consider crossing (as an aside: if this happens, I urge you to invest in robot futures). But if that's the case – and let me assure you, it will not be – there will be a ramping up period where we get our ducks in a row. A kickstarter that succeeded would probably move more quickly than we prefer. And anyway, we'd rather see Kickstarter continued to be used for the many awesome things it gets used for (from Robert Harrison and Marion Call furthering their musical designs to Rich Burlew funding a bunch if print runs for OOTS books, to guys getting funding to publish books for their homebrew tabletop RPGs). I'm not so sure that, on consideration, we wouldn't find the idea of kickstarting to fund the site to be decidedly not us (having never had that conversation internally, I can't say that with 100% certainty. But it surely ranks below a tip jar in our books).

    A tip jar is a possibility in the future based on a number of factors, but we prefer not to at this time.

  34. Brett says

    Recent reader, and the site has become a daily read, so I'll admit to driving up the bandwidth costs. Gave money to the Oatmeal charity, and freely give money to every kickstarter/indiegogo/pozible campaign around, plus spend money at Amazon, so I'll certainly click on your amazon link and would cheerfully donate through paypal if that were an option.

  35. says

    God, the subtle zingery in the writing here makes me so happy. That's why you have too much traffic, man. People love snark.

  36. says

    Right now I'm saving up my pennies to buy a t-shirt that reads: "I carry a small gun to make up for my big penis"

    But a Popehat t-shirt would be second on my wish list. Really.

  37. Mercury says

    Whatever man…you have to pay the bills…everyone should understand.

    Zero Hedge uses Google AdSense ( I think) and you get all kinds of shit popping up based on…whatever – and I don't think anyone cares at this point. So…Go for it!

    I use the internet a lot…for all kinds of things…and *maybe* I've clicked on three internet ads in my life.

    If they're handing out $ for that shit …take it.

  38. says

    God, the subtle zingery in the writing here makes me so happy. That's why you have too much traffic, man. People love snark.

    Truly you have put the lime in our collective coconut, M.

    Snarkolepsy is just about the only thing that unites us, apart from the fact that we're four or five middle-aged, middle-class, caucasian, libertarian men who play video games and RPGs while reading too much.

  39. Frank says

    Another vote for a PayPal button, because I don't care to use Amazon. But I'd like to help so maybe I can grit my teeth hard enough…

  40. says

    Do you get to see what people buy through The Popehat Connection if it's not specifically linked to here?

  41. says

    Hey, we can start a Popehat Reputation Disinformation Campaign. Get the site associated with lots of truly odd purchases and see what starts coming up on the recommendations.

    "Other Popehat Users found these items interesting: Bullwip, coolwip, and batteries."

  42. KronWeld says

    @robert white – You forgot the "Other Popehat Users found these items interesting: Value pack of 48 Durex condoms with 3 personal vibrating rings in an embossed metal case."

  43. ABerg says

    The more Amazon "sales" they make on here, the higher percentage they earn. Amazon does a 1 day cookie, however if you add the item to your shopping cart it will stay there for up to 90 days and still give them credit…if you're not looking to purchase that day.
    Just in case I would still recommend coming back here to re-click on the amazon link.

    I only know this stuff because I am an amazon affiliate as well.

  44. David says

    Please do whatever you need to keep this running. Don't worry, we'll support you.

    On a totally unrelated note, there's some possible censorious thuggery afoot: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18990253

    tl;dr: Twitter will give up this guy's personal info unless a motion to quash is filed by Aug. 1. To quote the article, "What I need at the minute is a very good pro-bono California lawyer," he said.

    I immediately thought of you guys.

  45. Pete says

    I live in the "book-free zone" of Solomon's Island, MD, where Target is the largest book retailer within 30 miles. As such, I'm a big Amazon customer and I'd be happy for Popehat to get a cut of that action. But I'd be willing to contribute directly as well … either cash or brony pictures; your call.

  46. Luke says

    @Grandy – But just think of how much fun Patrick would have with a Kickstarter/fundraiser that ended the day before your next Instapundit Day.

    (And for the record, I thought the posts & titles from Instapundit day were hilarious)

  47. says

    Reading old "Road to Popehat" entries:

    "Babies must sleep. Babies must rest. Wise is the one who does not waken them."

    This is a reference to the classic action RPG System Shock 2, which is indeed very creepy.

  48. Fred Zeppelin says

    It its my understanding that ANYTHING you buy from Amazon after clicking through a link here counts.

    A friend did this on his blog and it was nice to know that all of my holiday gift-buying also included a little something extra for him, and at zero extra cost to me.

  49. Michael K. says

    Amazon affiliate link: Definitely.
    Kickstarter campaign: Would contribute. Understand the potential pitfalls.
    PayPal donations: Gotta say, not a fan, given their inconsistent, capricious enforcement of vague TOS and their history of inconsistent, capricious dispute resolution. There's gotta be a better donation/micropayment method out there by now.

  50. Matthew Cline says

    Personally, I wouldn't mind AdWords. Or anything which avoids pop-up ads, "cover the whole page with an ad" ads, and "re-direct to an ad page before going to the real page" ads.

  51. Jon says

    My understanding (from several years ago, so this may have changed) is that using the general link/box pays a small commission, and a link to a specific item pays a slightly larger commission. Anything else you buy in a session after following a specific item link pays the smaller commission. At least in the past, there was a complete report to the site owner of everything bought using either type of link.

  52. Anony Mouse says

    I knew a site that used that Amazon program (until Illinois went even more money hungry and screwed that up for everyone), and it's a good program. It's a good pick.

    And I even turned off adblock for you guys. Feel the love.

  53. Nibor says

    @Popehat Merchandise Department: I would buy from you guys so you will be able to keep this awesome site up and running (free of monetary costs for yourselves, your mental input is be enough)

    May I make a suggestion, the Oatmeal bought a lot (really a lot) of extra traffic and he has a up and running production/shop/distribution scheme going, would it be possible for you guys to link up with him so he(his organisation) handles the practical side of selling and most of your things will be comic/funny junk (see what I just did :-) glooth) so fitting with his stuff.
    It is just a suggestion.

    But you make even here on the other side of the pond life a little more bright, when you (or a commenter) got me smiling.

  54. Ye Anonymous European says

    On the subject of amazon, it is far cheaper for me to purchase my books through amazon.co.uk than it is to work through amazon.com – intraeuropean transport is cheaper than international, and I'm not subject to the import tariff and sales tax that hits me when I go to amazon.com

    So the question, I guess, is this: Is it possible to get up a .co.uk link also? I can disable my adblock for this site, but unless I actually buy something, I don't think it would make too much of a difference.

  55. says

    We appreciate our European readers, Anonymous, but there aren't enough of you, proportionately, to make a second Amazon box an attractive option.

  56. Brett says

    Just bought some books through the link Patrick, hopefully you'll get a dollar from it. :-)

  57. Missiletoe says

    If there's a way to sense which users are from Europe I imagine you could just write some logic in to display the .co.uk box instead of the .com box.

  58. says

    That sounds eminently reasonable. Have you considered adding a donate button as well? I do occasionally make use of those for blogs I read regularly; I consider it part of my reading budget.

  59. says

    Why waste time and space linking to porn sites, when you can create your own? I'm sure a few tasteful nudes of Ken will sell for enough to pay for the site for several hours, at least!

  60. Drew Bryson says

    I'd donate on paypal or if you had some other means of directly donating. :)

  61. Travis says

    Note that Google AdWords is about the least intrusive advertising system in existence. You probably already know, but I've some glancing experience with them and their control system is pretty good. Keep up the good blog work!

  62. Matt Cole says

    I'm definitely one of your new readers — I came in about the time the whole FunnyJunk v. The Oatmeal deal started going down. But you've caught my attention, and I'd definitely chip in a few bucks if you had a PayPal link.

    P.S. — as someone that works for PayPal, I can help you guys make up something unobtrusively simple…for example, just a plain ol' text link that says "Donate". You could throw that right above (or below) your Amazon box, and it would fit in just fine. :-)

  63. Gavin says

    @ron deOliveira

    You beat me to it. Yes, why don't you guys get on the kickstarter bandwagon while it's still hot or make direct donations possible. I consider this site no different than NPR or any other news/entertainment source I use so I believe we won't have any problem contributing to such a great site. I'll use the amazon link but you need to understand that people are fundamentally lazy. After a few weeks you'll likely just have a few people remembering to do this because people are also dumb and can't remember good [sic].

  64. says


    Just bought some books through the link Patrick, hopefully you'll get a dollar from it. :-)

    Thank you, Brett. You are our inaugural shopper. It would have been impossible to identify you if you had not identified yourself. Allow me to say your taste in books was excellent. (Note: I can only know what Brett bought because he told us he bought something and there is only one transaction; otherwise Amazon simply tells us what unidentified people have bought.)

    Brett's transaction makes us 72 cents. It's a start!

  65. mojo says

    I think you ought to carry banner ads from the sleaziest, most disreputable shysters you can dig up. Somebody ought to be taking their money, yannow?

  66. Aaron says

    When will the Amazon button be up? I do most of my shopping online, and a lot of that through Amazon. I'll have problems remembering to click here first, but I'm on board.

    If you do go the donation or merchandise selling route please use a company other than PayPal. I closed my account after they froze Regretsy's.

    You might consider a merchandise/donation setup like xkcd has. He's setup signed prints of the comics with a minimum price of $15, but if you want to pay more for the print you can.

  67. says

    It is up. Look at the upper right of your screen. If you can't see it, you have some adware blocking or cache issues.

  68. says

    I don't have any money, but I'll ask for Amazon gift cards for the appropriate occasions. I want drug paraphernalia and truckloads of fertilizer more than I want yet more Bath & Body Works anyway.

  69. leslie says

    I think the donation button is a smart way to go. I am part of a citizen's action league and when I get donation requests they are usually $4 or $5. I donate often because of the low amount.
    I also suggest checking out Dear Author. Jane does a great job with advertisments.
    Flashlights, T-shirts, ballcaps, mugs and bumberstickers. Mechandise that I would purchase in a New York minute.
    I don't use Amazon because of privacy issues.

  70. says

    If you're using AdBlock, you can click on the stop sign icon in your browser's toolbar and instruct the blocker not to run on this page or this domain. If you do that and still do not see the fetching widget, then it's possible you're (also?) running a javascript blocker such as Ghostery. In that case, you can click on the ghost icon in your browser's toolbar, click on the configuration link at the bottom of the picklist, and uncheck the amazon item if it appears among those blocked.

    If you still can't see it after that, then you must be using a Nook!

  71. Shawn says

    When you get to making merchandise… I would love to see some boxers that say 'Snort My Taint!' with or without a Popehat Signal… Just saying…

  72. slambie says

    Sorry to hear you are so popular, Popehat! ;-)

    As a regular reader, I'll certainly support your popularity by running my Amazon shopping through your links.

    Red Bull, the official sponsor of this post.

  73. says

    I don't really use Amazon but would be thrilled to give a little support to the site, so just note down one more person politely clamoring for a donation button.

  74. CTrees says

    "otherwise Amazon simply tells us what unidentified people have bought.

    Ohhh man… I'm suddenly hoping for a "what our readers bought" article, similar to "the road to popehat."

    Anyway, I usually put together a few Amazon orders a month (Prime is a corrupting influence), but my shopping habits tend to let items accumulate in the cart for a few days before ordering (partially because my wife adds things to the cart on my account). Does your link only count the items added in the session started by clinking through, or would it count the lingering items I finally got around to purchasing, as well?

  75. JLA Girl says

    Question from the back row:
    I click through to amazon.com (as above) and it offers to redirect me to the .ca version (which makes sense since I'm in, y'know, Canada, eh?).
    If I redirect, do you guys get credit for those purposes? Shall I start adding a comment to my order that "Popehat sent me here"?

  76. Hikaru Katayamma says

    Is it bandwidth that's the issue? Is that costing too much? I'm curious because I have some servers on 1G to the internet that I might be able to provide bandwidth if that's your issue.

  77. says

    For the no-script add-block-plus combo in firefox:

    Use the stop-sign on upper right (as suggested above) to "disable on popehat.com"

    Then use the no-script button (upper left to enable "asoc-amazon.com"). I don't know of any way to do this for just popehat.com at this time, but it's a pretty banal bunch of scripts to allow.

  78. says

    Pain Killer Induced Typos (pinched nerve) correction:

    No script (button is upper left next to "next" arrow, Blue "S" with different inset icons in different conditions, typically the red circle-n-slash when its fully active) needs "assoc-amazon.com" and maybe "amazon.com" to be marked enabled to fully work.

    If you don't want them enabled full-time, you can use the temporarily allow selection right before you use the amazon button.

  79. Brett says

    Ken, I look forward to entertaining you with more of my eclectic book tastes in the future. Plus there now seems to be a relatively cheap game for Popehat readers – see if you can make Ken hyperventilate and post about the WTF books people buy through the link.

  80. Phe0n1x says

    Well, let us know when you put it up. I'm considering starting Disc World. And that's 39 novels so…..I guess I'll wait.

  81. says

    @Brett: Never mind books; you can buy basically anything through Amazon, including items of questionable legality.

  82. Brett says

    @M: Yep, I'm currently viewing a fresh whole rabbit, 1500 Live Ladybugs, and a sample of uranium ore. That would hopefully confuzzle Ken, but they won't ship to Australia. I'll stick to books, but US residents can go crazy.

    @Phe0n1x: It's up – inconspicuous ads are the best kind, but possibly defeat the intended purpose. Look for a small Amazon logo on the right side.

  83. says

    @Brett: I always joke about buying centrifuge parts and lots of uranium on EBay.

    @NSA: Joke. I promise.

  84. says

    I'm coming a little late to this, but does Barnes & Noble have anything comparable to Amazon's payoff to sites like this? I ask on behalf of the few of us who are not part of the Amazon borg.

  85. says

    They do, but every additional bit of real estate we devote to advertising defeats two of the goals set forth above.

    BN lost the internet before it knew the war was worth fighting.