We’re always experimenting with new stuff here on WordPress.com, and we’ve always been fans of keeping the lights on. (And all those servers have lots of lights!) To support the hundreds of hours of development and support we do every week and provide rock-solid and fast hosting with constant backups, it adds up. Ideally I want WordPress.com to be as free as possible for everyone, so options like advertising have always been interesting.
We’re starting a contextual adsense test tonight on WordPress.com to see if it’s worth investigating or not.
The experiment will conclude next Wednesday. We’re keeping the ads to a bare minimum, so you’ll probably never see one, but if you do be sure to let us know what you think. The ads will only ever be shown to a subset of users, and they will always be plain-text so as to not distract from the rest of the page.
Depending on how this goes, it could enable you guys to put your own ads on the site, or some sort of share. We don’t know yet. The main thing is that if ads aren’t going to be worth it on the site, we’d rather not have them at all for free users. (Yours or ours.)
Anyway there is no reason to freak out, I think our track record of doing things you guys like is pretty solid and that’s not going to change now. (Look at all the features that have been rolled out in the last 3 months, from custom headers to import/export to translation.)
Update: There have been no complaints from people actually seeing the ads, even though people got awfully scared about the possibility of them in the comments here. We’re going to keep them running for now to see how they trend. As always, send in feedback if you have any thoughts.