Any ideas for making money with QA sites?


I was reading this interesting Kokorin's article, and I started thinking, well, how could a QA site make money, if you are not using advertisement?

Would your gather users information like interests and sell it to a marketing company?
Would you sell this QA to somebody else, then what? The bottom line is, if you're buying a QA website, how could you make money with it?

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asked Feb 17 '10 at 08:23
Junior Mayhé
138 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

5 Answers


If you think StackOverflow doesn't make a lot of money off ads, you're wrong.

You don't need insider info to figure that out. Look at the number of daily hits they have (which they publish on their blog) and multiply by their CPM (which their ad salesmen are happy to quote you), subtract a heavy charge for bandwidth, subtract some salaries for the employees (who are publically listed so you know how many), and you'll see they're making good money.

One answer they've done is create an associated job board.

You can make money with QA sites and advertising, you just need a lot of traffic, which is very hard to do.

answered Feb 17 '10 at 08:26
16,231 points
  • +1 - not only does SO have hits, but the user base is focused as well. Just look at the companies who advertise. – Jeff O 14 years ago
  • SO makes some good money. See my analysis at My point is, it's not a business that can scale well enough, and competitors will eventually overrun you. – Oleg Kokorin 14 years ago


One way is to build a paid service around the community. for instance has built a career site. In my case (I run a language Q&A site ), I plan to launch a marketplace for translators, proofreaders and other language professionals if my site ever gets traction. I doubt I'll ever get enough traffic to justify advertising as a main source of revenue.

Another way would be to organize conferences.

In the case of, my guess is that the visibility and karma that it gives to Jason and Dharmesh is very valuable by itself. For instance, Dharmesh's company sells inbound marketing software for web startups. Furthermore, if either of them ever wanted to raise venture capital, it surely couldn't hurt if the VCs were active on their own Q&A site.

answered Feb 17 '10 at 11:15
Olivier Lalonde
2,753 points


I think Jason is right: if you go with advertising, you need a huge market to be profitable. But if you step back and think about it, we're talking about expertise here more than a given codebase.

  1. Let's say you got together 20 experts in a given area. Rails development. Neurosurgery. Surviving Law School. And you had two levels of membership - everyone could read, but you had to pay to ask questions. Would a 1st year law student pay $500 for a year? Absolutely.
My point being subscription models work well when you have high value/small market situations.
answered Feb 17 '10 at 08:56
Bob Walsh
2,620 points


On the Stackoverflow blog, Joel and Jeff claimed that they didn't have much success with Google Adsense. Even though they get 6M page views per day.

There's also this article stating that the "educated" click on ads less. Whatever that means.

Finally some audiences, like programmers, tend to use ad blockers more than others. So, I guess the audience is important.

answered Feb 17 '10 at 10:07
749 points
  • If you re-read that article, you'll see that AdSense was a failure but that selling ads directly was very successful. If you read other net sources like Copyblogger or Problogger you'll find similar results. AdSense doesn't work, but that doesn't mean ads don't work. – Jason 14 years ago


Other obvious answers are:

  • you have a huge set of customer that are already paying for products or services and a SE Q&A site is the cheapest overall cost. It reduces overhead so profits are higher.
  • you tie it to another part of your business/site/service as a feature/way to create a community.
answered Feb 17 '10 at 08:36
Tim J
8,346 points

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