Ars Technica

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Short description: Technology news website owned by Condé Nast

Ars Technica
The word "Ars" is displayed in white lowercase letters centered within an orange circle; immediately to the right of the circle is the word "Technica" in black uppercase letters.
The Ars Technica logo is displayed in the top-left corner of the web page. Separated into two rows below the logo are several boxes, each of which contains an article's headline and image.
Type of site
Available inEnglish
OwnerCondé Nast
Created by
  • Ken Fisher
  • Jon Stokes
Launched1998; 26 years ago (1998)
Current statusOnline

Ars Technica[lower-alpha 1] is a website covering news and opinions in technology, science, politics, and society, created by Ken Fisher and Jon Stokes in 1998. It publishes news, reviews, and guides on issues such as computer hardware and software, science, technology policy, and video games.

Ars Technica was privately-owned until May 2008, when it was sold to Condé Nast Digital, the online division of Condé Nast Publications. Condé Nast purchased the site, along with two others, for $25 million and added it to the company's Wired Digital group, which also includes Wired and, formerly, Reddit. The staff mostly works from home and has offices in Boston, Chicago, London, New York City, and San Francisco.

The operations of Ars Technica are funded primarily by advertising, and it has offered a paid subscription service since 2001.


Ken Fisher, who serves as the website's current editor-in-chief, and Jon Stokes created Ars Technica in 1998.[1][2] Its purpose was to publish computer hardware and software-related news articles and guides;[3] in their words, "the best multi-OS, PC hardware, and tech coverage possible while ... having fun, being productive, and being as informative and as accurate as possible".[4] "Ars technica" is a Latin phrase that translates to "Art of Technology".[3] The website published news, reviews, guides, and other content of interest to computer enthusiasts. Writers for Ars Technica were geographically distributed across the United States at the time; Fisher lived in his parents' house in Boston, Stokes in Chicago, and the other writers in their respective cities.[2][5]

On May 19, 2008, Ars Technica was sold to Condé Nast Digital, the online division of Condé Nast Publications.[lower-alpha 2] The sale was part of a purchase by Condé Nast Digital of three unaffiliated websites costing $25 million in total: Ars Technica, Webmonkey, and HotWired. Ars Technica was added to the company's Wired Digital group, which included Wired and Reddit. In an interview with The New York Times , Fisher said other companies offered to buy Ars Technica and the site's writers agreed to a deal with Condé Nast because they felt it offered them the best chance to turn their "hobby" into a business.[7] Fisher, Stokes, and the eight other writers at the time were employed by Condé Nast.[3][8] Layoffs at Condé Nast in November 2008 affected websites owned by the company "across the board", including Ars Technica.[9]

On May 5, 2015, Ars Technica launched its United Kingdom site to expand its coverage of issues related to the UK and Europe.[10] The UK site began with around 500,000 readers and had reached roughly 1.4 million readers a year after its launch.[11] In September 2017, Condé Nast announced that it was significantly downsizing its Ars Technica UK arm, and laid off all but one member of its permanent editorial staff.[12]


The content of articles published by Ars Technica has generally remained the same since its creation in 1998 and is categorized by four types: news, guides, reviews, and features. News articles relay current events. Ars Technica also hosts OpenForum, a free Internet forumCite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag He formerly taught scientific writing and science journalism at Stony Brook University and Weill Cornell Medical College.[13][14] He earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and his PhD from University of California, Berkeley and worked as a postdoc at Memorial Sloan Kettering.[15][16]

Former Hardware and Windows editor Peter Bright was convicted in 2020 of attempted child enticement.[17]


The cost of operating Ars Technica has always been funded primarily by advertising.[18] Originally handled by Federated Media Publishing, selling advertising space on the website is now managed by Condé Nast.[8] In addition to online advertising, Ars Technica has sold subscriptions to the website since 2001, now named Ars Pro and Ars Pro++ subscriptions (previously known as Ars Premier). Subscribers are not shown advertisements, and receive benefits including the ability to see exclusive articles, post in certain areas of the Ars Technica forum, and participate in live chat rooms with notable people in the computer industry.[19] To a lesser extent, revenue is also collected from content sponsorship. A series of articles about the future of collaboration was sponsored by IBM,[18] and the site's Exploring Datacenters section is sponsored by data-management company NetApp. Ars Technica also collects revenue from affiliate marketing by advertising deals and discounts from online retailers, and from the sale of Ars Technica-branded merchandise.[20]

On March 5, 2010, Ars Technica experimentally blocked readers who used Adblock Plus—one of several computer programs that stop advertisements from being displayed in a web browser—from viewing the website. Fisher estimated 40% of the website's readers had the software installed at the time. The next day, the block was lifted, and the article "Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love" was published on Ars Technica, imploring readers not to use the software on websites they care about:[18][21]

... blocking ads can be devastating to the sites you love. I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical ... It can result in people losing their jobs, it can result in less content on any given site, and it definitely can affect the quality of content. It can also put sites into a real advertising death spin.

The block and article were controversial, generating articles on other websites about them, and the broader issue of advertising ethics.[22][23] Readers of Ars Technica generally followed Fisher's persuasion; the day after his article was published, 25,000 readers who used the software had allowed the display of advertisements on Ars Technica in their browser, and 200 readers had subscribed to Ars Premier.[18]

In February 2016, Fisher noted, "That article lowered the ad-block rate by 12 percent, and what we found was that the majority of people blocking ads on our site were doing it because other sites were irritating them". In response to increasing use of ad blockers, Ars Technica (As of February 2016) identify readers who filter out advertisements and ask them to support the site by several means.[24]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. /ˌɑːrz ˈtɛknɪkə/; a Latin-derived term that the site translates as the "art of technology", and sometimes known commonly as Ars
  2. Condé Nast Digital was named CondéNet at the time.[6]


  1. "About Us". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Report: Ars Technica bought by Wired Digital". Mass High Tech Business News. American City Business Journals. May 16, 2008. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Swisher, Kara (March 17, 2008). "Ars Technica's Ken Fisher Speaks!". All Things Digital. Dow Jones & Company. 
  4. "Welcome to Ars Technica". Ars Technica. 1999. 
  5. "The Ars Technica Group". Ars Technica. 1999. 
  6. O'Malley, Gavin (January 26, 2009). "Condé Nast Digital Replaces CondéNet". MediaPost. 
  7. Carr, David (May 19, 2008). "Geeks Crash a House of Fashion". The New York Times. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Arrington, Michael (May 16, 2008). "Breaking: Condé Nast/Wired Acquires Ars Technica". TechCrunch. AOL. 
  9. Kafka, Peter (November 11, 2008). "Condé Nast Web Arm CondéNet's Turn for "Across the Board" Cuts". All Things Digital. Dow Jones & Company. 
  10. Anthony, Sebastian (May 5, 2015). "Welcome to Ars Technica UK!". Condé Nast UK. 
  11. Anthony, Sebastian (May 5, 2016). "Ars Technica UK is one year old today: Here's what's coming next". Condé Nast UK. 
  12. Davies, Jessica (September 1, 2017). "Conde Nast's Ars Technica struggles in UK expansion". Digiday. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  13. "ScienceOnline2010 – interview with John Timmer". A Blog Around The Clock. February 18, 2010. 
  14. Nguyen, Tien (July 29, 2014). "A Day in the Life of John Timmer". The Open Notebook. 
  15. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Nature2009
  16. Berry, Dana (November 24, 2016). "More to Science: Working as a science journalist". BioMed Central blog. 
  17. "Former Journalist Convicted At Trial For Attempted Child Enticement". US Department of Justice. March 18, 2020. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 McGann, Laura (March 9, 2010). "How Ars Technica's "experiment" with ad-blocking readers built on its community's affection for the site". Nieman Journalism Lab. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. 
  19. "Ars Premier FAQ". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. September 15, 2009. 
  20. "The Ars Emporium". Ars Technica. 2001. 
  21. Fisher, Ken (March 6, 2010). "Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love" (in en-us). 
  22. Asay, Matt (March 9, 2010). "Is ad blocking the problem?". CNET. CBS Interactive. 
  23. Valentino-DeVries, Jennifer (March 8, 2010). "To Block or Not to Block Online Ads". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. 
  24. Murphy, Kate (February 20, 2016). "The Ad Blocking Wars". 

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Further reading

External links