I like context advertisements. Yes, it means that the site in question reads what you read or write to provide you the correct ad, but sometimes it can actually be helpful; also, usually, context-aware ads are simple text-based ones that don't really affect the reading or writing of whatever it is anyway.
The place where I see it most is GMail. The thought of Google reading what I read or write in my email makes me queasy, but I can turn it off anyway and sometimes it is actually helpful.
It seems like the eVite website has taken to the same thing. However, this time they have gone too far.
Many friends I know of are going to a girl's sweet 16 party tonight; this girl shall be referred to as 'A'.
My parents' friend, whom we shall call 'Ms. R', was in charge of collecting all the gifts from all of the family friends to give to 'A'.
As it seems, in all of the eVites, a message was embedded inside that led to a site accepting donations to the American Cancer Society (ACS) as a gift. This was initially thought to be at the request of 'A' and her parents, as many teenagers are extremely magnanimous and/or touched in some way by causes like funding cancer, so they do request gifts like donations to a favorite charity or something similar instead of traditional physical or monetary gifts to themselves.
'Ms. R' then requested that, rather than people giving online directly, these guests give a particular amount to her to be enclosed in a big check directed to the ACS. This was a very wise move and full of foresight, though 'Ms. R' did not know it. She also then decided to ask those who were giving gifts to split the money to be given half for 'A' and half for the ACS; each total sum would be written as a separate total check (respectively, for 'A' and for the ACS).
This went on for a few days/weeks before the event (which is today (as of this writing)).
A few days ago (again, as of this writing), another family friend ('Ms. K') had the inkling that maybe the ACS donation link was an embedded ad rather than an actual request. A few phone calls to the parents of 'A' confirmed this. This is not meant to diminish the magnanimity of 'A'; rather, that was simply not her original intention.
Thankfully, with people giving towards the check rather than donating online, the check just had to be written towards 'A' rather than to the ACS, so now all of the money is going to 'A' as was originally intended.
Please do not take this to mean that I am against the good work of the ACS. Rather, I think the party at fault here is the eVite website; given that some people put in the invitation that the person in question would like all donations to go to the charity but also that the website hosts ads from the charity, the website should take a bit more care in differentiating the ads from the actual requests. There was no box around the link with the caption "ADVERTISEMENT", and it was smack-dab in the middle of the invitation.
Please, eVite website, don't confuse us like that next time.
For those readers who do know who 'A', 'Ms. R', and 'Ms. K' are, I know you know who they are as well, so if you wish to comment, please don't reveal their identities.