There's some messed up communication going on internally and to you guys. Ignore lots of this. I'm sorry that I haven't been paying more attention (or really that lots of us haven't been paying more attention). (Un)fortunately, we prefer to hack on the new stuff, and not spend a lot of times with the sales department. Our bad.
Here's some clarifications:
1. Sponsored "whatever" are ads -- don't worry, we (at least most of us?) realize sponsorships are the same as ads. and we remember which account levels see ads and which don't. For clarification for outsiders:
Free / "Basic": limited ("basic") features, no ads.2. Paid users won't see sponsored stuff -- ignore the previous post. paid users won't ever see ads. that's why you paid, and we're not in the business of pissing off paid users. (Just in the business of writing misleading posts to paid users, apparently... *sigh*)
"Plus": more features, ads.
Paid: even more features, no ads.
3. SMS feature level --- SMS is a Plus and Paid feature. It costs us money to send and receive text messages, so we can't give it out for free. We'd lose too much money on it. But because enough free users will (presumably?) want it, we're letting you optionally use it, if you agree that you recognize it's a Plus level feature (Plus == ads), and thus for that part of the site, you see ads. But if you're a Free (er, "basic") user and don't want to see ads, don't use SMS and don't see ads.
4. Slippery slopes, boiling frogs -- no kidding. That's all our biggest fears. We bring it up a lot.
5. Sponsored communities -- don't look at them if you don't want. We try to label them everywhere as sponsored, but if we don't, let us know and we'll fix. It's a bug if they're not labeled (like on front page and interest search).