First of all, I personally l-o-v-e Hotjar from the bottom of my heart.
But wouldn't it be fair if Sponsor posts could also be up and down-voted? I want to believe this type of feedback from the community is also important.
Was thinking the same...
Let's think about this. If people are forced to VOTE, and there is only one candidate, it is very easy to dislike the system and candidate itself. Same situation here, DN & Sponsor are forcing us to like them, only. This is very bad and not trustworthy situation, and IMHO it does a totally opposite favor to the brand itself (sponsor). Do you really want to make DN better, well, you can still do it ;)
The small things like this make a very big difference, you can easily do "honest moves" without compromising income:
Option1, introduce second candidate, a downvote for the balance.
Option2, totally remove upvotes for SPONSORS, so no up/down votes, just pure title and the content.
Option3, move the sponsor out of the mainstream, on the bottom/side etc. (visible only once, after reloading the page no more sponsors )
Option4, Something fair and trustworthy.
The funny thing is, many of us understand the problem, complaining about this (like me at the moment), but later, doing the same shitty mistakes. I'm guilty as well (when I look at the past), but I learned (the hard way) that this is not worth it in the long run. So please do honest design/moves.
Why? They paid to advertise.