I learned the following about what a sponsored community will look like from listening to the two audio interviews.
( Do try to set aside about 90 minutes or so and listen to both of these, they are very informative
Brian Brady's here: http://activerain.com/blogsview/587686/Localism-com-Explained-On
Real Estate Radio USA here: http://www.realestateradiousa.com/blog/2008/07/10/real-estate-radio-usa-episode-153/ )
First, here is an unsponsored community, River Bend, North Carolina
Now, here is a sponsored community, La Jolla, California.
In the Radio USA interview, Bob Stewart tells how they set up the sponsorship here as a demo to show what it will look like:
I circled the sponsored area in red. It is not flashy, in-your-face advertising. The sponsoring person contributes a description of the community sponsored. The description contains the sponsor's contact info and it can contain a text link to the sponsor's blog or web site.
The sponsorship does NOT affect the top contributors who show up as Top Neighbors, regardless of whether or not they are sponsors.
And speaking of in-your-face advertising, the Brian Brady interview touches on whether or not contributors should be allowed to include "contact me " buttons in their posts. Brian is Pro Button.
I am a Ban The Button gal. I think if you are reading and scrolling through the text column, having the buttons jump up in your face in between posts is very annoying. Just my two cents.