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Google, Submission AdSense and NoFollow Letdown 104

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the still-watching-through-the-window dept.
John Battelle is reporting on his blog that word has leaked about a possible new API from Google that would allow sites to distribute AdSense earnings to individual members based on submissions or participation. From the article: "To toss a bit of cold water here, however, I've never seen UGC sites as the least bit driven by money. They are driven by pride, the desire to be first, reputation, whuffie. But dollars? That often screws it all up. I guess we'll get to see soon enough..." Relatedly many users are calling the 'nofollow' tag "Google's embarrassing mistake". Justin Mason is just one of many to take a look at the current status of nofollow and what may still be in store for that particular tool.
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Google, Submission AdSense and NoFollow Letdown

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  • THIRD! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Kesch (943326)
    I posted, now where's my kickback?
  • by orangeguru (411012) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:14PM (#15437480) Homepage
    Before Google cranks out another money making extension it should concentrate more on preventing click fraud AND provide tools for websites using AdSense to protect themselves. I know now several sites now that have been kicked out from AdSense - because of Click Fraud - but Google offers no tools, no insights, no answers and no support for those kicked out. Ever tried to talk someone from Google's 'customer service'? No eMail addresses, hardly any responses, mostly ignorance.

    Google like to run anything on autopilot and pure technology - no human contact and no problems please. So this will be another Google technology I will ignore, because I can't stand the company and it's current attitude behind it. 'Don't be evil' should be renamed into 'simply ignore everyone'.

  • I really don't see a problem with this.

    This post brought to you by Unlax, when you got the runs, it'll stop you in your tracts!
  • by malibucreek (253318) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:15PM (#15437486) Homepage
    I don't want to imagine the c--p that people will post if they think real money is available. And let's not get started on the click fraud incentive here.

    I prefer to *quietly* reward top posters on my sites by offering them paid gigs, but only after they've proven themselves.
  • Easier click fraud (Score:1, Insightful)

    by crummyname (977083)
    Why bother setting up entire web sites to generate fake clicks? Just submit content to a bunch of these revenue-sharing sites and hide under the cover of their traffic. Spammer's paradise!
  • Like some forums I hang out at. I'd give a link, but I'm not entirely sure it's not against the Adsense TOS, so I'll refrain. But I think it could be a pretty good idea.

    Imagine it at work @ Slashdot though: 5+ Funny == 5+ bucks.. I could get into that..
  • by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:20PM (#15437544) Homepage Journal

    There are three main reasons nofollow has failed to stop webspam:

    1. It misjudged the root problem -- page rank isn't the only thing spammers are looking for. This is the main point of Justin Mason's post, if I remember correctly. (I read it at home a few hours ago, before it showed up on ./, and of course now I can't pull it up here.)
    2. It relied on near-universal implementation. If even 50% of blogs, wikis, etc. used nofollow, it would still be worth the spammers' effort to blast comment spams to the entire net.
    3. It got applied incorrectly, as a blanket label on all links from non-admins.

    What nofollow could have been useful for is a simple "I don't endorse this link" statement so that you can link to sites you dislike without adding to their fame. But applying it to all user-supplied links in blog comments, slashdot threads, wiki pages, etc. diluted its meaning, and as a result, diluted its usefulness.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:49PM (#15437825) Journal
      What nofollow could have been useful for is a simple "I don't endorse this link" statement so that you can link to sites you dislike without adding to their fame. But applying it to all user-supplied links in blog comments, slashdot threads, wiki pages, etc. diluted its meaning, and as a result, diluted its usefulness.

      From the comments of TFA:

      pudge said,
      May 31, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

      I implmented nofollow for Slashdot. And I did it not primarily to reduce comment spam which our moderation system and other tools handle pretty well already, as Slashdot gets very littler comment spam but to reduce the effects of comment spam on search engines. If you post with a comment bonus (which you can get with high karma), you get no nofollow attribute, because we figure, chances are, your links will be useful to the search engines.


      I didn't know that about the SlashCode, but it makes sense.

      The type of person who blasts multiple sites with automated software isn't likely to spend time building up karma on (multiple) Slashdot accounts for his SpamBot to burn.
    • I was going to update my nofollow story [homelandstupidity.us] from a year ago, but it seems nothing's changed -- except that blog spam has dramatically increased. Which anybody could have predicted -- and most people who thought about it for more than a second actually did.

      Nofollow was a hare-brained idea from the start, cooked up over a couple of apparently drunken [msdn.com] (or perhaps stoned) nights between developers at Google, Yahoo! and MSN.

    • by curunir (98273) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:55PM (#15437890) Homepage Journal
      While nofollow failed to stop comment spam, that doesn't mean that it failed. On the contrary, it worked quite well. It's only bloggers who still have a comment spam problem that believe it failed. Contrary to the begged question, nofollow was never intended to stop comment spam. It was only intended to stop comment spam from affecting page rank. This is an important distinction.

      Comment spam that affects page rank is Google's problem. Comment spam that doesn't have anything to do with page rank is not Google's problem. Google provided a mechanism to bloggers to eliminate a nuisance caused by Google's page rank algorithm. At that point, comment spam is no longer motivated by Google's page rank algorithm.

      This blog entry is nothing but sour grapes that Google didn't solve their problem for them.
      • This blog entry is nothing but sour grapes that Google didn't solve their problem for them.
        I agree completely. After reading TFA (and TFA's TFA), I got the impression that the original authors were naively thinking, "Nofollow isn't helping me personally, and if it has no benefit to me, why would Google do it?"
    • It relied on near-universal implementation. If even 50% of blogs, wikis, etc. used nofollow, it would still be worth the spammers' effort to blast comment spams to the entire net.

      I don't believe this is the case. Comment spammers have a tendency to write scripts to bulk submit comments to particular locations across multiple hosts like /submit-comment.php that correspond to popular weblog software. You can't just "blast comment spams to the entire net", you need to target particular implementations.

      • You can't just "blast comment spams to the entire net", you need to target particular implementations.

        Sorry, that was shorthand. Sure, they have to "target" Movable Type, MediaWiki, etc., but they're still blasting comments to the entire install base for each CMS.

        And when those implementations have nofollow, there's no point (at least for pagerank purposes).

        So, please tell me why comment spammers continue to blast comments to blogs powered by WordPress, which has had nofollow built in for 1.5 years and nee
        • So, please tell me why comment spammers continue to blast comments to blogs powered by WordPress

          Because, like you pointed out, pagerank is not the sole motivation for all spammers. I was quite clear in saying that there was no point for pagerank purposes.

          I agree that at least some comment spammers are motivated by things other than pagerank, but I do believe that at least some of them are just after pagerank, and I believe nofollow moves them on to lower-hanging fruit (i.e. other websites that hav

        • As I posted elsewhere, spammers don't need to target specific scripts, since they have tools that just spider the net for <form>s and POST them. They may target certain popular scripts specifically anyway, but it's no requirement.
      • I don't believe this is the case. Comment spammers have a tendency to write scripts to bulk submit comments to particular locations across multiple hosts like /submit-comment.php that correspond to popular weblog software.

        Incorrect. I've written various message board scripts, and spam bots hit those even though they are nowhere near popular enough to show up on spammers' radars. There are plenty of generic comment spam scripts out there, that will just look for suitable s and POST them.
    • I think people are being overly harsh on Google with the NoFollow business. I doubt Google ever though that NoFollow would cure the comment spam problem, I certainly didn't see any claims to that affect.

      What NoFollow was designed to do, I suspect, was ensure that Google's Pagerank algorithm wasn't exacerbating the problem. Page rank may have have only been a marginal driver of comment spam, but Google was attempting to ensure that that particular margin was removed.
    • What nofollow could have been useful for is a simple "I don't endorse this link" statement so that you can link to sites you dislike without adding to their fame. But applying it to all user-supplied links in blog comments, slashdot threads, wiki pages, etc. diluted its meaning, and as a result, diluted its usefulness.

      But that's exactly what nofollow is for. While you may only want to "nofollow" links for sites you hate, many sites use it for all external links they don't specifically endorse.

      It means
    • by brion (1316) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @04:48PM (#15438908) Homepage
      Nofollow does one thing, and it does it just fine:

      1) It reduces the impact of comment spam, forum spam, and wiki spam on the search engines that every web user relies on to get their work and play done.

      As a side effect, very wide implementation *could*, hypothetically, one day lead to link spammers giving up on at least some of their spamming in the long run. Cool if it happens, but *not* required to reap the benefits.

      Universal implementation is not required; every little bit helps. It's just part of being a responsible web site operator, like avoiding open relay configurations is part of being a responsible mail server operator. Closing open relays doesn't prevent all spam either, but it helps reduce the number of avenues it can creep through and thus helps reduce the impact.

      Open comment systems, forums, and wikis are like open mail relays. If you must run one, being responsible about the impact you know it will have on the web ecosystem seems like a very good idea to me. Nofollow is a useful and important part of that impact mitigation.

      Does it solve every problem everywhere at once? No. Does it help to do particular things in the real world here and now? Yes.
      • . . . being responsible about the impact you know it will have on the web ecosystem seems like a very good idea to me.

        Being responsible about the 'web ecosystem' means working to prevent it from becoming a monoculture. Part of the monoculture is Google itself. There shouldn't be 'one big' search engine that everyone uses. There should be multiple search engines. I recently started using a different one for some of my searches and have found the lack of 'spamming' links refreshing.
        • Being responsible about the 'web ecosystem' means working to prevent it from becoming a monoculture. Part of the monoculture is Google itself. There shouldn't be 'one big' search engine that everyone uses. There should be multiple search engines. I recently started using a different one for some of my searches and have found the lack of 'spamming' links refreshing.

          THe web ecosystem should evolve on its own. If millions of people flock to google, so be it. If they decide to use another search engine...that
          • Part of 'evolving on it's own' is for people to make informed choices on what search tool to use. Part of making informed choices is for people to advocate one search tool or another regularly as part of the discussion.

            Millions of people flocked to AOL. Thanfully, it now looks like that wasn't a permanent comittment on their parts.

  • by paulthomas (685756) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:20PM (#15437545) Journal
    The whole point of the NoFollow Attribute wasn't necessarily to immediately decrease blog-spam -- it was to reduce it's detriment to Google and other indexes.

    In this sense, it has probably succeeded. Sure a reduction in spam would have been nice, but this is still a nice first step. People always say spam is primarily an economic problem, so removing incentives is a good way to snuff it out in the long run.
  • UGC? Ugly Google Code?
  • Nice Headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by szembek (948327) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:42PM (#15437751) Homepage
    Submitter, poorly-written title and comprehension little
  • by Evro (18923) <evandhoffman@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:45PM (#15437787) Homepage Journal
    I read the linked article on Mirrordot [mirrordot.org] and I have to say it's stultifying. Google added the "nofollow" tag to indicate that its crawler shouldn't follow the links on a given page. Some ignorant people apparently assumed that this would eliminate comment spam on blogs and other commentable media. When it became evident that it won't, it somehow became the fault of Google - their "embarrassing mistake." Spammers will continue to spam forever, there's no reason for them to stop. And this statement [tweney.com] is even more stupifying:
    Worse, nofollow has another, more pernicious effect, which is that it reduces the value of legitimate comments. Here's how:

    Why should I bother entering a comment on your blog, after all? Well, I might comment because you're my friend. But I might also want some tiny little reward for participating in a discussion, contributing to the content on your site, and generally enhancing the value of the conversational Web. That reward? PageRank, baby. But if your blog uses the nofollow tag, you've just eliminated that tiny little bit of reciprocity. Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather just comment on my own blog. And maybe, if you're lucky, I'll link back to you.
    So people only post on web forums for "greedy" reasons? If that's your motivation then I'm glad you won't be posting anywhere. If your comment isn't worth making just for the point you're trying to convey then I'd rather you keep it to yourself than just post to boost your own PageRank... your post is only marginally better than the spam you're complaining about anyway.
    • Some ignorant people apparently assumed that this would eliminate comment spam on blogs and other commentable media.

      No "ignorant people" required. Google was quite capable of claiming that nofollow would prevent comment spam [blogspot.com] on their own.
      • Well, actually, the Google post just says it will prevent spammers from benefiting by spamming blogs, it doesn't say that it will stop them from doing it. And just because Google doesn't follow the link doesn't mean there aren't other spiders (or humans) who won't follow it, so there's still benefits for spammers, just maybe not within Google. But people who thought this simple change would curb spammers must have been delusional, if a billion spam posts result in 20 penis pill sales then it's still worth
    • You're right, that article _is_ idiotic. I don't comment on slashdot so the link I don't have in my .sig will increase the page-rank on my website where I have no ads nor sell anything.

      I do it to get chicks! :-)
    • And furthermore - it's not as though they're disallowing signatures or personal links entirely - just the ability to affect pagerank with them. But why should that concern someone ? I have a link in my Slashdot signature - if they put nofollow in the URL, it wouldn't matter to me, because I'm not trying to coerce web crawlers into giving me a better ranking - I'm trying to get PEOPLE, who may potentially find the sites interesting, to go to them and try them out!

      And you know what? If you create compellin
    • it seems to me that more and more people are devoted to the bottom-line these days, you can see that in the flood of "ends justifies the means" stories [boingboing.net] floating around. they just reinforce my feeling that people are awfully concerned with "what's in it for them" at all times, and now people can carry that over to posting online...they'll do it
  • This is a natural progression for AdSense. We have been using a similar scheme on our family of websites, our users can specify their AdSense ID and their ads are shown 50% of the time on stories that they submit: http://www.googlekicks.com/ [googlekicks.com] http://www.dotnetkicks.com/ [dotnetkicks.com] http://www.mozillakicks.com/ [mozillakicks.com] http://www.mackicks.com/ [mackicks.com]
  • by ylikone (589264) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:47PM (#15437809) Homepage
    The AdSense API is not a new thing. It's been around for at least six months and is in wide use by larger publishers like about.com.

    http://www.kbcafe.com/adwords/default.aspx?search= adsense+api [kbcafe.com]

    Google simply doesn't make the existence of this API public.

  • Google LetDown

    Try the lobster!
  • Apparently Slashdot does put in a nofollow tag if you post with karma bonus!? Is this true? If I put a link to my site Desktop Linux At Home [desktoplinuxathome.com], does it not get a nofollow tag? I will post this and find out.
  • by Momoru (837801) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:29PM (#15438196) Homepage Journal
    PageRank itself is the problem. It worked in 98 before everyone knew about it, now that they know the tricks, every search brings up forums and spam instead of the most relevant site. AdSense made the problem worse by letting spam sites turn an easy profit. Surely with all those PHD's there Google can come up with a more modern solution. Otherwise...wheres the next Google? Clusty.com ?
    • Surely with all those PHD's there Google can come up with a more modern solution. Otherwise...wheres the next Google? Clusty.com ?

      I was thinking that myself. However, I came to realize that Clusty really only even WORKS because they leech off the search results of Google to begin with. If google goes down, Clusty will be tied to them as well.
    • Well, it may be more that people just don't understand pagerank. Pagerank has a *very small* overall impact on search results. If competition is tight, then this difference might be important, but in many cases it simply is not. What is important is what's always been important, content and code.

      The mystery surrounding pagerank is a big part of why people overestimate it. It's hard to say exactly how much of an impact it has, and exactly how it is calculated. How google determines if a site is "linking
  • Not a Rumor! (Score:4, Informative)

    by DevanJedi (892762) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:48PM (#15438358) Homepage Journal
    This is not a rumor- it was officially announced [blogspot.com] by Google today. Also, even though the API may have already existed, this allows people to create and manage accounts through the API.
  • Relatedly? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ickoonite (639305) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @04:54PM (#15438974) Homepage
    "Relatedly" is not a word. "Belatedly" is.

    Consider "In other news", "In related news"...

    *sigh*

    iqu :|
    • Didja bother looking it up?

      http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/relatedly [m-w.com]
      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/relatedly [thefreedictionary.com]
      • Yes, and it's still not a word.* Even if one were to allow it as an adverb, as the sites you link to suggest - and I cannot begin to think how one would use it - one cannot use it here. It comes from the same school of people who think "irregardless" is an acceptable word. In the latter case, both the Oxford American and MW have entries, but neither consider it particularly acceptable (it contains two negatives, after all), and both recommend "regardless" instead.

        But I digress...

        iqu :|

        (I used a proper
        • If you're going to play the pedant, you have to expect pedantic responses. It IS a word! I think an American dictionary (like the Merriam-Webster that grandparent linked to) would be a more reliable (and more "proper") source on American usage than a British dictionary, like the Oxford. My own personal MW also has "relatedly" listed. It's a word! (At least, hyar in Amurricuh.)

          Now, if you want to argue that it shouldn't be a word, I might be sympathetic. If you want to claim that it's an awkward word,
          • by Xtifr (1323)
            I can use it in a sentence:

            "That's my cousin," said Tom, relatedly. :)
          • OK, it's a word. But it's not a word. It's a vile creation, the product of a deficient intellect, and its existence is prolonged by induhviduals of similarly deficient intellects. Your phrasing may be different, but I am sure we agree.

            But just a point on my choice of reference - I used the Oxford American Dictionary, whatever that is. Given that it lists all my spellings as "chiefly British", and, in my experience, omits certain British turns of phrase, does that make it American enough?

            Anyway, I have a
    • If enough people use it, it's a word. Kind of like "blog" several years ago.

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