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First, do no evil...unless it costs us money
October 3, 2003 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Sorry Matt, you can't post in this thread. Google changes its Adsense agreement so that anyone participating in the program is barred from talking about the program. First rule of Adsense, there is no Adsense.
posted by Mick (30 comments total)

 
More proof that no matter how cool a company is, how neat their products are or what the company culture is - once it gets big enough, it turns into just another money machine.
posted by Irontom at 10:03 AM on October 3, 2003


Google's first step towards evil...

Pretty soon they'll be just another Overture.
posted by bshort at 10:06 AM on October 3, 2003


Um, although I am a big fan of transparency... opacity does not necessarily equate (directly) to any particular ring of Hell.
posted by silusGROK at 10:27 AM on October 3, 2003


wow, a little quick to crucify Google, guys.
posted by jdaura at 10:34 AM on October 3, 2003


Well, everyone loves a good crucifixion.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:37 AM on October 3, 2003


Yeah, but you guys are doing it all wrong.
posted by keswick at 10:49 AM on October 3, 2003


Where'd the nails go?
posted by pizzasub at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2003


well, jdaura, care to explain just why this move is anything other than a step toward the usual sort of corporate evil? Up til now, google has been almost completely on the side of truth, light, and justice; the first step toward the dark side is always the most disappointing.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:52 AM on October 3, 2003


Did you read the article jdaura? They changed the terms of their agreement the night before payments were due. Beyond any monetary issues, that's out of bounds.

On top of that, one of their principals is famous for the "First, do no evil" line. People pretty much always reserve their greatest bile for those who fall the farthest. We expect assholes to be assholes, but when a person you respected suddenly becomes one, the response is far more intense.
posted by Irontom at 10:54 AM on October 3, 2003


Anybody unemotional enough about this to just explain the facts of what's occurred? Some of you guys are obviously quite upset with Google, but frankly, from the vantage point of a corporate IT guy, it's a little hard to discern what they've done that's so "evil"...
posted by JollyWanker at 11:24 AM on October 3, 2003


The timing was notoriously bad on the new agreement, even I was shocked and I love adsense to death (*cough* pays my mortgage with it *cough*).

Unfortunately, as badly as google gets scammed by link farmers and SEO assholes, it's best to keep their new adsense stuff hidden, lest people simply reverse-engineer what will get you booted and get as close as possible.

Don't believe me? If they said five click-throughs from the same IP would trip an alarm, people would create link crawling farms that clicked your ads exactly 4 times, for a price. If they said that a certain number of clicks per hour, in relation to your pageviews was allowed, it'd take all of 2 hours for someone to produce a click-thru bot you could run from your site at home.

I'm working on a big article about how adsense has worked out for me, look for it on my personal site this weekend.
posted by mathowie at 11:25 AM on October 3, 2003


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

Oh, now will the fawning over Google finally, finally end? Will this privately-held business that has aggregated almost all the content on the Web for their own use FINALLY be seen for what it is - just another collective of money-grubbers with good PR?

Bwah.
posted by solistrato at 11:46 AM on October 3, 2003


They changed the terms of their agreement the night before payments were due.

And then weren't paying people and refusing them access to their account info. This is indeed a big step into the dark side for google. I do look forward to hearing Matt's side of things as a user. (None of my sites generate the kind of traffic required, so I don't have first hand info.)
posted by dejah420 at 11:53 AM on October 3, 2003


I don't understand how they can really fight the bots AND keep ad sense customers happy. For instance, lets say some company is using NAT thus everyone has the same IP and because of standardization they all have the same browser, OS, etc. If google was looking at things like user_agent and IP address and these people from this hypothetical company started clicking away, it trigger tons of false alarms.

The lack of disclosure is a problem for both parties. As an ad sense customer I want to know what will trigger alarms but I know that once that information is let out to the public then the bot will have their way with it. So google takes the "shhh, we'll keep it a secret" approach, which pretty much works if and only if you disclose to those who have been bitten by the alarms why they suddenly will not get a check this month. They don't have to be very specific but there has to be x amount of transparency and from what it looks like, in this case at least, its not happening.
posted by skallas at 11:55 AM on October 3, 2003


Russell Beattie has an interesting analysis of the AdSense terms of service.

is this Phase Two?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:04 PM on October 3, 2003


Google's always had the gag clause in the AdSense terms of service, as far as I know. I don't know why the Register thinks they just added it.

In practice, I don't think it precludes general discussion of the AdSense program. I think it's only the sharing of revenue/click-through specifics that Google wants to suppress, although that's not so clear from the way the legalese is actually written.
posted by dougb at 12:25 PM on October 3, 2003


google bomb google adsense sucks
posted by Mick at 12:45 PM on October 3, 2003


"I don't understand how they can really fight the bots AND keep ad sense customers happy..."

Well they can't. Not indefinitely. And sooner rather then later it'll fail. I've said this for years. Advertising on the Internet is not going to pay for it. Information naturally wants to be free, but like electricity and water, in order for it to get channeled in more easily accessible ways for the benefit of a civilized society, eventually mankind will figure out how to charge itself for the priviledge.

This Adsense crap, and the bots and hacks and all the trimmings that goes with it, it's yet another little growing pain towards the path of inevitability: Someday you'll get a monthly bill, either an entry alongside your regular Net access charges on your ISP/phone bill, or it'll be a completely separate bill. This will be for access to content, and download/upload usage. Your monthly bill will be one big amount of money, and that'll get funnelled through a complex network of firms and offices and banks and whatnot which in theory will do the payola thing for anyone who claims ownership of a piece of the Information Superhighway.

When that day comes, I'll probably throw my computer out the window and go fishing. The rest of you however will take it hook line and sinker. Just as history has chronicled and the repetitive nature of humanity predicts. But hey. No more ads. At least for awhile. I mean, cable tv didn't have ads at first either but that didn't last, did it? You pay for cable, and they still throw ads at you.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:21 PM on October 3, 2003


I'll probably throw my computer out the window and go fishing. The rest of you however will take it hook line and sinker.

Oh Zach, can I come and live in your happy little commune when the internet dies? I promise to be a good acolyte and worship your enviable mind.

And when you come to us and ask us to drink the kool-aid (just as history has chronicled and the repetitive nature of egotistical blowhards predicts) I will. For your glory I will do anything.
posted by Mick at 1:35 PM on October 3, 2003


I am an AdSense customer, and although I am not allowed to share specifics, let's just say I'm now getting a very nice monthly check from them for a hobby site that previously had only cost me money.

I've been trying to read everything I can on this topic, and here's what I can find, sprinkled with my views:
  1. Google is woefully lacking on data and specifics: AdWords customer only get number of impressions per day, number of clickthroughs per day and amount earned. There's no way to know which ads are generating interest, which keywords, how much per clickthrough you're getting for different ads, etc.
  2. A bunch of bloggers are unhappy that their applications to put AdSense ads on their sites were rejected, despite Google's statement that they don't accept personal sites (that's probably not directly related to the other points here, but I think it's part of the environment receiving the other news).
  3. One person, Eric Thauvin, was dropped from the program, apparently because of click problems. He's understandably frustrated that Google won't tell him teh exact nature of the infringement, and concerned about if or when he'll get the money that Google would owe him for clickthroughs before he was dropped. I've read statements saying that this has happened to 'numerous' people, but I can not find any other direct references despite thorough searching.
  4. I've seen some accusations that Google is playing with the rates paid, and that they're decreasing. I haven't found any specifics. From my experience, the average payment per clickthrough does indeed vary widely, but I certainly haven't seen any evidence that it is, on whole, decreasing.
  5. The old and new Terms of Service for AdSense are clearly standard corporate cover-you-ass legalese. I also think Google is a cool company, but this is the ToS for a business contract. I don't know why Google would be less rigorous in its legalese than any other big company. If you're disappointed that Google is the same as other companies in this regard, I personally think you're fooling yourself.
posted by tippiedog at 2:28 PM on October 3, 2003


Re #1 above: AdWords ->AdSense.
posted by tippiedog at 2:29 PM on October 3, 2003


tippiedog: what site are you using AdSense on?
posted by bshort at 2:41 PM on October 3, 2003


Decide for yourself if this is evil

Google AdSenseTM Online Standard Terms and Conditions
PLEASE READ VERY CAREFULLY THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND THE FAQ BEFORE REGISTERING FOR THE GOOGLE ADSENSE ONLINE PROGRAM. PARTICIPATION IN THE GOOGLE ADSENSE ONLINE PROGRAM INDICATES THAT YOU ACCEPT THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND THE FAQ. IF YOU DO NOT ACCEPT THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OR THE FAQ, PLEASE DO NOT REGISTER FOR THE GOOGLE ADSENSE ONLINE PROGRAM.

Introduction. This agreement ("Agreement") between You and Google Inc. ("Google") consists of these Google AdSense Online Program (the "Program") Standard Terms and Conditions ("Terms and Conditions") and the Program Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQ"). "You" or "Publisher" means any entity identified in an enrollment form submitted by the same or affiliated persons, and/or any agency or network acting on its (or their) behalf, which shall also be bound by the terms of this Agreement.

Program Participation. Participation in the Program is subject to Google prior approval and Google reserves the right to refuse participation to any applicant or participant at any time in its sole discretion. By enrolling in the Program, You represent that You are at least 18 years of age and agree that Google may serve third party and/or Google provided advertisements (collectively, "Ads") and related Google search queries in connection with the Web site(s) that You designate (each a "Site") using Google's content-targeted advertising serving technology. Multiple accounts held by the same individual or entity are subject to immediate termination.

Implementation; Ad Placement. You agree to comply with the technical specifications provided by Google to enable proper display of the Ads in connection with Your Site(s), including without limitation by not modifying the Javascript or other programming provided to You by Google in any way. Ads shall be grouped by Google and displayed with related Google search queries (where applicable) to end users of the Site(s) as ad units (such groups of Ads and related Google search queries collectively referred to as "Ad Units") in standard formats as specified in the FAQ. You may select a format approved by Google for the display of Ad Units in connection with the Site(s), but You acknowledge and agree that Ads: (a) shall only be displayed in connection with the Site(s), each of which is subject to review and approval by Google in its discretion at any time; and (b) shall be subject to the placement guidelines set forth in the FAQ. In addition, You agree that only one (1) Ad Unit shall be displayed on each Site Web page. You also agree not to display any other text-based or content-targeted advertisement(s) on the same Web page in connection with which an Ad Unit or any Ad is displayed.

Communications Solely With Google. You agree to direct to Google, and not to any advertiser, any communication regarding any Ad(s) displayed in connection with Your Site(s).

Program FAQ. The FAQ contain many important policies and procedures. Google may modify the FAQ and these Terms and Conditions at any time by publishing such modifications on Google's Web site located at www.google.com ("Google Web Site").

Parties' Responsibilities. You are responsible for knowing the contents of the FAQ and these Terms and Conditions. You are solely responsible for the Site(s), including all content and materials, maintenance and operation thereof and proper implementation of Google's technical specifications. Google is not responsible for anything related to Your Site(s) and shall not be obligated to provide notice to You in the event that Ads are not being displayed properly to end users of the Site(s).

Prohibited Uses. You shall not, and shall not authorize or encourage any third party to: (i) generate fraudulent impressions of or fraudulent clicks on any Ad(s), including but not limited to through repeated manual clicks, the use of robots or other automated query tools and/or computer generated search requests, and/or the fraudulent use of other search engine optimization services and/or software; (ii) edit, modify, filter or change the order of the information contained in any Ad and/or Ad Unit, or remove, obscure or minimize any Ad or Ad Unit in any way, except as expressly provided in the FAQ; (iii) frame any Web page accessed by an end user after clicking on any part of a Ad ("Advertiser Page"); (iv) redirect an end user away from the Advertiser Page, provide a version of the Advertiser Page different from the page an end user would access by going directly to the Advertiser Page or intersperse any content between the Ad and the Advertiser Page; (v) display any Ad(s) on any error page, registration or "thank you" page (e.g. a page that thanks a user after he/she has registered with the applicable Web site), on any search results page or in any email, or on any Web page or any Web site that contains any pornographic, hate-related or violent content, or as otherwise specified in the FAQ; or (vi) act in any way that violates any Program policy posted on the Google Web Site, as revised from time to time. You may not run multiple Ads linking to the same or similar Web site on the same Site Web page. Violation of any of the foregoing may result in immediate termination of this Agreement, and may subject You to state and federal penalties and other legal consequences. result in immediate termination of this Agreement, and may subject You to state and federal penalties and other legal consequences.

Termination; Cancellation. You may cancel the participation of any Site in the Program and/or terminate this Agreement with or without cause at any time by complying with the cancellation procedures set forth in the FAQ. Google may at any time, in its sole discretion, terminate the Program, terminate this Agreement, or terminate the participation of any Site in the Program for any reason. If Google notifies You of any such termination or cancellation (which notice shall be effective immediately), or notifies You of a breach of this Agreement, You shall remove all Javascript or similar programming from Your Site(s) within one (1) hour of receipt of notice. In addition, Google reserves the right to terminate without notice any account that has not generated any clicks on Ads (as measured by Google) for a period of two (2) months or more. Upon termination of participation of any Site in the Program or termination of this Agreement for any reason, Sections 3, 7 through 11, 15, 16 and 17 shall survive termination.

Confidentiality. You agree not to disclose Google Confidential Information without Google's prior written consent. "Google Confidential Information" includes without limitation: (a) all Google software, technology, programming, technical specifications, materials, guidelines and documentation relating to the Program; (b) click-through rates or other statistics relating to Site performance in the Program provided to you by Google; and (c) any other information designated in writing by Google as "Confidential" or an equivalent designation. It does not include information that has become publicly known through no breach by You or Google, or information that has been (i) independently developed without access to Google Confidential Information, as evidenced in writing; (ii) rightfully received by You from a third party; or (iii) required to be disclosed by law or by a governmental authority.

No Guarantee. Google makes no guarantee regarding the level of impressions of or clicks on any Ad, the timing of delivery of such impressions and/or clicks, or the amount of any payment to be made to You under this Agreement.

No Warranty. GOOGLE MAKES NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WITH RESPECT TO ADVERTISING AND OTHER SERVICES, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS THE WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF NONINFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Limitations of Liability; Force Majeure. EXCEPT FOR ANY INDEMNIFICATION AND CONFIDENTIALITY OBLIGATIONS HEREUNDER, (i) IN NO EVENT SHALL EITHER PARTY BE LIABLE UNDER THIS AGREEMENT FOR ANY CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, INDIRECT, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT OR ANY OTHER LEGAL THEORY, EVEN IF SUCH PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES AND NOTWITHSTANDING ANY FAILURE OF ESSENTIAL PURPOSE OF ANY LIMITED REMEDY AND (ii) GOOGLE'S AGGREGATE LIABILITY TO PUBLISHER UNDER THIS AGREEMENT FOR ANY CLAIM IS LIMITED TO THE NET AMOUNT PAID BY GOOGLE TO PUBLISHER DURING THE THREE MONTH PERIOD IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE DATE OF THE CLAIM. Each party acknowledges that the other party has entered into this Agreement relying on the limitations of liability stated herein and that those limitations are an essential basis of the bargain between the parties. Without limiting the foregoing and except for payment obligations, neither party shall have any liability for any failure or delay resulting from any condition beyond the reasonable control of such party, including but not limited to governmental action or acts of terrorism, earthquake or other acts of God, labor conditions, and power failures.

Payment. You shall receive a payment related to the number of clicks on Ads displayed in connection with your Site(s) as specified in the FAQ. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Google shall not be liable for any payment based on (a) any fraudulent impressions generated by any person, bot, automated program or similar device or for fraudulent clicks similarly generated on any Ads, as reasonably determined by Google; (b) Ads delivered to end users whose browsers have JavaScript disabled; (c) Ads benefiting charitable organizations and other placeholder or transparent Ads that Google may deliver in the event that a Site is improperly configured to comply with Google technical requirements; or (d) Google advertisements for its own products and/or services. Google reserves the right to withhold payment or charge back Your account due to any of the foregoing, any breach of this Agreement by You, or in the event that an advertiser whose Ads are displayed on your Site(s) defaults on payment for such Ads to Google. The timing and delivery of such payments shall be as stated in the FAQ. To ensure proper payment, You are solely responsible for maintaining accurate contact and payment information associated with Your account, including without limitation a valid tax identification number and/or Form W-9 in the case of U.S. taxpayers and a fully-completed Form W-8 in the case of non-U.S. taxpayers. Any bank fees related to returned or cancelled checks due to a contact or payment information error or omission may be deducted from the newly issued payment. You agree to pay all applicable taxes or charges imposed by any government entity in connection with Your participation in the Program. Google may change its pricing and/or payment structure at any time. If You dispute any payment made under the Program, You must notify Google in writing within thirty (30) days of any such payment; failure to so notify Google shall result in the waiver by You of any claim relating to any such disputed payment. Payment shall be calculated solely based on records maintained by Google. No other measurements or statistics of any kind shall be accepted by Google or have any effect under this Agreement. The payments made under this Agreement are for use by You only and may not be transferred or in any manner passed on to any third party unless expressly authorized in writing by Google.

Publicity. You agree that Google may use Your name and logo in presentations, marketing materials, customer lists, financial reports and Web site listings of customers.

Representations and Warranties. You represent and warrant that (a) all of the information provided by You to Google to enroll in the Program is correct and current; and (b) You are the owner of each Site or that You are legally authorized to act on behalf of the owner of such Site(s) for the purposes of this Agreement and the Program; and (c) You have all necessary right, power and authority to enter into this Agreement and to perform the acts required of You hereunder. You further represent and warrant that each Site and any material displayed therein: (i) comply with all applicable laws, statutes, ordinances and regulations; (ii) do not breach and have not breached any duty toward or rights of any person or entity including, without limitation, rights of intellectual property, publicity or privacy, or rights or duties under consumer protection, product liability, tort, or contract theories; and (iii) are not pornographic, hate-related or otherwise violent in content.

Your Obligation to Indemnify. You agree to indemnify, defend and hold Google, its agents, affiliates, subsidiaries, directors, officers, employees, and applicable third parties (e.g. relevant advertisers, syndication partners, licensors, licensees, consultants and contractors) (collectively "Indemnified Person(s)") harmless from and against any and all third party claims, liability, loss, and expense (including damage awards, settlement amounts, and reasonable legal fees), brought against any Indemnified Person(s), arising out of, related to or which may arise from Your use of the Program, the Site(s), and/or Your breach of any term of this Agreement.

Information Rights. Google may retain and use for its own purposes all information You provide, including but not limited to Site demographics and contact and billing information. Google may share aggregate (i.e., not personally identifiable) information about You with advertisers, business partners, sponsors, and other third parties. In addition, You grant Google the right to access, index and cache the Site(s), or any portion thereof, including by automated means including Web spiders or crawlers.

Miscellaneous. Except as required by law, You may not, without Google's prior written consent, issue any press release or make any public statement about the subject matter of this Agreement or use or display any Google logo or trademark in any manner (except as otherwise provided to You by Google as part of an Ad Unit). This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of California, except for its conflicts of laws principles. Any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with this Agreement shall be adjudicated in Santa Clara County, California. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof. Any modifications to this Agreement must be made in a writing executed by both parties. The failure to require performance of any provision shall not affect a party's right to require performance at any time thereafter, nor shall a waiver of any breach or default of this Agreement constitute a waiver of any subsequent breach or default or a waiver of the provision itself. If any provision herein is held unenforceable, then such provision will be modified to reflect the parties' intention, and the remaining provisions of this Agreement will remain in full force and effect. You may not resell, assign, or transfer any of Your rights hereunder. Any such attempt may result in termination of this Agreement, without liability to Google. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Google may assign this Agreement to any affiliate at any time without notice. The relationship between Google and You is not one of a legal partnership relationship, but is one of independent contractors. This Agreement shall be construed as if both parties jointly wrote it.

October 1, 2003




By checking this box and clicking on the I Accept button, you agree that you have read, understand and accept the Terms and Conditions and the Frequently Asked Questions for participation in Google AdSense. If you do not agree to these Terms and Conditions, you will not be able to participate in this program.
posted by Ayn Marx at 2:45 PM on October 3, 2003


Mick? I love ya like a brother. When that fateful day of billing for content usage comes to pass, and I take my lonely trek to an undisclosed location with fishing pole in one arm and twelve gauge shotgun in the other, I will denounce my pacifistic ways and shoot you on sight if you try to follow me. Nothin' personal. I'd just hate to be a leader of any organization that would have riffraff like me as a member.

Ayn Marx? Any gobbledeegook of text which is longer than one of my more vociferous tirades is ipso facto evil. "Their B.S. agreement has more words in it than Zach would shake his stick at." That's all ya had to say.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:56 PM on October 3, 2003


I have no real problems with Google yet, since not enough details are coming public, though I agree more information--at least for the booted sites like Eric's--would be preferable.

What I do resent the hell out of is that you people are not stopping by MY site regularly just to click an ad or two. You selfish bastards!
posted by billsaysthis at 3:33 PM on October 3, 2003


Is this going to become an Apple vs Macintosh thing?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:11 PM on October 3, 2003


I like this part:

Google shall not be liable for any payment based on ... (d) Google advertisements for its own products and/or services.
posted by troybob at 4:41 PM on October 3, 2003


Ayn Marx
what was the middle bit?
posted by carfilhiot at 5:10 PM on October 3, 2003


bshort: We put Google ads on ReligiousResources.org. Since our site is a directory of religious-related resources on the Internet, I find the targeted Google ads a benefit to the site. For instance, when someone visits our page that lists religious clipart resources (our most popular page: http://www.religiousresources.org/directory/cat.php?cat_id=19), one of the ads that's often displayed is for ChurchArt.com, a resource for religious-related clipart.

Also, because of the nature of our site, we get quite a few clickthroughs, and we're making a decent amount of money off of ads.

We've also put ads on some other hobby sites, but due to the nature of those sites, I don't think they're generating as many clickthroughs as ReligiousResources.org (but I don't know for sure, since AdSense doesn't offer detailed reports of any kind).
posted by tippiedog at 7:26 PM on October 3, 2003


I put this on Beattie's comments, but he deleted it for some reason:

Google Eth-O-Meter

Good------------------------Evil
---------------->>--------------


Anyway, the motto is Don't be evil, and they've done their best to publicize it as part of their corporate image-making -- so it's fair game:

Most major companies refer to a detailed code of corporate conduct when considering such policy decisions. General Electric devotes 15 pages on its Web site to an integrity policy. Nortel's site has 34 pages of guidelines. Google's code of conduct can be boiled down to a mere three words: Don't be evil.

Very Star Wars. But what does it mean?

"Evil," says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, "is what Sergey says is evil." -- Wired 11.01

posted by dhartung at 9:53 PM on October 4, 2003


« Older Post title... hmmm... oh, how about FROG MARCH?   |   Oh, PBS, you lying bastards. Newer »


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