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 (29 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


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?

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

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

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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 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:, one of the ads that's often displayed is for, 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 (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


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

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