Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More harassment from Google

After having my Google Plus account suspended for daring to protect my identity even while following Google policies to the letter and then having to deal with another suspension whose sole explanation was "suspicious activities", I find yet another email from this corporation, this time accusing me of running AdSense ads on pornographic content. But is that content really pornographic?!?

(Before going any further, let us remind you of our policy of making no difference between content published by staff and submitted content, unless the submitter wants that difference to be made. We do so in order to apply our belief in the right to anonymity on the Internet. This means that articles written in the first person may or may not belong to the owner of this site.)

A few years ago, when the financial freeze-all was just starting to make itself felt, Google AdSense started to massively ban websites. They did so primarily with overseas sites, who were more vulnerable and less able to protect themselves from such bullying. We believe that this had less to do with policy violations and more to do with a lack of cash due to the meltdown. In most cases they did not even bother to tell those banned what was wrong and simply ignored requests for reconsideration.


As most webmasters know, AdSense is not something you can make money with, unless you have a high-traffic website. If you do not have such a website, you might consider adding AdSense just in case you get a traffic spike (as it might happen if one of your past articles becomes heavily trafficked due to a related event) or simply as a “thank you” to Google for offering their great services (Blogger, Gmail and others). I would think that it is a good thing for them to have a variety of websites in their AdWords roster. When I purchase ads on AdWords, I want them as dispersed yet targeted as possible; if I want them only on a high-traffic website, I would probably negotiate with that webmaster directly completely bypassing the middleman.

Here’s from wikipedia on CTR (based on a 2004 paper by Li & Leckenby):

Banner ad click-through rates have fallen over time; when they first started to appear, it was not uncommon to have rates above five percent. They have fallen since then, currently averaging closer to 0.2 or 0.3 percent. In most cases, a 2% click-through rate would be considered very successful, though the exact number is hotly debated and would vary depending on the situation. The average click-through rate of 3% in the 1990s declined to 0.28% by 2003. Since advertisers typically pay more for a high click-through rate, getting many click-throughs with few purchases is undesirable to advertisers. Similarly, by selecting an appropriate advertising site with high affinity (e.g. a movie magazine for a movie advertisement), the same banner can achieve a substantially higher CTR. Personalized ads, unusual formats, and more obtrusive ads typically have higher click-through rates than standard banner ads, however overly intrusive ads are often avoided by viewers

What this means is that chasing the farthest end of the tail results in higher CTR and thus better efficiency and more revenues per resources expended. It is something the AdSense team should encourage.

Here’s the email received:

October 4, 2011, 8:12PM

This message was sent from a notification-only email address that does not accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message.
During a recent review of your account we found that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our program policies
Please note that this URL is an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website or other sites in your network.
ADULT/EXPLICIT TEXT: As stated in our program policies, AdSense publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on pages with adult or mature content, including sexually explicit text. More information about this policy can be found in our help center (
REQUESTED ACTION: Please make all necessary changes in the next 72 hours.
If the violations are corrected within the aforementioned time period, ad serving will not be affected. If changes are not made and/or other policy violations are encountered during the review process, ad serving will be disabled to your site.
Your AdSense account remains active. However, if we continue to find problems, we may disable your entire account. Therefore, we suggest that you take the time to review the rest of your network to ensure that all of your other pages are in compliance with our policies.
Issue ID# 3560145
Thank you for your cooperation.
The Google AdSense Team
For more information regarding this email, please visit our Help Center:

Here’s the webmaster’s response:

The article is about Kegel exercises, it includes 2 schematics from medical journals and it lists 17 sources of more information on the topic, ranging in tone from academic to colloquial. It even includes a direct quote from Dr Kegel.
As a sex and relationship counsellor I am appalled that an article with simple information on an important part of maintaining sexual health can be considered "pornographic".
There is nothing pornographic in this article insofar as science, health and medical information is not being read and misinterpreted by close-minded, bigoted individuals representing a very small yet vocal minority of opinion.

When a site receives such a notice, even when incorrect or improper, one has very little recourse other than compliance, where compliance means either removing content or removing AdSense. Content promoting sexual health, even when definitely not pornographic, has very little chance of survival in a society where even vaccinations protecting little girls against cervical cancer are frowned upon. Google’s notice fails to properly identify what exactly is the problem.

  1. Is it that all sexual health information is considered “pornographic” or “mature”?! Are our children expected to learn about sex solely from internet porn?!
  2. By whose standards should one consider whether information is pornographic or not? Westboro Baptist Church?!?
  3. Is it the way this important information is presented? Is only dry, boring information that nobody reads permitted by the AdSense gods?
  4. Does the AdSense Thought Police even consider the obesity of a nation before deciding on which physical exercises are to be banned?

‘Tis a pity that Google does not seem to see that forcing publishers of sexual health information into the Procrustean bed will result in the absence of some very important information and an increase in uniformity and dearth of original content. Google is starting to resemble DMVo | DMV | more and more:

I've been to hell. I spell it, I spell it DMV
Anyone that's been there knows precisely what I mean
Stood there and I've waited and choked back the urge to scream
And if I had my druthers I'd screw a chimpanzee-call it pointless

When I need relief I spell it THC
perhaps you may know vaguely what I mean
I sit back and smoke away huge chunks of memory
As I slowly inflict upon myself a full lobotomy-call it pointless

DMV is where you go in the States to renew your driver’s license and is the symbol of bureaucracy, idiocy and futility. I am so angry that right now, in my eyes, only Primus SUCKS more than Google.

Sources / More info: asz, wiki-procrust

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