But as a designer, I'm tired of hearing clients and associates ask, "What would Google do?" as if every move they make is pure gold. When it comes to visual/exerience design, Google does just about everything wrong, starting with their user-hostile homepage.
So I wrote a little something for the new web design magazine, Vitamin. It's intended to be opinionated, so it's okay if you have a different opinion. That's the thing about old friends - you're allowed to squabble every once in a while.
If you're a blogger (or a blog reader), you're painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites' search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like "Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site." This is called comment spam, we don't like it either, and we've been testing a new tag that blocks it.
Can I have a little told-ya-so moment? I called for Google to own up to the problem they created for bloggers in november of 2003, exactly 14 months ago. It's about time.
With all the hoopla in the news about the Google IPO, let's take a moment to remember the real heroes: The people who put all that great stuff on the web in the first place.
I love Google, I really do. But I also enjoy a nicely toasted bagel. And when I'm spreading cream cheese on my toasty bagel, I don't say, "Wow, my toaster sure is great."
A toaster is just a tool. It's the stuff you put in it that makes it worth having. The same goes for Google.
Just for the record, I do not hate Google, nor am I its enemy. Quite the opposite: I'm a fan. I love Google. They've done so much for the web. I use their search and news services daily. And, in most cases, the choices they make are sound.
I criticize them when they make choices I don't like, the same way your family tells you when they don't like your girlfriend. It's out of love and respect, even when it's hard to say.
So it's disappointing to spend 40 minutes on the phone with a journalist, make that love absolutely clear, go to great pains to explain what a great thing the AdSense program is, to even refer him to Matt Haughey for a success story, and, in the end, get a line like this:
AdSense has made Google a lot of friends -- and enemies like Derek Powazek of San Francisco.
No, I am not Google's enemy. I thought I made that clear. I'm disappointed that I was dropped from the AdSense program, sure. That money went to support Fray. But I'm no one's enemy. Not over something so trivial.
That's simply sloppy journalism - going for the dramatic turn of phrase instead of the nuanced truth. And I'm sorry my name got used this way.
Perhaps I should be the Boston Globe's enemy now.
(Looks like Dave is unhappy, too.)
Google is the central motivating force here. Comment spammers are adding their links to thousands of weblogs not because the audiences of those weblogs are particularly valuable, but because the links raise their PageRank with Google.
Now, this is far from the first time some group has tried to game Google's system. Google has evolved over the years to combat it, making it more difficult, perfecting their recipe. The plague of comment spam is just another attempt to game Google's system, and it's up to Google to stop it.
Google's bots could be made smart enough to ignore links that come from comments. Ben and Mena of Movable Type could help facilitate this. How hard would it be? I don't know - I'm not a programmer. But I do know it would fix the problem.
If comment spam stopped raising the spammer's PageRank in Google, how long would they keep doing it? Take away the incentive and we could easily avoid the nightmare scenario Mark is so convinced will happen, not to mention make all the work Jay is doing a nice defense against a nonexistent problem.
I'm not saying it ain't a big deal. I'm not saying it's not complicated. I'm just saying, let's lay the blame at the feet of Google, where it belongs.
I was also booted from Google for "inappropriate clicks" after an unusually high traffic day. I'm pretty sure my site was spidered (perhaps by Google - hah!) which caused my ad clicks to spike. When I pointed out that I had no way to control such a thing, the Google rep said they would not disclose their evidence, but that they have a proprietary system in place to detect abuse. When I suggested that they simply discount the clicks they think are fraudulent and let me stay in the system, the rep said they had a duty to protect their advertisers. I wish they cared as much about protecting their reputation and good will among the web folk who give them something to index.
The saddest part is knowing that I could boot anyone off their ad system by pointing a spider at their site. I thought Google was more clueful than that. Very disappointing.
This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts about Google, including:
What Would Google Do?
15 May 2006
It's About Time
19 January 2005
The Real Heroes of the Web
20 August 2004
24 November 2003
Google Creates Comment Spam
19 November 2003
2 October 2003
Join the POWlist
Enter your email address here so I can send an occasional note to your inbox. Only good things, I promise. More info »
Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »
Join the POWlist to receive the occasional note.
What Would Google Do? 15 May 2006
It's About Time 19 January 2005
The Real Heroes of the Web 20 August 2004
Enemy Mine 24 November 2003
Google Creates Comment Spam 19 November 2003