aggronn, I've been debunking conspiracies about Google since 2001 ("buying ads on Google makes you rank higher/lower"). I believe there's value in commenting on untrue claims quickly to nip them in the bud. As a long-time employee with a close perspective on the post, I can tell you from personal experience that the terminology is incorrect and the allegations are completely at odds with my direct experience. I'm also hearing multiple, strong confirmations from the ads side that this post is completely fake.
I'm just questioning whether its ethical for you to 'quickly nip them in the bid'. Most people reading this discuss have no idea what role Google plays in the day to to day operation of the advertising industry, and I think its improper for Google to be the first voice that they hear when they're exposed to accusations like this.
This shouldn't need to be nipped in the bud by a google spokesperson. The only way you're going to do that in a legitimate way is if a third party comes in to investigate it.
I doubt thats going to happen, but I think this accusation is not obviously impossible, and because of that, if the consensus becomes "no, google would never do this", I don't want it to be because of a whitewashing effort by google. I want it to be because no one has any reason to believe this is actually the case.
"I think its improper for Google to be the first voice that they hear when they're exposed to accusations like this."
Well, the first voice people on HN were hearing was an obvious fake. I mean, do you seriously believe that Google employees are placed in an "untouchable" AdSense group, and were "given 'carte blanche' to do anything they wanted, even if they flagrantly went against the AdSense TOS and Policies" ? Come on. That's just ludicrous.
To be clear, I'm not against constructive criticism. I'm not against people asking questions about AdSense's methodology or policies. But people deserve better than an obviously false, ad hominem conspiracy post. That's not the appropriate place to begin a discussion.
Is Google above doing bad things? Did you believe that there was collusion over hiring practices what that news broke? Thats ludicrous, but yet there was a class action lawsuit that proved it occured.
I completely agree this is ludicrous--and yet, what if its true? Even on some meaningful level? People, including you, are willing to accept it as fact that this is an obviously false conspiracy theory because its Google. I don't think whitewashing is a behavior people should accept when its coming from a company like Google.
"People, including you, are willing to accept it as fact that this is an obviously false conspiracy theory because its Google."
aggronn, that's simply not correct. As I said earlier in this discussion, I believe this document is a fake because in my personal experience the terminology is incorrect and the allegations are completely at odds with my direct experience. In addition, multiple people who I trust and have worked with for almost a decade agree that this document is a fake.
I'm in no position to say whether this is true or not, but as a banned AdSense publisher who has done absolutely everything in his power to appeal (to no avail), I can say that changing the black box process of AdSense bans into a more transparent process would definitely help Google's case in the future.
If you get banned from AdSense, Google doesn't tell you why. You try and figure out what you did wrong, you reread the terms of service 100 times, you make adjustments and check code, you do everything you can to try and fix the problem because Google AdSense is by far the best way to monetize a blog. In my case, I even shut down all my websites for a year before filing another appeal. My appeal was denied. Why? I have no idea. Google won't tell me. If Google won't tell me what I'm doing wrong, how am I supposed to fix it?
Yes there are publishers out there who game the system and deserve to be banned, but there are also publishers out there who try to follow the rules as best they can, and sometimes they make mistakes. But Google won't tell us which mistakes we make.
People use AdSense to make a livelihood doing something they enjoy doing, and when that gets taken away from them via an automated email that doesn't explain anything, it's extremely disappointing and may lead to backlash.
Transparency and some leniency would go a very, very long way. The ability to state your case to a real person would also help. An AdSense ban is extremely disheartening. It's the worst thing that could happen to a budding publisher because the other options out there just don't compare. Needless to say, I no longer bother blogging.
Matt, as always, thank you for taking the time to clear things up. I'm sure the back-and-forth here had to have felt unbelievably stupid, and it was, but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that it's still a pleasure to read your comments, so at least something good came out of it.
And what exactly has Matt proven? He is getting "confirmation" from their Ad side that everything is fine??! How stupid to believe that??!! Do i smell "sycophancy" here like some do as if Matt was some kind of God!! Ridiculous!
Matt, given your high profile job and your authority at Google, asking people directly whether there's any truth to this post or not will not reveal the truth. No one wants to lose their job or get involved in this and the easiest path out for them is to tell you that no it's not true.
Matt, correct me if I'm wrong, but you work in a completely different department to Adsense & therefore it is quite possible that you are completely unaware of what takes place with Adsense.
1. I think you will also agree that the Internet is riddled with stories of publisher accounts being closed down prior to payout & without any explanation whatsoever!
2. Google's own webmaster's forum is brimming with questions relating to the mismatch between traffic figures quoted by Google analytics & other 3rd party software.
3. And last but not least, we all know that it is nigh on impossible to contact Google direct & get a straight & sensible answer to any question pertaining to your Adsense account! (Not what I'd call transparency)
Personally I think there is more than enough here to cast doubt & if Google wants to be seen as squeaky clean, then investigation by an outside authority is going to be the only answer IMHO!
I think a lot of the skepticism here is drawn from the experience people have with companies that are culturally very different from companies like Google. Those companies are intensely management-driven, heavily siloed, and have very little internal inter-departmental communication that doesn't go through a layer of management. Difficult questions never get asked because management doesn't want to make waves or risk their fiefdoms. Documentation is hidden by access controls. Employees keep their heads down and do what they're told.
Bay Area tech companies such as Google are culturally very different from this. The silos largely don't exist, and management is not used as a way to funnel and control communication. Internal candid dialogs of surprising vigor can be found about any controversial issue. People are not afraid to ask pointed questions to high-ranking people. Policies and documentation are widely accessible.
It is, quite frankly, unthinkable that something this wrong and this blatant, involving thousands of people, would be allowed to happen for years in a culture such as this. And in a company like Google, "asking around" is indeed productive and would result in open and honest responses.
Culture isn't a great answer to throw around when people are asking hard questions about a program that is the financial backbone of a company. In fact its downright snooty to presume that allegations like this stem from folks who have experienced a different corporate culture. People generally get to know what a company's culture really is like from the folks who leave that company. And there are tons of those folks from Google. The point is, whether you appreciate Google's internal culture of candour or not or its lack of silos, that's just not the way to respond to allegations regarding the way Google makes serious profits.
I came to know about that story when someone left a comment on my blog.. but I refused to believe it without reading the story or the whole pastebin story for one reason. If I made $100,000 from AdSense then it means that Google earned approx. $150,000 in revenue and they paid $100,000 (based on 68% publisher revenue share).
Now if they banned me then it means the whole $150,000 (if they are not paying back to advertisers) is their profit...
But my point is... if I made $100,0000 a month then it also means that I'm a quality publisher and I'll be making that kind of money in future too... So if they pay me then they will be making $50,000 every other month.