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|Google combats pop-up ads|
Do you hate pop-ups or what?
Hey, webmasters on this board know that Google practically never announces anything in advance. But I wanted to give everyone here a heads-up about something that we're going to do, because this is an issue that concerns you too and we wanted to ask for help.
You probably have heard of "scumware" programs. They are programs that get installed when you download programs like BearShare and AudioGalaxy. Sometimes these scuzzy programs just spy on users and report where they go. The worst programs actually target users with pop-ups. They appear at random intervals, or target users based on what they type on any website.
Most of you already know this, and I know that lots of you despise these scumware products. Jim over at SEF actually started www.scumware.com to combat this junk. The most persistent question that we get at Google is "When did you guys start showing pop-ups?" It's really discouraging because we *don't* show pop-ups and never intend to. We work hard to make Google a useful, fast site for users, and I hate that other companies are abusing our reputation for their own profit. A lot of these scumware products target your websites all over the net, too.
Sometime in the next few days, I think we're going to put a promo line on our home page. It will say something like "Google does not show pop-up advertising. Here's why" with a link to a background page. It will explain our position against pop-up ads, tell how to uninstall scumware, and mention how to complain to the FTC.
So why am I telling you about this in advance? Basically, we're on the same side against scumware, and it would help if other websites took action too. If you dislike scumware that highlights links on your site without your permission, or triggers pop-ups, please help us out. Put anti-scumware messages on your pages, or write the FTC, or just spread the word about scumware. I'd also be curious if you have other suggestions for stamping out scumware.
thanks in advance for anyone willing to help,
To be fair to CNET though, although they do distribute these programs, their catchup service does include software to detect and remove scumware from what I can gather:
|Do you really know what's installed on your PC? Adware Detect automatically searches your PC for adware, "spyware," and other third-party components that may have been surreptitiously installed on your PC. |
As far as I know, CNET already review program's to some degree, so I'd assume they already have the system's in place for saying no to programs with scumware attached, but would CNET be as willing to decline listing these programs if the program maker's started taking paid advert's just above search results(which if I remember correctly CNET has already at least experimented with)?
Just my $0.02,
I fairness to CNET, they do have a statement on the download page for their file sharing programs that explains that programs like eZula are bundled in the downloads.
They also show that programs like iMesh have been downloaded over 25 million times. Now that seems to present only two options; either people aren't reading it, or they actually want to use these types of applications.
Or that 24 million of the downloads were done before c.net finally put up the warning...
As we all know from experience, users don't read warnings. Many seem incapable of processing even the most basic written information. I have one site that gets traffic from people looking for an unrelated product with a similar name. I finally put up a page explaining that the site is NOT that company, and made sure that it would be at the top of the site search results for the bogus name. We STILL get forms from doofuses who seem incapable of even determining what site they are on or whether the site has any relevance to what they are looking for. My guess is that if CNET put a warning up that said "this download contains a virus that will erase all data on your hard drive after it mails pornography to everyone in your contact list" their download rate would only drop 20% or so. :)
|File sharing now means legal expense sharing when they get clobbered.|
Pretty cool, get your users to foot the legal bills.
13.1 YOU AGREE TO INDEMNIFY, HOLD HARMLESS AND DEFEND KAZAA, AND ITS SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, OFFICERS, AGENTS, CO-BRANDERS OR OTHER PARTNERS, AND EMPLOYEES, AT YOUR EXPENSE, AGAINST ANY AND ALL THIRD PARTY CLAIMS OR DEMANDS, ACTIONS, PROCEEDINGS AND SUITS AND ALL RELATED LIABILITIES, DAMAGES, SETTLEMENTS, PENALTIES, FINES COSTS AND EXPENSES (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, REASONABLE ATTORNEY’S FEES AND OTHER DISPUTE RESOLUTION EXPENSES) INCURRED BY KAZAA, DUE TO OR ARISING OUT OF DATA YOU SUBMIT, POST TO OR TRANSMIT THROUGH THE SOFTWARE, YOUR USE OR MISUSE OF THE SOFTWARE, YOUR CONNECTION TO OTHER USERS, YOUR VIOLATION OF THE LICENSE, OR YOUR VIOLATION OF ANY RIGHTS OF ANOTHER.
|They also show that programs like iMesh have been downloaded over 25 million times. Now that seems to present only two options; either people aren't reading it, or they actually want to use these types of applications. |
WebGuerrilla, I want to use programs like iMesh. I have downloaded and installed iMesh. I don't want spyware on my computer. When I install iMesh, there are check boxes (which are checked by default) asking whether I want to install the spyware. I uncheck them. I also periodically run a search on my computer for spyware. The only thing that is ever turned up are those Doubleclick cookies which I don't mind. In other words, iMesh actually pays attention to my check boxes and when I say "no spyware, please" or "no [insert euphamism for spyware here] please" then I get no spyware. :)
|Pretty cool, get your users to foot the legal bills. |
I'm sure microsoft have the same clause, mabye we'll each get a request to pay $1 from MS to pay off the AOL/TW suit?
Hey ya never know....
Hmm, I'm glad I dont use IE then!
Dang, I sleep and work and by the time I get back, there's all kinds of meaty responses. Do y'all mind if I just run through some reactions to what various people said?
hasbeen: great links on wired and poenews! I'm happy to see that this issue is getting some attention. I saw this junk affecting lots of people, no one was writing about it, and I couldn't understand why.
TallTroll and Everyman: I like your suggestions about creating a Sponsored Link for people who search for "kazaa" or other scumware-related keywords. We've used the sponsored link for public service announcements for things like viruses before we had real-time news. Maybe we can do something like this if the initial page doesn't educate enough users--it's definitely more targeted. Thanks for the good points.
A few people mentioned checking for scumware in the toolbar; I think prowsej gave some good reasons. Unfortunately, we can probably never do this. I hate scumware, but we don't want to get in an arms race with them. By bundling with the music-sharing programs, scumware easily gets downloaded 10x more often than the toolbar, so the sheer numbers are on the side of the scuzzy people. They might just start disabling the toolbar. We already know that they don't exactly fight fair, and scumware is their primary source of income. Instead, I hope we can get together a broad coalition with Google, webmasters, users, and other sites working to stop scumware.
Tapolyai: you asked about the business reason for Google doing this. The only concrete payoff for us is making sure that that pop-ups don't show on Google, which deceives our users. Money doesn't come into it--basically, a few of us at Google just got hacked off that this stuff was so slimy. Nobody else was doing anything, and some people listen to Google, so we figured we should put on our white cowboy hat and step up to the plate. I'm really encouraged that it turns out we've got a lot of allies and friends on this issue. :)
Thanks for everyone's reactions on this. It looks like Google is going to put up a link on our main page starting Monday the 28th. It'll lead to a short information page to help out users. If I can, I'll try to post the link here a few hours early in case people want to make similar pages. In the meantime, if you feel strongly about this, consider filing a complaint at www.ftc.gov. I've talked to a couple people at the FTC about this, and they've really impressed me with their early questions. I think if a few hundred (or thousand) people complain, we can get this issue into the light and wash scum off the net.
I have been trying to get the message out via my website and and have had quite a few people write and ask me for the urls to clean their computers.
I don't know why or what happened, but I was suddenly dropped from any pageranking at all, I can't even get a response from Google on this ...?????
Now it makes it harder to get the word out.
I haven't done anything different than I have always done except give the MS users a chance to view the site in frames if they desire.
I would appreciate knowing what happened?????
Keep on fighting the good fight!
Dang, I sleep and work and by the time I get back...
I think I found your problem: "...I sleep and..."
What are you thinking? Did Batman or The Lone Ranger never let sleep get in the way of their fight against evil???
I second the idea of using an in-house sponsored link on targeted search phrases. It's 100x's more likely to catch an unsuspecting victim's attention than a link on the main page. Too bad there doesn't look like an easy way to reach folks looking at the Google results through Yahoo.
I agree about the sponsored link,
as not everyone goes to the google homepage(i.e.: for user's who use the google toolbar, user's who have IE autosearch set to google, etc)
Heh heh. I gotta break myself of this "sleeping," mivox. It's a bad habit. :)
Sorry, this tangent's too good to miss.
> in-house sponsored link on targeted search phrases
Great idea. If Google had a collection of interesting and/or useful and/or amusing public service announcements to use when AdWords comes up blank, then banner blindness would reduce and the click through rate of real adverts would increase.
Kind of like the not-so clean search results on other search engines, (the ones with indistinguishable ad's), only in reverse.
I can see it now; "five ways to help protect against email viruses". Just a thought...
GoogleGuy, if you were on our side of the fence you'd spend your sleeping time dreaming about PageRank, theme, update cycles and SERPs.
About scumare ...
You have heard about VX2 bundled with AudioGalaxy ?
This thread on slashdot has very interesting information:
There is a level 5:informative post where information about the VX2 company is given.
Hey, in just a short while, the link should go up on the home page. Here's the page where the link points:
Thanks for everyone's suggestions. Now is a good time to complain to the FTC, put up an anti-scumware page, then call a reporter and complain to them. Let's get this junk off the net!
Well done Googleguy, looks good!
I presume sites that carry popunders don't get any sort of pagerank penalty from the sexy, wonderful, beautiful (Hey, don't laugh... I'm sure it helps...) Googlebot do they?
And how do you stop the Netscape pop-up when you go to AOL search?
Stop using AOL...
Nicely done Google. I hope this is the start of a trend at Google.
This thread is continued from part 2 [webmasterworld.com] and from part 1 [webmasterworld.com]
Also, just for reference, an interesting thread by a surfer who thought Google really was showing popups:
Thanks for that pointer, Brett. The spellings of "AAAAAARRRRRGGH!" vary, but many complaints look roughly like that. They're usually happy to find out that the pop-ups don't come from Google. But then they're unhappy to find that they have deceptive programs installed on their computer. That's still better off than before though.
(The link just went live on the main Google web page, for those who haven't noticed.)
Good job. It's actually pretty palatable considering the googleplex lawyers probably threw themselves across the table when you first presented the idea. As I mentioned waaaaay back in the first of this dialogue, we need a "big name brand" in the industry to provide both consumers and publishers with a place to start fending off wormware.
And, FWIW, wormware = uninvited pop-ups + smart tags, i.e., any adware the publisher doesn't control.
Very nice !
Yes... a good start. One back for the good guys.
Heh! Speak of the devil! I swear tedster isn't shilling...
" ...email from a client recently, accusing me of placing advertising links on selected words on their site... [webmasterworld.com] "
>accusing me of placing advertising links on selected words on their site
Thats an angle I hadn't thought of before!
What I think is most remarkable is the difference in attitude towards pop-ups etc shown by "the crazy geeky guys at the googleplex" compared with some of the "industry leading new media" companies. It suggests to me a powerful alignment of interests between the users and the company ethos at Google, that bodes very well for the future.
Good Point NFFC!
It's the "industry leading new media" who will be buying the yellow links.
I am still trying to understand Google's motivation here -- not that I object to the stance. It just seems uncharacteristically reactionary unless there is more beneath the surface.
They want software installed as fast as they can and they want a beautifull screen with not too much popups so they do what they learned click on OK to remove all the boxes.
Google homepage as an interface that is not cluttered so it's a nice place to put a link that explain popup IMHO.
See HERE [webmasterworld.com]
Another example of Spy software. Be very careful!
How come you only mention pop-up adds and not the other features that reside in "scumware" products?
For example the help page states:
|If you feel you were deceived when you installed a program that creates pop-ups, you may want to take action. |
Why don't you mention how scumware monitors user's actions? If you are going to tell them they were deceived you might as well explain it ALL to them.
What if the scumware tracks users' keywords entered into Google? Wouldn't Google's users like to become aware of how their surfing patterns are being matched?
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