| This 62 message thread spans 3 pages: 62 (  2 3 ) > > || |
|Giving or following advice regarding the AdSense TOS|
When, if ever, do we perform a service by interpreting the AdSense TOS
There is a word in the practice of law, medicine and accounting for giving advice that a person relies on that results in harm: Malpractice.
There's a remedy for malpractice: Money damages and the loss of a professional license in extreme cases.
What is the remedy for people who suffer harm because they relied on other webmasters, instead of the AdSense team, to interpret the AdSense TOS?
There is no remedy, no "fixing it". No accountability. That leaves this: "Well, you knew you couldn't actually count on our advice. You should have asked Google."
So when, if ever, should we interpret the AdSense TOS - the "legal documents" of AdSense for another member? Should we engage in this practice at all? What's a rational limit?
Here's my analysis.
Violations of the AdSense TOS and related documents is potentially fatal. Interpreting the AdSense rules is a lot like exercising judgment in the practice of medicine: Not everyone should do it because, in the wrong hands, bad judgment can kill people.
We know this about doctors: They are licensed by the State. We know this means that they had to successfully complete many years of school, pass tests and keep abreast of changes. Even with all the oversight charlatans - pretenders - still infiltrate the practice from time to time. When caught, the usually go to jail.
What do we know about "us webmasters", who post anonymously in most cases, who "practice medicine for webmasters" when they answer questions about the AdSense TOS? Unfortunately, the answer is often "not much, really".
Who has the proper credentials for offering guidance about the AdSense TOS?
I've met members who, by their own admission, are constantly testing the limits. I won't tell you who they are or what they do. Do you know who these members are? Do you know if the person giving advice routinely pushes the envelope?
Does Jenstar have the proper credentials? No doubt more than any other member. With those credentials does Jenstar routinely weigh in on issues of interpreting the AdSense TOS? No. She may list recent changes, but I have not witnessed her making a habit of interpreting the TOS when questions are raised. With all her expertise I would neither expect her to do that nor ask her to do that.
Because, I suspect, she - as well as anyone assigned to mod this forum - appreciates the fact that such practices would make it appear that the mod is acting somewhat like Google's spokeswoman on the issue of AdSense TOS interpretation. Not a good idea, right? I'm reasonably certain that she abstains for other good reasons, too, such as a concern that no one should suffer harm by relying on her guidance when there's a better method for resolving such issues: Ask the AdSense team.
It's misguided to rely on us - WW -versus them - the AdSense team - because 1) there's an actual process in place for getting approval from Google that would certainly inoculate you IF you follow the AdSense team's advice; 2) approval by one's peers is no defense whatsoever to the dreaded "improper clicks" letter; 3) there are people at WW who are obviously willing to push the envelope, as evidenced by the recent slew of "I got the termination email" threads.
Do you know, if you adopt the advice given here, if you are following the advice of a conservative WW member or a risk taking WW member? Do you understand that there's reasons why many members don't post their website address?
You don't even know if the person responding is a competitor.
I don't see it as unfriendly at all to be blunt on the score of answering questions that could potentially lead to someone's account being terminated. Indeed, I think it's unfriendly to offer assurances to someone who has reason to doubt.
I think the only good advice is 1) Read the Google AdSense TOS and other guidelines; and, 2) If you're still not certain then ask the AdSense team.
So, in the interest of ending a habit that I think is wrongheaded I'm going to be the voice that says what I think needs to be said the way I think it needs to be said: When in doubt about whether specific conduct now - or in the near future - may be deemed to violate the AdSense TOS ask AdSense, not us.
Expressed differently: If "we" can't refer you to specific language in the AdSense TOS and supporting documents then we ought to do you the service of advising you like this: "We don't know, but we infer it's okay, but don't rely on us. Ask Google."
Do I think that every question about the TOS should make us run for cover? No, especially where you can point to the exact language of the TOS that covers the issue.
Do I think everyone who has a question should first be asked "Have you read and re-read the AdSense TOS before coming here?" If you don't think that that is a good idea then you, IMHO, are not doing the person a favor. I think that many people fall victim because they have not done that. This invokes the old saw about "teaching someone to fish versus handing them a fist". Frankly, I think Google ought to require AdSense applicants to first pass an online test before activating new member accounts. That could possibly cut down on new, active member questions by 10 - 20%+
One man's opinion.
The floor is open for debate. Stick to the analysis and leave personas at the door. ;0)
[edited by: Webwork at 3:20 pm (utc) on Mar. 25, 2005]
|What is the remedy for people who suffer harm because they relied on other webmasters, instead of the AdSense team, to interpret the AdSense TOS? |
Do you have specific posts in mind as I don't see any "take my advice, I'm right" posts?
Normally when I see a question raised people do refer to the TOS.
Doctors, lawyers and the like can be and are sued for malpractice because there is an established professional relationship -- the client or patient is paying for advice and the professional is legally bound to act in accordance with prevailing standards.
Forums like this are like the water cooler -- no fee, no professional relationship. You can't sue Rush Limbaugh because you took his advice and don't like the outcome. You can't sue Ann Landers (or Dear Abby, whichever one is still alive) for giving bum advice.
Free advice isn't actionable in the vast majority of cases. Whether it's worth what you pay for it is another matter.
[edited by: jhood at 3:34 pm (utc) on Mar. 25, 2005]
I find it hard to swallow your comparison between advice given on life and death (doctors) to advise given on the adsense TOS (webmasters acting like doctors)
Forums are exactly that, forums, where people share ideas and discuss their interpretations of things.
Its up to the reader to interpret right from wrong and to use the advice given here as part of his/her research into whatever issue they're researching.
I for one have gained alot of valuable knowledge and insight on each and every part of the Adesnse TOS by seeing how other webmasters here on WW interpret them and I sure hope this will never change.
Contractor, such threads are in here if you look around and I suspect, as AdSense moves to tighten up the rules and clean up its member pool - which I say is a reasonable inference - I suspect such questions will become more commonplace.
So consider this thread pro-active or prospective, as well as retrospective if need be.
Also, the analysis can apply to questions related to affiliate program TOS, AdWords TOS, or any other program that offers direct assistance. As a general rule "we don't give legal advice here", but when it comes to program TOS - which are often written by lawyers - it sometimes appears that that nuance is lost.
This thread just an invitation to think and discuss a class of issues that I think is likely to grow in volume and importance: "Is this okay with AdSense?"
Sometimes, I think, it's beneficial to stop and think about what one has been doing and what one might be called upon to do.
I think that's why they call these places forums.
Maybe they should be called soapboxes? ;0)
Okay, Webwork's soapbox.
Yes, but that's what forums are....opinions. If I give my opinion on a laptop, using .htaccess, website usability, linking, AdSense or any other topic, that doesn't mean it's the golden rule or given word and people should regard it as the way it is....hehe
jhood, that's exactly what I'm saying: Their is no duty of care. Yet, the advice can be fatal to an AdSense member. So, when the question implicates the TOS (and many often do, though not at first blush) is it enough to say "reader beware"? Is it wise to treat TOS issues as "water cooler talk"?
Or, is the more rational or responsible attitude this: "This stuff can kill your account. Here's what I do, but you always better off asking the AdSense team and I recommend that you do"?
petra, my proposition is more restrictive than a broad "thou shall not give guidance about AdSense". I think there's lots to be gained by discussing color palettes, ad placement, website theming, etc. However, looking ahead, IF my inference about the AdSense "tightening up" is correct then I foresee an increase in "Is this okay?" questiohs.
I started this thread as a framework for addressing that.
I state propositions and ask a lot of questions as a method of evoking thought and debate, hopefully leading to a new and helpful awareness, if not simple answers. I don't invest my time to simply annoy people. ;0) Though I'm certain sometimes people are annoyed, especially when I wake them from a peaceful slumber, so to speak.
So, does anyone think, when a question is raised about AdSense, "Does this implicate the TOS in some way? How?"
Anyone care to cite any section of the TOS and then suggest how we may have been glossing over its implications?
I'm not proposing posting "answers to interpreting" the TOS. No. Rather, I'm proposing a greater awareness and appreciation for the TOS. Sort of a wake up and smell the TOS before you get burned.
A debate with a little bit of education built in, if you will. Why?
Because this stuff can kill your account, so, at the very least - if you haven't done it lately - go read the TOS and related documents in full again.
If not for the first time, that is.
And, no, I'm not waivering from my initial proposition of "Ask them". What I am responding to is my experience of assiting people in the practice of law for 20+ years, people who often didn't even know "they were headed for trouble". Why? Because they didn't read the contract, the fine print, the documents from the government, etc. Big trouble often follows, even for intelligent, experienced people who either drew the wrong inference (usually one to their advantage) or who just "didn't get it".
When it comes to contracts, official rules - even TOS - read 'em, talk about 'em, discusss 'em - and when you have a question of importance - ask a professional.
[edited by: Webwork at 4:24 pm (utc) on Mar. 25, 2005]
I'd suggest that if one is not comfortable commenting on a given question, for whatever reason, then perhaps they should not comment. I suspect that may be exactly what we see in forums such as this, for the most part.
That seems to work fairly well.
Not surprizingly most folks don't even need to have this method pointed out as a possible course of action, it just seems to come naturally to them.
ken_b, I don't disagree that there's a comfort element that shows up in "not answering", which is helpful. I'm here to address what I think is a bit more nuanced.
I say that the involvement of the TOS may not stick out like a sore thumb in all cases where a question is raised, but that doesn't mean it isn't lurking.
I foresee a broadening of either the verbiage or the application of the TOS. I say caution may be needed since, I can be argued, that Google is deliberately (necessarily?) vague in the language it chooses. If that is true then isn't the more sanguine approach to "ask Google"?
I say that, as an educational forum, some general discussion of the TOS - even an approach to discussing the TOS - is likely to help 1 or more people. Not necessarily answers but questions that might be raised when you read them. Questions to keep in the back of your mind. Questions that might prompt you to "ask Google" - if you understand that there' room for interpretation, etc.
Are the TOS so black and white that they answer all questions clearly?
If your actions come into question do you have a safe harbor?
Here's an example of what I'm averring to:
The question that is asked, ever so briefly, is "Is it legal to run a site that is nothing more than a live DMOZ feed with AdSense inserted?"
Instant consensus: Of course it is!
Me? Ummmm, not so fast . . . .
Consider what appears to be happening with the much discussed "scraper sites". Do they appear to be long for this planet?
How far removed from a scraper site is a website that is nothing more than a URL with a live DMOZ feed?
Where's the added value? Where's "the content"? Wouldn't a simple link to the original site accomplish the same? Is this little more than pure duplicate content? No alteration of the link structure to bring focus. No addition of explanatory content? No nothing - but a live feed?
IMHO I think that sites that are nothing more than live DMOZ feeds are soon to be on the chopping block.
Will operating such a site expose someone to account termination? I'm inclined to think the answer is "no" for existing sites, at least not as a first measure. However, once Google makes it clear that new sites that are nothing more than DMOZ feeds are not "worthy" of AdSense then what?
This is simply one example of an implicit, if not express interpretation of the AdSense TOS where I think the answer might not fully address the issues.
Actually, I put my interpretation on the AdSense terms on a fairly regular basis, including in the dozen or so terms/policies update threads I do here. And a lot of the posts that I respond to here (as well as ones that others respond to) are referencing back to the terms. But I certainly direct publishers to AdSense if it is something borderline, or something they need to have permission before using.
If you were a publisher, you would probably appreciate the fact that I can interpret the terms, especially when you cannot login until you agree to them... and judging from IMs and stickymails, there are a lot of publishers who just won't sign in until they have read my analysis of the changes. However, I have never said "what I say is right, so listen to me and not Google" nor have I told people not to read the terms because I have read them - I am a huge advocate for reading the terms yourself, as many here can attest to, as well as those who have seen me speak at conferences.
As far as my credentials? I am probably better aquainted with the AdSense terms that many on the AdSense Team. I know it inside and out, as well as all the previous versions. And whenever I need clarification on a specific part of the terms, I always clarify it with Google directly, to ensure I am understanding something correctly.
From the stance you are taking, I should never breathe a word about the terms ever again. And I am fairly certain there are many publishers here who would be upset if I decided to do that. I may not work for Google, but that does not make my advice on the terms invalid just for that reason alone.
And AdSense does NOT have "Terms of Service" (TOS) but "Terms and Conditions" ;)
I can think of several reasons why some members would rather get help from fellow members than from AdSense Support:
1) When they ask "Can I do this?", they really mean "Can I get away with doing this?"
2) They've been led to believe that Google is The Man, and they feel uncomfortable saying "Officer, I've got a question..." since it's always possible that Officer Krupke will hit them with a billy club.
3) As children, they were told that it was better to be seen and not heard (which is why they spent their school years keeping their hands down in class).
|3) As children, they were told that it was better to be seen and not heard (which is why they spent their school years keeping their hands down in class). |
That's me! I actually had to sit on my hands in class! :)
If your goal is to dissuade people from asking questions and others from answering them, then I have to wonder why you spend any time at WW at all. People could receive inaccurate advice and suffer consequent financial losses in any forum here. Maybe it should be retooled into a 1-page site saying "In answer to all your questions, RTFM."
TOS are an element of a contract that a publisher enters into with Google. Therefore, if the matter primarily involves examining/determining the legality (or lack thereof) of doing something, one is better off checking with his/her lawyer and Google. Actions based on opinions rendered by a third party -no matter how well-informed or reputed -may not be a safe bet if such actions could potentially risk breach of contact between the two parties.
Discussion among Widgeteers on the letter and the spirit of various elements of Adsense TOS (or Terms and Conditions -thank you, Jenstar) in public forum like this can indeed be enlightening, helpful, and quite informative. However, using opinions expressed in such discussions for anything beyond educational/informational purposes can potentially lead to loss of hair, ulcers, and a host of other complications.
|From the stance you are taking, I should never breathe a word about the terms ever again. And I am fairly certain there are many publishers here who would be upset if I decided to do that. I may not work for Google, but that does not make my advice on the terms invalid just for that reason alone. |
Jenstar, one thing you have to keep in context when I "have at it" and launch a thread: In order to flesh out an issue I have found that it is often of some value to take a position, sometimes in the extreme, and then draw in from due to there based upon argument that references exceptions to the rule, etc.
There's something to be discussed right about now, due in large part to an inference that AdSense may be in the process of tightening up the rules, or T&C as you so politely state. ;0) I initiated the thread out of a sense of timeliness. We may be on the threshold of some housecleaning. It might be a good time to re-read the T&C and to air any questions that people may have. Now, before you get the dreaded email.
Coming at this from a pragmatic angle EFV elegantly stated one or many reasons for concern: A number of posts are neatly crafted towards "Can I get away with this?" Times may be changing. Might be time for new approach.
I'm ringing the alarm bell here a little bit, but my mission as always, is to be helpful. I recognize that in doing this I may annoy a few people. Like I said: People get comfortable with their practices and assumptions. Irritation is to be expected when you jostle the slumbering giants.
|Irritation is to be expected when you jostle the slumbering giants. |
You mentioned that in your other post before later editing it out. What are you referring to exactly when you say that? I see no-one posting here that seems irritated and very few of the people that visit these forums are slumbering (most are hard at work).
|...ringing the alarm bell... |
I'm old enough to remember when it was legal (at least here) to smoke in movie theaters. Often smokers would strike a match to light a cigarette. In order for that to work the match had to catch fire.
Of course that meant there was a "fire" in the theater.
Would that "fire" would have justified alerting the entire audience by screaming "FIRE"?
|but my mission as always, is to be helpful |
I am not so certain that replying to other threads with simply "ask google, not us" is really that helpful to members of WebmasterWorld, though. I think most people here are well aware we aren't the voice of Google when it comes to the terms, but are instead asking for suggstions, advice or experiences, as fischermx was doing in this thread. [webmasterworld.com]
efv is right on the money when he says that some people would rather not draw attention to themselves by asking google specific questions about the terms. If this wasn't the case, the forum wouldn't be filled with people asking questions regarding the terms. It is much better people who are reluctant to contact Google directly ask advice here and be told it is against the terms, than not being certain and doing it anyways, resulting in a warning or suspension from Google down the road.
Webwork - I am very sorry if I offended you in any way or prompted you to begin this thread.
I just feel that a friendly forum were webmasters can ask ANY QUESTION regarding AdSense is what this website should be about... otherwise what is the point in coming here. I could just sit in a dark room re-reading through the TOS for hours everyday.
We all know that we can read the TOS or contact Google at anytime, but most would rather speak to other publishers first, before going to 'the powers that be'.
Learning about other publishers experience is very important to me and to others. For Google and other companies, a TOS is a way of covering their back for both Advertisers and Publishers.
Just because Google says in their TOS you can't do XYZ, it doesn't mean that publishers aren't trying it. It also doesn't mean that Google has automatically closed down Publishers for XYZ reasons.
I know of an Alexa Top 5000 visited website who has been breaking the AdSense TOS for at least 6 months. Why haven't they been banned? Because Google allows publishers to operate at their discretion... The only way to learn about Google's discretion, is by checking out what fellow Publishers have been doing!
I value your opinion Webwork. But I also value feedback from novice publishers too! Novice Publishers often take the most risks regarding TOS and its interesting to understand what can & can't be done.
I just felt that Webwork was getting a little too serious. Breaking AdSense TOS is one thing, but comparing it to life/death matters is another!
I would be very suprised if anyone here read comments and accepted them at anything other than face value.
Webwork - maybe from now on, you could put a polite notice when posting in your signature. Something like:
"If in doubt... contact Google"
I think everyone here understands that taking any advice offered at WW - or anywhere else on the 'net for that matter - at at one's own risk.
I for one appreciate Jenstar's hard work in interpreting the changes to the TOC. I understand she does not work for Google, and that my performing some action based on her interpretation may have some risk - but certainly less risk than following some of the other advice I've seen posted here.
|It is much better people who are reluctant to contact Google directly ask advice here and be told it is against the terms, than not being certain and doing it anyways, resulting in a warning or suspension from Google down the road. |
I think what WebWork's concern is when the reverse happens.
A publisher who is reluctant to contact Google directly asks for advice here and is told that it is "OK" by other WebmasterWorld members and as a result of that advice they get a warning or suspension from Google Adsense down the road.
I can see what WebWork's getting at. Seems like just a friendly reminder to "go to the source" first if at all possible.
While most people understand that what's being posted here is just "opinions", some that may be newbie webmasters or new to the advertising world may think that this is more of an official forum (with Google employees posting, it may not be that much of a stretch).
Just to clarify, I don't think it's a bad idea to discuss the Terms and Conditions or even for WebmasterWorld members to give their opinions about it when asked. I think it's healthly and helpful discussion.
But I can kind of see what Webwork is getting at with his extreme example.
|Who has the proper credentials for offering guidance about the AdSense TOS? |
Well its down to a choice of two in my book
# 1 You can login and read the google "Terms and Conditions";) yourself and then sit there thinking why do lawyers use words and jargon what only they understand
# 2 Wait for Jenstar to translate them into English so we all understand
You only have to look at the amount of members giving their thanks to Jenstar after any changes to the "Terms and Conditions" to realise what a fantastic job is being done to help so many adsense publishers without them having to contact the google adsense team for an answer
Well done Jenstar
and thanks for helping us all out
and then you "Webwork" have the cheek to say
"If in doubt... contact Google"
which you have posted on more than one occasion...that answer is about as useful as rabbit droppings to a publisher who required an answer to the question but not wanting to contact google
|"Can I get away with doing this?" |
The answer is always "YES! Until you get caught..."
|I'm ringing the alarm bell here a little bit |
Chicken Little is paled by comparison.
The whole thread smacks of paranoia from the growing trend in litigation to assume that people have no culpability for their own actions. Giving an opinion or advice is certainly different from actively directing someone to act upon that opinion. After offering up an opinion I always add the caveat "Ask Google to be certain", which is what anyone should do in the first place before making a potentially contract breaking change to your web site.
Most of the T&C questions are about putting other context sensitive ads or look-alike ads like AdBrite on the same page as AdSense. The answer is always "NO!" which most of us know for certain from asking Google directly. That's not an "interpretation" of the T&C, that's just relaying the facts handed down by Google themselves after all the rest of us already asked.
More importantly, this is a discussion forum not a LEGAL advice service. If we can't discuss our opinions about the various aspects of the AdSense T&C as needed this forum quickly becomes a moot point as the CTR/CPM rollercoaster threads and Payment Posted/Payment Arrived threads get real old real fast.
|It is much better people who are reluctant to contact Google directly ask advice here and be told it is against the terms, than not being certain and doing it anyways, resulting in a warning or suspension from Google down the road. |
I rarely disagree with you Jenstar, but in this instance I think we may be doing ourselves a disservice as we're interfering in natural selection. If someone is doing something borderline [as was pointed out] and fears asking Google as to not draw attention to themselves, then we may very well be aiding and abetting the very scrapers and made for AdSense sites we all loathe.
You have to seriously ask yourself:
"Why would someone be reluctant to contact Google?"
I'm not reluctant, got nothing to hide, Google (usually) answers with reasonable promptness, so why wouldn't someone just read the FAQs, read the T&C, then ask Google?
One possible and most probable answer is LAZINESS where someone wants someone else that's already done all the hard work and research just to hand them an answer on a silver platter. When possible I like to copy and paste the URL to the answer on Google's web site, just speed them along to helping themselves, the "teach a man to fish" method.
Another possibility is they are ILLITERATE to legalese which I've run into quite frequently that some people can read T&Cs over and over and just don't comprehend the language, but that's what the FAQs are for to break it down for the layman. Sadly, some of Googles replies are just regurgitated snippets of legalese so if you didn't understand it in the first place you have no chance of figuring it out the second time it's thrown at you.
And finally, like we said to start with, what they are trying to do may be borderline and we're helping them skirt the system by keeping a low profile and maybe harming ourselves in the process.
I think another option is PARANOIA ;)
For instance, Joe Publisher has a site and he has a template that runs AdSense on every single page of his site - including a thank you page and the custom 404 page. He asks here if he's allowed to do it. He's told nope, so off he goes to figure out how to remove the AdSense from those specific pages.
The other scenario is he contacts Google, they in turn look at the site, and give him a warning for having AdSense on those pages. And now that warning will presumably be logged in his account. And perhaps then the quality checkers will swing by and have a look later, to make sure he did remove AdSense from those pages.
I think most would prefer asking here ;)
As far as natural selection goes, bad publishers are unlikely to be swayed because someone here says "hey, you can't do that". They will continue pushing the envelope until they get a warning or suspension.
On the other hand, good publishers WANT to be good publishers, and are double (and triple) checking to make sure every little teeny tiny thing is in compliance with the terms, and why some of the questions regarding the terms and policies do come up.
And paranoia is why so many people won't report a bad site to AdSense, because they don't want to be scrutinized by AdSense themselves. If they do in fact do this, I don't know, it does seem kind of a stretch to me.
But people tend to be paranoid, whether justified or not, about potentially losing a revenue stream worth thousands of dollars a month.
Hmmm, your description of PARANOIA looks just like my description of a BORDERLINE site, someone with ads on pages they shouldn't have, etc. etc. If you aren't BORDERLINE you wouldn't be PARANOID, but just because you are PARANOID doesn't mean Google isn't out to get you anyway.
Sounds like you agree with me in principle :)
I think that there are definitely some Terms-abiding publishers here that are paranoid, even if they are 110% certain they are doing everything within the terms ;) Like I said, a revenue stream of thousands of dollars can make anyone worried about losing it.
|I think that there are definitely some Terms-abiding publishers here that are paranoid, even if they are 110% certain they are doing everything within the terms |
Hi, my name is Dave and I'm Paranoid. I am 110% certain I am doing everything within the terms of AdSense. I know I could make at least twice the money I do now by placing the ads in peoples faces, but I won't. I want to be one of those that survive as Google becomes stricter (which they will) and actually hope that I am providing revenue for AdWords customers that are funding this program :)
There....I feel better now...
I think we are discussing three separate issues here:
Getting to the Substance of T&C Changes
Jenstar does an incredible job of identifying the nature and the scope of T&C updates. Priceless! It has saved many of us hours of tedious reading at wee hours.
Peer Review/Discussion of Doing Something Borderline
I find these threads to be quite informative, and helpful. As others have pointed out, a heads-up early on (or a smack on the back side of head) from a fellow publisher here can steer a n00b away from engaging in unsafe practices, and the potential fallouts thereof. Such peer reviews add value to these forums.
This is where things could get potentially risky. Considering that we have a broad spectrum of members here (native languages, country of origin, expertise levels, etc.), it is not surprising that we often see posts from a publisher wanting to know -for certain -if doing so and so would cause them heartburns. A quick up/down vote in an informal forum like this certainly could be handy, but it has risks.
If I am not mistaken, I think Webwork is trying to stress the fact (which may not be that obvious to a n00b publisher) that in the overall scheme of things, the opinions expressed here are just that -opinions. I read his post to mean simply this -if someone is about to gamble his milk-money, s/he is better off hearing it from the horse's mouth. Pointing them to relevant sections of T&C and/or suggesting them to check with Google in such cases may not seem to be popular, but may be the best thing to do. I guess I am stating the obvious... :)
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