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|Google Disables AdSense Because of Forum Spam|
I own several forums with a lot of posts (possibly millions messages)
I've used adsense for 9 years, no complaints whatsoever from their part until last august, google sent me exactly 4 messages like this in 10 months:
"You have 3 working days to make changes to your site"
I always replied quickly, but I missed the last one; my email server was down the day they sent me the message, so I didn't even notice it until they disabled serving adsense on my website & sent me a message telling me about it:
"Google AdSense ad serving has been disabled to your site"
Turned out, some moron spammed my forum with crack/serial number request, google rightly didn't like that.
I deleted the spam, appealed & explained, they re-enabled adsense for that website after 4-5 days.
I told myself: lesson learned and started watching adsense control panel's "messages" section every day.
Today (exactly 3 weeks after this last incident), I got another "ad serving has been disabled to your site" message for a different website, only this time they did not ask me to remove the content before:
Google just directly disabled serving ads on my website without prior alert!
This time I was online when their system sent the message; I immediately did a manual scan, removed several spams that went through (all within the hour), then I appealed and explained (I also complained that I didn't get a warning)
I've been a good citizen for more than 9 years, never had any problem, never attempted anything even remotely unethical. Adsense earnings has been my main income for years (I kind of regret that now), I'm not stupid to jeopardize it, and I'm not going to do that any time soon!
But not giving me a warning left a very bad taste in my mouth, it's as if they put my account under close watch or red-flagged my account as a potential cheater or something, and I don't like that.
My question is: Given the situation, am I at risk of getting my account banned? Is there something I can do to avoid having my account banned (if such violation gets repeated (*)? Is there a way to explain to google that it's impossible to have full control over user-generated content and that this is NOT intentional in any way?
In other words, is there something I can do to get my account back to "normal" (with "green lights on") the way it used to be?
(*) The fact is, the amount of data to monitor is too large, I put an aggressive home-made spam filter (like 8 years ago), I frequently manually review threads. More than 99% of my forums is clean, I don't think there's much else to do.
Any advice would be more than welcome,
I decided last year that forums are not a very good candidate for AdSense and have completely abandoned trying to monetize them.
If you insist on running AdSense on forums, I highly suggest you have some kind of automatic filter in place to prevent ads from displaying on pages having to do with anything relating to what their policies are against. (IE: hacking,cracking,serials,keygens,violence,murder,stabbing,death,etc.)
If you don't have adequate programming knowledge to implement something like this, I suggest hiring somebody to do it for you and then shoot them (AdSense support) off an email to let them know *exactly* what you've done to comply with their program policies and terms of service.
So unfair. I feel your frustration SEO. I believe it's only your site that was disabled but not your account.
Sometimes I question Google's policy reporting. Anyone can sabotage your site by falsely reporting violation. My question.. Does a real google employee (not robot) check the alleged violation to be true?
No, you're not likely to be whitelisted, and specially not on UGC sites or forums.
Look, Google has to protect the advertisers no matter what. And frankly, it doesn't matter if it's not your fault or if you just happened to miss one. It's up to you to make sure that not one single bad post gets through; if your site is too big or too busy to do that, then you probably need to find a different way to monetize it, because they'll decide you're not a good match for AdSense. And at some point, if they decide any one of us is more trouble than we're worth, they just cut us off. It's in the terms and conditions; it's what we signed up for. It's very rare to even get a second chance. And for every one that gets banned, there's a thousand more that sign up, so nobody is missed.
Fair doesn't enter into it. There are no guarantees of fair. If *anything* happens on your site that is any kind of a risk to an advertiser, that trumps fair.
I'm sorry, but that's what AdSense is. If you want to protect your account, make sure your UGC is strictly and immediately policed, or find a different way to make money on it.
|In other words, is there something I can do to get my account back to "normal" (with "green lights on") the way it used to be? |
I doubt it. The new normal is more oversight by Google of their TOS.
Regarding the lack of a warning for this latest incident it happens. It happened to me several months ago on a Friday night. My appeal basically pointed out all the things I was already doing to comply with their TOS plus the various reviews by AdSense employees over the last couple of years who all said the site was fine. I didn't change a single thing. Monday afternoon ads were turned on again...no explanation at all. I personally think a robot disabled the ads and a human turned them on.
Bottom line is if you use Google or any other ad network you have to understand it can end at any time for just about any reason. Some ad networks want you to sign a written contract but I've always suspected that's more for their protection than yours.
Look, if you're looking at Adsense as your predominate source of income you're fighting an uphill battle that more than likely you aren't going to win.
For five years I have worked hard on my site and put in my due diligence: post often, original content, targeted audience, keywords,social interaction, etc. And it looked like I was being awarded for my very hard labor.
But as of January 1 2013 my site has been going downhill on a consistent basis month after month to the point that now June I am were I was five years ago when I got started.
On top of that, like you, I now too are seeing messages that tell me I have 3 working days to fix things ... messages that never appeared in the past.
Something changed, that's for sure and it's no doubt it's the big G, which clearly controls the internet and does what it wants with peons like us.
Could it be that with so many new websites popping up, all of them pasting Adsense code hoping to make a quick buck, that Google decided to 'limit' its inventory to only authority sites? Don't know.
Could it be that with millions of new sites wanting to make money with Adsense, Google has finally reached a greater demand than it can supply adequately? (meaning quality ads that pay well?) Don't know.
Could it be that Google is suddenly over critical of sites it considers 'not up to par, yet didn't issue warnings to in the past? Don't know.
What I do know is that Adsense is a fickle beast that is controlled by an even more tempered animal which looks after its own pocket first before giving its money to others. It's only common business sense.
What I also know is that Google has found numerous new ways to generate direct Adsense income for itself without needing 3rd party sites to display those ads.
Google monopolizes the internet with revenue, ranking, visibility, traffic, etc. Until there pops up another direct competitor to Google, that's how the internet will continue to evolve ... at the mercy of Google.
Spam is why the Forum Gods invented moderators and report-a-post buttons. Google should have given you a warning on the second offense, but there should not have been a second offense had you taken appropriate action after the first warning and put up a better defense against spam. The problem is not the UGC format. The problem is the implementation of it. If you want to keep your account fix the problem now while you can.
|But as of January 1 2013 my site has been going downhill on a consistent basis month after month to the point that now June I am were I was five years ago when I got started. |
Is that a search (traffic) problem or an Adsense problem?
"botscout" and "stop forum spam" have "plugins" for forums. I've tested both, both work well.
You only had one site banned but not all of Adsense? Consider yourself lucky. Forums are so unwieldy.
that's why i closed all my forums, harldy to controll anything there, over night you can get tons of spam once they break your antispam filters...
Sites have been getting penalized for forum spam recently. Now AdSense accounts are being disabled for it. Is this a coincidence or has the separation between the AdSense and the Algo side been taken down a brick or two?
I don't think you could make the case for less separation of search and ads from this.
Google probably sees forum spam as posing a significant risk to the advertiser. They've been banning people for posing a significant risk to the advertiser for years. (For all I know, they've been banning ads on forums with spam for years too, I just don't keep up on forums cause I don't run any). If there has been a change, it could well have been because of advertiser complaints when they review their placements and find their ads in with the spam.
The bottom line is, you're entirely responsible for the environment(s) in which your AdSense account displays ads. It's up to you to keep it tidy.
I don't know the reality but google treats premium customers differently. I know few forum site which has #*$! contents on them and displaying adsense on the very same page and no one cares.
Not surprising, if it's indeed true. Premium publishers have extras. That's what comes of being premium.
Sorry to read that, forums are way too risky, specially if they are the only basket. I recently closed the only forum left and will turn it into archive.
Adding something useful to your case (if you get your account working again) mod the forum to disable Adsense on new threads or pages with new post (a thread is multipage) if possible.
|Is there something I can do to avoid having my account banned |
Moderating your forums would be a good start.
Had that content not been allowed to exist for more than a few hours then Google never would've seen it nor complained about it in the first place.
Also, install some anti-spam software and bot blockers wouldn't hurt to stop the automated crap. Even things as simple as a captcha on the registration and login page could've stopped this is it was automated.
What I did on one of my UGC sites was put in a positive content filter which basically analyzes all posts for a certain set of keywords typical for that site and if the post doesn't contain any of those words, or match some additional criteria, it goes into automatic hold for the moderator which solved my problem 100% and only throws a small portion of the sites posts into moderation. Might not work for all sites but it sure works for me!
Personally, I would expect that Google would just disable ads on PAGES (not sites) with content they object to.
They do that on their own search engine pages, if you search for something naughty enough. Why deny site owners the same treatment?
Because they haven't figured out how to scale "benefit of the doubt"
|I would expect that Google would just disable ads on PAGES |
They are capable and they do automatically disable ad serving on singular pages. A page titled "How to download a YouTube video" will probably automatically have serving disabled.
I've seen ads disabled on a per page basis and an easy way to test that used to be putting 5 ads on a page, most if not all would quit working until you removed a few.
Another way I know works on a per page basis is content with blacklisted words on the page as the ads will stop until the page content is corrected. Another problem I solved on a site by automatically substituting stop words found anywhere on the page before it's displayed. I never change the original content, just the output, so I'm filtering, not censoring as pages I've removed AdSense from revert back to original unfiltered text. :)
|Moderating your forums would be a good start. |
It's not just a start, moderating is everything. My forum drives me to despair sometimes, but there are good reasons to continue with it (I'll start a topic on that when I have time)...
Forums take WORK. As well as all the anti spam gubbins and plugins I've got in place, blocking all known spam IP's before they even get to the registration screen, I also have a very, very strict new member policy in place. New registrants have ALL of their posts pre-moderated i.e. it is impossible for a spammer to come along and dump a few links, their posts are never visible until a moderator approves it. New members remain 'Trial Members' for many weeks, and for many posts, until the moderating team are satisfied they're a genuine member interested in participating in the community, at which time they will have this restriction lifted. Even the most skillful shill member won't get past this moderationwall.
If a new member doesn't have the patience to continue posting due to this 'modwall', they're probably not the type of personality we're interested in having on board anyway.
Even after that, every post MUST be read by you or a moderator, and make sure it happens. Also, don't forget to prevent post editing, to prevent 'sleepers' from going back to ancient posts to edit them and insert spam. Ours is set at 15 minutes time limit.
Forums can generate superb content for your site if you have the right moderation policy in place, and the right moderators. If you developed a forum with millions of posts in a relatively short period, it's probably crap.
Asia_Expat, sounds like you found the right solution for your situation, congratulations! There are so many variations on spam, it's not always a driveby. There are profile builders, the sleepers, some wait to drop links, some fake their posts by mimicking previous posts, some Google the title of the post and copy the answer from a web page listed in the top three. So many variations designed to get through the modwall. If you operate a forum then it's imperative to have moderators, policies, understanding of all the spam strategies, and proper software settings in place. Forums are not "set it and forget it" scenarios.
I had Adsense disabled for one of my sites recently: While not a forum, it is mostly user-generated. The solution was to auto-censor lots of words, many of which are not actually swear-words as such, but can have sexual meanings. Google is very prudish.
On my forums, I purge all new users that registered more than 3 days previously, but have yet to make any posts. While not perfect (false-positives), this has reduced spam to almost zero.
I can not see a reason why this made FP (Front Page). ANYBODY with any experience should know this is a NB (no brainier).If you got crap posed you will be banned, if you can't keep up with the crap posed you will be banned. Common guys this is 6 year old BS either police your sites or find another revenue generator.
Don't you use Wordpress? The plugin askinet is a great spam filter. Also, you can send every posts to your email so you can delete spams as soon as you receive them.
WordPress is not a forum.
Forums in my experience perform badly in adsense, so I've stopped all adsense on my forums.
Even though I've volunteer moderators who are efficient at catching spammers, and am agressive in banning spammers, use geo targeting and much more to limit the exposure, every once in a while a message escapes our vigilance.
If Google indeed is going aggressively after spam in forums, then I 'd seriously consider not running adsense on user generated content that is not pre-moderated.
|On my forums, I purge all new users that registered more than 3 days previously, but have yet to make any posts. |
i lurked on WebmasterWorld for quite a while before i first posted.
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