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Influential search engines Google and Yahoo has disabled links to WhenU, a adware manufacturer that they've accused of using “cloaking” to trick search engines into favourably ranking decoy pages that redirect visitors.
The published Google policy actually says:
The term "cloaking" is used to describe a website that returns altered webpages to search engines crawling the site. In other words, the webserver is programmed to return different content to Google than it returns to regular users, usually in an attempt to distort search engine rankings. This can mislead users about what they'll find when they click on a search result. To preserve the accuracy and quality of our search results, Google may permanently ban from our index any sites or site authors that engage in cloaking to distort their search rankings.
Sorry - but I can't see the distinction that you make in Google's published statement on cloaking.
Mike there isn't an exhaustive list. There are new technologies coming out all of the time. At the highest, or fundamental level, someone who is doing something for the intent of distorting search results to users... that's pretty much the over arching view of what would be considered a violation of our content policies. In terms of specifics... um.. let's do some notes on cloaking. If you're showing vastly different content to different user agents... that's basically cloaking. Two different pages - one for IE and one for Netscape with the formatting difference between those, or having different presentation formats for people coming in an a mobile device perhaps, or just different type of GUI that's acceptable. That's helpful.
Google, unfortunately, doesn't do these kinda of interviews so nobody knows and we all have to theorize.
Two different pages - one for IE and one for Netscape with the formatting difference between those, or having different presentation formats for people coming in an a mobile device perhaps, or just different type of GUI that's acceptable
Thats not cloaking.
He is describing FORMATTING differences - ie same content, different formatting. That is not cloaking.
That quote does not condone serving different content based upon the 'identity' of the requester.
Cloaking is about serving different content. It has nothing to do with formatting content so that it will be correctly displayed by a specific browser, or within the size limitations of a PDA screen.
The next paragraph of that interview gives an answer:
Q. What about a Flash site with cloaked text pages just describing the content - but a true description of the content.
A. Exactly. For a Flash site which has good text embedded in it. And the cloaked page simply says the non cloaked page has the following text in it... no problem with that. That being said, if someone cloaks the content, that will raise the red flag. The Spam teams are going to look at it. And if what they see is a legitimate representation of the content that's fine. If what they see does NOT represent the content, I mean something entirely different to what the users would get.. they're going to look at that and probably introduce the penalty.
Yahoo has stated that they will cash out [investors.com] their share of Google.
The online media company said its stake in rival Google is worth "several hundred million dollars" and that it would seek to liquidate that investment in due time. Yahoo didn't give a date...
are we jealous or worried? Did you see what this guy is studying? If it wasn't fact why did Google and Y! ban WhenU?
[edited by: Marcia at 7:19 am (utc) on May 17, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed defunct reference. [/edit]
Cindy yes, I read his bio. That is exactly what I refered to, in fact. He has a long history of apparent dislike for WhenU for other reasons... and now he's ratting them for violating a TOS, probably knowing full well he's committing economic homicide. And he hides behind a do-goody slant. And he does NOT communicate that he knows what he is talking about (one needs to look beyond the obvious to see his arguments are quite shallow, and full of suppositions).
The "what am I afraid of" stuff is the most scary. How about I am afraid of popular opinion being so ignorant that people of apparent esteem can use fancy words and lots of fluff to get the masses to go along with them, even praise them, when they actually have little or no factual evidence, and their case is circumstantial and accusatory? Add to that the REAL ACTUAL HARM their claims cause (anybody remember innocent untilproven guilty? Anyone?) and I actually get disgusted.
1. If they are in the business of spyware, that is not yet a crime. It is debated at the highest levels of society at this time (FTC full day debate just weeks ago), and WhenU has been active in that debate. Last I heard that was to be ADMIRED.
2. They claim they didn't know the scripts were improper. No one has shown otherwise, and this guys claim that they knew, based on nothing but more supposition, is ridiculous. He even acknowledged he didn't talk to them, yet he titled his sections with inflaming words like " Proof they knew.."
3. When notified, they removed the scripts across all of their sites immediately. Last I heard, that, too, was ADMIRABLE behavior. It almost seems people are taking that as evidence they knew they were wrong?
4. They promised to look into the matter, and acknowledged they had used consultants. Sounds GREAT to me... look into it. But no, everyone just says "oh yeah sure" and implies they are guilty.
5. the "cloaking" they did isn't what Google calls "cloaking", despite this guys carefully-crafted verbage aligning the bahviors. Even people here on ww (so called experts) are writing threads that say it is.... and even arguing when someone suggests it is not. What's up with THAT?
The write up says they checked the referrer, and based on that, selected the content to serve. Duh.. we do that ALL THE TIME. They did it for people refered from the SEs... that is quite different from cloaking GoogleBot or the search engines themselves, which is against TOS. MANY OF YOU HERE HAVE CLEARLY MISSED THIS FACT, yet you seem to find WhenU guilty. Ask yourselves if that prejudice is acceptable.
Lemmesee... I want to tell people who found my site in Google that they would be better served with Yahoo as their search engine of choice. I should be free to do that, no? It's my site and I am the publisher. So I write my script to check HTTP_REFERER and if it's Google then give them a message suggesting Yahoo is better. If they came form Yahoo, no message.
According to your lynch mob attitude, that's worthy of a ban.
Let Google ban anyone they want -- but let's be honest about why they do it (for their own gains, or political or other reasons) and stop hiding behind misleading statements and suggestions.
[edited by: Marcia at 7:24 am (utc) on May 17, 2004]
The "what am I afraid of" stuff is the most scary. How about I am afraid of popular opinion being so ignorant that people of apparent esteem can use fancy words and lots of fluff to get the masses to go along with them, even praise them, when they actually have little or no factual evidence, and their case is circumstantial and accusatory? Add to that the REAL ACTUAL HARM their claims cause (anybody remember innocent until proven guilty? Anyone?) and I actually get disgusted.
True. WhenU has so many enemies that it is difficult to think of them as doing something knowingly that could get them banned from Google and Yahoo. Google and Yahoo shouldn't have been so quick in their actions without properly investigating this matter.
Even search engines seem to be getting into the act of quick censorships, especially when dealing with sites that are not 'popular' and therefore in need of protection against censorship.
But the problem is, you're also spouting all the usual Godfather defenses. "Oh, I'm just an innocent businessman, why pick on me when all the other businesses are just as crooked, some of my businesses 'aren't illegal', and the others are just providing what customers want."
And the simple fact is, no honest businessman EVER uses the Godfather defenses. He doesn't WANT to be associated with all the "other crooked businesses." He wants to be lumped with the "other honest businesses."
As for the distinction you see between the kind of cloaking whenu does, and the kind less sleazy cloakers do, the reason is obvious. Nobody is ever going to go to those sites except from a search engine ... EXCEPT a search engine spam checker! So not only is whenU cloaking, they know they are doing something that would get them banned, and so they took the precaution of hiding their actual page content not only from the search engine spider, but from the most likely human cross-checkers.
This is a new low in sleaze, and if Google didn't already have a lifetime ban, they would have invented it for these pond scum. (I certainly know the ODP 'doesn't have a lifetime ban', but we have made exceptions for two or three people who were doing exactly this kind of cloaking -- that is, the site looked normal from ODP or from the address bar, but showed kiddie porn when clicked from the AOL directory.)
No, these people do not deserve a lifetime ban. They deserve a lifetime bonfire, and they deserve to be lowered into it slowly.