December 27, 2006

Note To SexBloggers: Google has no "porn clampdown" - IT'S A BUG!

"SEO superstition" strikes again:

Chronicle writer disappears in porn clampdown

The personal blog of San Francisco's Violet Blue, a sex writer published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Valleywag's sister site, has been removed from the Google index, along with several other adult sites. Tiny Nibbles, which runs a well-known annual list of the year's sexiest geeks, does not show in Google's search results, even if filters are turned off. Other sites affected include ErosBlog, a sex news site, and Comstock Films, which makes adult movies of real-life couples. The content's all legal, and naughty, rather than degrading. Some word Violet wrote probably triggered a Google ban, inadvertently, but the search engine's rules are opaque, as is the procedure for an appeal against deletion. You think there are other search engines, so that's okay? There are no other search engines.

IT'S A BUG! The sites haven't been removed from the index. If you go further into the results, the sites are still there. They apparently got "sandboxed" [update: "marked as spam-like"] for some unknown reason, so they're showing up much lower than normal. Almost exactly 30 spots, in fact.

Google doesn't hate you. Really.

A good person to contact about these things is Matt Cutts.

[Sigh ... *why* *bother*? Who is going to hear me in the face of the sensationalism?]

[Update: Some of the sites are back, the Google people know about the issue. Again, this is really about spam false-positives, not censorship].

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on December 27, 2006 11:40 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Hey, how do you know that it was marked as spam? Do you have a source for any of that? People will pay attention if you do.

Posted by: Jonathan Moore at December 28, 2006 03:02 AM

There's something called the "minus thirty" penalty which is applied to some spam sites, and these sites are displaying exactly that problem - thus, it's virtually certain it's a bug in the algorithm which determines which sites are spammy, rather than anything specifically targetted to those sites. Other, non-sex, sites have complained, there's some threads discussing this on SEO forums.

I could have spent time gathering references and writing this up, then even more time going around to the various echoes and trying to get them to pay attention to a obscure blogger that says their too-good-to-check ("porn clampdown"!) story is wrong, but it's just not worth it.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at December 28, 2006 09:21 AM

Posted by: Tony Comstock at December 28, 2006 05:21 PM

How often can this bug occur. This is the second time around....

Posted by: Sam Sugar at December 29, 2006 01:16 PM

Repeatedly. See my post just after this one. It's like asking "How often can a mail server's anti-spam algorithm yield a false-positive"? Especially e.g. concerning a legitimate medical newsletter for people who take the medication rhymes-with-Niagra.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at December 29, 2006 01:58 PM