Observant readers may notice that where there used to be ads, there now aren't. This is because Google switched them off. They have a program called AdSense that the new blogger is sold quite hard. Monetise your blog! reads the blurb from the George Bush school of sales. It's supposed to earn you a bit of cash when people click on targeted ads. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I signed up. But over the weekend alas! I received a mysterious e-mail saying my ads are no more; and they can't tell me why, because it would reveal mysterious proprietary secrets from the very bosom of Googledom. I suspect my sin is having kids who are clicking a bit too enthusiastically, particularly on the yoga ads. Or possibly using the word 'bosom'.
I'm feeling lucky
I'm feeling lucky
Obviously I read the Terms and Conditions1 in fine detail when I signed up, and when they switched it off I read them, er, again. We are prohibited, among other things, from using 'repeated manual clicks' (i.e. if anyone clicks on an ad twice you're doomed); and 'engaging in action that ... reflects poorly on Google'. Oops - blown that one then. There are other clauses that are beyond me, although I'm well up on legalese, having read several John Grisham novels.
I can understand Big G's desire to protect their advertisers - in my professional life I am one, and I pay about £300 a month for the privilege. What's more, they host this blog for free, so I don't feel I can complain too much. And the cash that potentially flows is way too small to get worked up about.
But there is a problem here. The contract is one-sided and slack, and allows them to disable AdSense for, well, anything. The disabling process is instant, uncontestable, and precedes any actual payment; it must at least be tempting to disable vigorously, in the interests of driving up revenue. It's starting to feel like the Microsoft model, i.e. generate vast gobs of cash without ever having to deal with a real client. What an awful fate for our nice 'do no evil' chums at Google.
It's mighty galling to be lumped in with those clever but repellent souls dotted around the world who write programs to deliberately defraud. Excuse me, but I'm not one of those, and not only because I'm not clever enough. I've also put effort in to my blog, youthful though it is, and I'm quite proud of it. So I'll appeal, and I'll let you know how I get on. But I'm not expecting much. I feel fortunate not to be one of those hard-working writers who rely on this system to make a living; because this feels like a court where all are guilty until proven innocent, and the only sentence is terminal.
1 - Check the Hong Kong version for extra legal clarity