Strong opinions, weakly held

Ten links, one year, 1500 bucks

I got an email yesterday offering me 1500 bucks if I’d put ten text links to “sponsors” for one year in the sidebar of this site. Lots of other sites have gone this route, so there’s not really any novelty here, other than that I’ve never gotten such an offer, and I never knew exactly what kind of money people were getting for this sort of thing. The arrangement, of course, is straight PageRank farming. The ten links aren’t to actual sponsors, but rather to sites that want to up their PageRank through links from other sites that have already earned their PageRank the hard way (or at least by just being around for a long time).

To make a long story short, I’m not taking the money. I love the Web too much to take money to improve the search engine rankings of spammers.


  1. I’m not taking the money

    Good man.

  2. Payola by any name…

  3. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but the conclusion I’ve (somewhat) come to is that it’s important to not conflate “the web” and “Google”. These people aren’t gaming the web, they’re gaming Google.

    And given that so many people are going with ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ by default on everything and we’re losing a lot of valuable information and cross-linking, it’s up to Google to fix their failed models rather than leaving it to us to try to protect them.

    Having said that I don’t have paid links on my front page yet, but I do have a few ads on sub pages that are clearly marked as such, contained within both a div and a table that labels them as ads, and if Google can’t figure that out then we should direct our righteous anger in the right direction.

    However, none of those ads are for products that I personally find reprehensible.

    At this point I’m far more worried about domain campers and expired links.

  4. Your point about Google not being the Web is well taken. That said, Google adds value to the Web. The people buying these links want to extract money from the Web without adding any value.

  5. How would you feel if the link company had a list of potential links you could choose from, and one of them was a product/service/site which you genuinely found useful?

  6. Probably not, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not opposed to advertising at all, but I don’t like the idea of putting ads on a site not to appeal to readers but rather to appeal to an algorithm.

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