The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

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drathbun
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The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by drathbun »

I am so fed up with google.

Some years back when I looked for something, I found it. Today I get more information from wiki than I do from google search results. I guess there are a couple of reasons for this, but I would like to see some discussion on whether other share my frustration, or if it's just me. :)

The problem with google is that I believe they have become a victim of their own success. First, they were a search engine, and that was fine. But then they started selling advertisements. I am sure you have seen their little text ads all over the web, on phpbb boards, on blogs, on random sites... they're everywhere. And they do work, for small publishers you can make money off of your site by including their ads. But what I am seeing more and more of is sites that don't do anything but serve up ads and more search results!

In short, it seems that the focus has been more about finding ways to get people to come to a site to view the ads then to provide content. As a result, I am finding it harder and harder to find sites that have actual content. There is an entire industry dedicated to snapping up expired domain names, just because they have link history. For example see:

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www.phpbbinstallers.com
or

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www.phpbbmodders.com
Both of those sites were owned by folks that offered phpBB services. Both of them lost the rights to the ".com" version of their domain. Both of those sites are now garbage advertising sites with no useful content related to phpBB at all. The web is full of those.

You might argue that's not google's fault. I say it is. If they didn't make it possible for people to make money on sites like this, would they exist? I think not.

What do you think? Is the web a better place today than it was five or even two years ago? Do you agree with my statement that it's google's fault? Please discuss. 8-)
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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by SamG »

If you hadn't stole my thunder, I'd have more to say than that I agree.

But, in my calmer moments, I suppose it's a bit over the top to blame Google for it all, though. If us people out here didn't see ad revenue as some sort of end in itself, then maybe the Web would be a better place. My host doesn't require that I carry ads, after all. :D

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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by A_Jelly_Doughnut »

As a student, the first place I look on the Internet when I want to find information on a topic is Wikipedia.

If I Google "phpbb history" (sans quotes), the first several hits are:
  • theFinn's timeline of phpBB -- now quite old
  • phpbb.com/about/history
  • "Mirror" of the above
  • some spam site
  • A review of Thoul's phpBB Book
When I read the Wikipedia article on phpBB, I can find all of that history, and information on the products the project currently uses. In fact, those sources are all referenced on the Wikipedia article.

I'm not sure I fault Google for this...when Doubleclick was having such issues with their cash flow, someone needed an alternative. Text-link ads seem to be it, for better or for worse.
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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by SamG »

But let's look at something a little more likely to draw adspace. This week I've argued with a D-Link DSL modem about an odd "selective connection" issue. So I do various searches on the problem. Not surprisingly, the first hits are on D-Link and vendors. Ok so far. But, when I finally do get to a few (and I do mean few :( ) "relevant" results at about page 4, about half of the sites split "content" and adspace pretty evenly. Even though I was shopping for absolutely nothing, I dare say the ads were more valuable than the content.

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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by drathbun »

I'll include another entity to blame: Amazon.com.

Some time ago they published an API that lets web site owners query the amazon database for products. And amazon does carry a few things other than books, in case you hadn't noticed. ;-) So now when you search for a product you're as likely to get someone else's site pointing to amazon as you are to amazon itself. What's the point? Referral revenues. Amazon offers a commission on any product that you link a customer to. What has happened is that these other vendors have out-smarted amazon by being better at getting their search results up at the top.

For a few days (literally, that's all it takes) of coding effort I could set up a site that takes an incoming query and uses amazon.com's inventory and I have a storefront. I never carry inventory, I never do anything except take incoming customers and point them to amazon. Once I get that done I can spend my time and money buying up keywords so that my results come first.

Another site that I used to love is howstuffworks.com. I was one of those kids that used to read the encyclopedia, and really used to love going to that site. The other day I was trying to explain to someone how powder coating works, so I went back. Haven't been there in a long time. I entered "powder coating" in their search box, and what do I get back? 5 sponsored links (a euphemism for ads) followed by a bunch of external links. BOGUS. Wiki has a great article. Ad free.

I guess what I could do is summarize like this: Google has made it easy to put ads on your site. Now people are making sites just to host ads, and for very little else. Thus, I blame google.
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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by ElbertF »

Here's another one:

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http://phpbb.be
But it sounds like blaming the Wright brothers for plane crashes.. I share you're frustration on bogus domains, but I blame guys like Kevin Ham. They make a living out of selling the domain names for a lot of money (at least $1000.-, but usually they ask > $10,000.-) which I think is the main reason for those pages. Of course the ads are more profitable then an regular placeholder, and I think the search results are just for them to say "hey, this isn't a bogus domain, it's a search engine" so you can't sue them. If you check the source code, you'll find that almost all of these websites are related to a single company: information.com.

I once registered a very unusual .nl domain name, I noticed .com was also available. The next day I decided to register the .com aswell, just in case.. And it was taken. Now it's for sale.
drathbun wrote:Some years back when I looked for something, I found it.
Before or after Google? :P

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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by eUKhost.com »

I would say the Internet reflects an informational revolution in all aspects of our lives. There is a great deal of information on the Internet available than ever before, obviously advertising on the Internet has gained momentum as the awareness about the Internet is increasing with each passing day.

I think blaming Google for all this would be a bit harsh though.

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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by A_O_C »

i agree with drathbun. google used to be the top dog when searching for something, but now its trash. wiki has started gaining popularity, and with each passing day, new articles are added, or old ones updated. :D

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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by drathbun »

ElbertF wrote:
drathbun wrote:Some years back when I looked for something, I found it.
Before or after Google? :P
Using google. :)
eUKhost.com wrote:There is a great deal of information on the Internet available than ever before, obviously advertising on the Internet has gained momentum as the awareness about the Internet is increasing with each passing day.
I don't have a problem with advertising. I use google adsense myself. Am I a hypocrit? No, I don't think so. I play by the rules, I have content on my sites. I use google adsense on a number of phpbb boards, and am experimenting with it on a blog or two, and I have it on a regular site. I am happy to be a participant in the program.

The focus of my irritation is the fact that google (and to be fair yahoo and other ad providers) are implicitely supporting the proliferation of crap because they don't monitor the sites that include their ads. Why should they? Every time an ad is clicked, the hoster of the site makes money, and so does google. Where is the incentive? It's on the wrong side of the program. The incentive is to get more and more sites, more and more views, and more and more accidental clicks.

The same guy that someone linked in a prior post? I read recently that he (or someone like him) was buying up all of the .cm domains. Why? because if / when someone is trying to type in a web site and they accidentally type phpbb.cm instead of phpbb.com, guess where it goes? To their site.

With ads.

And nothing else worthwhile.
I think blaming Google for all this would be a bit harsh though.
I am going to stick with my statement. :) Until google created adsense, the Internet was a better place. I firmly believe that. I am even going to make up a new term right here and now, at least I think I am making it up as I haven't seen it before:

Content Dilution

Google is diluting the value of the internet because they are supporting sites that provide no content and therefore no value. Until they fix that, I blame them. :)

That is, of course, my opinion. Dissenting viewpoints are welcome.
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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by SamG »

Well, Dave, after reading your followup comments and thinking about what you're saying more, I guess we aren't on the same page after all :cry: . You aren't bothered by Google's part in transforming the Web from a chaotic, non-proprietary information technology to a sensible, capitalistic, proprietary global electronic billboard (not coincidentally, largely managed by Google) where marketing information is the chief product. You're bothered because Google doesn't police its big billboard for adequate (whatever that might be) non-marketing content, oddly enough. That's about as interesting an argument as those made by people who insist phpBB Group are responsible for how phpBB is used, it seems to me.

Oh well.

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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by drathbun »

SamG wrote:You aren't bothered by Google's part in transforming the Web from a chaotic, non-proprietary information technology to a sensible, capitalistic, proprietary global electronic billboard (not coincidentally, largely managed by Google) where marketing information is the chief product.
Sure I am. :) My latest comments are specific to one aspect of that, mainly the fact that there are sites that exist today only to serve ads. I still feel that the internet as a whole, not just this specific issue, is worse off today than several years ago, and for various reasons I blame google.
You're bothered because Google doesn't police its big billboard for adequate (whatever that might be) non-marketing content, oddly enough. That's about as interesting an argument as those made by people who insist phpBB Group are responsible for how phpBB is used, it seems to me.
But there is a big difference there. First, phpBB is non-commercial. Nobody pays phpBB, and phpBB doesn't manage anything. Google charges their advertisers and pays their web sponsors. Don't you think they have a duty to their advertisers to make sure their sponsors are behaving appropriately? If you google ;-) for articles you will likely (or at least potentially) find any number of advertisers (those paying google for ad placement) having problems with the way their ads have been used.

With phpBB, no money is involved.

With google, lots of money is involved. Whenever lots of money is involved, people (some people) will do whatever they can to "game the system". The Internet today is what it is because of those games.

Are we back on track, or still having a difference of opinion? :)
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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by Noxwizard »

Google also has stipulations on the placement of their ads. I would hardly call those pages "content". phpBB has no such stipulations on how it can be used and if your right to use it can be revoked. It's like saying, "We'll let is slide since we get money out of it. You're happy, we're happy, life is good." Except life isn't good, for those who accidentally let their domains slip away.
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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by thelinx »

I say we Spam, DDos and do everything we can to stop all those <removed> who have screwed the internet over with fake domains!

Kill them all :twisted:
Last edited by Jim_UK on Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Obvious to thelinx why it was edited >> take care.

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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by SamG »

drathbun wrote:Are we back on track, or still having a difference of opinion? :)
Well, I slept on it, and I'm not sure. :)
drathbun wrote:But there is a big difference there. First, phpBB is non-commercial. Nobody pays phpBB, and phpBB doesn't manage anything. Google charges their advertisers and pays their web sponsors. Don't you think they have a duty to their advertisers to make sure their sponsors are behaving appropriately? If you google for articles you will likely (or at least potentially) find any number of advertisers (those paying google for ad placement) having problems with the way their ads have been used.

With phpBB, no money is involved.

With google, lots of money is involved. Whenever lots of money is involved, people (some people) will do whatever they can to "game the system". The Internet today is what it is because of those games.
I'm not following this point on several fronts, a couple of which I'll detail. For starters, some people who have reservations about what the Internet is becoming look to providers for redress. That's undeniably a commonality between phpBB Group and Google.

Additionally, we aren't talking about disgruntled advertisers but about the quality and nature of the Internet. It makes no difference to this particular discussion (as far as I can see) whether advertisers are happy with Google's handling of their ads or not. The fact of the matter is, in terms of this discussion, I'm not all that happy with the advertisers.

Then there is the case of people (and there are lots, judging from the SEO mania in these forums) who want to monetize the content of their forums. It's not about making sure I have high quality forum content that I want to make freely available to as wide a range of Internet users as possible. It's about leveraging my forum content in whatever state it's in into ad revenue. So to say that phpBB doesn't involve money seems to me to miss the point of the discussion, even to the point of confusing it. If people weren't hell bent on monetizing forum content, we'd very likely have fewer forums and possibly those that remained would be of higher quality.

I could go on, but I think the money angle is a distraction, so I won't.

So, where are we at now? :)

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Re: The Internet is becoming worthless... and I blame google

Post by drathbun »

I think you've made an interesting case for people trying to SEO/monetize their boards... but I might challenge with a chicken / egg question. Was the board founded to make money? Or are they simply trying to make money off of their board?

My concern is with the former. Be it a board or other type of web site, when I see a site that has - to my eye at least - no other purpose except to try to make money, that is where I see problems coming. I don't want to be the pot calling the kettle black, here, so let me provide a couple of specific details. I have a phpbb board that I started five years ago. For 2+ of those years we were ad-free. As the board grew, the reality was I could not fund it out of my pocket anymore, so we took on sponsors. Later on someone pointed out that I could use google as well.

Well, heck, I say to myself, let's just see how hard this is.

Thirty minutes of coding effort later and I'm pulling in $100 a month. Am I going to leave that sort of money behind? Heck no. Am I trying to increase it? No, actually, I'm not. My google ads are placed in the worst possible spot: the bottom of the page. I don't have ads in the topics (I hate that). I already have sponsors that take up the banner space at the top of the page, and the sponsors are going to pay the bills because they are fixed income. Google fluctuates wildly from one month to the next. So, two points here. 1. I have google ads on my board because it is so very easy and the money is good. 2. The core purpose of my board is not to host ads but to provide content. I believe that it is for this reason that the board has lasted as long as it has.

So in my rambling way, I'm back to the "I blame google" bit again. I blame google because 1) as I said it is very easy to set up google ads on a site, and 2) because of this I strongly feel the ratio of "ad-based" to "content-based" sides is going in the wrong direction. If google didn't make it so easy, or if they policed those site to ensure that there really was content being displayed, would it make a difference?

Could google, in some warped and twisted way, be classified as a spammer? Think about it. How often have you (you = anyone reading this topic, not anyone in specific that has replied so far) searched and become frustrated because the bulk of the sites you found were worthless? How many of those sites included google advertisements?

According to the latest financial statement that I found on their web site, google had $721,077K in net income last quarter. They made $92.73 per second (assuming a 90-day quarter). That's $333,831.94 per hour. There is a powerful incentive there to try to get a piece of that pie.
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AdWords is their program to sell advertising. Adsense is their way to deliver advertising. They sit in the middle and take a penny or two (or more, much more in some cases) from every click, or in some cases for every page view. All I have to do is get a site that someone else is dropping, or even set up a site with good keywords and SEO, and then repeat that process about a thousand times. I have sites that require zero or very little maintenance, and I am skimming just a little bit of that $333K per hour that google provides.

And giving nothing back in return.

I still blame google. :)
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