The Man Who Sued Google – and won $731


The following fun item came up today from Aaron, who managed to sue Google in small claims court over a Google Adwords / Adsense dispute and actually ….. won the case.  Here’s the story.

Adsense expert Jennifer Slegg suggests Aaron may have been violating the terms and I think most advertisers would agree that we want Google to police Adsense very carefully to avoid the many problems that come when publishers’ material is unlikely to generate business for the advertiser.

However I’m also very sympathetic to Aaron’s criticisms of Google’s failure to bring enough transparency to the adsense and ranking processes despite very noble individual activity by guys like Matt Cutts, Adam Lasnick, Brian White, and pretty much all the engineers I’ve talked to in person. My beef is with Google’s company policy of sharing too little information and having “too weak” diagnostics that don’t allow webmasters to fix common problems or challenge fairly subjective ranking decisions, especially when what Google sees as questionable linking activity is involved.

Google suggests that ranking opacity prevents spam where I’d argue that on balance it would help avoid many common practices that now penalize people without them even knowing. Just last week, for example, Matt pointed to a very expensive Forrester business report on “legitimate” SEO approaches that suggested a “paid blog posting” tactic that could get both the blogger and the referenced site in ranking trouble with Google. Although Matt is one of the last people at Google I’d accuse of being “too secretive”, the overall policy is too opaque to reasonable let legitimate webmasters make the best decisions for their sites and clients. The Webmaster Console has helped but it’s too little too late in my view. Google owes every webmaster a clear answer to the simple question: Why is my site ranked below clearly inferior sites? Usually this answer would involve a downranking from link manipulations, selling links to other sites, or other things Google finds offensive and lists vaguely in the Webmaster Guidelines.

I do complement Google on the fairly new webmaster forums feature which can be very helpful in diagnosing problems with websites:
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters?hl=en

Marissa Mayer on Charlie Rose


Marissa Mayer on Charlie Rose. Two of my favorite people at the same time!

Mayer is one of a handful of people who drive many key online innovations as a result of her role at Google. Mayer’s background at Stanford is in AI, and it is very clear that she will remain a key player for many years in the technological changes now sweeping over the legacy industrial landscape.

Visit the Whistle Stop in Talent, Oregon for Coffee


Here in Talent, Oregon we’re lucky to have not one great coffee shop but two, each with a different “personality” to suit your mood or temperament. Where Downtowne offers free wifi, the Whistle Stop is the place to go to mingle with the city.

I’ve written before about the Downtowne Coffee Shop but also wanted to give the Whistle Stop Coffee Shop a big shout out as they serve great coffee and tasty light fare like pastry breads and scones. If you want to feel the heartbeat of Talent, Oregon drop in to the Whistle Stop and say hi to Marina, the owner of the Whistle Stop who was recently voted Talent’s friendliest barista. The Whistle Stop is located right next to city hall on Main Street in a beautiful rennovation of Talent’s Railroad Station. An hour and a coffee at the Whistle Stop will introduce you to our fine little town in no time.