Friends don't let friends spam

22 08 2005

Fighting Spam book coverAfter WordPress and Syndic8, now it’s O’Reilly’s turn. While I can understand the small guys falling for this, it’s hard to think that a large publisher like O’Reilly would be so desperate for money to accept these kind of sponsors. Or do those dubious businesses have much more money on their hands than we think possible?

Phil Ringnalda: “O’Reilly’s site, home of tons of interesting articles on Linux/Apache/MySQL/Perl/Python/PHP over the years, now also features (at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar, under the ‘oh, but it’s related, really’ headline ‘Travelling to a tech show?’) eight links to the sort of garbage hotel sites that make it utterly impossible to find any useful information about hotels on Google.”

Later, Shelley chimes in with:

If it’s wrong for an organization to do something, is it right when a friend does the same? […] Do I have an answer to this? Not likely.

I don’t have an answer either. What O’Reilly is doing seems murky at best, whereas I wouldn’t put Shelley’s own sponsored links in the same category, even though the purpose of both is simply to raise the search engine rankings of the linked sites.

To be honest, that’s also the purpose of a couple of the links I have in my “Links” sidebar on the home page. They were put there at the request of a couple of friends who actually do run those sites, which are perfectly legitimate and fine, but I doubt they are meant to attract traffic and convert it into purchases of typical Italian foods or apartments in Prague. They are there to raise their rankings with respect to the particular keywords that are contained in the link text. Incidentally, I’m not taking any money for this, which is why they aren’t labeled “ads” or something. I did it only as a favor to my friends. Does this make it any more or less objectionable? Once again, I honestly don’t know.




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