Big Brother Google Opts For Interest-Based Advertising

I am really interested in how many people have received an email from Google introducing the launch of their ‘interest-based advertising’? According to Google;

Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show ads based on a user’s previous interactions with them, such as visits to advertiser website and also to reach users based on their interests (e.g. “sports enthusiast”).  To develop interest categories, we will recognize the types of web pages users visit throughout the Google content network.  As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the “sports enthusiast” interest category.  To learn more about your associated account settings, please visit the AdSense Help Center at

This raises some privacy concerns as it seems that Google is taking another step towards the ‘Big Brother Is Watching You’ approach. I mean do we as users really want to be categorized depending on our surfing habits. Heck, 90% of the time I am inadvertently directed to porno sites, but does that mean that I will categorized as a pervert or a dirty old man? Then, once I am stuck into a category, does that mean that every time I visit a site, regardless of what that site is, I will be shown ads befitting my so-called depraved state?

It seems that the only way around this is to install a plugin that will allow me to modify my ‘interest’ categories or to even opt out of the system. Damn, another bloody plugin, and then one has to wonder what other information this plugin will leach from my system. As  bloggers, this ‘interest-based system’ poses another problem, as we now have to update our privacy policy to reflect the fact that our blogs are using Google’s new system, and these changes have to be made by April 8, 2009! Naturally Google can not help us with the language we use to tell people of these changes because “publisher sites and laws vary across countries, we’re unfortunately unable to suggest specific privacy policy language.” Gee, thanks so much guys. Still we can opt out altogether by;

  1. Sign in to your AdSense account.
  2. Visit your My Account tab.
  3. Go to the Account Settings page.
  4. In the Interest-based Ads Preference section, click edit.
  5. Select the button marked Do not show ads based on user interest categories and save your changes.

This does also come with a warning saying that by opting out we may be cutting our own throat by decreasing our earning potential. So, tell me my blogging friends, how will this effect you? Are you happy about it? Will you opt out? Is this another invasion of user privacy?

Edit: I’ve just this minute decided to opt out and have started a poll to see the intentions of others towards Google’s latest escapade.

Of Web Hosts And Blogger Friends.

I’ve found that the hardest thing about choosing a Host for my blogs is that unless you follow someones recommendation you don’t really know how good any particular host is. Even when reading a review you sort of wonder as to how biased the author is. What is the motivation behind the post, is the author being honest or is he merely promoting another affiliate? Shit, he may not even use the host and the whole review is centered around the fact that it pays the best commission.

This brings me to the crux of this post. I want to talk about LunarPages, and yes that is an affiliate link but I figure if this post encourages someone to join then at least I will get some credit for it. I originally moved to LunarPages  from my Australian host because they were more price competitive and they were also offering a free domain for life. I have had no problems at all with them until recently when they moved me from my normal server because my CPU usage went through the roof.

WTF, was the first thing that popped into my head and I immediately started searching the net to find out what might be the cause. I happened to stumble across several comments left by others who were actually suspended by their hosts. It then came to me that LunarPages could have done the same thing to me and they would have every right to do so as my high CPU usage was affecting the performance of other uses sharing the same server. Instead of doing that, moved me to another server to give me time to solve the problem.

The trouble is that every time I make a particular change I have to wait 24hrs to find out if it has any effect. Luckily for me Stratos offered to help after I left a comment on his ‘When Things Get Extremely Wrong‘ post. Knowing how smart Stratos is, as he’s developed Blogger Buddy as well as some nifty WP plugins, I jumped at the chance. He has already worked out that I have too many plugins but is currently trying to suss out which ones are chewing up all the CPU. I have deleted the least necessary ones and have already noticed that the blog loads a lot faster. Hopefully the culprit was amongst those, I reckon I have to just wait and see.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I find myself lucky that LunarPages has at least given me the opportunity to fix the problem rather than just cut me off and leave me hanging, which apparently some other hosts are prone to do. I reckon that if I was based in the state and there wasn’t the time difference, I could have picked up the phone and talked to one of the technicians and we could have nipped the problem right in the bud, but being and Aussie I am stuck with conversing through emails. Lucky for me Stratos came to the rescue.


Duplicate Content And Article Theft

I read a post today on duplicate content and Google’s possible reaction to it and it got me to thinking.  I thought that the consequences of having duplicate content on your blog goes way beyond what Google thinks  and has everything to do with what your readers think about it. I’m not talking about those of you who have multiple blogs that duplicate their own articles. Heck, even I do that as it’s added exposure and it is also interesting to see the reaction it gets on each blog. Having said that, I do try to add additional content, whether it’s in the form of an introduction or just something new that came to me when transferring the post.

I don’t even have a problem with bloggers who copy and paste entire articles as their post, apart from the fact that I think they are going way beyond being what I consider to be a lazy blogger. What I do have a problem with is when they do not mention that the article is not their own thereby letting their readers assume that it is actually original content. This goes beyond plagiarism as it can only be considered content theft.

I prefer to link to an article that I really like rather than taking the easy way out and just doing a copy and paste. The benefit to this is that it allows me to add my own thoughts to the  article I am linking to resulting in my own original content, something that I believe many readers prefer. You could also do a direct quotation from part of the article as long as you give attribution to the original author. You should never, ever post an article leaving others to believe it is your own because when you are found out, and you will be found out, you would have ruined all your credibility as a professional blogger.


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