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16 February, 2008

Read more carefully

What (US) level of education is required to understand your website?  A widget will let you know.

advert removed!So far, so ordinary; my result is to the right. However, what you won't see is that the code snippet drawing the image from the provider's server came with a concealed link to a film review site – nothing to do with blog readability, it was a blatent advert, invisible to human viewers but intended to fool search engines. Needless to say, I removed that link. I've left the other link in place in case you want to try the widget yourself, but I've put a 'nofollow' on it, so the provider will get no Google juice.

The Guardian discusses whether it's ethical to conceal adverts in web memes; I won't paraphrase it here, simply saying that I don't accept adverts. At all.

The scheme relies on people cut-and-pasting code without actually looking at it (and let's face it, the stereotypical participant in these 'what shoe type are you?' miniquiz things has entry-level tech literacy) – one of the provider's self-justifications is that the advertising link is entirely visible to site owners and they're free to delete it before publication. Many do, but sufficient don't for the scheme to be worthwhile.

... Unless we spread the word.

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