Googleads Alternatives
January 29, 2006 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm *considering* dropping Googleads from my site because of their dealings with China. Should I stand up for free speech and drop them?
Can someone recommend alternatives to Google Ads for my site?
posted by Blake to Technology (29 answers total)
 
In what sense would you be standing up for free speech? Google didn't censor China, they're bringing information access—the most subversive thing I can think of—to an enormous market that needs a tool suite in place if they're going to catch up with the rest of the world. I don't get the political stance most people are taking on this issue, personally, but I guess it's a decision you have to make on your own.
posted by Hildago at 12:18 PM on January 29, 2006


No, you're right, Google is bad...
YPN is a better alternative.
posted by ac at 12:19 PM on January 29, 2006


I don't get the political stance either.

Kanoodle is another text ad service.
posted by danb at 12:22 PM on January 29, 2006


Oh, and another thing to consider is whether Google on the whole is a force for free speech or not. That's a more complicated issue, to me, than the China thing.
posted by Hildago at 12:23 PM on January 29, 2006


It's a very tough call. Is the (limited) presence of Google/internet better than a complete absence? I'm not sure how one would determine the answer.

I'd love to see a very clear answer, because my gut instincts are telling me that I should be boycotting Google.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:25 PM on January 29, 2006


There's some interesting coverage of what google's been up to here.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 12:33 PM on January 29, 2006


Given that China, like most Asian nations and countries, have a huge sense of "face" ie showing respect, then setting a stance of "Reform your human rights policies or we won't bother talking to you" is *not* going to work. Never mind the fact it'll lead straight to the isolation of the Cultural Revolution.

A little bit of communication is better than none at all.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 12:53 PM on January 29, 2006


I agree with hildago; furthermore, I don't see why everybody is freaking out about this now, when Google has been censoring results in Germany for years (you can read about it here). I'd rather they didn't, but it's an imperfect world, and it seems to me there are many, many more important things to worry about than this.
posted by languagehat at 1:30 PM on January 29, 2006


Not sure giving your bidness to Yahoo is any more ethical.
posted by jikel_morten at 1:30 PM on January 29, 2006


I don't understand some of the responses here. You would absolutely be standing up for free speech by boycotting Google. Censorship is never a blanket over all information and communication, but a meticulous tailoring and refinement of the information that already exists. Google.cn is doing precisely this. They are only bring "information access" insofar as it gels with the thought of the Chinese government. Like fff, I'm still debating how I should respond to the issue and deciding how I feel about it, but seeing the difference in results for things like "Tiananmen" pushes me towards Google nausea.
posted by youarenothere at 1:30 PM on January 29, 2006


I think the German/Nazi/hate speech censorship is different than the state hiding it's wrongdoings or blocking religious materials, no? I don't know. I run google ads but am in the same boat as blake. I thought google was in the wrong, but am not sure any more. It's not black and white... wtf is though.
posted by jikel_morten at 1:34 PM on January 29, 2006


Censorship is never a blanket over all information and communication, but a meticulous tailoring and refinement of the information that already exists.

The point is, the information that you think is already there, isn't already there.

I think it's worth reading Google's response about the situation.

I'll quote the pertinent bits:

Google users in China today struggle with a service that, to be blunt, isn't very good. Google.com appears to be down around 10% of the time. Even when users can reach it, the website is slow, and sometimes produces results that when clicked on, stall out the user's browser. Our Google News service is never available; Google Images is accessible only half the time....

Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By launching Google.cn and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure within China, we intend to change that.

No, we're not going to offer some Google products, such as Gmail or Blogger, on Google.cn until we're comfortable that we can do so in a manner that respects our users' interests in the privacy of their personal communications. And yes, Chinese regulations will require us to remove some sensitive information from our search results. When we do so, we'll disclose this to users, just as we already do in those rare instances where we alter results in order to comply with local laws in France, Germany and the U.S.

posted by Remy at 1:37 PM on January 29, 2006


I think the 'omg don't censor in China' thing is basically selfish. I lived in Saudi Arabia through my teenage years, companies going 'reform your policies or we won't do business in your country' would basically punish the people living in the country for the actions of the government, making an already somewhat sucky experience much worse, much more miserable.

We aren't talking about Apartheid here, or a situation where all commercial interests can boycott at once. Stop being selfish and let the Chinese use Google, eh?
posted by Firas at 1:51 PM on January 29, 2006


For a parellel, think what would happen if all non-US companies boycotted the US market until the administration stopped torturing people. You'd be unable to access products you want because some bozo in office made decisions someone else didn't like.
posted by Firas at 1:59 PM on January 29, 2006


Another good pro-Google stance by Jason Calcanis.
posted by jasondigitized at 2:08 PM on January 29, 2006


For a parallel, think what would happen if all non-US companies boycotted the US market until the administration stopped torturing people. You'd be unable to access products you want because some bozo in office made decisions someone else didn't like.

We live in a democracy, it's not 'some bozo' it's who we voted for, and the American people have to be responsible for their choices.

Actually selective tariffs targeting swing state exports to the EU was a major reason why Bush ended his idiotic steel tariffs. The French and some other EU countries were going to put tariffs on oranges from Florida, and farm equipment from Iowa, as well as some other well-targeted products.

So actually boycotting the Chinese would be worse then boycotting the US, by your logic.
posted by delmoi at 2:12 PM on January 29, 2006


Not that any of this debate helps answer Blake's question...
posted by delmoi at 2:12 PM on January 29, 2006


Google users in China today struggle with a service that, to be blunt, isn't very good. Google.com appears to be down around 10% of the time. Even when users can reach it, the website is slow, and sometimes produces results that when clicked on, stall out the user's browser.

Can anybody explain this to me? Wouldn't there be a way to make the Google.com service more reliable for Chinese users?
posted by davar at 2:22 PM on January 29, 2006


Just to add to the derail: Remy, I've read and understand that, which is why I'm wobbling as to how I should respond. It is a complicated issue, but I at the very least have decided that what they are doing is indeed censorship.

...think what would happen if all non-US companies boycotted the US market until the administration stopped torturing people. - Firas

Um, The US would stop torturing people?

...it's not 'some bozo' it's who we voted for, and the American people have to be responsible for their choices. - delmoi

Here fucking here.

posted by youarenothere at 2:28 PM on January 29, 2006


delmoi; the idea that it's the american people who are responsible for Bush's actions because they "voted" for him makes no sense. It might make sense if, when you voted, you were voting on a bulleted agenda that, by law, had to be executed by the president once he was in office, but this is not the case at all. Even 'good' presidents can make unexpected, 'bad' choices for completely selfish reasons, choices that make their own party cringe. Your simplification is unnecessary and unrealistic.
posted by odinsdream at 2:37 PM on January 29, 2006


Well, obviously in a healthy democracy like the USA things are different, and tweaking the populace can produce changes in their leadership. In places like Saudi Arabia and China this is not the case, and limiting the access to technology afforded to children and adults in KSA, CN etc. to entertain the ideals of someone who isn't being affected by the choice remains selfish.
posted by Firas at 2:39 PM on January 29, 2006


In effect, I'd rather have the tools and media of liberal culture spread, even hobbled, than blackout regions of the world and encourage their isolation.
posted by Firas at 2:41 PM on January 29, 2006


"...the American people have to be responsible for their choices."

I didn't choose Bush. In fact, I specifically wanted nothing to do with him — and neither did over half of the voting population, if I remember correctly. What do you plan to hold us all responsible for? Not voting hard enough?

Anyway, I'm with the crowd who doesn't believe that boycotting Google would make any kind of stand towards free speech, but this statement stuck me as particularly misguided:

"...seeing the difference in results for things like "Tiananmen" pushes me towards Google nausea."

Maybe it should push you towards China-nausea instead.

If you all really want to make a stand against China, you should all stop buying computer equipment, since it's impossible to buy one that doesn't have significant Chinese labor and parts in it. Same goes for most consumer electronics, even the Japanese brands.

Google makes a more convenient target, though, don't they? You don't actually have to give anything up to feel like you're making a point.
posted by CrayDrygu at 3:15 PM on January 29, 2006


Wow, I think Cray just expressed what's really been nagging me about this whole issue. Yeah, Blake, if you're interested in dropping Googleads because of this whole thing, then you should probably stop typing on that keyboard as well, and I'd check to see where that hairdryer was made, and oh yeah quickturnoutthelight it's Chinese too.
posted by incessant at 4:04 PM on January 29, 2006


I wholeheartedly agree with CrayDrygu that Google is sacrificing themselves as an easy target when the entire root of the issue is China.

The Chinese people are prompted with "restricted Google" or effectively "none at all." They, as a whole, are choosing "restricted Google." Because perhaps, perhaps some of a good thing is better than absolutely none of it.

The reason Firas' US-torturing concept doesn't actually work here is because the Chinese government couldn't care less about their citizens needs or desires. It's not a democracy.

Davar—the reason Google.com appears so shaky to Chinese users is because all Chinese ISPs must go through the state's filtering and censorship systems anyway. So the results are being filtered on the backend, and the results are a very disjointed Google experience. See here for more info on the China firewalls.

Furthermore, think about it from the stance of Google, who is being presented with two options:
Have your brand and system represented as a crumbling, incomplete, poor user experience that seldom works at all.
Or have a system built to better serve the users while allowing them to not get arrested for using the system. Yes, it'll follow the same censorship, if not applying more of the system more uniformly across the board. But you people seem to think that if Google said "no, we will not bow to this censorship" the benevolent Chinese government might just go "OMG WE SO SORRY! REPEAL CENSORSHIP NOW FOR YOU!"

Get the pipe dream out of your head that these are people who will negotiate their censorship systems with an American business that really has no real leverage.

Google is doing the best that they can, both for them, and the Chinese people. They're not happy they have to censor results. But there needs to be an element of change brought about within the country, and the odds are stacked against those who might bring it. Giving them a broken, 10% Google isn't going to help them. Maybe giving them a 50% Google might. And maybe it won't.
posted by disillusioned at 4:15 PM on January 29, 2006


I don't understand people who are so angry at Google over this. If they just obstinately refuse to provide service for China, how is that any less evil than what they're providing? It's not as if they have a choice between a censored and uncensored engine and decided "heck, let's err on the side of censorship." They'd be disallowed by the chinese gov if they didn't play ball.
posted by TunnelArmr at 6:37 PM on January 29, 2006


Blake, after all this debate, if you're still leaning towards alternate ad sites - and assuming your site is a blog - how about BlogAds?
posted by Remy at 8:10 PM on January 29, 2006


There's a political claque that's getting their pajamas all in a twist over this. I'm no happier with China than they are, frankly, but censorship is alive and well in other countries where this hasn't previously been an issue.

I don't disagree that Google should be pressured into a slightly more honest position over this. So far they've run from what seems to be a blot of "evil".

I've struggled with China over the years, and right now I'm leaning back toward the "engagement is better in the long run" position. I think they're running into some serious ceilings in what they can accomplish as a society without opening up the democracy can'o'worms even a little, and they know it.

As for other options, nobody's mentioned AdBrite.
posted by dhartung at 8:27 PM on January 29, 2006


wow - askme just turned into the blue for a while there..
posted by brettski at 2:59 AM on January 30, 2006


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