My “Mastering cat” April Fool’s feature proved to be very popular. It was featured on Slashdot and on other sites, and drove a lot of traffic to my site. However, as it seems it had one unfortunate effect of Google suspending my AdSense account. Or at least I suspect that was the problem.
On 5-April-2009, I received the following message from Google AdSense:
Title: Google AdSense Account Disabled
While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we’ve decided to disable your account.
Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.
If you have any questions about your account or the actions we’ve taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.
The Google AdSense Team
I went to the page, filed an appeal and got the following response (sent in Hebrew due to Google localisation and quoted here):
אנו מודים לך על שהעברת אלינו ערעור בנושא השבתת חשבון AdSense. הודעה זו מאשרת שקיבלנו את הערעור ששלחת.
נשתדל לבדוק את את חשבונך בהקדם, אך בהתחשב בהיקף הבקשות המופנות אלינו, ייתכן שיחלפו 48 שעות או יותר עד שנענה. כמו כן תגובתנו יכולה להתעכב, אם שלחת את בקשתך במהלך סוף השבוע. בנוסף שים לב שערעור על השבתת חשבון AdSense אינו מבטיח שהוא יוחזר.
כתזכורת, אם יש לך שאלות לגבי חשבונות שהושבתו בשל פעילות מודעות לא חוקית, עיין בסעיף ’שאלות נפוצות לגבי חשבון מושבת בשל פעילות לא חוקית‘.
תודה על הסבלנות וההבנה.
צוות Google AdSense
Original Message Follows:
Subject: Invalid Activity Appeal
Date: Sun, 05 Apr 2009 20:02:58 +0000
07_Name: Shlomi Fish
11_ExampleUrl: http://www.shlomifish.org/ , http://fc-solve.blogspot.com/
18_WebAudience: It’s my personal homepage, so people who arrive at its various resources: pages about software, stories and aphorisms, technical presentations and essays.
19_UserGeography: My site is mostly written in English and appeals to International surfers. I get traffic from many countries.
20_UserAccessMode: I haven’t checked, but expect mostly from homes, offices, universities and other schools.
21_ScrapedContent: None, except limited quotations and some pages that became offline and were preserved on my site.
22_ContentSources: It’s almost entirely my own.
23_NumAdmins: Only I.
24_UpdateFrequency: Normally, a few times a week.
27_TrafficSources: From search engines, and links in news sites/blogs. I promote recent features of my sites on my weblogs, in news sites such as http://osnews.com/ and http://reddit.com/ and to a lesser extent as blog comments on other people’s blogs.
28_AdvertiserValue: My site has a lot of high-quality content, and attracts many visitors.
29_UserIncentive: Don’t think they would.
31_InvalidActivity: On April’s Fools’ Day 2009, I published the following feature on my site:
It got featured on Slashdot here:
(And possibly other sites).
I suspect that it may have increased the traffic to my site (at least temporarily) significantly, which as a result got erroneously classified as suspicious activity. 32_SuspiciousData: I don’t think there was, but I’m going to go over the logs from March and April, just to be sure.
The Hebrew tells me that they’ll try to inspect my account soon, but that due to the many requests, it may take them “48 hours or more” to return to me. I haven’t received a human response to my request (after this automated reply) since this appeal was sent in 5-April, despite the fact that I submitted another appeal, a few weeks ago.
After the initial announcement (which could have been sent automatically without human intervention for all I know), I have been unable to log into my Google AdSense account. I later tried contacting a friend who works for Google, but he’s working for Google Open Source, and could not help me with AdSense. Someone I talked with told me that Google give awful support to people with AdSense and AdWords, and it seems that I’m not an exception to this.
According to the Wikipedia Google claimed that they have disabled the AdSense accounts due to click fraud. I can swear that I have never engaged in click fraud, unless you call occasionally clicking on a few ads (probably less than 20) that were published on my site and that I found interesting as “click fraud” (during the entire time I had AdSense). I don’t rule out that someone else has repetitively or in an automated manner clicked on my ads, but they would gain nothing from it, because the revenues from the ads goes to me. Therefore, it seems unlikely.
I have received at least two payments from Google from my ad revenue and was happy about that, but I lost all the revenue from the last payment, including that generated by the “Mastering cat” feature, which has significantly increased the number of hits on my site on 1 of April.
I’m publishing this entry here so hopefully someone from Google who is able to help me, would volunteer to do so. If that fails as well, I’ll have to look for a different ad provider. It’s sad that Google handles innocent web-masters like me so badly, and lack so much efficiency (despite the fact that their motto is “don’t be evil.”), especially on the service that brings them the most revenue.