Why the internet is shit, part 2,399

“Odi et amo. Quare id faciam fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio, et excrucior.”

This was written 2000 years ago, about a woman. (“I love [her] and hate [her]. How is that possible, you may ask? I don’t know, but I feel it all the same – and it’s agony”). It describes pretty perfectly my own feelings about the internet.

The web is a wonderful thing. It’s changed everything about… well, everything. I live within it, and am informed and entertained via it, every hour of every day. I really wonder how I lived without it.

But you know, it’s also a teeming, seething cauldron of shite.

SEO agencies: Smell the sulphur

I am bombarded – some days, multiple times – by people offering to pay me for contributed ‘editorial’, or links, or adverts. Some of it is deeply creepy and dishonest; companies even offering to write their stealth ads in my house style to make them seem like ‘real’ endorsements by me.

I’m pretty much aghast at this stuff. I’m stunned that corporations are willing to be so brazenly, disgracefully mendacious. You realise that the web is absolutely stuffed with paid-for advertising masquerading as something else. And I do mean STUFFED; you cannot trust a single word or link online.

Most of it is driven by SEO, of course. SEO agencies know that the most powerful Google fuel is backlinks, so they trawl their clients’ marketplace looking for sites demonstrating the appropriate keywords. Then they try to place links on those sites – openly, or hidden within paid-for ‘posts’ meant to look like genuine site editorial.

Ultimately, therefore, this is mostly search engines’ (and therefore Google’s) fault. In the form the web has evolved, and as it currently works, Search drives commerce to an astonishing degree. Search engine algorithms basically corrupt the web by forcing commerce to devise dishonest and devious means to attract custom, and tempting small (and large) publishers into corrupt collusion.

It stinks to high heaven.

Odi, definitely odi.

9 Responses to “Why the internet is shit, part 2,399”

  1. Simon Says:

    Related news item

  2. Rampant_Weasel Says:

    please explain SEO and odi (im sure the last one doesnt mean one day international!)

  3. Soilman Says:

    SEO: Search Engine Optimisation
    Techniques for presenting material on a website to make it more likely that the site will be returned in Search Engine results pages for a given keyword, or key phrase.

    Odi: Latin, meaning ‘I hate’.

  4. Mal Says:

    TGTBT syndrome.

    And don’t you hate it when you do a search and there’s been a film/tune with a similar name that takes up the first 50 search slots!

  5. Rachel Says:

    What would you do if you were Google? I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but surely anything they do will be jumped on by people who want to promote their websites. I’ve been working on a website recently that advertises music events at the local hotel and yes, I’ve been looking for places where I can put links to the site. I’ve focused on event listing pages, but it would also be tempting to stick a link here, while I’m talking about it, but I won’t.

    From the point of view of someone with a website to promote, I want to know how Google ranks sites. Whatever they do, I’ll look for ways to make use of that. They seem to be trying to find ways of outwitting those who try to cheat the system, e.g. keywords are out and ‘microdata’ is in, so I’ve now added tags to my website that tell Google, “This is a music event”, “This is a performer”, “This is the date and time”, “This is the address”, etc.

    I’m not sure this makes the whole thing any less shit, but I think the corruption is present within commerce, not created by search algorithms.

  6. Soilman Says:

    You are of course right, Rachel, that it’s in-built in business to want to gain a commercial advantage. Whatever Google does, businesses will try to game it.

    I suppose my rage really derives from the fact that dishonest online advertising is so damn hard (often impossible) to spot. Also that it appears to have gained a kind of respectability that it never had in print.

    Affiliate marketing‘ is a legitimate pursuit (read this for an insight into what commercial people are really interested in, and how they’re evaluating your site). Nobody raises an eyebrow when marketers talk about it. But it’s a creepy scam of the first order, largely because nearly all of it is hidden and undisclosed to the ‘innocent’ web user. Money is changing hands for promotions that site users know nothing about.

    Worse, there is such ignorance ‘out there’ about all of this. As an old and mature technology, print was well understood. Consumers were educated to look out for cons on paper – advertisements masquerading as editorial, dodgy ads etc.

    Online, most people have no idea what’s going on behind the HTML they’re served. They don’t know how search engines work, how online marketing works, how data is processed by, for and about them. They’re lambs to the slaughter.

    All of this, and more, ultimately derives from the way the web – as now conceived by Google – currently works.

    PS Anyone with a Wordress site who wants to make life a bit harder for spammers should read this.

  7. Carrie Says:

    Ahhh Catullus! – I studied his works at Uni 🙂
    I am also hating all this unwanted ‘we’ll right a blog post for you’ crap. I challenged a few, first one didn’t know that N Ireland was part of the UK! And others even went and wrote about ‘mental health issues and the benefit of garden furniture’ I asked for citations but sadly they couldn’t get me any – hummmp.
    Odi is right – ggrrr

  8. Alan (Cadalot) Says:

    I agree with you but had it not been for the “interweb” and google (who are getting too big for their boots and trying to TAKE OVER THE WORLD, where is 007 when you need him (off shagging some girl that will die halfway through the film I guess). I would not have found your interesting blog now would I?

  9. Lou Says:

    Never a truer word spoken…. err, written. Loathe those emails. Even when you label them as junk they come back slightly tweaked… grrrr.