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ScienceBlogs’ ads are going to be the death of me (or at least my reputation)

I may be a little late to the party, but that’s because my laptop happens to have ad blocking software installed. However, blog bud PalMD rubbed my nose into a little kerfuffle that’s been going on here the last couple of days. Basically, some really, really bad advertisements have been popping up. Ads for quackery like this popped up:

i-c368bd75c3db6a2f513a2b72139de2d1-chelation.JPG

Lovely. Here I am pointing out why the NIH Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy is an unethical boondoggle of a quackfest, full of violations of the most basic protections for human subjects, and what’s appearing above my post?

Ads for chelation therapy! And I saw an ad for chelation therapy on the sidebar again a mere couple of hours ago. I haven’t seen any since then, but having seen them so recently, I have to assume that these ads are still popping up.

There’s even worse, though. As Isis, Zuska, and GrrlScientist pointed out, there were ads for Russian mail order brides. Ads for quackery are bad enough, but ads that can contribute to human trafficking are even worse than that. Apparently they came about when a new ad service was hired. Obviously, there was a failure to communicate or implement proper guidelines and filtering for these ads. Whatever the case, they’ve riled both our readers and many of us bloggers, and rightly so! How can Orac, scourge of quacks, tolerate having his peerless prose seen next to ads for chelation therapy? I’ve been castigating chelation therapy since my days back on Blogspot, long before I even joined ScienceBlogs.

The Seed Overlords are aware of this and assure us that these ads will be eliminated. I certainly hope so. When I first joined ScienceBlogs, one thing that I made very clear is that I couldn’t be associated with ads for pseudoscience or quackery. I’m willing to take our Overlords at their word and give them some time to make things right. They’ve been benevolent Overlords thus far. I also understand that times are tough, and ScienceBlogs is ad-supported. That’s why I am generally not excessively picky about the advertising that supports this blog. There are limits, though, and even in these touh economic times ads for quackery and mail order brides are not acceptable.. However, if these ads persist, I may be forced into a decision that I don’t want to have to make.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Certainly I am. I just hope the ad staff and techies haven’t taken off for the 4th of July weekend. My tolerance will be zero by Monday.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

45 replies on “ScienceBlogs’ ads are going to be the death of me (or at least my reputation)”

You Go Orac!!11!!! I’ve been reading you for some years. I’ll follow wherever you lead. Can’t stop boring my friends by saying “What does Orac say about this?” checking, and then reporting. You rock.

The really annoying thing is the pop-behind pages that come up occasionally from clicksor. I click anywhere on the page and it comes up, almost like they installed adware on my computer.

Of course, the really aggravating thing is having my girlfriend log onto Insolence and getting ads for adult videos.

Seriously, Seed, get this under control.

Ask everyone to take five minutes a day to click on these ads. Take some money from the baf guys and move it to the good guys.

The Insolent Respect front page has an add for Dual-Action Cleanse®, which appears to make claims to detoxification, cleansing the colon without an enema or laxative effects, and helping you lose weight. Not quite as bad as having an add for chelation quackery.

still there:
“I cured my prostate…” and “alternatives to cancer”

This comes from google ads, And google “does no evil”….

hmph. Firefox, Addblock Plus, NoScript…

What are these ‘ads’ of which everyone speaks?

What ceejayoz said.. no doubt it costs them to put adverts here, and it#s probably the worst possible place to put them..

Hahahaa!

Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

There was an ad for Scientology on the sidebar of Grrl’s blog yesterday, and numerology at the top. I think Erin is going to need a nice cold beer this evening: she’ll deserve it after running around chasing the ads.

Checked out a thread on this subject over on Drugmonkey, and indeed the Russian Bride ads he was complaining about were gone — and were now replaced with ads for “EuroAsian Brides.” Jeesh.

This is a complete non-issue as far as i’m concerned. It’s like expecting not to see tv car adverts during a program on the environment.

In fact reading a blog post on how bad something is before you click on the link is a good thing in my book.

I guess we’re going to be seeing some posts of the ways to evaluate that mail order bride. The latest in cosmetic surgery, clear heels vs. clogs, Frankenstein boots vs pumps vs thigh highs, et cetera. There are whole new avenues of Respectful Insolence to explore.

O brave new world that has such ads in it.

Well, Firefox manages to block out most of those ads. However, yeah, a lot of the stuff that manages to slip past are just plain weird, non-sensical, and probably even a bit dangerous.

I didn’t even get to see the Russian bride ads. :{~

Damn that adblocker! It keeps the vast majority of ads in which I haven’t got the least interest in from appearing on my screen!

I wonder why ‘chelation therapy’ hasn’t simply been banned; any chelating agent introduced in vivo (whether oral, intravenous, intramuscular or sub-cutaneous) is potentially deadly, so any use of such chemicals absolutely should go through the FDA’s regulatory hurdles.

Prozac said:

However, yeah, a lot of the stuff that manages to slip past are just plain weird, non-sensical, and probably even a bit dangerous.

Considering that when I initially opened this post it was sitting under an ad promising to cure cancer in 30 days I think “a bit dangerous” might be understating the case!

On the plus side though, the cancer ad now appears to have been zapped by our Seed overlords – I’m being sold bupa instead . . . .

Any way you can spread some of that rightful indignation over at Science-Based Medicine? Their sidebar has always had all kinds of alt-med ads, usually based on whatever nonsense they’re busily debunking, thanks to Google’s ad-“sense”. Worse, I’ve pointed it out to them multiple times and all I get is mealy-mouthed answers like, “The webmaster can’t do anything about it,” and “We trust our readers to understand that we don’t choose the ads and that we don’t endorse their content.” Whiskey, tango, foxtrot??

I should think you’d be just as worried about your reputation over there are you are here.

I never noticed the content of the ads until now. A severe case of ad-blindness, is suppose.
Honesty, I don’t really care, where you host your blog. Just post a new address and I’ll subscribe to the new feed.

Yeah, I hate to say it but there a couple of “alternative cancer therapy” ads up there right now.

I keep getting ads on the sidebar for some ‘World’ where they are apparently skilled in the Craft of War. I understand that clicking through this ad has the potential side effects of loss of money, friends, and social life.

Agree with #14: it’s pretty general knowledge that the blog owner doesn’t select or endorse the ad’s product or service. Who’s really harmed?

I see it as a good thing: 1) these woo-meisters are supporting your blog and 2) the links provide leads to new woo to subject to your insolent treatment. If you really feel incensed about something specific, organized a click-fest and take ’em to the cleaners. (It could be your own unique “minion-rousing” activity analagous to PZ’s poll-crashing activity).

I’m just getting “Optimum” and “Progressive” now(same as in my mailbox and on TV,respectively,and frequently).Oh, and Seed’s list of recommended science books.

If you are a webmaster (in any of the various forms to which that term applies) running ads of any kind on your site, this is just one of the reasons you should disable or uninstall ad blockers.

Google AdSense gives you the option to block certain ads from appearing on your site. But you have to know they’re there before you can do that.

Caution: Do NOT click on the ad to get the URL. That may get you banned for life from AdSense. Instead, do a View Source from your browser. Then go to your AdSense Dashboard and tell Google to deny ads from that domain for your site(s).

Encouraging visitors to click on ads is a violation of AdSense policy. Certainly, Seed couldn’t do it directly. Worst case, Seed’s AdSense account either gets disabled and/or their earnings disputed in their entirety. We don’t want that.

Since I get the revenue directly from running Adsense on my blog I haven’t bothered to prevent any specific types of ads from apppearing. If I can get money from kooks its okay by me, and anyone reading my blog will quickly realise I think that stuff is nonsense. I also find it amusing to see what the algorithm they use pops out sometimes. Not that I’m getting many clicks in the first place.

The really annoying thing is the pop-behind pages that come up occasionally from clicksor. I click anywhere on the page and it comes up, almost like they installed adware on my computer.

Sounds likes you’re using Internet Explorer. If you use Firefox and get the Adblock Plus add-on, you can nip those popup/popunder ads in the bud.

If you’ve got an adware infection, download either AdAware from lavasoft.com and or Spybot Search & Destroy from safer-networking.org. I have used both, sometimes in succession, to clean malware from PCs in a school computer lab. Really stubborn infections might need a topical application of HijackThis from trendsecure.com. It will check even deeper for adware infections.

Good luck!

Yeah, google tends to choose what ads are displaying, based on analyzing the page’s keywords.

So the irony is that you can have a post about “tarot readings as a nasty scam”, and you’ll get an ad that advertises a tarot service 😀

Its ironic yeah, but its how it works. Another factor it uses is what the demographic on the site is interested in.

Its one of those. If its displaying an ad that has nothing to do with the content on the page… then it means the visitors of that site like that ad (in private, they click it and buy stuff).

If its not something the visitors like (they;re not clicking buying), then it means its related to what’s on the page (same words/keywords).

I don’t understand the NIH protocols. Where are the metarules? The underlying rule must be that to be funded, a study must conform to good scientific methodology. Period. If it doesn’t, you adjust the project design until it does. If you’re not willing to do so, no funding. How hard can it be? OOOH, that would keep governments from doing as they darn well please.

We’ve seen so much of that over the years. Do a study, it tells you your initial impression was wrong, forge ahead with your initial plan. The legislation never says, “Our intention is to make the best use of our resources or to allocate funding according to who really uses it, so we’ll do what the research indicates.” No, they do the study and then toss the results out the window. It drives me crazy.

Ontario: “We think big schools get better results than small school.” Do a study: pupils from small schools do just as well. Conclusion: close the small schools and bus everyone to the big ones.

Ontario: “We want to cut costs, so we’ll dump the costs of two-lane highways onto their local communities, and anyway, we think that small highways are used mostly by local communities.” Do a study: At least 1/3 to 1/2 of trips on small highways are long-distance. Conclusion: De-fund the highways and dump the costs on the local communities. Pat self on back for balancing the provincial budget.

Yeah, google tends to choose what ads are displaying, based on analyzing the page’s keywords.

So the irony is that you can have a post about “tarot readings as a nasty scam”, and you’ll get an ad that advertises a tarot service 😀

Its ironic yeah, but its how it works. Another factor it uses is what the demographic on the site is interested in.

Its one of those. If its displaying an ad that has nothing to do with the content on the page… then it means the visitors of that site like that ad (in private, they click it and buy stuff).

If its not something the visitors like (they;re not clicking buying), then it means its related to what’s on the page (same words/keywords).

About the ads: isn’t there some kind of Google option where you can set terms that you don’t want to be used, e.g.

‘religion -“bible camp” -“learn to speak in tongues” +”Richard Dawkins” +skeptics’

??

There’s always what a friend of mine in Physics told a colleague in his department who was having ethical issues about accepting Department of Defense money: “If you really oppose the military, you ought to take as much of their money as you can. Your research will never benefit them, or not for 400 years [it was fairly esoteric pure science], and any money they give you won’t go to actual weapons.”
Meanwhile, my Google Ads for the site are advising me to drink Kombucha Tea to cure Fibromyalgia.
It could be worse. 3 Quarks Daily in my Google Reader usually has a huge ad for a Creationist book.

Agree with #14: it’s pretty general knowledge that the blog owner doesn’t select or endorse the ad’s product or service. Who’s really harmed?

Commentators like me when I bang my head into the nearest wall or desk when some woo troll brings up the ads in a moronic attempt to ad hominem Orac.

Aside from that, I think it’s more about a principle of not supporting woo.

“Of course, the really aggravating thing is having my girlfriend log onto Insolence and getting ads for adult videos.”

Why is it aggravating?, Damien? I mean, other than the fact that the ads may not belong on this site. Is it because your GIRLfriend is seeing *gasp* adult videos? Is she not an adult? Do you have to shield her poor, sensitive eyes or something?! What the hell?

@marilove:

Damien’s girlfriend: “Why do you spend so much time on that porn site? Respectful Insolence, I mean.”

Damien: “It’s not a porn site, its a blog by a doctor…”

D’s gf: “…that just *happens* to advertise porn videos!”

(Just guessing, but there’s no need to assume the worst).

A forum I’m on has spent probably years trying to root out AdSense ads that are contrary to the values of the site. It’s pretty much a losing battle

Marilove: Extrapolating from Savage Love letters, there is a segment of women (maybe a large segment?) that thinks looking at porn is deviant. My first assumption was that damien’s girlfriend was such a woman. She may be an adult, but that doesn’t mean that she will act like one when it comes to the possibility that her boyfriend watches porn. Shocking, I know, but lots of people are repressed.

If you use Firefox with noscript, there are no visible ads on your site – just empty boxes. Noscript shows that “edrugsearch” and “getbetterhealth” are suppressed.

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