It appears that WordPress has been using spam related methods to work the Google index. Due to the high PR of the WordPress site, hidden articles have been created that relate to topics commonly found in blog comment spam. Using AdWords & pointing the advertisements to these articles causes more hits to the WordPress site which of course makes the site more appealing to companies that might want to advertise on the WordPress site.
As well as that, artcles were provided by Hot Nacho who pay people to write short articles on various subjects. Those articles then appear on high ranking sites such as WordPress and Matt was paid a flat fee for hosting the artcles and add banners.
Apart from the financial gains that are possible, it's not much different to what a lot of us did a while ago by trying to fill up the first page of results on Google for common blog comment spam subjects, such as Viagra. Although we didn't have any financial motive for doing so, it's spam just like what Matt has been doing with WordPress but we didn't use any hidden methods or do it for financial gain. Even if all proceeds would be going to the project, the search engines Google & Yahoo! see what WordPress has been doing as spam and for the momemnt have removed all traces of the site from their indexes.
On the other hand, it's using the power of those search terms to get the project site to show up on the first page for a lot of spam related topics and so removing the spam sites from the first page or top results. That in itself is good, it's basically using the spam related words and a high Google PR, much like the blog related spam aimed to use to higher PR of blogs.
I think what bothers a lot of people is not the method used, but the fact it was not announced. People don't mind any financial gains for the people that make the project happen or for the project itself, if it is announced. All of this was done on the quiet without anything being said. For people that support the project to find out in this manner, is not the best.
Everyone makes mistakes but the key is being able to learn from them. Obviously Google does not like what has happened, so it won't continue but it's the support of the project itself and the WordPress name that could loose out. Bad publicity spreads easily, yet good things take a lot longer to become known.
Ben uses WordPress now, I'll ask him to post about what he thinks about it, especially since he has not posted in a while, but there are reasons for that. The main thing is that others can learn from this and be sure to make public issues which the community should know and not have to find out in a way which causes damage that could have been avoided.
There are varied opinions on the matter, although not a user of WordPress, I think that even announcing what was going on would not correct the fact that the methods used were asking for trouble. For example, if Google refuse to list any WordPress links in the index from now on, that has caused a lot more damage that the increased hits and advertising revenue would have generated for the project. Even so, it's not a worthy case to all jump on Matt. Think about all the good work that has been done, people should be thanking him.Post ID: 711, posted by jase at 11:36 PM
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