Wordpress gettin' Slammed for Spamming?

Source Title:
Wordpress Website's Search Engine Spam
Story Text:

Unbelievable. Matt Mullenweg, creator of Wordpress, a very popular Open Source blog software packages is being slammed for spamming...

It turns out, that Matt is hosting a bunch of articles on subjects like asbestos, insurance and debt consolidation on his PR8 website in order to cover costs and furthering the project.

Waxy, and a bunch of others have gotten on their high horses and accused him of "gaming the search engines". Seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do to me, and what's more, while they're busy bandying words like transparency and disclosure around for all they're worth, no one seems to have stopped to ask the obvious question: If Google think this is a problem, why are these pages ranking highly?

Heaven give me fucking strength, and save us all from the transparency bandwagon - give the man a sodding break.

Beyond belief...

UPDATE: I had missed some points in first posting this. I still think it's a reasonable thing to do, but the use of amateur, hidden tactics, is somewhat lame - should have hired some help Matt...



It seems a helluva lot more legit than I would do, but it is good to see that actions that some would call black hat (links in hidden divs) are understood, used and obviously admired by the blogging community.

Personally I'd suggest IP based content delivery but divs work too :)


He IS gaming the search engines. You know it. I know it.

>Seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do to me

Sensible, from a "I'm going to make money off the web" perspective, but I do think it's a betrayal of his authority.


I'd missed the hiden divs heh.. I still think it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do though...

WordPress is spyware

WP 1.5 includes a "Get Firefox" icon which is loaded when you connect to the admin section. The image is hosted on static.wordpress.org and is the only non-local image. Oh, and you can't turn off your referrers because the WP admin section depends on HTTP_REFERER for functionality. Who knows what they're doing with all that data...

Why mention all this? Because I don't trust these guys, and this "revelation" (which is hardly in itself a cardinal sin) fits in the same mold.

(I am still using my edited version of WP 1.5 for clients as a quick and easy CMS - it's still a good package).

LMAO - lame ass

If he were to post an "is it OK if I do this?" type of question on any of the major SEO boards he would be flamed out.


I think Kottke is going for angry mob justice, hhh!

Kinda gives new meaning to the term "blog spammer"

I hope the engines do the right thing and torch every WP page in their database. And all the bloggers taking the "it's ok, because it supports a noble cause" position should have all their hypocritical content torched as well.


Where's Cutts and his lethal laptop when you need him, eh?


Easy enough to edit admin-footer.php to remove the "affiliate" version of "Get Firefox" and replace with one's own (or none, as you like).

I have referrers disabled and get to admin quite nicely thanks.


.. does wordpress.org get special treatment or will it be banned?



Good advice ...

> I hope the engines do the right thing and torch every WP page in their database.

Now comes the time when one of my general advises on any CMS or publishing system becomes important: REMOVE ALL FOOT PRINTS! You don't want Google to be able to treat you as part of a group you have no control over.

I am not even sure if thats possible with WP - I mean, ALL and ANY foot prints

the ends

the ends don't justify the means.

how can he say he's part of the 'anti-spam' brigade and then (secretly) go and do something like this?

NickW, i know you hate to hear the word transparency bandied about, but this is a case where it *was* needed (that stats thing a while back was kinda ridiculous, tho, i give you that...)

i mean, you were really good at letting us know what was happening with the redesign, etc.

maybe you're just tired of hearing the word used too much (in the wrong instances), but this is definitely a case where he should've been more open about what he was doing. especially after all that rel=nofollow nonsense - like it would really help the spam problem...

anyway, those are my two SERPs...


GG posted in that thread. It looks like the real GG, too. I've seen that write-up before ....my guess is the lethal injection has now been administered. In the old days, I've seen sites blink out in minutes. This is a big one, though ....want to start an office pool?

Data center tool

Yea that sounded like the real GG.

try "site:wordpress.org insurance" in some of the data center tools you can see it slowly fadding away.

I particularly like...

...what someone commenting after the article said:

"And hey, I'm all for gaming Google when it works to support something worthwhile."

I think I missed that on Google's webmaster guidelines. I mean, I did look for the section that said, "If you feel like you're doing something worthwhile, just go right ahead and do whatever you want and ignore all those rules we have." But I didn't spot it. Maybe my settings with GreaseMonkey were blocking that part or not showing it or something.

I also enjoyed this comment:

"Hot Nacho is a company that supports open-source software, specifically WordPress. All the web geeks need to rememeber that there are worse companies out there than those that try to 'screw with Google' for PageRank, etc."

Got it. Just donate money or support some open source project, then your spam won't be as bad as other types of spam. Really,I can see it now. Spamming for charity. Hey, will this tactic get me banned on Google? Nah, you see, for every dollar we earn by spamming Google to make money off of Google AdSense, we donate 10 cents to a charity. That's all logged in the universal don't ban me Google because I'm not as bad as those evil spammers who don't donate to charity database.

I mean honestly, after Google bans itself for cloaking itself, I really thought you couldn't top that. It was like an early April Fool's Day present. But then one of the companies that Google itself lists here as supporting nofollow -- that's specifically created because of all the blog cries about how comment spam is ruining the web -- turns around and spams Google? Please, please make it stop. There's going to be nothing to joke about on April Fool's Day itself.

Nick, I made that link over to Google a nofollow. Hope you don't mind. I just hate to have you link to a page that's linking to a spam site. Really wouldn't want you associated with a bad neighborhood and all.

still giving me

21,500 matches over here in the UK, Greg -- but that's gonna change. Hey, you're going to have something fun for you and Todd to talk about when visiting MSN next month. Do you think you'll be seen as evil spammer again or instead as perhaps someone that can get them a little mesothelioma love without getting caught.

Just a bit more irony, in case folks missed it. Earlier this week, the San Jose Merc talked about how Matt Mullenweb was the top Matt on Google because of all those good folks linking over to him. Still holding so far.

negative divs?

c'mon - bust out that cloaking script Mr. Mullenweb


finally gone on my end. Fortunately, Matt can relax knowing that yahoo and [url=http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=site%3Awordpress.org+mesothelioma&FORM=QBHP ]msn[/url] still list a few thousands pages. And they're still carrying all the Google AdSense ads. While my reading of the policies by no means will match someone like Jenstar, things like "Deceptive or manipulative content or construction to improve your site's search engine ranking, e.g., your site's PageRank" and "site must also adhere to Google's WebMaster Guidelines" and " Avoid hidden text or hidden links" kind of make me think there's some AdSense violation going on. I'm sure those ads will be withdrawn superfast, as well. Yep.


Looks like all of the WP article pages are gone:

The only reason for penalty that I saw was the hidden links in div and the semi-hidden links at the bottom of the articles.

*IF the links were regular footer links, then would the site have still been penalized?


>would the site have still been penalized

Maybe not penalized, but filtered out. Note that GG also mentioned duplicate content. And where's the relevance?


So does that mean google's algo currently can't detect negative divs even when it's in the source code?

What does it say about them being able to detect dupe content with the algo as well?


>>>>What does it say about them being able to detect dupe content with the algo as well?

It says their ability to detect dupe content algorithmically is crap.....but you already knew that.


> Dup Content

If WP has sufficient PR to pass to the articles, wouldn't they outrank lower PR dup content? At least this is what I've seen.

> revelance
There's no relevance obviously. Neither is there for the many leased subdomains with the same dup content on random sites. But that doesn't stop them from ranking.

If you have high PR and want to maximize revenue, I don't see anything wrong with turning the site into an about.com type resource. WP should have used whitehat internal linking structures to avoid the penalty. Matt should post the links on the footer as "sponsored links" and ask for reinclusion.

Interesting...it looks like only the 'articles' folder is being filtered out. The HP and everthing else retains PR.

Dupe content, etc

Dupe content... jeez, I mean personally I don't even understand why the word is mentioned. We have so many crap pages lying around on dormant sites that are perfectly indexed and ranking fine... the dupe content is basically only dangerous to the lazy or the programatically challenged. Certainly not for high PR authority sites with a little techie brain-power.

Really,I can see it now. Spamming for charity. Hey, will this tactic get me banned on Google?

Heh, seen it already. Funny, this brings to minds a discussion on WMW about buying text links as it came into mainstream (ie ...adage, the advent of the 3-4 major broker firms, etc) in which Brett made gave acknowledgement to a statement I made about sites that were offering valuable, free content and who wandered into the text link selling biz... that they might get a little leniancy from Google. Basically implying that some compassion might be getting thrown around.


You crack me up... :)

All this bitterness from you guys, i guess i can understand it as Google have been wielding the big stick in webmaster forums for years and have a whole community (bar most here..) in fear of sneezing incorrectly and getting banned - while bloggers trample all over the web doing as they please...

When i wrote the original post, i was quite irritated at the tone of the post over at waxy.org and more irritated that i found something i couldnt pass up before going to bed (i had a major headache) so i guess i called it wrong heh..

who would have guessed that there was so much anger amongst the web devs and marketers, it's rather refreshing to see everyone get worked up about something for once, but i think if you put Matt's dumbarse spamming aside, and look a little deeper, you start to see just how unequal the treatment of sites is across the board. I mean, on one hand you have seo's and webmasters being constantly corralled and horsewhipped with fear tactics, and on the other, you have bloggers, who Google are either too scared to act publically upon, presumably knowing that they wont be able to play those kinds of games with the public in general, or unable to act publically upon (they dont understand communication, let alone blog communication).

I'd be very interested to see GG try and tell weblogs inc about the dangers of linking your own sites together....

Very funny.

Thanks for a good laugh danny, and Web "burn 'em at the stake!" Guerilla - this thread has set me up for the whole day heh...

Silly Matt

I'm not sure if he's just VERY naive about it, or just had a complete brain fart.

Danny's comment about nofollow sums it up for me. Make a big thing about blog spam, and then using hidden content?

Not read the comments (too many and can't be arsed) but from comments here I take it people are being hypocritical about it and saying it's ok because it's WordPress. I find that very funny to be honest, and shows how stupid some people are.

Certainly makes me think about removing links back to WP from my WP blog. Don't want to associate myself with a known bad neighbourhood and risk getting my own site penalised now do I :)

Silly silly Matt, and just plain dumb hypocritical defenders of it.

Silly Wordpress

This is just daft. Matt from Wordpress has been outed as someone who is commonly referred to as a Search Engine Spammer.

Why? Because he's been using hidden div's on Wordpress.org for advertising.

RustyBrick's mentioned it at SearchEngineRoundt...

Tim Mayer

See Tim Mayers take on this here - very funny...


Surprising anyone thought that a site attracting so many geeks like wordpress could do this kind of thing unnoticed. Hypocritical of them to think it’s ok to manipulate search engines this way but not others, but otherwise i don’t see a problem with it :)

which page?

so the homepage gets banned right? thats the one doing the hidden div? or how does it usually work?

Freeware author makes bad decision, gets flayed in absentia

I'm sorry, I've tried real hard not to comment on this, but it just isn't working out.

Apparently Matt Mullenweg, the principle author of Wordpress, has gotten "caught" taking advantage of wordpress.org's impressive googlejuice (a pagerank of 8) by placing 120,000 articles or so under the site targetting high value phrases and running contextual advertising. 


Speaking of Matt, I see that his ping-o-matic service (which is heavily used by the blogosphere, and probably a good chunk of the team's bandwidth cost) is having a very bad day (something appears to be broken in the database).

I kind of wonder how much of a mood he's going to be in to try fixing it while on vacation after yesterday's public beating...


Webmaster makes a mistake isn't a new headline, happened to most of us here I guess?

If being dumb was a crime then I'd be doing life. If hypocritical was a crime I'd be doing life for that too. However it takes an almost heroic effort to be both dumb and hypocritical at the same time, Mr Word Press deserves all he is getting and more.

Lets not hide the issues though, indulge me while I go through them:

Is creating content specifically to show advertising wrong?

I say no, its what aol does, good enough for them...

Is creating content specifically for showing high paying advertising wrong?


Is creating a revenue source to help open source projects that are a benefit to the Internet commuinity a good thing?


So an open source website creating content that targets high paying ads to help fund thelmselves is a bad thing?

Yes. [I think I/we may have tripped the dumb hypocrite line!]


I think the danger here is that we, because of Mr Word Press being able to combine dumbness and hypocracy in an almost unique way, throw a lot of good babies out with the bathwater.

SEO's should be more supporting of the open source efforts made by our fellow webmasters, I know a lot here work for free on OS and many many more support OS financially, perhaps it is time to try and help more directly and offer our expertise to worthy projects.

Ultimatly though its just a man who made a mistake but its a real big mistake and a few things need to happen.

I respectfully suggest the following:

Nuke the site from every SE index, the site broke the unwritten trust rule that every SE relies upon to operate, big boys don't play rough.

Nail Mr Word Press, trying to avoid a cross, to a major freeway in the SF area so others can see that he has sinned.

Find the people who supplied the content [they pay $3 a pop from what I hear], find where they breed and burn the nest.

Get the name of the adsense rep that approved the account for Hot Wanko, nail them next to Mr Word Press.

Start looking at how Yahoo are increasingly gaming the other search engines with their own content, apply the broken trust rule to them to.

Support your "local" OS project, Geeks need loans too!

The correct form when noticing a webmaster with his flies down is to send a polite email pointing it out, just saying.

No problem with making some money

I'd agree some of the critics are a bit off in what they are moaning about. Don't have a problem in wanting to support the project with some cash and that. Just the hidden and underhand way it was done which I think is wrong.

If you're going to monetise a project, fine, do it. Nick's done it here. Though I probably don't want to know some of his methods, there's some perfectly acceptable ads that don't detract or get in the way too much. We're thinking about how to do it at Cre8asite too. Why try and hide the fact that the project could do with some cash to keep it running well? WP is a great product, why spoil it by doing what he's done?

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