Watching the GooglePages Spam


Explaining how Google wants spam-advertised GooglePages URLs to be reported to them.

On 9/21/07, I received a spam advertising a web page hosted at GooglePages.com

When I went to report the spam to the spammer's providers using SpamCop's excellent service, I discovered there that Google doesn't want to hear from SpamCop about such violations of the GooglePages Terms of Service.

I immediately began to wonder (especially bearing in mind the Google principle "Don't Be Evil") why that might be... so I decided to set up a GooglePages site myself, and see how GooglePages would respond to such information being reported on a web site hosted on its own servers.  I posted the URLs, and every time I made an update, tested to see how many were still alive.  The record was not good;  typically, the provider of the target URL to which the advertised GooglePages site redirected would close down that site before Google would close down the GooglePages site.

I updated this page periodically until December 10, 2007, when Google suddenly took it down, and disabled my GMail/Google login!

I went to the GooglePages support URL and asked politely why.

On December 12, 2007, I received an apologetic e-mail from Google Support, explaining that my web page had been caught up in an automated sweep aimed at the very spam to which I was bringing attention, and that my account had now been restored.

The support staffer also drew my attention to this reporting URL:

http://www.google.com/support/pages/bin/request.py?contact_type=abuse_spam&extra.IssueType=abuse_spam

This incredibly long and unintuitive URL is the only means by which Google will accept complaints about spam-advertised GooglePages sites.

Unfortunately, I am unable to reply directly to that e-mail; Google will only accept communications through their support web form.

I'm going to repeat here what I sent them in the e-mail that they never received:

Google may find it useful to contact the good people at Spamcop and urge them to return the URL of your web-based reporting tool to Spamcop users who report spam containing Googlepages URLs.

You might also want to think about shortening the URL of that tool, to make it easier for active spam fighters to remember and share with each other.

I'll also share this suggestion through the web form;  if you agree, I would ask that you do the same, when you have a chance.

Needless to say, I'll be reporting future spam-advertised GooglePages through the web form, so unless Google proves to be unresponsive, there's probably no further need for me to maintain the list I was keeping here.