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Pagerank, Paid Links and Google’s Growing Hypocrisy

Not too awfully far back I used to see a phrase on UseNet once in a while “Google is your friend” in reference to how somebody should go about finding some bit of information of whatever flavor, especially when the question was one that could easily be answered with a few minutes on a search engine.  For a long time I kinda agreed with that statement because let’s face it, they got to be the biggest search engine by coming up with good, useful results and doing so quickly and consistently.

Now that image of Google as the good guys is fading quickly.  The company’s motto used to be “Do no Evil” however now I think that, inwardly at least, it’s been revised.

This whole mess about how they’re talking about devaluing paid links unless they have rel=”nofollow” on them.  Um.. excuse me guys, but that makes Google a hypocrite… or have they stopped selling adsense links?  No?  How about that?

I’m thinking that, like any company that grows to mega large proportions, Google isn’t interested in it’s old “Do no Evil” motto.  Now I’m quite sure it’s something a lot more along the lines of “make lots of money and crush the competition”

Crushing the competition is what I think the whole campaign against paid links is all about.  Granted, there’s been a lot of efforts to game the system and try to engineer search engine results, but I think that there’s a lot more legitimate use of paid links.  It’s called “Advertising” and everybody is allowed to do it.  Except now Google is trying to change that.  This effort against paid links can prove to be more harmful to the ability of bloggers to earn some extra money by selling links on blogs or websites that they own.

Yeah, I know, all ya gotta do is put that *&@^#^&@#& rel=”nofollow” on any paid links and you won’t be penalized for them.  The problem with that is that advertisers, the ones who want to BUY the links in the first place, will **NOT** buy links that have nofollow on them.  This is because they want those links to be indexed as well as crawled by search engines.  It’s part of how they’re trying to increase visibility because buying a link on a site is NOT just about hoping that somebody will see it and click on it.  It’s about increasing their site’s visibility and making it easier to find.

Google insisting on paid links being tagged with nofollow is coming dangerously close to censorship and it is definitely penalizing bloggers, webmasters and advertisers for doing the most natural thing on the Internet, linking.

My stance on nofollow is that it does have it’s place… If I’m linking to a site that I know qualifies as a “bad neighborhood”, then I can put the nofollow on it so that their reputation doesn’t rub off on my site.  Adding it to links that legitimate advertisers have paid for is ripping off the advertiser because it keeps them from getting what they paid for, which is a link to their site that does not have rel=”nofollow” on it.

What I’d like to see is a response from bloggers and webmasters around the world that lets Google know in no uncertain terms that they’re NOT going to dictate how individual webmasters and bloggers run their own sites.

I suggest that the best start to this campaign is to avoid using Google’s search engine and any of their sponsored links.  As a substitute I will heartily recommend both Ask and Yahoo!.  Both search engines return very good results and they do it quickly.  Best of all, neither one of them is trying to tell bloggers and webmasters how to run their own affairs.

[Edited on 1/6/08 to add: I have expanded on my nofollow stance.  I am now using a LOT of nofollow… however I am doing so according to what *I* think should be "nofollowed" and not according to anybody else’s standards.]

Technorati Tags: internet, google, search+engine, nofollow, pagerank, punish+bloggers, punish+advertisers, censorship, crush+competition

How to get started with Freenet

[Edit 10-18-2011: I’m writing a new version of this post as this one is woefully out of date.  Until that new post is finished I’ve updated the urls in this one and removed a few outdated things] I’m working on an updated version of this post which will go into more detail.  When it’s ready I’ll add a link to it here: —Five Easy Steps To Installing Freenet Classic Opennet (FCon)—- please use those directions instead.

I’ve mentioned several times lately about mirroring MMS and Lastdays Watch in freenet and it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to write up a quick tutorial for anyone interested in getting started using freenet.

*Note* I’m talking about installing on Windows98 machines because that’s what I have experience with. Other flavors of windows should be at least similar and the sites I mention here all have Linux versions and directions.

According to the download page, freenet has these hardware requirements:

Minimum:
400MHz Pentium 2, with at least 192MB of RAM.
Recommended:
1GHz or more processor with 256MB RAM or more (especially if using Windows XP).

That said, I have actually managed to run freenet on a 200mhz Pentium with 64mb ram. It was slow and sluggish but it worked enough to view freesites or use FIW to insert new editions of freesites

To get freenet going is pretty easy. First You will need Java JRE 7, which you can get at this URL: http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp.

Then you need to download the freenet distribution zipfile

Once you’ve got the zipfile, follow the directions on the Freenet Classic Openet page.

The only real problem with that is that when it first gets started, freenet doesn’t know very much about the network. Learning about more nodes takes time and it’s really best if you leave freenet running as much as possible, especially at first. This makes trying to load freenet sites frustrating and slow.

Fortunately, there is something you can do to speed up the process of learning the network. “Frost” is a freenet text message client that is sort of similar to Usenet. You can think of it as a collection of message boards that exist entirely within freenet.

Frost is included in the freenet distribution archive.  Simply extract the frost archive and double click on the “frost.bat” file to start frost.  Once you have it started, it will begin searching freenet for messages.  This will go slowly at first, but will pick up fairly quickly.

As you use Frost and surf freesites, you will no doubt find files you will want to download. While Frost has the ability to handle this, many people find that it’s not the best tool for downloads. Fortunately there is a really great tool for downloading and inserting files: Freenet Utility for Queued Inserts and Downloads

Ironicaly enough, Fuqid’s main distribution page is a freesite.

http://127.0.0.1:8888/SSK@CKesZYUJWn2GMvoif1R4SDbujIgPAgM/fuqid/12//

Files can be downloaded from freesites via your web browser

To install Fuqid, simply extract the files from the zip where you want them. I put it in c:\program files\freenet\fuqid and then add a shortcut to it to my program menu or desktop.

On the "General" tab, set download threads to something like 32. A higher number of threads will speed up downloads, but put more load on the computer. A bit of trial and error with higher and higher numbers of threads will show you what works best for you. Set the insert threads to anything from 5 to 20. Again, you’ll have to work out what settings are best for you.

So as you surf through freenet, you run across a simple but interesting freesite:
http://127.0.0.1:8888/SSK@XKgPxdSUjAcZrV0oTUGeXmoAGfIPAgM,ZOJm89bQCLLZw7DJ23i4gw/mmsdev/6//, which happens to be the freenet distribution point for my Mixminion Message Sender program.

Now you could click on the download link on the freesite and download the file with your browser, or you could copy it’s key:

CHK@OwYc2ErFOhUpgSl~Pb7IZN~v0OcRAwI,hGOyAnIbhFCQNOzeXaiHsA/MMS1_2_4_beta_dist.rar and click "Add Key" on Fuqid’s download queue. Once you select the directory the file should be saved in, (freenet should already be running) click "Activate" and Fuqid will start requesting the file. When the download is done you will find it in the directory you selected.

Larger files take longer of course, and are broken up into blocks. Once Fuqid has recovered 2/3 of the blocks that make up the file, it can reconstruct it. It will also reconstruct the missing blocks and put a job in the insert queue to re-insert those missing blocks. This "healing" helps make sure others can have an easier time downloading the file in the future. In fact, if you’re having a hard time getting enough blocks of a file, you can post it’s key on the "unsucessful" board on Frost and ask someone to re-insert it for you.

I’ll cover creating and inserting freenet websites, known as freesites, in an upcoming post.

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