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Many thanks to Arthur Vanderbilt, Bob Mottram, the Mind of Men Podcast and Apple's Dr Ernie Prabhakar for their commentary and representative support! Also to the people who supported this issue through Diggs.

   Blocking
   Background
   Contacting EFF
   My position

Update: 24 January 2008

After two months of damage to the Noble Ape site and two months of my time being wasted trying to get any information from Google, sometime mid-January 2008 I found Google had returned the Noble Ape site to its original PageRank. I am going to maintain this page as a record of;

  • the complete lack of communication from Google with regards to this issue,
  • the stunning lack of representation and corporate cronyism of the EFF, and,
  • the conflict-of-interest of the tech-media establishment who parrot a corporate message without any analysis.

    Internet totality is here to stay.


    The Blocking and other Related Issues...

    From listening to the TWiT 121 podcast on 12 November 2007, I discovered for some unknown reason Google blocked;

       http://www.nobleape.com/sim/ Fixed as of 1pm, 14 November 2007

       http://www.nobleape.com/tom/ Fixed as of 3pm, 18 November 2007

    The Google PageRank for the entire nobleape.com site now returns 0. It was previously 6 or 7. This has greatly reduced all the related Noble Ape information through Google searches. Fixed as of mid-January 2008

    Noble Ape is a completely voluntary effort for the internet community. It is technology that is used by Apple, INTEL and also numerous universities. In my filings with Google on this matter, I referenced the two Wikipedia pages which thankfully link back to Noble Ape and my personal page;

       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_Ape

       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Barbalet

    As I have not received any meaningful correspondence from Google, I don't know if this was an automated error or a malicious filing against the Noble Ape site. The only thing that could have caused this is the erroneous possibly automated assumption that the below constitutes a paid link.

    Link to Support

    The Noble Ape Simulation doesn't accept donations, but it's always nice to have new users. If you like the Simulation and you have a web page, please consider a link to this page. The following text will give you a link icon for your page.

    <a href="http://www.nobleape.com/sim/" target="_blank">
    <img src="http://www.nobleape.com/logo/160x40.jpg" border="0">
    </a>

    This will provide a link which opens the Simulation page in a new browser window, like the one below.

    Linking to sites you like is obviously a problem for Google's search technology.


    The Background...

    This is the section on TWiT 121 that irked me the most with regards to this issue. The audio above is Jason Calacanis describing the method he used to assist people to fix the problem I am describing.

    I have emailed Jason Calacanis to try to get assistance re-instating the sections of the Noble Ape site removed from Google. To-date I have not received a response.

    The process seems to be;

       (1) Contact someone who knows someone at Google

       (2) Plead with this person to represent your legitimacy and the legitimacy of your site to their contact at Google

       (3) Plead with the person at Google to get your site back on Google's search

    Why isn't this issue isn't being covered seriously by any tech media? The problem with the analysis offered in TWiT is that web pages that have been mistakenly delisted need a speedy method of getting back on Google that doesn't require personal contacts at Google!

    We need a method of corresponding with Google without having to declare;

    I believe this site has violated Google's quality guidelines in the past. Removed as of mid-January 2008

    This assumes that Google doesn't make errors in delisting pages. Clearly, Google makes errors in delisting insipid pages such as those found on nobleape.com.

    It should also be noted that Jason Calacanis' company is partnered with Google (link long since disappeared).


    Contacting EFF...

    As I heard nothing back from Jason Calacanis, I contacted the EFF.

    Hi,

    I am an open source developer of twelve years whose project is used by Apple and INTEL. I found sections of my site including the focal page of my open source project (http://www.nobleape.com/sim/) had been delisted by Google. I only found this out through the TWiT podcast (#121) editorializing this issue.

    A number of things concern me with the Google delisting. It appears this process was automated however in order to communicate with Google on the delisting I had to agree;

       "I believe this [my] site has violated Google's quality guidelines in the past."

    I do not believe this is the case at all. In fact, my Noble Ape site is particularly insipid. Follow my initial submission Google sent me an automated email which stated;

       "We'll review the site. If we find that it's no longer in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines, we'll reinclude the site in our index. Please allow several weeks for the reconsideration request. We do review all requests, but unfortunately we can't reply individually to each request."

    The editorialization of the Google relisting process on TWiT seems to indicate that you need someone like Jason Calacanis to make a personal representation to Google to have your pages relisted. I have contacted Mr. Calacanis (see below), but he stated in the TWiT podcast he made representations to Google for relisting as a favor to some of his friends. I don't know Mr. Calacanis.

    I would like the EFF's assistance with regards to this matter. If the EFF can make a representation to Google similar to the service Mr. Calacanis makes on behalf of his friends to Google, this would be greatly received.

    I can't understand why my open source project has been delisted by Google however it indicates that there are some serious false positives in Google's current delisting method.

    Many thanks for your assistance.

    Best regards,

    Tom Barbalet.
    http://www.nobleape.com/tom/

    I received the following...

    Tom,

    Thank you for contacting EFF.

    Unfortunately, we do not have the bandwidth necessary to assist you with your case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a small, grassroots legal advocacy non-profit focused on defending civil liberties and constitutional rights online with very limited resources. As such, we have a very important but narrowly focused mission and are not equipped to address all of the potential issues that escape our limited scope. No site has any legal guarantee of being listed in the Google index. If Mr. Calacanis can make a representation on your behalf, we wish you luck, but we are not in a position to make such a representation ourselves.

    As an artificial intelligence geek myself, I enjoy your website and I'm very sorry that we cannot be of greater help.

    Regards,

    Eva Galperin

    To which I responded...

    Thank you for your email Eva,

    My concern is that the issue relating to the Noble Ape site could be replicated to 1,000s of sites. Perhaps rather than making a personal representation with regards to my specific issue, the EFF should consider a "class action"-esque group of insipid sites that Google has falsely targeted.

    Surely also the EFF mandate allows for the norms of ideas like "fair trial" and "right to appeal" from internet monoliths like Google. So whilst Google has no legal right to be forced to list a site, as they function as a virtual monopoly on internet search, they can be asked to consider better means for arbitrating these kind of issues.

    Otherwise it will be very hard for people in the future to find exciting and interesting sites like Noble Ape, if their creators don't know the likes of Jason Calacanis.

    Something for the EFF to consider, I would think.

    Best regards,

    Tom Barbalet.

    I received the following...

    Tom,

    The EFF mandate allows for "fair trail"(sic) and "right to appeal" from the government. Google, however, is not a government entity. No site has a legal right to expect to be indexed by Google. Google may be the leader in search, but it does not by any means hold a monopoly. According to Neilsen/Netratings for September 2007, Google holds a 54% share of all internet searches.

    While EFF is certainly sympathetic to your position, our relationship with Google is not so close that we can singlehandedly create a new means of appeal for delistings. I wish you considerable luck in helping people to find your site.

    Regards,

    Eva Galperin

    To which I responded...

    Thanks for your continued email Eva,

    The EFF has a long history of pursuing corporations that do not adhere to the standards we hold to our government. In fact, the EFF has a long history of pursuing corporations for far less than what I am describing with Google.

    The Neilsen/Netrating has been pretty universally debunked for search. It doesn't include search engines that use Google's technology and it doesn't cover true choice versus flashing-12s searching with pre-configured (MSN/Yahoo) search. Whilst I agree some flashing-12s may be looking for artificial life simulation information, a vast majority of my search traffic that came to my site prior to Google-blocking came from Google. That is an indisputable fact. For my subject matter, Google holds the monopoly.

    Skewed and blocked search is going to be a defining issue for the independent internet in the foreseeable future. It is fundamentally a net neutrality issue. If the EFF doesn't want to pursue this kind of matter, the internet needs an EFF-like organization that is willing to represent the free internet.

    Best regards,

    Tom Barbalet.

    Through the period of this blocking issue, the EFF and Google strengthened their ties;

       EFF to host student fellows for Google Policy Fellowship program

       Google Associate General Counsel to Speak at EFF Bootcamp and Google to Offer Scholarships


    My position...

    Imagine you are developing a project or even have a personal page online. You need to be able to have search engines finding your pages. If the search engine removes your pages and damages the ranking for finding your site, for no reason, without communication and with no effective method to re-instate your pages, something is seriously wrong.

    After developing Noble Ape for twelve years, I have no tolerance for any enterprise that will waste my precious development time on things other than developing my project. Google's behavior with regards to this issue should be critically editorialized and condemned.

    Tom Barbalet.
    http://www.nobleape.com/tom/


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