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Google Bans Ads For Essay-Writing Services

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the write-it-yourself dept.

Google 264

llamapalooza writes "Google announced that it will ban essay writing firms from advertising on their site. (The prevalence of cheating on campuses has been discussed here before.) While universities have welcomed the move, the affected firms are claiming it will 'punish legitimate businesses.' Google has specifically banned 'academic paper-writing services and the sale of pre-written essays, theses, and dissertations,' which now join other items on the banned list such as tobacco, drugs, weapons, and prostitution."

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Prostitution? (0, Flamebait)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232787)

Prostitution is banned? I'm sure I've seen ads for the Colbert Report.

Re:Prostitution? (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233059)

Prostitution is banned?

Where I live it is perfectly legal to advertise prostitution [yellowpages.com.au] . I can see that google will take the attitude that it is illegal most places so it is safer for them to ban it. But there is a line to be drawn here. Essay writing services seem to be mainly an academic issue. Lots of people would never have heard about it. Perhaps they should ban advertising for game hacks.

Re:Prostitution? (5, Insightful)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233685)

To me it seems a little pointless to be banning advertising Essay writing services, especially when the google search is for "Essay writing services". Even without the paid ads, the search engine should still provide a list of businesses. Surely they are only taking a moral stance of not profiting from this kind of service rather than really inhibiting people.

Banned list? (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232805)

which now join other items on the banned list such as tobacco, drugs, weapons, and prostitution."

Depends on the drug [google.com]

Anyway, who really cares who Google accepts for advertising - its what they index that really matters.

Re:Banned list? (2, Insightful)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232817)

Agreed. If I want it I should be able to search for it.

Re:Banned list? (3, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232913)

Agreed. If I want it I should be able to search for it.

You can still search, and find whatever you want. What they're doing is not seving ads for these products when you search for a related term.

Re:Banned list? (0)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232833)

Ok so this is an extreme over-simplification... What is the difference between not advertising certain pages and not letting Chinese search up certain pages?

Re:Banned list? (2, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232867)

What is the difference between not advertising certain pages and not letting Chinese search up certain pages?

Not comparable. One still allows you to find something, the other does not.

Google should never have gone into China, it makes do-no-evil-initiatives like this (where they refuse to accept money from certain companies considered by many to be unethical) look stupid.

Re:Banned list? (3, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232927)

The main difference is that most people would enjoy seeing all ads censored and no pages unindexed.

Re:Banned list? (5, Insightful)

Brianech (791070) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232997)

This isn't the same though. Ads are censored everywhere else, why should google not have the option? So you think google should serve tobacco ads that may encourage youth to smoke? There is a reason some ads are banned from tv/radio/public billboards. Like everyone is saying. They aren't censoring the web, they are merely selecting who they wish to allow to advertise with them, which is their right. This isn't about free speech or anything like that.

Re:Banned list? (2, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233181)

The main difference is that most people would enjoy seeing all ads censored and no pages unindexed.

Actually, I think a lot of people wish those robbotically-created pages that pollute the results pages weren't indexed. Crap like all the dozens of clones of Wikipedia with added advertisements; pseudo-search pages that have no actual information, not to mention those full of popups and exploits. Sometimes it takes a dozen tries before I work out a search that actually finds the thing I want, and not a viagra or porn page with the search terms salted through it.

Re:Banned list? (0, Flamebait)

Smight (1099639) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232953)

Is that "do no evil" or "Do KNOW EVIL!"? did anyone get this in writing or has this whole slogan thing been word of mouth?

Don't Be Evil (2, Informative)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233037)

Is that "do no evil" or "Do KNOW EVIL!"? did anyone get this in writing or has this whole slogan thing been word of mouth?

Actually, it's "Don't be evil" from their CoC. [google.com] And I imagine their decision to refuse this type of advertising is, in their opinion, the lesser of two evils.

Re:Don't Be Evil (1, Funny)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233369)

I think its just progress a letter

Don't B evil

to

Don't C evil

Obviously it doesn't count if they can hide it, or not notice it

The Difference (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232911)

Ok so this is an extreme over-simplification... What is the difference between not advertising certain pages and not letting Chinese search up certain pages?
The difference is you are free to choose another search engine, other than the family-friendly Google. Where as the people living under the CCP [wikipedia.org] have no such freedom to information, and no choice.

Re:The Difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233017)

Where as the people living under the CCP have no such freedom to information

As opposed to people living under the GOP [wikipedia.org] having no mass media coverage of their country's war crimes [robert-fisk.com] .

Re:The Difference (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233239)

Well, if a TV anchor dedicated his program to images like this, he would be promptly fired due to viewers boycotting the channel and advertisers pulling their business from the "unpatriotic" company. If we want to be exposed to unpopular views on war in mass media, perhaps we shouldn't fire decent radio DJs who occasionally quote rap music with unpopular racial stereotypes.

Offensive Speech (2, Funny)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233407)

If we want to be exposed to unpopular views on war in mass media, perhaps we shouldn't fire decent radio DJs who occasionally quote rap music with unpopular racial stereotypes.

I am soooooo offended by your suggestion. I DEMAND AN APOLOGY!!!

Whenever someone says drug in that context (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233191)

It is safe to assume that "illegal" is implied. Banning ALL drug advertising would be rather odd in most cases. Remember: Even simple things like aspirin are drugs. It's no surprise Google is happy to accept money for advertising legal drugs.

Distinction (4, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232809)

'punish legitimate businesses.'
Legitimate is not the same as legal. Besides, google can take advertising (or not) from whoever they like.

It's not illegal, though (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233125)

First of all, I don't think selling papers is _illegal_, though. Unethical, yes, but then lots of unethical things pass for normal and legal business these days. (And it was even worse in the past.) So _if_ your implication is, basically, "they may be legitimate, but they're not legal", I'll have to disaggree there. They're against university rules, but AFAIK not against any state or federal laws. If they were illegal, you wouldn't need Google to do that, you could just forward those links to the police.

Second, legitimate is even trickier. Where do you draw the line? Technically speaking, anything legal _is_ a legitimate business. If you don't want it done, just pass a law to outlaw it.

And the business side pops up all the time (e.g, "but it creates employment!") when debating whether or not to make something illegal. It sure popped up in the spam and telemarketting debates, for example, all the way to the highest level. So basically when deciding whether it's legal or not, some MPs/congressmen/whatever-you-have, already considered the business side of it, and whether or not they want businesses doing that. E.g., whether the (lack of) ethics of it outweigh the employment created, tax income, and/or bribes from that lobby. In a way they already decided if that kind of business is legitimate or not.

Employment vs inflation is a constant concern since the Great Depression, when basically suddenly supply outstripped aggregate demand. (Yes, Say's Law does still apply, but "supply creates its own demand" only by lowering prices, and in the Great Depression suddenly the only point where you could actually sell all that stuff was below the production costs.) This became even worse when most industry moved offshore. Now we need even less people producing stuff. What do you do with the rest? Leave them unemployed, like in the 19'th century? Well, that also lowers the money they can spend to buy stuff, and that-a-way lies the downwards spiral that led to the Great Depression in the first place.

So nowadays governments actually get to see that employment stays roughly where they want it, and create some extra aggregate demand. (Deficit spending, pork barrel, social security, etc.) It works too, since we no longer have the economic crisis cycles that plagued most of the 19'th century and the first part of the 20'th century. Back then it was considered _normal_ that the industry goes through bankruptcy cycles and rises from the ashes based on demanding even longer work hours and lower salaries.

In a nutshell, a government's job is to see to it that you encourage (or at least don't discourage too much) people to create more jobs that don't actually produce something. Pretend to manage each other, create whole castes of marketters just trying to steal customers from each other, or do all sorts of convenience services to each other. And chip in a little to make it all keep working. Deserved or undeserved, ethical or unethical, as long as the negative impact is small enough, it doesn't matter. It matters that unemployment doesn't get out of hand. Because noone wants another Great Depression.

That's why even when debating something as annoying as telemarketting, the question just _has_ to pop up, basically, "how many jobs _are_ we nuking in the process? and can the rest of the economy absorb those?" You don't want to be the paladin in shiny armour that saved people from all evils... at the expense of causing the economy to collapse.

At any rate, that's why a lot of unproductive and even mildly unethical stuff is allowed to exist. In fact, encouraged to exist.

If you think that such companies are crossing the line into outright harmful, well, just lobby your lawmakers to outlaw it.

But, yeah, I'll aggree that Google is free to choose the companies it does business with.

Re:It's not illegal, though (2, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233219)

Where do you draw the line? Technically speaking, anything legal _is_ a legitimate business. If you don't want it done, just pass a law to outlaw it.
That's exactly what the GP was disputing, I think. He's saying that these businesses might be legal, but that doesn't make them "legitimate".

But you're right: where do you draw the line? "Legitimate" just means a business that you approve of. Are payday loan shops legitimate businesses? How about telemarketers, pawn shops, or casinos? Head shops? Porn shops? They're all legal, but whether the GP would call them "legitimate" is up to him.. and it's a pointless argument anyway.

Frankly, if Google is going to start banning ads from shady-but-legal businesses, I think they're opening up a can of worms. I know I've seen plenty of shady ads on there that had nothing to do with academic essays. Why shouldn't those be banned too?

Re:It's not illegal, though (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233457)

"First of all, I don't think selling papers is _illegal_, though."

You mean that a company set up for the only reason to help people to pass their exams by cheating is legal ?

I would even put it stronger : By offering a "service" like this they could be regarded as the source of the need-to-cheat (provoking it).

To make it simple : The papers obtained after a study are ment as proof that someone is fit to do certain things. Cheating on exams means that those papers are actually forged. Forgery is illegal, and aiding-and-abedding to illegal acts is illegal in itself.

But than again, IANAL.

Re:It's not illegal, though (3, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233495)

Forging an official document be illegal, but cheating isn't. I dont think anyone got throw in jail for being caught cheating at an exam. Or do you know of any actual case where that happened?

Heck, I even know of people who forged or lied about their diploma, and still didn't land in jail. E.g., there was this story on Slashdot about the, IIRC, admission officer at MIT, who not only claimed diplomas from universities she never went to or which didn't even offer that qualification, but went on to actively undermine the whole idea of academic achievement and integrity. They fired her, but that's pretty much all they can possibly do. You can't throw someone in jail for merely being a pathological liar, or we'd have to build jails for all the politicians and marketters and PR hacks, plus about half the journalists.

College rules are one thing, laws are another. Something may be forbidden by the college rules, yet perfectly legal as far as a court of law is concerned.

Cheating is just inherently unethical and for most of us abhorrent, but, as I was saying, a lot of stuff that I find unethical and abhorrent is legal anyway. And unless someone actually manages to make it illegal, like it or not, it _is_ a legitimate business.

Now noone says you or Google should do business with them. But they are legitimate, no matter how much some of us think they shouldn't be.

Re:Distinction (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233243)

Legitimate is not the same as legal.

*sigh [reference.com] * Would that mean you can be in compliance with the law and not be legal? Or can you be legal and not be in compliance with the law? Is legal lawful? Is lawful legal? If I am incorrect, please tell me. This is so confusing [slashdot.org] . Maybe I should use this reference [urbandictionary.com] instead?

Good riddance... (1)

Remi0o (1081389) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232815)

They should also ban gimmicky ads like for web templates, ring tones, and single page sells.

would they stop there? (0, Flamebait)

ekran (79740) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232821)

I don't know how big this problem is, but I feel that once you set down the path of banning things that "we don't like" then that list could grow long. How about companys that sell documents that look like university diplomas? To me it seems that they both would fall into the same category.

Re:would they stop there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19232847)

Ummm, so you don't have a problem with fake university degrees?

Re:would they stop there? (1)

Brianech (791070) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233035)

Exactly! I hated people that would pay some one online to write their code, while I busted my ass doing the assignment myself, reading documentation and learning. The problem with papers/code is that the final exams often consist of THEORY (atleast in computer science/software engineering because hand writing code isn't that easy to do on a test without API's that you normally have on hand), meaning that all the people who cheated on assignments/papers could still do well on tests. If they were censoring their indexing thats one thing, but not allowing an immoral company to advertise with them is fine by me. If a site feels that they are losing click revenue because of the lack of certain ads, they can switch, there are many other companies to choose from.

Not keen on this (4, Insightful)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232827)

Nope, I like my dictionaries to have the word 'fuck' in them, my phone books to list escort agencies, and my search engines to not set moral standards.

I'm aware that this is only on the paid-for part of the business. I still don't like it. If it's legal, they should allow it. It calls into question whether they're putting their morality into the rest of their business.

Re:Not keen on this (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232885)

If it's legal, they should allow it.

In what jurisdiction?

Prosititution is illegal in many parts of the land of the (hah!) free. Alchohol is illegal in some Middle Eastern countries. Drugs have different laws almost everywhere. Codeine is illegal in Greece (IIRC), Marijuana semi-legal in some countries, etc etc.

Re:Not keen on this (1)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232893)

What Jurisdiction?

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

That'd be their corporate HQ. Next question?

Re:Not keen on this (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233069)

Doesn't matter where their headquarters is. They still have to comply with local law.
Besides that, there is no right to advertise. If Google wants to reject certain businesses they have the right to.

Re:Not keen on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19232925)

It's not the morality of it that's the problem. The only people that those ads are targeted towards are people who would buy them, or rather people that need to write a paper but are unable to. Since I highly doubt those companies do original research, this limits the target audience to college students. In every college that my limited research found, submitting work that is not your own is a violation of the student code of conduct, punishable by a variety of actions from academic probation to expulsion.

Re:Not keen on this (1)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233003)

they probably don't see it as a question of morality.

i would guess they see this as an issue of maintaining their ability to hire quality employees. cheating makes it harder to identify the smart ones.

i was reading somewhere recently, i can't remember where, this is an issue that a lot of US companies are facing. Americans entering the employment pool are lower quality on average. the troubles in the US education system are masked by the fact that we are currently able to cherry pick talent from the rest of the world. we won't always have this luxury.

google is a business. i think they're just looking out for their future profitability, albeit in a small, but easy, manipulation.

Re:Not keen on this (4, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233105)

It calls into question whether they're putting their morality into the rest of their business.

This is a company whose motto is "Don't be evil." If you are just now questioning whether or not they're putting their morality into their business, you have not been paying any attention at all.

Whether you agree with their morality or not, or agree that the particular decisions they've made are consistent with their openly stated (hell, vigorously publicized) moral code, are other questions entirely. But they have been very clear from day one that morality plays a central role in their business decisions.

Personally I think "Don't promote businesses which serve no purpose other than helping students cheat on their schoolwork" is entirely consistent with "Don't be evil."

Re:Not keen on this (1)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233147)

If they were putting morality in, then maybe you would have a point. I am fairly convinced they are motivated purely by capitalistic principles. Not advertising prostitution and drugs etc. is good for their image. Sure they may miss some income from one source, but hom much more do they gain from the rest.

Even if it was morally motivated, I still don't have a problem with it. Drugs should be better controlled, not because you shouldn't use them but because you should go to a real doctor and a real pharmacy. Prostitution I have nothing against, however neither do I think it should be thrown in our faces the whole time (ok, I'm not a big fan of ads at all).

The essay writing thing is the least dubious of all. Those businesses can complain that they are 'legit' but only a deaf, dumb, retarded neanderthal would fail to understand that these businesses exist only so people can plagiarize off of them. Just because they 'warn' students not to use the essays that way doesn't mean anyone believes they won't. It's like giving a book of matches to a pyromaniac and telling him not to play with fire.

Actually, now that you mention it... (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233383)

Prostitution I have nothing against, however neither do I think it should be thrown in our faces the whole time (ok, I'm not a big fan of ads at all).


Actually, now that you mention it, I'd rather have more prostitution ads than some of the other scams I'm bombarded with.

E.g., you almost can't go to a page that's even remotely game/gold/whatever related, without getting powerlevelling and gold farming ads nowadays. Not only that kind of cheating actively disrupts the game for everyone else, but in most cases nowadays it's a scam. There's a whole class of keylogging trojans and viruses nowadays that simply steal someone's login data. Then the scammer logs in, sells everything that guy's characters have (leaving them literally naked), then transfer the money to the scammer's characters to be advertised as "buy gold for low prices!" Even on Google.

Now I don't want to go into the whole debate of whether virtual goods should be treated as real ones, but it's:

A) just actively ruining someone's gaming experience, and

B) in a dumb destructive way at that. The price for selling those items at the vendor is often 1 or 2 orders of magnitude lower than their normal in-game value. It's like burning someone's house down to sell the ashes. That dumb and destructive.

Even not treating those as "property", if you put in the balance the joy of someone who bought 100 gold in a game, vs the grief of someone who lost items worth 2000 gold for that, it's a bad trade all around. It's ruining someone's _months_ of time "investment" to let someone else feel rich and powerful for maybe a couple of hours until they blow it on some stupidity at the auction house. They haven't worked much for that gold, so don't expect them to put much value on it. They'll maybe buy a weapon they'll use for 2 days until they buy more gold for the next one.

C) maybe more important, it's rewarding and encouraging activities that are destructive and predatory IRL too, not only in some virtual imaginary game world. The viruses and keyloggers are very real, and often used for other nefarious purposes too, like harvesting bank accounts, credit card numbers, as spam bots, as DDOS bots, etc. It's activities which are already bad as it is, and sadly too rewarding as it is. I don't think anyone actually wants to encourage them some more.

So, frankly, if I look at A, B and C, I appreciate a hard working prostitute a lot more. She's just providing a service for people who want it, and selling only her work and time, not actively ruining anyone else's day for something to sell.

Or I constantly see google ads for crackpot conspiracies, crackpot young-earth/flat-earth creationism, scams, frauds, phishing schemes, spyware, etc. Even Google itself had that piece of news about how many people clicked on a "Is your PC virus-free? Click here to get it virused" ad. It was on Slashdot too.

Meh. I'll take prostitution ads instead, please. No, I still wouldn't buy sex, but, hey, I'm not buying all the other crap advertised at me either. So gimme some nicer ads at least.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of ads at all. But getting rid of them completely is, obviously, not an option. So if I _have_ to see ads, let's have some good old fashioned porn and prostitution ads instead of all that crap, please.

They're more honest than half the rest of advertising too. I'm going to barf if I see one more ad for snake oil that's supposed to solve all sorts of problems that don't even exist, and with made up testimonials at that. And idiot PHBs actually believing that crap.

At least with a prostitute you can know realistically what you can get, and how it would work. Human anatomy only allows for so much variation, you know, and there's only so much that plastic surgery can do. (Admittedly, that's a lot.) You can't claim to reduce TCO 10 times, increase ROI ten times, allow untrained monkeys to write enterprise-class programs in 21 days, solve world hunger, cure cancer, and bring global enlightenment. Everyone just knows that even a kilo of silicone implants won't do that ;)

Re:Actually, now that you mention it... (1)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233541)

Well, I can agree with that. Still, while I couldn't care less how many naked women are dancing around my desktop (virtual on screen desktop, my real life desktop could use some naked women ;) I don't think I'd want young children watching it. Which you would get if they didn't block it. I'm not a prude, I think people should be more open about sex or even just nudity, however that doesn't mean there aren't age related issues. quite frankly monitoring advertising isn't censorship per se.

Those farmer ads, virus ads and thing like that certainly border on the illegal. I think google should block those to. No one likes. No one is helped by them...except !@#%$@@#$#!...not so nice people I mean. They are at least as dubious as the essay services if not more so. However, like spam, it is hard to block everything you don't want without blocking what you do want. So blocking certain major annoyances is good. Just K.I.S.S..

Of course it's Google, though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233213)

I'm also uneasy about this, but I can sympathize with Google. After all, their collective GPA must be one of the highest in the world. These guys are billionaires because of their education, and I'm sure they're aware of it.

Re:Not keen on this (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233265)

I don't want to sound offensive, but when Google makes a decision in favor of business, everybody says "So you're evil after all; no love for Google!", and now that they've done something in favor of morality, people start ranting about that, too? I guess one cannot please all geeks simultaneously.

Re:Not keen on this (3, Informative)

franksands (938435) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233411)

Please, pay attention: they are not blocking search results. They are blocking ads that consist of "essay writing".

Re:Not keen on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233453)

tough sh1t, you don't own google.

This comment would be funnier... (4, Funny)

simplerThanPossible (1056682) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232831)

if I could have found those services.

Re:This comment would be funnier... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233507)

You can always google them ...

Bender Says. . . (5, Funny)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232835)

"I'll create my own search engine, with blackjack and hookers" and essay writers.

Re:Bender Says. . . (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232897)

Include a beer fountain and your search engine will feel like Fsm-heaven!

Google worse than Micro$oft (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19232843)

While universities have welcomed the move, the affected firms are claiming it will 'punish legitimate businesses.' Google has specifically banned 'academic paper-writing services and the sale of pre-written essays, theses, and dissertations,' which now join other items on the banned list such as tobacco, drugs, weapons, and prostitution.


Constraint of trade anyone? Their power to destroy legitimate business is disgusting.

This is just more evil from Google. I've had just about enough of their hyprocrisy. This almost makes me, a commie Linux user, hope for M$ to destroy them.

Re:Google worse than Micro$oft (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232955)

google isnt the government, its a privte company, they can deal with who they want to. I'm not forced to sell my products or services to anyone I don't want to, neither are google.
What annoys me is they dont give a damn about *where* they advertise. If I find a dubious website that resells copyrighted software I worked on without a licence, and is part funded by google adsense, they don't give a damn, they are happy to advertise on any site on the web, regardless what kind of site it is. Their terms of service state otherwise, but in practice, they get ignored.

Re:Google worse than Micro$oft (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233145)

Well most of the addsence set up is 100% automatic. They simple don't "see" the sites or screen them. You can complain I think. It has worked for others. But once Google become a public company, they cannot legaly do no evil if it redueces stockholer value. So i don't think they are worse than M$ yet, it will take time.

Re:Google worse than Micro$oft (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233199)

Just like with eBay and other major sources of illegal warez, it's a matter of scale.

If you're a small independant developer with unsufficient funds to fight Google for years in court, they'll just ignore your claims. If you're a big university which employes professors in law, Google will listen.

Re:Google worse than Micro$oft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233189)

Firstly, the expression is restraint of trade.

Secondly, it's totally irrelevant to this case.

Third, haven't you got a paper to write?

Fourth, go fuck yourself. HAND.

dickens was paid by the word (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232849)

which now join other items on the banned list such as tobacco, drugs, weapons, and prostitution.

Essay writing is just a simpler form of prostitution. You know the old saying "Prose before Hos".

Legitimate Businesses (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19232855)

These are legitimate [legit-site.com] businesses, but that does not mean that Google has to display their ads.

Google can choose to display or not to display any ads they want. The supreme court has found many times that the right to not speak is equally as important as freedom of speech.

Re:Legitimate Businesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233141)

That's a pretty shitty web site that you've been spamming. Improve it or stop wasting our time.

Thank God! (2, Interesting)

GregPK (991973) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232873)

While I've never cheated. It's hard enough being an honest college student nowdays. Searching the web for research on topics and having that constant reminder pop up in your face. You can bypass 30 hours of research and writing with 20 bucks. Pisses me off to no end.

I admire the business plan behind it even when they make my life hell with thier grade curve changing essays. They must make a fortune.

'Bout Time (4, Insightful)

Vornzog (409419) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232887)

As someone who is less than 48 hours away from a completed thesis Ph.D. thesis and a little over a week away from my defense, there is only one thing I have to say about this.

It's about damn time.

I hate to see that these services even exist.

I understand the cheating will always go on, at all levels of academics. The practice isn't against any laws, but it is nice to see Google not condoning something legal but flat out wrong.

Re:'Bout Time (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233351)

I don't know what your graduate curriculum is like, but there's no way I would be able to get away with hiring someone else to do my thesis work. There is too much faculty oversight, the process takes too long, there are too many demands for new qualitative and quantitative research, etc.

In my humble opinion, faculty must be offering fairly generic curriculum if their curriculum can be exploited by lame paper writing services.

Re:'Bout Time (5, Insightful)

martijnd (148684) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233419)

As someone who is less than 48 hours away from a completed thesis Ph.D. thesis and a little over a week away from my defense, there is only one thing I have to say about this.

First thing that struck my mind when reading this -- you did make sure to backup recently?

Re:'Bout Time (1)

dbolger (161340) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233423)

Speaking as an individual who in almost two days will have a Ph.D. thesis finished, and then seven days later will have to defend it, I have but one comment:

Why didn't this happen before?

It infuriates me that these products are offered at all.

I accept that dishonesty is inevitable in every aspect of academia. This activity is not a breach of any legal code. However, it is pleasing to see that Google are not giving their approval to an activity which is legally sound but morally suspect.

Google Morality Sqad strikes again (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233439)

You haven't completed your Piled Higher and Deeper yet, but you already don't remember what's going on out there in the real world?

Forcing students to write completely pointless and retarded essays is what's causing these services to appear and thrive. Seriously, right now I'm writing a "How to Save the World" in 6,000 words essay and no, it's not a technical analysis of ways to stop a comet from smashing into Earth, just general bullshit about population, society, the environment and crap like that. I wrote every single one of the required essays myself and probably wouldn't use a service that would do it for me, partly because I'm such a cheap bastard. However, hopefully these services would make professors rethink their regular assignments, just because you had it tough doesn't mean everybody else should, too.

I don't see how Google playing the morality squad role here (while going la-la-la when somebody points at China) is in any way an applaudable action.

Re:'Bout Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233477)

It's about damn time.
I hate to see that these services even exist.

I couldn't disagree more. Sure, cheating is bad. But this will do absolutely nothing to stop it. Finding the services will be slightly harder, but motivated cheaters will still seek them out. Cheating happened long before Google and it will happen long after. Driving it underground just makes it harder to study and quantify it.

Meanwhile, it shows the danger of a dominant entity policing morality. Apparently Google censors advertising not just on illegal material but what it finds morally objectionable. Who appointed Google the Net Nanny? Advertising is a form of communication, often a vital one for small groups reaching out to a larger audience (think nascent political organizations). Adwords is the 21st century equivalent of handing out flyers on street corners. Censoring [1] certain messages removes this valuable tool from their grasp. Today it's term paper services and prostitution, tomorrow it's peaceniks and black panthers [2].

[1] And it is censorship - the act of censoring objectionable material - though not of the constitutionally-prohibited type since Google is a private entity. That makes it only slightly less worrying when the censor effectively controls an entire medium.

[2] This isn't a slippery slope argument - I'm not claiming the first will lead to the second, but demonstrating the inherent danger of concentrating so much power in a single entity.

Legitimate Businesses (0, Redundant)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232899)

These are legitimate [legit-site.com] businesses, but that does not mean that Google has to display their ads.

Google can choose to display or not to display any ads they want. The supreme court has found many times that the right to not speak is equally as important as freedom of speech.

Re:Legitimate Businesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233675)

Do you usually post the exact same comment twice, first as AC then logged in eight minutes later? Or did you just rip off that AC comment word for word?

Just wondering.

Look at it from a different POV (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232905)

I'm seeing a lot of anti-censorship posts on here. I'm really inclined to believe that Google did this because the paper-writing ads were popping up all over the place. As a student, it's frustrating to have to find other sources for a paper (to use as referances) and not get any results back but these paper-buying sites. Hopefully, Google is going to push to get them removed from their search index, as well.

Re:Look at it from a different POV (1)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232923)

And that is something I'd 100% support, because it's not making a moral choice, it's improving their product...

Re:Look at it from a different POV (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232987)

Getting them removed from the index is NOT an appropriate solution. The purpose of Google Search (besides to sell ads) is to provide a suitable and complete index of the Web, which includes things some people would rather not have indexed. What you probably (hopefully) want is for them to figure out a way to not return paper-writing services in the result set when you are not looking for a paper-writing service. This is a distinctly different problem than simply removing them from the index altogether.

Just advertise the degree outright! (2, Insightful)

Stochastism (1040102) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232921)

Who bothers to sell essays and dissertations when half the spam I get offers me a PhD outright for $200!

Has anyone tried to get ad sense to offer them a degree?

Re:Just advertise the degree outright! (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233131)

Why bother when my inbox is full of offers?

Little evils versus Big Evils (1, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232937)

other items on the banned list such as tobacco, drugs, weapons, and prostitution.
What the hell? Tobacco isn't illegal, and not only is prostitution legal in Rhode Island [npr.org] (set your user-agent to googlebot and npr will show you the written transcript) as well as parts of Nevada, Canada, most of Europe and parts of Asia.

Hell, even if you think prostitution goes hand in hand with sex-slavery, the problems of sweat-shop manufacturing slavery in and outside of the US are at least 10x worse and I don't see google banning ads for outsourced manufacturing.

I would expect that if there was one company that understood ultimate importance of free flow of information it would be google. Seems like they've become lost in the forest because they can't get past the trees - tobacco, et al are small evils, censorship is a big Evil.

Re:Little evils versus Big Evils (1)

qparadox (1105733) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233005)

Advertising for Tobacco is banned or regulated in many jurisdictions, including canada: http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/le gislation/canadian_law/federal/tobacco_act/tobacco _act.cfm [media-awareness.ca] Google has not banned searching for these terms, they've only decided that they will not support these services advertising on their site, as is completely their right to choose to do! For all of you whining about Google making moral choices, the question of providing documents allowing people to cheat isn't one of morals; its a question of ethics. The question is: "is it immoral for Google to actively support services attempting to help students cheat in exchange for money?". Its beyond my capacity to think up an ethical framework that wouldn't answer that question as firmly YES. This isn't a matter of free speech, this is a matter of companies who are facilitating and providing unethical services. Google has, and should, ensure it is not actively supporting these companies in their facilitation.

Re:Little evils versus Big Evils (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233515)

The question is: "is it immoral for Google to actively support services attempting to help students cheat in exchange for money?". Its beyond my capacity to think up an ethical framework that wouldn't answer that question as firmly YES.
Then your capacity is mighty small. The reason Google should not be policing term paper cheaters is the same reason they should not (and are not) involved in policing any of the thousands of other ethicly dubious activities -- It's not their job.

Making Google the police of the internet has so many drawbacks it is hard to know where to start, but here are two big ones - wasted resources that would have gone to doing a better job of providing actual service and questionable decisions about where to "draw the line" as one man's morality is another man's evil.

However, this is not censorship (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233029)

You are using some definition of censorship that I do not understand. Tobacco, drugs and prostitution are not small evils. They cost society a huge amount of money - in police, medical and social welfare costs - as a result of their effects. If I want to run a shop front - which is what Google's paid for advertising basically is - and decide I do not want to promote things with heavy adverse effects on society, that is my right as a citizen. It would be censorship - i.e. enforcement of a particular moral attitude by the State - if I was forced to advertise these things contrary to my own beliefs. It is not as if these people cannot go elsewhere or, if they really think that they have a right to a public platform, to buy their own search engine and see how much traffic it gets.

However, we agree on one point. Slavery is a great evil, whether it is women trapped into prostitution, forced labour of Chinese prisoners, indentured farm work organised by criminal gangs with the tacit consent of the government in the UK (and I expect in the US), or peasants forced by warlords to grow drugs to finance their gangs. I suspect that once the US economy goes into recession, avoidance of which seems increasingly unlikely, there will be sudden demands to control outsourcing to cheap labor areas. At which point Google may come under pressure to stop those advertisements. That will be censorship.

Re:However, this is not censorship (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233553)

Tobacco, drugs and prostitution are not small evils. They cost society a huge amount of money ...
Only because 'society' has chosen to waste money on those costs. They are all victimless in that the only people who are hurt are those who choose to be hurt. In countries where prostitution is legal, like the majority of the first world, the costs are much less than they are in the USofA.

If I want to run a shop front - which is what Google's paid for advertising basically is - and decide I do not want to promote things with heavy adverse effects on society, that is my right as a citizen.
Surely you are not unaware of Google's claim to "do no evil?" If you lack that context, then I can see why you would go off on a tangent about it being their right to do whatever they want. I'm pointing out that their words and their actions are inconsistent.

Re:However, this is not censorship (1)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233609)

Censorship basically means blocking out thing you don't want. So yes, this is censorship. It's not government enforced censorship but it is censorship (which is the act of censoring).

from m-w.com
  censor
Function:
        transitive verb
Inflected Form(s):
        censored; censoring Listen to the pronunciation of censoring \sen(t)-s-ri, sen(t)s-ri\
Date:
        1882

: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable

So it is censorship. self censorship. Does that make it wrong?

As to the evil of drugs, tobacco and prostitution...that is another discussion. However, one could debate wether or not they should or shouldn't be advertised. In the absence of legal constraints Google will simply choose what ensures it the best revenue form all their advertisers. After all if people avoid you because of sex ad then you also won't be selling them any childrens books (or furniture or whatever). I have no problems with that.

Re:Little evils versus Big Evils (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233043)

Firstly, tobacco may not be illegal but its advertisement is heavily restricted in many parts of the world so Google's refusal to display ads for it is definitely not entirely of their own choosing. I don't know the fact on the other items and services, but the conditions are likely similar.

Secondly, many posters have raised the point that cheating is not illegal and hence reason that related services ought not be restricted from advertising. Have these people considered that the number one reason why cheating isn't outlawed is because it would be so damned hard to define and enforce in a sane manner?

Re:Little evils versus Big Evils (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233171)

Just like a newspaper should be allowed to report on narcotics yet ban advertisements for narcotics, so should Google be allowed to provide those links in the search results yet ban advertisements for it.

What about teachers (1)

JoopZonnet (1105937) | more than 6 years ago | (#19232991)

And what about all those teachers that are smart enough to check Google to see if pupils/students did not cheat? We all know that students are far more smart in finding this type of content than teachers... wkr, JoopZonnet

Re:What about teachers (2, Funny)

GregPK (991973) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233071)

Thats the thing, it's so easy to pay someone else to do the writing. You can even upload your own writings and get paid for them. I think the smartest thing a teacher can do in this day and age is upload all thier own work and get paid for it while they continue to flunk students for cheating.

Punish legitimate businesses? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233041)

That really is stretching the definition of a legitimate business.

Granted, there may be no specific law, but it's not as if there's a single respectable university in the land which will knowingly accept work prepared in this way.

that explains it (5, Funny)

mr_musan (1075927) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233099)

> which now join other items on the banned list such as tobacco, drugs, weapons, and prostitution." i had always wondered why google adds never advertised anything i wanted

Censorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233101)

"' Google has specifically banned 'academic paper-writing services and the sale of pre-written essays, theses, and dissertations,' which now join other items on the banned list such as tobacco, drugs, weapons, and prostitution.""

Google is taking such a moral high morals; considering that they censored searches in China.

1) Tobacco isn't illegal in my country; US. Why is it censored?

2) Drugs; depending on the drug it may not be illegal to purchase (depending on the country). There is no law that says you cannot advertise or sell drugs in the US. You just have to have the proper paperwork filed to sell and buy drugs. Yet, Google sees fit to ban it.

3) Weapons; perhaps the right to bear arms in the US Constitution doesn't mean anything. You can bear them but don't advertise them. There is no US law that prohibits the advertising or the sale of weapons. Well, weapons of mass destruction is an exception but I cannot remember someone selling WMD on AdSense. But lets suppress it anyway.

Hypocrisy!

Re:Censorship (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233127)

Google is not a state owned firm, they may refuse to do business with you. Advertise with M$ or Yahoo.

Re:Censorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233237)

Anthrax. Find what you're looking for on eBay.

It will punish legitimate bussines (1)

fluch (126140) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233107)

So? I couldn't care less. I guess it is up to Google to choose which kind of advertisement it wants to serve. Also Google gets less money cause of the outage of those advertisements.

Good, this will save them some money (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233133)

Truly useful services like prostitution, pot, warez and essay writing need no advertisement. Potential customers will actively look for them in regular Google search results and offline through references from friends. It's the useless services like "free" credit reports that need to spend money on ads in order to rip off clueless people.

Internet police (1)

akar_naveen (677699) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233155)

So google is the Internet police now, with it's own laws?

Interestingly, these laws are also people driven.

Not censorship, service to AdSense cleints (5, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233201)

The list of banned adds reflect what Google's AdSense clients, the people who put Google adds on their web pages, are willing to put up with. Many people would be unhappy to see adds for prostitution, guns or tobacco on their web pages, and choose another advertising partner if Google let those through. Losing those partners would hurt more than losing the advertisement customers for the listed products.

Now homework cheating services are on that list.

So this is a case where maximizing profit also happens to be "do no evil" (depending on your definition of evil).

But diploma mills are still adverticed (2, Interesting)

thue (121682) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233337)

Google apparently still allows ads for Diploma mills [wikipedia.org] . Usually they claim that they examine your "life experience", and then grant you a diploma based on what you already know. In practice, they just sell you pieces of paper without checking, and you can then use the diploma to pretend to other people you have taken a real university degree, i.e. fraud.

For example a reporter was able to buy a degree in aerospace engineering, a field he knew nothing about, from Ashwood University [wikipedia.org] . Ashwood University is deceptively named to be similar to Ashford University.

But if you search for "Ashwood University" in Google [slashdot.org] you get plenty of ads. As well as the Wikipedia article which document the fact that the operation is fraudulent. The Wikipedia article is vandalized regularly by people trying to edit out the well-documented criticism. The vandals are probably the university owners or degree holders.

I have sent an email to Google some time ago, saying that they were advertising for fraud. But my email had no lasting effect, obviously.

Re:But diploma mills are still adverticed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233375)

HEY ! You insensitive clod ! I got my diploma from Ashwood.

Will these Essay-Writing Services... (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233345)

...Write slashdot posts? I'm finding it rather a strain at the moment.

No net neutrality for Google (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233367)

It's really about net neutrality. Google should ideally just let ads through without (artificial) moral or political interference.

It will make cheating a little more difficult, and make the cheaters be a little more creative.
I don't really see the moral justification; cheaters lose out on a learning experience, and essay writers lose out on jobs. Overall GPA has nothing to do with overall career success. In the business world, cheaters are the ones who usually win. I've personally seen cheaters social-network themselves into leadership positions while people who actually spend their time being productive and efficient get treated like losers. Google cannot change reality.

Google is not the net, doesn't have to be neutral (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233629)

Despite its extreme popularity, it's just a search engine, which has made a name for relative fairness and accuracy. Although Google has become very important as a tool, it has no monopoly on bits, packets, or anything else. If I don't like Google's results, I can always check with another engine.

Overall GPA has nothing to do with overall career success. In the business world, cheaters are the ones who usually win. I've personally seen cheaters social-network themselves into leadership positions while people who actually spend their time being productive and efficient get treated like losers. Google cannot change reality.
You're arguing that the market rewards cheating. But from where I sit, the guys who run Google have done pretty well for themselves banking on their reputation for openness and even-handed behavior. The market has rewarded them for their honesty. Now, they're not perfect, but we can always punish their imperfections by not rewarding them with our business.

escorts? (1)

Jah Shaka (562375) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233435)

yea but if you hae 1/2 a brain you can sell prostitution services online just call it a escort service! i assume if you want to sell tobacco and firewarms then you can do the same... this is really just publicity at the end of the day...

Not a good idea (2, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233473)

Essay-writing services can be used for non-immoral purposes outside what many think their target audience is. But ignoring this, I have the following to say.

Banning the advertisements isn't going to solve the issue of plagiarism. In fact, it could compound the problem by pushing it underground. If someone is motivated to cheat, they're probably going to cheat regardless of whether they see an advertisement on Google, or whether they have to hunt underground for a service. Afterall, is Google banning search results?

Essay services can give horrible results (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233497)

For the third year of my UK bachelor's degree I was once extremely pressed for time. Personal circumstances, that the essay material was quite peripheral to the core of the study and that I was edging in at the highest grading tier (1st) already led me to try an essay writing service.

I used an essay service that let you specify your desired grade, level (bachelor's degree, masters or PhD, though not which year of bachelor's degree) required turnaround (standard 1 week, express 48h delivered by midnight on the 2nd day, express 24h delivered by midnight on the next day) and word limit. You could also specify sources that you needed to have referenced.

I picked the 24h, but specified in the comment box that I was happy with 48h delivery but would like to pay the higher amount in order to ensure that they took proper care in writing. I also provided a couple of references we had been given.

The essay I got back after 20h was 15% below the recommended word limit and literally crap. No logical progression, shoddy grammar (who writes short sentences starting with 'So'?) and just a bunch of bullet points all pasted together that didn't lead to any conclusion. One of the sources had not been used with the explanation that 'I was unable to find the source you quote for which I should not be held liable', and the others only in extremely generalised ways that could pretty much apply to any article on the subject.

The only recourse was that I could 'return it along with a list of desired changes for the author to make', but given that the same person would write it I didn't really see the point. I spent the last day rewriting paragraph by paragraph ~£500 ($1000) lighter and was really so embarassed over the result that I didn't ask for feedback on it.

-AC

Google 'contextual' ads (2, Informative)

codecracker007 (789100) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233577)

...one of the ads seen at the top of this story:

Custom Essay Writing
Professionally written essays and term papers delivered on time
CustomEssayWriting.com


irony meet your elder cousin...

Ironic! (1)

Vincman (584156) | more than 6 years ago | (#19233583)

It's ironic that the some of the Google-ads that I'm seeing below this story now are: 'Where to get academic papers' and 'How to write a better paper' After a reload, I got an ad for online Casinos. Personally, being a friend of someone who runs an online database of essays, I think there are three negatives to this. A. people have a choice and if they choose to cheat and risk penalties that should be their right. B. By moving such choices to the rim of existence, you also make it harder for teachers and such to check for plagiarism. And C. you run people out of business who are offering a fairly victimless "crime," at least compared to prostitution and drugs.

f+u3k? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19233641)

Is also A miserable
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