Digital Culture

WordPress Ethical issues

Bit of a buzz around the wordpress forums and such today regarding Matt Mullenweg (the originator of WordPress) and his psuedo-ethical adword scheme to help pay for wordpress hosting. From the link above:

I discovered last week that since early February, he’s been quietly hosting at least 120,000 168,000 articles on their website. These articles are designed specifically to game the Google Adwords program, written by a third-party about high-cost advertising keywords like asbestos, mesothelioma, insurance, debt consolidation, diabetes, and mortgages. (Update: Google is actively removing every article from their results, but here’s a saved copy of the first page of results. You can still view about 25,000 results on Yahoo. Here’s an example of some results in MSN.)

Ok, so…scamming the adwords in google seems a tad slimy, but understandable. Hiding the adwords articles with odd CSS positioning tricks lends even more oddity to the issue.

As someone on the waxy thread says…why didn’t he just do a straightforward ad-words column on the page? has enough traffic to make that worth his time, I would think.

In any case, we’ll see what Matt has to say when he returns from Italy.

EDIT: Google and Yahoo have both already removed these from their results. MSN still lists them, and here’s a direct link showing what Matt did. Load the page, then view: source and check the last DIV.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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