Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Businesses The Internet Education

Google Bans Ads For Essay-Writing Services 264

Posted by kdawson
from the write-it-yourself dept.
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Bans Ads For Essay-Writing Services

Comments Filter:
  • Banned list? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:52AM (#19232805) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrmeval (662166)
      Agreed. If I want it I should be able to search for it.
      • Re:Banned list? (Score:4, Informative)

        by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:09AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by user24 (854467)
        My first response to the headline was "thank god" - I post copies of my essays online, and I hate having cheat sites advertised next to my hard-written essays. Not only is (was) it insulting to students who work for their degrees, but it also cheapened my site by aligning it with those types of services.
    • 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.
      • It is safe to assume that "illegal" is implied. Banning ALL drug advertising would be rather odd in most cases.

        Depends on the juridiction.

        Remember: Even simple things like aspirin are drugs.

        And here in Switzerland, it is illegal to advertise for it.
        A drug company can advertise its brand name (As in "Here in Mepha we make generics and thus are cheaper than concurrence !")
        A drug company may indirectly infer that it does produces drugs against some problem ("Having sexual troubles ? You shoul talk about them w

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I think in the US it works like this. You can advertise a drug. But if you want to advertise what it actually does, you have to list out all the side effects, along with a bunch of other information. This is why many magazines have drug ads, followed by a full page of fine print with all the stuff they are legally required to have. Or you get the ads that just say the name brand, without actually saying what they do. This works well for things that are already well known, like Tylenol, and Advil.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by freeweed (309734)
          I'm not a hippie saying that drugs bring more problems than they solve

          That's probably the last thing I'd expect a hippie to say. ;)
    • Well the problem is google has the motto "Dont be Evil" where evil is sometimes a relative term. tobacco, illegal drugs, weapons, and prostitution, and now cheating. So google is under a lot of stress to be profitable but yet try to do the right thing. But to the most part I think this is news because it shows that some people are starting to fight online cheating. which is more prevalent then we would like to think, it also causes major problems.

      It further devalues recent student for employment, not only
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lgw (121541)
        It's odd: I don't consider tobacco, drugs, weapons, prostitution, or cheating to be "evil" (the latter is pathetic, perhaps), which forces me to think of Google as "evil" for imposing their morality through their service. Just another church that's sure what's good for me.
  • Distinction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:53AM (#19232809) Homepage Journal

    'punish legitimate businesses.'
    Legitimate is not the same as legal. Besides, google can take advertising (or not) from whoever they like.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:56AM (#19233125) Journal
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mr2001 (90979)

        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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Znork (31774)
        "Unethical, yes, but then lots of unethical things pass for normal and legal business these days."

        I'd even question wether it's unethical. Embarrasing, yes, and telling, sure.

        But unethical? If essays and theses are so easily manufactured, replicated and/or forged, perhaps it's time to reconsider the methods by which such academic achievements are evaluated.

        Perhaps we should exercise some cross-discipline teamwork and have engineering and research students team up with technical writers and humanist (english
        • by westlake (615356)
          I'd even question wether it's unethical. Embarrasing, yes, and telling, sure.
          But unethical? If essays and theses are so easily manufactured, replicated and/or forged, perhaps it's time to reconsider the methods by which such academic achievements are evaluated.

          The world still demands an occassional demonstration that you can be trusted to follow instructions, complete assignments, take pride in your own work. You won't always have a team to back you up. Particularly when you have got into the habit of le

      • by rtb61 (674572)
        Or more to the point, shouldn't poor working university students have the same access to essay writing services that the children of the rich and greedy have. Problems with essays, focus on exams for grading results.

        It is typical of googles BA mono culture, this is more important than advertising gambling, alcohol, or smoking to children. Other things are also troubling, like advertising competing services on your web site, or in terms of politics, advertising republicans on democratic web sites.

        It seem

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dunelin (111356)

        Actually in Massachusetts, it is illegal to sell papers like this:

        • Mass. General Laws, Chapter 271, Section 50. Sale of research papers, etc. and taking of examinations for another at educational institutions. Whoever, alone or in concert with others, sells to another, or arranges for or assists in such sale for another, a theme, term paper, thesis or other paper or the written results of research, knowing or having reason to know that such theme, term paper, thesis or other paper or research results or su
  • Not keen on this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by m0nkyman (7101) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:55AM (#19232827) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:04AM (#19232885) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • by m0nkyman (7101)
        What Jurisdiction?

        1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
        Mountain View, CA 94043

        That'd be their corporate HQ. Next question?
    • by koreth (409849) * on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:51AM (#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."

    • by rumith (983060)
      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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by franksands (938435)
      Please, pay attention: they are not blocking search results. They are blocking ads that consist of "essay writing".
    • by gatzke (2977)

      What a slippery slope.

      No prostitution, but what about "legit" escort services and massage parlors?

      Maybe "singles only" or "informal hookup" sites?

      No term papers, what about Cliff's notes? Homework help?

      "Guns are bad" so no more ads or links to gun sites?

      Smoking is bad for you and those around you, why not ban smoking sites and ads?

      SUVs use gas, gas makes CO2, CO2 is killing us, so no more car ads.

      Hamburgers come from cows, cow ranching causes deforestation, no more meat related anything in the search engin
    • by dubl-u (51156) *
      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.

      Their motto is "Don't be evil". Of course they're putting their morality into the rest of their business.

      To my mind, that's been pretty good so far. This is one example that I like; there is no point to academic essay-writing services except to benefit individual students with money while ha
  • by simplerThanPossible (1056682) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:55AM (#19232831)
    if I could have found those services.
  • by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:56AM (#19232835)
    "I'll create my own search engine, with blackjack and hookers" and essay writers.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:59AM (#19232849) Homepage
    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".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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.
  • Thank God! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GregPK (991973)
    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 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vornzog (409419) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:05AM (#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.
    • by Aqua OS X (458522)
      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by martijnd (148684) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @04:56AM (#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?

    • 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 wrot
      • Those essays aren't pointless, as your writing indicates. Compare it to the bulk of illiterate crap on /. You write reasonably well. That's the point of essays actually, not the presentation of your knowledge on a subject, but the exercise in good writing. Most of the writing you will do in professional life should be legible and won't be on topics you would enjoy writing about.

  • 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.
    • by m0nkyman (7101)
      And that is something I'd 100% support, because it's not making a moral choice, it's improving their product...
    • by ChronosWS (706209)
      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.
      • The purpose of Google Search is to make money for Google. They will presumably do with their search engine whatever they think is most likely to achieve that goal, taking into account things like negative PR for "censorship" vs. negative PR for "being evil" by supporting unethical businesses and negative PR for returning results full of things most people don't want.

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • by mr_musan (1075927) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:49AM (#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
  • by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:57AM (#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.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @04:10AM (#19233201) Homepage
    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).
    • by Fizzl (209397)

      ...choose another advertising partner if Google let those through.

      Instead of just placing filter on their own banners in adsense settings?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hxnwix (652290)
      "So this is a case where maximizing profit also happens to be "do no evil" (depending on your definition of evil)"

      What are you saying? In this very slashdot article's advert section, we find:

      Custom Essay Service
      Original Essays, Book Reports, Papers and other Academic Writing.
      customessay.com

      Essays
      High Quality - Instant Download Find one on your topic today!
      DueNow.com/Essays/

      Is slashdot evil by certain definitions of evil? If correcting grammar makes one a grammar nazi, does correcting evil make one an evil nazi?

  • by thue (121682) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @04:38AM (#19233337) Homepage
    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.
  • ...Write slashdot posts? I'm finding it rather a strain at the moment.
  • Not a good idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @05:08AM (#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?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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 t
  • ...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...
  • 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 s
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Personally, being a friend of someone who writes viruses for a living, I think there are three negatives to making virus writing illegal:

      1. People have a choice, and if they choose to distribute viruses and risk penalties, that should be their right.
      2. By moving such choices to the rim of existence, you also make it harder for sysadmins to check their systems are secure.
      3. You run people out of business who are offering a fairly victimless "crime", at least compared to global thermonuclear war.

      Forgive me if I

      • by Vincman (584156)
        I'd love to hear statistics on that. There are two takes I can take on it. a. that the person cheating learned nothing and would not pass a job-interview (and if they did, what's the value of qualifications?) and b. that the person cheating did learn something, which I find more credible, and got the job based on their perceived qualifications by the interviewer (who should never base their choice on pieces of paper alone). Furthermore, when I said "database of essays" I purposefully did not say "provider
  • We faced the same dilemma at Uclue.com, a paid Q&A service. Although we don't encourage people to ask for essays to be written, we can't completely block such questions because it's not always easy to tell whether a question is for a student essay or for some other purpose.

    We resolved it by deciding that we would reject such questions if there was any hint of them being requested in "final form". In any case, we post the answer publicly on the web, so the essay research is available for all students a
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      We've had a similar problem on some technical Usenet groups where I help out, teaching beginners various programming-related subjects. Some posts are obviously asking us to do their homework. Most are obviously genuine questions. A few are harder to classify.

      Our benchmark in the case of ambiguity is whether the person asking the question has demonstrated some effort of their own. For example, if a person posted some source code showing how far they'd got already, and then explained what it seemed to be do

  • One can not stop those services like that. Its as if one wanted to get rid of doping in sports by forbidding the advertisement of doping. Having part or all of a theses written from a ghostwriter is very similar to doping. It is cheating. For PhD thesis, where the research has to be defended in a seminar with experts, the fraud is probably difficult. For term papers, schools will have to adapt and add oral examinations for papers which look suspicious. Students will have to sign a statement that they wrote
  • Its somewhat stupid to refuse business ( revenue ) from *legitimate* and *legal* businesses. But, its their right to do so.

    Its also my right not to do business with companies that advertise there, due to their rules.
    • Its somewhat stupid to refuse business ( revenue ) from *legitimate* and *legal* businesses.

      Not really. If it was as simple as you make out, businesses wouldn't have PR departments.

  • The education in US seems to be relying too much on writing papers. That is plain stupid. Instead of trying to catch every plagiarizing bugger, why not to abolish those essays once and forever? Or at least limit them writing only during the class time?

    I think that much more problems will be solved and much less will be created when we establish that free education is not an obligation, but an option. It is inhumane to force people learn math if they do not want to.

    The major complication of this decision is
    • by great om (18682)

      This is because class time is for lecture and disccussion, in short, for teaching. And also, few of the papers I had to write in college would've fit into the hour to hour and a half that my college classes were --I was an English/Ancient History major as an undergrad. My assignments averaged well above 10 pages, with many much, much higher than that. On top of that, in class essay writing and research papers are two different beasts, both of which should be required in a college setting. The plagarism p
      • by mapkinase (958129)
        I hope they do not require papers in physics classes. I could not care less about the level of education of Americans in English or Ancient History (please do not take it personal).
  • [...] which now join other items on the banned list such as tobacco, drugs, weapons, and prostitution.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=grenades [google.com] - turns up an ad reading:


    "Grenades
    Looking for
    grenades? Save!
    www.shoppingpage.us"

    (Now, I know that they're not actually selling grenades, but rather have a pile of ads based off of a list of generic words/terms, but it's pretty funny. "Landmines" used to turn up an Ebay ad reading "Looking for landmines?")

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst

Working...