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Confusion over badges, "affiliate links", and non-profit ads

  1. I have recently created a blog here at wordpress.com: http://ysml.wordpress.com/

    I want to add 80x15 buttons to my site linking back to pages on my own personal domain (my email page, my homepage, and eventually my legal disclaimer and links page) and also to SpreadFirefox.com, Technorati, and the Democratic Party.

    My personal domain is non-profit and I am not interested in boosting any search engine ratings - in fact my personal pages all have "no index,no follow" tags. Would these links be considered link farming?

    All of the graphics are hosted by me and the only "affiliate" link is to Spread Firefox, which is non-profit. According to this page (http://faq.wordpress.com/2005/12/08/adsense/), the 80x15 Spread Firefox badge would not be permitted as only text links are permitted for affiliate links, but this page seems to encourage the use of badges (http://faq.wordpress.com/badges/). Are badges and corresponding affiliate links permitted as long as they are approved by wordpress.com? If so, why is a link listed for "Steal These Buttons"? Also, is an "Add to Google" button considered an affiliate link?

    I am also interested in placing 150x200 ad-sized graphics on my sidebar promoting non-profit charities (Doctors Without Borders) and "netroots" campaigns (SaveTheInternet.com). These images are hosted by me, would include simple, direct links, and would not result in any personal profit. Would they still be a violation of TOS and lead to my blog being deleted?

    Any clarifications would be greatly appreciated.

    (EDIT: I have removed the 150x200 images from my blog to prevent TOS deletion, but I have left the buttons to demonstrate what I want to do with the sidebar.)

  2. As another WordPress user I'd say those all sound fine to me, but to be safe I'd submit them to staff in a Feedback along with links to each of the sites you'd be linking to so they could confirm what you say.

    If an Add to Google button is a violation of TOS, there is probably a bounty on my head at this very moment. But I think it should be just fine. If not, I'm sure the staff will tell you (and me!).

  3. Raincoaster:

    Thanks for the response. I figured the TOS are designed to prevent the user from profiting financially using free (as in beer) WP.com resources, but the adsense FAQ post really came across as restrictive and confusing. If I don't get an "official" response on this thread I'll send a Feedback.

  4. like raincoaster, i too, would have a bounty on my head.

    but there's nothing like an official signoff to say it's okay.

  5. If someone reported a blog that had charity /non-profit links and there was no financial gain then I wouldn't have a problem with that - after all, these things need publicity and blogs can get them that.

    The Add to Google - it's for a feed isn't it? That's not even the tiniest problem :)

  6. I hate to keep pressing this issue, but I'm still unclear on this. If ads for charities are ok, how about political "netroots" groups? Also, is a link to Spread Firefox considered an affiliate link? Is an 80x15 button linking to Firefox ok? Can someone define "affiliate" as it relates to the FAQ entry I referenced in the first post?

    I'm getting the feeling that some of this stuff is technically breaking the rules, but it isn't important or serious enough to warrant deletion. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence since another moderator or WP.com employee may look at things differently.

  7. "Affiliate" doesn't mean any link that is to an organization you're a part of. "Affiliate" links are links which, when people click through them, cause you to be given money. The issue here is the monetization of your blog; there are tons of blogs which exist only to generate clicks through affiliate links to make money.

    If these are simply links to groups (particularly nonprofit) of which you are a part, and from which you get no revenue, then this is not an issue.

  8. Thank you so much. That makes things a lot clearer. I have no intention of ever making a dime from my blog, so I'll stop worrying.

  9. Um, the Firefox link is an issue though since it does contain an affliate code within the link and you can profit from it. Mark and I have discussed this in the past.

  10. @drmike
    FYI - Yesterday Mark gave the okay to a blog wherein the blogger had 18 links in his blogroll all of which were directed to domains that he owns. This was in contrast to the "gardening" folks. Hence I don't think clarity has been achieved on this issue. I'm utterly confused on the issue now and therefore I will be booting every query on it directly to Mark.

  11. Where's that? Would love to see it.

    Mark and I have discussed the spreadfirefox link in the past. I'll send in a feedback though with a link to this thread. I think he's taking a day off though since I'm not getting any replys back from staff today.

  12. Actually Mark was posting just a little while before you arrived. And he was around when we both unbeknownst to one another reported the mlm spammer by feedback.

  13. The gardening folks were writing content in each post and then directing both visitors and the search engine spiders to their off site website for more information.

    The person you mention is just listing their own projects in the sidebar while the content within their posts is original content and appears not to be related to those links within the sidebar. Heck, I would do the same thing if my host wasn't having issues today with the database. *sigh*

    And, I've got to admit that he or she went after you because you were playing moderator again. They probably wouldn't have done so if you hadn't. :)

  14. Hi,
    We have no problem with _____ or any of his blogs, links or posts.
    We also do not divulge who is a VIP.

    Thanks for the note but _____ is not devaluing the domain.
    -

    Mark

  15. Timethief - I made my position crystal clear on that matter.

    Please do not twist things.

  16. TT - you are implying that I was applying double standards. I was not and do not. drmike obviously knows who it is and agrees - and we have not spoken about this.

    I have repeatedly made my position on ads and links very very clear. It will not be made clearer.

  17. @Mark
    I am twisting nothing. I am implying nothing.

    (1) The email from you above is quoted verbatim minus the blogger's name.
    (2) It contains only a decision.
    (3) It does *not* contain within it any clarification of any policy criteria upon which such decisions are made.

    Hence I'm utterly confused because I don't think clarity has been achieved on this issue. In the post pertaining to the gardening people you said: one link is one link.

  18. "Mark gave the okay to a blog wherein the blogger had 18 links in his blogroll all of which were directed to domains that he owns" implied I was okaying something that should not have been.

    And yes it was a decision.

    Please report any blogs - using the correct link in the admin bar - and they will be reviewed.

  19. SHEESH!
    I have never ever quibbled with your authority to make these judgment calls Mark. In fact, as you will recall and as the threads demonstrate, it has been me who has been repeatedly defending it.

    I was utterly confused and I still am because I still don't think clarity has been achieved on this issue. Hence, I gave drmike a heads up because when he was gone the one link rule changed and I didn't know why.

  20. I will switch the Firefox affiliate link to a simple, non-affiliate link to the FF download page. I do not want to cause any problems or leave any unanswered questions as to the legitimacy of my blog. Above all else I want to be as responsible a wordpress.com user as possible.

    Please also see my disclaimers page (http://youspeakmylanguage.com/legal-notice).

  21. We also do not divulge who is a VIP.

    That seems clear enough to me, tt. The person you complained about obviously was, else you'd have been reassured they weren't.

  22. Actually the firefox link would be fine as long as it's the only one up there.

  23. Thanks DM, but none of my links are important enough to be an issue. I would rather have my Amazon Wishlist count than an affiliate link that maybe 4 people have clicked through.

    Has anyone ever suggested that WordPress.com should develop their own Adsense-type program? They could create a widget with ads that they select and control and then share the revenue with the blog owner. It would specifically be tailored towards blogs that generate enough traffic to earn some advertising revenue, but not enough to justify the expense of a VIP account.

    I wouldn't personally be interested in this because I have no interest in commercializing my blog and I don't generate significant traffic in the first place, but it's just a thought.

  24. WordPress is currently running Adsense. The reason you've never seen it is that you're generally logged in, and logged-in WP.com bloggers never see the ads. WordPress itself is running the ads as a test and may make them standard in the future.

    One of the suggestions was that there be a revenue split between the blogger and WordPress.com for any revenue generated. Another suggestion was a cost-based opt-out program, to keep your blog ad-free. Note that if your blog is on WordPress you cannot guarantee that it is ad-free; you just do not know. Feedback would be the way to discuss that with the staff.

  25. I just checked my blog through Tor and there are no ads present as of yet.

    I already pay to use my own domain and to edit my CSS. I have so far been very impressed by and supportive of WordPress.com but if I am forced to accept ads and other users who pay nothing for their blogs are not I will most likely be moving my blog elsewhere.

  26. I think the ads have been running more than long enough now not to qualify as a 'test' anymore. Unless they're using 'test' in the same sense that the rest of web 2.0 uses 'beta' ;)

    Basically, we can't run ads on our blogs because wordpress.com is already running their ads on our blogs, and if we were to pack our own sidebars with ads, overdo the affiliate linkage or generally look spammy this would be in danger of violating the Adsense ToS.

    Incidentally, Google states that ads should not be included on sites with 'pornography, adult, or mature content' or 'excessive profanity', so presumably blogs flagged 'mature' are ad-free.

  27. I'm going to monitor my blog for awhile. If commercial ads appear, then I'll have a discussion with the staff through the feedback forums. Needless to say I won't be happy about the situation since I already pay for some premium services. But it is pointless to get angry about something that hasn't happened yet.

  28. You have referred to the "one link rule". Could someone kindly point me in the direction to locate that information? I can't seem to find where the user agreement is. I'm sure it's right under my nose and I'm just not seeing it. Thanks.

    Okay found the terms of service, but still didn't see anything about "one link". Is that some sort of unwritten policy?

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