Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Ad Shame

Doesn't anyone have any shame anymore?

Apparently some people still do. PalMD of White Coat Underground and Orac of Respectful Insolence have recently seen the light. More specifically, they've seen the ads on their blogs placed there by automated algorithms that supposedly select ad content based on the content of the blog posts, and have been appropriately ashamed and appalled.

It turns out that the results of those automated algorithms are embarrassingly inaccurate. Most of the time, they come up with ads for the very things -- chiropractic, colon cleanses, homeopathy, all kinds of alt med woo -- that are being ridiculed, taken to task and otherwise being deconstructed in the very posts they appear beside.

Unfortunately there is another blog, one that prides itself on its skeptical slant to the point that its name is actually "Science-Based Medicine," that has had these ads on the blog's sidebar from its inception. Worse, I've pointed it out to them. Several times. To more than one of them. Their answers ranged from, "Our webmaster can't do anything about it," to "We trust our readers to understand that we don't choose the ads and that we don't endorse their content."


Doesn't even the appearance of conflict embarrass them? That's why I don't have any ads on my blog at all, and I don't think I ever will. There are better ways to make money from writing than passive income from ads for quackery, and there are better reasons to write blogs than to make money. Or at least there ought to be.

We need to be clear not just about what we're doing when we blog, but why we're doing it. Some of the SBM editors have pointed out to me that their blogging takes time, and their expertise is their stock in trade. Blogging costs money (actually, it doesn't have to, or it can cost very little), time is money, and therefore revenue from the ads is justifiable.

I call bullshit.

If you're a doctor like me, you make your living taking care of patients. Ditto if you're a nurse. If you're a doctor who does research, then you are paid by your grants. Writing (which includes blogging) is not the equivalent of patient care. It is possible (and a lot of fun) to be paid for writing, but entering into a contract to be paid a certain sum for writing a something specific is not the same as passively collecting revenue from sidebar advertising on a blog. It's kind of like charging rent to leeches for allowing them to suck your blood.

So Kudos to PalMD. Orac, I'm reserving judgment. Although he states his tolerance will be zero by Monday, I wonder what -- if anything -- he will do about Science-Based Medicine. As it turns out, he blogs there too.


At Fri Jul 03, 10:58:00 AM, Blogger Ed said...

I applaud your decision not to allow advertising on your blog.

At Fri Jul 03, 11:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It can be incredibly distracting and annoying. One of the reasons I can't stand Happy's blog -- apart from his occasional flights of fancy -- is the adverts. Ag.

At Fri Jul 03, 01:52:00 PM, Anonymous James said...

Sure, it's easy to forego the ads when they're bringing in, what, $1--2/day? I have a feeling you may have a different take on the matter if google ads were generating the kind of revenue that would significantly alter your lifestyle.

At Fri Jul 03, 07:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a fellow publisher friend who got ads for their blog. She nearly stroked when some of the first ads that popped up were for Publish America and iUniverse. So while I'm a very quasi woo-lover, I do understand the irony.

At Fri Jul 03, 09:32:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey Parks MD FACS said...

Took all my ads off 6 months ago. Kept getting malpractice attorney ads. Not worth the 37.33 cents per month.

At Fri Jul 03, 11:38:00 PM, Blogger Sevesteen said...

A pro-gun group I belong to used to get ads from the major anti-gun groups. Apparently had a high click-through, and the group was making hundreds of dollars a month.

At Sat Jul 04, 12:40:00 AM, Blogger Nurse K said...

Uh, I have two ads, both for scrubs companies, and I make a decent chunk of change from that, payable in full. Enough to pay for a vacation for my son and me. As a single mom who doesn't (or rarely) receives child support from Deadbeat, I appreciate the small but not entirely insignificant amt of money these ads bring in. It's called capitalism. It's not's more like a magazine ad, which, I hope, you're not opposed to.

For awhile, Happy's blog had gay dating-service ads as well as Asian escort service ads, which I thought was hilarious. His ads are just way, way out of control, but it's part of the whole Happy experience and isn't at-all shocking.

At Sun Jul 05, 06:31:00 AM, Blogger Yoni Freedhoff, MD said...


I pointed it out to them too - over two years ago.

At the time they told me they were working on a new method to select appropriate ads.

I call bullsh#t too.

My blog's ad-free not because I don't want a trickle of income but because ethically I can't stomach the ads that Google will slap on my blog.

At Tue Jul 07, 09:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dino--I agree.

My blog is ad-free. I'm paid to teach and by the government, really. I want to be an educator and practice my commentary.

I find ads annoying. The conflict of interest is worse. Frankly supporting quackery or appearing to support it for money makes them appear suspect to me.


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