Google Bans A Top Forum Contributor Potentially Sparking A Google Revolution

Mar 1, 2011 • 8:23 am | comments (23) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO & SEM Forum News

Pink TankI have seen Google ban many profiles from the Google forums, but I have never seen Google ban a profile of someone they specifically labelled a top contributor/bionic poster.

But that is what happened sometime around February 4th.

Autocrat, someone who has posted hundreds, if not, thousands of times in the Google Webmaster Help forum has been banned. Why? If you look at Autocrat's profile you will see a message saying, "Part of this page is hidden according to the Terms of Service." Plus, Autocrat has not posted since.

Google Ban

The Google Webmaster Help thread about his ban or mysterious vacation is calling for him to come back. One frequent contributor said he has been in touch with Autocrat and he was indeed banned due to the way he responded in other threads. Those threads have been moderated and removed for the most part.

He said:

Just to let you all know that I have been in touch with Auto over the last couple of weeks and he is fine, as you know he is unable to post at the moment and does not know if this will change in the future.

Auto has however just asked me to say Hi for him and Thank You for the support.

As the top contributors began to analyze the issues using Google Cache, the cache content went away. So now other top contributors are upset and Steven Lockey is calling for a "Bring back Auto" campaign.

Are we going to see our own revolution in the Google forums. I mean, revolutions are in these days, just look at Egypt and Libya.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Update: Google's JohnMu, likely one of the individuals responsible for managing this forum, wrote:

Hi everyone

Thanks for your posts here. Everyone who participates in the forum -- members, Top Contributors, and even Google guides -- is bound by the forum's Terms of Service and Posting Guidelines. Violations of the Terms of Service or Posting Guidelines can result in warnings and, as a very last resort, losing the privilege to participate in the forum. Warnings and loss of the privilege to participate in the forum are a private matter between Google and the individual member involved.

Autocrat has been a great help to an extremely large number of users here; I'm thankful to have had him here during this time -- and I'm certain that I'm not alone (as we can see from the posts above).


Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: February 28, 2011


Colin McDermott

03/01/2011 02:21 pm

Bring back Auto!


03/01/2011 02:39 pm

It won't be long and it will be trending in twitter #bringbackauto

X Google Forum Reader

03/01/2011 03:39 pm

This is surprising, surprising Google did not ban him/her long ago. The abusive, mean-spirited attacks on new site owners will not be missed, except by a handful of equally abusive, mean-spirited regulars. Hopefully the ban signals a change in culture on the part of Google and some of the other cyber bullies who poison Google Webmaster Help will meet the same fate.


03/01/2011 03:57 pm

^ I'm glad you took the time to read the actual thread, as it clearly helped stop you making an ill-informed and generalised comment. And yes, those mean mean volunteers, giving away free SEO advice to complete strangers. So very mean of them.


03/01/2011 04:04 pm

You must be refering to Squibble Other Top Contributors including Autocrat provide great advice, Free of Charge Banning Auto because he stood up for white hat webmasters who reported competitors spam tactics and the spam teams failure to act upon it, is clearly wrong Google is so fed up of criticism they blocked his account preventing him from posting further


03/01/2011 04:44 pm

Facts Barry... It sometimes pays to get them straight... For the record, those doing the 'reporting' and 'analyzing' are long standing forum regulars; none of them are in fact Top Contributors at this particular stage. Both the referenced thread, as well as the above blog post are merely conjecture, and I dare say a fair bit of link-baiting too.

Archie Watt

03/01/2011 04:48 pm

Autocrat may be direct and somewhat critical and judgmental (admittedly overly so on occasion), but I have yet to see a thread where that was not prompted (i.e. - because of the poster's behaviour, or the most common - the poster not reading the FAQ's & Searching). He is however, probably the most helpful and by far the most active user the group has. The inappropriate postings in the thread which (I think) he was banned because of were not from him, but from another user. Now those seem to have been removed as well, but that particular poster doesn't seem to have been banned as well. So anyway - my view - banning him was wrong and I hope he'll be back soon. And Barry? None of us who've been doing the "analyzing" are actually TC's (Thomas is a TC in Web Search, but not in Webmasters). And the person who contacted Auto is a 'she'.

Barry Schwartz

03/01/2011 04:50 pm

Did I say anything not accurate? Is he not banned?


03/01/2011 05:05 pm

Conjecture Barry... That's all. :-) Merely pointing out certain inaccuracies in your post, and congratulating you on a fine piece of link-bait... nothing more... ;-)

Barry Schwartz

03/01/2011 05:07 pm

Hey, I need to have some fun also.

Michael Martinez

03/01/2011 05:47 pm

I have nothing personally against Autocrat but I feel (and have publicly stated on several occasions) that several of the Bionic posters cross the line of rudeness. I have complained to them directly and have reported a few of them for abuse (I don't recall if I ever reported Autocrat for abuse -- I don't think so). The Bionic Posters are people just like the rest of us and they wade through a lot of silly, crappy discussions where people become intransigent or just don't want to accept that Google has quality guidelines. I respect them for working in that environment. But they still -- in my opinion -- have a responsibility to treat everyone with a minimum standard of dignity and respect. There has been no real standard for a long time. It's unfortunate that Autocrat was banned as his advice was often among the most helpful. But I am glad to see that there is finally some measure of accountability for the Bionic Posters. They ARE the public face of Google in those forums, even though they are only volunteers who do not work for Google.


03/01/2011 05:59 pm

Finally Google is starting to show some judgment when it comes to dealing with their forums. As someone who has read many of Autocrats postings, and has been on the receiving end of his comments, he is insulting, rude, and disrespectful to those who are honestly seeking advice. He was a terrible representative for Google and should have been gone a LONG time ago. Let’s be clear, if Autocrat did not like your question, or felt you were not listening to his "advice" he would quickly point out all your failings, and jump down your throat; this is not the type of treatment that ANYONE should have to put up with in a “help” forum. It is about time that Google started to create the same type of standards for good behavior in the forums that it expects for those using creating websites. Inherently, one has to question the wisdom of allowing unpaid posters to give out advice without any oversight, or guidance. It creates an environment for those who clearly have personal issues to run wild over those who are genuinely confused and seeking help. If Google really wanted to do something to address type of endless bad behavior that Autocrat inflicted on forum users they would get rid of this system and, instead, HIRE professionals who would have both the training and insight to do some real good. Instead, they have created the wild west of information; you might get an answer, or you might get shot down!


03/01/2011 06:22 pm

If any of the Top Contibutors should be banned for rudeness and lack of helpfulness then it should have been Squibble. Autocrat would provide more detailed analysis and possible solutions, where as Squibble intention is only to redicule others to boost his ego.

Barry Schwartz

03/01/2011 06:24 pm

Should have known this would turn into a slug fest. I guess I'll just let all these comments slide. Have fun.

Archie Watt

03/01/2011 06:30 pm

As I've said earlier, having been a member of the group for over a year now, I have never seen Autocrat be abusive towards others without being prompted, either due to their attitude or their failure to do what they were asked to do before posting. And he isn't a Google representative, everybody in the forum (including Bionic Posters) are volunteers, with the exception of those specifically labelled as Google employees.


03/01/2011 06:40 pm

"And he isn't a Google representative" Not so Archie. Google has chosen to give him a title "Bionic." They have elavated him to a higher level then other posting. While it is true that he is not being paid, I would venture to guess this distiction is lost on most who visit the forum. The impression that you get is that he is contact with Google and that they regard those who are "bionic" as having special insight. Thus, he represents Google. If this is not the case then Google should get rid of all the titles. Then newbies would know that it is just another loud mouth with a half baked opinion.

X Google Forum Reader

03/01/2011 06:44 pm

While I certainly agree that the poster Autocrat (sorry not familar with the poster squibble) 'should have been gone a LONG time ago' I do not agree with your assessment of the forum in general. Admittedly I do not have much experience with the forum, only 1 question, and while I was attacked by Autocrat and his/her sycophants (who have now stormed to the defense of their mentor) I did receive a very helpful response from the poster webadoo. I made the decision that the 'free' help was not worth the price, abuse and moved on to other forums.

Barry Schwartz

03/01/2011 06:46 pm

But it is funny how all his supporters are changing their Google Avatar to a pink color. I mean, seriously, this is funny.

Thomas P.

03/01/2011 06:53 pm

Barry, Your quoting, is (as far as I can tell) wrong: User "littleboots" is not a TC. ( The source of the quote is: )

Barry Schwartz

03/01/2011 06:56 pm

I'll update, but it doesn't matter much.

Jim Munro

03/02/2011 05:53 am

Calm down Barry. :) A couple of paid shills and a few good people does not a slugfest make. Better luck next time. :)

Barry Schwartz

03/02/2011 11:04 am

I am calm.


08/26/2011 02:42 pm

Google should consider banning other Top Contributors.  I have been on the receiving end of rude comments made by these volunteers.  Apparently others have also.  There should be a Help Forum for reporting TC rudeness directed toward Google users who ask for help.

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