Google: Experts Exchange A Top Blocked Site In Google

Nov 2, 2011 • 8:24 am | comments (52) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine
 

experts exchange logoI am not a fan of Experts Exchange, I've called it one of the most annoying sites found in Google. Well, with the Panda update it is no longer found that often in Google.

In fact, Google's Matt Cutts insinuated that Experts Exchange was one of the most blocked sites in the Google Blocked Sites tool and web search feature.

In a Hacker News post on how much traffic the site lost due to Panda, Google's Matt Cutts replied:

One of the signals that we've said that we use in the Panda algorithm that launched in April is how many users blocked a particular site.

To me, a response like that in response to Experts Exchange losing their traffic due to Panda, means that the site was one of the most blocked sites by Google searchers. Of course, I can be wrong and looking too deeply into this.

Forum discussion at Hacker News.

Previous story: Google's Matt Cutts Definitive Cloaking Video
 

Comments:

Web Design Bangalore

11/02/2011 01:15 pm

Nice tips

Down-with-Google

11/02/2011 01:35 pm

Ruin a site's ranking because some people block it? I h8 Gooogle. Tuu mach pouer

John

11/02/2011 01:37 pm

Why does Google make this so public?  Now you're going to see companies with thousands of freelance workers offering a service to "blocking" competitors sites.  Google creates their own problems.

Darren

11/02/2011 02:55 pm

This site has always gotten on my nerves, so I guess it's no surprise I'm not alone.  They tease you in with 'the answer' that they don't provide! 

Mark

11/02/2011 03:19 pm

Experts Exchange is responding to Panda with a new version of the website: http://beta.experts-exchange.com

Joe Youngblood

11/02/2011 04:09 pm

So people block a site, but the reason they blocked it is never qualified. How will google know if the site has become better for a user? quantitative data here is perilous for webmasters. It's also far too easy to 'block' a website. When I report a spammer on facebook I have to tell them why thus facebook is getting quantitative and qualitative data. unfortunately i dont think they do jack with it, but at least if they ever want to erase all of those business profiles that should be pages instead they have that data. the "why" and "how" is answered not just the what. There could be a number of reasons a site is 'blocked' 1. competitors 2. doesnt satisfy query 3. bad design 4. hacked website 5. language issues 6. confused user so Experts Exchange made bank for years annoying users with a tease answer and suddenly got hit by it, does that mean when they rebuild their website to not do this that all of those same users won't find it useful? maybe, maybe not. but "how" will google ever know if they didnt ask the "why" questions in the first place? further rant: much like not definitively telling webmasters 'you were hit by panda' google also doesnt appear to be sharing the '# of pages blocked' to webmasters but is happy to force their +1 junk down your throat inside webmaster tools.

HISWebMarketing

11/02/2011 04:20 pm

Yikes.  I can see people running around blocking their competitors' sites like crazy now!

Michael Beckett

11/02/2011 04:28 pm

You used to be able to look at Google's cached version of the Experts Exchange page and see all the answers for free but I think EE cottoned on to what was happening and changed it :(

Chris Angulo

11/02/2011 04:43 pm

You know its funny. If you hit Google's cache of questions on Experts Exchange, you can see the full discussion of answers. Therefore, Experts Exchange is displaying different information to Googlebot vs. the actual visitor to the site. The last time I checked, this is Bad in Google's eyes.

Jonathan

11/02/2011 05:05 pm

@google-5331e9960fa025df21a8aaccffb7f9f5:disqus, actually that's not true.  If you look at the cached version of one of the pages, you will see the comments at the bottom of the page, as you described.  If you come from Google as a Google referral, you will also see the comments at the bottom of the page.    The content is the same on both pages.  The core problem here does appear to be with the 'remove this site' metrics that Matt Cutts has reported.  What's interesting to me about the 'remove this site' metric (in addition to it not being included in the Google WMT reports so you can't measure it and manage to it), is that they treat people with very different intent exactly the same.  Take two people.  The first removes a site because they are unwilling to pay for it, although they generally have a good opinion about the quality of the content found on that site.  The second absolutely loathes the site and never want's to see it again because they don't like anything about it. Two very different opinions, yet they are counted exactly the same when each requests that site to be removed from their index.  Interesting...

Fedor

11/02/2011 05:37 pm

The only way they are gonna get out of it is to actually display answers and be useful to searchers and not just bait them. It's kind of stupid of them to still be block answers when their competition (stackoverflow.com ect.) is completely free.  They are the ultimate serp troll and I'm happy to see blocked. If anything, this is a prime example of  what happens when you disrespect your visitors, you get punished for it by mass vote.

Fedor

11/02/2011 05:53 pm

You'll need to forge thousands of votes with different browsers, resolution and locations. One could setup a bot with a massive private proxy list to accomplish this, but it will likely take a long time for the block to take effect as it would have to look organic. The amount of block requests would also need to match the site traffic for a prolonged amount of time.... This exploit is far beyond many peoples technical expertise and pocket books to run an operation like this.  I'm sure Google has taken precautions to filter out the false blocks and it's likely semi-manual with an appeal process to support it. So have at it... tell us how it goes. I'm sure you'll get many customers on the blackhat forums.

Jason C. Levine

11/02/2011 05:53 pm

The answers are always visible when coming from Google because EE is playing by Google's rules with first-click free.  Yes, you have to scroll past some stuff to get there but it's not gaming the system.

Jason C. Levine

11/02/2011 06:53 pm

That's an interesting point.  A lot of sites do have user bases in the tens or hundreds of thousands of users.  A coordinated campaign to one's own user base may have an impact.

Jason C. Levine

11/02/2011 06:53 pm

Joe, You know the deal.  Google does what is best for Google.

Eric Peterson

11/02/2011 07:11 pm

Barry, DISCLAIMER: I'm one of Experts Exchange's volunteer admins, and have been a member there since 1999. I'd say you've found the key. EE made some huge mistakes from about 2007 through 2010; over the complaints from the volunteers, it implemented every SEO-friendly tool Google recommended, and for its trouble got 1) competition it had never had, 2) a totally inaccurate reputation and 3) hammered by people who use Google. There's a part of me that could argue that the EE effort is at least as responsible as any other site is for the Panda update. But starting well before Panda, EE began working on a complete rebuild, and the happy accident of Panda meant that the volunteers were actually listened to, and the concerns we have expressed have resulted in a new site -- http://beta.experts-exchange.com -- and a stronger effort to tell our story: http://blog.experts-exchange.com/ee-blog/video-a-different-kind-of-community/ . Haters are haters. They believe everything should be "free" until you ask them to do work for them for that price (you wouldn't, would you?). This site sells "sponsorships" on which one presumes there is a ROI; in my 35 years in newspapers, we called that "advertising". EE found, a decade ago, that for a site the size of Experts Exchange, the advertising model doesn't work, and found that charging for (or asking people to earn) a subscription as a way of keeping the lights on. It is no different from asking you to pay for your bandwidth or cable television; you're the one using it, so you should pay for it. Joe, Let's clear up a few misconceptions. 1. Experts Exchange didn't "make bank" for a very long time. While it started in 1996, it went the VC route and went broke. It then went through nearly four years of rewriting its code base by two developers, and nearly went broke again because it relied on an advertising revenue model. Then it hit on subscriptions, but I've been a member for twelve years and have never paid a penny; if I answer a couple of questions a month, I get full use of the service at no charge. That's not ever going to change. Is EE profitable? Yes, and the last I heard, that's not illegal. Does EE make Google profits? I wish; EE might choose to share some of it with a guy who has been a Moderator for a decade now. 2. We (the members) knew the "why". We also knew what needed to be done about it. But corporate structures and influences being what they are, the predictable results of short-sighted decisions weren't ever really addressed; the current rebuild was already in the works before Panda hit. It is a happy accident that Panda also forced EE to address the issues that got it onto Google's bad boy list in the first place. Nonetheless, we're (the Admin volunteers) very happy about the direction EE has taken with the rebuild. It's cleaner, easier to use, and won't force the Google-Results-Must-Be-Free people to scroll to the bottom of the page to see results. *** If there's anything that bothers us all who like EE, it's that Google isn't very good about sharing why a site gets blocked (although in our case we know), and is even worse about telling what you can do to get off the list. Instead, it posts things like "Experts Exchange A Top Blocked Site In Google" -- which gets retweeted so often that it only makes things (from EE's perspective) that much worse; I didn't think I'd ever run into the Max Tweets Per Day wall until this morning. On the other hand, if one of Google's criteria for being a good guy site is the frequency of mention on social media, I suppose we should be grateful to Mr Cutts. We haven't seen this many mentions in a day for a long time. Eric / Netminder Senior Administrator (volunteer) Experts Exchange

Jason C. Levine

11/02/2011 08:35 pm

You're wrong. If you're coming from Google, the answers are always at the bottom of the page, no messing about with the cache is necessary. 

Jason C. Levine

11/02/2011 08:38 pm

How the heck is having a business model "disrespecting" the visitors?  Sites that size cost money to run...you either get the money given to you for later considerations or you charge for access. Ad revenue isn't sufficient.

Web Design Yorkville

11/02/2011 09:45 pm

So because people hate it, and block it, Panda blocked it further. That sounds like mob mentality. I love it!

Joe Youngblood

11/02/2011 10:13 pm

wanted to follow up. Twitter allows you to 'block' a user or 'report as spam' it doesn't assume they are the same thing, it sees them as mutually exclusive. so when someone angers me i might block them, just emotions though. when someone spams me i report them as a spammer and move on with my day knowing i wont get messages from them again and hopefully others won't either.  to assume that these two things are one in the same (blocking = low quality) i think is outrageous. Even then they could at the very least tell websites within GWT what is being blocked and why. Give us the tools to fix the problem don't just burn websites in the SERPs and in public for being bad. If Google's interest was to help improve the web they would give us this information because content farms won't make a better user experience, they will just find the next thing to gen out in bulk (videos btw). Good websites want to fix it and Google COULD act as the benevolent source that helps them do so.

Joe Youngblood

11/02/2011 10:22 pm

Eric, Thanks for posting. As i mention below a lot of panda hit websites were just doing 'business as usual' the point of panda is that rankings should no longer be the goal, it should be user experience.unfortunately in your case Google seems to have gotten it right and the "innocent" tag probably doesn't apply so well. The question is, when you fix the problem how will they know (aside from a high profile marketing campaign). Maybe that was the intent, or maybe it was to rank struggling YouTube better. In either case the point persist that some websites could have been hit for the same reason you were AND NEVER KNOW IT. They may not have had an outpouring of upset opinions to base their changes on or know what to fix. For them a simple message in GWT stating the blocked search query or manually entered reason would be invaluable in aiding them to improve the website and move out of the penalty if/when Google ever ignores the blocking data.

Eric Peterson

11/03/2011 08:56 am

Joe, "... when you fix the problem how will they know..." Yep. What's true about EE is that it has been down this road before -- though it's hard to think of a time when it took better aim at its own foot before. If one assumes that being in business is about maximizing return (which is what my micro-economics profs taught), then EE is supremely guilty of doing exactly what Google said sites should do (to the point of almost making it an art form) -- and is suffering the consequences. There were enough short-sighted decisions and actions to fill a book. Now, the only thing we can do is what we did in 2001 -- do what we can to save our community. Fortunately, this time we have some allies in the development staff at EE; for the last 18 months or so, they have been paying attention to what our collective experience as members, developers/programmers and business-people can contribute, which will be reflected in the new site. I don't imagine any of us can say whether that will be enough for Google. What we can say is that we (both the site's members and the staff) will continue to build the best possible experience for people who use EE's services. If Google doesn't like THAT, then eventually that will catch up with them. ep

Eric Peterson

11/03/2011 09:11 am

Joe, Interesting you should bring up the content farms (and by extension, the sites that scrape content and republish it as their own). One of the accusations leveled about EE is that it's a content farm (which is perplexing, because in the same breath people will also decry the fact that EE charges a subscription fee and doesn't pay the people providing solutions to questions). The people who say that have obviously never gotten an email from someone saying "my copyrighted content is posted at Q_xxxxxxxx.html"; if they did, they would know that we're pretty much death on people who "borrow" from others, be they Microsoft or some JC lecturer who teaches a night class on introductory HTML. What's probably more of a factor is the aforementioned long career in newspapers; I've had my work stolen by others, and it's not a good feeling at all to see your words reprinted under someone else's byline in a competing publication. Given my seniority as one of the people responsible for "managing" the site, let's just say we're more sensitive to it than most sites are. We've also been subject to any number of instances in which we've had to send to Google literally hundreds of thousands of pages cross-referencing them to the same content posted word for word (including the signature Netminder, Senior Admin). Yet those sites -- different names, but IP addresses in the same range, owned by the same people, served from the same ISPs -- show up in Google results, often above the original sites (others have the same issue, but they weren't hit as hard by Panda as EE was). The one singular difference? They have Google AdSense ads on their pages (and ads served by others as well). ep

JIm

11/03/2011 01:54 pm

Wow and I thought I was the only one who was annoyed by Experts Exchange website. My hat off to Google for recognizing useless sites like Experts Exchange and remove it .... I hated it when I found the question asked there and come to find out I had to subscribe and pay. Whey would I want to do that when other sites like :stack overflow, webmasterworld.com offer it for free

JIm

11/03/2011 01:56 pm

Well then find another business mode Pal...

Fedor

11/03/2011 04:06 pm

Deceiving searchers into clicking your site in search of a solution to only to find a paywall is disrespectful, especially when you're cloaking and displaying the answer to googlebot, visible via cache. You'd have to presume  both the people and google are idiots, people would pay up and google would just let it slide. If they tell you ad revenue is insufficient, they are either lying or are completely incompetent. Insulting the intelligence and resourcefulness of people that you bait into visiting your site is not cool and the people have responded via blocks.

Fedor

11/03/2011 04:19 pm

Trust me, there are hundreds of thousands with you, celebrating the slaying of the Troll which is EE. I still twitch every now and then when I see EE in the serps. I wonder if there's a support group for that.

Eric Peterson

11/03/2011 07:21 pm

Barry, Just so you know, you have a fan who apparently likes copying and pasting your writing as his: http://www.jatinmahindra.com/google-experts-exchange-a-top-blocked-site-in-google/ ep

Barry Schwartz

11/03/2011 07:30 pm

honored

Joe Youngblood

11/03/2011 10:10 pm

Brands have to fight this, maybe that's why Schmidty thinks brands are the solution to the "cesspool" that is the internet. I can say i never had a good experience at EE, but then again I never stayed longer than it took to hit the back button, which on my 7 button mouse is right by my thumb. Before the internet though people would skip listings in the yellow pages, heck i still avoid walmart and dollar general... for separate reasons. The point is a brand will always have advocates, non-carers, and haters. The goal is to keep the advocates and the non-carers as the majority, and the haters a minority. Unless of course your brand is a Rap label. The solution to EE's problem? Aggressive website changes, aggressive branding and a year or two of apologetics for past bad behavior. If the "Evil Empire" (microsoft) can turn over a new leaf, any brand can.

DJ

11/04/2011 07:55 am

Does anyone know of original commentary where Google state that evidence of visitors' use of the blocked sites feature is a part of Panda? I mean other than that recent Hacker News post. I can't recall reading anything from Google on site blocking and Panda?

Eric Peterson

11/04/2011 04:57 pm

Fedor, You must not have gotten the memo. If you're coming from a Google search, you can simply scroll down the page and get the entire solution. That happened some time prior to Panda. ep

Alireza Sefati

11/04/2011 10:06 pm

Shame that site got me through college and computer science  program :)

Eric Peterson

11/05/2011 06:33 am

Don't worry... we're not going away.

Matt

01/28/2012 08:07 pm

I have been a member of EE for about 10 years now. I think it is one of the best sites on the internet. In that time I have probably posted 20 questions... The newer model of paying to see an answer is quite frustrating and poor. If there had to be a subscription for just reviewing other posters questions, then it should be minimal imo. The older model of 10 points a day to ask a question I think worked well and there was full access to review the answers and to answer all other questions. I think the pool of experts has probably become diluted over the years. Anyway, for the first time ever I just purchased a subscription to this site and I don't regret it. I could go and find other sites to get the same assistance I am sure, but this model has worked for many years for me, so I don't really have a major issue with it.

Smugs2che

03/09/2012 05:09 pm

This is so True. The site is a fraud . It went bankrupt in 2001 and all it does is take money from people and don't give them anything in return. The site is a sham. Please if you want to learn good stuffs, there are other more reasonable site that will offer a lot.Even when you don't use their services, your account will be credited with no refund. Please desist from this site it won't help you but steal from you.

Tommyhere

04/18/2012 02:20 am

These EE idiots were allowing google bot and other search engine bots to open and index their pages. Those indexed pages where on google search result. But not allowing any browsers to open those pages. When we open those pages in browsers we see some shattered text asking for a payment. It was like that... EE site was open only for search engine bots. Not for browsers. All of my friends were annoyed of this EE site and we thought many times to inform this to google. Thanks a lot google for identifying those frauds and removing those idiots from google index....

Nico5038

04/19/2012 08:00 pm

Obviously you didn't test this Eric as answers are really hidden for quite a while to the "outside world". It was just after my suspension that I could see how EE as has changed into a "pay or go" site after I joined. And please stop with calling yourself a volunteer, that's a title of honor for the true experts, not for you.

Murphey

05/01/2012 11:32 am

" all it does is take money from people and don't give them anything in return" NOT True, EE was free, but because a lot of people like to have answers and refuse to help others with the knowledge they maybe have, EE made the decision that there are 2 way's to get an answer :1- Help others in Topic areas where you have a (little) knowledge  2- if you don't like to help, then you have to pay.I'm a member for 8 years and ask a lot of questions (and get free answers) in return I answer 2 or 3 questions per month in my expert area.So if you war a very social person, EE is free.

Tom

07/15/2012 01:50 am

Funny because EE has helped me solve some of the most difficult situations I have run into without ever even having to ask the question myself. And in these situations, I could not find an answer anywhere else. If you scroll down, the thread is always at the bottom of the page. So you actually get it for free, if you are willing to scroll a little bit. If you want to ask questions and get quality answers...pay for it! Time is money.

Rob Ainscough

07/25/2012 04:46 pm

I had an subscription to EE but cancelled for a few reasons: 1. People answering questions would just use google to find an answer and cut and paste2. 75% of the time the "answers" were not correct3. People would hassle me to mark a "correct" answer even if it really wasn't correct and then they'd go into the Semantics of how I posed my question (I was paying to get answers not debate question semantics) 4. Answers were often vague, incomplete, or a link to "go read this" But I soon realized the type of questions I was asking was really too technical -- meaning that if someone really did know a correct answer, they most likely wouldn't be spending time on EE answering questions, they'd have a full time job with no spare time like the rest of us developers. EE might work for easier to moderate tech levels if they can address the four items I listed above. But if EE wants to be a "true" technical resource, then they need to pay experienced people to be there, not volunteers or people trying to "earn" a subscription ... and that WILL cost money (lots of it). So subscription costs would be 5X higher. What the EE folks don't understand is that if the tech is accurate/correct 90% of the time and response times are very quick and hassle free, many companies will pay $1000-$2000/yr (or more) for a subscription -- why, because they know that their highly paid tech person spending hours figuring out a problem would cost them more than $1000-$2000/yr (a lot more). I see this as the ONLY way EE will survive and be able to make a reasonable profit.

Raiderwolf

08/06/2012 01:19 pm

That's right Fedor. That is the most irritating part of EE, it ACTS like it is going to give you an answer but they don't have the answer, an answer that MANY other sites probably have for free (free from sharing your name and email address OR your money), unless you give them your money or your information. At the best, EE is a name-email address gathering troll.

Raiderwolf

08/06/2012 01:24 pm

No, they block the answer with an extortion page that basically says "give us your information or you get no information". They bait you with part of the answer and hide the rest of the answer. You must be one of the people that were scammed into surrendering your money and information to them and don't remember what it was like before then.

DIMan

10/12/2012 11:34 am

I for one can't stand the EE. They are arrogant a$$holes. You ask a question, you get the IM BETTER THAN YOU sarcastic response. I report them all the time to Google and Bing and there is a movement to counter what they are doing and again make the advice free. It's a rip off and they are scammers worked by scammer volunteers.

Mateja Jovanovic

02/04/2013 12:59 pm

Dont you just hate the concept of the web sites that match exactly your answer, but you have to pay in order to see the answer? I´m so happy they´re facing problems, now they see how I feel every time I see that stupid answer covered with "pay to see" logo...

Kiran

02/25/2013 03:27 pm

I also hate expert exchange. There service is hopeless. Stackoverflow is great

JasonEnzoD

03/01/2013 12:38 am

I thought EE was good until about 2008 or thereabouts when they started making these big changes and killed off the P&R forum. They got a bit too big for their own boots. I eventually just stopped using it.

Joe

04/27/2013 02:37 pm

I use this website for it.. It gives me the right referer for expert-exchange http://blog.dreessen.it/?p=82 You Just have to paste the URL and hit the Button,

Badotz

06/07/2013 12:04 pm

Fradulent? You, Sir, are a Troll. You have obviously never been in a tight spot with a problem that had no answer as some of us have. I volunteered at EE for many years. I answered enough questions to earn over a million points. I concentrated on answering JavaScript questions because that is my niche. Some of the questions I answered were easy, and some were not. I never pasted links without some guidance and explanation. I gave freely of my knowledge, and my reward was free access (and a bunch of T-shirts ;-) Answers to questions receive a grade, and from that, points are calculated. By earning 3,000 points per month, I was able to subscribe to the service and the monthly fee was waived. That means the service is free if you contribute. If you are a lurker, though, and believe that knowledge has no value (i.e. should be free) then of course you won't grok the EE concept. I'm not saying EE is perfect, far from it. I have always maintained that the site caters to the Askers of questions and treats the Answerers as 3rd-class citizens. I have been suspended several times for calling a spade a spade, and there is no recourse. Answering questions is addicting, but I finally reached a point where I could not continue. The new website has many flaws IMHO, and not a single suggestion I made was ever...well, let's just say that the nerds behind EE have an agenda, and mine was not part of it. So I did what I did when I quit smoking: I stopped answering questions on EE. Just like that. Oh, I still feel a twinge when I'm searching Google for this or that and a link to EE pops up. But I will never be a part of that site, ever again. Not for your stupid reasons, though, you frakking troll.

JasonEnzoD

07/01/2013 05:35 pm

The most annoying thing is when you ask a question and zealous moderators assume your motives are suspicious and start behaving like military police. When Microsoft released Outlook they gave you the option to create aliases, but I couldn't figure out how to send a mail using the alias without your main account name showing up (which would have been handy in cases where you want anonymity). The responses were pathetic. Firstly the moderator asked if were using the account for spam, while other members asked why I would want to remain anonymous, anyway, stating that if I were an honest person I would have nothing to hide. As if it were any of their business! The worse of it was that I was actually a paying member with 10 years of history with them, and master ratings in two subjects. I replied that if I had wanted to send out spam I'd simply create another account. I pointed out that it would be stupid to use my main Microsoft account even with an alias. You see they hadn't even thought their replies through, but instead had instinctively pounced on me like they had nothing better to do. I decided at that point that enough was enough and closed my account with them. Hope they close down, smug self-assured bunch of nerds.

Ryan H

09/19/2013 04:25 pm

As good as EE *might* be to those that subscribe, it is nothing but spam to those who do not. When half of your first-page Google results are from there, and you're really trying to solve an issue, it's utterly useless to have EE show up in the search results. You can't see the answers. I'm not going to pay a subscription to find out whether or not the answer actually answers my question.

Integritron

12/19/2013 09:33 am

EE just attempted to charge my bank account $19.95 for a subscription I never even knew I subscribed to. I may have subscribed by some tricky scheme they've got going on but if one has to be tricked into subscribing then their service is not legit in my opinion.

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