Matt Cutts: Industry Leaders Are Incapable Of Performing Editorial Discretion

For those of you who have missed the stories behind Google making Donna Fontenot jump through hoops and taking her prisoner of war, where’s a brief rundown. At one time Donna accepted money for advertising (fully disclaimed as such), and some forms of those adverts involved the client getting a link back. Google pimp slapped Donna back in October. She went through and changed everything she could find that might be the problem, and filed a reinclusion request back in December. As of yesterday nothing has changed, although Matt Cutts has reviewed her site personally and given her some feedback and suggestions on 2 posts she appears to have missed, which she took, and he says now things should be ok.

Quick sidetrack so I can emphasize here… she missed two posts.

Now, here’s what gets me (well, at the moment anyways, since the whole thing bugs me really)… I blogged yesterday about Donna having to kiss Google’s ass, and submitted the story to Sphinn. In that submission, Matt makes the following comment:

mvandemar, we’ve said for years that we are willing to take manual action on spam. – Matt Cutts

Ok… wait a minute here. This is my friend Donna we’re talking about, and now you’re saying she’s a spammer? Because she accepted money for doing a review?

2 years ago, when asked why it was ok for Yahoo to accept money for links, Matt made this reply:

Josh, with Yahoo, you’re paying for the manual review of a site by an editor–it’s not automatically approved by any means. – Matt Cutts

I happen to know for a fact that Donna did not accept every review that she was asked to do. In fact, she rejected probably about one third of them. She went through the exact process that Matt claims makes it ok for Yahoo to accept money for links… she manually reviewed them and made an editorial decision on whether or not to accept them. There are exactly 2 differences between what Yahoo does and what Donna did:

  • Donna didn’t charge if she decided that it wasn’t something she would feel comfortable endorsing with a link (Yahoo keeps your money either way).
  • The Yahoo reviewers are just employees, anonymous to the world with no reputation at stake if they let a crappy site into their directory… Donna took more care in her decision making process than they most likely do.

Now, of course neither the person who originally penalized Donna’s site, nor the person who reviewed her reinclusion request, nor Matt himself, knew what the specific numbers of paid review requests were that Donna rejected, but considering that her site is now getting special attention from Matt Cutts himself, they knew she was a highly respected blogger, and they must have known she didn’t accept everyone. Therefore it must be that Matt has indoctrinated his spam team to go based on the assumption that Donna’s (and by extension the other industry leaders, since she’s not the only one they have slapped) manual reviews are, in fact, worthless.

Matt, why is this? What is it about these people that you interact with on a regular basis that leads you to trust the decision making process of anonymous Yahoo employees over theirs?

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