Have you gotten a notice from Google+ accusing you of spamming? Me too!
Last week, I started getting emails with the subject line “Notice of Google+ content removal.”
The email contains a message that looks like this:
Getting emails for erectile dysfunction when don’t have a penis is spam. Getting offers to have sex with “horny Asian girls near you” when I’m not a lesbian is spam.
So as instructed, I went to the Terms and Policies page to find out why I was getting lumped into the spam category. Rule #7, the spam policy, says:
“Do not spam, including by sending unwanted promotional or commercial content, or unwanted or mass solicitation. ”
“Do not aggressively send invitations, add people to your circles, or message people that you do not know.
Posting In Multiple G+ Communities
As you can see from the email, Google doesn’t tell you which post or comment is triggering the spam notice. That content identifier they provide– it has no use. So, many people with this problem don’t know which piece of content or behavior was considered spam.
I figured out what post prompted my first warning by cross-referencing the time I posted an article with the time I received the notice from Google+. I had this information because when I publish a post here on KnowGoodWords, it automatically reposts on Google+.
I did some research and posted my issue in the Google+ Help community and elsewhere. Based on my suspicion and the feedback I’ve received, I’m most likely being flagged for posting an article in multiple communities. Or as Google would call it “mass solicitation.”
You may be thinking, My God you violated the “mass solicitation” policy? How many times did you share your post?
The answer is two.
One post was created under my “Public” profile when I published here. And I attempted to share it in two communities. And that’s when the notices started.
I have been posting my content in multiple communities for a while. For example, I share an article in communities called freelance writers, bloggers, online self-employed, and work-at-home moms. It’s an effective way to drive traffic to your site.
Or at least it used to be. Now, Google apparently says, No-no. You won’t be doing that anymore. That’s spam.
Google+ user, advocate and Google+ Help moderator John Skeats, who has nearly 900,000 followers, wrote an informative post about spamming on Google+. In it he says:
“Sharing the same post to multiple collections or communities is an issue because there is a very high probability that the same people follow more than one of a person’s collections or are members of the same communities.
As a result, those people could see one instance of the post for each of the collections or communities the post was shared with. That’s just as bad as if you explicitly shared the same post with them multiple times — and therefore considered to be a form of spamming.”
What this means is, if you and I are in the same three communities and I post my article in each of those communities, you would see it three times.
Others also told me posting in multiple communities is likely my problem because it’s well known that Google doesn’t like that.
Linda Tewes, who is an I-don’t-know-what-the-fuck (moderator ? troll ?) in the Google+Help community responds to a lot of the posts about spam problems. Here is what she said when I asked another user why sharing to multiple communities triggers the spam filter:
G+ “Spam” Has No Definition
Posting in multiple communites is far from the only thing that gets you flagged for spam. You can be flagged for posting too often or too rapidly, even if its only to your own page.
One user I was communicating with was getting spam notices for posting webcomics from Tumblr to his profile. He says he’s been doing it for years. But now Google+ decided that he’s spamming himself and they’re deleting the posts.
You can also get flagged for posting similar comments or too many comments…
Google+ is flagging a lot of people for a lot of different things and there is nowhere to find a solid definition of spam.
What to Do About Spam Notices
If you expect to find out exactly what you’ve done to offend the Google+ machine and get the exact guidelines so you can avoid doing it again—forget it about. Google doesn’t operate in specifics.
You can go to the Google+ Help community and post your problem. The cognoscenti there are the closest you can get to any sort of technical support. That’s the official support forum, they say, but they don’t provide official information.
Someone may check your page and help you narrow down what you’ve done wrong. Usually, they’ll point out that you posted X-number of times within an hour/day, etc. and that Google has probably considered that spam.
Once you have those suggestions, you may be able to ease your way back into the graces of the Google+ God (or Goddess).
Before you waste your time trying to plead your case or defend yourself, be forewarned that the moderators almost always insist that whatever you’ve done is spam. Besides they claim they can’t change or control what’s going on. It’s up to the machine.
So be prepared that you’ll probably get something like this:
Or you may get something as insightful as this:
If you plan to ask for the specifics of what you should or should not do, prepare for disappointment. No one seems to know for sure. They just know how to call spam when they see it.
Press for more and at best the conversation goes something like this:
Otherwise, they’ll usually direct you to the Terms and Policies, and I already told you what that says. Or they’ll direct you to a post written by Skeats that lists ways you may possibly be violating the rules.
And although no one knows how this new spam policy works Skeats did offer this advice:
“the person is being well-behaved???
People are running businesses and G+ is playing games like increasing and reducing priviledges based on behavior. Are you f@&King kidding me?
This is when I drop the mic folks. Maybe another day, but for now I’m done. I can’t deal. Good luck.