Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

March 24, 2005

Rats For Sale - Check out the Deals Now!

I love Google. And I love EBay. And I love the fact that small Web publishers can make a few bucks these days, because of tools like Adsense.

But am I the only one on the Web who's noticed something very weird going on with all this text advertising - something so weird that it occasionally makes me think I'm going crazy?

Here's what I mean. Go to Google and look for something that you know isn't for sale on Ebay. Rats - for example. You'll get a little pop-up ad from EBay that says:

Rats for sale. aff
Check out the deals now!

Now, this can't be right, can it? EBay doesn't sell rats, does it?

Do the same for another animal, say parrots. The little text ad now reads:

Parrots for sale. aff
Check out the deals now!

No, EBay doesn't sell parrots either, nor does it sell Web sites such as, even though you'll get the following if you type in "Disobey".

Disobey Sale
New & used Disobey. aff
Check out the deals now!

What's going on here, friends? Isn't Google, in its supreme intelligence, wise enough to filter out obvious non-matches for Ebay's listings? Isn't there something odd, if not exactly unethical, about these text ads' behavior, in so far as they mislead users into thinking that a given commodity is available exactly where it isn't?

I'm not complaining, here - just pointing out that sometimes, all the intelligence in the world can't save one from cosmic dumbness.

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