Mailbag: Site Censorship

Mailbag: Site Censorship


January 28, 2019

 

(image via Ezoic)

Just wanted to say thanks for all of the fantastic, informative, and free content you’ve provided through time.  On that note, I can’t fault you from omitting “attractive girls” to generate income for yourself…you deserve it!  I am also surprised by how much I miss that aspect of the site but I do.  It’s not the same.  I remember an old school barber shop in the back of a bowling alley where I grew up that had Playboy magazines on the table next to the barber chair.  I think when I was 10 or so I finally worked up the courage to open one and the barber didn’t say a thing.  Just kept cutting my hair.  Your site had that cool feel where you could get the news, interesting analysis, and a bit more in a classy way, regardless of whether it’s deemed so or societally appropriate.  I hope you’re considering saying screw the ad robots and bringing back the ladies but my perspective is wholly selfish and my opinion cheap.   
Either way, thanks for all you do and Go Blue!
I mentioned this last week, but Google AdSense started dinging me for all the pictures of good looking women that used to be here on Touch the Banner. I typically make anywhere from $400 to $900 per month from AdSense, which is the majority of the blog’s income, so I couldn’t afford to keep the pictures. Not only did I stop posting new ones, but Google’s bots were dinging me for pictures from several months ago, so I went back and purged them all.
Hit the jump for more.

I can’t say that I ever encountered a Playboy at a barbershop, but I did spend a bit longer than necessary flipping through the pages of Maxim on occasion. (Full disclosure: My childhood barber had a subscription to Sport magazine, which I looked forward to reading while waiting in line.)
The pictures on the site were something that had been ingrained in the site since close to the beginning, back in the Blogspot days, and to be honest, I don’t think I ever did much explaining. They were just there for readers’ enjoyment, and only occasionally did a criticism pop up. The naysayers mostly existed elsewhere, such as on MGoBlog. My primary response was this: sex (appeal) sells. It’s been that way since I was growing up, and it’s not unique to websites:
  • Sports Illustrated has the swimsuit issue.
  • Hollywood movies often have a love scene or two.
  • Prime time television has The Bachelor with 30 women running around in evening gowns and bikinis.
  • Teenage television shows often have at least one unattainable hot girl.
  • NFL teams have cheerleaders.
  • NBA teams have dance teams.

I’m not the first one to bridge the gap between sports/entertainment and attractive women.

So it’s not too surprising to me that within no time at all, traffic to TTB has dropped off significantly. One example: a typical Saturday for the last several years would send 10,000 to 11,000 page views my way. On Saturday, January 26, 2019, the site brought in 7,230 page views.

This is particularly frustrating, considering the following picture (please don’t ding me, Google):

Yes, that is correct: the above is a screenshot of a Google ad I came across while perusing MGoBlog on my phone. That’s Google saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” They can make money from boobs, but I can’t. Realistically, I don’t have a choice but to go along with Google’s verdict, so I’m not going to lead a rebellion. In essence, Google is the employer, and I’m the employee. But it still doesn’t seem right.

On the plus side, perhaps the absence of scantily clad women on the site will eventually lead to more traffic. Maybe there were women out there avoiding the site because they found it to be sexist, or maybe there were some uptight dads, husbands, or employees  skirting the site for fear that their kids, wives, or employers might glance over their shoulder and see a picture of Kate Upton.

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20 comments

  1. Klctlc
    Comments: 67
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Klctlc
    Jan 28, 2019 at 6:48 PM

    Regardless of anyone’s politics this is crap. Censorship is wrong in almost all cases. Plus the hypocrisy just sucks. There is a groundswell of liberals and conservatives who are fighting back but still not much can be done against google, facebook, twitter, etc.. I am an old guy and finally deleted facebook because of the severe liberal bias and privacy issues. Switched to bing and duck duck go for searches. But still like my twitter. Damn.

    I have actually come more often to the site. I like the nightly recap and I like your recruiting info. I do miss the photos though. You had good taste.

    Please keep the site going your work is really appreciated.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1178
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Jan 28, 2019 at 9:14 PM

      It’s not censorship just because you have to pay for it. If you’re truly an old guy, think Skinemax

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2855
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 28, 2019 at 9:15 PM

      I miss the photos, too, in a way.

      Here’s what I don’t miss: spending a lot of time finding good photos. I have to spend less time finding content for the blog now than I used to, and I can spend a bit more time actually writing.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1178
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Jan 28, 2019 at 9:19 PM

        The Nightly Roundup is better, IMO

        I never checked TTB from work or while on a flight, but now I’m free to wherever

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2855
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jan 28, 2019 at 9:36 PM

          I think the Nightly Roundup is a more worthwhile post overall for college football fans. I just don’t know that “worthwhile” translates to page visits. Some people prefer to waste their time on drivel. LOL.

  2. DonAZ
    Comments: 426
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Jan 28, 2019 at 7:05 PM

    Two things:

    (1) I wonder if some of the drop-off is because the football season is over? I know you said you were comparing a recent Saturday night to a “typical Saturday night” from before, but it would be interesting to compare year-over-year: January 26, 2019 vs. the same weekend in 2018.

    (2) You may start to get more traffic from people who otherwise would have been reluctant to go this site from work. I work from home, but even still I had to be somewhat careful my wife wasn’t walking by when a page was up with those pictures. Ultimately she wouldn’t care, but still I’d prefer her not seeing me at my computer with those pictures up.

    I like the nightly recap links you provide.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2855
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 28, 2019 at 9:32 PM

      1. The number I used above was from AdSense. Yes, January is a typically slow month. I can’t access AdSense’s numbers from previous years. However, using a different metric (Google Analytics), here are the numbers for the final Saturday of January:
      2019: 4,920
      2018: 7,427
      2017: 3,842* (This is the year I was having server issues.)
      2016: 14,773

      For another comparison, here are the overall numbers for the first 27 days of January over the past few years:
      2019: 177,512
      2018: 271,126
      2017: 314,248
      2016: 348,246

      NOTE: I also believe having the early signing day in December has negatively affected site traffic at this time of year, because people used to check the site for updates, new prospects, official visitors, etc. But I don’t believe that completely accounts for the drop-off in traffic, because the page views dropped off significantly within a couple days of my deleting the pictures.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 59
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        umfarnn
        Jan 28, 2019 at 10:08 PM

        Another factor may be the performance of the team on the field. 2016 was just after year 1 of Harbaugh and crushing Florida. But people were down on Michigan after last year and even more checked out this year. I know I have barely read any football content since the bowl game and have been on this site a lot less. I never cared for the pictures and barely noticed they were gone.

        Not sure you’ll be able to get good data on the change until we get back to people caring about the team, either the spring game or fall camp. But after year 4, fans are very much in a show me mood and won’t get enthused again until the team is actually winning games and throwing the ball to athletes in space.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 204
      Joined: 12/19/2015
      Extrajuice
      Jan 28, 2019 at 10:15 PM

      DonAZ is right. His wife doesn’t like it when I’m browsing TTB on my phone after we made love for hours.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 2855
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jan 28, 2019 at 10:17 PM

        Hey, if you and DonAZ want to make love with each other for hours while his wife hangs around, have at it. You only live once.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1157
          Joined: 8/13/2015
          Roanman
          Jan 29, 2019 at 7:00 AM

          Well done.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 4431
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jan 28, 2019 at 7:55 PM

    I don’t mean to be argumentative BUT…

    This isn’t censorship. A company you choose to partner with wants to operate a certain way and you can partner with them on those terms or not. It’s really up to you, even though you probably feel like you don’t have a realistic alternative. Still – the choice is yours and nobody is going to lock you up if you make a different one.

    Furthermore, there’s a BIG difference between all the sexy examples listed — magazines, movies, etc — and what’s going on here. The sexy people are getting paid for the use of their images by SI, etc. Of course it’s very common to use unattributed images but let’s not gloss over that Kate Upton doesn’t get a cent for her pictures getting reproduced here. That’s more of an injustice than anything else going on here.

    I enjoyed the images because duh, but it’s not why I come to this site. I’m surprised traffic has fallen as much as it has since, well, there’s other places on the internet to see sexy ladies…

    Just my 2 cents but I think the nightly roundups are a great addition and that the site is better off for them. Pour one out for the eye candy but more football talk isn’t a bad tradeoff.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4431
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jan 28, 2019 at 7:59 PM

      To be clear – I do sympathize with the loss of revenue and traffic. It’s unfortunate. I’d rather this site grew and thrived. My comments are more in relation to the INJUSTICE vibes being put out there.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1178
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Jan 28, 2019 at 9:16 PM

      Wow, I agreed with Lank’s POV before getting to it

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2855
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 28, 2019 at 10:51 PM

      FWIW, I was surprised at some of the pictures that were flagged. There are some restrictions on what can be posted by Google, but I had tried to tone down the pictures in recent years to avoid a conflict. Some of those pictures from the early days WERE probably crossing the line. Based on the written guidelines by Google, I did not necessarily believe that the more recent posts were crossing a line. When I got the first couple notices of flagged content, I just wrote it off to some random occurrence or maybe some Google censor having a slightly different interpretation of what’s appropriate and what’s not.

      When I started getting a steady stream of notifications, I got the gist that even pictures of girls in tight dresses are inappropriate. With some of the pictures posted, I’ve seen just as revealing dresses during a random night at the bar or even among wedding patrons. Those are the flags that irked me most. I can understand censoring a picture of Kate Upton with only her hands covering her chest, or a picture of her emerging from a pool wearing only a white shirt. I don’t understand flagging pictures of girls wearing a night-at-the-bar cocktail dress, or even a couple girls at a pool party wearing a two-piece bikini. Oh well.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 59
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        umfarnn
        Jan 29, 2019 at 11:19 AM

        Once some were flagged, you may have gotten on a list that put you under more scrutiny. Also, while I’m sure the removal of pictures had an effect on traffic your post on it was on the same day as the championship game and the end of the season which may have compounded it and made the impact seem worse.

        I know I said in another comment that I never came here for the pictures. I really enjoy your analysis and how you keep it real when breaking down a player. More time spent on that and less on finding sexy pics would make readers like me visit the site more often.(I also just realized I hadn’t added an ad block exception to this site on my new computer so I’m doing it now)

        One feature I think you could add that wouldn’t take up to much time would be a bit of scouting on players Michigan offers and in state guys. You currently list a name, a highlight, and sometimes a bit of background but no real scouting. Maybe I’m wrong in assuming you usually watch a highlight tape or 2 of most of the guys offered, but I’d love just a quick scout and preliminary rating. Either a couple sentences about their game or a list of strengths/weaknesses. I know your rating system is Michigan focused, but I hate having to wait until guys commit to know how you’d rate them. Would be great if you could say he’s a low 80s guy, or to keep it separate from your rankings say you’d consider him a mid 4 star.

        Below are a couple examples of posts that I tend to skim or ignore because I can’t be bothered to keep track of the 250 offers Michigan sends out and that info is also available elsewhere. Maybe it would work to flush out the profile pages and when they are created or they get a Michigan offer create a blurb with a quick scout/rating.

        http://touch-the-banner.com/2020-recruiting-update-january-14-2019/
        http://touch-the-banner.com/2020-recruiting-capsule-east-kentwood-de-bryce-mostella/

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2855
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jan 29, 2019 at 2:17 PM

          Thanks for removing your ad blocker.

          I used to do a lot more scouting, but now Michigan is firing out offers left and right. They used to offer 150-200 players per cycle, and now they’re up over 300. In addition to the fact that offers are going out earlier, it unfortunately ends up being a huge game of information collection rather than the insights that I used to give. It’s good to know that the information would be appreciated. It’s just tricky to balance out how I differentiated this site initially from virtually every other blog/site (that is following every offer, commitment, decommitment, etc.) from being more streamlined but in-depth when it comes to coverage.

  4. GKblue
    Comments: 273
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    GKblue
    Jan 28, 2019 at 10:17 PM

    I like the Nightly Roundup links. Although I always checked out the ladies, that was not the main reason I am here.

    Did you ever consider that your popularity on MGO bought guys over just to check out the scenery whilst also checking out your very good recruiting material? Also isn’t just possible that early signing day has cut back a bit on recruiting suspense in late January?

    This place reminds me of a good bar with cold beer, solid people and football.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2855
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 28, 2019 at 10:23 PM

      I’m glad you like the links.

      I do think some people from MGoBlog ventured over here for some scenery. I mean, there are still complaints on MGoBlog that the “sexybits” no longer exist on there (a.k.a. gifs of Kate Upton). I do think the early signing day has affected traffic/interest in January/February, but like I said in some other comment somewhere, the drop-off was stark within a day or two of the pictures disappearing. I don’t have time to go pull up the numbers at the moment, but hitting 10,000 page views was the norm as a minimum for a long time, and right now it’s a rarity. The only time I hit 10,000 in the last few weeks was when I posted a link on MGoBlog to the weekend visitor list.

  5. gobluetwo
    Comments: 39
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    gobluetwo
    Jan 29, 2019 at 8:25 AM

    I don’t really care for the scantily clad women, personally.

    But I hope you don’t get dinged for the chivery ad with busty women in tank tops showing some cleavage, or the alibaba ad I’m seeing with the lady in lingerie, or all those “date exotic women from ” ads.

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