The Online Slang Dictionary
(American, English, and Urban slang)

Login     Register     Forgot password     Resend confirmation

Google and The Online Slang Dictionary

There's a neo-Nazi website called - and I'm going to use its initials because I don't want to give it any publicity by saying its name - "The D. S." They get a million more visitors a month than this slang dictionary website, due to Google's penalty against us. If the penalty weren't in place, we would get about double the visitors of that hate site.

Given the rise of white nationalism in the West, does it make sense that a single person within Google can destroy a dictionary, while hate sites flourish?

If you find this page interesting, I'd love to chat with you. If you work for Google, then we should speak soon. I can be reached at .

Summary

This website has been penalized by Google under suspicious circumstances. The penalty causes our web pages to appear at lower positions in Google's search results than what they've earned on their merit. It is an intentional, manual penalty executed by Google against this site.

Publicly, the company says that websites can fight such manual penalties via their Webmaster Tools. What they don't disclose, though, is that Google can and does execute hidden penalties against sites. Since they're hidden, there's no way for site owners to know - or fight against - the fact that Google is intentionally limiting visitors to their sites. Since visitors are the lifeblood of every website, this means that Google destroys websites in private, with no recourse for the site owner. And there is no accountability.

To my knowledge, Google's ability to destroy websites in this manner has not been disclosed before.

I was only made aware of the penalty after a whistle-blower informed me of it.

Separately, when confronted about this hidden penalty, a Google employee lied to me and to the public about it. That Google employee is Matt Cutts, the very public former head of the team at Google that executes penalties against websites. He quietly left the company after an extended "sabbatical" and, tellingly, no one has been hired to replace him.

This is an initial information drip. I will be releasing more information over time. For example, the specific lies that Matt Cutts told.

Sidebar: About The Online Slang Dictionary

Started in 1996, The Online Slang Dictionary is the oldest slang dictionary on the web and the first to accept submissions from users. Serving 1.5 million visitors each month, it provides more than 28,000 real definitions for over 19,000 actual slang words and phrases. The site offers the only slang thesaurus on the web, which is fully integrated with the dictionary. Other unique features include showing you how common each word is, how vulgar it is, and where geographically it's used. Logged in users can add words and definitions.

The site isn't perfect: I totally acknowledge that. I just want my site to be able to compete on its own merits, rather than being intentionally crippled by Google.


Please help me in spreading the word. If you've found The Online Slang Dictionary to be useful, please let your friends and colleagues know about the site. The only way to save it is to raise public awareness.

The first penalty: automated

This site has more than 5,700 citations curated by hand from published sources like TV programs, films, news publications, and magazines - and added by hand to the appropriate definitions. Each is a short 1 - 3 sentence excerpt, with proper attribution. This site is the only freely available slang dictionary on the web that has citations.

The first penalty executed against this site by Google was automated. That is, the penalty was applied by an algorithm - not a human. This algorithm has a bug: it mistakenly thinks that the citations on this site are an indication of a low-quality site that should be penalized.

Further, Google hides automated penalties from website owners, so there was no way for me to know the cause of the penalty.

Sidebar: Why are citations important?

Real dictionaries have citations because that's how they show that their definitions are real. Being a dictionary of real slang terms, the same applies to us. Citations serve the same purpose in dictionaries as they do on Wikipedia: they provide evidence for stated facts. Unlike encyclopedias such as Wikipedia, dictionary citations are inline excerpts rather than links to outside works.

After months of this algorithm at Google intentionally limiting the traffic to this site, and after months of experimentation and thousands of changes made to the site, I removed the citations - more than 5,700. This was a desperate experiment, having tried everything else I could think of to try to eliminate the penalty. This caused the penalty to be undone, again automatically, by the algorithm.

The current penalty: manual

A Google employee later executed a manual penalty against the site. Recall that a penalty against a web site causes web pages on that site to appear at a lower position in Google's search results than the position they have earned on their merit. A manual penalty is one that has been activated by a human, by hand.

On October 9, 2011, a Google employee set an internal flag that executed a penalty against this site in a way that is both impossible to undo, and impossible to detect by the site owner (me.)

I was only made aware of the penalty after a whistle-blower informed me of it.

There is no truthful justification for this penalty. However, when a manual penalty is activated, a reason can be recorded. The Google employee recorded the reason as being related to intellectual property law. But that makes no sense as there are no, and have never been any, intellectual property law violations on this site.

If you work for Google, then we should speak soon. I can be reached at .

The rest of this page

The remainder of this page describes the penalties at length.

The automated penalty in more detail

In this section:

Introduction

In 2011, Google released a change to their ranking algorithms designed to penalize low-quality websites. One thing Google now believes is an indicator of low quality is displaying excerpts of content that exists elsewhere. Despite citations being a hallmark of a high-quality dictionary, they get interpreted by this change (called Panda) as the complete opposite, because by definition citations are content that exists elsewhere.

Sidebar: Citations on The Online Slang Dictionary

This site has more than 5,700 citations curated by hand from published sources like TV programs, films, news publications, and magazines - and added by hand to the appropriate definitions. Each is a short 1 - 3 sentence excerpt, with proper attribution. This site is the only freely available slang dictionary on the web that has citations.

In addition to the 5,700 citations on this website, we have another 11,400 to be added, which would bring the total citation count to more than 17,000.

But we can't show them to you. That's why they appear blacked out, as in a redacted classified document. When Google started penalizing this site, it was because this site has citations. There is a bug in one of Google's algorithms, related to a set of changes they call "Panda 2.0". This bug incorrectly interprets the citations as evidence that the site is low quality, despite citations being a sign of the exact opposite: a high quality dictionary. This penalty was automated: it didn't require any human intervention. Removing the citations resulted in the penalty being removed, also automatically.

So since we can't show you citations, there's no reason to add the 11,400 citations mentioned above.


The following shows the consequence of this penalty, measured in visits to this site from Google searches.

The rest of this section explains the data in more detail.

Visits from Google searches decline due to the penaltyVisits from Google searches are restored after the penalty is lifted


Timeline

2011

Google penalizes The Online Slang Dictionary for showing citations

Google's Panda changes - designed to penalize what Google's algorithms believe are "low-quality" sites - were released globally to all English-speaking users on April 11, 2011. Visits to The Online Slang Dictionary that were the result of a Google search dropped markedly on April 11, 2011.

This chart only shows traffic from Google searches.


April 11 2011 traffic drop

The loss in traffic was limited to visits from Google searches. No other traffic sources (other search engines, direct traffic, or referral traffic) were affected. Such a drop is unprecedented for the site since I began tracking site analytics in 2007.

Specifically, traffic declined because Google moved this site to a lower position in its search results. Reports from Google Webmaster Tools show that the position of The Online Slang Dictionary in Google search results fell on April 11, the date of the Panda penalty.


Google Webmaster Tools average position

The reports that I have access to cover a time period of a month, rather than a single day. So the effects of the penalty only start to become evident in the report dated March 12 - April 11. The next dated report goes through April 12, so it includes 2 days of penalty. The subsequent report includes 3 days of penalty, and so forth. As more days of the penalty are within the date range of the report, the amount of the decline is increasingly revealed. (Why the uptick at the end? Because the reports show a range, the final report that includes April 11 is dominated by subsequent dates. There was a small uptick in ranking during those dates - which did not restore traffic - then the ranking dropped back down.)

So as the data shows, The Online Slang Dictionary started receiving a penalty on April 11, 2011, and that's the date that the Panda changes were released to all English-speaking users of Google.

Citations are removed

During the next seven months, I made dozens of structural changes and thousands of content changes to the site - but these changes had no effect on the amount of traffic referred by Google queries.

Largely as an experiment, I removed every citation from the site on November 5, 2011. I couldn't believe Google would be penalizing the site because of the presence of citations. After all, high-quality dictionaries have citations, and Google Panda was designed to penalize low-quality websites.

A week and a day later - on November 13 - the penalty was rescinded.

The following chart shows only traffic from Google searches.


Penalty is lifted November 13 2011

The manual penalty in more detail

In this section:

Timeline

2012

Google penalizes The Online Slang Dictionary again

The citations were then missing from the site for almost a year. In early October 2012, I identified what I believed was a way to restore citations to the site without being penalized by Google. The full inventory of citations - approximately 4,800 at that time - returned to the site on October 6, 2012.

The penalty returned 3 days later.

This chart only shows traffic from Google searches.


Penalty returns November 9 2012


This second penalty executed by Google against this site was manual. Recall that a penalty against a web site causes web pages on that site to appear at a lower position in Google's search results than the position they have earned on their merit. A manual penalty is one that has been activated by a human, by hand.

On October 9, 2011, a Google employee set an internal flag that executed a penalty against this site in a way that is both impossible to undo, and impossible to detect by the site owner (me.)

I was only made aware of the penalty after a whistle-blower informed me of it.

There is no truthful justification for this penalty. However, when a manual penalty is activated, a reason can be recorded. The Google employee recorded the reason as being related to intellectual property law. But that makes no sense as there are no, and have never been any, intellectual property law violations on this site.

I tried a second approach to restore the citations, but it did not eliminate the penalty. At this time, I was unaware that the penalty was manual. (Recall that this manual penalty was set to be hidden from me.) Had I known, I wouldn't have continued to attempt to show this valuable information to my users.

Citations are removed again

On November 16, 2012, in order to be able to compete with dictionary websites that don't have citations, I once again removed all citations.

I had hoped that it would cause the penalty to be lifted. That is, I hoped that the Google employee that had executed the penalty against this site would see that I removed the citations, and would undo the penalty.

That has not happened.

The penalty is ongoing, and is killing The Online Slang Dictionary.

Please help me in spreading the word. If you've found The Online Slang Dictionary to be useful, please let your friends and colleagues know about the site.

If you work for Google, then we should speak soon. I can be reached at .

Any suggestions?

I'd love to hear them. My email address is .

Thanks for your time.