Island Life by David Slack

Don't bet on it

Dear David,

We are writing to let you know that listings from your account have recently been reviewed by Overture's Search Quality Team. This team periodically reviews listings to ensure that they comply with our Listing Guidelines, as well as meet the expectations of search users.

Following are the affected listings:

Modified Listings
persuasive speech topic (URL:
Reason(s): Gambling URL

Gambling URL
We are unable to accept your listing because Overture does not accept online gambling sites. Online gambling sites are those that have online gambling as their central theme. Among such sites are those that accept wagers or require payment in exchange for the chance to win prizes, as well as sites that offer both information and links related primarily to the promotion of online gambling.

We're sorry this wasn't caught in our first review. Thanks for your cooperation and understanding.


Overture Quality Services

Dear Overture "Quality" Services,

Rather than track down a functional email address at your world headquarters that doesn't bounce my reply, I will repeat - and, indeed expand upon - my response by sending you this letter by blog. I should actually be finishing a book for my very patient editor, but I'm sure he won't mind if I take a few minutes on this sunny afternoon to express my rather strongly held feelings.

I decided a year or so ago that although your search ad service is a pale imitation of the Google one, it is nevertheless capable of generating revenue for my site. I held my nose and signed up. And what a tortuous process that is. If you're interested - and I know that in theory, at least, you are, because from time to time I get pestered by your equally tortuous surveys telling me so - you might like to click over to Google's ad search service to see how clever people do it.

But I digress. Gambling URL?? Excuse me? It's a site that generates speeches. Have you even looked at it?

It's quite handy actually. It's designed for people who could use some help in crafting the right phrase. For example it would help you avoid writing something as risible as this:

Dear Overture Client:

Great news! You'll be happy to hear that your site has received a large amount of targeted clickthrough traffic from us!

As a result of this traffic, your Overture account balance was low. We processed a new credit card transaction on Feb 18 2005 16:49 PT and deposited $500.00 to your Overture account. The credit card transaction was successful. The details of your transaction are as follows:

One of the golden rules of writing your speech - and it goes equally for business emails, Chester - is: choose your words with your audience in mind. Your audience here is someone who is paying you money to run ads. He or she is, and I really do want to emphasise this, a grown-up. I grasp the significance of the transaction. I'm paying you money in the confident assurance that I'll get more back. Should that not happen, our beautiful friendship will be over. Until then, however, the relationship's just peachy, and you really don't have to butter me up with any of this Pollyanna-esque "Great News" shit.

Oh, and your customer interface? Real pain in the ass. Hard thing to get right, I'll grant you, but if your six or seven-figure executives are willing to go out on a limb, you might take a look at how they do it at….Google.

I don't need to tell you, though perhaps on reflection I'm assuming too much, that this search ad business is a thing of beauty. It works like a charm. And if you like what you're making out of me, you should see what the Google people are getting.

But I'm telling you, any more of this nonsense and I'm closing down the tables.

Administrative note to loyal readers - not of interest to "Quality" Services flunkies.

The iPod contest will close soon, but you do still have some time left. I'll be judging it as soon as the book's done, and that surely to God can't be too long now. Note to esteemed West Coast correspondent - just enter a bogus date for those undated events - they're well worth including.