Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


The dangers of context-sensitive ads

Filed under: — adam @ 11:54 am

The feedburner rss feed Amazon ad insertion service is serving inappropriate ads.

I believe the Google context-sensitive ad service takes measures to prevent this sort of thing. They all should.

This is a screen capture from my bloglines page (not my blog):

Tsunami ad screenshot

I’ve notified feedburner of this, but I think it’s important to think about the implications in general. If we’re going to start inserting context-sensitive ads all over the place, there ought to be a little sensitivity to, say, the death of more than 75,000 people.

3 Responses to “The dangers of context-sensitive ads”

  1. Dick Costolo Says:

    I just got your email, and I was extremely troubled to see what you’ve snipped out here. We take this very seriously, and while we have gone to extreme lengths to ensure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen, it’s clear that simple automated filters alone miss this kind of thing. We’re going to quickly provide an additional filter to eliminate these sorts of things now and in the future. Thanks for your post and for bringing this to our immediate attention.

  2. adam Says:

    Given that Amazon does have a 1-click page for donating to the Red Cross, it might be appropriate to substitute that instead.

  3. adam Says:

    I should be clear here – I’m not outraged, but I think it’s inappropriate. Certainly, I understand that these things happen, but I also think that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fix it.

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