Embarassing advertising

Google Ads are a great thing, right? You get to use their search engine, and they pay you for using it because they insert ads before the search results appear. Other search companies are jumping on the band wagon, too, because it seems like free money.

But: what if the ads presented are, well, embarassing?

Try this one for yourself: Go to the TU Darmstadt, Department of Computing. You want to know all about getting a doctorate at this fine university, so you look for the "Promotionsordnung", the rules for doing a dissertation. The navigation is a mess, so you go to the search box. Oh, the search box is gone because too many people were laughing about this. No problem, the link is still valid. Don't try the German one, because that one was killed when this was first reported, but there is an English search page. Type in "Promotionsordnung" and see what you get - nope, no hits, but advertising for shady companies "helping" you to obtain your doctorate for a slight fee...

Just in case it disappears again: Entry two is:

Der schnelle Weg zum legalen und anerkannten Dr.-Titel in D & Europa

Translation: Doctorate degree - the quick way to a legal and accepted doctorate in Germany and Europe

What this service actually does is find a poor, starving Eastern European School that will, for a fee, accept doctoral students. (Addendum 2005-08-25: Seems there are German Professors willing to help out for a fee, too - Spiegel Online, 26. August 2005, "Doktortitel gegen Geld")

You can find the deep link by reading the source code of the page - the search field is just commented out.

I have a screen shot, should this ever rightly disappear.

Moral: there is no such thing as a free lunch. Some come with embarassing side-effects.

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