How to avoid Gmail's Sponsored Links

Are you a Gmail user, or do you have friends who are? Do you resent the "Sponsored Link" advertisements that come up next to the incoming mail? Now you and your friends can do something about it!

The solution is simple, when sending an email to a gmail user include a sentence or two that mentions catastrophic events or tragedies. Google does not use humans to read your email, only computers. These computers search for keywords that trigger the advertisements, however, if they hapen to find a catastrophic event or tragedy Google errs on the side of good taste and removes the ads altogether.

You may want to make mention of what you are doing so the recipient is not alarmed by your sudden Tourette's-like outburst. You can link to this site by way of explanation if need be.



Of course, Google still slips in some non-generative ads too, just for good measure.

UPDATE - Turns out, these are not ads either but "Web Clips" which you can turn off in preferences so the dream of ad free gmail lives!

UPDATE 2 If the message runs long google turns the ads back on, however, if you add another "sensitive" word they go off again. After extensive testing I've discovered you need 1 catastrophic event or tragedy for every 167 words in the rest of the email. I usually toss in a couple extra for good measure.

I've been told by an early adopter that the very elegant and self-explanatory "These words are designed to kill advertisements" works wonderfully.

UPDATE 3 Well, we were boing boinged if you didn't know. That's cool. I though this idea might have some viral legs, and it turns out it did. Check out my statistics below ...

can you guess when the site was on Boingboing? Me too!

I've been getting some interesting feedback. Thierry (who is using the elegant "suicide genocide polkacide" as his phrase) did some testing and found that reducing the font size does not work, putting the phrase in the signature does not work, but making the text the same color as the background does. Part of me likes this approach because it hides the text until the recipient does a "select all" and then it REALLY scares the bejesus out of them. But the "pay it forward" part of me thinks that as a public service to others you should be as transparent as possible. Remember, this ad free outburst of inappropriateness is a gift for the reader not the sender, so to get a gift back you'll need people to do the same for you.

A lot of people have been wondering just which words do what - research I'd been putting off, frankly, but all the sudden interest has gotten me going. In an attempt to keep the site safe for work(ish) I've blurred out some of the offending words. Here are my preliminary results - I've started with George Carlin's famous list.

Interestingly, the f-word and the t-word were both blocked completely when in the subject, but ads were allowed when in the body of the email. The messages did go into my sent mail box on the account I sent them from. I tried sending the f and t words in a subject back to my .mac account from gmail and they went through fine, so my guess is the messages are filtered out by gmail not some Super Spy Network. Why would gmail have 2 filtering systems? I'm guessing bureaucratic redundancy, but who knows?

To recap,Sh*t, C*nt, and C*cks*cker will all block ads but F*ck, C*ck-s*cker, M*th*rf*cker, and T*Ts will not. Yet T*ts and F*ck will not go through at all if you put them in the subject.
Wanna be real brave? Send an email to your boss telling him/her how you really feel, put the f-word in the subject and press send. Bet you can't do it, you chicken sh*t!
[You might want to double check that your boss has a gmail account and be willing to be fired at any moment. So, you know, don't like actually do it.]

UPDATE 4 Gonzalo wrote to let me know that it does not work with Spanish. Very interesting.

Here's the question: are these ads really removed to protect the readers, or are they removed to protect the advertisers from having their products associated with these words? As with all things Google both are probably true.

With all the blog traffic and all the comments there's finally been one person that gets it. This excerpt came from the comments on the very nicely written article at theregister

It's not only about "getting rid of ads"

This is about the purest form of "hacking". Exploiting the workings of a system in ways it's creators never intended it to work. It's not about efficiency or need, it's about style.
Zoltan Kelemen

For the record, I already know about ad block, greesemonkey, or whatever.