Matt Cutts Doesn’t Respond to E-mail Anymore

Posted by jonathan at 1:02pm EST on 10/22/2007

So there have still been some things on my mind about paid links and that whole situation. I thought, “what better way to get some answers then to e-mail Matt directly for some feedback.” I was completely mistaken when I thought, for even a second, that I would get a real response.

I just received this e-mail, here is what it says…

Dear Friend-of-Matt,

This is the Webmaster Central team respectfully sending you an automated
reply
… so that:
– Matt can unbury himself from gazillions of e-mails and better achieve a
healthy work/life balance
– You can get the help and information you need more efficiently by
leveraging the vast Webmaster Central resources available.

A real (non-Matt) human will very likely read your note, but likely won’t
have a chance to respond.

* * *

Here are some resources we encourage you to check out:

* Webmaster-related concerns, questions, bug reports
Check out our new and improved Webmaster Central at

http://www.google.com/webmasters.

You’ll find hundreds of detailed help documents, many powerful tools, and
a friendly discussion forum. We especially welcome you to post questions
and suggestions in this discussion group, which is frequented by a
substantial number of helpful Googlers and non-Googlers alike.

* Webspam / quality concerns
We now have two ways that you can alert us to spam in our search results.
Good: http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html
Better: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport (requires you
to have a free Webmaster Tools account)

* Web page removal requests
You’ll find full info here:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/topic.py?topic=8459

* Reconsideration request
If your site’s presence in Google has been suddenly and negatively
affected, it may have violated our Webmaster Guidelines
(http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769).
If you suspect that this is the case, please fully address the situation
and then file a reconsideration request
(https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/reconsideration). Note that
you’ll need to have signed up for our free Webmaster Tools service in
order to file this request. If you haven’t already done so, you can sign
up and verify your site in minutes.

* Interview or speaker requests
If you’d like Matt or another Googler to speak at your event, please fill
out the form at https://services.google.com/inquiry/speaker_request. If
you’re interested in interviewing Matt or one of his trusty colleagues,
please drop a note to press@google.com.

* Questions or comments on various Google products and services such as
AdSense, Calendar, Gmail…
Visit http://www.google.com/support/ for a directory with resources that
will address your questions, enable you to submit feedback, and often
highlight a user-to-user discussion group about that product.

* Have a concern that’s not covered above?
You can visit http://www.google.com/contact/ for other resources. Please
note, however, that we do not offer technical support by phone or e-mail
for webmaster- or search-related issues.

* * *

Thanks for your understanding with this, and take care…

Warm regards,
The Webmaster Central team

What did I write to Matt? Here is the e-mail that I wrote to him…

From: Jonathan Dingman
Subject: Paid Links
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2007 14:24:42 -0400

Matt,

It’s been a pleasure to meet up you with the few times, but I have a
question for you.

There are thousands upon thousands of sponsored links out there. Why is
Google trying to fight the battle that is useless?

Let’s take a look at this example:

http://iwantmyopenid.org/bounty/sponsors

Those are essentially “paid” links, but Google isn’t doc’ing them for
the paid links. What makes them “better” to avoid being banned or
penalized for “paid” links?

I’m eager to hear your thoughts Matt.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Dingman
Ginside.com

So what am I to conclude of this? Matt doesn’t care about responding to e-mails, even if he has a “gazillion” e-mails. I’ve sent countless e-mails to Adam Lasnik and other Google employees and they have been more than happy to respond to them, but not Matt, no, definitely not.

When I met up with Matt at SES San Jose, he seemed like a cool guy, but I guess this proves my positive-assumptions wrong.

Update: Matt did respond so I know he’s not a robot. A fair enough comment as well. See below for his comment.

14 Responses to “Matt Cutts Doesn’t Respond to E-mail Anymore”

  1. Marion

    Oct 22nd, 2007

    “Why is Google trying to fight the battle that is useless?” What kind of unique response were you expecting? Seriously, Jonathan, Matt has enough to do without answering philosophical questions from random people (no offense meant, I know you’re not really random :-)). Being an absolute egoist, I would prefer that he take part in one good public interview every three months than that he answers any email at all. Just my 2c.

  2. Jonathan Dingman

    Oct 22nd, 2007

    Marion,

    I see your view, but I’ve been in contact with Matt for quite some time now and met up with him, I would imagine he would at least have the courtesy to write me back personally — even if it said “sorry, no comment.” Anything personal would have been fine.

    But to be “too busy” to even reply to a friend? That’s just wrong in my books. If Matt is “too busy” to respond to people, why does he even have e-mail at all? Why not just send all e-mails to a :blackhole:. That might be more effective than sending back automated responses that have absolutely no value to them.

  3. Sebastian

    Oct 22nd, 2007

    Why didn’t you simply file a paid links report? Reread your email, is it really worth a personal reply? I think not.

  4. Jonathan Dingman

    Oct 22nd, 2007

    Sebastian,

    The email wasn’t to warrant a personal response on specifically that issue, but rather the whole issue of paid links.

    I want an explanation why some sites are allowed to have “paid” links, while others are not allowed to.

    It’s hypocritical and wrong for Google to make those kinds of decisions.

  5. Marion

    Oct 22nd, 2007

    Let’s see – you sent your email on friday, and “just” (before posting?) got the response. It’s no autoresponder, it’s a manually sent packaged response. Somebody read your email before replying. Maybe even Matt (but probably not). Does that help?

    Let’s change the words in your question for fun: instead of paid links, concentrate on Googles mission: organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It’s essentially impossible right? IMO they’re doing a damn fine job of that anyway, certainly not perfect, but getting better all the time. I don’t think it’s any less impossible than recognizing sponsored links.

  6. Jonathan Dingman

    Oct 23rd, 2007

    Marion,

    So then it still begs the question, why are they even bothering with the battle of paid [sponsored] links?

    That’s really what I was asking Matt.

    Even if they did manually read the e-mail, why would they include, specifically, that it was an automated e-mail?

    I’m in contact with Adam Lasnik about it right now and I’m coming to the conlusion of this: Why bother having an inbox if you can’t respond to it.

  7. Matt Cutts

    Oct 23rd, 2007

    Hey Jonathan, I’ve been crunching on a project for the last several weeks. At one point, I was almost 500 emails behind. I’m about 300+ emails behind now, but clearly I’m not able to scale in my email communication as much as I would like to in an ideal world.

    There’s also the issue that email is a 1:1 way of communicating. In the 3-4 minutes to reply to an email, I could also reply on a forum, blog, or start on a blog post that everyone could benefit from (not just one person by email).

    The answer to your question is that a page’s reputation can be affected by the sites that they link to. In the specific case you mentioned (http://iwantmyopenid.org/bounty/sponsors), I would worry at least as much about the spammy links showing up on that page, e.g. “sohbetchatsohbet odalarıçetarkadaşchat odalarısohbet chatyonjasohbethiphopchat sohbetsitesohpet” or “online information about pharmacology, drugs and medications” The specific page you asked about has a lot of these spammy links, which suggests that search engines shouldn’t be trusting that page as much as some other pages.

    Best wishes, and sorry that I haven’t had the cycles to reply to everyone that emails me recently,
    Matt

  8. Jonathan Dingman

    Oct 23rd, 2007

    Matt,

    Some valid points. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment to prove my point wrong — you’re not a robot :)

    So then the basic principal, if I’m understanding you right, is that you are penalizing sites that have irrelevant sponsored links?

    That’s fair enough.

    I agree, e-mail is very limited in how effective it can actually be because, exactly right as you stated, it only benefits one person — unless that one person were to go post the response. Probably would have been the case here that I would have posted it here and plenty of people would see it.

    I know the feelings of being behind on e-mails, at one point I was behind some odd thousand or two e-mails. It’s not fun.

    No hard feelings though. Thank you again Matt.

  9. Matt Cutts

    Oct 23rd, 2007

    Thanks for being understanding. Being this far behind on email has really made me ponder not only better time management, but also how I can do better at tackling external communication.

  10. Jonathan Dingman

    Oct 23rd, 2007

    Matt,

    Here’s some food for thought. Setup some sort of private e-mail account that will let you manage all your private contacts and then have a general mailbox, such as your account that already exists, and use an auto-responder with something along the lines of recommending to people where they can most likely find their answer.

    From my past experience, it’s better to get a response immediately, even if it’s an auto-responder, than it is to get a delayed-automated-response, such as the one I received.

    That might help filter out a lot of your junk requests (such as mine :) and let you focus on the serious stuff.

    Just my two cents for you. At any rate, would love to hear about how you end up tackling (like a fish! Hey, you should be a fish for Halloween!) the work load.

  11. Karen Loren

    Oct 24th, 2007

    Cutts doesn’t respond to phone calls or fedex either. But hes got plenty of time to waste on his blog discussing irrelevant topics.

    Google has the worst customer service on the planet. They are getting too big for their panties and are following the same path that Microsoft and other powerful companies have. A search engine who responds to webmasters will eventually trump the big G.

  12. Matt Cutts

    Oct 29th, 2007

    Karen, my blog is my personal blog. If you only want to get Google/SEO posts, you can subscribe to
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/type/googleseo/feed
    and you won’t get any of my non-Google posts.

    The official webmaster blog would be the other place to check out: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/ and they done several posts just this past week.

  13. Jonathan Dingman

    Oct 29th, 2007

    Karen,

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say they have the worst customer service on the planet, I’ve seen some pretty bad customer service in my lifetime (but I’m not particularly mentioning 1&1 Internet.)

    Google is a different beast when it comes to customer service. They are indeed the first search engine to offer webmaster communications, but they are lacking in some areas still. They are trying to improve it though, which is a good sign.

    Matt points out some good links for you to read as well, official and non-official.

  14. […] Dropped all Reciprocal Links Pages. (according to Matt Cutts, linking to certain sites can actually decrease PageRank) […]

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