So I emailed Frederick back, explaining that I'd be more than happy to remove the ValueClick ads from those monumentally offensive and profane pages of thoughtcrime poison. Just to be safe and sure, we immediately stripped off the ads from those two articles. Unfortunately, ValueClick wanted to take it one step further: not only were we supposed to remove the ads, but we had to delete both articles, and "all others like it."

Rich,

As of today the two links below are still on your website. The profane content and not the ads need to be removed.

As a start remove these links and all others like it:

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/fashion-swat/erotic-tv-fan.php?page=1
http://www.somethingawful.com/d/your-band-sucks/avenged-sevenfold-reader.php

Let me know when they have been removed.

Frederick

Here, have some money. Ha ha just kidding!A few points here:

1) The ValueClick Network, which we joined in February of 2007, was requesting we delete content that was written YEARS before we signed with them. The first article was created July 13, 2005, and the second on August 2, 2006. These articles were featured on our website long before they emailed me, asking Something Awful to join their advertising network.

2) Their request to delete "all others like it," was not only unreasonable, but I'd claim outright insane. The whole definition of "profane" is subjective, and what one person deems profanity may very well be every day conversation for another person. How did ValueClick possibly expect to transfer their wholesome American values to me, so I could effectively engage in a campaign of awesome fiery censorship?

3) The first article made fun of people who seriously drew "erotic" images of cartoon television characters. The second article made fun of Avenged Sevenfold fans, simply by copying and pasting the emails they willingly sent in. Perhaps we offended the lucrative advertising demographic of Avenged Sevenfold fans who jack off to Fred Flintstone incest cartoons.

Since I didn't know the answers to these questions, I shot back a reply to my buddy Frederick, asking for clarification on those two central points.

Wait, you want me to delete content on pages that won't even show your ads? Then you want me to delete all our content "like it"? How am I supposed to figure out what is or is not considered profane to people at your company? The term "profanity" is subjective by definition; how do you expect my judgment to align with the judgment of whoever makes the decisions at your company?

Those two links you are referencing were written in 2005 and 2006, long before we joined your ad network in February of 2007. Nobody said anything to me about them when I signed up, so why is it suddenly a problem? Shouldn't have somebody mentioned this issue to me before Cheryl emailed me and asked us to sign with your network? If I knew you were going to request I delete our content, material I paid writers to produce years ago, then we would not have joined. Don't you think it's a little much to request I delete material that is not running your ads, content that was produced years before we entered an agreement with Valueclick?

I have no problem removing VC ads on pages you tell me are inappropriate, but there is no way I can delete our content. I guess if this causes us to be kicked off Valueclick, then so be it, but I wish somebody could have informed us that Valueclick can or will request the deletion of content produced years before joining your network. Comedy and censorship are really incapable of coexisting peacefully.

- Rich

Frederick never responded. I waited for a total of a week for him to address these concerns, and nothing ever came back. Perhaps he was busy finishing off his masterpiece, "Yogi Bear screws Boo Boo in the midst of an awesome Smurf orgy." Eventually I received this very detailed and explanatory message from Frederick, clearing up all possible concerns and issues:

Dear Richard,

Due to your continued failure to comply with our requests laid out below, unfortunately we can not accept your site into our network at this time as it is not consistent with our network goals. We very much appreciate your interest in our company and wish you best of luck in your endeavors.

Regards,

Frederick

...and that was the end of our relationship with ValueClick!

I dont know what this is, but I'll pay you $100 to take it.I don't hold any grudge against them or ultimately blame them for anything; after all, it's our site producing the content, and I am the person who agreed to sign with their network. It was my decision to join them, and it does specify in their terms of service that they refuse to work with any dirty filthy websites using naughty words inappropriate for children under the age of zero.

The point and purpose of this article is to warn other websites and webmasters that if you do sign with ValueClick, they can and will ask you to delete any of your content from years ago that they label with the flaky, unpredictable toe tag of "profane." Don't assume that your site conforms to all their subjective rules and regulations just because a ValueClick advertising representative asks you to join their network (I guess they don't bother actually reading any of the websites they ask to join). For complete security I assume you'd have to read through every single piece of content on your site and delete the ones you fear might contain too many curse words or other "offensive" things, such as making fun of the wrong or incorrect people. Something Awful contains over 6,000 articles and well over 11,000 pages, so perhaps I should have reserved a weekend to stamping out obscenity on Something Awful before I joined ValueClick.

Maybe some day I'll understand why some advertising networks engage in such seemingly insane and counter-productive activities. We've been fortunate enough to recently partner with Tribal Fusion, IndieClick, and Gorilla Nation, so our advertising situation is exponentially better than it has ever been. These three networks actually care about the sites on their network, and cater campaigns specifically for partners such as ours (humor sites / sites that use the word "fuck" a lot). I hold no grudges or regrets for our time with ValueClick and consider them to be a very decent advertising network, apart from the whole "we demand you delete all your content" censorship issue. Well actually I do have one regret: I should have gotten Frederick's home address to send him a peanut butter and gasoline sandwich.

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@lowtax)

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