Rap Genius Is Back on Google, Offers Maoist Self-Criticism

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 4 2014 9:22 AM

Rap Genius Is Back on Google

Hard to believe these guys would get in trouble ...

Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Right around Christmastime, Google made popular hip-hop site Rap Genius disappear from the Internet as punishment for unapproved search engine optimization techniques. Today Rap Genius wants the world to know that it is back in Google's good graces.

And it's true. I just Googled up Rap Genius' annotation of Beyoncé's "Partition" (featuring a link back to David Haglund and Forrest Wickman's great post about how "Partition" quotes The Big Lebowski in French for some reason) and it all works fine.


One important legacy of this contretempts is a somewhat hilarious post from the Rap Genius founders that seems to be offered in the spirit of Maoist self-criticism. They detail how they started out with an optimized (for those not in the web game, SEO tactics are about structuring your keywords to maximize googleability) but legitimate linking strategy but strayed into misbehavior over time. Now that they've seen the error of their ways and renounced sin, they're abandoning not only the most aggressive tactics that got them into trouble but taking extra care to ensure that they're seen as squeaky clean.

As far as it goes, this is a happy ending. Rap Genius is a great site and it'd have been a shame for Google to somehow permanently cripple it. And an endless SEO arms race would be deeply undesirable, so it's good to see Google enforcing some useful norms. But the larger question of Google's vast and essentially unchecked power over the World Wide Web remains. "Don't be evil" is a nice idea, and thus far I don't see any indication that Google has used this power for anything other than good. But especially if Microsoft decides to cut its losses on Bing one of these days, antitrust issues are very likely to arise in this space.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
War Stories
Sept. 23 2014 4:04 PM The Right Target Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Stop Throwing Your Vegetable Trimmings Away
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.