Google, PDF’s & A New Scam

The Free Textbook List links to numerous PDF files on other sites. While it is my sincere hope that you will be able to find the help you need here on my site, I realize that you might have to continue your search elsewhere. There are many other sites like mine and some of them are quite good, some even have big-time corporate sponsors.

If you do have to try elsewhere, please be careful; there’s a new web scam going on.

Folks are always looking for ways to manipulate Google’s search results. The newest one exploits a flaw in the way Google evaluates PDF files. Maybe you’ve even noticed how the search results have been full of PDF files instead of regular webpages. PDF files are not scrutinized the same way regular web pages are. People have turned this into an opportunity to do all sorts of sneaky things. Free online textbooks appears to be an area where one or more of these folks have set up shop. There are what appears to be hundreds of sites that have used snippets of content from numerous sites like Wikipedia, many of the sites I share here with you as well as my old textbook site. They are built to do two things, manipulate Google and trick site visitors.

The Google search results look like you will be taken to a page that includes lists of textbooks or the actual textbooks themselves. If you were to see the page as Google did, it would look like a page of junk full of keywords and filler text. Unfortunately, when a human visits that page, they are taken to another site or asked to register to see the content.

Several of these scam sites will immediately require you to give them an email and password to access the content. No reputable site works that way. You should be able to learn something about a site before it demands a username and password. The username, your email, provides these folks with yet another email to spam or sell to spammers. And, as a side benefit, they might snag your password too – after all, how many of you use the same password for everything?

Hopefully, Google will figure out a way to fix this mess. In the meantime, it’s a jungle out there, please be careful.

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