Flagged Waiting for Content Check Redux

Now that the message “System Error – We’re sorry, but we are unable to serve your request at this time. Please try back in a few minutes.” has ridden into the sunset (does that seem to be a too terribly clichèd metaphor?) I can focus on my second least favorite error message in the world (yes the world not just the LBC). It appears on a business listing in the LBC for using abusive, sexist and racist words and occasionally it seems to appear just for fun: Flagged – Waiting for Content Check.

When you parse the message grammatically is has two major components:
1-Flagged
2-Waiting for content check

Lets deal with the second part first. While not as misleading as “Please try back in a few minutes.” (which essentially meant never) it is not particularly reflective of any known reality. Given that the LBC is algo based and customer service is virtually nonexistent, it is not clear, when or if, a content check will ever occur as part of some on-going listing approval process. I have heard of one (yes one) patient soul who finally had his flag checked after 6 months.

The only others that I know to have ever been checked in the forums were highlighted by forum top contributors (i.e. me) and specifically pointed out to the forum staff. They usually required a few pings and followup as well. So it is safe to say that “Waiting for Content Check” is a bit of a misnomer and not a welled oil approval machine.

So when your listing is Flagged, the best bet is to buckle down and follow the brute force method outlined previously. It can help point out some interesting (for example you can’t use the word Google anywhere in the listing even if you have a Google Sites website ) and humorous (a scaffolding company was prevented from using the word erection) specifics.

Sometimes though even the brute force method does not clarify the problem. I recently ran into a case of John, the LASIK Surgeon, who was struggling to get his listing unflagged. I knew that the LBC did not like too many caps so I suggested that he remove them from his listing. He claimed to have done so. Even so his listing remained Flagged. As a top contributor I alerted Google who intervened and yet it still it remained flagged. He desperately and persistently posted again. How many folks just give up?

He assumed that just because Google offered up the primary category “LASIK Surgeon” as a choice that it wouldn’t trigger the dreaded message if he was so bold as to actually choose it as his category. He also didn’t understand that, while it might be the trigger, he could override the default category with a custom category like “Lasik Surgeon”. But trigger the message it did and override he didn’t. After numerous struggles, he succeeded in getting his listing approved.

OK, I understand that Google perceives a need for secrecy in what causes a flagging, otherwise the listings would more quickly descend into pornography or worse as the scammers carefully studied which “nasty” words that Google had forgotten to flag and tested which ones brought more clients.

Perhaps though the message should read: “Flagged – Guess what the problem is if you can….Mhahaha”…or “Flagged – you are the 3,734 lister in queue. Estimated time to content check 167 days”.

Besides refining the message, would it not make sense to be sure that default categories not trigger the problem? And if they are going to offer up the possibility of a content check, could they not offer up a meaningful timeframe?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Flagged Waiting for Content Check Redux by

8 thoughts on “Flagged Waiting for Content Check Redux”

  1. I think the reality is that the 3,734 people in queue is probably understated. Unless one counts all the people who never got assistance and just quit.

    If this was the phone company…you know it would be all over the local news. NO CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!!!!!

    How does Google get away with this?

  2. I have a client listing now where after trying to add a unique tracking URL it got the Flagged for content check message. If I remove the tracking URL and go back to the straight home page URL, the flagged for content check message disappears.

    In the meantime I’ve re-included the tracking url, it’s flagged again, but it does still show up in search results. I guess the listing won’t actually get updated to use that URL until they’ve checked it. However long that takes???

  3. I have a very similar issue, my listing was flagged for months and still is but its showing up in local search. I find it strange that it shows up but is still flagged in the LBC

    1. @Steve
      Well, you have violated one of the (unspoken and unprinted) cardinal rules….now you need to guess which one or sit and wait, and wait, and wait…..mwhahaha…

  4. I solved my problem. After thinking about this post a bit and the part about if you use certain naughty words, like Google, you get flagged. Well my tracking URL had that terrible word in it, utm_source=google, so I then changed it to say source=bigg instead (as in Big G) and presto, no longer flagged.

  5. @Stever

    That’s a good solution. I had never thought of the word Google from a nasty word perspective….right up there with S&M et al…hmm

    @Steve
    I find that sometimes a listing will get flagged if the same business attempts to create a second listing with a different (even if slight) title. I think this is currently Google’s technique to limit multiple listings per business.

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