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:
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?