You may have seen this, or ‘Invalid activity’ notices on your Google Adsense payment history from September/October 2012. Google has adjusted daily earnings in real-time for a while, so that invalid clicks and exposures are disregarded before the end of the day. They do still do some post-processing on activity which may see your monthly balances reduced further, and they have begun noting these adjustments on your payment report.

Google has a support article about invalid activity here and what you can do to prevent it. Even legitimate publishers (such as I) have seen small adjustments to earnings, even after a payment has been issued for the month in question. This can lead to a small negative Current Balance (denoted by brackets around the number). It is very hard to work out what constitutes this invalid activity, but may be things such as invalid clicks, or traffic received from unsavoury or illicit sources. If you are a spammer or someone trying to grind pagerank, or have paid for your site to be advertised on a site with artificially inflated rank, then don’t be surprised if your earnings are seeing lots of adjustments. Honest publishers have nothing to fear. With the wide variety of traffic flow around the internet, a small amount will reach legitimate sites from bad sources. Small, occasional adjustments are nothing to worry about (although I’ll agree it’s disappointing to see earnings revised down!).

Keeping traffic and click activity honest is definitely in the best interests of everybody concerned, advertisers and publishers alike. The trouble comes with having to somewhat blindly trust that Google implements its policy fairly and that your site won’t suddenly become subject to huge adjustments that you can’t work out. I recommend the ‘How to help prevent invalid activity’ section of the support article linked above, and if you do ever notice unusual activity – such as 10 times as many clicks as a normal day, despite no meaningful increase in traffic, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is alert Google proactively. This will help prevent you from being deemed an illegitimate publisher, ultimately having your account disabled.

As soon as you "like" this you will yawn

This is yet another test of how stupid people can be on Facebook. This is a picture of a woman, one side blurred, the other side not. The image implores you to ‘Like’ and then ‘Comment 55’ and ‘See the magic’.

There is no magic. What do you think will actually happen? This is Facebook. If you click like, it will like something. If you comment, it will comment. NOTHING ELSE WILL HAPPEN.

This is a viral test to see how many fucking moronic people will follow instructions and expect something to happen. It won’t. If you do actually yawn it’s because your brain is susceptable to the suggestion of yawning simply at the mention of it. Liking an image, commenting an arbitrary number, is not ‘magical’ behavior.

It’s not magic, it’s not mystical, you’re just stupid.

These scam posts are doing the rounds again. They say ‘Thank you[Tesco] [Morissons] [other supermarket]’, pretending to offer you a free £175 or £250 voucher, accompanied by the words ‘Claim your free voucher, only a few left!’.

Same kind of deal as always here. As soon as you stupidly click the link and go to the page, you get linkjacked and it reposts the scammy spam to your Facebook.

As always you’re an idiot if you click such links. It’s _always_ too good to be true and blindly following links posted on Facebook is risky. Without adequate virus protection you’re likely to be installed with some form of virus or malware that’ll either fuck up your computer or steal your personal details. Don’t click it.

On my recent SLC annual statement, I noticed my total repayment figure stated for the year was very low, about half of what it should have been. Looking at my P60 I can see that the SLC payment figure my employer has stated is also incorrect, and it’s this information that been given to the SLC.

Then I realised I’d changed employers half-way through that year, and that my P60 only reflected payments from my new employer. Why not from the old employer? Turns out that while a P45 has a box that says ‘Student Loan Repayments to continue’, it has absolutely nothing to record the Student Loan repayments made to date in the financial year. Therefore the new employer has absolutely no information to pass on to the SLC at the end of the financial year, and this causes the discrepancy.

HMRC’s website has a PDF describing what to do with Student Loan deductions and P45s, which you can see here.

Now, if you give that a read you’ll see that the ‘advice’ given in this area is no advice at all. It admits that the P45 won’t carry over any information to the new employer, and to refer any enquiries to the SLC. The ONLY thing it says in relation to this problem is that it’s very important to keep your payslips and your P60.

This gives rise to the following scenario:

Jack earns £100,000 a year and automatically pays £630 from his payslip each month as a student loan repayment.In February of one year, Jack gets a new job, hands over his P45, and begins working for his new company in March on the same salary. At the end of March, Jack pays £630 to the SLC as normal.In April Jack’s new employer processes his P60, and states the total SLC deductions for the year (the only one they know about) as £630. This information is sent to the Student Loans Company and they update his balance to show £630 of payments.

Jack has paid a total of £7560 in repayments for the year, but his balance only decreases by £630.

Now, who’s at fault here?

New employer? They can only work with the information they’re given on the P45. They haven’t fucked up, because there’s no way for them to know what you’ve paid.

Old employer? They have no way of conveying what you’ve paid in the financial year to date. They can specify the tax you’ve paid, which is fine (except it’s not, for reasons I’ll come to shortly), but there’s no box for ‘SLC payments’.

SLC? They can only work with what they’re given on the P60. They’re too stupid to be able to reconcile what they’ve actually received via HMRC for you, so they’re entirely reliant on your employer telling them on a piece of paper once a year.

HMRC offer no advice, and if you don’t realise, you’re getting fuck fuckity fucked and there’s nothing in place to catch the discrepancy. Anyone reading this that has repaid a student loan after 1998, and has changed employers at any point thereafter has almost certainly been screwed over in this way.

The ONLY way to fix this is to realise yourself, manually reconcile all of your payslips against your P60 (assuming you kept them), and send them as evidence to the SLC. They may then eventually update your record to reflect your true payments. I’m guessing that’s the next step, but I haven’t got that far yet.

Why isn’t there a gigantic klaxon going off somewhere to alert people to this problem? You could have overpaid thousands of pounds in student loan payments and never have realised.

I’ve gone back over payslips, P60s, and student loan statements for the last three years. I’ve been caught by both of my job changes in that time and I’ve actually paid off far more of my loan than the SLC is aware of.

If you’re having this issue in Skyrim’s Dawnguard where shooting a bloodcursed arrow from Auriel’s bow has no effect, the reason is due to a small bug.

If you improve Auriel’s bow (as I did using Moonstone to ‘Legendary’), this confuses the game and treats Auriel’s bow as if it’s a different weapon, and the special sun-blotting power doesn’t activate. Particularly annoying if you want to unlock the achievement!

PC players can work around this bug by spawning in another copy of the original Auriel’s Bow with the console command: player.additem 02000800 1

Hopefully Bethesda will fix this bug in an upcoming patch….