The thoughts on genuine blogging (or increasing lack thereof) have weighed heavy on my mind as of late. I can think of three examples as the catalyst:
- I caught an associate using a link tracking code after recommending an online service via his blog. Granted, the tracking code doesn’t guarantee that he’s getting paid to blog about the product, but if so, he should have disclosed the sponsorship. If it smells like crap, it probably is.
- Another colleague of mine posted an article a while back discussing several companies and industries (as if an outsider) that he’s involved in, without a specific disclaimer. I know for a fact he has a significant financial stake in several of the companies and industries mentioned, and the dubious act left me feeling uneasy.
- Lastly, the whole PayPerPost issue and their recently raised $3M in funding from a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital company (see also: TechCrunch podcast on the subject). When search engine marketing links started appearing next to natural links, many people criticized the product as unethical. The disclosed “Sponsored” listing wordage seems to have taken care of the initial problem, but that’s what PayPerPost is lacking: Advertiser requirement that a paid blog post must be disclosed as such. If an individual blogger wants to be shady, that’s their ethical stance. Advertisers that want to work this way would also be wise not to mandate a favorable review. A neutral (stating the facts) post is okay, but full blogger control over what’s being said is preferred.
I, by no means, am perfect. But the one thing no one can take from me is my integrity (cue Braveheart or some other big Hollywood soundtrack).