You taught me the standards for blogging that I adhere to. It is what you taught me that makes me so passionately oppose Pay per Post, who have shown themselves to be the sidewalk hookers of the blogosphere.
It’s not that often that I get stopped in the tracks by a comment left on a blog, but the quote above sure takes the cake. In what turned out to be the latest installment of “Scoble Drama”, Robert Scoble disclosed that he accepted an offer to speak at a conference sponsored by PayPerPost. PayPerPost would cover all travel expenses and even pay an honorarium for the speech but they would not dictate what Scoble would speak about in any way. This naturally sets off a furious storm of righteous indignation, chest beating, and name calling. So Scoble and his company PodTech adjusted the arrangement not to include an honorarium but maintained the speaking gig with expenses paid.
The “sidewalk hooker” metaphor was a comment left in Scoble’s announcement that made me chuckle. If PayPerPost is the “sidewalk hooker” of blogs then what are A-list bloggers? The high class escorts of the blogosphere?
I agree that doing these sponsored posts will probably hurt your credibility (especially if you go for the dodgy PayPerPost (non)disclosure policy) in the long-term just like stealing other people’s content or suddenly posting naked pictures to your serious news blog. However, what happened to the good old days of letting a company you hate die by giving them the silent treatment?
All the passionate critics of PayPerPost probably did more to help propel their business with free publicity than anyone else as Duncan Riley at 901am rightly points out.
There are a number of competitors out there to PayPerPost, can anyone name more than maybe one? I can’t. PPP cut through because they intentionally left out forcing their “posties” to disclose the financial arrangement. Net result was a complete bushfire of outrage and indignation. Not even PPP itself could pay for that sort of attention and link love.
There’s all kinds of outrage over paid posting without a clear requirement for disclosure within the individual post in question. It irritates me that with the rise of these paid reviews you basically have to make a reverse disclosure that you’re not getting paid to say this which can come off phony anyways to a casual reader. However, having said that, if one of these thinly disguised advertisements that are nothing more than the blogosphere’s version of late night infomercials is enough to convince you to buy something then you probably deserve to part with your money. If worse comes to worse it’ll just get to the point where anybody who wants to be respected will simply not do any reviews. However, we’re in a democracy, a capitalist democracy. Blogs are blogs and not a newspaper or magazine published by media.
I could see major issues if Engadget started doing paid posts but we’re mostly talking about small blogs that don’t have much to lose. At the end of the day it’s the blogger’s decision to go down that path and not the A-list blogger federation’s.
Dr. Tony Hung expresses the average Joe’s sentiment like so:
Its OK for A-list bloggers to monetize their blogging relationships by being paid to talk at conferences, or merely to be paid for their blogging activities as a function of their influence …
But its NOT ok for bloggers without influence, capital, notoriety, or celebrity to monetize the relationships THEY have with their readers — even with they’re disclosing it?
Bloggers that care not to mislead their readers will disclose it within their post and also be brutally honest with their “sponsor”. Readers should also be suspicious if they’re not feeling passion from the blogger or notice that there are similar reviews cropping up all over around the same time.
I have serious doubts about the business model of paid posts because you simply can’t buy credibility or respect. Right now you have a lot of companies testing the waters because it’s still a relatively new thing but I think the quality of these “advertisements” and the “advertisers” are already on a downward spiral because they will all converge on the lowest common denominator.
But all in all it doesn’t matter because nothing’s going to save a reader from their own gullibility.