Blog integrity is important

If you don’t disclose you’re being paid to blog, you’re gonna create a mess, like Edelman and Walmart did. That’s why I don’t like PayPerPost (which sponsored part of the conference yesterday). I don’t mind PayPerPost on the face of it. As long as you disclose you’re being paid, your integrity is intact. The problem is that PayPerPost doesn’t ask its bloggers to disclose the fact that they are getting paid to blog (I talked yesterday with one blogger who is using PayPerPost and says he doesn’t always disclose that fact).

That said, bloggers are selling out too cheap. What PayPerPost is really about is getting better search engine ranking. SEO firms used to charge thousands of dollars to do what bloggers are now doing for $5 to $20 per post. I think PayPerPost is brilliant, actually, as long as Google/Yahoo/Microsoft don’t change their rankings to punish PayPerPost advertisers.

If I were running a search engine I’d actually come out and say “we’re gonna remove any advertiser on PayPerPost from our listings.” Why? Cause any engine that doesn’t allow organized buying into the organic search results that way is going to get good feelings from me. Companies should be forced to buy advertising if they don’t want to do the hard work of actually earning a link and/or coverage.

The nice thing is that when the corrosive effect of money comes into the blogosphere and isn’t disclosed it’ll earn a direct blowback just like is on TechMeme today.

Comments

  1. I’ve been studying this more, since it hit TechMeme, and am having difficulty in two areas:

    (1) The original weblog actually did have disclosure, although it may not have been the type that BusinessWeek reporter Pallavi Gogoi preferred;

    (2) We don’t have disclosure on how each of these competing PR firms which promoted the story compete with Edelman. (I assume it’s in the public record somewhere, and some bloggers did mention that they had past differences with Edelman, but the financial motives aren’t clear on this side either.) (And btw, I don’t think I have any connections, social or financial, with any party on this one. ;-)

    … or maybe the point of your post is about PayPerPost rather than the guy at Edelman whose sister asked if it would be okay if they wrote a story for RV magazines about their camping vacation in WalMart parking lots, not sure… hmm, wouldn’t it be damaging if we all accepted the story as it was presented, just because it drew enough links to hit TechMeme…?

    jd

  2. I’ve been studying this more, since it hit TechMeme, and am having difficulty in two areas:

    (1) The original weblog actually did have disclosure, although it may not have been the type that BusinessWeek reporter Pallavi Gogoi preferred;

    (2) We don’t have disclosure on how each of these competing PR firms which promoted the story compete with Edelman. (I assume it’s in the public record somewhere, and some bloggers did mention that they had past differences with Edelman, but the financial motives aren’t clear on this side either.) (And btw, I don’t think I have any connections, social or financial, with any party on this one. ;-)

    … or maybe the point of your post is about PayPerPost rather than the guy at Edelman whose sister asked if it would be okay if they wrote a story for RV magazines about their camping vacation in WalMart parking lots, not sure… hmm, wouldn’t it be damaging if we all accepted the story as it was presented, just because it drew enough links to hit TechMeme…?

    jd

  3. John: good point, but Edelman knows that reputations are made and lost in blogstorms like this, so if the facts are wrong here, I’d certainly like to know about it. If they are, it’ll be even worse for the people who broke this story.

  4. John: good point, but Edelman knows that reputations are made and lost in blogstorms like this, so if the facts are wrong here, I’d certainly like to know about it. If they are, it’ll be even worse for the people who broke this story.

  5. Robert, thanks. Knowing what we don’t yet know is the key, agreed…?

    (I’ve got a little personal interest here now too, because I first linked to a story, but then started wondering whether I should have. Could go either way, but as you point out, more information from all parties would help.)

    jd

  6. Robert, thanks. Knowing what we don’t yet know is the key, agreed…?

    (I’ve got a little personal interest here now too, because I first linked to a story, but then started wondering whether I should have. Could go either way, but as you point out, more information from all parties would help.)

    jd

  7. Well, i was wondering when you’d weigh in on the entire thing Rob! :)

    Of course, let’s not forget Richard Edelman’s pointed pontificating about how important it is to disclose:

    http://www.edelman.com/speak_up/blog/archives/2006/03/a_word_to_the_w.html
    Bloggers can take care of themselves in this evolving world. They should be careful to disclose receipt of product samples, membership on advisory boards or any other financial consideration that might affect their impartiality.

    Another interesting point: Edelman is a member of the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association, and the goings on seem to violate its code of ethics. Wonder what the fall of from THAT will be.
    http://blog.basturea.com/archives/2006/10/13/edel-mart-womma-ethics-code/

    Cheers
    t @ dji

  8. Well, i was wondering when you’d weigh in on the entire thing Rob! :)

    Of course, let’s not forget Richard Edelman’s pointed pontificating about how important it is to disclose:

    http://www.edelman.com/speak_up/blog/archives/2006/03/a_word_to_the_w.html
    Bloggers can take care of themselves in this evolving world. They should be careful to disclose receipt of product samples, membership on advisory boards or any other financial consideration that might affect their impartiality.

    Another interesting point: Edelman is a member of the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association, and the goings on seem to violate its code of ethics. Wonder what the fall of from THAT will be.
    http://blog.basturea.com/archives/2006/10/13/edel-mart-womma-ethics-code/

    Cheers
    t @ dji

  9. I agree rob.

    Something stinks in Denmark.

    Funny thing about Steve “VP at Edelman” Rubel — he’s also been caught in the dark before. After all, in March of this year there was a bit of a hubaloo with the NYT breaking the Wal-Mart / Edelman union, to which Mr. Rubel was caught flat footed.

    Some of you might think I was lying low or that I didn’t care about the story. That’s not the case it all. Yesterday I did not have a moment to craft a thoughtful post with the quality that you have come to expect from me. Was this wrong? Perhaps. I felt that this situation, perhaps more than any other in the two years I have been writing blog, required deeper reflection. I recognize that I need to speak out on this story. I also understand that no matter which direction I fall on this story, there is a sword waiting to catch me. Already some are calling me a hatchet man for the company. This comes with the territory of my new gig and I embrace it.
    http://www.micropersuasion.com/2006/03/silence_happens.html

    Well … perhaps he’s *reflecting* to create a more suitable response.

    And if that’s so — fantastic.
    I can’t wait to see how a blogging evangelist explain away Edelman’s (apparent) efforts to manipulate a blog (creating a flog?).

    Cheers
    t @ dji

  10. I agree rob.

    Something stinks in Denmark.

    Funny thing about Steve “VP at Edelman” Rubel — he’s also been caught in the dark before. After all, in March of this year there was a bit of a hubaloo with the NYT breaking the Wal-Mart / Edelman union, to which Mr. Rubel was caught flat footed.

    Some of you might think I was lying low or that I didn’t care about the story. That’s not the case it all. Yesterday I did not have a moment to craft a thoughtful post with the quality that you have come to expect from me. Was this wrong? Perhaps. I felt that this situation, perhaps more than any other in the two years I have been writing blog, required deeper reflection. I recognize that I need to speak out on this story. I also understand that no matter which direction I fall on this story, there is a sword waiting to catch me. Already some are calling me a hatchet man for the company. This comes with the territory of my new gig and I embrace it.
    http://www.micropersuasion.com/2006/03/silence_happens.html

    Well … perhaps he’s *reflecting* to create a more suitable response.

    And if that’s so — fantastic.
    I can’t wait to see how a blogging evangelist explain away Edelman’s (apparent) efforts to manipulate a blog (creating a flog?).

    Cheers
    t @ dji

  11. Robert: First, check my siglink for context. I’m curious whether you would include more lucrative, pervasive and subtle forms of compensation for exposure/links in your SE advice — such as exlusive press releases, free passes, free panels, free product, party invites; all worth thousands and given with a combined goal of coverage and links?

    Elite bloggers have developed a host of payback mechanisms that just aren’t available to the mainstream bloggers across the world. Are you asking the SEs to make sure only their elite buddies have the opportunity to benefit from their blogging efforts/influence?

  12. Robert: First, check my siglink for context. I’m curious whether you would include more lucrative, pervasive and subtle forms of compensation for exposure/links in your SE advice — such as exlusive press releases, free passes, free panels, free product, party invites; all worth thousands and given with a combined goal of coverage and links?

    Elite bloggers have developed a host of payback mechanisms that just aren’t available to the mainstream bloggers across the world. Are you asking the SEs to make sure only their elite buddies have the opportunity to benefit from their blogging efforts/influence?

  13. Ah, we get into a sticky area with this one. If you were in charge of a search engine and would ban anyone listed on PPP, then that’s cool, I think I’ll go ahead and drop $50 to have podtech.com have a promotional campaign. Now you’re gone and can no longer compete, and the search engine won’t tell you WHY it banned you (Google sure doesn’t). I won’t tell you I did it either.

    That’s just one problem.

    The second is that there’s a long, slow slide from having AdSense adverts or a legit paid banner campaign (see TechCrunch, for example) to having $2 paid linkage from a service like Adzaar, to Pay Per Post. What’s okay and what isn’t? Who determines what disclosure is anyway?

    Your post goes far beyond just disclosure, and says that every advertising network is gaming the search engines, whether explicitly and overtly (text-link-ads) or oh, so subtly (a multi-site banner campaign run by a major PR agency). So are they all wrong? Do they all, always, explicitly, need to say “ADVERTISEMENT” in big letters?

    Do you read Time magazine? They have advertorials that they carefully design to look as much like editorial pages – even down to hiring the same writers – as the rest of the publication. Sure they say “ADVERTISEMENT” but it’s usually in 8 point, grey type against a white background.

    I suggest it’s not anywhere near as simple or cut-and-dry as you suggest.

  14. Ah, we get into a sticky area with this one. If you were in charge of a search engine and would ban anyone listed on PPP, then that’s cool, I think I’ll go ahead and drop $50 to have podtech.com have a promotional campaign. Now you’re gone and can no longer compete, and the search engine won’t tell you WHY it banned you (Google sure doesn’t). I won’t tell you I did it either.

    That’s just one problem.

    The second is that there’s a long, slow slide from having AdSense adverts or a legit paid banner campaign (see TechCrunch, for example) to having $2 paid linkage from a service like Adzaar, to Pay Per Post. What’s okay and what isn’t? Who determines what disclosure is anyway?

    Your post goes far beyond just disclosure, and says that every advertising network is gaming the search engines, whether explicitly and overtly (text-link-ads) or oh, so subtly (a multi-site banner campaign run by a major PR agency). So are they all wrong? Do they all, always, explicitly, need to say “ADVERTISEMENT” in big letters?

    Do you read Time magazine? They have advertorials that they carefully design to look as much like editorial pages – even down to hiring the same writers – as the rest of the publication. Sure they say “ADVERTISEMENT” but it’s usually in 8 point, grey type against a white background.

    I suggest it’s not anywhere near as simple or cut-and-dry as you suggest.

  15. P.S: Walmart IS a mess! Thats why it is presently the 2nd richest company in the world, after Microsoft, and just before Google!

  16. P.S: Walmart IS a mess! Thats why it is presently the 2nd richest company in the world, after Microsoft, and just before Google!

  17. [...] If you need to know which blogger never to trust again – do a search on Technorati for PayPerPostBlueMonster. It’s a puzzle game run by PayPerPost, the company that pays bloggers – well – per post and the blogger does not have to disclose his/her relationship with the company. Whoever whores him/herself to PayPerPost is, in my book, no better than any splogger out there. Some may disclose their relationship with the company – most don’t. If you do – you are still selling your integrity for a few bucks. If you don’t – well – you have no integrity. Update: Robert Scoble posted about this at about the same time I did – his take is very similar to mine.  [...]

  18. [...] Related to this issue is a new service called PayPerPost, a company that basically asks bloggers to sign up and write positive posts about products. If they like what you write they’ll pay you $5 to $20. However, the blogger doesn’t have to disclose this fact and since PayPerPost has to approve the post before the blogger is paid, the implication is that they’ll only pay you for positive reviews. [...]

  19. Being paid or not, I’m tired of bloggers not disclosing their backgrounds to achieve ulterior motives. Mind you, I do realize it’s a risk to disclose certain things, but if you want to ‘play with the big boys’ that’s a risk you have to take.

    I think bloggers have a lot more integrity if they disclose as much as they can. Somehow it boggles me to know that as much as all of us on here yell about the importance of transparency, that there are still cases like this out there.

  20. Being paid or not, I’m tired of bloggers not disclosing their backgrounds to achieve ulterior motives. Mind you, I do realize it’s a risk to disclose certain things, but if you want to ‘play with the big boys’ that’s a risk you have to take.

    I think bloggers have a lot more integrity if they disclose as much as they can. Somehow it boggles me to know that as much as all of us on here yell about the importance of transparency, that there are still cases like this out there.

  21. Technically, how would a search engine go about knowing who is advertising with PayPerPost? Going from the formatting and elements of the links would invite people to set up fake blogs to sabotage their competition and wouldn’t work in all cases. Crawling and screenscraping the PayPerPost site would require an account and acceptance of the site’s Terms of Service (eBay, among others, has shown that those are enforceable in court). Just going into the site under an account and looking would still run into the ToS issue, but would also be increasingly tedious as the number of advertisers increase (Indian outsourcing, perhaps?). I could see PPP’s attorneys using tortious interference and trespassing of chattals theories in addition to a contractual ToS approach. If I ran a search engine of some sort, I’d wait and let Google deal with it first, since they can afford the legal fees.

    Banning of the sites seem pretty draconian anyway. Just treat such links as nofollow links.

  22. Technically, how would a search engine go about knowing who is advertising with PayPerPost? Going from the formatting and elements of the links would invite people to set up fake blogs to sabotage their competition and wouldn’t work in all cases. Crawling and screenscraping the PayPerPost site would require an account and acceptance of the site’s Terms of Service (eBay, among others, has shown that those are enforceable in court). Just going into the site under an account and looking would still run into the ToS issue, but would also be increasingly tedious as the number of advertisers increase (Indian outsourcing, perhaps?). I could see PPP’s attorneys using tortious interference and trespassing of chattals theories in addition to a contractual ToS approach. If I ran a search engine of some sort, I’d wait and let Google deal with it first, since they can afford the legal fees.

    Banning of the sites seem pretty draconian anyway. Just treat such links as nofollow links.

  23. What I don’t get with PPP is that you can’t choose which blogs write about you and since a good percentage of blogs get very close to 0 readers per day it’s a bit of a strange set up. You could have 100 bloggers write about your product and still not get any real coverage – however well the article was written.
    I don’t mind the concept of pay per post as long as you have no editorial say in the post – so if I pay a blogger to write about my product and they say “it sucks” then that’s tough on me (I should have made a better product) – that’s how it should be.

  24. What I don’t get with PPP is that you can’t choose which blogs write about you and since a good percentage of blogs get very close to 0 readers per day it’s a bit of a strange set up. You could have 100 bloggers write about your product and still not get any real coverage – however well the article was written.
    I don’t mind the concept of pay per post as long as you have no editorial say in the post – so if I pay a blogger to write about my product and they say “it sucks” then that’s tough on me (I should have made a better product) – that’s how it should be.

  25. fat chance rubel will write anything public about this. if you hadn’t noticed, he historically never does in these situations. he’s the same old PR just talking the new talk without putting one foot in front of the other. his reputation is toast.

  26. fat chance rubel will write anything public about this. if you hadn’t noticed, he historically never does in these situations. he’s the same old PR just talking the new talk without putting one foot in front of the other. his reputation is toast.

  27. You know, with efficient market theories and such, it can be argued that the market will just figure it out and adjust. I get email occasionally from people wanting me to blog about something or digg it. Knowing that people have loads of motivations for plugging something keeps me on my toes. Motivations might include kissing up, being loyal to a friend in business or just getting paid to create buzz.

  28. You know, with efficient market theories and such, it can be argued that the market will just figure it out and adjust. I get email occasionally from people wanting me to blog about something or digg it. Knowing that people have loads of motivations for plugging something keeps me on my toes. Motivations might include kissing up, being loyal to a friend in business or just getting paid to create buzz.

  29. Scoble the hyprocrit.

    you were getting paid to blog by MSFT.
    Check by microsoft :
    “Oh yeah, Microsoft product A is going to be better than Competitor, just wait til Product A comes out!”

    Check by podtech :
    “oh, Microsoft lost its way, Google Product A is better”

  30. Scoble the hyprocrit.

    you were getting paid to blog by MSFT.
    Check by microsoft :
    “Oh yeah, Microsoft product A is going to be better than Competitor, just wait til Product A comes out!”

    Check by podtech :
    “oh, Microsoft lost its way, Google Product A is better”

  31. I wouldn’t go as far as digitaliger (#29) but it’s certainly an interesting dilemma. Calacanis makes no clear mention (aside from in a few specific posts) that he is currently employed by AOL. So if I come through Google to a specific post on his blog which gushes about the supreme ultimateness of Netscape vs Digg, where is the disclosure?

    By not disclosing on every post that refers to netscape.com, the onus is on the reader to figure out if it’s a legit point of view. Credit is due to Jason for having the blurb on the top right about being Weblogs Inc CEO. Perhaps its time for an update.

    Should all big bloggers have a statement of disclosure as part of the standard site layout?

  32. I wouldn’t go as far as digitaliger (#29) but it’s certainly an interesting dilemma. Calacanis makes no clear mention (aside from in a few specific posts) that he is currently employed by AOL. So if I come through Google to a specific post on his blog which gushes about the supreme ultimateness of Netscape vs Digg, where is the disclosure?

    By not disclosing on every post that refers to netscape.com, the onus is on the reader to figure out if it’s a legit point of view. Credit is due to Jason for having the blurb on the top right about being Weblogs Inc CEO. Perhaps its time for an update.

    Should all big bloggers have a statement of disclosure as part of the standard site layout?

  33. The problem with that approach is it then gives an incentive for competitors to post about you on PPP. If you could get a company kicked off Google just by paying for a post on PPP in their name, it would seem to make for a cheap way to damage the competition.

    It’s something that’s been axiomatic in the gaming industry for years: there isn’t a system of rules that a determined player can’t game.

  34. The problem with that approach is it then gives an incentive for competitors to post about you on PPP. If you could get a company kicked off Google just by paying for a post on PPP in their name, it would seem to make for a cheap way to damage the competition.

    It’s something that’s been axiomatic in the gaming industry for years: there isn’t a system of rules that a determined player can’t game.

  35. Sorry for the second post, but I came across a post on Guy Kawasaki’s blog that is one step closer to full disclosure, but it’s at the bottom of the post.

    The post is clearly pimping Coghead, but it’s not until the end that I find out his affiliation. This changes the context of the post completely.

    If everyone is getting into a huff about PayPerPost putting disclosure at the top of each post, it would seem that the same standard needs to be applied to a heck of a lot of bloggers.

  36. Sorry for the second post, but I came across a post on Guy Kawasaki’s blog that is one step closer to full disclosure, but it’s at the bottom of the post.

    The post is clearly pimping Coghead, but it’s not until the end that I find out his affiliation. This changes the context of the post completely.

    If everyone is getting into a huff about PayPerPost putting disclosure at the top of each post, it would seem that the same standard needs to be applied to a heck of a lot of bloggers.

  37. Ok, here’s your PPP free search engine:

    http://search.live.com/macros/andyed/realbloggers/

    I only found about 200 folks who appear to be using the counttrackula single pixel gif in our index.

    Here’s the syntax behind the macro:
    -inbody:counttrackula.com hasfeed: (prefer:inurl:2006 | prefer:inurl:2007)

    The -inbody removes the PPC pages, hasfeed limits the search to pages with rss/atom/xml, and the prefer throws in a boost for fresh stuff in normal blog url patterns. I went ahead and put in 2007 so I don’t have to update in 2 months :)

  38. Ok, here’s your PPP free search engine:

    http://search.live.com/macros/andyed/realbloggers/

    I only found about 200 folks who appear to be using the counttrackula single pixel gif in our index.

    Here’s the syntax behind the macro:
    -inbody:counttrackula.com hasfeed: (prefer:inurl:2006 | prefer:inurl:2007)

    The -inbody removes the PPC pages, hasfeed limits the search to pages with rss/atom/xml, and the prefer throws in a boost for fresh stuff in normal blog url patterns. I went ahead and put in 2007 so I don’t have to update in 2 months :)

  39. I’m curious Andy. I think it’s very impressive what you’ve done with LiveSearch there to filter out count trackula stuff on the one hand. On the other, wouldn’t it be a better investment of your time to prevent windows live search returning pornography to underage minors that can find it with just a few key clicks and no age-checks.

    Just curious as to Microsofts view here is all – underage pornography, warez etc = fine, paid blogging (like Scoble here) = not fine.

    Interesting.

  40. I’m curious Andy. I think it’s very impressive what you’ve done with LiveSearch there to filter out count trackula stuff on the one hand. On the other, wouldn’t it be a better investment of your time to prevent windows live search returning pornography to underage minors that can find it with just a few key clicks and no age-checks.

    Just curious as to Microsofts view here is all – underage pornography, warez etc = fine, paid blogging (like Scoble here) = not fine.

    Interesting.

  41. digitaltiger: and I disclosed who was paying me (and do on the home page of my blog).

    As to Jason Calacanis: everyone knows he works for AOL, so he obviously disclosed his biases somewhere too.

  42. digitaltiger: and I disclosed who was paying me (and do on the home page of my blog).

    As to Jason Calacanis: everyone knows he works for AOL, so he obviously disclosed his biases somewhere too.

  43. Phil:

    >>What I don’t get with PPP is that you can’t choose which blogs write about you and since a good percentage of blogs get very close to 0 readers per day it’s a bit of a strange set up.

    The real readership comes from search engines. If I were to advertise on PayPerPost it wouldn’t be to get your readers. It’d be to get your link to something specific so that I could get that high on Google/Live/Yahoo.

    This is all about gaming the search engines and doing some cheap SEO.

  44. Phil:

    >>What I don’t get with PPP is that you can’t choose which blogs write about you and since a good percentage of blogs get very close to 0 readers per day it’s a bit of a strange set up.

    The real readership comes from search engines. If I were to advertise on PayPerPost it wouldn’t be to get your readers. It’d be to get your link to something specific so that I could get that high on Google/Live/Yahoo.

    This is all about gaming the search engines and doing some cheap SEO.

  45. @36 There you go with your myopic view of the word. “Everyone knows Calacanis works for AOL”? Really? How do you know that? How do you kow EVERYONE that comes to his blog knows he works for AOL before arriving? Maybe “everyone” in your out of touch world knows,but I would bet that’s a very low percentage of people.

  46. @36 There you go with your myopic view of the word. “Everyone knows Calacanis works for AOL”? Really? How do you know that? How do you kow EVERYONE that comes to his blog knows he works for AOL before arriving? Maybe “everyone” in your out of touch world knows,but I would bet that’s a very low percentage of people.

  47. Definitely didn’t mean to set off a sore spot, but I think the original point still stands. For someone who happens not to know who Calacanis or Scoble is, reading any of their blog posts without that disclosure information is potentially misleading.

    The internet is all about nuggets of information and we can’t assume that people have connected the dots.

    I suppose the subtlety is that the Calacanis’ of the net are not going out of their way to deceive readers the way PPP is.

    The world is permeated with deception and misinformation served up by people with vested interests, so perhaps we shouldn’t worry if a few bloggers get a few bucks.

    In the end, no single opinion, biased or non, should be relied upon to form your own judgement.

  48. Definitely didn’t mean to set off a sore spot, but I think the original point still stands. For someone who happens not to know who Calacanis or Scoble is, reading any of their blog posts without that disclosure information is potentially misleading.

    The internet is all about nuggets of information and we can’t assume that people have connected the dots.

    I suppose the subtlety is that the Calacanis’ of the net are not going out of their way to deceive readers the way PPP is.

    The world is permeated with deception and misinformation served up by people with vested interests, so perhaps we shouldn’t worry if a few bloggers get a few bucks.

    In the end, no single opinion, biased or non, should be relied upon to form your own judgement.

  49. Robert,

    I’m surprised you ducked question @11. Any thoughts on the more lucrative pay-for-exposure/link approaches currently employed by the elites daily? One example would be exclusive press releases, which are worth thousands in advertising/click-throughs and generate hundreds of backlinks for the company paying bloggers via an exclusive. Or maybe free products, or free passes, or direct employment, or panel positions — all given with blended goals of exposure/buzz/linkage…

    Also, @40 are you suggesting that a disclosure policy like Jason’s that relies on people chasing down his background (via Wikipedia or other tools) is what you support?

    On a more intellectually honest note, it sounds like you support disclosure at a blog level as you, Jason and other elites do? Is that true or do you believe disclosure is something better decided by the bloggers who know best their relationship with their audience (the way Jason knows his)? Or, is every blogger’s disclosure policy best decided by you? ;-)

    Direct answers, not redirects, appreciated…

  50. Robert,

    I’m surprised you ducked question @11. Any thoughts on the more lucrative pay-for-exposure/link approaches currently employed by the elites daily? One example would be exclusive press releases, which are worth thousands in advertising/click-throughs and generate hundreds of backlinks for the company paying bloggers via an exclusive. Or maybe free products, or free passes, or direct employment, or panel positions — all given with blended goals of exposure/buzz/linkage…

    Also, @40 are you suggesting that a disclosure policy like Jason’s that relies on people chasing down his background (via Wikipedia or other tools) is what you support?

    On a more intellectually honest note, it sounds like you support disclosure at a blog level as you, Jason and other elites do? Is that true or do you believe disclosure is something better decided by the bloggers who know best their relationship with their audience (the way Jason knows his)? Or, is every blogger’s disclosure policy best decided by you? ;-)

    Direct answers, not redirects, appreciated…

  51. …it’s even more dismaying to see Edelman’s high-powered social media experts failing to walk the talk.

    Geee…imagine that. The biggest preachers for, seemingly are most often the Commandment breakers. Psychological projection done Social Media Web 2.0ish. But Walmart? Focus on the low prices, wide variety and commodity markets…nothing can ever make Wally World hip. To be hip, you need unique, exclusive, designerish products, not just the ‘Made in China’ Walmart hoard. Target got the hip kick halfway down, but even then all the viral marketing monies are mostly wholesale wasted…

    Basic common sense really (to anyone outside the hive mind), but this is exactly what happens when you start believing your own PR.

  52. …it’s even more dismaying to see Edelman’s high-powered social media experts failing to walk the talk.

    Geee…imagine that. The biggest preachers for, seemingly are most often the Commandment breakers. Psychological projection done Social Media Web 2.0ish. But Walmart? Focus on the low prices, wide variety and commodity markets…nothing can ever make Wally World hip. To be hip, you need unique, exclusive, designerish products, not just the ‘Made in China’ Walmart hoard. Target got the hip kick halfway down, but even then all the viral marketing monies are mostly wholesale wasted…

    Basic common sense really (to anyone outside the hive mind), but this is exactly what happens when you start believing your own PR.

  53. @40 I’m not suggesting he his trying to hide his identity.

    So, now we’ve narowwed it down to people that take the time to look him up on Wikipedia know who he is. That’s still, for the most part, a small section of people. Certainly not “everybody”

  54. @40 I’m not suggesting he his trying to hide his identity.

    So, now we’ve narowwed it down to people that take the time to look him up on Wikipedia know who he is. That’s still, for the most part, a small section of people. Certainly not “everybody”

  55. [...] I notice that a lot is being said online again about false representation through blogs (Scoble’s post is a good place to start).  It’s always worthwhile to expose people who are straight up lying but the earnestness of some people about the struggle for some “pure” voice in online communication strikes me as rather pointless for two reasons.  One is that it’s totally futile; you’ll never find out everybody who’s being paid to post comment no matter how hard you try, plus one person’s definition of objective comment is not going to match another’s.  Two is that the mainstream media is completely bought and paid for so why the fuck should independent online media be any different. [...]

  56. Good lord, even *I* know who Calcanis works for, and I’m a bloody starving artist. Don’t be coy, LayZ.

    I don’t think the issue here is payment; the issue here is disclosure.

    There are federal regulations that specify how you identify paid advertising and how you identify regular content, and it’s high time those standards were applied to the blogosphere. Note that this will not effect most bloggers, most of whom are NOT paid for their work.

    All you have in the blogosphere is your reputation, and if you get a reputation for being rented or bought, then that’s only fair. It may, indeed, be legally mandatory, if you can find a judge who’s willing to be openminded.

  57. Good lord, even *I* know who Calcanis works for, and I’m a bloody starving artist. Don’t be coy, LayZ.

    I don’t think the issue here is payment; the issue here is disclosure.

    There are federal regulations that specify how you identify paid advertising and how you identify regular content, and it’s high time those standards were applied to the blogosphere. Note that this will not effect most bloggers, most of whom are NOT paid for their work.

    All you have in the blogosphere is your reputation, and if you get a reputation for being rented or bought, then that’s only fair. It may, indeed, be legally mandatory, if you can find a judge who’s willing to be openminded.

  58. I agree that paid bloggers should disclose who pays them. The mainstream media just went through this issue when it was revealed how many journalists are paid to write (favorably) about a company or issue group. Many of them, and they were some of the biggest names in journalism, protested that they were still objective despite the money, but the stench remained and sullied their reputations. As you say, as long as they reveal that they are paid to represent a company or group, that is honest. If they don’t, that is dishonest. The blogosphere was built on trust, and dishonet money floating around, destroys that trust. Just be honest about it is a good, and honest, standard.

  59. I agree that paid bloggers should disclose who pays them. The mainstream media just went through this issue when it was revealed how many journalists are paid to write (favorably) about a company or issue group. Many of them, and they were some of the biggest names in journalism, protested that they were still objective despite the money, but the stench remained and sullied their reputations. As you say, as long as they reveal that they are paid to represent a company or group, that is honest. If they don’t, that is dishonest. The blogosphere was built on trust, and dishonet money floating around, destroys that trust. Just be honest about it is a good, and honest, standard.

  60. [...] BusinessWeek reports how a blog about two people RVing from Las Vegas to Georgia has turned out to be a fakish blog called Walmarting Across America. The blog was backed by Wal-Mart and its PR firm Edelman. The Walmarting RV parked at Wal-Mart stores and the bloggers took photographs of ever-happy Wal-Mart employees. Every Wal-Mart employee that Laura and Jim run into, from store clerks to photogenic executives, absolutely loves to work at the store. Sound like a great Wal-Mart publicity campaign? Anyone familiar with Wal-Mart and its reputation for being quite stingy with wages and benefits will roll their eyes at such a rosy picture. In fact, some critics are so skeptical that they wonder whether Jim and Laura are real or whether they were concocted at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. “Wal-Mart has hired fake people,” says Jonathan Rees, a labor historian and associate professor at Colorado State University at Pueblo, who has also worked as a staff researcher at the AFL-CIO. In a blog posting for the Web site The Writing On the Wal, Reese published an open letter to Laura and Jim challenging them to reveal themselves and asking who paid for their RV and gas. It turns out that the blog was sponsored by Working Families for Wal-Mart, an organization launched by Edelman. Deep Jive Interests explains. In spite of the ever growing echochamber the blogosphere lives in, it never astounds me what gets missed from time to time; in particular, there’s a leading story in Businessweek about how a travel blog about Wal-mart (that is unabashedly positive about Wal-Mart), has in fact been sponsored by Working Families for Wal-Mart. What’s wrong with that? Well, it turns out that WFWM is an organization that was launched by Edelman about 10 months ago, as a PR move to counter negative press about Wal-Mart. Deep Jive Interests also notes that Edelman and Wal-Mart have generated unfavorable blogosphere buzz before — see here and here. In Edelman’s defense at least they didn’t launch that horrid social network for Walmart.com. Robert Scoble writes that blog integrity is important and relates the Wal-Mart RV blog incident to PayPerPost allowing bloggers to get paid for blog posts without disclosing it. Shel Holtz wants to know where the Edelman bloggers are? “So where is Edelman in this particular conversation? Missing in action. As dismaying as this latest misstep is, it’s even more dismaying to see Edelman’s high-powered social media experts failing to walk the talk. Nothing from Richard in his vaunted 6 a.m. blog. Nothing from Steve, who blogs at the pinnacle of PR’s A-list.” The final word from the Walmarting Across America blog blames the anti-Walmart crowd, as Mathew Ingram notes. The Walmarting Across America bloggers are also steadfast in their love of Wal-Mart. Even these personal attacks won’t sour my feelings about Wal-Mart. I’ve met too many great people in Wal-Marts across the county. I’ve met too many people – real people, not imaginary Internet people – who’ve told me about all the good Wal-Mart has done. I’ve camped in Wal-Mart parking lots. I’ve met these people and heard their stories firsthand. Which is something the people who attacked Jim and me haven’t done and don’t care to do. So I’ve made the trip. I had a great time. I loved meeting the people we met, listening to the stories we heard. After everything that’s happened, I even loved blogging about it all. And if I had the chance, I’d do it again. In the end, that’s all that really matters. AdPulp reports that the photographer of the flog, who also works for the Washington Post, is in trouble because the Wal-Mart photographs violate his freelancing policy with the Post. The other problem with the blog is there are not many links to it from other blogs and some of the inbound links are just bloggers complaining about it. There must not have been much interest in watching people travel from one Wal-Mart to another. [...]

  61. [...] Access to other advanced syntax differentiates further from simple site search amalgamations.  Heck, Scoble pontificated about a search engine that excluded blogs that participate in pay per post.  While I didn’t figure out a way to focus this on only those PPP bloggers who don’t disclose their interest, I think it’s impressive that the basics can be done at all.  It’s called macro:andyed.realBloggers, and uses -inbody:counttrackula.com to exclude sites that use the PPP tracking script (I think!) and hasfeed: to restrict to blogs (or other pages with syndication). [...]

  62. [...] The Ugly: PayPerPost If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks you may have missed the discussion of PayPerPost’s business model that’s been spreading like kudzu: just to pick some names you might recognize, Doc Searls, Dan Gillmor, Jason Calcanis, Jeremy Wagstaff, Dave Winer, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington have all weighed in of late. Or you could just check Technorati. [...]

  63. Once an engine starts banning websites for external links, however acquired, they open up a new market for the “virtual hitman”. Just as the long argument against paid links goes, allowing an external link to negatively affect a site’s standing in the search results simply means that websites in competitve markets will start running those campaigns to knock their competitors off. It will never work, will be impossible to administer fairly, and would penalize scores of innocent mom and pop websites in the process.

    If the engines have a problem with it, the only possible solution (as with paid links) is to simply block any pagerank/trustrank/link juice from being passed on from the offending blogs/sites that are selling links.

    Anything else, and you’ll be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  64. Once an engine starts banning websites for external links, however acquired, they open up a new market for the “virtual hitman”. Just as the long argument against paid links goes, allowing an external link to negatively affect a site’s standing in the search results simply means that websites in competitve markets will start running those campaigns to knock their competitors off. It will never work, will be impossible to administer fairly, and would penalize scores of innocent mom and pop websites in the process.

    If the engines have a problem with it, the only possible solution (as with paid links) is to simply block any pagerank/trustrank/link juice from being passed on from the offending blogs/sites that are selling links.

    Anything else, and you’ll be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  65. [...] This was clearly illustrated by the furore that developed around a PR activity that Edelman and Wal-Mart did. Wal-Mart’s PR counsellors at Edelman created a blog ostensibly authored by a couple traveling across America in their RV and spending nights parked in Wal-Mart parking lots. Edelman wanted to make consumers think that Wal-Mart is a great place to use as the anchor point for a road trip. When it became clear that this was a fake blog, as it quickly did, everyone jumped on Edelman. Blogging heavyweights, such as Shel Holtz, Scott Karp and Robert Scoble, pointed out the manifest deception of such an approach. This was particularly heinous from a company like Edelman that has made much of the benefits of social media efforts. It took a few days for Richard Edelman to fess up and acknowledge what he called an error in failing to be transparent. [...]

  66. Another SEO Philippines Contest

    I read on SEO Philippines newsgroup that the new keyword for the 2nd SEO contest was announced already by Mr. SEO guy Marc Macalua at Beercon SEO Phil gathering last October 28 at The Fort Makati. The mystery keyword is Ituloy Angsulong.
    I’m taki…

  67. [...] TechCrunch today invites us to visit another pay-per-post company that was just today launched to compete with Pay Per Post, CreamAid and LoudLaunch.  Mike is correct, there seems to be a recent surge or "virus" of this business model as companies continue to try to capitalize on the buzz created by the word of mouth marketing craze created in the blogosphere.  This model  may only be a quick fix, or a band aid for companies that really don’t understand the online experience of blogs. Blogging is not about buying bits and pieces of attention, its about participation and conversation between the company and the audience.  Purchasing a post here and there is not much different than Text Link Ads or merely link purchasing for the purpose of gaining "Google Juice" as we heard from Scoble. [...]

  68. well the unique articles on blogs are worth much and google gives also a big value to this. so make sure u write uniques and not c/p articles.
    thanks!

  69. well the unique articles on blogs are worth much and google gives also a big value to this. so make sure u write uniques and not c/p articles.
    thanks!