In my idiocy, I just responded to a troll on Chris Brogan’s blog (post link) before I did my research. I’m pretty happy it turned out, because I hate doing that – this dude just made me a bit angry. Still, I was amused with what I found.
There’s a debate lately over bloggers disclosing when they get paid to review a product, or promote something. It’s getting fairly intense, in some places – and a couple online writers I’ve spoken to have mentioned their inundation with comments. So I thought, as a direction of research, I’d dig into not the sides of the debate, but how long people have been talking about this.
I immediately found “10 Rules for Responsible Blogging” on sponsoredreviews.com – posted April 27th, 2007 – more than two years old. The ugly permalink shows it’s entry 40 on their database, which tells me it’s a pillar idea, since it’s fairly close to the start of the blog. The last blog post there is from January of this year, but the content is relevant.
From there I followed a link to a ProBlogger.net article posted by Darren on the comments policy of ProBlogger.net itself – the post was written in November 2005! Having read it, I sort of hope my comment on Brogan’s site – and its parent, subsequently – get deleted. Darren’s right, spam trolling is a bad idea. Conversely, it led to this tab explosion, which has already gotten rather large.
Next, from the original link at sponsoredreviews.com, I found “25 Tips To Optimize Your Blog For Readers & Search Engines” on Search Engine Land – a site I’ve never seen before, oddly. The post was ritten in 2007 as well, and remains relevant to quality blogging. It’s about here that I realized I had failed at finding much about the sponsorship debate and had, instead, begun a quest for information about good blogging practices. Silly, right?
Quality in blogging ties in well with the debate over sponsorships. It’s one of the issues with the funding of new media in general that I think still has yet to be sussed out entirely. See, when you read a newspaper, you’re paying for it – but there are ads as well. Television is the same thing, commercials pay the way for the network, and you pay your cable company to get the network to your house. It’s multi-tiered, but there it is.
So when you pay your internet bill, if you do, you’re paying for the infrastructure (like you do with cable for TV and buying your paper) but you’re not covering the cost of content. Ads, sponsorships and other things do this. In this way, new media (read as: interwebs) is the same as old media. Infrastructure cost goes to the end consumer, and content creation requires other funding.
Because of this, disclosure is a good idea not just for people using Amazon links or getting paid to blog about products – it’s also good for the companies doing the advertising and sponsoring. It’s advertising beyond the content itself. It’s product placement. It’s a good idea.
Which, I’ve come to realize, is why this comment about Brogan being a joke hit me on the nose. The person making the comment isn’t attacking Chris – he’s attacking the practice, and lumping Chris in with the jokes who believe in honesty. Which means any of ten thousand other bloggers are also jokes because they always help the people who are paying them by broadcasting the fact that, yes, I’m being paid for this, my lights will stay on a bit longer, so good for you, you get to read my stuff for as long as I can pay the bills.
We should all be so lucky as to find ads that work, and sponsorship for posting. Gods know I’m not. I’ve yet to make a dime on any post I’ve ever written, but I’m still more than happy to help out the people I send my readers to. That’s not just good business (or lack thereof) – that’s good community building.