Saturday, January 20, 2007

how much does your oppinion cost?

Would you accept payment to write articles on a specific topic from a third party?

Would you let that payment effect your oppinion on a specific topic - perhaps a favourable review?

Would you disclose that you were paid to write the posting?

I've heard about a number of bloggers accepting fees to write on specific topics.

This is something I'm very uncomfortable with. It becomes a issue of conflict of interest. It's one thing to request a product for review and be able to keep it - such as a book, gadget, etc... the item is given without expectation of the resulting review and is usually of nominal cost.

However, being paid to write on topics - especially when one seeks further "assignments", cannot lead to independent thinking and honest results. Failure to disclose being paid is even worse. In the academic world it's a career disaster. In "amature" blogging it's something not yet discussed.

Here's one consideration. Most bloggers have at least a little advertising. Do they advertisers suspect they are supporting a paid public relations site or are they being deceived as well?

I'd like to think that my oppinion costs more than $40, does yours?


3 comments: said...

My opinion costs $4 at PayPerPost ;)

Then again, I generally only take "opportunities" that allow either positive or negative reviews (unless I actually like the thing, in which case I have to prob taking a positive-only item). I also only pick items that fit in with the theme of my blog ie. are of potential interest to my intended audience.

Why do it? To raise a bit of money for the time spent blogging (I spend around 15 hours a week on blogging-related activities, so the $1.50 I get a month from adsense is not worth having. I take 1-2 PPP opportunities a week, if there's anything suitable available, which raises about $10 a week). It's not enough to "pay" for my time, but does help subsidise the cost of my cable modem etc.

Does this amount of money "buy" a favourable opinion, and create a "conflict of interest?" Well, look at the figures - my NW is over $1m, so I make about $200 a day in "passive" income. I don't really care if I get dropped by PPP, adsense or anyone else, so I really can't see that the money involved with "sponsored" posts has any impact on what I write, beyond being another source of ideas for things to post about.

Anyhow, as I flag all my sponsored posts clearly as such, any readers who don't like it can either skip those particular posts, or skip my blog entirely.

Personally I don't care if blogs are biased - either by personal views, pandering to topics that of greatest interest to their readers in order to boost "circulation", copying other bloggers ideas, or getting paid for posts about particular topics. As with all other sources of information, you have to form your own opinion about the validity of information/views you access - whether its from mainstream media, academic articles, blog posts, or conversations with your mates around the BBQ.


makingourway said...


I agree with your point that there certainly are honorable people that would blog their true thoughts, however, that is more often than not the minority. You yourself claim financial indpendence - the remuneration is far too low to compromise your writing.

It's a lot different for someone with a fraction of your networth and looming debt.

Afterall, if the pay for post organizations didn't expect positive reviews - would they continue paying for negative publicity?

You sir stand as an honorable exception. Especially as you identify your posts as sponsored. How many do not?

I remember reading a business week article about a large f500 consumer products company that recruited women of influence - housewives with large social networks. They paid them to discuss, promote and attract attention to their cpg products without disclosure. I wonder how their friends would feel if they found out their recommendations had been bought?

Bias is something we seldom escape - but compromise and conflict of interest are moral obligations to identify.


PS consider text link advertising - it pays more than adsense.

PPS How does amazon pay?

Tiredbuthappy said...

I have written a couple paid articles on my blog for "ReviewMe." I was paid $50 per article. I identified the post as a paid post both in the title and in the text itself. This is actually required by ReviewMe, and I think PPP requires it too altho I'm not sure since I haven't written for PPP. In both cases, I said both positive and negative things about the reviewed sites.

Do I feel that this is wrong? No. I'm only concerned that readers will find too much paid content off-putting. If something is relevant to my blog and may be useful for my readers, sure, I'll review it even if you pay me. If it is way off topic, then no, I don't think it's worth it.

I've also done a little bit of "bzzing" for BzzAgent, which sends free products so that you'll tell friends and coworkers about them. They require you to tell every person you "bzz" that you received the product from BzzAgent and that you're being rewarded (not paid--you get fairly crappy free stuff) by BzzAgent for telling them about it.

I think with full disclosure it's perfectly ethical. The question is just whether your readers are going to keep coming back if you are a walking billboard.

BTW, thanks for submitting this to the Carnival of Ethics, Values, and PF. I'm not including it just because I only include one post per blogger and I've already got a good one you submitted earlier. I am game to participate in your new carnival. I turned 30 last month, so I'm now one of you. :)

Keep up the thoughtful posts. I always enjoy your blog.