There has been a large brouhaha over a company called Pay Per Post. It’s a company that’s paying bloggers X amount of dollars per post to write about products they recommend, or something to that effect. (As you can probably tell, I’m not quite on top of the pay per post issue. No matter, Technorati is.)
While paying bloggers to write about a particular product has been a practice for some time, the debate is heating up again. The argument in this case is that Pay Per Post doesn’t require bloggers to disclose the fact they’re being paid, and that’s a blogging taboo if ever there was one. (The company has since released a disclosure policy, doubtless in response to their critics.)
Recently, my friend Jim Kukral started an anti-pay-per-post campaign called Blog Honor. Basically, Jim is encouraging bloggers to pledge that they will not write “fake” posts solely for the purpose of getting paid. Bloggers evidence their support of the program by placing a Blog Honor badge like the one you see here on their blogs.
Jim is not anti making money from blogging, but against using what may be the last form of honest advertising in a deceptive way. He makes a good argument too, saying that “Blog readers want authenticity and transparency at all times, especially when it comes to advertisements.”
At the recent Blog Business Summit, Weblogs Inc CEO Jason Calacanis railed against the notion of writing blog posts which are nothing more than veiled advertisements, regardless of whether the blogger discloses the fact they are being paid or not. Weblogs Inc does pay their bloggers of course, but requires that the editorial content remain pure of advertising, such as affiliate links, etc.
What we have here is a tension between two schools of thought. One school sees authenticity and transparency as the chief cornerstones of blogging. The other see blogs as just another advertising vehicle. The former tends to represent more veteran bloggers, while I suspect the latter those who have only recently entered the blogosphere. I could be wrong…I often am.
I have to say I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m an ardent proponent of transparency and authenticity in blogging. At the same time, I don’t see a problem with writing about a product and being paid for doing so. However, and let me be perfectly clear about this, I do have a problem with lack of disclosure. If your blog post is really nothing more than a pitch, I’d like to know that going in.
Of course, there’s nothing in Pay Per Post’s model that says bloggers must write favorably about the product. That would be dishonorable indeed and is a huge no-no.
I have to admire Jim’s celerity in getting this campaign going. He is a smart marketer who knows how to seize an opportunity. That being said, knowing Jim, I do not believe he’s doing this for any other reason than because he fully believes in the cause.
I won’t be surprised if you don’t see some Pay Per Post bloggers who also support Jim’s campaign and place the badge on their blog. That may seem ironic, but it’s bound to happen.