A network of tech bloggers are taken to task by Jeff Jarvis for lending their names to an advertising campaign without disclosing they were being paid to do so.

While the tech writers fight over the ethics of what they’ve done, the rest of us might want to think about trust. Some don’t see getting paid for advertising and not disclosing has nothing to do with credibility or transparency. TV has been down this road, radio is still wandering around on it. Bloggers have been down this road, pay-for-posts are now called spam. It is estimated there will be 100 million blogs online this year, if companies, marketers and bloggers can fool you, they will; making money is the standard of success.

At FM, our mission is to support independent website authors and audiences, by connecting them to marketers in an ongoing and robust conversation that feeds everyone involved.

The arguments are interesting, as is the timeline.  Federated Media and some of it’s tech bloggers have been having this conversation for awhile. However, it’s taken Jarvis at Buzz Machine to turn over the rock.

What would irk most readers including me is not that bloggers want to make money; but that companies and bloggers are going to keep pushing boundaries, and there will be a ready group of bloggers happy to take ad money without disclosure - in as quick and painless a way as possible.

So ultimately, this is a cautionary tale for all bloggers who take ads: You must set your own boundaries and not let them be pushed. When you do — whatever those boundaries are — that is the very definition of selling out.

In each of these cases, the advertiser’s effort is to get more closely associated with us, our content, our reputations, our brands.

Jarvis mentions that Federated Media attempted this months ago, and went so far as to allow* an editor to put up an entry on Wikipedia about an advertising slogan a US company (Cisco) was using for branding. Wikipedia has removed the entry.

Jarvis has the details in a passionate and succinct analysis of the debate.
Check out the comments, some of the top tech writers in the US are involved in this discussion.

*(John Battelle CEO of Federated Media: In fact, on the Cisco campaign, in now way did Cisco spam Wikipedia. They wanted to post a wiki version of their definition, and naturally their first thought was Wikipedia. Thanks to input like yours and many others, they did it on Wikia, the commercial cousin to Wikipedia. In fact, they sought out Jimmy Wales’ advice on the matter) The entry was later put up on Wikipedia by one it its editors, independently.)
So, the company got their campaign on Wikipedia with the knowledge of Federated Media, Cisco and the ‘editor.’ Who is this editor? A  employee of Cisco? A Federated Media paid blogger? An unpaid volunteer at Wikepedia? 
You decide whether or not this kind of advertising is the way to have an ‘honest conversation.’

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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