Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The blogosphere: Red light district?

Hat tip to The Blog Factory for this story on how some bloggers take money from USWeb to review -- or maybe just flog -- their clients' products.

This is, predictably, raising ethical questions. I guess that's a good thing, but to me the important thing is disclosure. Let's take this from the top:

1) There's nothing wrong with being paid for writing. Really.

2) There's nothing wrong with being paid for writing about particular things. Really.

3) If you're receiving financial or other considerations to write about particular things, it's generally polite to make sure your readers know. Their perception of your opinion may be affected by that knowledge, and maybe it should be.

So, a bit of disclosure on my part is in order: I write book reviews. Often, review copies of those books have been made available to me for the purpose of doing so, at no cost to me. Occasionally, the author or publisher even purchases a paid ad on my site to promote the book. The only promise I make to authors who send me review copies or buy ads is this: "If I don't have something nice to say about your book, I won't say anything at all." I've never been offered a fee to write a review on my blog, but I do earn a dollar now and again for reviewing over at Epinions.

Speaking of which, I have reviews to write, Real Soon Now, of two books which I've received review copies of, one book which has been advertised on this site (and which I then bought), and one book which I just bought because people I trust told me I needed to read it (they were right). And, per the above, I have nice things to say about all of those books, or I wouldn't be planning reviews.

But I digress.

Here on Kn@ppster, I'll try to be up-front about whether or not I've received any consideration, financial or otherwise, from the sellers of products I review. But I don't see anything wrong with being paid to blog per se. I just may see if I can get in on that USWeb deal myself. If I don't have to lie to or deceive you to get the money, I'll gladly take it.

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