I just got back from BlogHer ’09, a conference which astounded and disappointed me all at once. Amongst other things, I was floored at the number of attendees who wanted “pay for post.”
I pride myself on my blogging ethics. As a wine blogger, I receive a lot of samples and a lot of complimentary meals. I also have a disclaimer and sample policy on my blog and I make sure that whenever I receive something for free, I tell my readers. Giving me something for free does not guarantee a positive review. If an winery advertises on my site, I won’t review their wines. As a tech blogger, I also occasionally receive technology to review and when I’m done, I give it back. I do not have a multitude of phones and gadgets sitting around for which I didn’t pay.
Perhaps that is why I was so disappointed to hear so many people at the event wanting pay for post. To be clear, pay for post is a sponsored post. In my own life, perhaps a winery would offer to pay me to positively review their wine. Locally, we had a group of people who received free meals, were not clear about it, and in return for the free meal blogged a positive review. Pay for post. It’s no different from a magazine giving great product reviews to a major advertiser without full disclosure. Truly, I don’t get it. In my mind, pay for post compromises your credibility. Why would you want to do that?
BlogHer was rather heavy on the “Mommy Bloggers,” which is a whole other post in itself. Remember, Mommy Bloggers, like tech bloggers, are key influencers and are being offered a lot of household and baby products for free or pay for post. But several of the Mommy Bloggers have created Blog with Integrity, in response to the proposed FTC Guidelines and, as I witnessed, some of the greed existing in their own community (as well as others). Blog With Integrity is really just a badge you put on your web site. Launched on July 22 (the day before BlogHer), the site has already extracted pledges from 453 bloggers. According to the women who created the site,
After a spring and early summer of polarizing debates about blogger compensation, sponsored posts and product reviews, an alarming increase in ethical lapses and idea theft, and a growing backlash against poor blogger relations practices, we believed it was time to refocus on integrity.
The Blog with Integrity pledge recognizes that there’s no single right way to blog and more than enough room in the world for different approaches.
What matters is the relationship with our readers. Meeting our commitment to them and to our community. Clear disclosure of our interests so they can evaluate our words. Treating others with respect. Taking responsibility for our words and actions.
All you need to do to sign up is enter your name and blog URL on a contact form and place the badge on your web site. The “code of conduct” is simple and to the point – and isn’t heavy handed like a blogger code of conduct that came out in past years.
What do you think – do bloggers need a written code of ethics, no matter how simple?