Saturday, February 03, 2007

Is PayPerPost Trying to Outflank the Blogosphere's Defenses?

Crunchnotes notes that high profile blogger "Robert Scoble got sucked into the PayPerPost machine" because he accepted a fee from PayPerPost – a company that pays bloggers to write reviews about products and services – to speak at a conference.

It's a clever strategy on the part of PayPerPost: throw out enough money in enough different ways and all of the sudden everyone is complicit in its activities. Not that its activities are implicitly or necessarily ill-intentioned. As I just commented over at a Deep Jive Interests piece that defends the right of "blue collar" bloggers from making a living:

I take sort of a middle position here. While I don’t begrudge the blue collars from trying to squeak out a living in the online blog-mines, I’m fearful that services like PayPerPost will help to lower the whole of the blogosphere’s credibility. Like it or not, “blogs” as a whole have a reputation (good, bad, and ugly in the mind of the general public) and if web surfers and searchers sense that paid services have sullied the bloggy waters (via paying writers to write paid editorial without clear disclosure), that can have adverse reaction in terms of traffic, page rank, and the overall health of the blogosphere.

Scoble has since backtracked and says that he will now reject PayPerPost's honorarium but oddly still seems to imply that he will take travel expenses. Talk about ambiguity!

TechCrunch has announced that they have refused to take on PayPerPost as an advertiser with the intention of keeping a "fence" between the likes of PayPerPost and themselves. Just as a point of note, Blogcritics decided against running PayPerPost ads that were offered to us through a third-party service. Not only would it be a strange conflict of interest, but it goes against the grain in terms of our philosophy that money is neither efficient nor valuable compensation that a company can offer to an open pool of bloggers. And that's not taking into account the ethical thicket that PayPerPost writers can get into if they're not super right-sharp in declaring loud and proud about how and why a review came to be.

I'll be curious to see how many blogger luminaries and high profile conferences PayPerPost can lay some money on, and how many well known online media sources will end up running paid ads.

Can PayPerPost buy its way around and through the blogosphere's defenses? I hope not. I'd like to see the hub bub die down and generally go away, but I fear that won't be the case. For now, I'll continue to follow the money.


Tony said...

One company that has already pierced many blogging "luminaries" is Reviewme.

$5/ post might be quite marginal, but when the price is raised to $150/ post, it changes (some) people's minds.

I won't name names, but if you're interested, get an account yourself to see the market place. You'll be surprised how many people are available.

t @ dji
PS I am also up there -- I created an account to "review" the marketplace only ... I don't actually do paid reviews :)

Eric Berlin said...

Great tip, Tony, thanks!

I've kind of backed into becoming interested in this topic, but I find the deeper you go, the more it touches on the sort of fundamental relationship between online writers and readers.

I've looked at PayPerPost and SponsoredReviews, and will check out Reviewme based upon your tip.

They say that everyone has their price, and $150 is a price that many if not most writers would at least be tempted by.

Sprague Dawley said...

Scoble is a good soul who is in over his head in the PR arena -- he thinks it's an issue of his integrity (he promised to keynote PPP and now can't say no), when it's really an issue of damage control to the image of the company he works for. They need to give him an out by asking that he decline the invitation.

PPP is kryptonite to most in the blog world...

Eric Berlin said...

Hmm... it seems to me that Scoble was trying to prove out the concept that he could get paid by organization yet still have the integrity to take a strong position against it. It got him into hot water, and he tried to back out of his original commitment. While it looked a little clumsy, overall I think it was the right thing to do because of PPP's potential threat to the credibility of the blogosphere.

Alvin Purpura said...

Interesting. I am of the belief that bloggers need to develop editorial policies and ethical standards that they can post on the sites. That helps transparency, but I don't see anything wrong with PayPerPost's offer.