Over 2000 bloggers taking cash for comment

Filed as News on June 27, 2005 1:02 am

by Duncan

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Marketing firm USWeb is paying over 2000 bloggers for inline commercial comment and placement on their blogs.

A report in the Boston Globe states that the company is using bloggers such as Jeff Cutler, who is blogging about products without having used them or even disclosing his commercial interests in the posts.

A look at his blog at www.jeffcutler.com displays numerous commercial posts with links to outside commercial interests. Sadly, Cutler tells the Boston Globe:

”People should be trained to take what they read with a grain of salt…A person is not spending their time to throw something up on the Internet unless they have an objective or an ulterior motive. For me, it was making a few bucks and disciplining my writing.”

Remarkably USWeb defends the cash for comment process as being ethical, stating

‘We try to be as ethical as possible….In our opinion, paying bloggers is no different than Tiger Woods getting money to wear the Nike logo.”

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  1. By Mo banks posted on June 27, 2005 at 1:27 am
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    And whats the problem? Do bloggers really feel they are News organizations? 99% of blogggers are some person just typing in the basement, not bound by the realities of fact checking and other little things like that. Please, you are being so naive to think this would not happen. And why is it bad? Because you feel it hurts the “integrity” of blogs. This is a non issue.

  2. By Roger Benningfield posted on June 27, 2005 at 1:35 am
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    Wow, that *is* pretty repulsive. Jeff’s actions are little more than search engine spamming… after all, no one would actually read his fluff on purpose. The only reason for anyone to pay him is to try to build up Google juice in a deceptive fashion.

    Lovely. I hope someone at the Big G is watching.

  3. By Vix posted on June 27, 2005 at 6:41 am
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    It doesn’t add any relevance to the blog. There should be kind of disclaimer that some links are paid for or are for advertising purposes.

  4. The Blog Factory » Blog Archive » Blog WhoresJune 27, 2005 at 3:21 pm
  5. By dave park posted on June 27, 2005 at 4:15 pm
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    what’s the problem? it does hurt the credibility of blogs in general and as a reader of blogs I wouldn’t trust the opinion of the blog at all if i knew they were getting paid for content. making money is fine, but blogs can do that via ads. paid content is another story. should advertisers just start paying businessweek for writing up articles? there is a blurry line that exists between advertising and editorial, but paying for outright content without even a disclaimer is a new low.

  6. By site admin posted on June 27, 2005 at 11:34 pm
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    I didn’t moralise about it heavily but I’ll tell you what the problem is, people who accept cash for comment without disclosing it make us all look bad. I’m not naive, I know it happens, but I don’t have to like it. Indeed I was rathered restrained, there were a number of other blogs in the Globe article as well, but admittedly they weren’t all like one big ad that it Cutlers

  7. By Bondi Tram posted on June 28, 2005 at 11:00 am
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    Mo banks .. whart? people whose blogging is directed by others should tell readers that. I blog for free – yeah its crap I know – if you want to make money from a blog be upfront about it don’t pretend its a personal blog when it isn’t . its deception. And Cutler’s response – blame the readers lack of critical reading skills for not picking up the “placements”. Disciplining his writing? – yeah – hogtied to the whim of an invisible hand. Undisclosed sponsorship wouldnt be acceptable on other media.

  8. By Anonymous posted on June 28, 2005 at 11:07 am
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    Mo banks, gawd, you come across as so damn ignorant, it’s not even funny. The point of blogs is to get an unbiased (at least, non-commercial) opinion on things.

    Blogs are great because it gives a different perspective, however if some hack decides to take cash for talking about a product he hasn’t even used, yeah, I’m gonna have a problem with that.

    And since when did we ever really trust news organizations, they get things wrong too and are bound by advertising too.

  9. By John Cass posted on June 28, 2005 at 11:27 pm
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    Ed Shull, the marketing manager for USWeb posted a comment on my blog about a posting I made a few days ago. I did some research into the FTC rules, do a search on ftc endorsements and testimonials on google and review the FTC guidelines.

  10. By Jeff Cutler posted on September 2, 2005 at 8:31 pm
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    Yes. This is from Jeff.
    Since the firestorm, I’ve revised my approach in writing blogs. Now, I don’t say anything about my personal connection to a product or person and just include a link to these things as an example.
    Please realize (as most of the intelligent readers do), that blogs are NOT journalism. They are akin to a public email broadcast of my comments.
    I DO have a few real journalism jobs and I write a regular column for the Boston Herald’s papers.
    In these other positions, which I’ve been performing for 12 years or more, I have never had an issue about bias or ethics.
    You can be sure that now that I understand how nit-picky the public is about blogs, those will be beyond reproach as well.
    Happy reading.
    Oh, yeah. If you’d like to read more, my book – Mountain Bike America: Boston – is on sale at Borders, Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Just do a search for my name.
    Later,
    Jeff

  11. By Alexander Petrenko posted on September 6, 2005 at 2:59 pm
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    I think, it is not a big deal to hire good English-speaking guy from India and pay him some amount for full-time blogging and popularizing some idea (commodity). Anyway – blogs already of source of commercial and non-commercial information. USWeb just pays for it $-)

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