Selling my soul

Reading time: 3 mins

I receive a bribe!

Why am I starting to sound like JonnyB! and what’s with the exclamation marks!

A friendly email, from a friendly person, from a company I’ve used before, arrives in my email. Apparently he’d like to bribe me to blog about his company and their website. I’ve used said company before, and was quietly impressed by what they had to offer (at that time) but this is different as money, or rather a voucher of monetary value, is involved.

And so I find myself with a dilemma.

Looking around the internet, in general not about this company in particular, there is plenty of bile, vitriol and ire spouted forth about all and sundry. Nary a product or purchase gets away scot-free, as everyone has had a bad experience with something, bought a faulty doo-hickey, received shockingly bad customer service, or they’ve been completely misled by a nasty salesman. The world wide web is awash with lengthy diatribes, distilling the smallest fault to produce the basic statements of “X is shite” or “Y are a bunch of wankers”, you know the type of thing.

Rumour has it that, somewhere in the dark recesses of some dusty corner of the internet, there is a blog post which in forthright manner, outlines the faults of a product in a well-constructed, backed by fact, free from invective, way. Of course no-one has ever seen it, but they know someone, who knows someone who has… I like to think that that post exists, close to the big red button that does nothing, just before the end of the internet, but maybe it’s better if no-one can find it.

Ranting, moaning, teeth gnashing, tongue lashing posts make up a fair old chunk of the internets thesedays as, let’s face it, if you are lashing out against something, how better to do it than from the safety of your own home (ohh ok, from behind your office desk when you should be updating a very LONG spreadsheet).

But such is the nature of the internet – maybe there is scope for a “positive reviews only” site, somewhere people can go when they want to say nice things about a product or service – as it’s human nature to complain and moan when annoyed with something, but to take things for granted when they work without fault. It’s something I try to address, posting here when I find something I like, or something that works, and of course that means that I am putting my name against a product recommendation, permanently.

The question, in this particular case, is whether or not my recommendation would carry less weight as you’ll know that I have received monetary reward for stating it.

Of course it’s entirely possible that my recommendation will be a negative one, and if that is the case I will still be posting here, so there is no “good review only” censorship going on. But is that enough to sway your opinion of my recommendation?

The ethics behind this are intriguing and I realise I’m probably over-thinking what was, and I firmly believe it was, a friendly request from a small “internet aware” company. Ultimately the monetary reward is the value the company is willing to pay for (they hope) positive publicity on a personal website. It’s a small risk for them, another ranting moaning blogger is easily lost in the noise, but the gain isn’t all that large either. Interestingly I wasn’t asked about my viewing stats, but then there are ways of guess-timating “impact” these days.

I WILL be taking the money of course (hey, it’s my first freebie that’s come along in.. what.. 8 years of blogging!) so if you don’t like it, feel free to say. I’d genuinely like to hear ALL opinions on this, good, bad or invective laden (or a combination of all three, why the fuck not).

So what say you? Is it enough that I’ve been upfront about the monetary reward? Is it any different from a journalist being paid to do an assignment? And by that I mean to cover a topic, not at the request of a company to cover/review a product. I’m aware that my post will forever link me (good or bad) to the company in question, so how much is that worth to me?

Would YOU take the money?

15 comments

  1. A positive reviews only site? It would be very boring.

    If I was Vaughan, I’d propose a dispassionate ambivalence site: “dispassionateambivalence.com – because we really aren’t that fussed either way”.

  2. I would take the money, um and you say you had to do something for it, well then its validated.

    Just ensure you dont sell yourself short

  3. I loathe filling in tax returns — I haven’t done so for a few years as all my income is taxed at source (pension plus some interest on savings) — so I would endorse a product by giving an honest appraisal, but only if I were enthusiastic about the product (eg Photoshop) and if the bribe was/were huge.

  4. I liked the dramatic start to this post 🙂 I just had the same dilemna but flagged it as a sponsored post and didn’t lickarse him. It was a mixed review which had a number of negatives in it, but he really appreciated my honesty and is now making changes. As a point, I wasn’t negative because I thought I had to be, but because it warranted it. I shall look out for your review and then slate you 😉

  5. If you like their stuff then blab about it. If you get money for your troubles all the better.

    As far as I’m concerned there is no rule anywhere that says you can’t pimp stuff you like on the interweb, and honestly, there’s far too much moany stuff about as it is.

    Spread the love my friend. Spread the love.

  6. I guess it isn’t dissimilar to running Google Ads on a blog. I agree that people are very negative on the web, and often products/people don’t deserve it. People behave on the web a bit like they do when they are driving, because there are no consequences to being unpleasant. Unless you meet another unpleasant person, in which case you wreck your car. ERm, this metaphor is getting out of hand, sorry.

    Personally, I wouldn’t take the dosh for the same reason that I actively decided not to have ads on my site – I’ve no need to.

  7. Of course I’d take the money. I have very few morals when it comes to cash. I am usually impressed and slightly envious of people who will stick to their principles instead of grabbing all the dirty money they can.

  8. I think their is a difference between being asked to only say positive things about a product, and been given the product and asked to say what you think about it (which if it’s shit and you are allowed to say it’s shit then this places some risk on the sponsor, and isn’t really the same as advertising).

    A smart person would take value in the negative feedback too.

    (Full disclosure, I’m the one who suggested to the briber here that he contact Gordon (amongst a few others). He’s already learnt about some of the things he’s done wrong and hopes to learn more about both the good and the bad)

  9. Look in any tech magazine, and you’ll see that a glowing editorial is always matched by a strangely generous-sized advertising campaign for the same product.

    Some might argue that blogs are basically digital magazines anyway, so I say go for it. Sell that journalistic integrity to the highest bidder, and laugh all the way to the bank.

    But not before you’ve secured some kind of affiliate deal with them, so that there’s a longevity to your ill-gotten gains.

Comments are closed.