Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Blogosphere Under Attack! (Updated)

Quick Update: Scoble whom everyone acknowledges as one of the premier bloggers on the planet, has a post on the PayPerPost fiasco. His reflections echo what the blogosphere is saying, but if you like to hear it from the man himself, check out the post.

Here are some of his thoughts that parallel my earlier ruminations:

1. “Even if I disclosed it I figured that you’d still be wondering in your head whether I was saying they rock just because I got a free one or because I really felt that way.

2. “After all, I read blogs and forums to try to learn the TRUTH about products, companies, movements, and ideas.

3. In response to a comment: How does it make you sleezy to take payment for writting about something you believe in?

Because as a reader I don’t know if you’re doing it for the love or if you’re doing it for the money. I especially will think you’re sleazy if you don’t disclose that. And my conflicts have always been disclosed so that you can apply that lens there.

Enough said. For those of you reading this post for the first time, you can continue reading my original rant on the very thought of paid blogging, right below:

The blogosphere is under attack…At the heart of this war is a new service that purports to be the Google Adsense of the blogosphere?! Here’s what PayPerPost is all about: Bloggers get paid to post about topics they love. So basically, I’d have “earned” between $5 and $10 for talking about the music of The Residents??

Why would I expect to be paid to talk about something I love? It’s like the antithesis of everything that blogging stands for. There have been a lot of similar responses to this new service from some of my blogger friends. Jeremiah (whom I’d be interviewing for my iDea Interview series later this month) was the first to break the news to TechCrunch. Shel Israel in his own inimitable style ripped into the premises of the concept. The Viral Community that I consider myself a part of, has Mack opining on why he thinks its not a great idea. Mack, I couldn’t agree more with you.

One of the main reasons I fell for blogging is “the community” of like minded marketers and the common values of genuineness and honesty that I share with them. Why would bloggers destroy their internet-street-cred by getting paid to “endorse” products/services that they may or may not use. Even if as Kim Klaver points out that you can lessen the problem with full disclosure, I think it still defeats the purpose of blogging. I’m sure most of us are here to “evangelize” and not to pimp our selves.

Here are three reasons why I think PayPerPost is both disingenuous and harmful to the health of the blogosphere:

1. If bloggers stumble upon advertisers who’re willing to pay for certain products, they may end up talking about that product even if it wasn’t their primary intention to do so, thereby letting some dishonesty creep in.

2. The rationale that this service would help jobless moms pay the rent, is as Nick Davis rightly points out, “a stock political answer“. I’d also have to add that it doesn’t really offer a true explanation for the service’s need.

3. Most importantly, I believe this service could easily end up deceiving blog readers because most of us read blogs to avoid the barrage of ads that one gets everywhere else on the web. Blogs just seems like the one place to find honesty on the web and if we cannot trust bloggers anymore it surely will have its effects on blog readership.

Let’s not get too tied up into flaming PayPerPost because they haven’t become a success yet. However, if they succeed, it’d be the beginning of the end for the blogosphere because it’d have destroyed the very roots of everything that bloggers stand for. Here’s to a “Save the Blogosphere” campaign where we responsible bloggers de-evangelize this service to all-and-sundry and thereby do our part in preserving honesty within blogging communities.

Let’s not forget that Money is, after-all, the root of all evil!

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