Taking Your Gardening Dollar

So how much does it cost to buy a blogger nowadays?

Now I’m no lawyer but it looks reasonable enough to me.  And why not
encourage people to behave ethically?  My only question is: Exactly how
should we "expose unethical practices of other bloggers"?  Report them
to the FCC?  But we don’t want the FCC mucking up the Internets,
now do we?  So maybe we shouldn’t do anything to invite them to our
party.

Later the same day that Craig briefly questioned my ethics, my in-person friend Julie Miller forwarded me a press release she’d received about PayPerPost,
a new way for bloggers to get paid for promoting products.  That link
takes you to the information for advertisers, which explains the
process of posting "opportunities," meaning products for bloggers to
write about.  Okay, but then the posts are "reviewed and approved"
before payment.  I signed up so I could actually see these
"opportunities" and guys, you’re not missing a thing.  Lots of "write
positively about our mortgages" and even "recommend our drug rehab
program." 

So PayPerPost brings to mind these sticky wickets in the Code of
Ethics: 1) a blogger should "distinguish factual information and
commentary from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines
between the two" and 2) a blogger should "deny favored treatment to
advertisers and special interests and resist
their pressure to influence content. When exceptions are made, disclose
them fully to readers."

But what about the 6 bucks I was going to get paid for recommending the Hazelton Clinic?

Or more directly on point, are we being compromised by our new Sloggers?
Discuss among yourselves, but take into account this email from Alec –
the guy who so cunningly seduced us with his offer of free shoes.

The
comment section on your post has got to be one of the funniest list of
replies I have ever seen while doing this job. I am rolling in my
chair. The interactivity and instant feedback are incredible, but the
humor of your audience is beyond compare. I needed a good laugh today
and boy did I get it – thanks!
We remain
your ever humble foot-servants,
Sloggers Team, Gardena,
Calif.
P.S. Keep us in mind next year for the same format or
something you dream up!

So it’s not exactly Monsanto asking us to shill for Round-Up.  It’s just our new friend Alec, the humble foot-servant.  (And Alec, here’s the reference to naked gardeners we’re all snickering about.)

Posted by on April 24, 2007 at 3:54 am, in the category Taking Your Gardening Dollar.
Comments are off for this post

29 responses to “So how much does it cost to buy a blogger nowadays?”

  1. ginger says:

    Sloggers are nice but how do you get on the list for trees, shrubs, and tractors!!!

  2. Colleen says:

    Garden clogs as vote-bait? Nowhere else in the universe would you ever hear the possibility (in this case, happily just a misunderstanding!) of someone trying to buy votes with garden clogs!

    I am just TERRIFIED now about the integrity of the whole voting process…

  3. kelly says:

    Ginger, my thought exactly! And compost tumblers and garden tools and rain barrels…

    I signed up for a site called Get Them Blogging.

    http://getthemblogging.com/

    It’s a database for PR people to find bloggers to write about their products. It’s free to join, you only get paid in product and there is no pressure for positive reviews. Honest reviews. Labelled as solicited reviews.

    I haven’t actually done any yet, the site is just in the building up stage.

  4. I wrote about the slogger thing here:

    http://tinyurl.com/25q2fq

    Now… a couple of things:

    First: The world is not fair. I’ve known this awhile. Some people win sloggers. Some never will. It seems hard. But I have no problem with it anymore. If I am being honest with myself, my objection is not to the unfairness of the world, but to the reality that it is not MORE UNFAIR in my favor. And my life is pretty good. (Maybe honesty isn’t the best policy.)

    Second: I’m for sale, rather I have been. My price is higher than a pair of $30 sloggers, but not too much higher apparently. I’ve worked all night, missed meals, traveled like a dog and been degraded by clients for less than one thousand times that figure. I don’t even want to admit what I’ve done for ten-thousand times that figure. But being for sale implies that someone wants to buy you. And no one wants to buy me so much anymore. So… it is more like I’m passively for sale. I’m kind of… in the stock room maybe. Or the clearance bin.

    If the right she-gardener/sailor came along, I’d happily be “for lease.” I’m installing a fireplace in my bedroom with exactly these kind of “hopes” in mind. But THAT’S PERSONAL, no?

    As for the clogs, I took ’em. But I didn’t really think of it as a bribe. I thought of it more as a sign from heaven that I look like a complete idiot in my garden with wingtip loafers. See… life is like that too: there are forces at work. If we are jackasses in very fundamental ways, nature “corrects” itself. When the tide washed that primordial sea creature on shore, that creature learned to survive on land… or perished. I considered the clog thing as part of some natural plan to keep my neighborhood aesthetics in balance. Rather than perish, I changed. I’m a “clog guy” now.

    Actually, I’m just a willow tree. The wind blows my branches where they need to be. Who am I to resist the wind… or the Rant?

  5. Susan–this is a real question you’ve hit on here.

    Personally, I don’t like the Blogger Code of Ethics because it’s so mild-mannered and school-marmish–so very unWeblike. What’s the point of blogging if you can’t be heated and obnoxious now and then? If we were fair and reasonable, we’d be just as boring as Anne Raver, and nobody would read us either.

    On the other hand, now we’re starting to get free stuff as if we were real reviewers and critics. I don’t know how I feel about it–I mean, I’m totally thrilled to get a book now and then, and don’t think it means I’m for sale. But I am, peculiarly enough, concerned about APPEARANCES. I want to be disinterested and appear to be disinterested.

    And if anybody is going to really buy me, well, I’m in the Ginger camp. It will take one of those $2000 teak dining sets from Smith & Hawken or $40,000 British conservatories to really do the job.

  6. The fun of blogging is that you can say whatever the hell you want without someone standing over you with a ruler waiting to smack your hand for being naughty. Seems to me, the decent people will behave decently because they have a concience that demands it. And the people who *do* need a code of ethics won’t follow it anyway.

    That said, I’ll take your free stuff and I’ll give my honest opinion about it. At least I think I will. No one ever gives me free stuff. All I ask for is some expensive pottery and a new sprinkler system.

  7. Ellis Hollow says:

    Let me go on record that my initial response to Susan about trying to buy my vote with Sloggers was meant to be snarky — tongue-in-cheek.

    But the issue of blogging ethics is serious. Where do you draw the line? It’s somewhere between Sloggers and that tractor ginger wants. How will we know when we’ve stepped over the line?

    No, the FCC shouldn’t police blogs. It’s up to the blogging community to self-police. That’s why I raised the issue.

    And Hank: Did you wear black socks with those loafers in the garden? Will you give up the socks with the new clogs? We want pictures. ;-7

    I hope to get around to doing my long-awaited garden footwear review this week, maybe even tonight. Will keep you posted.

  8. chuck b. says:

    I’m for sale. Cheap.

    And I’ll make it seem real.

    Noone will ever know. It’ll be our little secret.

  9. Socks?

    I can’t afford socks.

    One must cut corners somewhere… and I’m actually in the build process of one of those freaking ridiculous conservatories OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH. (I’m refering to mine (in conversations over the fence) as an “orangerie” just to be a pretentious fug and freak the neighbor ladies out a bit.)

    Every morning I wake up feeling fine and then shiver a bit as soon as I realize what the damned orangerie is doing to me.

    I’ll write any kind of essay for a little help on this nightmare.

    Wingtip loafers. No socks baby.

    Now… as for the “long-awaited garden footwear review”… I’m not at all certain what to write, or think, or fear.

    H

  10. It’s about earning respect and trust.

    EARNING.

    The appearance of bias and conflicts of interest will destroy trust as surely as actual impropriety, let alone outright deception.

    We’ve been having a ridiculous local election in Brooklyn. My partner supports one of the candidates. I’ve written actively against one of the opposing candidates, not because my partner supports another, but because the target of my wrath is just an absolute idiot. I haven’t disclosed my partner’s support for another candidate. Although his choices have nothing to do with mine, there’s a potential for the appearance of bias on my part.

    I’ll be writing about some bulbs blooming in my front yard. After I wrote about the bulb vendor last year, they gave me some extra – and unsolicited – consideration when I ordered from them last fall. When I write about the current blooms, I’ll disclose that I received something of value from them. I don’t feel I’m biased – I wrote about them in the first place because I like what they do – but I feel it’s important to disclose when there’s a possible appearance of “being bought.”

  11. Ellis Hollow says:

    I’ll sleep better with that black-sock-n-loafer image scrubbed from my brain.

  12. A mayer says:

    I almost missed the link, assuming the code of ethics would apply only to those blogging about current events, politics, etc, and/or those who are in it for fame and fortune. In other words, why would a garden blogger need a code of ethics? I’m glad I looked. It’s all about good sense and good manners. It applies to all of us.
    W.S. http://growthis.blogspot.com/

  13. ginger says:

    County Clerk:

    You might consider a photo in JUST the sloggers. I think that Amy promised something or other for that and you could hide behind a boat or orangerie for the sake of modesty. Oh, orangeries are see through aren’t they!

    Thanks to all you who commented. I am still chuckling!

  14. “To redeem your shoes just…..”

    Well that is a terse e-mail. Free shoes? What is that about? I guess I’ll know when I go to GardenRant.

    Sloggers and Clogs – You May Have Already Won. Oh I see the ladies are doing a little PR gig for a garden shoe company and my big mouth got me a free pair of shoes.

    My big mouth got me permanently banned from the GardenWeb and I have declined letting my blog be listed on Garden Voices because I objected to the parent company’s Terms of Service as being un-ethical. I was accused of being an anti-capitalist commie liberal and berated for not submitting to their profit trumps ethics modus operandi.

    So what is the difference here?

    GardenRant is run by four writers who produce all the articles (content) and also solicit some quest writers and then open these topics up for comment. It is obvious they would like to see this site generate a profit and/or act as PR for them that could lead to other money paying writing work.

    Their manifesto states their leanings and their work speaks for itself. If they start to deviate from that and become corporate shills they will lose traffic and interest and the Rant could wither and die. The ladies are the ones who have to make the decision about business deals for free shoes and ethics and if they are blurring the lines and how far to go with that before it causes more harm than good.

    The frequent commenters are lucky and can just keep the free shoes, guilt free. It isn’t much different than a door prize you get for just being there. Nothing was required of the shoe awardees to receive the shoes. GardenRant did not ask us to sign anything, do anything or give them anything in return. In many ways it was thanks for making us a bit of a success here.

    GardenWeb on the other hand generates zero content on its own. It does not have paid writers posting articles for comment. It is a template that supports %100 user generated content. They also need their site to generate a profit since they paid such a hefty sum to acquire it. GardenWeb has regular ads and hugely annoying ads if you don’t know how to block them. People put up with the obnoxious advertising to be with the community they built and love.

    Torturing you with ads for profit was not enough for the GardenWeb. In their TOS they claimed equal rights and the moral rights to copyright for all submitted content. They were now a content mining operation for profit too. In return for the rights to your words and photos you were allowed to post on their site.

    Isn’t that special? NOT!

    It a big World Wide Web out there.

    With a bunch of New York corporate lawyers GardenWeb wrote a bunch of legalese TOS that laid claim to something that did not belong to them. That is un-ethical and no one to my knowledge even got a free pair of shoes.

    So you have a site that generates its own content, encourages participation, has ads in the side bar that don’t dance all over the page, gives its commenters free shoes and does not claim copyright to other people’s words and images.

    Another site generates zero content of its own, punishes you with horrendous advertising and steals your work for its own profit.

    I read the Blogger Code of Ethics and it really seemed to be more directed and applicable to political and social commentary as the blogger medium steps into the vacuum created by the abject failure of the MSM to do its job. In the garden blogging world and other interest group type blogs, good manners and keeping a check on your pride and sarcasm will go a long way. I know from experience.

    Where is the Business and Corporate Code of Ethics? That is what would be more appropriate for The Great Free Shoe Debate.

  15. I just like to add that a business giving away free samples of its products to generate buzz and sales is probably as old as the world’s oldest profession.

  16. eliz says:

    Wouldn’t white socks with the black loafers be worse?

  17. Colleen says:

    Yeah, Elizabeth….but tube socks…the ones with red or blue stripes at the tops. Oh, yeah 😉 That would really be something.

  18. firefly says:

    I agree with Christopher C.

    I also think the Blogger Code of Ethics would be a lot more meaningful if they didn’t have Google ads hanging out of their pockets just below the post.

    Most of their points are just common sense, but “taking things out of context” is sometimes necessary for critical thinking if you are analyzing elements in, say, a news story. It’s easy to write things so that certain uncomfortable details are buried “in context” and if you promise not to dissect things as a matter of “ethics” you might as well stop thinking entirely.

    Besides that, most of the people who offend this sort of code most often aren’t going to sign on anyway.

  19. tish grier says:

    interesting blog post! I got here from a link on Cyberjournalist.net, where the Blogger Code of Ethics is posted–

    A couple of things about the code: it’s not new. Been around since ’03

    Second, the code was put together by Jon Dube of Cyberjournalist (one of the first online journalists) and Rebecca Blood, who was one, if not the first, woman to blog way back in the ’90’s. She wrote her own software her first blog. She’s also the author of “The Weblog Handbook” where she details the seeds of the BCE….and the woman’s hardly schoolmarmish! So, before any of y’all newbies start casting aspersions, find out who people are first. Y’all probably owe a great deal to Rebecca, Jon and their thoughts….

    BTW, they never insisted, like Tim O’Reilly and his badges, that everyone adopt this code. It was only meant as a guideline.

  20. You gotta love it when a “real” blogger comes by to spank us newbies for our opinions and challenge us to “find out who [the code’s authors] are.”

    I’m sure the code’s authors are fine, fine, fine blogger-journalists. But I stand behind my statement
    ( http://tinyurl.com/25q2fq ):

    “See… I think this whole “code thing” is crap.”

    How’s that for concise?

    Blogger code of ethics, BAH! I subscribe to the “human code of ethics” and it applies everywhere.

  21. Colleen says:

    The code is crap. I especially got a kick out of the following:

    “• Expose unethical practices of other bloggers. ”

    Are they kidding? This rather goes beyond the whole idea of “be honest, do no harm, don’t steal content….” of the rest of the code. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I personally don’t give a crap whether other bloggers are “ethical” or not, and I’m certainly not going to “expose” them. If I think another blogger is annoying, or disingenuous, or flat-out dumber than a stump, I just don’t visit again. It’s a rather simple solution to the problem, no?

  22. susan harris says:

    Colleen, I love that, esp dumber than a stump. But exactly, unless we’re talking about children, the answer is always just to CLICK AWAY. I’m astounded by people who write to bloggers to complain about what topics they cover or what-not. Why don’t they just go somewhere else – to one of the other gazillion blogs available on the Web?

  23. Colleen says:

    Exactly!! And the beautiful thing about blogs, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that when you’re reading the blog, you’re reading the blogger as well, if you know what I mean. There’s a much more personal relationship between a blogger and their readers, so I find that if I don’t “like” or in some way “respect” the blogger, I have no interest in reading their blog. It goes back to Hank’s point of a “human code of ethics.” I would no more spend time with a total a**hole online, via thier blog, than I would spend time with an a**hole in person. Give them time, and they’ll find themselves marginalized, in “real” life and on the blogosphere.

  24. Ellis Hollow says:

    What about in comment threads like this one? They’re more like community space than someone’s blog. — more like the neighborhood park than the someone’s backyard.

    If someone was posting dubious assertions as fact here, would you just skim right by them or challenge them?

    If they endorsed a particular product or point of view without disclosing a major conflict of interest, would that bother you?

  25. Colleen says:

    Craig….for me, it depends. If it’s a blog, like Garden Rant, where I’m a regular commenter, where I generally like and respect the regular commenters, I would be more likely to point out if someone was just full of crap. It would bother me if someone came on here, or on my blog, or any of the several others that I regularly comment on, and started spewing BS as fact or pushing products in a sleazy manner. In those cases, I would call them out and get involved. IF it’s a blog that I don’t visit often, and I notice someone saying something stupid, I’m more likely to just skim past it. That’s just me. I don’t know if it makes any sense, but that’s the way I generally try to handle that. And, I try to remember that it’s very, very unlikely that anything I write is going to change anyone’s mind, but by speaking up maybe I can offer a different viewpoint.

    So, short answer, yeah, that would bother me, and yes, I would probably speak up.

  26. Ellis Hollow says:

    The more I think about it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t rake someone over the coals because they painted their living room an ugly color, but might ask them to please clean up after their dog in the park. Hank might be the exception. I’d tell him his living room is ugly, but only because I care about him. And I’d be gentle.

  27. Colleen says:

    LOL Then we see things the same way. You just have a much better way of saying it than I do :-)

  28. Funnt that you should mention my living room walls… they are gone. As of 1am this morning, this is what my living room looks like:

    http://tinyurl.com/2tjsjb

    I’m open for color choices… though I am seriously considering a collage of “antique white” – meaning, I’ll but several gallons of paint from various makers (all in the same sheen) and all labeled “antique white.” Since everyone has a different view of what antique white looks like (and since they will all be in the same family of color) I should wind up with a nice set of hues. Plus I don’t have to expend ANY energy worrying. I am considering casting my color fortunes to the marketing gods.

    Why all this white? Molding & Trim baby. I’m in love with molding & trim.

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