Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Bloggers don’t need more rules. They need a conscience

with one comment

Jessica Valenti writing in “Comment is Free” on the Guardian’s increasingly dense and complex web page (I did not know before this that there was a cif America)

She is, apparently, a “professional blogger” concerned about

The US regulator, the Federal Trade Commission, has released guidelines this week that would require bloggers – and even people using Twitter and Facebook – to disclose relationships they have with companies or advertisers, as well as any free products or payments they have received. Not doing so could result in fines of up to $11,000.

Of course the US regulator can’t touch me – yet – although the Marc Emery case sets a worrying precedent – but I thought it was worth noting. For one thing it explained to me what all that “Nestle Family” stuff on twitter was all about. And that, it seems to me, was a welcome development. But, for the record, I am not a “professional blogger”. I earn nothing from this blog. Like all sites (except a few VIP sites that do not carry that designation) no advertising is allowed. But equally no-one has ever offered me any incentive to cover anything. I chose what to write about. People do send me press releases: few get on here except those that meet my definition of what this blog is about, and which might well get ignored by other media.

I was sent a book once, which I did review, I think objectively. It was certainly not an endorsement. I did not send it back, because most book reviewers don’t. And anyway they did not include a pre-paid label  in their package, so it would have cost me money to return it. The blog has caught the attention of one or two people who have offered me a paid gig – not nearly enough of them – and that is far less than the negative effect of prospective employers using the fact that I have a blog at all as a reason for not employing me. Not because what I have written, but because of what  I might write. It is a bit like being found guilty of intended rape because you are carrying the right equipment around with you.

I do also respond to people who write to me and ask me to promote their products. And tell them clearly that I will not promote their product or anyone else’s. I will talk about products that impact my sphere – although I can’t think of any recently, other than Cubic ticket machines, and I doubt they liked what they read – if they did.

I hold my opinions based mostly on my experience, but probably on a few prejudices and personal preferences too. But I am not for sale. Never have been, never will be.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Posted in blogging

One Response

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  1. Right on. I am the same.

    I often get requests to link to, or write about other web sites or products. I typically just ignore them. I once got a few free items sent to me (that crappy MP3 player that didn’t work with my Mac, and a book about couples), but like you think I reviewed them objectively, and noted in the posts why I was writing about them.

    Funny enough, no other offers of free stuff came after that. LOL Must not have liked my honesty? I’ve been asked by a few folks to write on other blogs/sites, but have no desire to. My blog does not make a cent being online. I do it for the joy of it, for me. It is my passion and it can not be bought, nor can I.

    I think making those who do blog for payment (or some kind of kick back) transparent is a good thing though. They should disclose that their opinion is bought.

    Barbara Doduk

    October 8, 2009 at 8:31 pm

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