Drew claims he didn’t know what Gogi was doing, Gogi isn’t giving any straight answers (he could at any time in the comments below, and I encourage him to do so).
Some answers to the various points that have brought up in the comments and to me via IM/email:
1. Is Fark.com doing something wrong?
I think so. You shouldn’t lie to your users and claim that something is editorial when it is advertising. However, maybe I’m just old school and not progressive enough.
2. Is this the end of the world?
Of course not, but when you are at the start of medium and you’re trying to make it a business you need to have standards. If you’re a blogger looking to make money from blogs you don’t want to get on the phone with an advertiser and have them say “well, if you don’t play ball and give us editorial space then we will just give our money to Fark.”
3. Is Fark really selling their editorial space?
All I can tell you is they offered to sell me their space, their rep firm told me that Drew knew about this and was cool with it (I asked because I was shocked), and that they had great success by doing it in the past.
Drew told me he didn’t know about it and Gogi isn’t talking. So, who knows what is going onit doesn’t sound good that’s for sure. All I can tell you is their representative told me they do it all the time and tried to get me to do it.
4. Why do you care? Why did you bring this up?
Well, I’m a publisher in the space and I think this is an important issue for anyone who is doing a blog. This effects every publisher (see point two above).
5. What do you think will come of this? What would you do if you were Drew?
My gut tells me Fark was working it and that now they will come clean. If I was Drew I would do a couple of things:
a) fire the sales guy
b) make a statement to the readers about what happened (Drew has deleted any mention of this from the TotalFark.com site I’m told).
c) go back and mark any stories that were ads as advertising
d) clearly label advertorials as advertorials in the future with a statement like “Advertisement: Please support Fark by clicking on our clearly labeled adsit’s not like you have anything better to do!”
I’d love to see Fark make a living, and I promise to click on every advertising link I see I do this every time I visit a small media site because a) I want to see who the advertisers are, and b) it’s good for the brands.
Anyway, I love Fark and from everything I’ve heard Drew is a great guy. I hope he does the right thing and we can all go out and get drinks when this dies down. We’re all in this blog publishing thing together and it would be a shame to damage this very promising medium for a quick buck. Drew says he agrees with me on this.