Blog Ethics Committee, Blog Publishers Association, and the evil Word of Mouth Marketing folks

NOTE: SOMEONE IS SENDING BLOG SPAM AS ME, IT IS NOT US AND WE ARE WORKING ON FINDING OUT WHO IS BEHIND THIS.

Nick Denton put up a pleasantly surprising post today, complimenting me for being a “volunteer watchdog” for blog ethics. He proposes Jeff Jarvis and I start a blog ethics committee in order to create some standards in blog advertising. It’s a great idea, a lot of work, and very important to the blogosphere.

If you’re blogging for money or notwe all have an interest in having a level of comfort when we’re consuming and creating media. Who doesn’t want to know if a blogger is getting paid to write about something? Who doesn’t want to see advertisements clearly labeled and outside of the content space? I can’t think of one reader of blogs who wants to be deceived. Nor do I know a reader who wants to be high-alert trying to spot the ads in the content, let alone waste their brain cycles on figuring out the hidden agenda.

Sure, there are interesting things we can do with advertisers on blogs, and I’m all for it. However, there do need to be standards, and I’d love to be involved in helping define them.

There has been a lot of talk about “word of mouth” marketing groups that want people to pay them $1,000 to $20,000 in order to “represent them” in the WOM space (they don’t put the insane fees for joining on their website of course). These groups are clearly designed to: a) make the deceitful act of advertisers paying off consumer to do covert marketing as in some way legitimate, and b) give the founders of these organizations a fat salary for doing no work! Look at the code of ethics at BzzAgent.com:

Be conscious of who you tell about BzzAgent! To tell or not to tell? Should BzzAgents reveal their identities? That’s a question for you to decide carefully when you’re sharing the Bzz with someone. Some people might think it’s cool. Other people might not understand. The choice is yours. Decide what’s best for each conversation.

That is pathetic. What brands would associate themselves with this kind of behavior?!? You can always tell a liar when they use clever marketing speak like thisnormal folk speak English. BzzAgent, if you are encouraging your “bs agents” to lie and deceive people why not just write it in simple English? Here I’ll do it for you:

“Please don’t tell anyone you’re getting paid to promote their products or you’re not going to be as effective. We all get paid on performance, so be sure to keep our deal hidden from the public. Cha-ching baby!!!”

Evil marketers are starting associations to spin their deceitful ways. It’s now time the good guys to start a blog publishers association and put readers and writers first. The ethical debate is a perfect starting point, I agree with you 100% Nick and thank you for pushing the issue in such a positive waysee, we can all get along. (Did we just have a moment?)

So, I just registered BlogEthics.org. If Jeff Jarvis and Nick Denton are willing to start the Blog Ethics Committee I’ll do it provided we have transparent open discussion spaces for people to participate in.

If that goes well, and provides some value to everyone, I’d be willing to help start the BPA. Again, don’t want to, and can’t, do this alone so I’m going to need some help from people out there.

The comments below are open; I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

NOTE: SOMEONE IS SENDING BLOG SPAM AS ME, IT IS NOT US AND WE ARE WORKING ON FINDING OUT WHO IS BEHIND THIS.

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