Crunchnotes notes that high profile blogger "Robert Scoble got sucked into the PayPerPost machine" because he accepted a fee from PayPerPost — a company that pays bloggers to write reviews about products and services — to speak at a conference.
It's a clever strategy on the part of PayPerPost: throw out enough money in enough different ways and all of the sudden everyone is complicit in its activities. Not that its activities are implicitly or necessarily ill-intentioned. As I just commented over at a Deep Jive Interests piece that defends the right of "blue collar" bloggers from making a living:
- I take sort of a middle position here. While I don’t begrudge the blue collars from trying to squeak out a living in the online blog-mines, I’m fearful that services like PayPerPost will help to lower the whole of the blogosphere’s credibility. Like it or not, “blogs” as a whole have a reputation (good, bad, and ugly in the mind of the general public) and if web surfers and searchers sense that paid services have sullied the bloggy waters (via paying writers to write paid editorial without clear disclosure), that can have adverse reaction in terms of traffic, page rank, and the overall health of the blogosphere.
Scoble has since backtracked and says that he will now reject PayPerPost's honorarium but oddly still seems to imply that he will take travel expenses. Talk about ambiguity!
TechCrunch has announced that they have refused to take on PayPerPost as an advertiser with the intention of keeping a "fence" between the likes of PayPerPost and themselves. Just as a point of note, Blogcritics decided against running PayPerPost ads that were offered to us through a third-party service. Not only would it be a strange conflict of interest, but it goes against the grain in terms of our philosophy that money is neither efficient nor valuable compensation that a company can offer to an open pool of bloggers. And that's not taking into account the ethical thicket that PayPerPost writers can get into if they're not super right-sharp in declaring loud and proud about how and why a review came to be.
I'll be curious to see how many blogger luminaries and high profile conferences PayPerPost can lay some money on, and how many well known online media sources will end up running paid ads.
Can PayPerPost buy its way around and through the blogosphere's defenses? I hope not. I'd like to see the hubbub die down and generally go away, but I fear that won't be the case. For now, I'll continue to follow the money.