The Devil and Daniel Blogger

Is it true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity? I’ve always wondered about that — I’ll bet whoever owned Tylenol didn’t think so after it poisoned a bunch of people way back when (now I’m dating myself). In any case, Ted Murphy and PayPerPost.com have certainly been testing that motto today. It all started with an article in BusinessWeek by media writer Jon Fine about Ted’s new venture, which involves bloggers getting paid to make positive posts about companies.

Then Marshall Kirkpatrick posted about it on TechCrunch, saying it entices bloggers to “sell their soul,” and all hell broke loose. My pal Scott Karp got his knickers in a royal twist over the idea, saying that the whole concept of blogging has “now been starkly divided into the pre-PayPerPost era and the post-PayPerPost era” and that blogging has “been irrevocably tainted” (Scott has since followed up with a more thoughtful post).

Pete Cashmore of Mashable says that PayPerPost is “a terrible, terrible idea and totally unethical,” and Shel Israel says on Naked Conversations that he hopes this “nasty, cynical, ugly idea crashes and burns quickly.” Should be a fun time at the blogger dinner that Ted Murphy is co-hosting with Jeremiah Owyang and Shel in a couple of weeks, since Shel effectively calls him the devil.

And I thought some of the stuff that has been written about Jason Calacanis was bad. Ted Murphy must be wondering what he did to deserve all this, and to his credit he appears to have responded on several blogs in an attempt to do some damage control. Is PayPerPost the end of blogging as we know it, or a disaster that ruins the credibility of every blogger? Hardly.

Yes, it is kind of dumb, especially since there is no requirement for the blogger to mention that he is being compensated for his posts. But I think the comparison to the mainstream press is a good one — everyone knows there are publications that get paid for their content, and people take them less seriously. Credibility is won a post at a time. PayPerPost doesn’t change that — it just makes it more obvious.

And for what it’s worth, I think slamming Ted Murphy is kind of an immature response. Don’t like his company or his idea? Fine. But suggesting that he’s the devil is taking things a wee bit too far for my liking. Rob Hyndman and Mark Evans also have some thoughtful responses to the whole brouhaha.

13 thoughts on “The Devil and Daniel Blogger

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  6. Mathew,

    How much do you think BusinessWeek got paid to write the article about PayPerPost so that they could use “As Seen in BusinessWeek” on their site. Was it $1,000 — or $10,000 — or $50,000?

    Or perhaps Jon Fine received a personal payment — what was it Jon? Cash? A gold watch? A golfing trip?

    Now of course I don’t really think BusinessWeek got paid. But the taint is everywhere.

    As much as Murphy is entitled to run his business, I’m entitled to say that it’s a major pain in the ass and just made the world of “media” a whole lot messier.

  7. “Monetized” blogs have already established a widespread (lack of) principle. Is this further development really such a surprise?

  8. Mathew,
    This is exactly what I love about blogs and bloggers. They say what they feel, right or wrong. Shel is certainly entitled to his opinion, I think the devil is going a bit far, but hey, that’s his opinion. Let’s not forget he’s got a book to sell about naked conversations in blogs.

    He could never endorse this concept, he has to bash it, be has built his careers on his position towards blogging and I respect that. Shel would be buried if he was to give a thumbs up in any way for this. He has a passion for what he believes is right and that is a beautiful thing.

    I agree with a lot of what Shel has to say on a variety of topics, however I do believe there is room for PayPerPost and I don’t think he can be objective given his position. I hope we can still share some good eats and conversation at fire and ice : )

    Most importantly bloggers and advertisers are signing up like crazy. We can hardly keep up with the content reviews. People see the opportunity here and over time we will perfect the model. I am not saying we have thought of everything, we have plenty of work to do, but we had to start somewhere.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. The slamming of me personally has been a bit shocking, it’s nice to see there are some people that can take a few steps back and look at the big picture. I have been exposed to so many new and wonderful blogs following this topic around, it has been a great experience.

  9. Thanks for the comment, Ted. You’ve certainly had a trial by fire. Just out of curiosity, have you thought about changing the terms of PayPerPost’s model so that bloggers are required to say that they’ve been compensated? That might alleviate some of the criticisms. On the other hand, perhaps it should be up to the blogger and their conscience.

    And Scott, I see your point — but I don’t think anyone would suspect BusinessWeek of taking money for something. Why? Because it has a reputation for quality, which it has developed over time. And I think blogs will do the same, regardless of PayPerPost.

  10. Hi, Mathew. Anyone who attended Mesh in Toronto heard one very loud and clear question – how do I make money from my blog? As a business heavy, tech light attendee, my mind immediately started racing on how to capitalize on the opportunity. As such, this comes as no surprise to me and should come as no surprise to most.

    In fact, I’ve already started speaking to bloggers about helping market Agoracom and our clients through their blogs.

    The difference, however, is disclosure. Despite the fact that securities regulations would require any participating bloggers to disclose working with me, I would have demanded it anyway. Partly because I believe in ethical communications but an even bigger part stems from terrifying fear that we would be outed by the blogosphere and potentially cause great harm overnight to a business that I’ve built over many years.

    As such, I have to wonder how many advertisers are going to take advantage of PPP. More importantly, how many advertisers are going to participate when the very first advertiser is bashed by other bloggers. It won’t be very difficult, just go to PPP and take a look at the “opportunities” section.

    There is definitely a gap to be filled between bloggers needing to make some money and adertisers looking to leverage their network. I’m going to do it but I’m also going to make sure the whole world knows it when its happening. This assures zero backlash from those not interested, while providing great upside from a community that may find interest in my messages.

    Best,
    George

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