Robert: Disclose that bag of pretzels too

Well, Scoble has gone and done it again, it seems. He agreed to accept a speaking engagement from none other than PayPerPost, everyone’s favourite blogosphere whipping boy. At first, the deal was that they would pay him for appearing, as well as paying for his flight and accommodations, but John Furrier and PodTech apparently decided that wasn’t such a great idea — poor “optics,” as the political types like to say — and so he turned it down.

Duncan Riley says that Scoble “has balls” for doing the speech, but also that he has become “a paid shill” for the company, and that he has every right to “whore his presence.” I think we’re back to where we were just the other day when the latest PayPerPost brouhaha erupted (which I wrote about here). Everyone is being held up against an impossible standard, just because PayPerPost is seen as the blogosphere’s version of a “sidewalk hooker,” — as Scoble’s friend and co-author Shel Israel says in his disapproving comment.

Robert_Scoble.jpg So Scoble was going to get a fee for speaking at a blogging conference. Big deal. Speakers at conferences get paid all the time, and even if they don’t get an honorarium, they usually get free plane flights and hotel rooms and food. That’s how it works. Is this conference somehow different because PayPerPost is sponsoring it? Like Jason at Webomatica, I think more disclosure is definitely good, but I don’t see why he should be subjected to a public flogging. He’s not speaking at the Aryan Party’s annual meeting, for pete’s sake. Mike says he’s making a mistake.

PayPerPost may not be the model that I would like to see bloggers adopt, but it is one of the alternative for people who don’t get enough traffic to make their blog pay, and it has definitely gotten better since it launched. According to an email I got from CEO Ted Murphy, the company will soon be launching a new feature that would place a disclosure button (with a rollover ad included) at the bottom of any post sponsored by an advertiser, although it will be up to the advertiser to decide whether to use that feature.

Update:

Tony Hung has a long and thoughtful post on the subject of the “impossible standard” bloggers are being held to. And both Duncan Riley at 901am and Jim Kukral of Blogkits (which I use, in the interests of full disclosure) think that Ted Murphy of PayPerPost is a marketing genius.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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