Sometimes history is thought of as it is taught: In separate chunks. But history passes, weaves, and certainly is attached and connected to time — the time behind it, the time before it, and simultaneously to persons and events which, even in attempts to understand and reclaim, we have neatly severed into subjects and categories.
History and culture isn’t simply a matter of dates or compartmentalized periods. The subject of context isn’t merely one for writers, bloggers or content curationists, i.e. photo or image with research or text story, properly credited, for real readers. Context is even more than the object, person, or event in cultural context of what came before it, what came after it. Context must include what and who are contemporaries.
For example, do you think of opera legend Marian Anderson and artist Frida Kahlo as contemporaries? As friends even? Most probably do not.
For in our (admirable) attempts to reclaim lost stories of Black Women and Hispanic Women (groups who have felt marginalized from Feminism and Women’s Studies), separate stories emerge. Separate stories may narrow focus, provide an ease for our brains (which many falsely claim are over-stimulated and bombarded with information; information overload is a myth) tasked with absorbing information, but so many separate stories not only lead to false notions of separate lives issues (which fosters a sense of competition, risks alienation, and further divides what is Us), but removes the full complex beauty of cultural context.
Oxford University historian Dr. Cliff Davies, in his discussion of the myth of the Tudor era, describes this compartmentalization of history as “seductive” and helping “to create the idea of a separate historical period, different from what came before and after.” I say this seduction also includes the temptation to remove the context of contemporaries. And that it ought to be avoided. Even in an age of working to create filtered focus.
Even when you have multiple blogs, collections, and curated topics — each with its own focus, there is likely to be some overlap between them. If you are aware of and include context with your collections, there will be, ought to be, some repeated content and objects across collections. Even those with the most dedicated focus.
I consider this to be not redundant overlap but more connections, yet another layer to your stories. Practically speaking from a marketing approach, it is another way to find more readers too.
I’ve been getting a lot of “What the heck is curating?” questions, largely in response to my request for votes (“Likes”) on a topic I’m curating at Snip.It, but also because, despite what Forbes has to say about it going mainstream, content curation is a rather “new” thing. I had thought I’d done a rather good job of defining content curation here, but either I haven’t or people haven’t read that post. But that’s OK too, because it gives me a chance to go into a bit more detail.
Content curation is to magazine and newspaper publication what blogging has been to writing or journalism: A digital-age means of self-publishing which is primarily based on platforms (software or code) available to anyone with access to the Internet.
The big names in blogging platforms or publishing software are WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc. In content curation, you have Pinterest, Scoop.It, and, my favorite,Snip.It (RIP). These content curation platforms are not the first; but like Facebook, which improved (and capitalized) upon the early social networking sites which came before it, these three curation sites are emerging as the top dogs. (Also like Facebook, these content curation sites have social networking aspects — and they do connect to social media, including Facebook at Twitter.) And it’s merely a matter of time before you somehow become involved with content curation sites; be it by curating, subscribing/reading, or, as some forecast, using curated content topics as your search engine.
But what does that mean? How is that really different from blogging? And why on earth would we need another means of adding to information overload?
Firstly, information overload is a myth. Humans have always had far more information and media available then it can devour. (So as not to get too far astray, I’ll send you here for more details on that.) Even if the push of media makes it seem worse, such technological shifts in our relationships to information are, as James Gleick, author of The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, “part of the evolution of the species.” The true problem is, or remains, that of how an individual human can find what he wants or separate the good from the bad, i.e. a filter.
And that’s where content curation comes in.
Content curation is the process of sorting, arranging, and publishing information that already exists. Like any collector or museum curator, content curators identify and define their topics, select which items to include (and often how they are displayed), while providing the context, annotations, and proper credits which not only assist their readers but identify themselves as more than interested but invested; a leader or an authority.
Content curators are being dubbed “superheroes” (by Steve Rosenbaum, author of Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators, and others) because content curators are saving humans everywhere from the skill and drudgery of finding and filtering themselves. Rosenbaum even says that people will pay “for clarity, authority, context, and speed” of finely calibrated filters.
If this all sounds a lot like what you (or others) do as a blogger, it just may be. Many bloggers spend their time selecting what they consider the best of what other people have created on the web and post it at their own sites, just like a magazine or newspaper. Or they provide a mix of this along with writing or otherwise creating their own content. Not to split hairs, but curation involves less creation and more searching and sifting; curation’s more a matter of focused filtering than it is writing.
Because content curation is expected to be based on such focused filtering, it begins far more based on topic selection. This is much different from blogging, where bloggers are often advised to “just begin” and let their voice and interests accumulate over time to eventually reveal a primary theme. Perhaps the best way to ascertain the difference is to consider this in terms of collecting styles.
Some collectors just collect what they like as they stumble into it. In fact, many collectors, including myself, began this way; letting their collections evolve until a definition or purpose seems to reveal itself. …Sometimes, collectors just keep piling up stuff, no matter what it is. Even if this isn’t hoarding, it’s not-so-much of a purposeful pursuit. But professional curators, those who manage collections for museums or other organizations, and serious collectors, they maintain a specific focus. And rather than stumbling into items, they continually seek for specific items. The definition dictates the curation — and everything from funding to their continued employment is based on how well their collection meets the collection’s definition.
While blogging success may be thought of in many different ways, the success of content curation lies in how well you define, search/research, and stick to your subject.
Image Credits: Data Never Sleeps infographic via Domo
Tumblr has a bad rep in the blogosphere; it’s notorious for its members taking the content of others without crediting it. But clients have asked or stated that they should “be on it,” and so to be fair, I spent some serious time (about 11 months) using Tumblr — under various niches and topics.
These are some of the things I learned about the site.
Tumblr is far more social network or community oriented than a standard “blog”; or maybe it’s more accurate to say that Tumblr is more of an intense microcosm of blogging. The posts are shorter, more rapid, more plentiful — mainly because nothing is actually created there. Instead it’s based on reposting what others have created around the Internet, and then reposted and reposted over at Tumblr, in and out of the interconnected social circles of followers.
Tumblr is so based on the notion of regurgitating the posts and reposts of others, that the only real way to keep up is to stay logged in to Tumblr and sit at your dashboard, where you can see all the reposts of those you follow go by. For this reason, it has an addicting quality. But the price of such a glut of rehashed stuff is the need for more speed — people clicking repost as fast as they can, more stuff flying at you.
That can be a time waster, but let’s look at the more important things in terms of promoting your business, your site, your writing.
Tumblr is incredibly image oriented. Text posts and links are virtually ignored. Even when the photo you post has text or a link, these are seldom what makes a post popular i.e. reposted. In fact, your text and link have at least a 60% chance of being removed by the person reposting it. And link click-through rates, even when the link is the image credit (i.e. clicking the photo to get a larger version), are much lower than at regular blogs and websites — including in the adult area.
That is the number on reason why using Tumblr to market your site or business is ineffective.
The popularity of a post is reposting. “Likes” do very little for you (since they are a one-click thing not requiring them to leave the dashboard, they are just a way for a user to more quickly add their “note” to a post).
Readers, followers, etc. are numbers that don’t matter as much as the long string of “notes” (the list of people who reposted and liked the post). This is obviously increased by the number of people following you; but as long as your post is reposted by someone and reaches another circle of users, your post will go on and on, showing up on your dashboard over and over again. But, if no one is clicking the links, visiting your store etc., then so what?
Tumblr is also not the best way to have conversations with your customers or your target market either.
Comments are not actually built into the system (though you can add DISQUS) and conversations are discouraged in general. You can send a message via the “ask me” feature, but if you answer it, it’s published at your Tumblr — and the one who asked or commented does not get a notice of it. So unless they are logged in, are following you, and see it on their dashboard, how will they know you replied? And in order to continue the conversation, one of you will have to go back to the “ask” and start again. It’s incredibly awkward.
Tumblr is also a rather closed community in the sense that anonymous (non-Tumblr users) are clearly second class citizens. In your Tumblr settings, you can allow or disallow anonymous to “ask” questions, but unless they say, “Hi, it’s Susan,” or otherwise identify themselves, you won’t know who it is because Tumblr either recognizes a logged in user or labels them anonymous.
While the rest of the Internet is trying to engage readers across platforms, regardless of whether or not they are an official user/subscriber, Tumblr and, more importantly, Tumblr users deride and mock the “anons.”
That’s a closed community.
And now we get to the issue of what most irks people about Tumblr…
Contrary to what most of us were taught, having something unique to say or offer is not important at Tumblr. In fact, unless you are a big wig at Tumblr, your original content is likely to go completely unappreciated. People prefer to repost what the cool kids repost rather than be the person who finds unique or new things. These are the majority of the users at Tumblr.
The other group of users is a smaller group, but they are far too often those with larger followings. These are the folks who like to pose as the news makers, the creators, taking credit for what they found with the omission of where they found it, who owns it, etc. — and they are to blame for Tumblr’s poor reputation, even if the majority users are guilty of perpetuating it with all the reposts.
Some blame the ease of Tumblr’s reposting and sharing widget are to blame for this, but if people were truly lazy and using Tumblr as it is, nearly every image raped from a site would have a link crediting where it was found (and, one hopes, more information on original source, etc.). But these people take great efforts to right-click-save an image, then upload it to Tumblr — never crediting the photographer, scanner, or image owner.
This is a malicious act. It’s done on purpose. It requires more effort than the one or two click of the Tumblr Bookmarklet sharing widget — and it’s done so they can act as if they put the time in on something they didn’t. Often times, once they’ve saved the image on their computer, they’ll even go so far as to remove copyright and URL information before uploading and posting to Tumblr.
The number of people who post that they’re “going home to scan more photos of X” — and then perform image searches for such photos and scans are astonishing. Those of us who spend the time scanning know what our scans look like — where there’s a wrinkle on the page, tanning, if we included text or not, etc.
All of this would be the silly poser stuff of teenagers — if it weren’t so infuriating. Because the bottom line is, there are many big bloggers out there who are so popular because they find and credit the cool stuff; they are like antique dealers who are adored by collectors with less time.
As if this weren’t bad enough, many Tumblr users take great pride in expressing their indifference and defiance regarding copyright and intellectual property. Sidebars and profiles are filled with “I find stuff lots of places and if you’re one of the credit nazis, don’t follow me” and similar statements that I gather are supposed to appear as cool non-conformist, punk-rebellious, barbs at The Man. Unfortunately, the Internet is not The Man; so the ones they hurt are the ones who create the content — artists, photographers, dedicated folks who scan antique and vintage works, etc.
No, Tumblr is not a good way to market your product, your website, etc.
Yeah, this post is so not going to make me popular at Tumblr. But what am I going to miss? Even more of my content going out and about uncredited?
I have since deleted my old test accounts at Tumblr. But I do retain a personal account there for two reasons:
One, a few ethical people I met there only post at Tumblr and so I can keep up with them
Two, sometimes logging in and scrolling the Tumblr dashboard provides some good leads on cool stuff. Such a stream of photos can provide a quick way to see things — but it’s deceptive in the sense that once I spy something cool, I’ll have to put a lot of work in to searching for the images. (For that I use TinEye; a detailed account of how and why to use it is here — the site is NWS.)
And when I do use it, it can be a tremendously frustrating time suck because so much uncredited stuff is coming at you so fast.
So overall, I do not recommend Tumblr as an effective way to market yourself or your blog; but it has its entertainment value and can be useful if you don’t invest too much time in it.
Because of our years of experience in the Internet trenches, we’ve long been individually helping other writers, bloggers, artists, sellers, and entrepreneurs start-up or increase their online presence; now we’ve joined forces, offering you our firsthand knowledge and experience.
The most familiar sort of Blog Tour is the Book Blog Tour, which is the virtual version of yesteryear’s book tour. At UP to the DL, we don’t limit the idea to only books — you can use blog tours to promote anything, any product or service, including, simply, yourself.
However, if you aren’t familiar with all the details involved, virtual tours can become real nightmares!
Organizing a Blog Promotional Tour involves:
Identifying potential hosts — that will reach your target audience
Contacting potential hosts
Making the pitch, helping sort through the options with hosts
Scheduling the tour and individual host actions
Answering technical questions and concerns of hosts
Performing the check-ups and follow-ups necessary to ensure a good tour
Proper timing of it all!
And, if you are an organized person with enough time to do all of this, do you know what things are most vital to a successful tour?
Do you really know how to identify your target market and evaluate which of the millions of blogs, podcasts, zines, newsletters, etc. are honestly able to reach them?
Do you know how to anticipate, avoid and over-come host/blogger concerns?
If you have a limited number of products (or none at all) to give-away for reviews and contests, do you know what other tour options you can offer — some of which are even more likely to garner the results you desire?
Do you know what sort of tour events or activities will help you more increase cash flow, which are designed for long-term, how to maximize long tail results — and which ones you really need?
Once you have secured hosts that will reach your target market, do you know how to best capture the attention of your potential readers or customers?
Do you know what sorts of posts and tour activities will positively (or negatively) affect things such as PageRank (PR) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Do you know how to create promotional tours which will get bloggers excited to participate — and their readers converting to sales?
We’ve been writing, reading and buying online for over a decade. We know, as press, readers, and consumers what bores & what soars.
We know what pitches get, well, pitched via that delete button. We each have over a decade of networking with other bloggers, building relationships and contacts to ensure results.
We know what sorts of things discredit you, harm the reputation of you and your product or service. We will organize your online event so as to maximize your sales and your personal brand.
Hire U.P. to the D.L. as your blog tour coordinators and liaisons; we’ll maximize your presence and sales.
We know how to identify the online conversations and communities where your audience is congregating — and we know how to ethically participate in those relevant conversations so that you, your products, services, and brands are engaging with your customers and potential customers.
Blogging is a form of self-publishing — and it’s a beautiful thing; but it comes with its own set of responsibilities.
I personally don’t abide Paid Posts and proudly proclaim my No Payola status, but as those posts rather cover my sentiments, today I’ll focus on the ethics involved in Blog Tours — specifically in terms of the rules of UP to the DL Blog Tour Services.
These rules are based not only on the experiences we’ve had hosting blog tours, posting reviews, receiving pitches to promote this or that, but on fundamental ethics — good ol’ common sense. And these rules are designed to protect the integrity of bloggers, blog readers, consumers, and promoters alike.
Rule #1 It is not ethical to review something you’ve never used, read or otherwise employed; that’s fraud. Therefore, asking a person to commit a fraudulent act is unethical, at best.
Rule #2 It is unethical, to say the least, to insist a reviewer not publish or share a review that is not flattering. Such “reviews” are not reviews at all; reviews are to be thoughtful opinions, educated critiques, and, above all, honest. Individual hosts may, after reviewing the item and honestly disliking it, post their negative (but not hate-filled or personally attacking) review as they wish; or, they may wish to contact us for help regarding their conflicted responses and uncomfortable situations.
Rule #3 Follow-through on what you promise. Send your review copies, samples, contest prizes on time; publish your blog tour event as promised; get back to people as promised. In the rare cases where “life happens,” please contact U.P. to the D.L. as soon as possible to communicate and problem solve the situation.
Any and all persons who break these rules, are found to be guilty of such unethical behavior, will not be allowed to participate in any U.P. to the D.L. projects of any kind. Offenders may also find themselves the subject of unwanted press, with a public disclosure of their behavior.
I know these rules may sound more stern or even scary rather than inviting, but practicing these principles protects and respects the integrity of all involved! It is our expectation that everyone upholds these values and has a commitment to the rights of consumers and brands.
It’s easy to be pessimistic today, especially when it comes to business. Those of us not in the upper two percent, those of us with little in our pockets but our sweaty palms, those of us who don’t just feel beaten-up by big business but have the financial and even physical marks to prove it, those of us who are the “other” under the heels of the “us” that is Corporate America, we can easily draw the conclusion that the only time virtue comes up is when the fat cats greedily giggle over their “there’s no virtue in business besides money” mantra.
These feelings infiltrate, or, if you prefer “trickle down” (the only time the principal actually appears to work) into every aspect of our world, at every level. From realized fears of neglect and victimization in our political system to the mentalities of school bullies, controlling abusers, and national “pro-life” terrorists., it seems we are increasingly forced to live in a black & white world of virtue — and to consider which side we are on… Should we remain the down-trodden good guy who will finish last, if at all? Or should we give in to the dark side, just to survive?
I hear this echoed in discussions everywhere. Activists wondering if they should adopt the same tactics their opponents successfully use. Entrepreneurs who cringe at identifying themselves as such because of what “being in business” implies. Parents wondering how they can continue to teach their children to be “good,” “fair,” and “generous,” when their children see what the rich and ruthless reap.
Enchantment can occur in villages, stores, dealerships, offices, boardrooms, and on the Internet. It causes voluntary change of hearts and minds and therefore actions. It is more than manipulating people to help you to get your way. Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It reshapes civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.
Firstly, Enchantment is a breath of fresh, good, air; it’s an affirmation that good guys and gals don’t have to finish last. And there are real stories, real cases, of real good people who are examples.
Secondly, Kawasaki outlines the principals of enchantment — sound psychological principals and insights into human behavior that are easy to read and even easier to comprehend.
Thirdly, the book inspires action. Heart lightened with the affirmation and validation that Good is indeed good, heart warmed by the examples of Good successful people, and armed with the knowledge of how it all works, you, the reader, are inspired to live enchantingly.
It’s good that you are inspired because the author is now going to offer you opportunities to implement the strategies.
Kawasaki provides a checklist of things to consider and opportunities to explore, rather like self-help books do. (In the book’s Coverphon, there’s evidence neither the author nor the publisher would like this “soft” self-help comparison; but I think the work is to be commended for it’s uplifting, affirming, readily understood, easy to incorporate strategies as well as it’s “hard” business acumen.)
And, yes, the author includes plenty of tips and methods for businesses and entrepreneurs to put to work online (i.e. push and pull technologies such as email, Twitter, Facebook, websites and blogs, etc.).
While nearly all stories, prompts and checklists are business related (including chapters on how to enchant your boss, resist enchantment, etc.), there’s no reason the information couldn’t be applied to any facet of your life, including parenting. Where else does one need to model integrity more?
(There are even concrete stories for you to counter wise-ass remarks from kids who dare you to prove that greed and might are the only ways to get ahead — in fact, stories and examples that suggest that life ought not to be viewed as a race in which one must “get ahead,” but rather how to work for the betterment of many.)
In short, Enchantment is just the breath of fresh air that good guys and gals need to reaffirm their vows to be a person of delightful integrity. It gives us the tips to enchant — and the permission to be enchanted with ourselves.
When people anywhere in the world buy a copy of Enchantment in any form (paper, recording, or ebook), they can get a free copy of Garr’s book called Presentation Zen.
Presentation Zen is one of the best books ever written about making great presentations. Seth Godin said this about it: “Please don’t buy this book! Once people start making better presentations, mine won’t look so good.”
Disclaimer: I was given a free review copy of this book. While the free copy was appreciated and enjoyed, the fact that it was free has no bearing on this review or the contents of this post — other than the legal requirement to make such a statement.
At some point, everyone working on the Internet faces decisions about advertising and affiliate programs. Some people even start a blog for this “passive income,” believing that it’s as easy as setting up some links and then sitting back to let the income stream in; but that’s not necessarily what happens…
So I’ve got a white paper on the subject. It’s based on my 20+ years of working on the web; priced at $7, that’s less than 35 cents a year!
This white paper is written mainly for bloggers & website owners, to assist them in evaluating affiliate and advertising programs. However, it will also help those looking to purchase advertising &/or promote their own affiliate programs by helping them to understand the sorts of concerns they may encounter along the way.
If you agree, then please link to me using these details:
TITLE: (keyword stuffed)
URL: (a specific page on their SEO seeking domain)
DESCRIPTION: (more keyword stuffing)
Please don’t forget to send me the title of your website after you
place my link so I can do the same in less than 24 hours, otherwise you can delete my link from your site.
You can rest assured that these requests are 100% spam, no matter if they correctly contact you about one of your own sites. Here’s the proof:
1) These requests don’t even make sense because, generally speaking, my sites are so far off their topic they do not serve their best SEO manipulating interests. A human would recognize that.
2) The fact that they want you to go ahead and post a link to them first isn’t just rude (the one requesting should always place first and then notify, asking for notification of the recip), it’s them counting on a (however small) percentage of those emailed to place the link, giving their sites either a quick bit of juice &/or, counting on people forgetting to verify the promised link(s), giving them free un-reciprocated links.
Last week I became an official View Brand Ambassador, part of the Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime. This means you’ll be hearing more from me on The View and while I will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items for &/or to facilitate my commentary &/or reviews, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to participate in the discussion about and promotion of one of my favorite shows — yup, one of my favorite shoes, not just a daytime favorite. It doesn’t hurt that we’re supposed to get some face or ear time with show producers either.
In short, being an ambassador for the show means I now have a legitimate reason to watch shows uninterrupted and a larger motivation to talk about them too.
So consider this post a disclaimer — and warning of things to come, both here and at my other blog, Motherhood Metamorphosis. (Heck, it might even show up at other places, depending upon the topic!)
If you’re a fan of The View, right now Mom Central has an exciting contest: The View Sweepstakes. The prize for one lucky winner? A trip to New York City to watch a taping of The View! The sweepstakes is open until February 28th and I encourage you to enter — but I hope I win!
The Internet has allowed NOW to connect like never before with members and allies, potential supporters, students and educators, government leaders and countless others who can help advance equality for all.
The Internet offers a platform for dialogue amongst feminists who might not otherwise have a chance to strategize together. It empowers women by providing them with information about their status, threats to their rights and opportunities for advancement. It presents a tool for democratic participation by allowing women’s rights advocates to easily petition their elected officials and keep tabs on their records.
Without a doubt, the women’s rights movement benefits immensely from the unprecedented power of an open and accessible Internet. But, can we rely on the big companies that bring us the Internet to preserve its open nature? The simple truth is: No, we can’t.
Write to your Congress members today, and urge them to support the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458). This bill will make “Net Neutrality” — one of the guiding principles behind the open Internet — the law of the land. Take action NOW.
Every day, the Internet becomes more and more central to the way we communicate and access media content here in the United States and around the world. The big companies that deliver the Internet to us — like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — stand to gain an enormous amount of revenue in the coming years, and they are looking for even more ways to pocket big bucks.
How exactly would they do that? By charging fees that would allow some websites and content to download via an exclusive fast lane, while those that can’t afford these fees are relegated to the slow lane. Some websites and applications would be blocked altogether, as the phone and cable companies decide which content and tools they want to offer us.
In fact, this is already happening. AT&T censored streaming video from a Pearl Jam concert. Comcast has blocked Internet software, and Verizon prevented a reproductive rights group from sending text messages to people who had requested them. Clearly, public policy is needed to ensure that the big companies can not discriminate on the web by censoring and blocking information we need to advance the issues we care about.
The beauty of the Internet, and its great innovation over conventional, mainstream media, is that it is open to everyone. An unlimited amount of information is available at everyone’s fingertips when they access the web. Similarly, we can add our own content and voices to the web in a way that is not possible with radio, television and other traditional media.
But hundreds of lobbyists on Capitol Hill, employed by the telecommunications giants, are trying to change all that. Organizations like NOW could find their online efforts seriously impaired by this move to partition off (dare we say segregate?) the Internet.
Net Neutrality must become law to ensure that the Internet remains open to innovation, democratic participation, and a free exchange of ideas. The Internet Freedom Preservation Act is designed to ensure that this dynamic medium remains free from discrimination.
Don’t let big business turn the Internet into another version of cable TV. This is OUR Internet, and we can save it.
Use of Carmen Miranda costume is also a promise-slash-threat: Failure to read & participate in the following news, shall invoke the powers of moi — I shall show up at your home at 4 A.M. loudly impersonating Ms Miranda. I warn you, I neither dance nor sing so keen; your neighbors will not be happy.
So exercise your (albeit, twisted) Carmen Miranda rights — to be free of my impression of the lovely lady — and participate in the conversation about domestic violence. All jokes aside, it matters.
Last Monday (July 27, 2009), during our road trip, I was listening to NPR’s All Things Considered, in which they covered the issue of “Mom Bloggers” and “Blog-Ola.” I’ll skip my general dislike of the term “mom bloggers” applied to any woman with children (“mom bloggers” should only be applied to moms who blog about parenting & mommy issues; it’s a rather inappropriate & dismissive term when applied to those of us discussing non-parenting issues) & get on with the real hub-bub, bub.
“Blog-ola” is payola, pure and simple. It doesn’t matter if you’re paid in cash or product.
The dealio-mc-bob isn’t really new, but apparently had the 1,500 attendees of the 5th Annual BlogHer Conference in Chicago in heated debate. Companies give stuff to bloggers with hopes that they’ll get positive press & reviews — that’s nothing new, either; it’s the basic principal behind review product, review copies, etc. And there’s nothing inherently bad about that either. But apparently the internet is rife with the following unethical folks:
* Those bloggers & reviewers who feel either obligated or so free-stuff-happy that they are writing positive reviews &/or giving gobs of press attention to products &/or companies, regardless of the quality of the stuff they receive. If you don’t believe me, check out the show’s transcript.
* Those companies & persons (publicists, PR folks, etc.) who feel that bloggers & reviewers work for them when they send them “free” review items. Don’t believe me?
I haven’t read your review yet, however, honestly I wish you wouldn’t post a negative review about this or any other author.
To which I replied:
I can understand your disappointment, but I won’t remove or change the review.
I clearly stated from the onset that I was skeptical of cures and while you & the author may feel her story is not intended to be read as a guarantee for others, I can accept that. However, I find the references to autism as “deathly ill,” demonically possessed” and “cursed” more than inaccurate or mere opinion, but unacceptable. I’m aghast that anyone would write such a thing. What’s more that you would, especially after my email about being skeptical, insist upon only favorable reviews; that’s unethical.
I have a responsibility to honestly review books/products, and that is what I have done.
If you’d prefer not to send me any more emails/invitations etc. because you dislike my honest opinions/reviews, that is your decision.
To which she replied:
The purpose of a blog tour is to promote the book and encourage people to buy it.
I fundamentally disagree with blog hosts posting a negative review. I would never ask a blog host to post something they don’t agree with on their blog. If you don’t anything constructive to say…stay silent.
My post was constructive; it warned my readers of the dangers of such a horrible book.
Her email continued:
I know too many authors who also review books professionally. Their stance is to not post bad reviews. It will come back around. It’s kind of an unwritten rule of the industry to not slam a fellow author. Guess blog hosts don’t live by that rule.
So…for this blog tour book…we’ll agree to disagree. It happens.
I would love for you to be a part of future tours…under the condition that you post the interview, and if you can’t that you let me know and post nothing. Deal?
No, Karen, we most decidedly do not have a deal. (And, yes, Karen, I do have the right to publish our email exchange; you courted me as a member of the press and so I have the right to quote you until/unless you state things are off the record.)
First, I did not “slam an author” — I corrected her inaccuracies (found on page 72), her inappropriate implied “cure” (page 110), and her labeling those with Autism as “cursed” (page 111). In fact, I was so incensed by what the author wrote, I could have been far more scathing in my review; but I remained as fair as I could.
Secondly, where you get all all mixed up, Karen, is your confusion over our relationship. It maybe her purpose to promote & encourage people to buy the book; but it’s not mine. Mine is to honestly review the book sent — a book that, in this case, I specifically discussed my reservations about prior to agreeing to receive the book. It doesn’t matter where the book (or product) came from, those rules don’t change.
And that’s what the FTC is concerned about, the ethics of all this.
Oh, and one more thing… Sometimes companies think they can get your free publicity with just the promise of product. If I read one more call for bloggers to post a review and then the first few (or those with the most comments or whatever) will “win” a review copy or review product, I swear, I will scream. Loudly. You cannot, should not, review something you’ve never used/viewed/read; if you do, you are advertising (and lying about use) and that’s where the FTC comes in. Or should come in.
Let me help you, dear blogger who wanted to be treated like a member of the press, to act like a member of the press. Do not to fall prey to Blog-Ola or payola and/or the bullying of persons & companies who would have you do so. Here’s a simple reminder: You do not work for publishers, publicists, companies or individuals that send you review product; you write/review for your readers, and they deserve honesty.
Keep that in mind, and you’ll have nothing to fear from any FTC investigation or legislation.
Think back to those notes passed in school. You cared about what was written on them because you trusted the person who sent it to you. You would have been upset if the note was sent to you because Susie was paid, in cash or product, to do so. Even if the teacher (FTC) never found out, Susie lost a trusted friend (your blog reader). So stop participating in these forms of payola.