Pay Per Post and WOMMA Code of Ethics

Marshall Kirkpatrick has a great post at Techcrunch called Pay Per Post Offers to Sell Your Soul which pretty much sums up my perspective on this latest offering from MindComet, who calls itself the Relationship Agency. Essentially the concept is that bloggers post about products and get paid by advertisers; not much else required in terms of disclosure or product preference.

テつ All of the gory details are of course available at Payperpost.com and the negativeテつ reaction of the blogosphere can be tracked at techmeme. Josh Hallet highlights one particularly loathsome association between another similar MindComet venture called BlogStarNetworks and Darden Restaurant’s Bahama Breeze that was mentioned in Business Week. Josh says he just stopped eating in Darden restaurants. I agree with his concept here but I wonder if the food isn’t reason enough to avoid Darden.

At the recent WOMMA conference, Andy Sernovitz, spoke about the WOMMA Code of Ethics. The concept of the Honesty ROI captures the essence of what is wrong with PayPerPost. It’s not that being paid to endorse products is in and of itself wrong. It is not disclosing that you are being paid to endorse products that is absolutely wrong. Here is theテつ Honesty ROI:

  • Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
  • Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
  • Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity

Business Week quotes the founder of MindComet and Payperpost.com as saying, "You can’t believe anything you see or read," complains Ted Murphy. "You think those judges on American Idol want to drink those giant glasses of Coke?"

Well of course we don’t think that the judges necessarily want the Coke. The difference between this relationship with Coke is that it has been disclosed that Coke is paying to have the judges drink the Coke on American Idol. Honesty of relationship versus relationship.テつ To quote Mark Twain, the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and the lightening bug.

If MindComet is the relationship agency I think I would rather go to the dance alone.

The Business Week article has one of my favorite quotes of this latest offer to test the flexibility of one’s ethical standards.

"There are Old Media types who will use PayPerPost to dump on the credibility of all bloggers, and there are bloggers ready to seize on Murphy’s point to trash traditional media. I enjoy a rhetorical race to the bottom as much as the next guy, but both views are deluded. The blog world includes the likes of paidContent.org’s Rafat Ali, a premier chronicler of next-generation media, and the dim-bulb stoner down the street. Mainstream media includes both the Washington Post (WPO ) and American Idol. To paraphrase Bill Clinton: Credibility is a journey, not a destination."

To paraphrase, credibilityテつ is a terrible thing to waste.

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