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Blogger ethics

Written By: - Date published: 12:18 pm, January 30th, 2009 - 57 comments
Categories: blogs, dpf - Tags:

I see that over at Kiwiblog DPF is hawking an Air New Zealand viral advertisement. Now DPF has had at least one junket from Air NZ and the airline is well known for its gifts to journalists and media outlets (mostly in terms of free flight). Given this situation I’d say the chances are quite good that there is at least some kind of loose arrangement between the company’s PR arm and DPF. The question is whether as an influential NZ internet figure DPF should be disclosing any such arrangement in the same way the media does (or should).

In fact as the blogosphere and bloggers come closer to the mainstream media and as their influence increases then questions about a code of ethics become more pertinent.

At The Standard we use some stock journalistic codes. In particular we do not reveal sources but we also write anonymously, which is traditional in the MSM for some editorial content and wire service news (such as NZPA stories) but not for most title-produced news. While we are providing opinion and commentary and none of us have a pecuniary interest I think that’s okay – the back catalogue of our work combined with the public critical feedback we get in our comments section means our posts are more rigorously debated and have to be more solidly constructed and fact-checked than a lot of MSM opinion pieces.

But what about when we take on advertising? Or when Standard writers such as Clint are given promotional freebies? At the moment we don’t have these concerns but some profile bloggers such as DPF and Russell Brown have already parlayed their web-presence into commercial gain as media figures and through advertising and in the US many bloggers have gone totally pro.

Every month the blogosphere’s influence on the mainstream increases. Perhaps it’s time for a voluntary code of ethics.

Update: I/S has mentioned the deal was that the hosting blog would get paid for every click on the Air NZ ad. DPF has not disclosed this in his post.

57 comments on “Blogger ethics ”

  1. bobo 1

    It’s fine as long as its a complimentary one way flight 🙂

  2. Redbaiter 2

    “Given this situation I?d say the chances are quite good that there is at least some kind of loose arrangement between the company?s PR arm and DPF. ”

    Well of course you can say this, but I would prefer to see the evidence before I smeared anyone in this way. Your whole post is based on this one sentence, and the sentence reveals you have nothing but supposition. Hate to be a defendant in your court.

  3. lukas 3

    Jealous much?

  4. There’s a code for blogger’s????

    There should only be one code, don’ t plagiarise.

  5. Naaa, a few blogs were approached about the viral. Nothing really too murky and evil behind it sorry!

  6. Clint’s right. They approached me, offering to pay for each view of the ad. I turned them down. I’d have turned them down quicker if I knew it’d need to be run as a post and mingled in with content.

    The company behind it is Unruly Media, whose slogan is “Seeding Videos into the Social Web”. in other words, corrupting our conversation and using it to make money. No thanks.

    Captcha: “serves Helene”. Almost, but not quite…

  7. IB – Methinks you doth protest too much 😉

  8. IrishBill 8

    Clint, that’s cool. My point wasn’t so much about DPF but about the ethical framework for blogging as it heads into commercial/MSM territory. I’m not so concerned for any moral reason as for credibility reasons.

    IV2, please don’t misquote the bard at me.

  9. “the back catalogue of our work combined with the public critical feedback we get in our comments section means our posts are more rigorously debated and have to be more solidly constructed and fact-checked than a lot of MSM opinion pieces.”

    “Every month the blogosphere’s influence on the mainstream increases.”

    I’m not trying to be rude but do you have anything to back those statements up? Ive been noticing in recent posts, especially on the state of the Herald/blogs vs MSM a kind of “we say it is, therefore its fact” type attitude, without much to substantiate it? see Sprout’s ‘NZ Herald: Nobody Wants It’.

    If there were some figures/stats it would add more clout to the story.

  10. Joe Blogger 10


  11. Felix 11

    In fairness to DPF he does have it quite clearly labeled as an ad, even though it’s presented as content. I mean it’s titled ” A Viral ad for Air NZ”, the post states “This is an ad”, there’s a link under it saying “Sponsored Video” and it’s tagged as “Advertisements”. I think he’s covered himself pretty well.

    Clint, how do you read

    “I’d say the chances are quite good that there is at least some kind of loose arrangement between the company’s PR arm and DPF”

    and get

    “The ladies at the Standard are saying you’re being paid off by Air NZ and it’s some big business conspiracy”

  12. Tigger 12

    Look, I don’t care so long as I don’t have to sit next to him on the plane…

  13. Soph MacFarlane 13

    Felix, there’s a difference between stating clearly that you’re publishing it in exchange for money or as a favour for services rendered, and implying (as Farrard did) that it’s just an ad you’ve stumbled across in your travels and are sharing on its own merits.

  14. ieuan 14

    Come on, it’s DPF blog he can do what he wants!

    If he wants to let every nut job right winger rant to their hearts content in his comments section then it’s his call.

    If he wants to spout bullshit/brain dead economic advise, then it’s his call.

    If he wants to back Israel every step of the way because he is 1/64th Jewish then it is his call.

    And if he wants to post pictures of woman in various states of undress just to get his number of hits up, then it is his call.

    If you don’t like, just don’t go there…..

  15. Felix 15

    Yes I understand the distinction but it does say “Sponsored Video” underneath it.

  16. IrishBill 16

    “Come on, it’s DPF blog he can do what he wants!”

    That’s exactly my point. You could equally say come on it’s APN’s newspaper and if they want to produce advertorial while pretending it’s real news they should be able to. There is a point at which the degree of influence a forum has acquired starts to imply some social responsibility this is recognised in the fact there is a BSA and a press council and at some stage in the future it’s going to have to be dealt with by the blogosphere in order for blogs to achieve the credibility many of them are heading for.

  17. Julie 17

    I didn’t notice the sponsored video bit until going back to check after Felix mentioned it. If you click through to Kiwiblog’s “Advertisements” category from the tag on the post you get a whole lot of commentary on various ads, not (presumably) other paid spots.

    There’s a tension there between all the hard work that a blogger puts in, for free, and the chance to earn a little back for the costs in terms of time and sometimes money (eg url registration).

  18. Julie 18

    Also Clint, why do you use “ladies” as an insult?

  19. Felix 19

    Also Clint, why do you use “ladies’ as an insult?

    *puts hand up*

    Ooh ooh! I know this one!

  20. chfr 20

    Before getting too excited guys have a look at http://www.saverjet.com. FYI the site is halarious.

    If David has any contact with someone who works in the travel industry then he would have got this from someone there. The ad was heavily publicised in the industry rags this morning.

    I think you are trying to find a conspiracy where there is none.

    IrishBill: if this is your threshold for “conspiracy” then you must have a very hard time dealing with the dozens of conspiracies that I presume you find yourself confronted with every day.

  21. QoT 21

    Now now, Felix, give the other kids time to answer. 😛

  22. Matthew Pilott 22

    QOT – my guess:

    Maybe Clint’s mother, his girlfriend, or some other significant woman in his life is called ‘Bill’, so when he saw a post by IrishBill, he thought it must be a lady.

    Or maybe he’s just a cock.

  23. IrishBill 23

    My greatest regret here is I think I have just cost the Standard any chance of custom from unruly media. That’s going to eat into my whiskey money.

  24. TightyRighty 24

    question IB, was the standard approached to host the video?

  25. TightyRighty 25

    and i keep getting the most hilarious words to verify, i sometimes wonder if they are targeted. Last on was Baldy, condition, before that i got pies and glutton, i now have rocky chafing

  26. IrishBill 26

    TR, not that I am aware of.

  27. Pascal's bookie 27

    “i now have rocky chafing”

    Ouch, sounds nasty.

    So if something is a piece of viral marketing, and it’s being heavily pushed in industry circles and through cheap date bloggers, ain’t that kinda the death knell for whatever cred’ viral campaigns had to begin with? Does DPF cheapen his self by acting as an initial vector as it were? He obviously doesn’t care, and he has every right not to of course, but it does seem to be an extra wander down the path of hack.

    Yes, it’s labeled ‘ad’ and so on, but he could of said that AirNZ was pimping it out to him as free content, and that it was quite funny. He’s usually kinda keen to point out that msm or the real world in general is taking notice of blogtopia, so I was surprised that he didn’t even ego it up that way. At least then there would be a reason to post it as a discussion starter. But he didn’t in this case.

    Free advertorial I reckon.

  28. Hmm, I wonder if AirNZ are hosting his website? Maybe he should disclose that too?

  29. Oh! look everyone! ZenTiger made a funny! And a cutting one!!! Or at least it would have been cutting a year ago…

    Really mate if that’s the best you can do it’s no wonder your odd little jesus-voodoo site is losing hits…

  30. I didn’t realise ethics had an expiry date. Thanks for the heads up.

  31. I didn’t realise you knew what ethics were. Don’t you just substitute stone-age bigotry from that odd book when the need for such judgment arises?

  32. Howdy Robinsod. Not always, old friend. Every now and then I turn the other cheek. Makes up for my lack of reading perhaps.

  33. lukas 33

    Hey Robinsod, told your source that they were wrong yet?

  34. Jeez – now you’ve gone and made me feel all uncouth with your nice-guy shtick… Funny thing is it was you that came in with the cheap crack so I guess I should just keep going…

    Thus… Tell me my old mate what do you do once the fourth cheek has been slapped?

    Edit – hey lukas – say hi to your mum for me…

  35. Peter Burns 35

    Smack yourself in the head with a sledge hammer robinsod or better still nail yourself to a wooden cross . I hope my not nice guy shit makes you cry and suck your thumb.

  36. But dad – that would be blasphemy!

  37. lukas 37

    Hey Sod, haven’t heard that kind of humor since third form…Do I have to be specific as to what claim you got wrong?

    I’m sure there is room in the comments section to place an apology or retraction of some sort

  38. Peter Burns 38

    “blasphemy!” No sod you are alright as God knows the mentally insane cannot understand things. I pray you get better one day.

  39. Lukas – I pitch to my audience. I have no idea why I just pitched to you. Oh and DPF’s column? Watch it become more infrequent…

    As for your your mum? She’s crap. It’s not surprising you never knew your dad…

    edit: speaking of dads – I’m not any more crazy than you pete.

  40. lukas 40

    You are a sad little man Sod. Your audience at your blog appears to be fairly low in intellect, probably explains why you only post one or two posts on a month, any more and the three people who read it would have a brain overload.

    Wow, its like you know my whole history…accept you happened to get it all wrong. Oh well, nice try… keep fishing, I’m sure one day one of your “sources” will accidentally get something right.

  41. A sad little man? I’ve not heard that before. Did your dad teach you that? Oh no! My bad you didn’t have a dad. Or if you did he wasn’t sufficiently able to teach you how to conduct yourself as a decent man…

    I’m glad to see you’re reading my blog. It may raise your IQ… although I suspect you are a hopeless case…

  42. actually – I’m starting to have a thought. Are you trent/richprick/pdq/pdm? Oh dear – you’re still angry ‘cos I caught you pimping your old dead granddad…

  43. lukas 43

    never heard of any of those people sorry ‘sod.

    I am surprised you have not heard that before. Word around Wanganui is nine out of ten women think you are a “little man”.

    As opposed to your parents who taught you to be an outstanding citizen, respect your fellow man etc etc?

    I suspect my IQ is sufficiently high enough. I would bore you with the details of starting university at 16, but that would only go on to depress you I suspect.

    Although you claim to be starting to have a thought, my suspicion is that that is far from the truth and you have had one too many cold beverages to have a coherent thought tonight.

  44. Sorry lukas but you’re just not showing that big IQ you’re so proud of. Quite the reverse…

    It could be that you’re steady eddy but he’s too stupid to change his style past me sniffing him out… Maybe you’re prick, in which case I know exactly who you are… Go on – give’s a hint…

  45. lukas 45

    I’d love for you to actually attempt to find out who I was…

  46. Peter Burns 46

    Broken arse ethics from anonymous cowards. Hi big blouse.

  47. It may take a while but these things eventually come to me. Goodnight lukas.

  48. lukas 48

    Going on the form of your sources to date I am pretty confident that you will not find out who I am anytime soon, but please continue to guess… its rather amusing. Let’s make a game of it shall we?

    Have a great night ‘sod. No doubt will see you around here next week.

    My first guess as to who you are- Winston Peters…

  49. Good night ladies 🙂

  50. An interesting discussion. If I run an ad in the main blog again I’ll use a new tag of “paid advertisement” or something. I thought it was pretty clear, but obviously not.

    I ran this one in the main blog as a bit of a test. One can also have them in the sidebar but obviously smaller. I want to see what the relative click through rates are between main blog and sidebar.

  51. TBA 51

    The only thing that is unfortunate about this whole situation is that DPF feels that he should even acknowledge this sort of crap.

    All the lines about ethics, disclosure are complete crap especially considering the sources of those comments and their own personal history’s within the blogsphere.

  52. As the person who arranged this campaign I am a little surprised by some of the comments here.

    Personally, I think it is fantastic that large corporates would be interested in throwing some money towards bloggers for the opportunity to be included in their conversations. None of the big media companies are receiving any coin from this campaign so it’s great for smaller publishers.

    If you’d like to add the viral to your site, you can sign up here.

    You don’t need to put it in a post. You can add it to a sidebar or serve it through an adserver if you want.

    I’m more than happy to answer any questions.


  53. Felix 53

    I’m surprised that you’re surprised.

    Of course people are wary of anyone wanting to join a conversation for monetary reasons.

    Many of us put a very high value on the integrity of our conversations.

  54. Pascal's bookie 54

    So if I wanted a post on KB extolling the benefits of magnets in the mattress, or bee poo extract or something, how muchee?

    Reagan, it doesn’t cost anything for corporates to be involved in online conversations. Just jump on in old son. But that’s not really what you are doing is it?

  55. Felix, I’d be more worried if money was changing hands over conversations that were being moderated.

    Pb, there is always a cost for corporates to be involved in conversations. Someone isn’t going to work their spin for free.

    What UM is doing is providing a better solution for a) publishers to make a much better income than the likes of adsense and b) providing advertisers a grass roots approach to reaching their audience.m

  56. tsmithfield 56


    Are you Mr P Pompous ?

  57. Felix 57

    I’m quite sure I don’t know what you mean.

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