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On ReviewMe, PayPerPost and Righteous Purity

November 14, 2006

I’ve been involved with some political campaigns in the recent past, going so far as to have been a delegate for John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic Convention. While this would lead you to believe I’m a hardcore lefty, I’m not really. While I certainly veer that way, one of the things that has always made me most uncomfortable about political involvement is that most of the people you meet are extremists. They are loud and proud, and will shout you down if you’re not as extreme, or, maybe to phrase it better, not as “pure”, as they.

I think of them as I read the coverage given to the new get-paid-to-blog services like PayPerPost and now ReviewMe. (I’ll refrain from linking to them lest someone think I’m being paid to write this.)

Just as the extreme political activists shower you with disdain and knock your credibility if you’re not hugging the party line, too many bloggers have decided that they too have the truth in a headlock, and that anyone who thinks differently has no credibility. The many vicious reactions to these paid-to-post businesses are ridiculous.

I know that many hardcore bloggers have gotten themselves all worked up into thinking they are “citizen journalists” and somehow very different—i.e., more “pure”—than old-school journalists. And the thought that someone would come along and try to besmirch the bloggers’ hard-won credibility by paying bloggers to write nice things about a debt consolidation service or whatever? Scandalous. It’s time to draw a line in the sand! Which side are you on? The “purists” or the “sell-outs”?

The argument seems to be that if some bloggers are writing blog posts simply to get paid, then it calls into question not only that individual blogger’s motives and credibility, but the motives and credibility of bloggers everywhere, as if bloggers are some sort of association or club or whatever. You do know the secret handshake, don’t you?

But bloggers aren’t some sort of organized group. In fact, that is what many people love about blogging in the first place. Grab your piece of the Internet and start writing about whatever crazy crap comes into your head. Look at me! I wrote about my boogers! I’m a blogger!

Bloggers aren’t looking for some sort of code of ethics handed down by so-called “A-Listers” who’ve managed to build a big audience and now seem to want to defend their turf. Most bloggers don’t give a rat’s ass about the ethics of blogging. Why? Because they’re blogging on their own time for the grand total of zero dollars for their own enjoyment. But, hey, if they can get ten or fifteen bucks here or there to help justify their desire to transcribe the latest Lost episode for people they’ll never know, do you think they care whether some guy making $150,000 a year and listed on the Technorati Top Poobahs thinks they’re not “pure”enough?

I’m getting into rant territory here.

The point is, the blogosphere is not some sacred place—it’s full of crap just like every other place on the Earth. And just like in those other places, reasonably intelligent people know to put their bullshit detectors on when reading what is written there. When I listen to a sports radio personality tell me that the ribs down at Don’s Slop House are the shit and that I need to get myself down there pronto, I’m well aware that I’m not getting a “pure” endorsement. I’m a big boy and I can separate the wheat from the chaff. Same for blogs.

So get off of your high horses. If blog readers think that paid bloggers are insulting their intelligence, they’ll stop reading, and the “problem” will be solved. Cut the sanctimony and let the market decide.

Whoa, I’m starting to sound like a Republican.

P.S. I see via Dave Taylor that WordPress is now censoring bloggers that write blog posts for pay. Hey guys, I didn’t get paid $30 for this post, so don’t delete my blog! My annoyance at your pompousness is sincere and no one had to pay me for it.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

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