|Rembrandt: Judas Returns the 30 Pieces of Silver|
OK, I received two, count 'em, two offers for paid links and or posts today. By that I mean someone would pay me somewhere between $50 and $100 in exchange for a positive review in a post or even a link in my "Links I like Section."
I have never engaged in this behavior and I get approached at least once a day by someone dangling an offer. I think it's sleazy so I don't do it. I don't think I'm some kind of a moral guardian about it, but I like the idea of having my readers be able to tell what's my real opinion and what's a sponsored opinion.
Now, it's true that I accept products and I've been on more than my share of trips I didn't pay for. But I never accept anything as a quid pro quo. I have a cushy relationship with Brizo but I liked their faucets long before I met anyone associated with the brand. If they came up with a real dog I would say so. I don't feel compromised by my association with them, mostly because they don't expect me to treat them with kid gloves.
Accepting money to endorse a product I don't believe in seems different to me, less forthright. When someone sends me a book or a faucet and I review it, I say "Taunton Press sent me a review copy of [fill in the blank]." Accepting something and disclosing it to my readers keeps me on the stright and narrow so far as I'm concerned.
But the point of these paid posts is for me not to disclose that money changed hands. The expectation is that I'll write an endorsement that comes across as legitimate and honest.
That's the difference in my book. I'm writing this because I'm curious to hear how other people handle it. I'm turning down a not-insignificant amount of money these days but I worry that once I say yes the first time it'll just get easier to keep saying yes. Once I'm on that slide downhill I'll never regain something resembling integrity.
Of course, there are people who say I lost my integrity the first time I got on an airplane and flew somewhere to meet a vendor. For the record, that was Google in February '09.
I don't think I've lost anything, but it is a balancing act.
What do you guys think? How do other bloggers balance whoredom with integrity?