Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Meditating on "Postie" ethics.

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There is another side to the Google Spanking story. I stumbled across the exact sort of blogger that I'd consider to be a problem, and his response to being considered the problem.

From the small biz blog.

It's true. I guess my blog just isn't good enough for them.

WordPress told me to get out of Dodge; that they didn't want my scummy blog soiling their servers.

According to them, a blog that promotes online businesses, products and information is against their terms of service, labeling all blogs of this sort "Get Rich Quick" blogs. Exactly how is WordPress doing business? Online, isn't it? Pot, kettle, black.

Take your biz and shove it, WordPress!

Anyone else had any bad experiences to report with WordPress?


My first thought was, "what part of terms and services did you not understand?" I've looked into Wordpress. It's a teense fascist in some ways. Blogger is a lot looser in letting you do your thing. What you want to do should dictate the services you use, especially if you aren't paying for the services. The idea is to perform a service of value in order to get paid, not to get paid for creating nothing of value using stolen bandwidth. (This is why Blogger gets the top bar on my site. Bind not the mouth of the kine that treadeth the grain.)

I use Blogger because I like the interface and because I write controversial things from time to time - and have suffered DNS and hack jobs as a result. I'm not an IT guy, and Google has some of the smartest people in the world making and interface that allows even an idiot to create a professional-looking blog.

And clearly they do. See above. WordPress - and this is just an impression, folks - seems to think of it's users as an unfortunate necessity, and certainly a resource that needs weeding. Well, I can understand both viewpoints.

And frankly, were it my servers, I would have done the same. The "small business blog" above is not just spam. It is "make money fast spam." Spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam... and it is embarrassing to me that they are a "featured blog" on Pay Per Post today. That is a problem. If they are featured, people think I'm doing what they do. Worse yet, potential advertisers will look at the featured site - and run like hell!

You see, I approach a paid post as being content, first and foremost. I'm attaching my name to it, after all, and my credibility is simply not for sale. At least, not that cheaply.

But I do have to consider the fact that in choosing to take paid posts, people will assume that I do it in the same way and for the same reasons. Worse yet, I have a feeling that this "postie" gets the juicy offers while I'm down in the five to ten dollar range, after the massive Google Spank.

Well, if this is a typical example of a "Good Postie" - spank us again. But I think a more targeted approach would be a good idea.

This "small business blog" is simply a scam to get paid posts into engines, essentially getting free advertising. And it is blatantly using a free blog service (once wordpress, now Blogger) to do that. It's theft of services, plain and simple - even more so with Blogger, since that's a Google service, and Google owns Adwords and, of course, Google.

Me, I strive to produce content that's worth indexing. Most businesses suck at bragging about themselves - hell, sometimes it's hard to discern what it is they do. They often overlook the better aspects of their products and services, as well as entire demographics that might like what they have to offer. Well, that's the sort of post I do, if I take the post at all.

Just do a site search for "payperpost" and you can review what I've done for yourself.

But there is one thing I refuse to do, and that is pretend that I'm passing on the good word from the goodness of my heart. My readers deserve that very important piece of information, and I'm not going to lie either by commission or omission.

So, even though often advertisers say "No in-post disclosure" - meaning no obvious indication that it is a paid post, I often cheerfully ignore it - although, to be frank, I'm far more likely to just snort and pass on by. You want me to write a positive article on your business, a hundred words, and give no indication that this turd landed in my feed for a princely five bucks? No. I also want something worth writing about, and your offer tells me that you GOT nothin'.

Look, you clearly get what you pay for. And clearly, a slot on sites like "the small business blog" is going to generate what those of us who learned some of the webmaster trade in the Adult industry refer to as "crap traffic."

"Crap traffic" is traffic that may be overwhelming, but has a conversion rate of under half a percent. Or in other words, all they want is something for nothing. And this traffic is helpfully generated by a class of entrepreneurs (to be kind) that also want something for nothing. Free traffic, or money from you in return for a lot of nothing worth having. Some of those entrepreneurs do sites like this, others deluge your inbox with offers to "optimize your site."

Caveat Emptor always applies. And this applies to advertisers, to bloggers, and of course to readers. "What's in it for you, that I believe this?"

A lot of the time, I click through on an offer only to find some useless eye-bleeding monstrosity that sells overpriced crap to stupid people. I don't take those opportunities, because I absolutely do not want my site linked to that site. I don't use "nofollow" on these posts, because if I'm willing to write about it, I DO wish to be associated with it in the Google Index.

For myself, I hope that you think well enough of me that you would not assume I'd waste your time and mine for trivial sums. What's in it for me is a great post on a topic I probably would not have come across any other way. In other words, it's just like Alternet or Media Matters in a very real sense, but with a kicker: You think well enough of yourself or your product to pay me an honorarium for the time it takes to do the background and the post.

That's an important thing to know. And I think it's important for my readers to know as well - especially when you leave what is said up to me. I'm perfectly willing to take your money and tell you that you have a bad site or a crappy idea. That sort of feedback may be less welcome, but it's cheap at the price. And I STILL get a good post that attracts traffic organically.

But I may be in a distinct minority. That saddens me. I confess I'm not a very social being, so checking out "the community" didn't much interest or appeal to me. If I had, I may well have thought twice before joining - but it is an idea of such potential value to me and potentially of general value to the web - that I think I would have ultimately come down on the side of doing it right. The web really cannot exist without a commercial aspect to it, but in order for that to be properly realized, we have to figure out ways of doing it that are not simply newspaper ads that blink.

In fact - and I learned this creating ads for a local newspaper with knife and wax, while mildly high from the developer solution from the optical typesetter - that the best ads were informative ones. Those were the ones that became regular accounts. Those ads were content that readers who were familiar with a business would actually want.

IZEA has taken a good deal of crap for the fallout and disappointment, some of it quite justified, but I think some of it was simply the fact that they overlooked the necessity to have a much stronger imposed code of ethics. For instance - the two or three post a day limit means little if you have seven blogs, all of them mostly spam.

And I think in part that is due to the fact that in order to make more than beer money, with blogs of average rank, you have to really grind them out, do the minimum, crank out a minimal interstitial about your cat and then grind out another, Rinse, repeat.

Now, I personally want to be able to make money blogging. I want it to be what I do for my career. But I don't intend to change what I talk about or the way I talk - because that is essential to my ambitions and the thing that makes a post from me distinct in it's own right.

Advertisers need to be both willing and able to reward those of us who go the extra mile, and to consider us as individuals with individual perspectives. Further, I think a greater recognition for the value of a post over time is required.

I mean, I don't know if some bloggers go back and strip out paid posts. I don't, but I could see some advantages to it, I suppose, in terms of maintaining page rank. And it's not exactly dishonest...

But then, there's that ethics thing, again. I give full measure, pressed down and running over as a policy. As a result, my PPP posts are approved automatically, and payouts are quick. Once I got into a groove, I haven't had a single post rejected. And in some ways I'm a little miffed, because some of the posts I have written for money get higher traffic than my own, "far more important" content.

But, however they get here, they are here, and I get a chance at putting one of my little ethics bugs in their brains.

I can't do that if I cheat to do it. I do not want someone clicking on a google entry from my blog and going "Oh, crap. Scammed again." And I think that is ultimately the attitude that will separate the wheat from the chaff. And I think that IZEA's "SocialSpark" network will be the forum in which the means to do that will be sorted out.

And no, this was not a paid post. If you like it, buy a t-shirt or something. :P

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey there! Just dropped by to say couldn't have said it better myself! I think PPP could do so much more than what amounts to spam and some lipservice about posties not becoming spamblogs if only there WERE a stricter code of ethics that rewarded good bloggers who are worth every penny instead of relying on pagerank and giving the better opportunities to those who simply have better numbers regardless of their content.


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