To start at the end…
There's actually more to this story, but I'm saving some back until I get responses to this piece. So tell me what you think.
Background (Personal Position Statement)
Though I’m sure some of you will choke when you read this (either in laughter or astonishment), I feel I’ve acquired a relatively good feel for blogging etiquette over the year and a half since I started blogging seriously. But the whole world that blogging verges on remains closed to me. I don’t Twitter, and when someone recently invited me to join LinkedIn, I had to ask Alice Anistasia (Bay Area Tendrils) what that was (after I’d joined, no less.)
So too with the product give-aways and the rest. I know better than to accept every trade-a-link offer, especially those coming from purveyors of flower wreaths dyed to match your fingernail polish, whose e-mails begin “Hello! Since our sites are similar, I thought…” , So far I’ve accepted only one offer, that made by Chris (Backyard Gardening Blog, World's Best Organic Compost Tumbler), who gave me a composter in exchange for a review (which I still owe him.) That deal went forward only after extended negotiations of a sort that rivaled those held over settlements in the West Bank.
Indeed, I ere on the side of caution, guarding my honor and that of my blog the way some Victorians guarded their own and that of their wife. Yet I can’t bring myself to join those who lead a simpler (and no doubt morally superior) life, having decided simply not to run advertisements or accept endorsements of any kind.
Which is why I didn’t merely delete the e-mail I got a couple of weeks ago saying Like your blog, how about sponsoring a give-away of our eco-friendly pesticides etc., to which I said, might do. The products themselves look good, and I’m impressed that the company lists not only the active ingredients, as required by law, but also all the “other” ingredients, which usually make up over 95% of pesticides. (This is a pet peeve of mine, this business about “others:” until recently, these were listed as “inerts,” no matter how chemically active or toxic they might be. Grrr.)
Bearing in mind the honor of the blog, I also clicked on the link to another blog that had accepted the give-away offer. This turns out to be a blog with a rather charming name but a curiously vapid and unconvincingly enthusiastic tone. Furthermore, it seems to exist primarily to promote products. Most of the posts I looked at involve product promotions or give-aways, and the ads in the sidebars go on and on. (And on.)
This particular post — the one about the product give-away — had 31 comments. Eleven of those include Blogger links to empty or unavailable profiles. Eleven more include no links. That’s twenty-two of the thirty-one, leaving nine. There’s one response from the blogger’s dog, two clear repeats of the sort that sometimes just happens, and several other ambiguous repeats. There are also two Ryans and two Danielles.
In the end, I could trace exactly five of the comments to legitimate sites–four of them blogs, one a business site.
All of this looks very suspicious, of course — padded to the hilt. But here’s the question: is it just the blog that gets the blame, or the product as well? Do I assume collusion on the part of the company?
And — do I therefore turn down their give-away offer?
Advice would be much appreciated–though not necessarily heeded.