Seth Godin has an interesting post on his blog. He ponders whether bloggers should disclose their influences and goals. He writes up what one of these paragraphs would look like:
This blog doesn't accept ads or sponsorships. I don't own stock or accept royalties from any company or product mentioned on this blog or in my books. I don't serve on any boards. On occasion, I'm delighted to accept samples of stuff with very small (under $20 or so) value, just to be nice. I have to tell you, though, that there's no correlation between mentioning stuff and whether or not someone sent it to me. I would change that policy immediately if Lotus sent over an Elise. I also go out of my way not to write about things if someone sends me a press release.
My goal in creating this blog is to spread my ideas and keep me from having to write a book about every single thing that pops into my head. I'm an amateur, not a professional.
If any of this changes, I promise to let you know.
Since not all of us are journalists trying to make a buck bringing high end advertising to blogging, nor are all of us looking to get paid to write about certain topics (which I see nothing wrong with, btw)....
I like Seth's suggestion. I think it is the best suggestion yet, to this 'paid for bloggers" debate. Much better than forming a committee on blog ethics (Although I guess that isn't a bad idea.). I just think that it would only apply to bloggers trying to be journalists. (I really have little interest in that myself.) And I think there should be a system that has a democratic way of determining who gets the stamp of approval. If you'd like to weigh in on the debate, Calacanis has a survey up.
In the meanwhile, here is my disclosure statement:
At this time in my life, my goal is to get my startup past the startup phase. So, I use my blog to further that goal. This involves blogging about my company, soliciting feedback about our direction and features/functionality, and soliciting partnerships and customers. This also involves blogging about my company's partners, where formal or informal relationships exist. I may not always reveal the exact relationship that I have with other people/companies for various reasons. Whenever it is possible, I will reveal that. If you've read my blog for any length of time, It is pretty much an open book. Most likely, the relationships will be obvious. But, If I am blogging about someone else, it is safe to assume that it is because I am interested in them or their products, interested in working with these other people/companies, would like their attention, or because I am working with them already. If you are reading something on my blog and wonder whether I am writing this for my benefit or not, it is best to assume that my intention is most likely to further the success of my company. Once in a while, I blog about other things going on - on the web or in my life. It is usually because I find the stuff interesting. If I am being compensated for writing about a specific topic, I will disclose that. If I start to accept any form of paid advertising on my blog, I'll let you know.
All that said, I am very willing to blog about projects that you might have or provide 1-on-1 feedback via IM, email and the phone. I am a busy guy, but I realize, if I want people to read and link to my posts, then I need to know how to help them. And the only way I will know is if we talk. I used to go out and read a lot more blogs and introduce myself to a lot of other bloggers. But, I do not have the time to do that at this point.
I have no intention of ever being a journalist. I like to create things. I like to shout my opinions in your face. So, even though I like to link to other people, don't assume that my intentions are altruistic for the sake of it. I blog for me.
This is subject to change.