Friday, June 12, 2009

What would you do for a Klondike bar?

I am frequently contacted by companies promising some compensation if I will write something nice about their site or product. Yesterday's post should give you a fair indication about my feelings toward these kinds of arrangements.

Last night, as if on cue, another of these e-mails along these lines arrived, but with a twist. The e-mail described a Spread the Word for Charity campaign, in which hotelscombined, a hotel search and comparison site, would contribute $20 to World Vision for mentioning its site.

World Vision is a charity that I support and advertise, so, the offer of a $20 donation hit a soft spot. Mentioning the site did mean a somewhat embarrassing retreat from yesterday's post; however, it didn't involve eating any more SNAP meals.

I went to the hotelscombined and Expedia sites to check hotels for an upcoming trip to a small southwestern U.S. town. For the town itself, hotelscombined returned the same hotels and indicated the same availability as Expedia. Hotelscombined also offered a better price on one of the hotels. Expedia listed additional hotels outside the town along with the distances to the town center.

I hope that readers appreciate the hypocrisy irony, and I especially hope that World Vision enjoys the donation.


eric said...

FWIW, I don't see any contradiction between your very apt criticism of sham "scholarly" publication, and your willingness to engage in a little innocent shilling for a good cause. The difference is that one is deceptive in a way that has potentially harmful consequences, and the other is not deceptive at all and actually helps someone in need.

I don't even think it would be the same thing to accept money in return for mentioning some product in your blog. You're not holding yourself out here as a peer-reviewed unbiased source of scientific knowledge. At least if the financial arrangement is disclosed, I don't see the harm. I just wish someone would offer to pay me for product placements. That might inspire me to blog more often.

Dave Ribar said...

Thanks. I saw (rationalized) the difference mainly in terms of transparency. The post fully disclosed the motivation.

BTW, the linked site will make contributions on your behalf if you are interested.