Joel says "Scoble is wrong"
Joel Spolsky (who doesn't read his humorous and thoughtful blog articles) talks about Microsoft starting 2 pay 4 blogging support.
There's an interesting debate going on about whether bloggers should accept gifts from vendors.
Lately Microsoft... been getting rather aggressive about trying to buy good coverage from bloggers. A few months ago they invited bloggers out to Seattle to meet Bill Gates, with all expenses paid (hotel, airfare, etc). Last week they send out a round of expensive laptops with Vista preinstalled. These are not loans, by the way: they're completely free laptops ("yours to keep!").
Sounds nice, huh? What could be wrong with that?
Robert Scoble says "it's an awesome idea." He says that as long as the bloggers disclose that they got the laptops free, they're acting ethically.
Scoble is wrong.
Just because it's someones job to do something, doesn't make it ethical...
Effectively Microsoft has bought publicity and goodwill. And even though the blogger has fully disclosed what happened, their message is corrupting the medium.
I've been thinking long and hard about this, and the only conclusion I can come to is that this is ethically indistinguishable from bribery... The blogger will feel some obligation to return the favor to Microsoft.
These gifts reduce the public trust in blogs...
Anyway. I do not have clean hands. I accepted that stupid cell phone from Sprint fully intending to never write about it, and later decided it was so bad I should just write a negative review. For a couple of years, I accepted a donation of colocation space and facilities from Peer 1 Network, but only because they were the best colocation facility and backbone provider I could find, and only because Joel on Software is really a non-profit, advertising-free site and I was happy to accept the sponsorship. Google donated a Search Appliance to provide search for Joel on Software, also mostly as a community service on their part, which was very nice. They probably intended to get some free publicity out of it. They did.
Microsoft's crazy offer, though, made me think a lot more about this whole thing, and I've decided that from this point forward I'm not accepting anything, full stop...
Today, Fog Creek Software pays the Peer 1 bills. I declined the Microsoft offer and bought my own fully-loaded Dell laptop (a D620) to try out Vista.
Do not, under any circumstances, consider upgrading an XP system to Vista... Vista is not reason enough for a new PC. Need more details? Read Paul Thurrott's review.
I'll keep trying, though, to earn your trust.
I can't really comment from the side that Joel's been on; in that I've never taken any 'gifts'. I'm kinda with Scoble in that 'buyer beware' and 4 any article u read u need 2 either research its origons/intentions or just take it with a 'grain of salt'. (You do know that everything on the Internet is always TRUE - right!)
I certaintly agree with his last line in that each writer (blogs or otherwise) has to gain the trust of their readers.