Long time readers will know too well that I hate any attempts to try and mold the blogosphere into a controlled medium with strict rules and regulations. It’s for that reason that I join Michael Arrington in being somewhat annoyed (if we weren’t PG13, I might have used other language) at Charles Cooper’s attempt to create a meme that bloggers should have a “church and state” attitude when it comes to editorial and advertising.
How many times do I have to say this? Blogs became popular because they had no rules. You could write about anything you wished, take money from advertisers if you wish, push your company’s evil agenda – anything was possible. Any attempt to coral the blogosphere will turn it into nothing more than a collection of online newspapers – and who want’s to be vanilla, when you can be Rocky Road?
Sure, many blogs have adopted their own guidelines on editorial, advertising, comments and so forth (such as Marketing Pilgrim), but that doesn’t mean every blog should adopt the same.
You should read a blog because it entertains you, makes you think, annoys you – whatever! If the blog in question doesn’t have clear policies on the lines between editorial and advertising, you just need to accept that and move on. Either you’ll continue reading, knowing that a certain caveat emptor should prevail, or you’ll find a blogger that makes you feel more secure.
The weekend’s blogstorm was more of a storm in a teacup, but here’s the key thing. You can’t fault the reaction of ANY of the bloggers involved. Om Malik felt like he had let down his readers, so apologized and pulled the ads. Great, Malik knows exactly the experience he wants to give his readers and he acted accordingly. Meanwhile, Michael Arrington chose to brush it all off and refused to make any changes. Just as great! Like Malik, Arrington knows exactly the experience he wants to give TechCrunch readers.
One last observation. How ironic that bloggers are being asked to be transparent in their business dealings, when bloggers tend to be the most transparent of all (citizen) journalists?
Mainstream media (which includes CNET) have set their own rules of engagement. Just because the other kids get to play by different rules, doesn’t mean you can try and spoil the party.
Now it’s your turn, weigh-in with your thoughts.