Publishing

These Professionals Review Products for Schwag. Should You Trust Them?

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Please accept this ridiculous post as payment for the linkbait title.

The Technology and Learning blog at Inside Higher Ed, has a post “Don’t Trust Tech Bloggers,” which comes across as fairly absolute. The writer received a pitch from a company. If he writes about their product and if that piece produces seven donations to their IndieGoGo campaign, then they’ll give him their product for “free.” It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, because the company is looking for a return on investment. But interesting points are raised. When is it okay for a blog/writer to review a product? Should writers be given the product? Should they send it back after reviewing it? Should bloggers be paid to write about the product? Where are the lines in being true to your readers and creating content that your readers may find useful?

One example of blogs that get it right, is ProfHacker. In the post “Stand (in the Place Where You Work): GeekDesk Max Review,” the writer is totally up front about the review and the outcome. While, yes, there is a lot of cronyism in technology reporting1, I think there are bloggers who do an admirable job of being up-front and honest  with their readers, and who strive to create something that is useful and/or interesting.

Now, to address the linkbait title. Yes, you should trust librarians, but please note that publishers dole out so many free books to librarians at the American Library Association conference. Does that corrupt librarians ability to objectively review material for purchase? Or, is it getting a product in someone’s hands and letting the quality speak for itself?

If you blog, what guidelines do you follow for reviewing products, publishing native advertising2, or using real advertisements for your site?

  1. See Valleywag as a counterpoint to this trend. []
  2. We will never do this at Eduhacker, so please don’t email me. []

Timothy A. Lepczyk

Tim is an instructional technologist and former librarian. On the side, he writes fiction and poetry, and publishes the magazine Scintilla. You can follow him on Twitter at @thirdcoast.

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