blogging ethics

Ethics and Philanthropy

I’ve written an article on ethics and philanthropy. It includes a variety of helpful resources for those seeking guidance, as well as a few personal stories relating to nonprofit ethics and transparency.

The painting is by Titian, “Sisyphus” (Prado Museum, Spain, ca. 1548). Click to read about the myth of Sisyphus on Wikipedia.

Thanks to everyone who has re-blogged and commented on this posting - it seems to have hit a “home run.”

Blogging Ethics and an E-mail with the FTC

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WhatIWore: As you all know by now, I spoke at the IFB Conference on Evolving Influence during NYFW. My panel was a feisty discussion on blogging ethics.

In this post I am only going to refer to personal style bloggers, which is how I classify What I Wore. See, I am not a journalist. I do not report the news. I blog about my outfits, clothing I like and how to wear it. With over 800 Daily Outfit pictures in the database, you guys have a pretty good idea of my taste as a blogger and I hope you also trust that I only write about clothing/accessories/companies that I falls within those taste levels.

However, In an attempt to be knowledgeable, I called the Federal Trade Commission to get a few facts.

A little about the FTC: They are a government organization geared to protect consumers against misleading business practices.  The rulings that everyone got so hot about are guidelines so that word-of-mouth advertising, testimonials and product endorsements are just as truthful as traditional advertising.

The following is from an e-mail I had with the FTC to help clear things up a bit:

Why did the agency propose new rules for blogs? What has triggered this proposal?

We have not proposed new rules.  These are guides. There is really nothing new in the  guides; they simply apply established law to paid bloggers.  The goal here is to update the guidelines to cover current forms of advertising.

As you’ve probably seen, the proposals regarding blogs have gotten a lot of attention with advertisers and some bloggers saying they are vague or overly burdensome?

The general principle is that if there is a relationship between the product promoter (blogger) and the advertiser that would affect the consumer’s perception of the blogger’s credibility then it should be disclosed.  This view is entirely consistent with the ethical guidelines established by the word-of-mouth trade groups.

I would imagine that there are good reasons to have rules for paid advertising/testimonials on blogs. What would some of those be?

All types of advertising are subject to the same rules.  Ultimately, the goal is to protect consumers from being misled by misleading or deceptive product promotions.

Also, how would paid testimonials be defined? Would a blogger who received a free sample of a product have to disclose? Or just those who’ve received a cash payment?

Obviously, direct payment would constitute a paid testimonial, and in at least some situations, free samples could be considered compensation.

So what does this mean to the fashion blogging community? For personal style bloggers, I believe this indicates being fully transparent. If you link to a company that sponsors your site or has sent you a free item, just say so! I like to use the terms “courtesy of” and “Company X is a sponsor of What I Wore” to let you guys know there is a relationship between a company and my blog.

I’d really love to see all fashion bloggers take a similar stand to disclose their relationships. It all comes down to honesty, and I don’t think anyone can fault a gal (or guy!) for acknowledging a gift openly.  Keep your content true to who you are and only accept gifts and write about companies that you would patronize on your own dime. Easy enough, right?

U.S. carnists: "Vegans are always shoving their beliefs down my throat"

HOW MANY VEGANS ARE THERE COMPARED TO MEAT EATERS IN THE US?

HAVE YOU EVER TURNED ON THE TELEVISION IN THE US?

HAVE YOU EVER LISTENED TO THE RADIO IN THE US?

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN OUT IN CIVILIZATION IN THE US

MEAT AND DAIRY ARE SHOVED DOWN YOUR THROAT AS SOON AS YOU CAN EAT

YOU WERE BRAINWASHED SO WELL THAT YOU’LL GET MAD AT ME FOR TRYING TO WAKE YOU UP

god I hate I hate I hate “there are no ethical choices under capitalism”

it is true that it is impossible to live and not hurt anyone. it is true that there are many situations where you hurt someone regardless of what you do. it is true that any non-saint is complicit in a lot of bad things because of, like, watching TV and buying clothes

but there are choices that are better and worse still

going vegan and not going vegan are not morally equivalent, being an effective altruist and not being an effective altruist are not morally equivalent, understanding your privilege and not understanding your privilege are not morally equivalent, trying to avoid polluting and not doing so are not morally equivalent

(of course there are people who can’t do all those things, I don’t do some of those things, it is important to do the best you can with what you have and that is all anyone can ask of you, I am not saying any of those are mandatory to be a Good Person) 

and also I am a bear of very little brain. I do not understand economics very well and people make a lot of claims which contradict each other and I don’t want to meddle in complicated systems I don’t understand, that is the sort of thing that gets you eaten by Cthulhu. So I don’t know if I support overthrowing capitalism actually.

On Blogging, Responsibility, and Content Ownership

Blog for yourself and your readership. Be enthusiastic authentically, not because you’re told to be that way. Don’t blog because you want books. The books will be there.

Your readership though? They might not be.

Over on Stacked, I’m talking about blogging, about responsibility when it comes to blogging, and I’m talking about content creation and ownership. It’s not often I feel compelled to blog about blogging but a few things have crept up into the blogging world I felt were worth addressing, including a new “blogging for books” program and sponsored content. But blogging is writing and sometimes, it’s worth writing about writing. 

It’s getting a little meta in here

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News: School Punisher Leo-pald and Cocytus “Reverse” Revealed, Ethics Buster Extreme Shown in NND Broadcast

This morning Bushiroad revealed a series of cards following the showcasing of VG-EB07: Mystical Magus in a Nicolive broadcast, attracting over one million visitors. After the display on NicoNico Douga, Doctor O later uploaded higher-quality images of the cards to the net. Among those shown were two new Reverse cards, for Granblue’s Cocytus and Great Nature’s Leo-pald, the latter of which had been teased by Doctor O on Twitter the night before. To cap off the event, Nova Grappler’s new crossbreak ride Ethics Buster Extreme was shown in full, bringing their strategy full circle with a new version of Asura Kaiser’s skill.

Cocytus in particular has drawn attention for comboing with Granblue’s Card of the Day, Banshee Strolling Under the Sea, a Granblue incarnation of Dindrane with which Cocytus “Я” can use to quickly grab up card advantage through a +2 and create a 9000-power booster in the process.

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Monstrous Crimes, Framing, and the Preventive State: The Moral Failure of Forensic Psychiatry"  - International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine

Monsters and predators frighten, entertain, and disgust us. The idea of a creature that is a volatile mixture of human and animal parts (the monster) triggers our visual and visceral imagination perhaps more than any other image. The fear of predation – literally, eating another’s flesh – disgusts and repels, but like rubberneckers who slow down to witness accidents, our voyeurism seems unconstrained by shame. The monster and the predator threaten us by threatening to rend the social fabric and bring about a state of nature in which, as Hobbes famously wrote, we are engaged in a war of all against all, and life is nasty, brutish and short. We demand that the government and its legal process protect us from the monsters and predators in our midst, which has resulted in a quest for security at the expense of the protection of the rights of citizens that runs parallel with the quest for protection from “terrorists,” as reflected in the epigram to this book. The referent of the “terrorist,” however, is often simply somebody who looks, acts, or talks in a way that is vaguely Middle-Eastern. Similarly, people who look, act, or talk like our vaguely sketched stereotype of what constitutes a sex offender, an image that has come to constitute a monstrous predator, trigger a panic as well (Lancaster 2011a, b). [via, img]

The idea being if dehumanizing terminology is eliminated, it would change our perception of offenders and how treatment or punishment is delivered, creating a more ethical justice system. Changing language so we see humans (not monsters) over educating why certain monstrous acts are performed by some humans…there might be a term for that already and a pair of tall boots to get you through it. 

http://www.justinplambert.net/that-aint-right-or-is-it-ghostwritten-blog-posts/

For a few years now, there’s been a whirlwind of controversy all over the web about the topic of ghostwritten blog posts.  Go ahead and Google it. I’m really pretty amazed at the amount of virtual column inches this story has taken up.

Here are a few thoughts I think are very well presented, whether I agree or not:

The Ethics of Ghostwriting Online
 by Dean Rodgers at Koifish
Ghostwriting, Social Media and Ethics by Beth Harte at MarketingProfs
The Ethics of Ghostwriting Blogs and Marionette Social Media by Dave Wieneke at Useful Arts
The Ethics of Writing: Ghost Blogging by Nix Anthony

Give equal attention to the comments on these well-thought-out posts and you’ll see the battle lines have been drawn.

You’ll also see all manner of buzzwords flying through the discussion: ethics, transparency, integrity, continuity and disclosure, among others.

Forgive me if I’m hopelessly old-fashioned, but…

I DON’T GET IT.

Full Disclosure, No Excuses*

Perennially a hot topic for fashion/style bloggers is ethics and disclosure of compensation received for blog content. Most recently IFB brought up how to write a disclosure statement. Brands, designers, online commerce sites, brick and mortar stores, hell even companies like AAA regularly tap bloggers to hawk their wares in posts or advertise on their dash. The compensation could be in the form of free products, gift cards, commission on sales, reciprocal exposure or y’know, actual money.

Being new to the blogging world (Malcriada is just over a year old), for a long time I only had to think about such dilemmas theoretically. I knew it bugged me when I would read posts where it appeared the blogger was obviously gifted a bunch of free shit and nary a “c/o” was to be found (meaning the clothing was not labeled “courtesy of” whatever label provided it). It still bugs me. But the only part that bothers me is the not disclosing it. I don’t mind that you got that stuff in the first place.

I am all for bloggers monetizing their sites. You will never catch me espousing some purist philosophy about journalistic objectivity requiring complete freedom from any sort of compensation or else the blogger is a sellout, a shill. If that’s how you feel, then by all means, go read you some Mother Jones or something; somehow I doubt “OMG gorgeous platforms!” is your jam in the first place. And that’s what we do, ladies (and all you 12 gentlemen out there): we go, “OMG gorgeous platforms!” with varying degrees of professionalism/seriousness/linguistic dexterity. At least that’s what I do. No curing cancer here.

Now, do I go “WTF?!” when I see a AAA ad on a fashion blog? Yes I do. I don’t know what one has got to do with the other. But ain’t no shame in my game when I say that I would have to think twice if AAA hit me up for ad space. I’m a single mom with 2 kids, one of whom might be needing some private school education pretty soon. I don’t have the luxury of dismissing any comer out of hand. Do I roll my eyes whenever I see that certain handbag designer who apparently shot her wares out of a T-shirt cannon to the entire fashion blogosphere at some point circa 2010? Hell yeah…but you know I would be ecstatic if one of those bags showed up on my doorstep tomorrow. I’m not gonna lie and say that a lot of these “ethical issues” don’t boil down to straight-up envy for me.

But then again, I recently had an offer to collaborate with a company that I did not feel enthusiastic about or like the majority of their product. I would have been able to find something I liked if pressed; but I wasn’t feeling it and I kind of let the discussion die without pursuing it. I got into blogging because I only want to write about stuff I love. It would have been a chore to do otherwise. Contrast that with House of Fraser hitting me up to write a post for them. I am already a big HoF fan! I pick their stuff out on Polyvore all the damn time! It’s like a DREAM that these people want to compensate me for saying things I am already happy to say about them.

Now what about this scenario: Ann Taylor invited me to the launch party for their new store in a local mall, and plied me with tiny and beautiful hors d’oeuvres. (There was also champagne, and if I still drank, that would have amounted to several hundred dollars’ worth of “compensation” right there.) They gave us cute tote bags with pretty bracelets inside. Now, after all of that niceness, wouldn’t I naturally feel more positive toward Ann Taylor in general? Wouldn’t it be rude to say disparaging things about them when I tote that bag around every weekend and wear that black enamel cuff on the regular? And it is true: I DO like Ann Taylor a whole lot more since that event. I pay attention to their ads and keep up with their product in a way that I never did before. So they have truly influenced me in that way.

Does that make me a sellout? Probably. Lucky for me, I cannot be bothered. DGAF. To me, as long as you say it loud say it proud, and don’t try to hide it, I say GIT THAT MONEY GURL (or that handbag or that gift card)! I love blogging and hate being a proper journo precisely because I do not want to be balanced and objective and show all sides of a story. I want to wax poetic about shit I love and completely ignore shit I don’t care about. If someone wants to pay me for that, you better believe I will have zero existential qualms about it.

And you know what? I wouldn’t stop reading that blog with the random AAA and Expedia and whatever ads on it, if I already love their stuff. I also keep reading Sincerely, Jules and many other blogs that are sponsored up to the eyeballs; it does not turn me off that they are crazy successful because they are up-front about it.

So now I need to write a disclosure statement for Malcriada. I will have to make it “me”; something canned won’t work and would be the most un-authentic thing on my blog! Maybe I’ll just cut and paste from this very post. Stay tuned, you will see it soon.

(Other things that bloggers are supposed to do in addition to having disclosure statements: keep posts short and snappy. See how much I pay attention? This shit turned all Brothers Karamazov-length and I still couldn’t shut my yap…)

*From the song “Let It Die” by Ozzy Osbourne

Design a Professional Looking "About Us" Page

Giving a mature and professional look to your "About Us" webpage should be amongst your first priorities. Visitors have the right to know who you are and what you do and where you belong. Your About Us page is your Identity page where you add a little bio of your self and then explain the purpose of your blog or website. It’s the most important page for both your regular visitors and advertisers. So Make sure you leave a good impression on them by presenting your self well. Just an hour ago I designed my personal “About Me” Page and I hope the tutorial today will make sense once you see this new proposed design,

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