If you follow this blog, you know I have heartburn with cheap marketing stunts in our industry.
But last night, I came across a clever one, and -- to be honest -- I'm not quite sure what to think about it.
Let me explain it a bit, and perhaps you can share your thoughts?
Here's The Deal
I found a new storage-related discussion site, sponsored by Dell, provocatively named "The Future Of Storage". Now, other than Dell's recent acquisition of EQL, I wouldn't expect them to have a whole lot to say about the topic, right?
Found a bunch of interesting posts from some familiar blogosphere names, as well as a few others.
The posts were, well, a bit different to my eyes. They were longer, perhaps better reasoned out -- almost like they were written with a very specific intent.
I was curious.
Saw the "assisted by TechDirt" labelling, and decided to explore a bit. After an online registration, I was invited to join the community.
I was presented with a list of sponsored topics, each with a cash reward associated. The biggest reward -- by far -- was associated with composing blog posts to be considered by the sponsor for use on this particular Dell-sponsored site.
Let's just say, given the amounts, I was strongly tempted to spend the next 30 minutes banging something out for the Dell folks to consider.
But I didn't.
Hey, if you're a reasonably competent blogger, you're free to submit it as a "resume" to the TechDirt people, and -- well -- maybe there's some $$$ in it for you. Or at least some good fun ...
Mixed Emotions ...
So I sat and thought about it for a while.
On one hand, it's great to have an open, freewheeling discussion involving intelligent and passionate people. I mean, all of us bloggers are having serious fun, and -- at the end of the day -- I think customers and the industry is better off because of it.
On the other hand, it's another thing to put a pile of money on the table and implicitly say "write nice things for us". Kind of spoils the fun.
Does Transparency Matter?
I think this is the key issue, at least in my mind. If you're reading this blog, there should be no doubt whatsoever who I work for, the role I play, and my motivations. Suffice it to say, you've been warned.
But it took me a good deal of poking around on the Dell site to realize this was a pay-to-play exercise.
I, for one, think it'd be better if the arrangement was more transparent to the casual reader, e.g. Dell (through TechDirt) is paying people to write posts on this forum, not every posting is accepted, there's a certain level of editorial control, and so on.
What say you?