In the comments on his latest post, George writes,
Some time ago I started a draft blog post titled “Best blogging practices”. Well, I never got around to finishing that post! This has come up before actually. I just do not have the resources/capacity to pull this off.
The credit card shills do not know or care if their practices cross any boundaries. In order to make money they need to pump. Pumping works SADLY! So, it is a phucking treadmill once you get on it…you need to keep pumping to keep them. Bloggers are not wholly at fault, it is the whole phucking system involved! I mean, look at what Amex did. Basically kept around ONLY the MEGA pumpers…It’s just rotten.
If I did not have a day job I would certainly look to get something like this done. I think it is worth the effort!
What the heck, let’s give this a try. It’s been almost a week since I mined the TBB comments for a post idea anyway.
I don’t know exactly what George had in mind, but I’m going to list certain blogger behaviors in order from more ethical to less ethical.
Note that some practices don’t have much of an ethical dimension to them, but they do degrade the quality of the blog. For example, if a single blogger ran 10 posts a day for a solid month about the Chase Ink 60,000 point offer–well, bravo for informing the world about a pretty good deal, but I wouldn’t think there would be too many non-SEO readers left after such a cavalcade of pimpin’.
This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative, it’s just my two cents. (Can I say “Starwood point” instead of “two cents”?) So here we go:
- Taking the time to answer reader emails and comments to assist them with problems / questions. Going above and beyond your usual blogging duties to share expertise, what’s not to like? Unless you kill a deal or lead folks astray of course (see below).
- Promoting non-affiliate offers/products/deals for which you receive no compensation. Great practice for the most part, just don’t kill the deal for a product that can’t support it. Case in point: This FWF thread documents a deal where an obscure credit union was letting people fund deposit accounts with credit cards. It died pretty quickly.
- Promoting affiliate links that represent the best publicly available offer for a credit card. By all means, spread the news! Just don’t overdo it.
- Promoting the same credit card link over and over again with nothing new to say about it. As discussed above, this isn’t really an ethical issue, it’s more of a blog quality issue. At some point, the noise overwhelms the signal. Lately it feels like I’ve been reading about one hundred OMG CHASE INK 60,000 POINTS!!! posts per day. Is there anything else in the world besides Ink 60K that I should be aware of right now?
- Making a post that contributes to deal killing. There’s an intersection of “Helpful”,”Drives Traffic to Blog”, and “Kills Deals”, and it’s not often obvious where the lines are. Case in point: Travel Summary’s guide to manufactured spending, which drew some opposition from Marathon Man. I don’t know who’s right or wrong in this argument. There’s a political adage that says “All procedural arguments are insincere, including this one.” I’d repackage that as “All deal-killing arguments are insincere, including this one”. People–and I don’t exempt myself from this–tend to come down on whatever side of the fence benefits them. But, it’s a murky area.
- Pretending an affiliate link is new even though the only new thing about it is that the blogger is getting compensated for it. Wow, the Southwest 50K offer is BACK, BABY!
- Promoting affiliate links while failing to promote non-affiliate links. If you do this, you are for all intents and purposes an employee of the credit card industry, and there’s nothing wrong with that except most credit card company employees don’t pretend to be helpful bloggers.
- Knowingly promoting an affiliate credit card link that’s inferior to other publicly available offers for the same card. Shame on you!
- Promoting affiliate credit card links that are inferior to other publicly available offers and then deleting comments that point out what you’re doing. Fortunately nobody does this, right? Right?
- Making a post that could get readers in trouble of sort sort. Frequent Miler had a good write-up on the recent Evolve Money glitch/trick, blogged about by others, that could get bank accounts closed.
That all I have, additions / corrections in the comments below, please.