It’s my considered opinion that whether we’re talking about real life or blog-life, the people who have integrity don’t really have to spend any time talking about their integrity. Much has been made of the fact that people like Chris and Doc were given paid trips to Redmond for a Microsoft event and whether or not they could blog about it with any integrity without disclosing that. As I said below, I don’t think it’s that big a deal and here’s why:
I’ve been a long time reader of both of there’s. I’ve met and talked to Chris (I missed my opportunity to meet Doc at Gnomedex this year, by being busy with other people. A regret that I hope to remedy someday.) They both have integrity. When they say something is cool I believe them. When they say something is crap I believe them. They have a large audience because they are both talented, smart, witty, and because they have integrity. I don’t need them to disclose what they got from Microsoft because I know neither of them would allow their writing to be influenced by the gift of a free trip to Redmond. They’d have too much to lose by doing that. The same goes for any blogger in that sort of situation. Either you have integrity or you don’t, and I’ll know whether you do by reading over a period of time, not because you happened to disclose this. Let’s say I went to a site for the first time and the first post I read was about this conference? Would the disclosure of the expenses paid on your behalf change what I would think about your post? Not at all. Did my opinion of what Doc and Chris wrote change because they disclosed it? No not at all. Why? Because in one case I don’t know enough about you and your writing to judge whether you have integrity or not. Your disclosure means nothing to me, I can only judge your integrity by continuing to read your blog over time. And in the second, they have proven to me that they do have integrity, so the disclosure was unnecessary. The bottom line is that disclosures are a very small part of what makes a blogger’s writing trustworthy, it’s just not that big a deal.
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