Saturday, 9 April 2016

Is Blogging For Indiblogger Contests Responsible Blogging?


Let me come straight to the point. Here I ask myself and I ask you-

“Is blogging for contests in Indiblogger is responsible blogging?”



The answer could be both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

In my opinion blogging is 'Responsible Blogging' if at least one of the following criteria are met-

1. The information presented by the blogger has been verified by him to be correct and not misleading.

or

2. The views expressed by the blogger are his strong convictions (even if are not perceived as ‘truth’ by others). The blogger’s own convictions could be the result of his own life experiences and possibly be true.  Expression of one's convictions falls into the category of 'freedom of expression' rather than ‘irresponsible blogging’.


Blog-posts not fulfilling at least one the above criterion do not qualify as ‘Responsible Blogging”.


The posts on this prompt, particularly the one from Mr Matheikal, deal mainly on the socio-political-religious impact of blogging, but I prefer here to discuss something different, yet very relevant to us - Indiblogger contests and campaigns.


The question is,

“Is promoting a product through Indiblogger contests (without having really experienced it) is ‘Irresponsible Blogging’?”

Or

“Is writing a paid product review ‘Responsible Blogging’?”


The question is important since our blogs have the potential to influence our readers. Our blogs may help or harm them.


(Once I was scouting for a product and was browsing the net for information. A few well-articulated posts endorsing a particular product had almost made me take the 'buy' decision. However, a few days later I realized that the posts I was impressed with, were possibly sponsored posts.  I wasn't good at distinguishing between an independent review and sponsored review then. When I started to read the product’s technical data-sheet and critically evaluate the product vis-a -vis my specific requirements, I reached to a ‘no buy’ decision. What I call ‘irresponsible’ here is that none of the posts which praised the product mentioned that it was a sponsored post.)


Though a post written for Indiblogger campaign is not strictly a sponsored post, yet following facts do make it fall broadly into the category of sponsored post-

(i)         Promise of a possible return (voucher, valuable goods etc.) if the judge (read ‘sponsor’) likes the post.

(ii) The selection of winners is largely influenced by the sponsor’s need to project his product in positive light.

(There have been exceptions to the above, though)


Here I pause to mention that there is nothing wrong with participating in a contest or writing a sponsored post, provided that it is not camouflaged as a real life experience and the reader is told upfront whether the post is based on author's own experience (or conviction) or it is purely a work of fiction.


While going through the contest posts, chances are less (and least among the winning posts Jthat I will find one candidly mentioning the negatives of a product. It is expected since the entire campaign is designed to meet a specific purpose of the sponsor i.e. showcase their product in good light.


But imagine a situation where a blogger writes a contest post about Chyavanprash endorsing that it improves immunity, without having experienced it himself or without verifying the claims from the publications of an independent organisation of good credibility (like Medical Councils, World Health Organisation etc.). What happens if upon reading this post on her smartphone, a mother in a rural household starts feeding her children Chyavanprash instead of the usual feed of seasonal fruits ?Or she skips her children’s immunization shots thinking that the Chyavanprash was enough to keep her children safe ?


Remember ‘FatCat’? A number of us, including me, blogged for the Fat Cat gaming (mostly in positive manner) without taking pains to check on the background and credibility of the sponsor. What if after reading our posts, someone had put money in FatCat gaming and lost? Though we never intended to be irresponsible bloggers, we ended up being one by becoming conduits of a large scam. 


This is why, while writing such content, it is important to caution the reader by mentioning at a prominent place (preferably in the beginning of post) following-

“The following post is part of a campaign sponsored by XYZ company. The author does not necessarily endorse all the information provided in the post”

Or


“The following post is a work of fiction by the author written for campaign sponsored by XYZ company”


(Guess if the sponsor would like to have such candid words in the beginning of the post itself?J But if we do it, it will be responsible-blogging )


I would sum up as-

“Blogging for a contest or writing a paid review is neither unethical nor irresponsible unless it is camouflaged as a real life experience or blogger’s conviction, when it is not.”

What do you think?



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This post is written on following prompt in Indiblogger
IndiSpire

IndiSpire


Edition 112


23 comments:

  1. Campaigns should no doubt be acknowledged as such. Otherwise it is irresponsible blogging. Your criteria are valid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mr Mathaikal.
      And this was a nice prompt.

      Delete
  2. I do endorse your views about sponsored blogs. Pro's and con's needs to be highlighted so that that general public reading the post are aware of what is that they get when you buy that specific product instead of just sugarcoating it. Nice post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and commenting on my post.

      Delete
  3. Agree with your points here. It is imperative not to write blindly just to participate in a contest or sponsored post. I choose my sponsored posts carefully and if I ever participate in a contest I weave a fictional story around it and not make it a product related post.


    This made for a great read, thanks!

    Cheers, Archana - www.travelwitharchie.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that writing a interesting fiction around a product is one of the most interesting way to write without committing an error.

      Thanks Archana.

      Delete
  4. I agree with Tomichan. If we write sponsored posts then, we should mention it in the post. A reader has a right to know.
    You have put forward valid points. To win a contest, we have to praise the product, so that is also an indirect sponsored post. Even if we put forward our honest opinion, we have to inform the reader that the post is sponsored.
    Great post, Saket.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kiran, for your thoughts on the subject.

      Delete
  5. An excellent post and all points covered perfectly .
    I also think the same as you think , I do not participate in many blogging contests and campaigns if I am not satisfied with the brand or product , since I am a beauty blogger I do get products to try and review from various brands , and I always write True review and before accepting any product I make it clear that I will write true review with all positives and negatives , Bloggers have the responsibility to write their true experience not just sugar coated ones.

    One can read my review here
    http://indianbeautybloom.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ghazala. It's nice to know about your style of reviews.

      Delete
  6. My view for promotional or paid post is a bit stern. In my opinion, people who google and read your content should not be treated like a scapegoats. If people are placing some value on what you write and share, it is imperative that you should be honest and truthful. Your review should not contain only positive aspects (influenced purely by your personal gains), rather you should provide complete picture. If you are making a promotional/ paid posts which has resulted in your personal gain, clear statement should be made at the start as well as below your post.There are many blogs which are primarily full of posts on endorsed products; I often wonder value of such blogging to blogging fraternity and to internet, in general. Let your blog add some value to readers life,if not the reader will discount your blog upon using the product and realizing that he has been taken for a ride. Choice is yours....completely!!

    just a honest thought

    https://jaipurthrumylens.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and expressing your views on the subject.

      Delete
  7. Such a relevant post with valid points. We do have the capacity of influencing readers, even if they were a meagre number. And hence need to blog responsibly.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Leena, for stopping by and sharing your views.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. All the points, you have mentioned, are relevant Saket ji. It's the responsibility of a blogger to check all the quintessential details about the product, they endorse. Not only the advantages, but also the drawbacks should be discussed in the blogpost to call the act 'Responsible blogging'. Once a brand had requested me to talk 'only goody-goody things' in the product review. Sometimes they make it mandatory to talk bias, and sometimes request to talk negative about the similar ones. We should learn to say a firm 'No' for such offers, or rather be firm to our ethics.
    All your points should be followed before saying yes to such offers. Great post indeed. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sangeeta, for sharing your experience.

      Delete
  10. I'm so happy to see that you have tackled this sticky topic. Campaigns need to be clearly marked as such. When we see ads on TV we know that they're ads don't we? Also, I make it a rule for myself not to blog about products I don't believe in. That makes it much simpler.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kalpana, for your nice words about my post

      Delete
  11. Completely agree.. I remember FAT Cat one feeling ashamed that I have participated in that contest.. even I have removed the post for the same from my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Vartika, a lesson learnt by all of us bloggers.

      Thanks for sharing your views.

      Delete
  12. You have written a wonderful post. True that most of the people believe in what bloggers say and it is our responsibility to be true to them and not misguide them. I remember reading about the FatCat scam. A great post.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Felicia, for your words of appreciation for my post.

      Delete