Reader Discussion: Review, But Don’t be Negative?

written by BlogEx on November 12, 2007 in Blog Monetization and Blog Reviews and Reader Discussion with 13 comments

Wow, so in the midst of preparing my post for today I received an email from SponsoredReviews.com. The review I did yesterday of Laser-Toner.co.uk was apparently not quite up to their standards. Well, rather than give you second hand information, I’ll just post the email.

Ben,

There are several problems with the following review: http://bloggingexperiment.com/archives/under-the-microscope-laser-tonercouk.php

Problem 1 – It is not ok to plug your own review services inside of a post that we are paying you to do. Please remove mentions that people can buy reviews from you directly in the post.

Problem 2 – The review contains several links to ChipSEO.com with the text “Business”.  We are assuming these are some sort of contextual link from another service.  We do not allow contextual links other then the advertisers links in our paid posts.

Problem 3 – While the advertiser did not require a “Benefits Only” post, we feel you go a little too far in your negativity of their site.  Not all websites are created equal, Advertisers are not paying you to tell people not to visit their sites..  While this makes you look credible to your audience it pisses advertisers off.  You can feel free to critique advertisers sites as long as you are providing contructive[sic] comments as well.  If in the future you find that you cannot spin your reviews to be mostly constructive, we suggest not doing the review at all.

Please fix these issues promptly or we will need to refund the advertiser.

Now, to be fair, I wasn’t in the best of moods to begin with, but that about sent me through the roof. First of all… well again, let me just post my response rather than rehashing the whole thing.

Please show me where you state that #1 and 2 that you mentioned are not allowed. I’ve searched high and low on your site and have not seen any mention of either of these supposed rules. The second problem you mention you assume incorrectly. ChipSEO.com won a prize I gave away on my blog that every time I write the word business on my site, I link to their site. Surely you aren’t suggesting that we are ONLY allowed to link to the advertisers required links are you?

As for the third problem you say that not all websites are created equal. No correct me if I’m wrong but I was being paid to review the website in question. I reviewed it and found it to be lacking. You’re saying you want me to “spin” that opinion? I thought you guys wanted an honest opinion, especially when the advertiser does not require a “benefits only” review. You say that advertisers are not paying me to tell people not to visit their site. I never said such a thing and in fact linked to the site as required. I DID make the suggestion that people should not purchase from the company. That’s quite a bit different. I’m sorry that this particular advertiser doesn’t like the review but as you stated, not all websites are created equal and the site in question, after an extensive review, proved to be a very poor website.

I’ve been a huge fan of Sponsored Reviews and have done quite a few reviews for you. I’ve recommended you several times and to as many people as will listen. However, if I’m not allowed to speak my mind and you try to enforce rules that are no where to be found on your website I’m afraid my opinion of your company will change quite drastically.

I feel like I should reiterate the fact that I have been, and hopefully will continue to be, a big fan of SponsoredReviews. However, if these are the policies that they are going to enforce, I’m simply won’t be using their service anymore. If I’m not free to speak my mind on reviews, especially ones not listed as “Benefits Only” (which I don’t bother bidding on), I’d be selling my credibility to the highest bidder. In fact, this email would seem to call into question their entire operation. I’ve looked through all the terms and conditions and the Blogging “Best Practices” and everything I could find and have never once seen a mention of other links within my reviews.

Also, using the phrase “spin your reviews to be more constructive” seems like an incredibly poor choice of words! Enough people automatically assume that a paid review is biased and worthless, why in the world would a company that depends on these types of posts want to play into that assumption and essentially prove it to be correct? Not to mention the fact that isn’t pointing out the areas of the site I had a problem with the very definition of being constructive? I mean if they took that review and said, ok, how do we fix these issues, their site would take a HUGE leap forward.

I know I say this a lot but I’d really like your input on this one. Am I off base here? Am I letting my bad mood cloud my judgment on this one or what?