Debating Blogging Disclosure With Rand Fishkin On Net Income

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Today on Net Income Rand Fishkin was my guest and we debated Blogging Disclosure. Basically if you need to disclose your relationship about things you write about. I think disclosure is silly and at one point I say some things I probably should not have but… whatever =P.

Rand believes what he believes and I do not want to put words in his mouth so listen to the debate!

I did not do a full writeup because I would basically be summarizing and of course I would tell it from my side. That kind of defeats my whole argument of letting people decide for themselves so I would just encourage you to listen if you care ;)

You can

1. click here to download     
or use the player below.

While most are riding the fence, there are taking a position on this topic. Here are the ones I have found so far (I will post more as I see them)

David Naylor

Twenty Steps

Hamlet Batista

Search Anyway

Online Business Blog

BlackBeard SEO

CPA Affiliates

Frank Watson

Dave Taylor 1

Dave Taylor 2

Shawn Collins

58 thoughts on “Debating Blogging Disclosure With Rand Fishkin On Net Income

  1. eTown Landlord

    As a reader, it boosts my trust level to hear your disclosure before I hear the review. I think it speaks well of the reviewer’s character to hear “full disclosure” first. I like that it gives me the option to put value in what you are saying or not…

  2. eTown Landlord

    Rand is talking a lot about Yahoo Search Marketing. I have submitted my app for this program long ago but have not heard anything back from them. My main site is getting a lot more traffic these days so I resubmitted today after hearing this interview. When is this program going to be out of beta and give the general public a chance publishing YPN Ads?

  3. website copywriter

    I listened to the debate — commercials and all haha — and I found it really interesting. I mean, both of you had really good points — your stand on responsibility for one’s actions/words and his stand on gaining people’s trust. Personally, I feel that disclosures are necessary for other forms of media, especially those that involve straight news. Blogging is more opinionated and personal, wouldn’t you say so? How could you possibly disclose every single point? A blog may have a lot of space, but you can only allot so little for footnotes and disclosure statements. You mentioned John Chow — perfect example of not having to disclose every single thing. He’s very transparent without appearing too cautious. You guys give your readers credit for deciphering and deciding on their own. I hear Rand Fishkin though. He’s awesome and I respect every word he says. It all boils down to this: to each his own. We all agree to disagree, but ultimately you do what you think is best. Really enlightening stuff.

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  5. SEO Blog

    It was a great debate although, I think Rand missed the point in a couple of places. The “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” stuff happens all the time in business whether it’s online or off. So, to act like a blogger would need to disclose getting paid in cash for a post seems foolish when he doesn’t suggest extending it to those who financially benefit from posting or whatever.

    To be honest, I lost a bit of respect for SEOmoz when he let us know that they have NDA’s with search engines. To me they are supposed to be covering the search engines, not in bed with them. That was far more troubling to me than affiliate links that don’t get (aff) tagged or anything like that.

  6. Papa Rage

    When the relationship is based on trust, failure to disclose will damage that trust, for a lot of people if they find out.

    That’s why the CNN example is a problem but product placement in entertainment is not. Nobody trusts “Friends” or “The Office” or John Chow, but some people trust CNN. And some people trust you too.

    You claim you’re jaded and don’t really trust any recommendations you read. Is that really true, do you really do *all* the research *personally* for *every* decision you make in life? If your wife says they have a great steak down at some food joint, do you think she’s getting a kickback? Do you trust the recommendations of people you work with on a daily basis?

    Even if you do trust no one, you still know full well that many (if not most) people out there are trusting. You say you don’t want them to trust you blindly. But then you come out and say that you never recommend anything unless you really believe in it. Why would you say that unless you are asking people to trust you?

    Also isn’t it kind of hard to do research when you deem *all* sources to be biased?

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  8. CPA Affiliates

    “It all boils down to this: to each his own.” I think that is key. Everyone has their own opinion.. and No matter where you look online or offline people are helping each other out. weather a post or link or review.. May not be directly “paid” but because of that post you would expect somethign in return if nothing else better search rankings for that term :)

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  10. Bill

    I’ve downloaded the debate–will have to play it a few times, though to pull out the good parts. ;)

    Jeremy, as I recall, you’ve said in the past that you don’t talk about (or endorse) everyone who approaches you. Why is that? Is that because you don’t believe in the product or service or their site? If that’s the case, then that’s fine with me because if you’re talking about it then I could assume that you’re going to get some sort of benefit (money/kickback/linkback/whatever) from talking about it.

    I have no problems with people disclosing whether they’re getting paid or not; that’s up to the person actually writing or endorsing the product or service. There’s a time and a place to disclose such things. Sometimes you disclose and sometimes you don’t.

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  12. ShoeMoney

    I get many emails every day about products and also review offers… text link placement offers etc… I talk about things I find useful or helpful getting paid for it has little bearing.

    With that said I think people are idiots that do not use affiliate links when talking about a product.

    Either I am a fool or the readers are (have) decided for themselves that the benefits of this site are worth the read.

  13. Don@AffiliateWatcher

    I’m downloading it and look forward to listening to it tonight. I think it’ll be interesting because I’ve read both Shoe’s and Rands blogs and know where they’re coming from.


  14. kevgibbo

    Interesting debate, enjoyed listening to the show.

    I kind of agree with both of you just not so strongly either way, I admire Rand’s honesty but also see your point of view and don’t have a problem with promoting a site you approve of by using an affiliate link. I’ve posted my opinion about this, despite still being fairly undecided! :)

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  16. Mike

    Both you and Rand argued your points very well and, if it were a boxing match, we’re looking at the lucrative money spinning return. Obviously with some kind of disclosure agreement first…

    Both you and Rand have very different business models and that will mean you’ll never see eye to eye on this subject. That is to be expected and shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise.

    The fact is that without trust, you have nothing. Rand talks about Danny Sullivan within the interview and suggests that he would lose credibility if he were to promote Yahoo!, for example, as a result of a financial kick back. Damn right he would which is why Danny would not promote Yahoo! purely because of a financial kick back and that’s where it all boils down.


    Either you trust your information source or you don’t.

  17. Mike

    Oops! Forgot to say thanks for the link.

    DISCLOSURE: I was not paid any money by ShoeMoney to say thank you for the link. This post was brought to you by the good manners my mum instilled on me as a child. The forgetfulness in including it in my initial comment was brought to you by tiredness and an excessive amount of beer.

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  19. SEO Expert Blog

    Interesting show but I would agree on your opinion on John Chow. He does mask his affiliate links but he also tells his readers why and how.
    90% of his posts are about making money and he seems to be eager to make use of every opportunity he gets and he tells his readers about it.
    I think this is more honest and non disclosing as many many other publishers are.

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  23. Bill

    You’re right, there’s no reason not to include affiliate links if they’re available. Problem is, there’s a lot of cases where I find myself talking about things that I find useful or helpful–and there’s still too many companies out there that don’t have affiliate programs.

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  26. corey

    when you brought up slickdeals rand said that he had bought from it in the past but wasn’t so big on it. i wonder if he knows that he’s google number 4 for “slickdeals”

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  28. Stephen Hopson

    I was attracted to this post because of the title but was blocked from learning anything about it because it is in audio format. I’m deaf and was wondering if there was anything in textual format for me?


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  35. Tracy

    Being deaf doesn’t disqualify you from learning anything, if you want to get a transcription of it then go to a place like Escriptionist or search for other similar transcriptions services. You could also beg Shoe to put up PDF’s of his many wonderful audios on his own dime, which would be a great way for him to reach out to those who prefer to read instead of listen.

  36. Pete

    Great debate – I can see both sides of the coin and I agree with some points on either side… but at the end-of-the-day my vote would go to Rand on this one.

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  45. My paid to blog

    disclose or not? the problem is, when advertiser offer you a big dollar for making a review by disclosing your post, then this will be too difficult not take the opportunity. you’ll be on dilemma.

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