I, like many blogs, do product reviews. It is not a huge part of my blog, but I enjoy doing them. In the past, I have looked at everything from dice and laser cut tokens to small publisher pdf files. The items I review, for the most part, I purchase myself. Recently, some of my reviews sprang from items I received “for review” from publishers/manufacturers. These items came free of charge. In no way was a “quid pro quo” requested, but it did make me think about the relationships between publishers/manufacturers and reviewers and our careful ethical dance.
Bloggers often get free items for review. Yet, they are expected to give an honest opinion. As a human being, this can be difficult. I know I do not like to say bad things about stuff I get for free. As a business, blogs have an even bigger issue, in that we need to maintain a “friendly” relationship with publishers. A relationship that is unlikely to survive a savage review of the publisher’s latest product. So, does the blogger give a dishonest review that guarantees future “review swag” and a higher profile for the blog or give an honest review and risk losing the opportunity for future reviews from the offended company?
So far, I have not had to give a bad review, but it will happen. My only solution is total openess and a code of ethics. It is fairer for all parties and lets me sleep at night. Just to be perfectly clear, I would like to introduce “The Reviewers Code of Ethics.”
1. I swear to never give a good review because a company gave me a free item for review.
2. I will disclose any financial conflict of interest.
3. I will disclose if I receive affliate income from sales or “hits” sent to an external site.
4. I will disclose if I intend to sell the item in my site’s store.
5. I will give my honest opinion.
I hope that by codifying how I review items I can reassure my readership of my objectivity and offer publishers a fair venue to evaluate their new products or services.
This is the intial draft. I am willing to entertain any additions, so please drop your ideas in the comment section.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer