Now Whoring From A Browser Near You

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The internet takes a lot of crap for being all about pornography. My general response to this is that the market gets what the market wants, and it should come as no surprise that naked people like other naked people. I have zero problem with online pornography as an industry, and the proliferation of everything from college call girls to phone sex workers doesn’t bother me in the least. You work it, honey.

What does bother me is whoring by people who are not, in fact, paid sex workers.

You may be surprised to learn that the most recent example of this is near Bantry, not generally known for being a red light district. A local hostelry is running an online contest which you enter by linking to them in your blog with a particular Google keyword phrase. They are, in short, gaming Google. They don’t want your opinion or your love; they want your inbound links to improve their search engine rankings.

I don’t have a problem with the suckers people who “entered” the contest by writing about Glengarriff Lodge. I have a problem with Glengarriff running a competition that is transparent, blatant link whoring:

You write a blog post which links to our homepage using the term Luxury Self Catering. In the same blog post you link to one friend who you think might be interested in the competition.

The thing is, it looks like a neat place and is touting itself as eco-friendly and sustainable. They could get legitimate links and an authentic viral buzz off of that. I can think of at least ten places with high Google rankings that would cover this joint if told about it, deliver better Google results for a very competitive keyword phrase, and not piss off half the blogsphere in the process. Or – hey! – they could actually optimise their site for search engines, with, say, page titles and stuff.

So, I’m with CrankyPants on this one.

The only good thing I can say about the Glengarriff campaign is that while they are prescribing the single phrase you need to link with, they are not telling you what to say. So, I can tell you that I think this Luxury Self Catering campaign at Glengarriff Lodge sucks, and according to the contest rules, that’s okay. Since I’m interested in what Eoghan McCabe thinks about this campaign, I guess I’m officially entered. Fair enough.

The same good thing cannot be said about ebuzzing, who spammed emailed me this morning to let me know they’ve setup shop on the corner of Hollywood and Vine:

ebuzzing allows bloggers to earn good money by writing about things they actually like, and even to define their own price for doing so. They browse ad campaigns posted by advertisers, create content for their blog discussing things that they genuinely wish to highlight and are paid for each article.

This kind of pay-per-post scheme is not new, and as long as the company running the service has a policy in place that requires the paid posts to be flagged as such, which ebuzzing does, I generally don’t have an issue with it. In this particular case, however, there’s one little catch: they have to approve your blog entry before you post it.

We will not censor content nor pass judgement on the quality of an article you’re publishing on your blog. But we have a duty to guarantee our advertisers the consistency and integrity of their campaigns and to see to it that the briefs they issue on ebuzzing are interpreted correctly. So it is incumbent on us to evaluate whether a post is within the framework laid down for the campaign, includes the necessary elements (eg links to advertisers’ site) and conforms to ebuzzing’s general editorial policy.

Call me cynical, but I’m reading that as “we can’t censor what you write on your own blog, but we’re probably only going to pre-approve and pay you for things that our client has asked for, namely positive blog entries.”

I’m not sure which of these two practices is more odious. The only thing I do know is that I have a lot more respect for the people whoring themselves to the almighty dollar than I do for the one’s whoring themselves to the almighty Google.