Bloggy Life Question 26 — Do You Wish to Comment?

Money for Nothing?

For those who come looking for a short, thoughtful read, a blogging life discussion, or a way to gradually ease back into the week. I offer this bloggy life hypothetical question. . . .

About two weeks ago, you visited a blog that had a post about a cause that you believe in – helping homeless children get a solid education. The post you read was well written and quite moving. You left a comment about your feelings and your ideas, thanking the writer for a great posting. You actually linked to the post and shared the link with a few friends.

This afternoon you received an email from that writer, she was writing you with an offer. Since you are passionate about the same issue, would you want to help in raise awareness? Would you want to read and comment on other blogs discussing the education of homeless children? A group that she is part of is willing to pay you $5.00/comment and provide you with a list of 50 blogs on which you might comment.

How do you respond?

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related articles
Bloggy Life Question 25 — Would You Blog as the Opposite Sex?
Bloggy Life Question 24 — Hello, Blogger, I’m Her Parent!
Bloggy Question 23 — Would You Live Blog the Wedding?
Bloggy Question 20 — A Significant Other Says “No Blog”


  1. says

    Red flags start waving and alarm bells go off. There is something not right about that offer. Before I even replied to it, I’d start checking out that author and find out more about her, and her group.

    Then I’d want to know why they seem willing to pay up to $250 (if they’re honest) for blog comments.

    And after all that, I’d tell them “no”.

    If they were offering payment for an article, that would be different. This is something else entirely.

    Blog comments shouldn’t be paid for.

  2. says

    Hi Scorpia,
    Following me home to make me an offer would give me a few red flags too. Does the word astroturf work here? Is it astroturfing, if it’s your real opinion?

    Companies do this.

  3. says

    Exactly what Scorpia said. This is impossible and sure to be some scam. I would straight away delete that email thinking a definite spam mail and wouldn’t even care to check back the site.
    Seriously, companies really do those kind? 5buck per comment, wow, they gotta have load of $ to back up their plan, whatever they planning to achieve in the end.

  4. says

    Hey Mayvelous!
    The folks who pay for comments are usually activists and PR types and they probably pay a whole lot less than $5 a comment, but yeah they do. . . . There is at a least one company that is set up to provide temporary commenters for your bidding.

    I think I’m with you. I wouldn’t sell my influence that way, even if it was what I already thought. It would make me suspect the next time around.

    PS — I was just thinking of you today. You know that you’re an original SOB from the very first week? Hope you make it to the Party on Tuesday. :)

  5. says

    I would have to go along with the astroturfing.

    It’s easy to say no way, and that would be my first and last response. It would feel like I’m being used, and like Liz said, make further comments suspect.

    To look at the other side, this relates to paid advertising on your blog. I have no problem with that. Does making a statement that it is being supported by a paid sponser make it okay? Or not?

    I’m not sure how being paid to say something you really think in a comment is any different than being paid to blog about a specific subject. Or am I overanalyzing things?

  6. says

    I don’t see how that relates to advertising, Rick. The matter under discussion is someone approaching you, personally, with a money offer to post on specific blogs about a specific topic.

    It isn’t quite the same as, say, running adsense on your own blog.

  7. says

    I think when participating in the blogosphere, we need to be honest in our comments – like what we do in our blog posts.

    I’d do the comments for $5, but I guess I will have to tell the readers that I’m paid for that comment! 😛 If I’m not allowed to do that, I guess I will not take up the offer.

    Its a terrible thing isn’t it, to have money to buy opinions.

  8. says

    As I said, I would say no because I don’t like being used. And it feels slimy.

    Liz: If you don’t let people know you’re being paid to comment, I would agree that it’s disingenuous . If you do let people know, your comment is worthless and you lose all credibility.

    Scorpia: No, it’s not the same as running contextual ads on your blog. I said I may be overanalyzing things.

  9. says

    Hi Scorpia, Hi Kian Ann, Welcome,

    I’d love to see what the list of blogs were that they supplied. I’d be so tempted to say “yes” just to get a glimpse and then say “no thank you.” My curiosity would kick in.

  10. says

    Hah! Just like what I did.. I signed up at PayPerPost just to check out the ads that were there. I had a good laugh when one of the PPP ads offered $200 for you to walk around in public in green! ;P

  11. says

    Here’s the description:

    I want you to cover yourself in green from head to toe. Green clothes, green face, green hair… you get where I am going. Write on your chest and back. I want you to make a large sign that says “get paid for blogging at” and parade your green body and sign around a public place with decent human traffic. Video the whole thing and upload it to your blog and a video site like YouTube. I want at least 2min of footage out in public. Would also like to see the footage leading up to the public event.

    I really laughed my head off… I can’t imagine myself doing that!

  12. says

    Well, Kian Ann, I have to agree. In my opinion, that’s a lotta “I want you tos” for $200.

    Just getting dressed would use up a whole lot of that cash. Then there’s getting the video camera, doing all of the work before and after. In the end you’re making — what? — 3 cents an hour?

  13. says

    I was thinking… If I’d want to do that, I’d do it for my own web address, and then you can really hit it!

    Its a very nice guerilla marketing strategy. :)

  14. says

    I don’t know if it’s so clever a strategy. . . . the folks who see me in public, what percent are likely to be bloggers? Those that aren’t bloggers are like to get an even worse image of bloggers.

    The folks who see it at my blog, they’re already at my blog — so it might be better for PayPerPost than it is for me.

    If I get it on YouTube, it better be remarkable, or no one is going to tell anyone else to watch it.

    I’m not convinced it’s worth the trouble.

  15. says

    Hi Liz. This is an interesting question. Not because I’m tempted — I’m not — but because, like a few others, I’m astonished that companies are paying writers for comments.

    I think that if you took the offer it wouldn’t be long before you’d be totally sick of thinking about that particular issue, no matter how passionate you were about it before.

    Also, assuming the now-professional commenter had their own blog, it seems like that would suffer.

    What an interesting question. Also that everyone has been pretty much in agreement on this one.

  16. says

    Hi Katie!
    I hear you. It would get really old, I think, writing your comments for money. Thirty pieces of silver . . . Sooner or later a regular person has to feel like a fraud I would think. I’m with you that would put out the passion pretty quickly.

  17. says

    I agree with the sentiment of the commenter’s above. I never post a comment unless I use my Blogging name and my Blog info. I know whatever I say is a reflection on my blog. I’m never afraid of being controversial when I comment or post. But I hope when people read whatever I write they know it’s what I truly feel.

    So I would never consider any kind of agreement to sell my thoughts. I can say that from experience because I’ve had offers.

  18. says

    Hi Big Roy!
    Those words sell my thoughts sum it up perfectly. Don’t they.

    So you’re someone who’s lived the scenario. Congratulations on telling them “no.”

  19. says

    Mind you .. there’s a whole bunch of sites in my Bloglines that I don’t read the posts either! lol .. I tell my friends that I’m illiterate you know. Comes from reading too many tech manuals over the past 20 years. I regress and read what interests me or else my eyes don’t even focus.

  20. says

    This pay-per-comment scheme sounds a lot like the one where they pay you to post an ad, or should I say ‘pose’ an ad in your blog. Sorry, but my name is out there proudly and I’ll not allow it to be pimped.

  21. says

    You’re in good company with that opinion, Carolyn. All the way down the line, we seem to agree on this one. (and I tried so hard to think up something with a bit of two sides –these are hard. :) )

  22. says

    Let me be the first to disagree. If I was inclined to make the comments anyway, I would absolutely accept $5 afterwards.

    I can’t follow the logic that leads from “promoting education for homeless children” to “astroturfing”.

    “Selling thoughts” is the business of all professional authors. There is nothing wrong with that.

  23. says

    Ah but, Chris, when authors do it, everyone knows they are selling. Commenters are thought to be sharing their thoughts without charging a fee. So it’s not the same.

    One transaction is transparent the other is not.

  24. says

    But to further what Chris said above, if the scenario was a request to post comments that duplicate a genuine opinion that you’ve already expressed, and was something you truly felt passionate about (say, perhaps, net neutrality), would it still be wrong to accept the “gig” to get access list of blogs where expressing your already held opinion might help spread influence for your cause?

    I’m not saying I’d jump on it, mind you. I’m still too New York not to be suspicious of such an offer.

    But might that bring it a little deeper into a gray area don’t you think?

  25. says

    Regardless of inclinations for or against an issue, taking money to leave a comment is on a par with being paid to be a friend. Well, unless you’re in advertising; that’s another thing entirely.

  26. says

    Personally I can’t see what the point of paying someone to comment on a blog would be. But I’m not sure I follow your logic, Carolyn.

    There are gobs of comments in the bloggosphere that are decidedly unfriendly.

    If someone is foolish enough to pay me to continue express an opinion I already feel passionate about, is it wrong of me to accept their money?

  27. says

    Liz, The distinction I guess I’d draw is this: Would you be expressing your own opinions in the solicited comments or someone else’s?

    From my way of thinking if you are expressing what you genuinely feel, then the money is not the motivating factor and seems to me to be an extra bonus.

    If you have to compromise your beliefs in what you write, then you are being deceptive and the money becomes a huge problem.

  28. says

    Yep. That’s the rub.

    Money always seems to get in the way. There is the whole “appearance of evil” thing where money is concerned. “Oh, she just said that because she got paid.”

    It often doesn’t matter whether it is true or not. Folks are quick to assume. Most people are too lazy or simply unwilling to actually look for the truth.

    My advice would be to trust your conscience. Just because we can do something doesn’t always mean we should do it.

    It is a good thing my own opinions are so whacked out. There is little danger of me facing this kind of choice! 😉

  29. says

    I see two scenarios in being paid to post honest comments.

    1. You don’t say you are being paid. Then yes, it’s just wrong. As Liz said, disingenuous.

    2. You do say you’re being paid. Whether it’s right or wrong doesn’t matter. People won’t trust that what you say is your honest opinion. Your credibility is decreased, if not gone, and so is the other readers’ trust in you. Without these two things, our relationships are nowhere.

  30. says

    I hear you Chris, and I think what you’re saying is how it should be. But I don’t think that it’s worth losing trust over money.

    I fiercely guard my credibility. In the end it’s all I’ve got.

    To have folks not believe me, I find that idee very scary. I don’t want to be there.

  31. says

    Hi Liz & Chris & Carolyn:

    (not really jumping in — I was here early this morning)

    I think I’d be suspicious that they would eventually try to shape or influence what/where I posted.

    And that having accepted their money, I might not feel free if they wanted to change a word here or there or a bit of the tone. Or if they gave me some “talking points” or “thoughts for the week”

    It just seems doubtful that the passion would always be there. But I’d still be stuck.

  32. says

    Money always makes things complicated. After stirring things up a bit I have to admit that I’m totally with Rick on this.

    Skip the money. Like you said, Liz. That small amount of cash isn’t worth the cost.

    Now if you feel strongly enough about the cause in question, you might contact the person who made the offer and make a counter offer of your own. Something along the lines of “give me the list of blogs and I’ll comment as I see fit – for free.”

    That way you get the potential benefit of exposing your views to a broader audience without damaging your credibility.

    But I have to agree with some of the earlier commenters here. There is something very fishy about someone willing to pay that much for comments. It doesn’t smell right and you might be better keeping your distance.

  33. says

    Yep, Katie,
    No one’s brought that up yet. What if they started mentioning ways you might “spice things up”?

    I like the saying, “We slowly become what we look at most.”

  34. says

    Yeah, money can make things complicated, Chris.

    Katiebird, you’re probably right. A subtle, or not so subtle “It’s on my dime. I should have some input into it.”

  35. says

    I can see the point of paying someone to comment on a blog, but I disagree with it from both sides.

    To pay for it almost insinuates the cause can’t attract rallying power.

    To accept payment dampens the weight of other, unpaid, comments.

  36. says

    Every columnist in the local newspaper is paid to express their opinion.

    If the only reason your readers trust you is that you haven’t been paid for your time, then you already have no credibility! Don’t kid yourself.

    If your sponsors started to make editorial suggestions…so what? As adults, we should all know when and how to say NO. And we should make our decisions without undue concern for others’ approval.

  37. says

    So then Chris @ M.D.
    I can discount what you’re saying because it’s suspect. You could be getting paid for it and not believe a word yourself. You just put that argument forth and I accept it.

    Right? :)

  38. says

    You’re talking about two different cases, Chris@MartialDevelopment. In terms of the newspaper, a comparable case wouldn’t be the columnist, but people writing letters to the editor.

  39. says

    That isn’t really my argument, but feel free to accept it.

    Most everyone in this discussion has been “paid” with nofollow backlinks, and also with attention; both surely have value to someone? In a market economy, they can be exchanged for cash…

    …doubts are creeping in from all sides…

    …perhaps we should consider banning those aforementioned homeless children from commenting on blogs, as they are surely susceptible to a corrupting financial influence. :)

  40. says

    Chris @ M. D.
    Now, now . . . I open to hearing you set me straight. I don’t accept that “being paid attention” works because that’s an agreement that can be seen. My only problem with being paid for commenting is that the folks accept you into their “house” as one thing and you come as another, without making it clear that you are taking money for what you are saying.

    Let’s not give the kids more trouble. :)

  41. says

    Emotion is a more powerful human motivator than money, wouldn’t you agree?

    So if I don’t require a psychological profile from everyone that comments on my blog, to support their supposed objectivity, then why should I need a financial disclosure statement?

    Better to evaluate every comment on its own merits, I think, without ad hominem suspicion.

    I expect every visitor to bring some of their own baggage; whether it is business-related or personal makes little difference.

    Then again, judging from some of the posts I’ve made to my own blog, I am clearly willing to sacrifice my own mainstream credibility. So maybe you shouldn’t take me too seriously. :)

  42. says

    The question isn’t objectivity or emotionality or even logic. It’s honest representation of what’s going on — both parties being involved in the same transaction.

    If I’m on a date and you’re babysitting that doesn’t work either.

    To misrepresent the transaction is the problem.

    No worries about taking you too seriously. You’ve not been anything, but nice. :)

  43. says

    Chris brings up an interesting point. We all bring some sort of baggage to the table whether we are posting on our blogs or commenting on other’s.

    Why does money in the transaction automatically corrupt it?

    Is there anything else that might be in the transaction that would likewise taint it?

    For example, perhaps my religious bent automatically invalidates anything I say. Should folks look at every comment I make as suspect because I must be bringing my agenda into the conversation?

    Where do we draw the line? That side of money, but this side of religion? The other side of both?

    I’m not sure there is one right answer to the question. But it sure has generated some worthwhile discussion!

  44. says

    Yes, but misrepresentation would be “…and by the way, nobody is paying me to write this,” not merely a failure to disclose a relationship that could easily be inferred from the content.

    To suggest otherwise is to suggest there is no honest magazine, newspaper or TV show in this country!

    Now, just tell me where to send my invoice for 5 thought-provoking comments, and we can wrap this up 😉

  45. says

    Chris @ M. D.
    I already paid you in barter with that guest comment on your blog. Don’t go raising th ante on me. That would be disingenuous. :)

    Now back to the discussion, isn’t it the same as when you meet someone who asks you out on a date. Isn’t the asker withholding something important if he or she doesn’t mention the fact of married mate waiting at home?

    The unstated rule is dating is for single folks and comment boxes are for genuine commentary. :)

  46. says

    I would never sell my comments, not that anyone has asked to buy them.

    Like Big Roy, I use my name and site whenever I leave comments, and I write what I think, not what I think other people want to read. That’s gotten me flamed (is that still a word?) on more than one occasion.

    But if you don’t have integrity, what do you have?

  47. says

    The bottom line for me is that accepting compensation for expressing an opinion does not make it less genuine.

    While I might feel compelled to disclose $500+ (the equivalent of a mate waiting at home), I probably wouldn’t bother to mention $5, or feel conflicted about it.

  48. says

    Chris, you are correct that accepting compensation for expressing an opinion does not (necessarily) make it less genuine. However, in the current state of the blogging world, it does give the perception that the money is the only motivation, and that the opinion expresser is a charlatan and not a true believer in the opinion expressed. And unfortunately perceptions can be more real that truth for many.

    I’m just wondering how much Liz is going to shell out for all the comments she is going to get on her blog-birthday today! 😉

  49. says

    You’re new. Welcome!
    Thanks for your comment. I’ll be sending you your $20.00 — don’t tell the other two guys that you’re talking to — they’re only getting $5. :) :) :)

    I’m still with you, Big Roy, and the rest. It’s not about how thinly you slice it. In the end it’s about respecting the people you’re talking to and being on equal footing with them.

  50. says

    Chris @ M.D.
    I’m back to whomever said something like it’s the same as dating a girl on a bet or because her brother paid you. It doesn’t matter if you really like her or even love her — when the truth is revealed, even if she’s convinced of you sincerity in your feelings for her, she’ll be hurt by the fact that you took money to date her and kept that secret.

  51. says

    Chris Cree,
    Your point about perception is well taken and works really well here, especially since as Scorpia stated once before “We live in world where we can’t see each other. Only transparency works.” [I’m paraphrasing here.]

    PS. Chris, I’ve told everyone coming to the party that YOU were paying for the comments . . . my perception was that you volunteered. Uh-oh sorry. :)

  52. whoa says

    Thing is that, even if you considered it to be cool and really got paid, then when everybody discovers what has happened and how was that so many comments got paid the issue you were passionate about will lose some of it’s supporters and you will be to blame.

  53. says

    That’s a point that no one has brought up yet — that you could actually end up hurting the cause that you were hoping to help. Thanks for your insight. I hadn’t thought about that.

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