Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blog Comment Censorship and Proper Discloures

So I was reading a post a a major blog yesterday.  Probably the number 1 for the 40K community right now.  The post was about storage cases and I wondered if the author bought the cases or received them for free so I asked if he bought them or not.  In the states, the Federal Trade Commission require that bloggers reveal in their posts if they are sponsored with monetary or goods payment.  Now it is no big deal to disclose this all you need to do is write a generic sentence at the end in the same fonts size and italics to differentiate it that says: Products(finicial compenstation) for this review where giving to X blog by the manufacturer, etc.   Literally like 5 seconds of boiler plate stuff that can be copied from other posts.

I went back to see what the response was and my comment was deleted.  So I asked it again as a reply to someone else who noted that this seemed like a sponsored but helpful post.  Go back to check again and I find that the post has its comments section now turned off.  Now I doubt that the site owner polices the comments section himself but shutting down the comments section over people wondering if something is a sponsored posts seems a bit much.  I was not questioning the authors integrity just mainly pointing out his legal responsibility for disclosing these types of posts.  Sending someone something free to review is very standard practice in blogging and is often just what is required for people to review new stuff that they cannot often buy yet anyway.  Now cash payments are somewhat less common but it still fine.  You can write an ad for a product you like to let the community know about it and that site does have costs like lawyers to fight takedown notices from GW.  You just need to tell us.  It is not just the right thing to do, it is also the law.

Now my interest has been drawn.  The site talks about a whole lot of different stuff.  How much of it is just to inform his audience and how much might relate to back room stuff.  Wargaming is a pretty small community and a blogger getting 1M hits per month is a pretty useful tool.

Another site that has issues with disclosures is Spikey Bits since it is a blog run by a store.  They need to probably have something on every post and something special on posts related to companies that the store does business with and might recieve certain perks for the blog based promotion.


  1. epichrome, non-topic comments are deleted on Faeit 212. To answer your question, yes the article is FTC compliant. Legal discussions are not something to discuss in comment sections. If you would like to discuss it further, a simple email will work.

  2. I have to respectfully disagree on both counts. A discussion of whether it is FTC compliant might not belong in the comments but a question asking for clarity on any financial or goods for kind arrangement is certainly not off topic.

    My feeling like asking the question make the second claim also false as your disclosures lack clarity. You do clearly label the part of the post directly provided by the manufacturer but you do not clearly state that the status of the product after review. You can get items for review that are returned. You can buy items to review (like consumer reports).

    The problem for not having a clear disclosure policy is that it makes your other posts that are not sponsored also up for question. The storage post one infers that you are keeping the set of cases and you received them and their shipping for free. What about the Genesis Project? Is he promoting it because he thinks it is cool or is there something in it for him.