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Amazon and other affiliate links

  1. Forewarning: long post, long question.

    First, the purpose of my blog is to write about... writing. I also have some gaming posts, a few other posts that might be vaguely related to my own pursuit of a career as a published author... and the occasional random "has nothing to do with anything" stream-of-consciousness post.
    This question, coincidentally enough, would relate mainly to the gaming posts and occasionally to the ones about writing.

    Now then....
    I've recently been making some edits to my site, including researching the use of affiliate links for monetization purposes.
    When I first started making these edits, and even just a few weeks back when I was looking into my options, I could've sworn that one of your policies indicated that, while you denied MOST affiliate links, Amazon was among the list of those that were permitted, provided these links were not the purpose of the blog.

    And yet now I cannot find any mention of that, except on older posts from other bloggers who have made the same assumption.
    My first question first is, has this changed, even in the few weeks since I had last seen mention of it? Are Amazon affiliate links, even the occasional link on a single post, no longer permitted?
    My second question, assuming this has NOT changed, is: how many links are considered acceptable? And can the "permitted" ones be used in widgets, provided those widgets are text/html only and kept to a certain minimum?
    And the third, I am also a member of two other sites that appear to use affiliate links, according to the first part of your definition: one is the ebook site Smashwords, and the other is the "rebate" site uPromise (a site I've joined via the bank that handles my student loan).

    To clarify the third question, I am simply curious if it is allowable to include a link to these sites or (in the case of Smashwords) any products they sell that I would like to recommend.
    I've BEEN using uPromise and its "guest shopping link" for as long as I've had a website here, and nobody's told me different....

    Now to clarify the second question, my plans (if I am permitted) include doing one or more of the following:
    Editing some of my other posts to include a relevant Amazon affiliate link (in my "I broke Skyrim" post, I might include a link for anyone interested in purchasing Skyrim or the Elder Scrolls Anthology) These edits would mostly occur in posts which legitimately have an Amazon product linked via the "Recommended links" that WordPress already provides, and would create very few links. Exceptions would be for such posts as my "Reference Library" page, in which I might link to each of the particular books I have listed, producing quite a few more links than my other posts and pages would have.
    Editing my posts to include a LIST (if applicable) at the bottom, clearly marked as affiliate links, to such products as are relevant to the post (such as the Skyrim example, or those on the Reference Library page).
    Implementing either practice when I write new posts, of course.
    And creating a widget that includes a short list of recommended items (such as ebooks on Smashwords) that happen to qualify as affiliate links. This list, also, would be clearly marked as affiliate links; in addition, I would set it to only display a small number of items at a time (ten, for instance) and to sort itself randomly, so as to give each product an equal chance at being displayed without bombarding anyone with links.

    Actually, that last one isn't a "plan," it's already been done... back a few weeks ago when I was under the impression that Amazon affiliate links were permitted.
    I need to know if I should take that widget (a simple "links" widget) DOWN, or if I can keep it up and even add to it.

    My plans as such are described on my Privacy Policy http://sidequestpublications.wordpress.com/privacy-policy/
    and on one of my "random" posts http://sidequestpublications.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/bugging-me-monetizing-my-site/

    The site I need help with is sidequestpublications.wordpress.com
    I might also have this same question about pioneersoftheshatteredwaters.wordpress.com , but as that site is EXCLUSIVELY about my writing, I would rarely need to create a link except to my own published work... which wouldn't need an affiliate link, anyway.

    The blog I need help with is sidequestpublications.wordpress.com.

  2. Update: I sent a message to staff via the "Affiliate links" page (as the normal contact link just kept taking me to the same community-based forums like this one).
    I received a message back saying that all affiliate links are now allowed in blog content under specific criteria (e.g. a book review providing an Amazon affiliate link to that book, or my Skyrim videos with such a link to the game, would be allowed, a list in the sidebar of assorted affiliate links would not, nor would a post just listing off a bunch of affiliate links)

    The person in question has asked me not to quote him on my site, but that there would be an official announcement on en.blog.wordpress.com "in a few weeks" that I could link to for reference purposes.
    The problem is, I received that message on Oct 4, and have yet to see this announcement. Even searching the site comes up with nothing current: "affiliate" returns one result from 2010, "marketing" returns results no newer than July 2013, and "advertising" no newer than May 2013.

    I kind of want to start updating my site for the links soon... but I also want the official word I can link to, lest anyone try taking issue with a link here and there.
    Thoughts? Anyone know when this "official announcement" is supposed to happen?

  3. infinitypethealth
    Member

    thanks for your post. i was curious about the same thing!

  4. The only people who would know when an "official announcement" would be made changing the existing policy are staff themselves. If someone on staff gave you an indication that there is a change coming, it would subsequently appear on the Affiliate Links support doc and/or the Advertising support doc.
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/affiliate-links/

    Previous forum discussions which have been tagged appropriately http://en.forums.wordpress.com/tags/amazon
    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/tags/advertising

    If you are looking for a previous staff answer about Amazon, here is one from kathrynwp from August 2013 http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/amazon-affiliate-1?replies=2#post-1383273

    As far as other user-initiated advertising, affiliate or not, that's still a no go on WordPress.com unless and until the announcement is made and the support docs updated.

    Having said all the above, I will tag this for Staff input.

    Please subscribe to this thread from the sidebar if you haven't already and be patient while waiting for a reply. As threads marked for Staff are handled on an age basis, do not bump this thread with a reply unless you have new information to give, as this will push this thread lower in the queue.

  5. Hi there - Text affiliate links are allowed in post and page content, as long as they are within the context of the post or page. Image affiliate links are still considered ads.

  6. Reading this question, a related question comes to mind... I have a Vimeo account and a image link on my WP blog that links back to my Vimeo collection so all my videos (which are embedded in my blog posts) can be viewed at once.

    These are non-commercial tutorial-type videos and I receive no remuneration or perk from Vimeo for the link. Is it considered an affiliate link? I've seen several blogs that contain image links to a wide variety of external sites...

  7. No, it is not. I mean, what kind of money or consideration would you get for linking to the videos?

  8. TY, raincoaster. I was only wondering because the support page about affiliate links (mentioned in justjennifer's post above) specifies that if the link directs to your account on an external site, it's considered an affiliate link.

    And you're right, there's no reward... LOL

  9. BTW, support page doesn't mention monetization at all...

  10. Oh yes it does. You just have to dig deeper.

  11. I swear this site makes me tired. If WP is going to have policies they intend to enforce, the policies should be clearly stated all in one place and easy to find without digging deeper.

    If staffers don't know how to write clearly, I'm sure there are a few writers who use the site who'd be willing to help.

  12. Not for free.

  13. LOL. True that.

    BTW, just read through the TOS again. No mention of affiliates at all. Perhaps that restriction should be there along with the others. That's where most internet-savvy people would expect to find what they can and can't do.

  14. You need to re-read the ToS. There certainly IS mention of affiliate and for-profit blogging in there.

  15. I just re-read a 4th time. What paragraph #?

  16. You want me to do the research, you pay me upfront.

  17. Even the "Types of Blogs" page (linked to in paragraph 2) does not ban affiliate links, only affiliate blogs in which the primary purpose of the blog site is to send users to affiliate sites.

  18. LOL. It's not there, raincoaster.

  19. Dayum, even the Advertising Policy (linked to in the Types of Blogs page) doesn't prohibit affiliate links, only pay-to-post blog entries.

    Like I said, if they want to establish a policy prohibiting certain practices, the entire list should be in one place, the TOS.

  20. Affiliate links are not banned here. Affiliate blogs are, along with blogs whose primary purpose is to send traffic to sites off WP.com. That includes all affiliate linking blogs.

  21. Above, Eurello stated that linked images to affiliates are considered ads and prohibited. Yet, advertising is not prohibited in the TOS, the Types of Blogs, or the Advertising Policy page.

    Seriously. Not there.

  22. And the Affiliate Links policy that justjennifer provided a link to prohibits affiliate links of any kind, contrary to what Eurello stated.

  23. I'm not trying to be a PITA, I'm just saying that WP has so much information, some seemingly contradictory, that it's impossible for anyone to find everything they need to know before they get smacked for violations.

    It's okay to spread what you can do on WP, but NoNo's should be collected in a single list.

  24. Wow. Big topic. ^^;

    Let's see, what all responses do I need...?
    First to eurello: Thank you, and is there any problem with referring to your reply within my blog? For, well, reference purposes.
    I didn't expect to use image-based affiliate links much, anyway; that point just means that I won't be using things like Amazon's pre-built ads (many of which require JavaScript, and thus would not be possible on here, anyway).

    And to colleenkayter:
    The affiliate links policy, the last time I checked it, specifically states that affiliate links are not permitted in blog widgets (translating, I would imagine, to those aforementioned pre-built Amazon ads, as well as my own hypothetical "text/html list" in the sidebar)
    Text affiliate links in blog content is not actually mentioned in the policy, though given the staff replies saying it's okay, I would imagine that... it's okay.

  25. http://en.support.wordpress.com/affiliate-links/ has been updated. Please take a moment to read it.

  26. Also to colleen, regarding your Vimeo example:
    Affiliate links, such as I understand them (using Amazon as the example), would basically be a normal link to a certain product page on Amazon, but with my affiliate/referral code included so that AMAZON knows who to pay for driving sales to them.

    A simple link to your Vimeo videos, without any referral code that tells Vimeo to pay you for sending people there, would not be an affiliate link.

    Even assuming that defining an "affiliate link" goes beyond the question of pay, the other question would still be whether your links have anything to identify who created them... versus simply where they're pointing.

  27. Sidequest, the affiliate links page says, "Links to external services and vendors that include a unique identifier within the link destination to tie the link to your account." It doesn't specify for the purpose of rewarding you... I agree, it's not an affiliate link as affiliates are understood across the e-commerce internet, but that differs from the definition provided in the WP page.

    Justjennifer, if the affiliate links page has been updated, I can't tell what the difference is. Shame on me for not memorizing or making a copy. I find it disturbing that policies can be changed overnight without any notification to WP users or even a footnote about the date and type of revision (like there is at the bottom of the TOS).

    I'm really a very easygoing person. I am not one to break rules or even skate on the edge. But policies could result in any of us getting a warning, having WP change our sites without notice, or even cancel our accounts. These policies are published in several pages and categories on the support site, and apparently edited overnight without notification or even indication that it has been done.

    Perhaps it is time for WordPress to develop a single document containing all prohibitions and a standard procedure for policy changes, policy page revisions, and notifications to users, for their own benefit as well as the users.

  28. BTW, I'd like to know how this site's external links are not defined as advertising... I'm assuming it's WP.com-hosted since it appears in Freshly Pressed. Scroll to the bottom of the page. External advertising galore.

    http://lightbox.time.com/2013/11/26/flashback-to-the-timeless-malls-of-the-1980s/#1

  29. @colleenkayter-

    The bottom line has not changed. Affiliate marketing is not allowed. Affiliate text links may now be used in a post or page as long as it is within the context of your post. This is what eurello stated above.

    The change on the support docs mentions

    WordPress.com does not permit the use of affiliate links in blog widgets

    I find it disturbing that policies can be changed overnight without any notification to WP users or even a footnote about the date and type of revision (like there is at the bottom of the TOS).

    WordPress.com is an ever-changing environment. If you read Clause 14 in the ToS it states there that says the user is responsible for reviewing the ToS from time to time keeping themselves updated to possible changes.

    Over the course of time WordPress.com has shown that it can be flexible on certain uses depending on the situation. Which is why when there is a ToS question asked in the forum, we correctly mark such threads for Staff input.

  30. Time.com is a WordPress.com VIP site. Different rules. http://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/

    WordPress.com VIP sites are permitted to run ads.

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