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Can I write sponsored reviews?

  1. I'd like to write sponsored reviews eg. my opinion of a restaurant for a free dinner. Are these allowed in wordpress.com?
    What's the policy concerning reviews in general? Ill write a travel blog and the idea is to tip of people the easiest and (in my opinion) best way to get around the place. And that of course will include a lot of reviewing (mostly unsponsored).
    Blog url: http://talviespanjassa.wordpress.com/

  2. No, they're not allowed. If you get something in return for a review, it is banned here.

  3. thegeekanthropologist
    Member

    Define "getting something back in return" please. Do you mean money? What if someone agrees to provide me with content from their blog in exchange of me listing it in my recommendations, for example?

  4. Suspended.

    Featuring X in exchange for Y is against the terms of service.

  5. That is a strong interpretation. What we would really like to avoid are spammy links and scams—things which often appear in paid-to-post content.

    As a blog owner, you are responsible for the content you post. We reserve the right to interpret each case according to our views and the guidelines posted in our Terms of Service and the types of blogs page. If we find that any of the content you posted contains spam or phishing or a scam of some kind, we would suspend the blog and hold the blog owner accountable. If your blog is above board and you are posting real, original content written by you and you've carefully reviewed the links to make sure they're not spam, then you should be fine.

  6. We need clarification. There are all kinds of content farms and organizations for "guest blogging" that are promotional. Just today we had someone posting that kind of content complaining that the code they gave her only linked to a "register for our site" interstitial page instead of the whole content. Is that okay? I have certainly seen a lot of blogs suspended for content from Associated Content, etc.

  7. Then there is the "content" and "review" that is no more than a puff piece with a link back to the site that sells the product that was just "guest reviewed"

    I can understand that if I wrote a Post for another site on boating safety then a link in the article came back to my site as being fine - but some of the content farms are really bad - ezine comes to mind with some blogs being no more than a series of stuff copied from ezine with the links back

  8. Thanks for your replies. This is probably a question where there's no clear answer, but some clarification would be good. It is not very tempting to start a blog if you have to be scared that it can be shut down by mere opinions of support personnel.
    Everything I write is my opinion and not bought. In this case, imagine a situation where a restaurant owner wants to give me the meal I already ordered for free because he/she finds out that im going to write a review of the place. Should i not then write it?
    Another situation: A restaurant owner reads my blog and invites me to eat for free. Can i review the place?
    Or: As an addition he/she asks me to write (not saying i should write its the best place in the world). How now?
    Then at last: My friend wants me to write about a restaurant (again no control of what ill write). She says ill pay the dinner if you write, she picks the place. Can i write?

    If there are rules saying no sponsored reviews, what does it mean exactly? i dont want to be shut down after couple of months.

  9. To clarify, here are some examples of things that are not allowed:

    * Sponsored or paid posts such as PayPerPost, ReviewMe, and Smorty.
    * Affiliate or referral links to domains like usercash, clickbank, clickhop, cashrocks, payingcash.
    * Clicktrackers or promotion of things like “I made a million on the internet and so can you” type of advertising (i.e. MLM, network marketing, cash gifting, etc.).

    Note that it's not a complete list. Spammers often change tactics and we need to adjust accordingly.

    Just today we had someone posting that kind of content complaining that the code they gave her only linked to a "register for our site" interstitial page instead of the whole content. Is that okay?

    Sounds not okay, but the blog owner is responsible to make sure the link leads to a legit site. If not, they would be in danger of getting suspended. If you're not sure about the site, don't link to it.

    I can understand that if I wrote a Post for another site on boating safety then a link in the article came back to my site as being fine - but some of the content farms are really bad - ezine comes to mind with some blogs being no more than a series of stuff copied from ezine with the links back

    Sounds right to me. A post for another site on boating safety on your blog which is about boating is fine, whereas links out to ezine spam sites is not.

  10. scared that it can be shut down by mere opinions of support personnel

    If your content is good, original content and doesn't have spam links, you'll be fine.

    Another situation: A restaurant owner reads my blog and invites me to eat for free. Can i review the place?
    Or: As an addition he/she asks me to write (not saying i should write its the best place in the world). How now?
    Then at last: My friend wants me to write about a restaurant (again no control of what ill write). She says ill pay the dinner if you write, she picks the place. Can i write?

    I don't see any problems with these hypothetical situations.

  11. Thanks, designsimply. :) Ill go with this!

  12. Speaking as a journalist no, you should not write a review of a free meal. You can write it up as an experience but you cannot pretend that it isn't paid for in some sense. It's no longer a review. It's PR.

    Not that you can't write it. You can. I do. I have a food blog that is NOT hosted here and have written up many a free meal, but not as a review. A review is critical. When you have been given the meal, even if you are critical, you are no longer independent, so you can't pretend you are.

    If you want to actively review stuff, ie give real, critical informed opinions on the food, pay for your meals. If you want to be part of the PR scene in food and beverage (and the perks are excellent) then you can accept freebies.

    But you must disclose this fact if you pay taxes in the US, and you WILL be taxed on the value of the meals you accepted for free. The IRS really, really means that.

  13. Im not a journalist, just a blogger. :) But yes, i understand the ethical problem in reviewing free meals. Nothing is free in this world. Ill have to ponder this if s'one really wants to give me a free meal for writing.
    Im from Europe but yes, we'll have those tax regulations also.

  14. I'm with raincoaster regarding full disclosure—I think you should mention if you receive a free meal in return for reviewing a restaurant.

  15. Some of my peers do and some don't, but it REALLY adds to your credibility if you do. FYI here is my food blog http://manolofood.com which is a bit empty at the moment, and here is my friend's blog http://hummingbird604.com that has a lot of food posts on it. His disclosure policy has been singled out by journalism professors for its clarity.

  16. That "writing as an experience" was something that ill probably will do in these cases. Im no pro, so no-one is putting me rules of what kind of essays i should produce so I can do that if I want to. And i want to keep my "authenticity".
    Thanks a lot for you thoughts guys!

  17. thegeekanthropologist
    Member

    I think disclosing the meal was free with your post is a good way to be honest, although I do think it is possible to be critical even if the meal was free. The restaurant's owner may not like it, but hey, it's the risk they run. Another good option might be to pay for the meal, write the review then notice the restaurant after it is published. They might offer you something in return, like a discount for your next visit or even a promotion for your readers, like 10$ off with a coupon. That adds a lot more to your blog than getting the meal for free, I think.

  18. My opinion is that if you're going to be doing reviews as a compensated critic, you should be on your own hosted site where you set the rules. That way there is no possibility of mistaken interpretations of rules. You are your own boss and you don't have to be concerned with the site being suspended.

    I've seen webhosting for as little as $5/mo or so if you pay annually. WP software is free to install if that's what you want to use.

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