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Blog Disclosures – What Should a Blogger Disclose?

Read Write Web has a post on Blogging Ethics and asks When And What Should Bloggers Disclose?

Josh who writes the article suggests the following areas should be disclosed:

  • Financial association (investment, ownership etc)
  • Employment
  • Competition
  • Personal involvement

When do you include disclaimers when blogging?

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Comments

  1. Andy Merrett says:

    If I write something at The Blog Herald about a Shiny Media site, I’ll disclose that I write for them. I have a bio at the end of each post I write there with basic information about who I am.

    I tend not to explicitly say the same on my personal blog, because the blog is for, about, and by me. However, if I ever wrote a sponsored post (not happened yet) – even unofficially – of course I’d disclose the fact.

    Once I linked to one of my blogs from a Shiny Media site – it did very little for the traffic and I didn’t say it was my site. Another writer does that maybe once a week, and doesn’t disclose that, but effectively he’s leveraging a bit of traffic from the larger blog to one of his blogs where he originally broke the news. Seems fair as it only happens occasionally.

  2. I have a disclosure link to my disclosure page in my comments. I feel that disclosing that my posts will always be honest, sometimes paid opinions but that I only review products I myself would buy, I make no attempts to mislead anyone on my blog. I want to always put forth integrity with my site, because I put so much work into it, I want everyone to realize I’m on the up and up. :)

  3. Dan Cole says:

    I don’t think a blog should have to give any information out. It’s basically a private company. On the other hand, if you wish to give information out, it’s your site so you can do with it as you wish. I would hold off because it’s bragging in my opinion. That’s from a Financial point anyway. I’ll save the other points for my own website.

  4. Ginene says:

    I don’t think a blogger should have to disclose anything.

  5. Brad V. says:

    I always try to be as transparent as possible – it really does help with credibility! For example, I always disclose if one of my links is an affiliate link (to Amazon, for example), or if I’m reviewing something, I make it a point to say I’m not being paid or compensated in any way to write that review.

    There’s been a recent string of scandals regarding “corporate controlled” blogs where the blogger pretended to be independent and never disclosed that he/she was actually being well compensated by a company to write the posts. I think Wal-Mart got caught doing this.

    I made it a point early on to disclose as much as possible. If I get information from another article or blog post, I’ll put a link to that article/blog post so people can read my source for themselves and know I didn’t copy it or anything.

    The only information I don’t disclose is the number of hits my blog receives and how much I earn from Adsense (not very much). There’s really no reason for my readers to know this. And I think disclosing anything about Adsense is against their terms anyway. But I want people to visit my blog because they like my content and I give them something new, not because I receive so many hits each day.

  6. This is a touchy topic. Ethically speaking, anything sponsored should be disclosed.

  7. Barbra says:

    If I am reviewing a product sample, I disclose that the sample was provided free by the manufacturer. I also mention if the sample was unsolicited or provided at my request. I think readers deserve to know this info.

  8. Kate Foy says:

    If my blog is in any way related to the business of my employment, (and one of mine is), then I consider it good practice to acknowledge that my opinions are personal, and not (necessarily) those of my employer. I have embedded this ‘disclosure’ as a static notice on my home page. In this way, I retain my personal voice and disclose my affiliation as a full-time employee with the particular organisation.

  9. I also agree with “The Buxr Widget”, I think it makes sense to disclose the sponsor information.

  10. Kat says:

    What a touchy subject this one is.

    I disclose, not per post, but my disclosure is linked in my sidebar, and on individual entry pages.
    But it’s a simple disclosure. I may be getting paid to write reviews of some products or services, or reviews of products.

    I never disclose how much I make for posts, I never discuss a monthly total of my earnings etc.
    I personally find talking about how much you earn every month, to be extremely tacky.
    I know a lot of bloggers who do it, and as soon as I see a post that says here’s my earnings for July (ie) I close their blog.
    I don’t want to know how much they got paid, and I don’t think others want to know either.
    To me, it’s like taking a picture of your paycheck and posting it saying see? see how much money I make? I’m awesome.
    Tacky.

  11. Webomatica says:

    Depends on the type of blog you write, but to be on the safe side I think it’s better to disclose than not – sort of like overdressing for a job interview. You can’t really go wrong if you disclose.

  12. I agree with webomatica, usually depends on the blog you are authoring. As far as personal information, I think any professional affiliations or income are usually good to give credability.

  13. Johnny says:

    I don’t feel a blog should have to disclose anything other than if they are commenting on another blogs post and then I think the originating blog deserves a link back to the original article.

  14. Disclosure comes down to one word: trust.

    If you believe a sponsorship, a network-affiliation, employment ties or friendship if known would cause your readers to question their trust in your writing, then disclose it.

    On the other hand, don’t go bananas and disclose every minute detail of your life in the thought you are being ‘transparent.’ Some windows are better left with a shade.

    Must bloggers have some disclosure? No. Disclosure is only necessary if you need your readers trust in what you write.

  15. David Mackey says:

    This was an excellent post over at RW/W. I mainly post disclosures when the post is sponsored (e.g. PayPerPost).

  16. Traveler says:

    Well, here’s my disclosure statement, which is linked from the front page of my main blog: http://travel.booklocker.com/2006/12/28/my-clear-as-mud-disclosure-policy/

    Admittedly, it’s a rather muddy statement because this is a muddy topic. If you say we’re journalists, then maybe we should disclose every conflict of interest. But even then, does every newspaper and magazine music reviewer say they got the CD for free? Or that they never pay for concerts? Of course not. Does every movie reviewer say they didn’t have to pay to see the flick? Of course not. And let’s not even talk about fashion and celebrity tabloids, whose “journalists” would laugh until their sides split if told they would have to disclose every relationship every time they write about something.

    I tend to think of bloggers as opinion page writers and we should be opinionated. Howard Stern plugs his advertisers, musicians plug their sponsors, athletes plug their shoe contract guys. We’re influencers and that’s business. If your idealistic world is more black and white, don’t read my blog. I’m okay with that.

  17. Bloggrrl says:

    If I put a text-link in, I say something like, “And yes I will make money if you decide this is for you!” However, I think I’m going to simplify things with a disclosure page.

  18. Michele says:

    I only disclose what I think is relevant. Most regular readers of my main blog know what my dayjob is, so they know why I’m plugging certain things. It’s pretty clear from the bio on my site anyway

  19. Hsien Lei says:

    I think lack of disclosure is one of the biggest issues affecting the credibility of blogs aiming to provide valuable information. In my area of science and health blogging, I don’t link to anyone who doesn’t at the very least explain how they got their expertise.

    Using a pseudonym may be ok but not when they disclose nothing else about their background and affiliations. I know of at least one example where a blogger has a major conflict of interest but has never disclosed it. Makes me see red!

  20. Stephanie says:

    I use a sitewide disclosure combined with occasional mention of when I got something free or the post is sponsored. But I don’t give a positive review unless I mean it.

  21. Alan Parekh says:

    Being open and transparent is the only way to go, it makes bloggers look so bad when new comes out that reviews that were done were actually paid for but never disclosed as such.

  22. I recently started a blog about making money, and among my first posts was a blog disclosure (http://everypennyhelps.blogspot.com/2007/07/making-money-blog-full-disclosure.html). Since I was going to be talking about affiliate programs and ads and all that stuff, and I had ads on my page and would affiliate links to my posts, I figured that it would be the right thing to do to disclose these facts. So I told my readers that most of my links would be affiliate links, and that I would make money if they clicked on these links and did something, or if they clicked on my ads, and that I would teach them how to make money that way too.

    I think disclosures are important in making your readers feel they have not been tricked, or taken advantage of, especially in blogs about making money.