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Disclosing interests

Over the past couple of months, the whole area of bloggers disclosing interests and potential conflicts of interest has become a serious issue. It’s something I’ve long been aware of since working at the BBC – where such conflicts of interest are not allowed to occur.

PayPerPost has some serious issues with users not being forced to disclose they are being paid to shill products on their blog – with some people inferring they may even be encouraged not to disclose their involvement with the PayPerPost program.

Micheal Arrington has also been ‘bashed’ (his words) a bit recently about these issues.

I don’t have advertising on my site – I think it’s a little lame to be honest on a personal blog – and I don’t participate in PayPerPost (or similar, either).

However I realized last night as I walked home from a Microsoft launch party (Virtual Earth 3D – quite cool) with a nice little ‘gift bag’ that maybe I need to disclose this kind of stuff too. As it happens I walked away with a 40Gig external hard-drive and somewhat bizarrely an XBox controller for Windows XP (not sure why I want the latter).

With that in mind I’ve now decided to publicly disclose everything I receive over $50 on my Disclosures’s page.

I’ve decided not to disclose include food/drinks because I don’t drink alcohol (hey, what’s the problem with the odd lemonade?) and I so rarely get taken to dinner! On the occasions I am taken to dinner, it might be a potential client or some other such event which out of professionalism I need to keep discrete.

But I’m interested to hear what people think about the following:

  • Food/drink – do you agree with my position (perhaps I do need to disclose everything)?
  • Schwag from conferences – should that be disclosed even though I paid to attend the event?
  • Private engagements – such as entertaining by clients
  • Prizes – such as the TV I won at Yahoo! Hack Day

I’m also interested to hear at what point people think it’s not appropriate to accept gifts.

Let me know what you think, and what else should be disclosed. Perhaps we can form a ‘template’ for disclosure together?

Published in Thoughts and Rants


  1. If you paid to be there – it’s yours (unless the gift is just obscene)

  2. Brian Brian

    The XBox controller can be used to navigate Virtual Earth 3D, much like you would navigate a first-person shooter.

  3. I’d like to think it would be worth my while creating a disclosure page but I’d just be kidding myself… The best I’ve ever done is a competitors stress ball that broke.

  4. Ben Ben

    The best I’ve ever done is a competitors stress ball that broke.

    Maybe that’s an indication you’re too stressed!

  5. Ben Ben

    (Hugh points to one of his cartoon’s proclaiming “Nobody cares”).

    Hugh – the point is people should care. Maybe you don’t care, and I guess many (/most/all?) my readers don’t care. But perhaps they should.

    I look back at that list and think “fuck, I’ve actually taken a fair few things from Microsoft” – I’m now going to make a consciensious effort not to take any more stuff from Microsoft… But I want my readers to be aware of that when they are reading my posts about Microsoft (good and bad).

    People generally need to question and examin the news they are reading – be it mainstream, grassroots or something else. Whilst your point (‘nobody cares’) might be true, it’s also very sad.

    I know that I’m being transparent in my own little way. And, I’m – as best I can – putting as much pressure on my blogging peers to do the same.

  6. David David

    Hi… i think food/drinks shall be disclosed.
    I would consider that is another form of appreciation to the people treated.

    I would do that.

  7. You might have a point. 🙂

  8. Ben Ben

    Hi… i think food/drinks shall be disclosed.

    Ok, so what would people suggest around the following scenarios:

    • Parties at conferences – usually sponsored and not ‘officially’ part of the conference program. Do these need to be disclosed?
    • Entertainment by potential clients – my issue is that I generally feel the need keep the identities of potential clients discrete.
    • Lunch/dinner/coffee socials with industry people
    • Someone who works in the industry just buys me a single drink – do I need to disclose that?

    What about the fact that I don’t drink – there’s also a difference between quaffing a $1.50 sprite (in my case) and a $15 Long-Island Ice Tea.

  9. Dead indited written content, regards for entropy. “Life is God’s novel. Let him write it.” by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

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