the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Badge of Honor

badge

I respect the ideas behind this new idea titled Blogging with Integrity.  I’m fans of the four women behind the concept, and met two of them at BlogHer, so I a bit nervous to talk about it, but as most of my long-time readers know, I always have issues with blog badges, and this one is particularly powerful.   It quickly appeared on the blogs of hundreds of women and got media attention just as BlogHer ended.  I would love to talk about it further in a civilized manner, analyzing the pros and cons, and whether this is the correct approach to the problem.

This is the copy on the BLOG with INTEGRITY webpage:

By displaying the Blog with Integrity badge or signing the pledge, I assert that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is important to me.

I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.

I believe in intellectual property rights, providing links, citing sources, and crediting inspiration where appropriate.

I disclose my material relationships, policies and business practices. My readers will know the difference between editorial, advertorial, and advertising, should I choose to have it. If I do sponsored or paid posts, they are clearly marked.

When collaborating with marketers and PR professionals, I handle myself professionally and abide by basic journalistic standards.

I always present my honest opinions to the best of my ability.

I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.

Sounds good and decent.  Who would disagree with that?

What is the real issue here?    Unless I am wrong,  I am guessing this is primarily about the new FTC ethics guidelines, product reviews, and proper disclosure, with the swag-fighting at BlogHer only adding fuel to the fire.   Something must be done to show that bloggers are serious folk!

Are we talking only about mommybloggers?    The press seems to say so —

Now a group of “mommy bloggers” is banding together to promote a group called Blog With Integrity. The self-organised, self-policing group aims to instill a new measure of credibility in the blogosphere by encouraging bloggers to come out and proclaim their incorruptibility. (Financial Times of London)

One of the promoters, Susan Getgood, explains it like this: Blog With Intergity is “a tangible and collective way to express our commitment to a simple code of blogging conduct.”

First off, it would be nice for an issue as big as this one would move beyond the mommyblogging world.    What about daddybloggers?  Are daddybloggers completely honest in their dealings online, while mothers need overseeing?   Why not include a daddy blogger on the “editorial board,” giving a signal to corporations that men will abide by the same rules as women?  This is one of the few issues that I believe should not be segregated by sex.  If we are going to start a blogging union with blogging rules, let’s open it up to everyone.

So, what is the problem?   Everyone wants to create a better relationship between bloggers, the readership of blogs, and the corporations and PR firms who want to sell things.  This badge would be sort of a Blogging Good Housekeeping Seal of approval, announcing to others that this blogger who displays it acts honorably.

Or as my blogging friend Teensygreen says on her blog —

By signing the pledge and putting a button on your blog, you’re aligning yourself with wonderful people who truly care about the content they’re putting out there.

My biggest issue with the words in the pledge are these:

I always present my honest opinions to the best of my ability.

I’m pretty honest.  I am being honest right now.  But the very IDEA of pledging to be honest goes so against the grain of everything I believe, that I am rather shocked that more of you don’t have a problem signing this pledge.

As much as I respect the sentiments, I hope this badge doesn’t become too popular.  I would hate to see a two tier system on the blogosphere, where one person displays a badge of integrity, like a preacher carrying the Holy Book for all to see, while the rest of us are branded as lying heathens in Sodom, fucking goats.  Isn’t the logical conclusion — the hope of the promoters — that marketers will notice this badge and work with those displaying it?   Do we really want that to happen?   Ask Sophia’s parents about life in the Soviet Union, when people had to take pledges before getting jobs and apartments.

Am I overreacting?  Probably?  Maybe this is all a clever PR campaign to get some buzz.   But I am taking what is given to me — at face value – and see some problems with it.

Think about what this pledge really means.   When you pimp a book, are you going to say that it was written by your blogging buddy and that you never really got past page one?   Will you stop stumbling your friends on Stumbleupon as a “you scratch my back” gesture and only link to posts of high quality?   We all do disingenuous things online.

I think these women have done a great service to get the ball rolling, so we call all discuss the issue of honesty and integrity online.

I understand the FTC issue and the disclosure issue.  The women who created this badge are funny, creative women.  I just want to play devil’s advocate, so we remember that sometimes the best intentions can have negative consequences.

I blog so I can be creative.   Hopefully, I will win your trust with my actions, not with a pledge.

84 Comments

  1. Y

    Funny, I had like an 8 hour conversation with The Bloggess about this today.

    The women who started it our friends of mine, but I will not be putting the badge up. I agree with many of the points you make. I’ve always been honest with my readers, I feel like I’ve always blogged with integrity and I wonder if my integrity will automatically be questioned because I choose NOT to display a badge on my blog. That’s the part that worries me.

  2. Danielle

    “Hopefully, I will win your trust with my actions, not with a pledge.”

    That’s my exact response to stuff like this. Do you really need a badge in order to indicate that you blog (or do anything) with integrity? Why can’t you just, uh, DO IT? I don’t see the need for the delineation.

    Then again, I could give fuck-all about product reviews, advertising and the like. This badge (website, pledge) gets under my skin all the same.

  3. Adventures In Babywearing

    I understand everything you are saying, completely. I love the idea of the blogging with integrity movement and support the women behind it. That is why I signed the pledge. But I do not have it displayed on my main page- it’s on my “she links” page and I am not sure if that’s against the rules, but it’s where I feel most comfortable having it displayed.

    I think it’s important to see their intentions- which I think are all good and are meant to include any type of blogger. I wish it could go without saying, and that there was no need for such things, yeah.

    Steph

  4. califmom

    Excellent jumping off point for a dialogue that needs to happen. I don’t have the badge on my blog. It doesn’t feel authentic to me. My blog is mine. Of course I do it with integrity. I’m not comfortable having a scripted stance I sign that dictates what that means. It’s too narrow for me.

  5. harmzie

    You need a badge for that? Seriously?

    I think I’d get all bristly like when I’m in a meeting and someone says “well, in all honesty, _____”. What you weren’t being honest before? Or after this thought?

    When someone’s site is all decked out with n degrees of advertising, I’m viewing it with a bit of armour against what may or may not be coming at me, and who’s buying my time. Doesn’t mean I write it off (many of my most favs have ads), but I go in cautious. When someone’s blank except for the bells and whistles they’ve put up themselves, I feel a little more like I’m in *their* space. Also, doesn’t mean they’re not pimping something (presumably themselves).

    Actually, I like the badge. It’s another warning flare for me that someone *may* be taking themselves too seriously (I said “MAY”!!)

  6. Long Story Longer

    This is the first I’m hearing of it, but I have to say – I think it’s SO WEIRD. I don’t know who created the concept, so I’m not trying to slight anyone in particular, but it sounds like people taking themselves too seriously. Jesus. Have a drink. Get laid. Unclench.

    I can’t really imagine ever going to BlogHer. It sounds like a lot that happens there or that comes out of it is so petty. I don’t know. I’m a TequilaCon kind of girl.

    Again – SO WEIRD.

  7. Long Story Longer

    I love what CalifMom says – too narrow.

  8. Lesley

    For me this is just something else that feels too much like a requirement for being part of the club. I blog as a creative outlet. I blog to entertain my friends and whoever else happens to stumble by. Beyond that…whatever. I’m not a mommyblogger or a daddyblogger or any other specific kind of blogger. And I tend to shy away from anything that seems too clique-ish. I left high school behind a long time ago and am happy to keep it in the past. That being said, I am in no way intending to disparage the lovely people who came up with this idea. I just think these kinds of things tend to take on lives of their own and can end up becoming something totally different than what was originally (and more positively) intended.

    And if I’m here? Readin’ your blog? You can assume I already think you are just fine in the integrity and honesty department.

    No badge required.

  9. Headless Mom

    I’ve been tossing around these very same thoughts. I’ve always blogged with integrity, do I need to announce it now? I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, either. Maybe Steph’s idea is the best.

  10. followthatdog

    I was wondering what those badges were all about. I’m so out of the loop on this stuff. But really, why do we need badges or pledges to behave like adults. I learn more from what people do than what blog bling they post.

  11. Red Lotus Mama

    You blog with great intentions … honestly and with humor. Wear you badge with pride my friend!

  12. JChevais

    What you said and what Lesley said? Yes.

    I understand wedding vows, but not blogging vows. If the people who read my blog don’t inherently recognise my integrity then they won’t come back. That’s my loss. Simple.

  13. ingrid

    I too see the intent behind the badge. It probably comes out of strong feelings about blogs that do not uphold these principles.

    That said, I will not display this kind of thing nor will I discriminate between blogs that do or do not display it. It reminds me a bit of girl guide badges… great for those who participate in in girl guides and want a record of their accomplishments and values, but not at all indicative of the skills/integrity of those who do not participate.

    This is not said with judgment towards those who initiated this, more to say that I don’t feel the need.

    Bloggers represent society. There are opportunists, liars and sellers, just as there are people of honour, silliness and great creativity. Sometimes these people even fall into the same package since we are all contradictions to some extent.

    It is precisely the diversity of bloggers that make this form of expression such an interesting one. And it is free expression that keeps it going.

    I am not at all concerned about people judging my blog as a “has the badge” vs. “does not have the badge”. Those who would judge it on such a petty basis are not people I am concerned with knowing or retaining the loyalty of.

  14. tela

    I agree with what you and Lesley said, wholeheartedly. I like, and read, the blogs of the women who created that badge. But I don’t think our blog will be displaying that badge. We do what we do, if other’s don’t like it, oh wellz. I don’t like having to explain myself.

    To expound on what Leslie said, the blogosphere is sort of this weird clique-ish world. I’m not sure if anyone meant it to be, but to someone who has been blogging for more than three years but doesn’t really have any “close” blogging friends, this really became evident at BlogHer. Badges like these have the potential to further “cliqueify” the blogging world.

  15. Briar

    I put it up because I do feel like the sponsors and all that have become kind of gross. And I do feel like it’s worthwhile to announce that I will never try to sneakily sell you something. In fact, I will probably never try to sell you anything at all. Except myself. Those who have read me forever know that but new people don’t necessarily.

    I won’t be searching for it on other people’s blogs when I arrive to see whether they are good or not. Their words will tell me. I just put it up for me, because I liked it.

  16. kelly

    And, this is why so many bloggers bore me, the stupid need to start groups, pin badges to their breasts, blah!

    I’d much rather be known as the goat-fucking heathen, as you put it.

    I write my shit down the way I want to, with honesty. If people like it, fine. If not, fine. Can you imagine Jose Saramago or Ian McEwen putting up some lame ass badge on their book cover that says, I write with integrity. Double blah!

    But then again, I would never get involved in lame ass product reviews, so really this whole debate is a moot one for me.

    Kudos to you for taking a stab at discussing it.

  17. Marinka

    So what is wrong with fucking goats? Judgmental much?

    I think you know that I agree with a lot of it. The get the idea behind it, but it was a little alarming how quickly some people slapped that badge on their blog. (I mean, shouldn’t there be some kind of a test before they can be branded bloggers with integrity? Like maybe they have to turn in the names of less-than-honest bloggers in to a committee? No? Just a thought. I was kidding.)

    I’m not in the mommy blogging-marketing world, so I tend to defer to the people who are in these global ethics questions. But it does bother me and I agree that a dialogue is good.

    I blog because the people that I know in my real life are tired of the sound of my voice and the blogosphere has been kinder.

    I will never praise a friend’s book if I didn’t love it. And not just because I’d be seething with jealousy about it.

    (btw, “It’s Not Me, It’s You” is truly fantastic. I keep wanting to review it on my blog, but I’m so not a book reviewer, so I’m resorting to leaving comments on people’s blogs about it. It’s funny, smart humor–I think you’d like it.)
    xo

  18. SciFi Dad

    Technically speaking, the pledge does not contain verbiage prohibiting man-goat relations. For the record, of course.

    As for the rest of it, I have always tried, to the best of my ability, to follow what their pledge states. I think most people who blog do.

    The problem is that some people don’t understand the difference between reviewing/commentary and shilling – and these people exist on both sides of the line: bloggers and PR/marketing types – so we get the FTC stepping in.

  19. Cecily

    Well said, sir. I have been resisting the badge mostly because I’m not all that marketable a blogger — something about saying motherfucker too much — and it does feel like it’s directed at the marketers more than the readers.

    Secondly, I’m an honest blogger. Super honest. So I resent the idea of declaring myself suddenly full of integrity when my readers know that I’ve been telling the truth for years.

    sigh. But then again, I do understand the thinking and I support the idea of it. But it doesn’t fit me or my blog. 🙂

    Thanks for writing about this!

  20. pia

    I would like to add to what you said about Sophia’s parents. In America 50-60 years ago many truly great Americans were denied jobs or fired because somebody said they were a Communist. it didn’t matter if it was true or not–it was enough that the House on UnAmerican Activities believed it. Many people think the blacklist just happened to actors. No–teachers, doctors, just plain working people. I was raised on stories about this.

    Not being a mommy, I tell my niece and goddaughter these stories–I see that Marinka alluded to the blacklist. But one thing I have learned is that a blogger has to spell things out because too many people, not through any fault of their own, don’t know basic history

    I used to be known. For the past two and more years I focused on life and my blog suffered. Being from NY until very recently I know bloggers who haven’t updated in months or more that are planning their grand return to the blogosphere so they can “be somebody” at blogher next summer
    Though I have far fewer readers than I had I have good readers but I’m not planning on pimping anybodies return

    Wow Neil you have had me thinking about this for almost an hour. Yours is the kind of blog post I care about. I love good stories also–which you excel at.

    Integrity? That’s beyond funny to me. I mentioned the blacklist. It just dawned on me that in my first two years as a blogger, the blogging radical right would swoop on my blog. They called me all kinds of names. They said I lacked integrity among many other things.

    They thought they ruled the blogosphere.Then came Katrina and more and more bloggers became disgusted by their actions

    So integrity is subjective. And an integrity badge reflects the mores of that hour

  21. abdpbt

    Neil, you are so right with this post. I’ve never been one for pledges. I still bristle at the pledge of allegiance. Isn’t the idea that we can choose to do whatever the hell we want? And why does somebody else get to tell me what integrity is? Isn’t that my own responsibility?

    Listen, I understand why they did this, but to be honest I think people need to stop worrying so much about the actions of others reflecting on them. I don’t quite understand why it matters so much to them.

    And we cannot attack people? What the hell good is that? I’m out.

  22. caron

    No matter what the badge, I will always read blogs containing ads with a jaundiced eye. As honest and sincerely intended as people can hope to be, they will still, perhaps unwittingly, write to the money.

    Perhaps a goat-lovin’ badge proclaiming that indeed this writer sometimes speaks the truth – as he or she knows it to be, and, sometimes this writer pulls the wool over your eyes. The writer trusts his/her intelligent readers ability to judge for themselves.

  23. Chris

    Yeah! What Anna said! And CalifMom! I like your points and am not personally a badge person. I can see what generally the originators of the badge were/are trying to achieve, but like you, I hope it’s not the defining “fish sticker” on the back of our cars.

  24. Jenny, Bloggess

    Amen. I adore the ladies that started this and I appreciate the idea but I don’t need to sign a public pledge promising to have integrity. I show my integrity by being honest with my readers and by eviscerating marketers who don’t do their jobs and by celebrating those who do. I show my integrity by making my own decisions and not doing the popular thing even when it would have made me more “marketable”. I think the idea of blogging with integrity is a good one and if it helps people (especially new bloggers who may need advice) then I applaud it, but I applaud posts like this one even more…the posts where a blogger isn’t afraid of speaking his mind even in the face of possible criticism.

    In the end I don’t need a badge to tell if someone has integrity. I can tell when I’m being sold to and if I feel like I’m being used then I leave. The community naturally drives people to blogs that are honest, and the people who pepper their blogs with ads and paid reviews lose readers and then lose the opportunity to sell stuff because all their readers have deserted them. Most people are smart enough to know when they’re being used by someone regardless of whether they have a badge displayed or not.

  25. AnnieH(the other Annie)

    Badge, no badge. Whatever.
    I put up with enough nonsense at work to know a non-issue, a tempest in a tea-pot, a bad case of DramaMamaitis when I see it. This looks like folks trying to make something way more important than it actually is. If we are truly going to be honest, we’d all sign our real names, which we don’t for very valid reasons. But if we did, I would sign as Ralph Nader who obviously does not need no stinkin’ badge.

  26. Danny

    Oy, I never heard about this until now. I’m sure the women who created this are wonderful and sincere but I’m here to say that if you start “blogging with integrity” I will be heartbroken and be forced to remove you from my blogroll. Just say no to integrity, Neil!

  27. ByJane

    Terrific post. I don’t get those badges either. Are they like sorority pins? (Or kick-me signs?)

  28. Margaret (Nanny Goats)

    This seems like one of those things that may have good intentions, will be abused by those vying for more traffic and thereby rendering it meaningless after a while. I’m not saying I’m above all that since I scratch people’s backs all the time. But if this badge is placed on one’s blog under the “honor system” and not after being completely vetted by some “Blogger Better Business Bureau”, then I’m not going to worry about appearing as a lying, goat-fucking heathen for not displaying the badge. Of course with a name like Nanny Goats in Panties, people may assume the worst anyway.

  29. anymommy

    I do understand the fairly narrow concern surrounding people who write about products/review things without disclosing their gain in the situation. But, that’s life. It’s always hard to discern people’s real intent. You just have to give them a chance and decide if you trust them. I’m not sure a button will prevent or encourage the desired disclosure behavior.

    I agree completely with your point that treating the willingness to put up a button as the final word on whether someone blogs with integrity would be naive on all sides, readers, advertisers, etc. I don’t in any way think that’s what the creators intend, but I can see your point.

  30. Vanessa

    I’m with you on his one, my friend. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m a little kookoo but I have just as must ability to pull the wool over someone in real life as I do in the blogosphere (god, I hate that term…). However, I don’t see anyone campaigning to get everyone to wear signs while roaming the Earth that say, “I’m not full of shit!”

  31. Katebits

    I write a blog about hockey, and I’m totally removed from the world of mommyblogging and “blogging with integrity” badges, but it’s interesting to see this and compare it to some of the stuff that occurs in the sports blogosphere.

    A few years ago it was assumed by everyone that if you were blogging about sports, you were attempting to be a journalist. There was a ton of talk about bloggers getting press credentials, and how you differentiate between a a reputable blogs and filthy disreputable blogs. Because sports information contains an element of “news” the sports blogosphere struggled to define itself by comparison to the already established world of sports media. There was a big push to self police, and to adhere to established rules of responsible journalism. It was lame, because the vast majority of us weren’t trying to become journalists, we were just fans, writing about the experience of being a fan.

    This “blogging with integrity” reminds me of that. It seems to me that by pledging to “blog with integrity” what you are really doing is aligning yourself with people who are trying to ethically make money off their blog. Period. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Until you are trying to make money off your readers there is absolutely no need to establish your “integrity”, just like is no need for me to write according to the traditional rules of sports journalism. Our blogs will be better if we don’t willing adhere to a bunch of rules that don’t even apply to what we do, right?

  32. Mary Beth (Cats, Books, Life is Good)

    This is a great post, Neil! I don’t need a badge to tell my readers (all three of them) that I’m honest. And if you need a badge to read my blog, I really don’t think you’re going to be a good fit. Also I don’t look for badges on other people’s blogs – I usually pass right by them without noticing the sidebars.

  33. Susan Getgood

    Thanks for this post. The last thing that should happen is that folks just line up without asking whether the pledge makes sense for them personally.

    First, I want to answer a couple of questions raised in the comments. Put the badge anywhere you like, sign the pledge but don’t post the badge, post the badge but don’t sign the pledge. Our goal was to give the blogging community — all bloggers, not just moms — a way to affirm their personal commitment to blog with integrity. How is up to you.

    Next: do we need a badge to blog with integrity? Absolutely not — if you have it, you don’t need a badge to prove it, and if you don’t, the badge isn’t going to magically give it to you. It does however give *those who want it* a way to publicly affirm their commitment. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. You and your readers decide about your blog. That’s what really matters.

    To the philosophical point. I will be among the first in line to take the badge off my blog if it ever becomes a ranking system. I’m generally opposed to rankings, lists — anything that tries to put us in little boxes — but the blogging community truly needed something to reframe the conversation in a more positive light.

    Think about it. Even if you don’t put the badge on your blog or sign the pledge, you’re thinking about the issues in a different way. It’s not about swag or paid reviews or all that distracting crap.

    We’re thinking about our responsibility to ourselves and our readers.

  34. Annie

    Neil, I agree with you 100%. My readers either trust me or they don’t. My actions speak louder than any badge could.

  35. jennster

    like many others, i love and respect the women who started this pledge, but the bottom line is- i couldn’t in good and true faith to myself, sign a pledge like that… or display the banner on my blog.
    i can’t have someone else tell me what integrity for myself means to me. it’s so personal. it’s all so fucking personal. and while i totally understand the reasoning behind why they did it- it’s just totally not me. i have integrity. i have lots of things and i would hope that all of them are pretty obvious on my blog. i shouldn’t need a button blatantly telling someone that i blog honestly. you should be able to get that from my posts, right?
    and while i always try to blog to the best of my honest ability, i find that sometimes i totally am eating my words later- or my thoughts change- or whatnot. i don’t want to be bound by anyone else’s definition of what MY blog should or shouldn’t be. how i should or shouldn’t blog. that’s for me to decide. and for me to discover. it’s my journey- decided by and for me.. not anyone else.

  36. Shauna

    Seriously? I say fuck everybody. Just decide who/what you’re gonna be and be it.

    It’d be like if I went around all day wearing a sign that said, “I’m a good person,” or “no, I don’t really think you’re an asshole.”

  37. Jurgen Nation

    You had me years ago without a badge and, despite the Personal Protection Order you filed against me, you’ll have me forever (echo, echo). I agree with Jennster up there in that you really don’t need a badge to display your integrity. Your readers will know it – that’s why, presumably, they read you. And I’m also speaking to the general “you,” as well. I love the idea of people being nice to each other and treating each other with respect and compassion and kindness, but I really have faith that people read what they read because of their own faith in your integrity and honesty. So, yeah. I think it’s a great idea, but IMHO, we bloggers shouldn’t have to have a badge speak to who we are. Our writing is supposed to do that.

    Also, HELLO!!!! I MISS YOU!!

  38. Mom101

    Aw Neil, who would you be if not the devil’s advocate? I’d be disappointed if you weren’t leading the devil’s advocate brigade!

    Susan said it all, so not much more I need to say. Except there’s nothing on the Blog With Integrity site at all that says it’s just for moms. Or for parents, even. The fact that the four of us happen to be mothers is pretty much besides the point, except that we (the collective mommyblogger we) have borne the brunt of the negative press and probably feel a need to defend ourselves more than others.

    Look, here’s the truth. Bloggers – and particularly parenting bloggers – are becoming known as the crazy people with hair-triggers who rally around “causes” like tearing down brands on Twitter. If the worst thing that anyone can say about me now is that I have rallied around integrity well, I could live with that.

  39. mamie

    so, for full disclosure, i am a brand spanking new reader that found you due to some blogher posts (yours was brilliant) and i gotta say, your last post blew my mind (blew might not be the right word considering the content). me thinks i have been reading too many mama knitting blogs. it was a refreshing change up. and left me with some very vivid images…i almost had to stop reading it with the kids in the room.

    okay, so badges. i do not exist deeply enough in the blog world to care much. i rarely read a post when a blogger discloses she is promoting a sponser and appreciate when they do that disclosure in the title. i do not really want to exist deeply enough in the blog world to have to care in the future…the badges that crop up in sidebars seem a little too much like ‘pieces of flair’ (to maintain integrity i shall let you know i used those words from office space, they are not my own).

    integrity seems a little slippery as it can mean different things to folks. i sure as hell do not act with integrity when i photograph my adorable kids, but keep the pile of dirty diapers they are sitting next to out of the frame. but that make sme feel better.

    i like what you are doing here, neil. i’ll be back. again, not my words.

  40. Neil

    Katebits – that was a incredibly intelligent comment. I hope others read it, and learn from the experiences of others. Why reinvent the wheel when sports bloggers already went through the same issues?

    Susan — I know it is all for something good. But people suck. And once there are badges telling marketers who is “with us” and who “isn’t,” they are going to choose the person with the badge. Why have the badge and make it a “pledge” if it doesn’t have any real merit? Either you want me to take it seriously or not… I try to “own my words.” I don’t take a pledge unless I vow to abide by it.

    Jurgen Nation — I don’t care about anything else — other than this post making you come out of hiding. The blogosphere has been a darker place without you around.

    The more I think about this, I’m thinking this issue is more miscommunication than anything else. When we both use the term blogging, we are discussing two different things. Blogging to you seems to be about realism and fact and promoting and selling — something akin to Time Magazine. Blogging to others is about writing and personal journey, where honesty can change and shift depending on our medications.

  41. Katebits

    Blogging to you seems to be about realism and fact and promoting and selling — something akin to Time Magazine. Blogging to others is about writing and personal journey, where honesty can change and shift depending on our medications.

    clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap

    “Blogging with integrity” seems mostly designed to self police. Which is fine. I’m glad that the people who are trying to make money from blogging are devoted to doing so ethically, but honestly, in regards to the vast majority of blogs, “integrity” has NOTHING to do with selling, marketing, or journalistic standards.

  42. Nina

    No badge for me.
    Three reasons:

    1) Too lazy

    2)Grew up in actual political system in which your belief system, background, or ‘belonging’ badge you sported determined what opportunities in life would be available to you. I’ve defended myself by being too lazy to ally myself with any political movement.

    3) In much the same way that hearing ‘Don’t worry’ instnatly ups my anxiety, so ‘bloggingwithintegrity’ makes me feeel suspicious.

  43. Mom101

    I love critical thinking and I love debate which is why I’m happy that you’re looking at this different ways Neil. But I’m more than a little uncomfortable with you attributing a statement to me which I think you know to be far from the case. Actually, it’s hurtful. So I’m going to step out of this discussion now because while I’m all for discussion about principles and badges and whether a PR person will want to interract with you based on a blog badge–I’m not big on being called an arrogant thief.

    This was not a malicious undertaking. Some people get it because they know how much we love blogging and love the community and hate to see it maligned. I’ll leave it at that.

  44. Mom101

    See…that’s integrity.

    Just sayin.

    🙂

  45. Gwen

    If I’ve been reading a blog for long enough to get a sense of the person behind it, even the occasional pandering post will make no difference to me, because I understand that we humans like attention and are also not always completely clear about our true motives. That particular badge will undoubtedly have no impact on what I do or don’t read, but I’m sort of an ornery non-joiner who appreciates a good goat fucking every now and then (even if I do personally prefer Gomorrah–why *does* Sodom get all the good press, I wonder).

  46. Beautiful Wreck

    :::catching up on my reading tonight:::

    I went to the site as I read several of those who started it. I did not sign up or grab the pledge to put on my blog either for the same sentiments you have written about. I’ve been writing on the internet for over a decade. My words are my words and they are honest and sincere. I do not need a badge to earn the trust of my readers.

  47. Becky

    See? This is why I want to drink beer with you.

  48. alejna

    Thanks for writing about this, Neil. I haven’t really been up on the whole issue.

    I have a pretty strong aversion to pledges, much as I can appreciate the sentiments leading to this one.

    Bring on the goats.

  49. Haley-O

    I vote Neil honorary MOMMY BLOGGER. We will hold the ceremony at BlogHer ’10.

    Seriously, you are brave to critique this concept — which was undoubtedly conceived with the highest of hopes and best of intentions.

    And a lot of what you say does ring true. I don’t think I THINK about my blog that much. It’s so much a part of me. Like an appendage, another organ. It should definitely express it’s own integrity without tools or badges — now that I DO think about it. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you….

  50. Cara

    Like my mom always says, locks only keep the honest people out. Dishonest people will sign the pledge and post the badge, just like the honest ones. We have to use our better judgment to decide which are which. While I applaud this movement for advancing the discussion of integrity in blogging, ultimately I think it is more about cleaning up the image of bloggers to outsiders than to actually create any code of conduct. Maybe I’m a cynic, but there it is.

  51. Haley-O

    AND, I choose to leave the badge on my sidebar BECAUSE of the good intentions behind it. And because I want to support the cause and the good peeps behind it. It might not be the perfect solution to the problems at large, but it’s something.

    I blog with integrity – absolutely. I don’t need a badge to speak that truth for me. BUT, I hate to think that when I mention some of my favoUrite brands in my blog posts, for example, people MIGHT think I’m pimping these brands, secretly getting paid for the placement. Because I fear that sometimes.

    So, the badge stays. But, I applaud you, and thank you, for reminding me to THINK before acting. To not be so RASH. A big life lesson for me.

  52. muskrat

    I tell stories on my blog, and they’re all true. I don’t sell stuff. If I did, no one would buy the stuff anyway.

    So, I don’t need a badge.

  53. Kathy

    I don’t quite understand the point of all this. Isn’t disclosure, respecting the opinions of others, crediting your sources, kind of a given? Is the blogosphere so broken we’re forgetting to do those things? And we need a badge to remind us who is?

  54. -R-

    I think starting the integrity group was a really good PR move and got lots of attention for the people involved. And I think the group good in theory, being honest in your writing is a good idea, something I look for in a writer.

    I don’t know that it actually does anything though. I agree with Jennster above that integrity is personal. I also agree with whoever commented above that I don’t know why I should be concerned about whether someone else blogs with integrity or not. Other people’s blogs will succeed or fail, and other people will get marketing pitches or not. I don’t think marketing pitches will only start going to people who are willing to lie on their blogs, and if they do, then someone with “integrity” shouldn’t want to work with those companies anyway.

  55. Zoeyjane

    I have a problem with simply putting a square button on my blog and apparently that is supposed to mean something about my blogging. Yes, I’m always honest, yes, I am communicative about reviews, advertising and other forms of sponsorship. No, I won’t stop attacking people.

    I think, if someone has to look for a blue button that says the writer is blogging with integrity to know that, they’re not really reading it.

  56. Burgh Baby

    I’ve been trying for a while now to figure out why I’m squicked out by the badge, and I think you just summed it up quite nicely.

    I’m pretty sure the four or so people who read my site know that what’s there is honest and devoid of corporate sponsorship. That’s probably precisely why I get a few kajillion PR pitches per day, which I delete because I kinda like those four or so people.

  57. Edgy Mama

    As a journalist, I’ve signed and agreed to innumerable codes of ethics. I think this “badge” is a way for some bloggers to show that they, too, write with a code of ethics. While admirable, it’s powerless if there are no repercussions to plagiarism or lying on-line. I mean, you could put this badge up and still lie about what you had for breakfast, right?

    Like you, Neil, I’m already open and honest on my blog, and my long-time readers know and trust me, so what’s the point of a badge?

  58. Maria

    I’m using the badge, and I think it’s a step in the right direction. But it’s not perfect and I ADORE the points you’ve made here. For what it’s worth, I’m totally going to continue fucking goats.

  59. Ashley Cutler

    This is like only buying food because it has “all-natural” on the package but not looking at the ingredients. The label is worthless if someone puts it on a blog where they don’t actually uphold those standards since it isn’t monitored by anyone.

    That being said, I appreciate their efforts and I could see how they would think it was a good idea. I think that at the least, it gets people to flesh these ideas out.

  60. C Lo

    Ok, so let me get this straight…….y’all don’t want to be judged by these badge-rs so in retaliation you’re judging them and insulting them and calling them names?

    Yeah. Ok.

    What about just, oh, I dunno, trying to understand that these women who created this idea are probably a lot like you or me and just have a different POV, that’s all.

    I’m not gonna be putting the badge on my page and I agree with a lot of what Neil is saying. Heck, I even agree with the idea that it will just create another sub-clique

    But, I also understand why the women who created it did it. It would be nice if you could trust everyone. There are too many bloggers out there who are basically lying to us to make money off of us and I think that stinks. I get why someone felt there was a “need” for this movement.

    I agree with Cara…….the really dishonest ones will just slap that badge on their page and pretend it erases their sins and lie and lie and lie some more to us and we’ll never know. And some people might be duped by it.

    Personally? I am suspicious of people who react to this idea with such vitriol. It’s just a badge. Don’t put it on if you don’t like it.

  61. Snotty McSnotterson

    The whole point of my blog is ‘whatever I feel like writing at the time.’ And with a name like Snotty McSnotterson, ‘treating others respectfully’ and ‘attacking ideas, not people’ goes against everything I stand for. What if I WANT to attack someone? What about political pundits/bloggers who exist solely on pointing the finger and being total douchebags? Sometimes I need to vent about the people who voted ‘Yes’ on Prop 8, or my stupid ex-husband; that’s why I started my blog, so I had a place to put my thoughts, feelings and ideas – a lot of which aren’t always respectful. They’re just my truth at the time. I welcome the idea of blogging with integrity, but reject the idea that Group A or B can define what integrity means for all of us. I certainly agree with some of the practices written in this badge, if not MOST of them – but that doesn’t mean this is the end-all solution. It’s a beginning, which is good. But the day my readers start ‘respectfully disagreeing with my own ideas’ is the day I eat my own legs. If I can’t control what my readers say, then I don’t want my content to be controlled, either. Great blog post.

  62. Miss Britt

    “Hopefully, I will win your trust with my actions, not with a pledge.”

    Exactly.

  63. brittany

    Why did they have to drag integrity into the picture? What if I blog about my lack of integrity?

    But seriously, no need to turn this into badge-thumping (a la bible thumping…see what I did just there?). I don’t do badges, nor do I need one to discredit any concern that my blog is anything but my own thoughts and creative work.

    Just as the Oprah Book Club Seal does nothing to make me want to read a book, the badge is equally as irrelevant to me.

  64. Zoe Right

    I read something the other day on a blog…I’m paraphrasing here as to not offend.

    “I really need a new camera because the pictures on this blog are fuzzy. *cough Kodak cough*”

    Seriously? Gag me. But I have this lovely thing on my computer, a mouse. So I can click the little x on the corner and I don’t have to go back if I don’t want to. I don’t need a badge to tell me if I should read something or not.

    That being said I like the idea of it and will post the badge.

  65. John

    The badges seem kind of like having to use your turn signal in a right-turn-only lane.

  66. expateek

    “When you pimp a book, are you going to say that it was written by your blogging buddy and that you never really got past page one? Will you stop stumbling your friends on Stumbleupon as a “you scratch my back” gesture and only link to posts of high quality? We all do disingenuous things online.”
    I don’t get it? Maybe I’m slow, but are you saying you do these things? Perhaps I don’t have enough friends/readers to have to be worried about this stuff, but I guess some of us aspire to not do disingenuous things on line. Or have I missed the point?
    Having been to BlogHer, and having read much of the after-posting, I’ll say that I like the badge, because I agree with the sentiment. I put the badge on my own blog primarily to remind ME of why I’m writing. It’s uplifting. Since I don’t do product reviews or pimp books, perhaps it’s somewhat irrelevant. Whatever. I find it an inspiration: to be a better person and a better writer.

  67. Aurelia

    I was at BlogHer, and meant to meet you actually, but didn’t darn it. Oh well, next year.

    First off, I have said this many times but I’ll repeat it again. I saw nothing bad at Blogher in regards to swag or attendee’s actions. Nothing remotely problematic and I’ve been to too many conventions to count over the last twenty years. I’ve seen shoving, fistfights, pushing, mobs, all sorts of things, all done by crowds, and in comparison, BlogHer was filled with kind lovely wonderful people who all deserved to be applauded for their behaviour.

    That said, I was none too pleased about various companies and the way I was treated by them. I will not specifically slam anyone here, but frankly, I’m tired of the story being that bloggers have to act better or change in some mysterious way. We were not the problem.

    I’m not going to post a badge, or abide by anything, mostly because no one in the rest of the mainstream media does it, so why should we?

    Women’s magazines, fashion magazines, tech magazines, car magazines, TV networks, films, not one if them ever gives a damn about distinguishing advertorial from regular reviews. And the FTC has never once taken them on. You know why? Because they have lawyers and lobbyists and all sorts of money. Ok, I’ll give you that the news divisions of the networks and some of the newspapers care about integrity, but their buddies in the fashion section or the review sections like real estate or condos?

    Hah

    So no, I’m not real clear why the debate has happened at all. I’m sure the women involved are very nice and have great intentions. But unless every other media organization is going to be given rules but the FTC, then why should bloggers do it?

    (And fwiw, the FTC rules, when they come out, will only apply to American bloggers and blogs created within the confines of US Borders. As a Canadian, I am under no legal obligation to follow US law, and honestly find it offensive when US lawmakers overextend their policies as if they govern the entire world.)

    Take care Neil, I’ll be reading.

  68. Swistle

    Love this. KISSES.

  69. Deb on the Rocks

    One of my concerns with the Blogging with Integrity pledge is that it seeks to define blogging as journalism, which is just not inclusive enough. Drawing lines in the sand that honesty = integrity or the like that not only demeans creativity but also tacitly leads financial support towards a certain type of journalist and away from others. Thanks for pointing out some of the problems.

    Now, where is the Blogging Lawlessly badge I requested?

  70. Audrey at Barking Mad!

    “Hopefully, I will win your trust with my actions, not with a pledge.”

    I think that right there says it all. In the end, it’s just common sense, eh? Well, it used to be.

    Great post, Neil. Very thought provoking in a time where it seems like it’s easier to let others do the thinking for us and then follow along.

  71. Staceylt

    I never notice the badges. I just read the blog posts and comment if I feel like it. I never knew this was such a big issue.

  72. Jen

    I’m with you on this one, Neil. Integrity should go without saying, and the very act of saying it makes one wonder if honesty is one of the particular blog’s newer features.

  73. amy@ bitchin' wives club

    Oh dear. I am way too shallow for all this discussion on right, wrong, misinterpretations of blogging integrity, and reading between the lines to focus on the implications of NOT posting the badge.

    I put it up on my site because ~Why not?~ The intentions of the women who created it clearly seem to honorable and good. If the newspapers and news magazines suddenly want to vilify mommy-bloggers as greedy women who don’t have enough scruples to handle free packages of Bounce or baby shoes…. Well, then I think it is fair, and maybe even necessary, for women who do reviews to put the badge up as a symbol of their integrity and good intentions. And if it makes a handful of people who really are just reviewing products to get freebies re-think their strategy, then that is great, too.

    It is making me crazy that the more I think about this, I realize I am feeling a little persecuted and I’ve only done TWO reviews in the past year. I hate feeling like my efforts have been cheapened by this whole brouhaha.

  74. Jack

    I hate the badge. Sorry, it is dumb, obnoxious, asinine and ridiculous.

  75. LiteralDan

    You put the perfect words to my hesitant feelings about putting this badge on my blog. I think individual statements are best, when needed, but since I don’t really get into product placement or non-facetious reviews, I think it’s unnecessary at this point.

    Plus, not having it might attract some shameless advertisers to offer me sweet stuff, before I’m finally forced to write that statement for myself.

  76. Aria'z Ink

    Sounds like of McCarthy-like if you ask me. But, then again, I’m a cynic and I don’t do reviews (ok, once, but I haven’t since) and my readers know what they’re in for.

  77. Jill

    I spoke at length with Liz about this at BlogHer. I really didn’t get why it was necessary and why people were making such a big deal about it for so long. But some of the greed and entitlement and saw and heard about at BlogHer put it into perspective. I think it’s more aimed at bloggers who are trying to make money off their blogs. Kind of like a Good Houseekeeping seal, if you will, to show businesses they adhere to certain standards. And I definitely didn’t get the impression that it was a “For us or against us” kind of thing. I have ads on my blog, but I make so little money from them that I’m pretty sure I don’t count. Also, I’m too lazy and easily distracted to do product reviews anymore. I told her I probably wouldn’t put it on my blog and she was cool with that. And I know she was because she mentioned me and our conversation in one of her BlogHer posts. I get what they’re trying to do. It’s just not for me, and they seem to be OK with that.

  78. Jack

    Either the badges have a specific meaning to the outside world or they don’t.

    They are meaningless, useless and worthless. It is a marketing trick and it demeans people. I don’t like the idea of being asked to shop at the honest store. Call me naive, but I like to believe that most people are honest.

    It is very telling that so many people find these badges to be questionable.

    I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the mommyblogger gravy train that touched upon all this. Call me what you will, but I don’t believe that a lot of these bloggers are doing it for anything but the desire to get free crap.

  79. lildb

    writing is bigger than this. it’s bigger than all of us. it’s bigger than ads, and competition with magazines and newspapers and journalists and television and radio and ipods and it’s bigger than books and papyrus and feather pens and bark and wild berry juice and the sky and the stars and the night and milky, milky way.

    it just is.

  80. Kelly

    I don’t have ads. Don’t get solicited for anything other than spam, and my readership is slowly dwindling as I write less and less.

    So it would seem I have little invested in this badge.

    I do understand the reasons behind its creation, but like some many things in this atmosphere, it all becomes a little bandwagon-y. That really wears me out. Hence, no badge on my site.

    Not having been at BlogHer, however, and not witnessing many of the things that went on…who knows? Perhaps being front and center to some of the madness would have compelled me.

    Still, these days, I have a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to this kind of stuff. I’m also generally in a pissy mood. I’m not saying that’s a good reason, but it’s kind of what it boils down to for me.

  81. Mom101

    I am just finding it sad that so many people are misunderstanding the spirit of BWI, egged on in part by a lot of misrepresentation in comments here.

    I am happy to discuss it at any time with anyone. Email me at mom101[at]mac.com.

    It’s simply a way of saying “hey! We bloggers, we do a lot of things right! Let’s be proud of that!” Whether or not you post a badge or not is entirely besides the pont.

    All I can say is my mom is proud of me for taking a stand about something I believe in and that makes me feel really good. My mom is cool. You’d like her.

  82. Jack

    I am just finding it sad that so many people are misunderstanding the spirit of BWI, egged on in part by a lot of misrepresentation in comments here.

    I don’t know that is a fair thing to say. Misunderstanding the spirit is sort of like saying that someone had good intentions. Good intentions are awesome, except when all hell breaks loose.

    I appreciate what you are trying to do, I just dislike how it is being done. There is something about the mommyblogger gravy train that comes across as being shallow and inauthentic.

    That does a disservice to all the cool mommybloggers out there.

    PS, for a while a lot of people used to talk about BWI as being blogging while inebriated.

    Fortunately BWI is much safer than DWI unless you are blogging about your ex or boss in which case it has serious potential for damage. 😉

  83. Peeved Michelle

    I’ve been blogging for seven years and I have never once been tempted to take myself so seriously.

  84. Middle-Aged-Woman

    As I am fond of saying, “Blogger doesn’t start with Mommy.” Also, I am currently making room for my goat. Will the garage do?

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