In October 2009 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a set of rules regulating writers. Those regulations say in part:
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.
So here’s my “disclosure” of my “material connections”:
- Assume that I have a “material connection” with someone for every link, ad, article, etc. so that the government can never say that I encouraged you to think for yourself. By the way, I don’t really have an affiliate relationship with everyone and every product under the sun.
- I seek, encourage and willingly accept paid advertising and commission arrangements. I do this to help offset the cost of publishing this resource and if there’s ever any left over it goes to preps…which I’ll probably review to provide more information to Prepography’s readers.
- I write what I think regardless. If I write about a product and I don’t hate it I usually put it in my Amazon Store so you can click and look at it (read the notes I add to many products at the Amazon Store because I’ll tell you if I know of a cheaper alternative. For example, I put a lot of movies I like and mention in my Amazon Store but will point out in the notes (at my Store) if you can watch for free as a Netflix member.
- My authors and I buy every product we review (at full price) unless we tell you otherwise. Maybe one of my advertisers will read this and start sending me free stuff to review…but it hasn’t happened as of this writing (see how I left the door open for things to change in the future)…practicing optimism now…when people start sending me free and discounted stuff…I’ll make sure to disclose it into my review.
- If I get complaints I feel are substantiated about an advertiser… I will pull advertising and provide pro-rata refunds for unused ad time or space. My advertisers know this, conversely if you’re happy with the service drop me a note so I can pass it along as well.
Now go read some articles…this page is just to keep the bureaucrats happy.
Last word on buying stuff: Buy locally (from a Mom & Pop business if possible), but if you can’t buy locally please consider making your purchases from the advertisers who support our work or Prepography’s Amazon Store (in that order).