Thursday, May 8, 2014

Does it Matter to You Whether Bloggers Provide Full Disclosure or Not?

Disclosure Logo

Thanks to your support, hard work on my part, help from my peers, sacrifices by my family and a bit of luck, Journeys of The Zoo is what it is today.

I hope that it is a place that you can come for support, to get caught up on the happenings of The Zoo and share a laugh or two. And of course, there are the reviews and giveaways. I hope you find them to be honest reflections of who we truly are.

I appreciate the interest of each individual and company that wants me to review their products. While I’d love to support each and every request, I can’t. I have a full-time job as a SAHM that I love and I’m constantly trying to prioritize where I spend my time. I am reminded that time spent on my blog is time away from my Family. Besides, do you really want to see a video of a bucket of maggots. Oh.

While my blog has turned into a small business for me, I do not need to support my family on its income. And that’s a good thing because last time I checked, you can’t subsist on toilet paper, digital cameras and trips to Canada’s Wonderland. If only.

I Blog because I love to Blog.

If you’ve read more than one review and/or giveaway post on this blog, you will know that I always provide full disclosure at the bottom of all my posts. Something like “Journeys of The Zoo was compensated for writing this blog post”. If it doesn’t say anything at the bottom, I was not compensated for the post.

I provide disclosure because I appreciate it when my peers provide me with that information. There’s something about getting to the bottom of a “review-like” post and seeing that the author has stated that it’s an unsolicited post. It’s not that I think the post is otherwise untruthful, I just figure that it’s a product to take note of because the blogger took their valuable time to share it, with no expectation of compensation. I’ve done several unsolicited posts myself and found them to be tons of fun.

According to the Law Dictionary, full disclosure in accounting* is…

…the practice of disclosing all material facts truthfully and completely to avoid any misunderstanding.

Over the years, I have received requests from companies to omit the fact that they have given me money and/or product in exchange for sharing their product with you.

I’ve Declined.

While Canadian Law does NOT require full disclosure**, it is something that I do. I have lost opportunities because of it and I imagine that I will continue to do so. I just want you to know what to expect at Journeys of The Zoo. Just so there’s no misunderstanding.

Does it Matter to You Whether I Provide Full Disclosure or Not?

* I couldn’t find a definition of full disclosure that was written specifically for blogging. If anyone knows of one, please leave it in the comments field and I will add it to this post.
** Note that US Law requires Full Disclosure on all posts.

36 thoughts on “Does it Matter to You Whether Bloggers Provide Full Disclosure or Not?

  1. Rene

    Honesty is always the best policy. I agree, when I see unsolicited posts I pay closer attention – but to hear that some of these might in fact be solicited (not on the Zoo of course) and not state as much, gives me pause.
    Thanks for being your open, honest self. How Canadian. 🙂

  2. Soozle

    As the above poster stated, honesty is the best policy.. but I read a post for the content and really dont give much thought onto whether or not it is unsolicited or not. The blogs I follow, I trust the writers enough to believe their posts if it is stated or not… 🙂

  3. KD

    I appreciate seeing the full disclosure. I trust that you will give an honest opinion, regardless. If it is unsolicited, I know that you liked the product enough to do the blog even without any form of compensation.

  4. Peady

    I like knowing. Some of the bloggers I know have a “community” aspect to their personal blogs when they do work for a specific brand and I like that they – as a collective – use their hashtags or include that they’ve been sponsored/compensated.

    Much like what has already been said, I read people I trust (to one degree or another) and enjoy reading. A blogger who writes well and happens to get a bit of help paying for music lessons is no less a writer.

    What annoys me more than anything, if *I’m* to be honest, is the raving language about a product. I get that it’s exciting to have sponsors – that’s great – and I know people want to do a good job, but there are phrases like “I was lucky to get such and such to review” or “I have never been so excited to blow my nose with brand x tissue”. These things just tend to be a titch insincere.

    Like anything, some bloggers/website owners simply are better at it than others.
    Peady recently posted…Happy Cinco de Mayo!My Profile

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Peady,

      THIS IS THE BEST COMMENT IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, FOREVER AND ALWAYS. Note that this comment was not sponsored and is 100% NOT my real opinion. Although it’s definitely in my Top Ten.

      I too like the community aspect. It speaks to the friendships and support that so many of us are fortunate enough to have. Present company included.

      Besos, Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Rethinking the Whole Picture Taking ThingMy Profile

  5. Elva Roberts

    I think it is good of you to provide full disclosure but I don’t know if I think it is really necessary or not. If it was a new car giveaway , that probably should be noted. I think you may decide for yourself if it is not a very expensive item.-Hugs/

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Gingermommy,

      Before I became involved in the review blogging industry, I had no idea that people received compensation for their posts. Since I was blogging “for free”, I just assumed that others were too. Then, when I did realize it, I would see some people provide disclosure and others not. So, once again, I assumed that the ones that didn’t, weren’t compensated. I guess that’s where the saying “ass-u-me” comes from 🙂

      As for people contacting you and asking for your compensation requests, that’s unfortunate if they put you in a situation that you’d rather not be in.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and providing another perspective.

      Besos, Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Where Do You Get Your Home Decor Inspiration?My Profile

  6. Ali P

    I think it’s great that you give full disclosure, but it really doesn’t matter to me. You’ve taken the time to review the product/service, and that’s what matters to the readers. Whether you’re compensated or not is really none of my business.

  7. Kerri Hale

    Hi Sarah! Yes, I find it irritating when other bloggers aren’t disclosing. Here’s another one: using “follow” links instead of “no follow” links. Grrr…..It’s a shame others don’t like to play by the rules. I too decline reviews asking for “follow” links or “no disclosure.”
    Kerri Hale recently posted…Verizon Ellipsis 7 TabletMy Profile

  8. Freda Mans

    I haven’t done disclosure since I redesigned my site. I added the site-wide disclaimer at that time. After reading your posts I am prompted to start disclosing again. I would hate to think it looks unprofessional or loses the interest of reading for it not being there. Gives me something to think about.
    Freda Mans recently posted…Y Is For YesMy Profile

  9. Elizabeth Matthiesen

    I must admit I like full disclosure, however at the same time disclosing that one was paid to do the review doesn’t mean all that much either since no one actually knows whether that was $20, $200 or $2000. It’s pretty obvious that normally the article under review was sent free of charge even if there was no payment. I really do appreciate it when someone does a review without receiving anything at all for it, simply because they are personally thrilled with the article and want to share that with us, this is an added plus for the article I think.

  10. Debbie S.

    It don’t matter to me! I wouldn’t myself give a positive review of something if I really didn’t like it!

  11. Brandee

    Honestly it doesn’t matter to me. I usually skim over that part of a post. I enjoy reading particular blogs. And a reader will soon learn if the blogger is giving honest reviews or not. It doesn’t much matter how they were compensated!!

  12. Jennifer P.

    I think it’s good practice to provide full disclosure, but I wouldn’t stop following a blogger if they did not disclose. It is just something good to know, because I keep that piece of info in mind when reading the review e.g. if I notice that a blogger was not compensated in any way but still took the time to write a review it definitely perks up my interest in the product (if the review is favourable). Not that being compensated makes me doubt the honesty of the post (again on a good review), but there is just something special about a completely selfless review.

  13. Karen E. Hill

    I think it does. Honesty is the best policy and if you have nothing to hide why would you not

  14. Deanna T. (@MapleLeafMommy)

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a company ask me to not disclose that an item was given for review. I’ve had them request disclosure, request specific wording for disclosure, but never the reverse. Like you, if confronted with that I would turn the opportunity down. My policy is to disclose 100% of the time, the reality is I disclose 99% of the time. The other 1% I forget to add it in. It’s at the bottom, it’s the last bit, and sometimes I forget, which is embarrassing. I usually catch it and go back and fix the post though.

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Deanna,

      Thank you for providing another Blogger experience regarding Disclosure. I’m glad to hear that you’ve never been put in this situation. I too have received requests for specific wording and usually accommodate.

      Besos, Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…A Balloon For Alexander #babylossMy Profile

  15. Kirsten

    Honesty is always a good policy. I like knowing when a blogger is being compensated for posting about particular product or service.

  16. Cordelia

    This is a really interesting post and comment thread. I like seeing full disclosure. That said, I haven’t always listed it at the bottom of my posts but that’s because I usually write in the post that I’ve been contacted and asked to review the product. Up until now, i thought that was obvious that I was getting freebies and/or paid. The other thing is I’ll never review/write something for a product I don’t truly believe in, not matter HOW MUCH I am offered. Do you think writing it in the text is enough or is it best practice to have something at the bottom of the post?

    When someone has asked to write a guest post and wants to include links, I always say it must be no follow and or have a disclaimer at the bottom. (apart from once before I knew better). So far everyone has lost interest. This leads me to believe there must be a ton of bloggers willing to do this. What a shame.
    Cordelia recently posted…From One Expat to Another: Go Home!My Profile

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Cordelia,

      Thank you for providing your opinion on the matter of blogging disclosure.

      From a legal point of view, if you are in Canada, you are not required to disclose at all. Anywhere.

      From a Google point of view, selling do-follow links is against their policy and you can be penalized for it.

      As for your question “Do you think writing it in the text is enough or is it best practice to have something at the bottom of the post?”, if there is “best practice” regarding this then I’m not aware of it. It’s your blog and you can do what you want with it.

      For me, my blog is a personal reflection of me and I want people to know. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding.

      Besos, Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Labelling Your Kids Stuff Just Got a Lot Easier with @OliversLabels #Giveaway, WW, 5/29My Profile

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  20. Madaline

    This is such an interesting topic… I found you on Monday funday link up and I’m happy I did.

    Here’s the thing. I’m conflicted. Haha. I use to work at Guess? at the headquarters and before then I naively thought that when a magazine put “Our favorite 5 lipsticks” or whatever it was literally some writers favorite 5 lipsticks. I never realized huge companies will thousands and thousand and it can be part of their marketing deals to be feature in X articles.

    I personally like to know if it’s sponsored because then I try to read between the lines – did they really like X or are they trying not offend that brand. On the other hand, I only read blogs (or rather return to them) when I feel like I can trust the blogger. And I really like blogs that don’t review products at all if they don’t like them. Then they aren’t offending the product and honestly I don’t want to read negative reviews anyways!
    Madaline recently posted…Coffee Date #1My Profile

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Madaline,

      Generally, I only try and review products that my followers and I would be interested. I don’t want to write about something that I have no experience with.

      So far, I have been lucky and haven’t got any duds. Things haven’t gone perfectly but in each case, the company has shone in their ability to deal with the situation and come out on top. Thanks for stopping by.

      Besos, Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Whether We’re Talking Apples or Kids, I Have Triplets #babylossMy Profile

  21. Jason

    Great post Sarah 🙂 I couldn’t agree with your thinking more! I think that it’s being open and honest to your readers and I would also lose the opportunities. I personally don’t care about numbers and “getting stuff for free”, it’s about relaying information that’s upfront and truthful to our readers and having genuine relationships with them. While we don’t personally know them, we see them everyday and owe it to them for their loyalty. I had no idea that it wasn’t necessary to have a disclosure in Canada.


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