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Thread: Should bloggers disclose who funds them when there is a potential conflict of interes

  1. #11
    Senior Member kcowan's Avatar
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    What about articles in newspapers and magazines? They appear as unbiased even though we know every writer contains biases. This is why I call such articles Financial Pornography. And posting links to them seems to be encouraging it.

    Gordon Pape stands out as such a writer. I think including him in our forecasting contest and showing his forecasts to be mediocre may have encouraged him to no longer make forecasts. One down. Hundreds to go.


  2. #12
    Administrator CanadianCapitalist's Avatar
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    Mike, I don't think it is a question of revealing all the details of how the blogging business works. It is a simple matter of clearly indicating advertisements and sponsorships. It is also a simple matter of disclosing whether the content published was paid for and whether there are any conflicts of interest. For example, Preet wrote about a music service called Tunezy. If he had written the post as if it were an interesting story without revealing his involvement in it, it would be a conflict of interest. Best to be upfront, so his readers know where he is coming from. In the same token, like manymof us he runs BMO ads on the sidebar. It is clearly advertisement, so if he writes a story on BMO InvestorLine no further disclosure will be expected. However if BMO pays him directly to write a post, I think it is fair to expect it to be disclosed. As far as I can tell, mainstream media more or less plays by these rules.
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  3. #13
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    I think that the majority of those "cool product" stories in magazines... like in women's mags where they show the coolest new makeups, etc... are sponsored and not disclosed.

  4. #14
    Senior Member the-royal-mail's Avatar
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    Yes, it's like those "news" stories you see in the newspaper. Like for instance, a full page of text and photos from a single company, formatted like a news story. At the top and bottom in clear test: "PAID ADVERTISEMENT". That makes it quite clear. CC is right.

    I treat most posts, websites etc these days that call attention to particular products, companies etc, less the above disclaimer, as advertising anyway. This compromises their integrity when everything they say seems to be a sales pitch. Harold is right in post #8 above. Individuals with websites etc can choose to do the right thing and take the high road - or not.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianCapitalist View Post
    Mike, I don't think it is a question of revealing all the details of how the blogging business works. It is a simple matter of clearly indicating advertisements and sponsorships. It is also a simple matter of disclosing whether the content published was paid for and whether there are any conflicts of interest. For example, Preet wrote about a music service called Tunezy. If he had written the post as if it were an interesting story without revealing his involvement in it, it would be a conflict of interest. Best to be upfront, so his readers know where he is coming from. In the same token, like manymof us he runs BMO ads on the sidebar. It is clearly advertisement, so if he writes a story on BMO InvestorLine no further disclosure will be expected. However if BMO pays him directly to write a post, I think it is fair to expect it to be disclosed. As far as I can tell, mainstream media more or less plays by these rules.
    But mainstream media doesn't disclose any advertising conflicts. That's what I'm talking about.

    And if Preet accepts advertising from BMO and writes about their products - shouldn't he be disclosing that in the article? I'm not sure why you think he shouldn't.

    And how do you define "sponsored post". If you let someone write a post for you in exchange for selling them some advertising space - is that a sponsered post?

    Anyway, I don't want to go on about this. In my opinion, it's just not an important topic. The government is just now trying to get financial advisors to clearly disclose their compensation - that is a far more important topic than a few hack bloggers like myself.
    Mike Holman
    Money Smarts Blog Investing and Personal Finance

  6. #16
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    I think that when you read any blog you have to take the content with a grain of salt and due your own due diligence.

    Having said that, I do feel that alot of bloggers are sharp enough to realize that if they write with a shown/known bias or have not throughly research their topic of choice, they will quickly loose readers and followers. I like the independant opinion that alot of the bloggers offer.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by balk View Post
    I just read an interesting article in the Globe and it got me thinking about whether bloggers should disclose who supports them especially when there is a conflict of interest?

    ...
    Yes, but an ethically challenged blogger isn't going to be honest about their affiliations anyway. So it's kind of a Catch 22.

  8. #18
    Member balk's Avatar
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    Mike,

    From my understanding, most media companies set their own policy when it comes to conflict of interest. However, the key difference is that the media company is setting a policy that will affect all the writers while a blog tends to be an individual who will be more directly effected by a potential conflict of interest.

    I would expect any legislation about conflicts of interest to cover all media and not just blogs. I would just expect blogs to count as part of the media.

    I agree with you that disclosure is important for financial services. However, just because it is, does not mean that we can examine a second issue and does not take away from this topic's importance.

    Balk

  9. #19
    Senior Member Causalien's Avatar
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    I dread the day when the brokers get active in the social media game. Every forum, blog, newspaper comments will be swarmed with bots + alter egos and any sort of useful discussions will disappear into flame wars. I guess, I should thank God for making natural language hard to decipher from the point of view of a bot.

    But this goes back to the root of the problem. Mainly the fact that every oracle in finances will eventually sell out. Somebody somewhere will realize that it is cheaper to pay the oracle to say something else that benefit a trade than to go against and the Oracle will not be able to resist the millions being thrown.

    I do agree that the few broker's meager attempt at social media on CMF is laughable. The prepackaged corporate spill will not work. This is not a call center. Or maybe, we are just not as patient with the line reading customer service online than when we were

    Maybe a new incentive structure is needed. Someone can setup a fund where a sum is disbursed to a portfolio attached to an "oracle" for each time they called something correctly. The sum amount is based on how fuzzy the call is. An exact date and price target will get the biggest sum. The fund disbursed is locked in as an investment fund and cannot be withdraw by the "oracle" until he resign from the role and can only be invested in the "oracle"'s own calls.

    The fund will be funded by the ad revenue of everyone who read the site (or direct contribution)


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