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Fig. 1: Payola and Editorial Sales Breakout -- We noted a strong corelation between sites that used editorial staff as sales, and sites that were willing to take cash in exchange for editorial content.

Fig. 2: Online Payola against Publication Age -- Older and younger sites tended to refuse advertising and cash in exchange for editorial content.

Fig. 3: Online Payola against Region: The only English-speaking country that did not report any Payola was Australia. Payola was fairly uniformly spread across the rest of worldwide English publications.

Fig. 4: Online Payola against Size: Larger, professional websites didn't accept payola. Smaller, hobby websites showed no interest in payola. Sites in the 5 million to 10 million pagehits per month range were the most suspect.
A three-month study of the online technology publication industry uncovers pay-to-review tactics, viral marketing and a few beacons of light

During the 1960s a new term was born into the music industry: Payola. A combination of the words "pay" and "Victrola," payola represented an increasingly large problem in the music industry: record companies paid radio stations to play and promote new records.

The immorality of paying radio station disc jockeys to air music did not become apparent until investigations by Federal Trade and Federal Communication Commission. Several deejays from the era were eventually found guilty of commercial bribery charges and deliberate legislation was eventually proposed, and sanctioned, that specifically banned the practice of payola in the U.S., with stiff consequences.

Title 47 of the United States Code details specific federal legislation for radio, telegraphs, communication satellites, and cable TV, but it does not address similar payola schemes with regard to internet publications. There are no legal ramifications for online publications that accept profits in exchange for pay: online payola.

Jasper Schneider, owner of enthusiast hobby site Sudhian.com and a practicing attorney at Schneider Law Firm, reflected on his experience in dealing with advertisers and his legal background.  "Without any uniform ethical standards or statutory law governing the online publications, online payola certainly exists.”  He continues, “If it doesn’t exist expressly, it is often implied when dealing with certain advertisers.”

Over the past three months, DailyTech put together a series of faux companies, product portfolios and trademarks.  In a combination of phone and email correspondences, our team of journalists set out to find illicit and unethical review behavior in the English-print, computer hardware review industry. 

Specifically, these journalists looked for publications that were:
  • Willing to sell advertisements (receive funds) in exchange for publishing content.
  • Willing to sell advertisements (receive funds) in exchange editor's choice awards.
  • Willing to offer viral marketing in exchange for cash and resale hardware.
Manufacturers pressure publications from all sides when attempting to secure headlines and positive reviews.  No money actually exchanged hands during this analysis, and the working relationships lasted less than a week.

There are approximately 150 circulated English-print technology websites; our team specifically targeted the 35 largest publications.  We determined the size of these publications via Alexa’s online index and publication-supplied web statistics.  DailyTech was included among this list.

Of 35 online computer-related publications, 23 (66 percent) refused editorial influence in exchange for advertising. Of remaining 12, seven publications (20 percent, Fig. 1) agreed to editorial service in exchange for advertising or cash.

To the credit of all publications surveyed, no website would accept additional funds in exchange for award.  However, it should be noted that our team discovered several instances of questionable ethics in a very short time span, without even supplying the publications product or payout.

The following response from an editor who also acts as the sales representative is an excerpt from a publication that represented the typical response of all border-line publications:
"The people who do sponsor the site, who advertise and keep good relationships with us, they will get priority on reviews. So if we get a motherboard in from you guys and one from company X, and you advertise and company X does not, we'll review your product first or more in-depth or at the launch time, which ever would get the most exposure. It doesn't really affect the content of the review exactly, but it definitely affects whether or not we'll spend the extra time with it."
14 of the 35 sites polled used independent sales teams: editorial staff is not responsible for advertising content at these publications (Fig. 1).  All sites that used separate sales staff would not influence editorial content even when tempted with several thousands of dollars of advertising perks and free hardware.

Adam Eiberger, a non-editorial sales representative from The Tech Report, parlayed the most succinct argument.  After an offering of several thousand dollars worth of advertising, in exchange for a news post and review, Eiberger responded:
"We have a real strong policy at The Tech Report of what we like to call separation of church and state, where essentially the editorial content is separate from the marketing and the advertising ... you are not going to be able to buy a review or an article.”
Four external sales teams represented 11 of the 35 sites polled.  Each sales team refused our requests for additional content and illicit reviews. 

Website age demonstrated significant impact for payola (Fig. 2).  None of the five publications founded before 1998 would accept any form of compensation in exchange of content. Granted, it should also be noted that these older publications all used non-editorial sales representatives.

Geographical region showed little to no impact for online payola (Fig. 3).  By volume, the highest number of online payola came from North America, though it should be noted that the majority of English-print publications are also found in this region.

European websites also had its own examples of online payola. The following is a conversation between DailyTech intern Gabriel Ikram, posing as a sales agent for a motherboard company, and an editorial contact for a publication:
Ikram: "We'd be willing to pay a little more for ads if you can get us some articles on ******"
******: "Ok, I can help arrange that."

Ikram: "If we could spend a little more money [on ads] could you get us maybe a couple more articles?"
******: "Yeah, that's fine, that's fine."
An executive from Kreative Wave, Inc., a third-party public relations firm, emphasizes the baleful business of soliciting press. “These companies, they’re always looking for exposure,” she states.  “And the websites take advantage of that.  They do reviews; they want something nice.  That something nice is advertisements or hardware.”

Website size also showed some impact on payola trends (Fig. 4).  When divided into fifths, payola only occurred in the middle three-fifths.  The media size of these publications was approximately 5 million to 10 million page hits per month.

The following is an email response from an editorial sales contact representing another website:
"Also let me know about the $1,500-$3,000 per site as that money does go a long way for us! We'd be more than happy to give you 2 to 3 months of advertising and the review in exchange for that!"
It’s easy to see why payola can damage the industry as a whole, as well as enable a slippery slope of downward ethical spiral.  During the investigation, three publications – all of which had already agreed to some level of online payola – were willing to pose as non-staff forum members and hype the upcoming product at the publication’s Internet forums.

Once presented with the data for this article, Schnieder paused before responding. “I think if you look back even five years, you would have seen this type of thing be much more common than it is today.”  He concludes, “Like most things, the marketplace will eventually weed out the businesses and websites who choose to operate in this manner.”


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Who are they
By Fritzr on 6/3/2007 5:41:44 PM , Rating: 1
Ignore the point of the article and read the descriptions of the targets. Lots of clues as to who can be trusted.

Outside Sales Team--trust
Editor salesman--be careful
Long time in business (10yr+)--trust
Short time in business (<2yr)--prob trust

Lots more clues in the article including how they were selected & from where :)

You just need to pay attention to what you're reading :D

Fritz




RE: Who are they
By Locutus465 on 6/3/2007 7:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
Here's another good benchmark... Do the reviewers conclusions even remotely match the benchmark data they presented? There are some tech review sites I've stopped visiting because of this issue.


RE: Who are they
By Tsuwamono on 6/3/2007 7:21:44 PM , Rating: 2
look at toms hardware.. the benchmarks arent even right on some of them lol


RE: Who are they
By Locutus465 on 6/3/2007 11:20:48 PM , Rating: 1
I wasn't naming names, but bingo :P


RE: Who are they
By Lord 666 on 6/4/2007 12:06:35 AM , Rating: 4
Tomshardware.com has been in effect more than 10 years. So while their reviews are inaccurate and questionable, based on the information that Kristopher supplied, its not Tomshardware.com.


RE: Who are they
By Mitch101 on 6/4/07, Rating: 0
RE: Who are they
By GoatMonkey on 6/5/2007 8:15:33 AM , Rating: 3
They used to be top notch. I think the founder sold the site a few years back. Originally he was doing it part time for fun. I think he was a doctor in his regular job.

I can't remember the details now, but it seems like Tom's had a lot of fans crying when they released a video of a CPU catching on fire when it was started without a heatsink. Seems like it was an AMD CPU, but I don't remember.

Tom's Hardware was one of the first to point out that nVidia graphics cards were pretty good back in the days of 3dfx domination. nVidia had a card that did 2d and 3d and was pretty close in performance to the 3dfx offerings. nVidia would probably be a footnote without those reviews.

Tom's had at one time done many articles about Celeron overclocking (the 300a to 450 OC). Then when the Athlon took the performance crown there was no shortage of articles covering that CPU.

Maybe things have changed now and they are not what they used to be, but I'll still have a look at what they have to say based on their long history.


RE: Who are they
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 6/5/2007 9:40:59 AM , Rating: 5
On a side note, whoever designed the page layout for tomshardware should be spanked. It is the most jumbled, disorganized, fragmented page i have ever visited.


RE: Who are they
By johnsonx on 6/5/2007 8:02:04 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, I just went there looking for those VGA Charts they do (not updated for latest cards yet BTW), and I was stunned at how bad the layout is now. It wasn't so bad the last time I visited a few months ago.

Ten years ago, when Tom ran things himself, I rather liked the site. But it's been all downhill since then, and I find less and less need to visit. I'm down to once every few months and always come away wondering why I bothered.


RE: Who are they
By Fritzr on 6/7/2007 11:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
I enjoyed the old TG also.

The CPU fire was a demo of why you don't want your cooler to fall off :) One of them (Intel I think) had just added thermal limiting to their CPU that shut things down without damage when the CPU got too hot. The other one (AMD) had the circuits, but they took too long to shut down the CPU when the heatsink suddenly left the CPU.

Not sure if this is still a problem & not really wanting to sacrifice a CPU by testing it :P


RE: Who are they
By subhajit on 6/5/2007 11:27:20 AM , Rating: 2
They are a bit biased. Their CPU chart used to contain over clocked Intel CPU against stock AMD CPU.


RE: Who are they
By Mitch101 on 6/7/2007 10:32:37 AM , Rating: 2
Yup and now I have a zero. LOL.

I should have mentioned that back in the day it was a great site but since the Opteron series is when I noticed they werent the same website they were when I first started reading them. I still read them once a week but other than the VGA charts there really isnt much value on the site. At least for me thier isnt. Thats not entirely thier fault I think its that technology got boring or a lot less seems to happen because of the lack of competitors.

Microsoft Surface is probably the most interesting thing I have seen in a long time. I dont know a single person Linux, Mac, or PC who isnt impressed with it.


RE: Who are they
By jajig on 6/3/2007 11:37:30 PM , Rating: 2
Could you elaborate on what you mean by that?


RE: Who are they
By EODetroit on 6/4/2007 10:09:46 AM , Rating: 2
The article says that no sites in existance before 1998 accepted payola. So since Toms was around before 1998, either Toms wasn't in the list or didn't accept.

Btw, I first heard about Tom's and Anandtech from reading Computer Shopper... back before the whole buy-stuff-off-the-web thing made CS obsolete... looking back CS helped kill itself off by letting people like me know that there were web sites to buy stuff and find reviews instead of reading a month-old mag.


come on DT, admit it
By johnsonx on 6/3/2007 1:57:11 PM , Rating: 5
We all know you take payola from Intel and NVidia. Core2 and 8800GTX aren't REALLY better than K8 and HD2900XT, it's just that AMD's payola checks dried up. Fess up! Fess up!




RE: come on DT, admit it
By johnsonx on 6/3/2007 1:58:16 PM , Rating: 3
Excellent article by the way!


RE: come on DT, admit it
By johnsonx on 6/3/2007 2:34:26 PM , Rating: 5
wow, all this failed sarcasm I've been up to lately is just murder on my comment rating!


RE: come on DT, admit it
By TrogdorJW on 6/4/2007 2:50:05 PM , Rating: 3
Heh. Too many take comments at face value these days.


RE: come on DT, admit it
By johnsonx on 6/4/2007 4:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
hey, haven't seen your name in awhile. Are you the real TrogdorJW? If so, I always enjoyed your writing at Anandtech; are you still associated with AT at all?


RE: come on DT, admit it
By johnsonx on 6/4/2007 4:54:45 PM , Rating: 2
by the way, if you are you, remember this one?

http://www.anandtech.com/talkarticle.aspx?frmResou...

Search down for the comment thread titled "obvious intel bias". I'm still upset at being modded down to zero for that one, lol!


RE: come on DT, admit it
By jajig on 6/5/2007 1:03:39 AM , Rating: 2
That was a great post that you linked to. I think the problem is many people on the internet don't have the best English skills.

I got a laugh out of it :D


RE: come on DT, admit it
By jtesoro on 6/6/2007 4:05:38 AM , Rating: 2
Amazing that even with all the impossible statements, the guy couldn't figure out it was sarcasm!

quote:
All the supposed PC's sold with Intel processors secretly use AMD processors instead, but again Intel pays off the companies to say they're Intel Inside. Intel has an endless supply of money because of their unfair business practices and the Magic Money Fairy


Magic Money Fairy??? If you can't get it after all that... wow!


RE: come on DT, admit it
By johnsonx on 6/6/2007 5:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
One must admit though, that whole comment page had quite a few 'serious' fanboy claims of Intel bias that weren't all that different from mine. I guess if someone stopped reading only halfway in, they might just assume I was yet another nut (well, I am a nut, but not in that particular way!).


Which countries?
By Justin Case on 6/3/2007 2:17:49 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think the number of sites tested is enough to have one site per european country (there are more than 35 countries in Europe), let alone a reliable sample for each), so why is all of Europe shown in the same color? How many countries were tested?

Also, it would be interesting to know which sites "guarantee" a positive review in exchange for money, and which ones merely accept to review the item, but I guess they wouldn't say that openly.




RE: Which countries?
By jmke on 6/3/2007 4:45:33 PM , Rating: 2
not enough, that's for sure. Thanks for the email though, didn't get around to respond to you guys yet, so let me know how that mobo production turns out;)


RE: Which countries?
By Treckin on 6/3/2007 7:53:10 PM , Rating: 3
I understand that you are confused... Reading can be hard occasionally...

It said all English language hardware review sites, of which there are 150, and they chose the 35 largest, which is basically the upper 25% of English hardware review sites.


RE: Which countries?
By Justin Case on 6/4/2007 3:37:15 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, apparently reading can be confusing. You clearly didn't understand what I wrote, or you woundn't have "replied" with something that doesn't answer my question.

So read it again:

Why does Europe appear with a single color? Did they test sites from every country? Last time I checked, there aren't any English-speaking countries in continental Europe (unless you count Gibraltar, but that's not a country). There are more English-speaking countries in Africa (for which apparently there is no data).

So, assuming they tested a few sites from the UK (which isn't even part of eurozone), why does Greece, Italy, the Vatican, etc., get branded with the same "25%"...? If they have no data for those countries, show them in blue, like they did with Africa and South America.


RE: Which countries?
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 6/4/2007 5:52:56 PM , Rating: 2
There are English-print publications based out of non-english speaking countries in Europe.


RE: Which countries?
By Justin Case on 6/4/2007 10:06:46 PM , Rating: 1
If by "publications" you mean web sites, I'm sure there are. Just as there are sites in other languages "published" in the US. But how does that make a difference?

The question is still unanswered: did you test (at least) one "publication" per country, in Europe? If not (and the information in the article suggests you didn't), it doesn't seem very accurate to extrapolate a few English websites to all Europe, especially when English is not the primary language in any continental European country. Europe is not like the US; nearby countries can have completely different languages, different cultures, different laws, etc..

I realise that you can't get people who speak all European languages, to test a relevant number of sites / companies in every single country, but then you should limit your report to the ones you actually tested.

Did you test any Greek sites, for example? If not, why is Greece listed with "25%"? And so on for the rest.


RE: Which countries?
By ChoadNamath on 6/5/2007 12:37:42 AM , Rating: 2
You seem to be missing the point. They only tested the top 25% or so of English-language hardware review sites, then grouped the results by region. They separated Canada and America presumably because there were more English-language sites in these countries, as well as it being Dailytech's home turf. Europe and Asia were grouped as regions because they probably didn't have as many sites. Did you honestly want them to go through the nations of the world one by one? You're being a bit too anal, it was just a visual aid.


RE: Which countries?
By Justin Case on 6/5/2007 7:21:47 PM , Rating: 1
Did you even bother to read what I wrote, before replying? Let me call your attention to this paragraph:

quote:
I realise that you can't get people who speak all European languages, to test a relevant number of sites / companies in every single country, but then you should limit your report to the ones you actually tested.


I think it's pretty straightforward. Saying that "25% of sites in [Greece / Bulgaria / etc.] take payola" when they didn't actually test a single site in those coutnries is misleading and unethical.

Europe and the US are very different. In the US, different states may have some differences, but they share a common culture, common media, etc.. In Europe, two neighboring countries often have different languages, different cultures and different laws. You cannot extrapolate a couple of English and German sites (for example) to all of Europe. Same thing for Asia.

So, if they didn't test every country (which, as I had already written above, would probably be impossible), simply leave the ones they didn't test in blue on the map (without any "result"), like they did for Africa and South America.


RE: Which countries?
By dok405 on 6/6/2007 1:21:27 AM , Rating: 3
I completely agree. I'm also quite mad that they rounded some of the percentages. It isn't accurate if it doesn't have at least two decimal places.


RE: Which countries?
By Justin Case on 6/8/2007 12:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I think you're right. With a sample of, say, zero websites (plur or minus zero) for most of the countries "graded", I think the extra decimal places are essential. After all, an accuracy of 0.00% is totally different from 0%.


I'm curious if HardOCP was included in the study
By AdamK47 on 6/4/2007 4:59:56 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how Kyle did. I don't see a link to this story on his site. Hmmmm....




By AdamK47 on 6/4/2007 5:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
And a half hour later there it is.


By CeeJayEss on 6/4/2007 7:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
They linked this story before you made this comment. 4:34pm versus your 4:59pm


By AdamK47 on 6/4/2007 8:36:58 PM , Rating: 2
Central vs. Eastern time


By AdamK47 on 6/4/2007 8:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
Here's Kyles response
http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1197762

quote:
This article is totally worthless without naming names. What a bunch of slack-jawed pussies. Yeah, that is exactly what I think. Journalists with thier balls removed are not journalists. Kubicki needs to find a pair.


Even though I don't really care for the guy and his site, I do agree with the naming names part.


By jhtrico1850 on 6/4/2007 9:07:52 PM , Rating: 1
Oh what a martyr he is. Pussy. That ought to rattle some feathers.


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 6/5/2007 12:06:38 AM , Rating: 3
There is enough information in this article + comments that any of the guilty parties can be compiled with very minimal work. Use Alexa, Google and your brain.


By magreen on 6/7/2007 5:31:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
There is enough information in this article + comments that any of the guilty parties can be compiled with very minimal work. Use Alexa, Google and your brain.
I refuse to use my brain! You are supposed to do my thinking for me, that's why the advertisers pay you to tell me things!


Are you going to publish the offenders?
By giantpandaman2 on 6/3/2007 1:59:00 PM , Rating: 5
If you stick to quotes they can't sue you.

I'm curious as to what places I should avoid. Payola isn't something I'd like to support.




By shabby on 6/3/2007 2:06:26 PM , Rating: 5
Ya it would be nice to see a list of sites that accepted bribes.


RE: Are you going to publish the offenders?
By johnsonx on 6/3/2007 2:48:08 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think naming the offenders would be a good idea. Very bad in fact. They could and would sue. Sticking to quotes would not be an adequate defense. Besides, none of the publications in questions actually DID anything wrong, all they did was imply that they would.


By giantpandaman2 on 6/3/2007 6:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
If it's in a separate article where it simply states the quotes from representatives of said sites and doesn't accuse them of anything DT should be fine.

It's understandable that DT would have reservations about it though. Still, it'd be very nice.

BTW-nice article. Kudos for the journalism.


Great investigative journalism
By Treckin on 6/3/2007 7:48:10 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, that was an excellent article. While I knew that this sort of thing has been happening for years, I actually didnt know that it was called payola (I knew the term as it refers to radio, simply I didnt know that it transfered to hardware reviews on the web)
I basically only trust Anandtech as a review site for computer hardware fully. There is no other site that I trust more for honest, and as is more often the case, scientifically taken results.
The ONLY gripe I have about AT is that they have a shortage of reviews, They post a review about 2 times a week, and thats that. They do cover all of the major releases though in great detail, however, and I have been hard pressed to find another cite that will actually present me with review info that goes over my head. I mean, I know my stuff, but DAMN Anandtech!
I would suggest that they offer reviews in-depth on all sorts of electronics (TV's, DC's, etc).

Essentially, if Anandtech could form some kind of bond with newegg, the circle of life would be complete...




RE: Great investigative journalism
By Crazyeyeskillah on 6/3/2007 9:00:24 PM , Rating: 5
This is one of the finest Daily Tech articles of true journalism i have read in a long time. Instead of rehashing news from other sources, they have actually taken time and created an article pertaining to their field. Daily tech is evolving :)


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 6/4/2007 3:10:03 AM , Rating: 3
I appreciate the kind words.


RE: Great investigative journalism
By dude on 6/5/2007 12:02:00 AM , Rating: 2
AT articles are very in depth, so it would naturally take time to do and work out the bugs they find in the products.

If you've read their server articles, like the recent one that was posted (I'm not going to name any names ;) ), can you just imagine the time it took to do that one? Their server benchmarking is just mind boggling!


DT's Vaporware is more interesting
By Lord 666 on 6/3/2007 11:59:04 PM , Rating: 2
First off, excellent article. This truly takes DT to another level.

But to me, I am more curious on the fake companies, product portfolios, and trademarks that DT used. Even three months of this purported identity is short, curious on why businesses (even shady operations) communicated with an unknown and unpublished vendor.

What was DT's fake companies trying to sell?




RE: DT's Vaporware is more interesting
By James Holden on 6/4/2007 1:55:15 AM , Rating: 3
Wellll.... I don't want to speculate, but over the last couple weeks these guys came out of nowhere

http://vr-zone.com/?i=5012

makes you wonder.


RE: DT's Vaporware is more interesting
By GaryJohnson on 6/4/2007 11:42:09 AM , Rating: 2
By psychobriggsy on 6/4/2007 3:01:20 PM , Rating: 2
Erm, even if it is this company, you can't associate posting a story about the supposed product and having accepted a 'bribe'. The news story presented to the sales person could have been worthy of a minor article such as the one posted on its own, if the sales person forwarded the information to the editorial people (who might be one and the same, of course!). Cursory investigation would have uncovered a seemingly legit Taiwanese company, set up in 2001, albeit with a domain name registered in 2006 and a typically awful website for this type of company.

On the other hand, by not publishing a list of sites blatant speculation like this could besmirch innocent websites, so some form of clarification (of at least the innocent sites) would be useful.


By MDme on 6/4/2007 2:26:03 PM , Rating: 2
I believe that would be the Barcelona (K10)...

(just kidding)


By wordsworm on 6/4/2007 5:58:15 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how it is considered immoral to have record companies give money to disc jockeys for playing their music, when in the medical arena there's no controversy surrounding the kickbacks doctors get from the pharmaceuticals for prescribing brand name medications. Personally I think the latter is worse by far.




By yacoub on 6/4/2007 9:55:06 AM , Rating: 3
You should look at the medical insurance industry - that's a REAL racket.


By giantpandaman2 on 6/4/2007 12:50:18 PM , Rating: 2
There's definite controversy. Personally I think it goes against any and all codes of ethics for doctors. In short, it should be banned. At the very least there should be full disclosure for ANY doctor that accepts gifts from pharmaceutical companies. IE-A big sign in the waiting room.

But that's off topic anyhow.


By MDme on 6/4/2007 2:31:35 PM , Rating: 2
While I cannot say that it doesn't happen (probably does to some extent)....I think that most doctor's don't...At least, I don't :)

However, do note that there are a lot of measures to curtail this like:

1) all presenters in talks need to make a FULL DISCLOSURE of any source of financial stake in any product
2) generics are encouraged
3) guidelines on what is a "gift" (i.e. it should be REALLY cheap so that it won't influence the MDs decision making)
4) the fear of being sued (if caught) is a really BIG deterrent.


By giantpandaman2 on 6/4/2007 5:23:59 PM , Rating: 2
I believe it's more pervasive than you think. I'm not expert however. I would say that people should be aware of this and do research on it for themselves.

Here's a good place to start though.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story...


Really cool....BUT
By Sunrise089 on 6/3/2007 8:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
First of all I think you should publish the names of the offenders. I don't know the exact legality, but if you stuck to quotes I don't see how they could sue you if TV newsmagazine shows and the like can do such investigative journalism all the time.

Second of all - awesome work in general. The online industry is so large sometimes we forget just how behind the times they can be. Thinking back, self-policing and real journalism like this may be so rare on the internet that I can hardly recall a similar story. Perhaps the debacle with bogus 3dmark scores in video drivers a few years back?

Third of all - one element of your methadology is seriously flawed - the coorelation between size of the site and their ethics. You imply only midsized sites are up to no good - but you only focused on the largest sites to begin with. Personally, I think that result was just random. If you do want to draw a consclusion, you would need to word it somewhere along the lines of "the sites in the 85%-95% percentile were the most likely to take bribes, out of the 75%-100% sample size.




RE: Really cool....BUT
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 6/4/2007 3:16:46 AM , Rating: 2
I should probably note that outside of those top 35 sites, the sites start to get really small in terms of traffic. I have a theory as to why the trends played out the way it did for size:

Smaller sites, sub 5 million page hits per month, are largely hobby oriented: the owner is in it for the recognition and not the money. The big professional sites (20 million page hits per month and higher) are all in this for the money, and have professional sales teams.

The guys that are inbetween those are: hobby sites that are now doing it for the money, or professional sites that aren't big enough to have their own sales team or at least an independent sales rep.

If only we actually had a product and some checks to sign -- then I think you would have seen the true colors of more of these publications.


RE: Really cool....BUT
By EODetroit on 6/4/2007 10:13:12 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think you ever said if Dailytech passed or failed :P . Come on, you can reveal 1 of the 35, can't you?


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 6/4/2007 11:42:49 AM , Rating: 2
Haha -- DailyTech uses a third party sales team.


Maybe I don't understand
By just4U on 6/4/2007 3:32:30 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, If I were to own and operate a Tech minded website.. (ive thought of it) I'd love to have advertisers email me saying they'd like to send in the odd product, and be willing to pay
for advertising space.

I mean isn't that part of it? Web sites need some sort of operational funds.. they get it from somewhere after all.

As to getting favorable reviews ... if you really want one send in a solid product not a piece of crap that's going to get picked apart by the reviewer.




RE: Maybe I don't understand
By James Holden on 6/4/2007 3:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ok, If I were to own and operate a Tech minded website.. (ive thought of it) I'd love to have advertisers email me saying they'd like to send in the odd product, and be willing to pay


But, that's not the same as giving a review in exchange for advertising dollars. It's illegal for radio, and what Kris and Gabriel are getting as is that it should be illegal for reviews too.

I think the radio loophole is if you excplitly say "i took money to play this song", then its OK. I wouldnt be dissapointed if they did the same for reviews to be honest


RE: Maybe I don't understand
By PrinceGaz on 6/4/2007 9:32:42 AM , Rating: 2
I think even saying you "took money to review this product" isn't enough. When a manufacturer or distributor pays someone (either directly or by advertising on the site) to write a review, the person writing the review is going to be aware that they are unlikely to get paid by them to review another product if they give it a negative review.

Whilst some reviewers might not care about the money and therefore be willing to accept it but still be totally fair and if appropriate say the product is rubbish and/or overpriced, many others would concentrate on the good points and do their best to avoid the negatives or comparisons with better products, such that even the worst product ends up being described as "best suited for people who ..." rather than "you'd be better off with ...".

Basically the risk of not being told the truth about a product when the reviewer is being paid by the manufacturer or distributor of it is too great, even if the reviewer said they were paid by them.


RE: Maybe I don't understand
By just4U on 6/4/2007 6:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
ok that makes some sense. I just thought their paying for the advertisement not the review. The reviews come anyway because the whole site(s) bases their traffic around them.

Any review in a way is a form of advertising tho to. It gets your product some visibility. Sometimes in a positive or negative way but mostly (i think) those of us who look at reviews tend to take in the features mentioned rather then the reviewers comments since there are always bias's to one degree or another.


Names or it didn't happen. ;-)
By Avatar28 on 6/5/2007 9:27:06 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, couldn't resist. Seriously, though. As several others have noted without names this article is little more than sensationalist reporting such as we like to accuse the major media outlets of doing so often.

I can understand the fear of getting sued. While IANAL, I'm pretty sure that if DT just stuck to reporting the facts, this site and this site refused payola, this site said they would offer this, etc, then it could not be construed as libel or slander since it is truthful. That still wouldn't stop them from suing, of course and lawsuits are always expensive.

So, okay, fine. How about a compromise. List the sites that refused the offers. That way no single website has been called out negatively and there would be no grounds for a lawsuit. DT readers, on the other hand, can get a handle on which websites it would appear we CAN trust to give us honest reviews. Many of them we could probably extrapolate anyways, I suppose, but that's more work than most people could be bothered with I think.




By Avatar28 on 6/5/2007 9:31:42 AM , Rating: 2
I would just like to add, if you won't give us the names of who did or did not offer to accept payola, at least give us the names of who was tested so we can make our own conclusions. As someone already pointed out, there are only 86 sites listed under the technical evaluations and product reviews category, not the 100 someodd given in the article. That makes me less than confident about just taking the top 35 or so on the list.


RE: Names or it didn't happen. ;-)
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 6/5/2007 9:50:31 AM , Rating: 2
As I said, numerous times now, it would take relatively minimal work to find the sites based on the info we've provided. Several people have already emailed me near-complete composite lists.

Why am I not going out and just naming companies? We didn't actually pay any of these sites to "do the deed." We came to an agreement with them, but we never had a product or the cash to pay all these sites. Sure it seems if there's an agreement that it's already damning enough, but I will not ruin some guy's career based on that last thread of plausible deniability.

"Sensationalist reporting." That's fine, but I can assure you at least one or two guys are looking over their shoulder the next time they get a cushy "you-scratch-my-back-i'll-scratch-yours" advertisement deal.

And to those who've devolved into name-calling. That's fine. At least I've done something to raise awareness. What have you done?


By EODetroit on 6/5/2007 11:12:22 AM , Rating: 2
The guy with the big web site that called a name has done a lot and paid the price. Which explains why he's upset other people aren't willing to pay the price too.

As they say in WoW (and maybe gaming in general) "screenshots or it didn't happen". But I see your point as well, this isn't some virtual drama, its real life careers of real people who may not actually be slimeballs who deserve it.

I think you were wise not to name names, but I selfishly wish you had.


Question to the writer:
By Verran on 6/4/2007 11:19:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Willing to sell advertisements (receive funds) in exchange for publishing content.


What do you mean by this? It was the first of three bulleted points, and to me it seems like it isn't worded right (or it really misses the point).

Recieve funds in exchange for content? Isn't that what advertising is? Can you elaborate on how this point differentiates from the standard "pay for ads" setup that is commonplace and well-accepted?

I would agree that the other two bulleted points are clearly wrong, and I'd also like to say that this could very well be the best piece of journalism I've seen from DailyTech yet. Nice work guys.




RE: Question to the writer:
By GabrielIkram on 6/4/2007 1:24:51 PM , Rating: 2
What this basically means is that the website in question was willing to offer content (articles) in exchange for money. If we paid more, the website would offer more content. By the way, when we talk about content, it can mean anything from reviews, to interviews, to news posts and blog posts. Ads are not considered content. So basically, we were checking whether the website in question was willing to offer more content if we offered more money.


RE: Question to the writer:
By Verran on 6/4/2007 1:52:22 PM , Rating: 2
So this point was talking about some of the "offenders" being willing to post information beyond just standard ads for money? That makes sense then. Thanks for clearing it up.

I think it was a bit ambiguous in the article to myself and several others I've talked to, probably because the word "content" is so inclusive.


First Amendment Limitations - Good or Bad?
By dever on 6/4/2007 1:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised no one has addressed the issue of First Amendment rights. You might consider it to be "immoral" for a reviewer to receive an MP3 player for review. But we as the consumer should always take into consideration these possibilities. Reviewers that hold higher standards can say as much, and journalists, such as DailyTech will be sure to uncover those who are less than honest over time (especially the most prominent ones).

Some companies hold a standard that they won't even allow advertising if they don't support the manufacturer's practices.

Other companies won't accept any advertising revenue at all... such as Consumer Reports.

In fact, it may be, that those who explicitly allow additional content coverage are simply being more open with their policy than those who don't explicitly. It would be foolish for us to think that a reviewer, whether he is in a separate department or not, is at least aware that the company who's product he's reviewing may cover 15% of revenue for his paycheck. I would say all reviews that have advertisers are indirectly affected by their advertisers in some small way (just by the fact that the reviewer knows this is an advertiser has an effect which we'll never be able to measure). This is why there are independent reviewers such as Consumer Reports that have sprouted up to fill the gap and accept no advertising revenue whatsoever.

However, just because it is not in your moral code to receive payment for content doesn't mean that we should ban additional segments of free speech. Freedom allows for bad judgment, and most would agree that some degree of this behavior would ultimately be bad business judgment, putting the reviewer at risk of losing all credibility and possibly losing all income whatsoever. The market takes care of these decisions in the end.

It should be our responsibility as consumer to treat all information as suspect and act accordingly. The radio laws, right or not, were created because of a limited frequency bandwidth. So, it was reasoned, that the limited availability of frequencies required regulation. The internet has no such limitations. The radio laws are outdated, and I don't believe we should create more bureaucracy, that ultimately infringes on our most fundamental freedoms of speech and further expands outdated legislation.

That being said, I applaud DailyTech's article insomuch as it benefits we as consumers.




RE: First Amendment Limitations - Good or Bad?
By haelduksf on 6/4/2007 2:31:06 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, the Mises Institute posted an article about this just the other day.

http://www.mises.org/story/2578


By dever on 6/4/2007 4:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
Very interesting, thanks for the link. They pick it apart much better than I. The most interesting point being that we have entered no contractual relationship with the one receiving the payola, and therefore have no rights or room for criticism.

I'll definitely agree with this. I am all for giving individuals (including individuals that run or work for companies that review a product) the liberty to make decisions. These decisions will be judged by the market at large for their merit and the individual will be compensated or punished much more effectively than any regulation could hope to achieve (and without the need to enact and enforce legislation that forcibly takes the earnings of those who have no interests in said prodcut).


no-ones mentioned them yet...
By colonelclaw on 6/5/2007 12:31:04 PM , Rating: 2
personally i've always been a big fan of the russian website http://www.xbitlabs.com/
ok so they're pretty geeky, but they've always struck me as being incredibly thorough, so i'm hoping they aren't at all dodgy. anyone else got an opinion on these guys?




RE: no-ones mentioned them yet...
By magreen on 6/7/2007 7:33:40 AM , Rating: 2
I read them sometimes. I kindof like them, though it's like reading an 8-year-old's English. Sometimes I have to be creative to figure out what they're trying to say. ;)


By James Holden on 6/7/2007 9:07:55 AM , Rating: 2
Xbit uses the same Sales Company as DailyTech and AnandTech. Go figure.


Much ado about nothing?
By reviewer on 6/6/2007 2:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
As a reviewer for a small specialty site, I found the article (and some comments) to be interesting, but for to a significant degree, irrelevant or misleading. I might better define misleading as "today's politically correct spin".

There is a significant flaw in the logic and conclusions, that I would like to address.

The key point is this. Payola, or the "perception" of payola, is not the issue.

The only issue should be the accuracy of the reviews themselves.

Few user reviews have the ability to produce the important information that professional reviewers have the ability to provide.

Now, I will concede that user reviews are great for dealing with technical flaws in products, or particular strengths, but rarely can they be useful in comparing products, because users rarely have access to multiple products.

Afterall, let's consider the whole motherboard review world. If there are 50 motherboards out there for review, and the typical user only ever uses one or two, or even three, how can they possibly determine which is the best motherboard.

Even the professional reviewer, won't get to them all, but might work with 20. And, because of that work, have more working knowledge, etc.

The key point is, regardless of payola (which is very loosely defined, and some of it may be insignificant, or irrelevant), the issue is: ARE A PUBLICATION'S REVIEWS ACCURATE? Had the article brought in experts to see the correlation of accurate reviews to payola, now that would have been something. Wouldn't it be interesting if some of those considered to having accepted "payola" turned out to be the best review sites. That's an issue totally ignored.

If a site's reviews are accurate, that is the bottom line. Nothing else should matter to the reader of the reviews.

Since user reviews are limited in their abiltiy to compare products and provide insight - therefore, as to what are the best products, due to lack of exposure, then, for the purposes of this discussion, the user reviews serve best as a check to validate professional reviews.

Also, I would guess that users tend to be far more biased - they generally rave about what they own.

Forums are good places to find out which professional reviewers are credible. If you visit a highly specific forum, where forum members frequently comment on their take on various reviews, you quickly find out which reviewers are credible and which are not.

So the burning issue should not be payola, but quality of reviews. Payola is just a smokescreen, especially when not defined.

I'll take specific issue with one key point of the article, and that relates to frequency of reviews and granting of reviews to advertisers.

In the industry I review - there are about 600 major products released a year. Even the most prolific reviewer or publishing companies in our industry, might be able to review 60 products. (On the print side, the average of publications is probably about 18 per year.

WHAT is inherently wrong, when there is a supply and demand situation of far, far, more products than a company can review, with providing more reviews for a company who advertises, than one who doesn't?

AS LONG AS THE REVIEWS ARE HONEST AND ACCURATE?

Why should a review company review a product from an unheard of company, when there are plenty of better known company's products to review - unless there is a reason to suspect that company makes a superior product? Afterall, for online review companies, they will get more traffic to their site (Payola?) doing the big name company's product. SINCE they can't get to all the products, well known or not, they must be selective. And why not do what is in their best interest for their business.

The Honesty of the review is the most relevant issue.

I recently told a manufacturer in my industry, (one that I reviewed one of their products about 6 months ago (they have about 8), when they asked if I could review one of their other models.

I explained that the new article was comparing 6 products. (I do those twice a year). I said, 2 of the reviews will go to companies that currently are advertising on our site, and 3 would be "random". Random meaning 3 products that among those many dozens that I could review, that I found most interesting. As it turns out, I didn't find the product they were interested in having me review, to be particularly interesting, so it wasn't chosen. Now this is an industry where there are dozens of directly competing products - "me toos" for lack of a better term.

Is that a problem? Does it really matter that I gave preference to two companies, that advertise with us?

After all, the company I turned down, actually happens to be a company with the potential to do as much or more advertising on our site, than any of existing manufacturers who are advertising.

It could even be said, that by not reviewing the product of a potential advertiser, we might risk that company never spending money on our site, and therefore, payola would be to accept products for review, from who don't advertise, because, they might start advertising if there is a good review.

But again, the bottom line is - are the reviews honest - it should be all that matters.

Had the article focused on that issue at all, the article might have been relevant. Without that aspect, all we have is some numbers.

BTW, are blogger sites, that have advertising revenues - professional, or are they as "tainted" as any commercial review site.

BTW, many forms of "payola" are perfectly legal and apparently polictically correct. When I owned a large reseller a few years back, most of the national print publications we advertised in would offer us for large buys - "editorial space" blurbs mildly identified as advertising (if you looked hard enough, such as a free Product blurb - picture and 300 words of text on some product we sold. I'm talking major magazines in a major industry now.

So, again, seeming politically correct is just dandy, but I, myself would rather read a review that accurately tells me what I need to know, regardless of any of this innuendo, than read a review from a different publication on the same product - where that publication is squeeky clean (in this regard) but the reviewer isn't as competent, and does not provide a clear and accurate picture of that being reviewed.

As I said, forums are a great place to keep professional reviewers honest, but if most people are trusting "end user" reviews when trying to figure out which is the best product of many, they are going to come up very short.

Sorry for the long email, now back to doing a review. -a




RE: Much ado about nothing?
By mindless1 on 6/6/2007 8:55:35 PM , Rating: 2
I have to disagree. Omission of reviews for competitive products, then leaving good (yet accurate) reviews of the remaining product is also a problem. A form of double-advertising disguised as a review.


RE: Much ado about nothing?
By JustKidding on 6/7/2007 12:50:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If a site's reviews are accurate, that is the bottom line. Nothing else should matter to the reader of the reviews.
quote:
But again, the bottom line is - are the reviews honest - it should be all that matters.

Accuracy doesn't always equal honesty. Selective truth can be as misleading as a lie.

To use a Shakespeare quote, 'The lady doth protest too much, methinks.'


Not surprising
By elpresidente2075 on 6/3/2007 1:42:56 PM , Rating: 2
While this fact is not very surprising due to the nature of humanity, it is interesting to see actual numbers associated with it. I appreciate how professionally DT seems to have gone about this, and I commend them for an all together great article.

Thanks for the great stuff DT. Keep it coming!




Every coin has two sides...
By iVTec on 6/3/2007 5:46:55 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately,there are quite a few tech sites out there that can and will be bribed...This is obviously bad for the industry as a whole,as well as for the consumers,us.Sometimes i get this immense feeling of satisfaction when i read an Anandtech article,knowing that all i get is the truth about a product (and a very deep analysis,of course :P).

On the other hand,there are many tech-sites today...And the ones that have achieved a modest amount of visits/clicks per month surely can hope for some income to be able to continue.I'm reffering to mid-sized websites whose editors made a big effort in order to achieve the site's potential and naturally they wanna start making something out of it.In this case,i think we can forgive some tiny "priority" (as stated in the article) arrangements in exchange for ad money.Surely if i knew that some guy gets paid for bulls**ting me about a GPU i would never read his articles ever again,or even visit the site he's an editor of.But as long as the reviews are kept honest,i think we should be less strict about these situations...

No,i am not an editor of a tech site,nor i get paid for my reviews at the PC magazine which i work for. :)




Totally Awesome
By James Holden on 6/4/2007 1:53:23 AM , Rating: 2
This is totally awesome. I'd love to see that sales reps face when he reads his quote in this article.




Nice article
By sh3rules on 6/4/2007 5:49:43 AM , Rating: 2
You can't be too cynical these days, I guess. Even though it's illegal for radio to take payments, I'd assume that now there are simply new ways to get around that. As soon as online content becomes regulated, probably we'll see creative ways to buy positive exposure.




By Illissius on 6/4/2007 1:18:55 PM , Rating: 2
Can you post a list of the sites which are clean? That would be very useful to know, too. (Even if the site I've always visited is cleared by a direct quote in the article already :D).




The next step !
By Sunshine Dan on 6/4/2007 2:07:15 PM , Rating: 2
I also agree that this was a great article.

Here is the next step that could not be done with fake corporations and nonexistant product.

After a reviewer receives the product to review, payola (cash) would be offered. This leaves the site editor and sales force out of the loop.
I think many people would be surprised at those figures of corruption.

And I agree with the other comments about reviewers pushing the positives of a product and slighting the negatives.
Also, giving bad reviews of a product is one way to never review again.
So much to say but it has already been expoused.

Again, nice job.




My experinces with the business
By Liquid3D on 6/4/2007 2:41:35 PM , Rating: 2
As a voluntary reviewer I am un-paid as most reviewers are. And I can attest to this, even more nefarious then many companies are the website owners some of whom are outright con-men. I know of one particular circumstance where a website ownwer spends a great deal of their time befreinding Reps depriving other sites and hard waorking writers from getting hardware.

How do I know this, I wrote for a person such as this for a short time. Those who confronted him on his methods he tried to have black-listed. Thankfully some of the more professional Reps simply ignored his petty manipulation.

As far as black-listing it does happen and did to me for simply being honest, you would think it wasn't possible but theres a liminted number of companies and a limited number of samples and a limited amount of advertising dollars. And there are those site-owners in middle numbers who would do just about anything to anyone to get their share of the "pie."

For a budding reviewer it looks like this, you work for a site and are sent samples, often you can keep those samples, yet there's almost a stigma attched because your doing this. And re-selling the smaples is taboo? Unless your a very large site reviewers go un-paid and this i where a lot of sleazy activity takes place. Bheind the scenes stands the site-owner collecting ll the advertising dollars and weho knows what is said over the telephone.

This article you've done is one of the best ever. I could write book on what I've ncounterd alone in the last five years. I have one thing which is my own, integrity anmd I don't aplogize for getting a sdample here and there for the amount o work I out inot my articles. I am however a witer first, and overclocker second.




Very Respectible.
By Mitch101 on 6/4/2007 4:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
Nice job Kristopher Kubicki & Gabriel Ikram.

Does this mean all links for past or future reviews be removed or not linked?

It would be appreciated that you dont link to those shady sites in your reviews sections.




Offenders?
By mars777 on 6/5/2007 12:18:13 AM , Rating: 2
First I'd like to give my compliments to DailyTech for making a good effort at investigative journalism. This is one of the most interesting articles i have read in the past months (full of Microsoft vs Sony false competition articles and troll commenting I'm sick about).

However, I think (cannot know for sure since I'm not a US citizen) that Kristopher willingly censored some information he knew (and was secretly dreaming of publishing) because of the [how-i-call-it] legalityfobia.

Well even if he wasn't dreaming of "pointing" at his colleagues, tech journalism needs readers and tech readers need knowledge from tech articles. This is why they read the articles. From this article we know exactly what we knew before. So, there is knowledge missing. Like missing a conclusion in a review. I'm sure other moral journalists can understand that.

Maybe in the US it is illegal to post negatively for the sole reason because it could influence on the loss of profit for the "offenders"...

But, putting some *good* words about *some* tech review sites would *not harm* anybody, even (at least directly) other "immoral" tech sites. It would clarify much to the reader, tho.

If afraid of using accusations as a marketing weapon well then use something much more moral;

Compliments vs Accusations: Compliments win. Readers get the knowledge they were seeking indirectly. DailyTech gets more readers. I think you have the First Amendment there in the US, and I think you have the Freedom of speech. You can't imagine how helpful can these laws be in a democratic society.

I'm not from an advanced democratic country but I would post the offenders straight and plain. Here we strongly believe that a true claim if backed up on court by evidence from an unbiased party (DailyTech internals) cannot be harmful. I strongly hope that the US mentality isn't much different.
Of course there is a chance to get sued for anything, but if you have proofs you are safe.

I personally appreciate people who have enough courage to stand behind their claims (even more if on court) but the solution of writing a few good words on the non offenders would satisfy enough of my curiosity.

As it is, this articles is clearly missing "something".
It is a book without the last chapter.

And the chapter could look like this:
"U, V, T, X, Y and Z were one of the best tech sites in the survey, others didn't do as well but that is not a shame at all."

If the previous sentence could harm someone or put you at court... well than i would strongly believe that the US has gone all wrong.

This is a positive comment nevertheless, and I hope authors at DailyTech don't get it wrong. A bit of self-righteousness acceptance is always good for reporters.

Greetings from Croatia.




150 and Alexa
By GaryJohnson on 6/5/2007 1:34:33 AM , Rating: 2
Alexa has a Computers > Hardware > Technical Evaluations and Product Reviews category, but there are only 86 sites in it, not 150.




The new level?
By carage on 6/5/2007 3:37:35 AM , Rating: 2
I guess this article really takes DT to a new level by pissing off most of their competitors.
Generally, I think it is a great article, at least it is very informative.
However, I think it takes away a lot if the report refuses to name names.
There is just one problem though, wasn't there some law that just passed in congress so people aren't allowed to pose as someone else when investigating and that made RIAA/MPAA really pissed?
As the writer has stated one of their employees indeed posed as a sales rep of a motherboard manufacturer. That might be a point of legal concern.




By crystal clear on 6/5/2007 5:24:01 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Without any uniform ethical standards or statutory law governing the online publications, online payola certainly exists.” He continues, “If it doesn’t exist expressly, it is often implied when dealing with certain advertisers.”


Since there are NO specific guidlines & or code of conduct for online publications/websites(Tech),then what do you expect ?

Its free for all, do as you like, you decide whats good for you etc.

Laws of the jungle apply-

Survival of the fittest(financially) is the code of conduct.

1)Advertising agencies,journalist,doctors,lawyers etc all have their code of ethics/code of conduct set by their associations that govern their day to day affairs.

Even companies have their-Memorandum of association & or the Article of association that govern their internal & external operations.

2)Third party Payola exist,where promoters supply all the material(like a press release+benchmarks etc) to the site.

All the site has to do is put this material as their own research findings/test results.

You dont even need a LAB as a matter of fact.

You have free lancer(technical) who will do the testing/benchmarks etc,a professional writer who will put all the technical details in a very professional article.

3)So there is no point complaining about this or that site on how they operate.

Either the Govt steps in or these online publications(tech)

come together & put some law & order in their day to day

operations(like lawyers/doctors etc).




WITHOUT KNOWING....
By RudeIota on 6/5/2007 11:29:06 AM , Rating: 2
Without listing what sites are guilty of payola , there will be no repercussions; thus, no disincentives. This behavior will continue.

For the good of hardware site integrity and in the spirit of worthy journalism, at least some of the sites should be listed without having to 'solve a puzzle' or 'put clues together'.

Without fear of being exposed, these sites will continue to operate in a corrupt manner which is a darn shame. This is the first time I've seen this done (although it probably isn't the first) and I believe very strongly exposing these corrupted sites would be a great first step in maintaining the integrity of our computer hardware sites.

Just my opinion...




By mindless1 on 6/5/2007 10:53:17 PM , Rating: 2
By using faux companies to collect the data, it may have skewed the results in that a website is less likely to be open about their questionable or unethical *policies* with strange companies.




In your wildest dreams...
By cornfedone on 6/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: In your wildest dreams...
By dever on 6/5/2007 4:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
So you're saying they "owe" you something? What payment are you giving these tech sites that they need to disclose whether or not they kept or returned the samples they tested? Or whether they had a processing fee attached? Or whether the mfg is a loyal advertiser? Or if a competing advertiser was granted ad space directly next to the article?

You just have to use a functioning brain for a split-second to realize something you are getting for free still costs money to operate, and that money comes from somewhere.

A reviewer can always claim there'll be no preference given to advertisers, but the only way for this to be certain is if there are no advertisers.

Even if you buy articles and reviews from an advertisement free source, the authors will always have their own agenda just by being human. A omniscient perspective of any given industry or product offering is impossible. Therefore, it would be extremely difficult to write a review that would filter out all human bias from a lifetime of acquiring anecdotal evidence about that industry, brand or product.


Name some names
By jmunjr on 6/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: Name some names
By James Holden on 6/8/2007 11:41:59 AM , Rating: 2
How do you suppose Kyle paid for that Hummer? Journalists don't make that kind of money -- at least not real ones.

Oh and don't tell me it was on RatPads.

I've got a proposal. Why doesn't Kyle name some names? You know, maybe one-up Dailtech? It would be easy to do, just show us the receipt from BFG?


RE: Name some names
By Pythias on 6/8/2007 3:42:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"This article is totally worthless without naming names. What a bunch of slack-jawed pussies. Yeah, that is exactly what I think. Journalists with their balls removed are not journalists. Kubicki needs to find a pair."


A prime example of Kyle's "professionalism".


Aaannd tthheeeeenn...
By XesBOX on 6/4/07, Rating: -1
Names
By Nexworks on 6/3/07, Rating: -1
RE: Names
By Hare on 6/3/2007 3:57:27 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't help? If nothing else this article really ensures one that everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. I personally found this to be really interesting. So what if they didn't give out names. At least you can figure out how widespread the phenomenom is.


RE: Names
By AlexWade on 6/3/2007 8:39:28 PM , Rating: 3
You know what, this makes me glad that I used Anandtech as my review site, first and foremost. Anand and his crew always do an unbiased, professional job. I visit other tech sites far less often. I just wish Anandtech had more reviews of more things. Like printers, cases (these are few and far between now), electronics, cell phones, everything tech related.

But now I am going to extra careful with some tech sites. I never believe any post where someone says "Product X is the best!" without anything to back it up. This news blurb is a real eye-opener.


Totally biased and have hidden agenda...
By turkisheditor on 6/5/07, Rating: -1
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 6/8/2007 11:29:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
First of all. I'm from Turkey and in Turkey there is no online hardware publication in English. So remove my country from your map! You have no right to put us, the local publishers, to blame . Mark only countries who you worked on. What gives you right to paint the whole world as you like it?

Let's think about this here for a second. The man in Alaska tells me there are no hardware sites in Alaska, and that I should remove his state. The man in Decatur, Illinois says there are no websites in Decatur, Illinois, and I should remove his city. The whole point of doing a study by region is that you actually study the region.

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... calling all the world dishonest.

I'm calling 7 out of 35 polled english-print websites dishonest. Your site does not even fall into the polled category.

quote:
... breaking NDAs ...

You can't break an embargo you never agree to.

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Also, the proper term is not ...

It would be unwise to declare mastery in a lexicon when you've failed to demonstrate compotence.


"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer











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