Aaron Brethorst

Round peg in a square hole, rabid generalist.

Hooray for Shilling!

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The following is a paid review: I, much like Michael Arrington and Robert Scoble, felt a good deal of trepidation about the launch of PayPerPost (not linked) earlier this year due to their shilling disclosure non-requirement. ReviewMe, on the other hand, includes explicit requirements for including phrases like “The following is a paid review” at the top of every blog post. This makes me far less uncomfortable, as it enables me (or any of you dear readers) to discount everything read as so much paid advertising bunk.

Additionally, it appears that I am welcome to say anything I want to about the service or product for which I am blogging. According to ReviewMe’s FAQ:

We do not allow advertisers to require a positive review. The vast majority of reviews are measuredly positive, although many do contain constructive criticism. We view this as a bonus: how else can you quickly and cheaply get feedback on a product or service from influencers?

Indeed, they raise a good point, although if I were in an advertiser’s shoes I’d be a little hesitant about the possiblity of paying Robert Scoble some amount of money to rip my product a new orifice or two (the phrase “please sir, may I have another?” comes to mind). Nevertheless, this is the proper way of handling this possibly very nasty ethical issue. Still, there is the obvious issue of unintentionally censoring yourself on behalf of the person or company that is paying you money. If I end up doing any reviews with ReviewMe in the future, this is something I will need to be mindful of, as should any other blogger using the service.

ReviewMe offers a pretty slick system for bloggers, although it is definitely rough around the edges. Sign-up is a painless process, though it requires US citizens and residents to include their social security number of tax ID number for tax purposes. Once you’re logged in, you are presented with a pastel-infused dashboard that presents you with advertising and blogging tools, a list of system alerts describing account activity, and a message center providing bloggers with a list of their accepted reviews. For me, I see one accepted review posted in the system at present, for which I am currently posting. You can see what the due date is on the review (43.5 hours for me), the product name, and get more details. ReviewMe also includes the nice touch of telling you upfront what your review is worth. This figure is calculated based upon your Alexa rating, Technorati rating and estimated RSS subscription base, which makes it relatively easy to calculate your ‘blog worth.’ You split the profits of a review 50-50 with ReviewMe, which isn’t a bad deal.

The rough edges I alluded to before center around the search experience for advertisers, which currently seems sub-par, as it appears to miss some possible results. The checkout process also needs work, as it doesn’t give its users a clear sense of where they are in the process: clicking a Checkout button twice on two different pages is less than logical to me.

ReviewMe is a great concept, and a pretty damned good 1.0 product. I wish I’d thought of it first :-)