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FeedBlitz, Gawker Media, and Amazon S3

FeedBlitz (in which I’m an investor and board member) recently announced that all Gawker Media sites are offering weekly updates of their top five stories via FeedBlitz-generated email. Gawker needed to be able to customize the look-and-feel of the newsletters which go out to match the appearance of the individual sites and needed to be able to let readers manage their own signup, email address changes, and unsignup; FeedBlitz is an answer to these needs.

Not coincidentally, FeedBlitz CEO Phil Hollows also blogged that FeedBlitz has begun using Amazon S3 for many of its storage needs. Huge potential traffic from Gawker properties and similar megasites makes it essential to be able to scale fast but impossible to predict how fast. S3 is an answer to these needs (I have no financial interest in S3 but am fascinated by its potential to enable rapid prototyping and scaling).

Phil describes Gawker this way: “Gawker sites… are well written but often irreverent, somewhat profane, sometimes politically incorrect and frequently deal with topics you might not want to discuss with your mother.” They include Valleywag, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, and Defamer among many others and are, to say the least, often visited. To see how closely Gawker was able to reproduce the graphic elements of the websites in the automatically generated email, look here for a Valleywag sample and here for Gizmodo.

FeedBlitz is sending out more than 3 million emails (double opt-in emails, not spam) per day. In the old days when a company grew, it brought operations inhouse in order to save money – it verticalized. That was then and this is now. The fastest way for FeedBlitz or any other modern company to grow is to outsource everything that’s not a core competence. So FeedBlitz moved all of its image and script-serving to Amazon S3 rather than just keep buying bigger and bigger servers. Total bill at this point: about $3/day for a significant amount of both storage and traffic. And Amazon’s multiple connections to the Internet backbone and replicated database can serve this stuff up much faster than any local hosting site or a (shudder) in-company data center. No matter how fast FeedBlitz grows, its growth will be easily absorbed within the Amazon cloud. FeedBlitz engineering is free to concentrate on adding new functionality for publishers of newsletters as it worries less about pure scaling of existing functionality – often an Achilles heel for fast-growing services.

Phil says: “If you're running a site or service that is going to get big, I'm now of the opinion that you're nuts not to outsource to S3 or a similar service to store and serve objects that aren't core to your value add. It's faster, better and cheaper and whole lot less hassle. Do it!”

Post2tweet – Convergence is Happening

Now I can tell you what I was testing yesterday.

From now on, whenever I post a new article to Fractals of Change, a tweet with the title, the first little bit of text, and the URL of the post will be visible to anyone who is following me on twitter. Moreover, the tweet becomes a status message which my Facebook friends can see. Stuff is actually beginning to come together.

twitter is meant to answer the question “what are you doing right now” assuming there is someone who really cares about the answer. Being that I’m a rather private person, the answer often might be “none of your business”; of course I don’t twitter that but silence means almost the same thing. However, when I write something and post it to my blog, I do want those who care about what I’m doing to know about that. So automatically having it turned into a tweet and Facebook status is a good thing.

FeedBlitz (in which I’m an investor) is the app used to make sure your blog posts turn into tweets (I’m an indirect investor in twitter as well). Use of both FeedBlitz and twitter is free for this purpose. Of course you have to have a blog with some sort of RSS feed as well. Assuming you have a Twitter account, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to www.feedblitz.com/.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the home page (you are acting as a subscriber here, not a publisher).
  3. Enter the URL of your blog.
  4. Click Subscribe.
  5. Select Twitter (public, for your followers)
  6. Enter your Twitter name and password.
  7. Copy the captcha to prove you’re not a bot.
  8. Click Subscribe.

That’s it. A few minutes after you post, a tweet will appear.

In order to get your tweets (any tweet, not just these) to become your Facebook status, you need to install the twitter app on Facebook (I am NOT an investor in Facebook).

BTW, you can also use the FeedBlitz to twitter interface to get notified via twitter of new posts to almost any blog (any blog with an open feed which is almost all blogs) whether or not the blogger is using twitter or FeedBlitz. Maybe you want to know when I post but have no interest in my other twitter updates. Maybe you want to know whenever your competitor posts – or your significant other. Remember, you can even get your tweets by cellphone so you’ll be right up to the minute.

If you want notifications about new posts to a blog, follow the same steps as above but in step 5 Select Twitter (private, direct to you only) and supply your twitter direct ID in step 6.

What this is about is reader choice which all authors are wise to encourage. Some people want to go directly to your blog site; others use feed readers or subscribe by email; some live for tweets; some want to be notified through AOL or Skype instant messenger services. These happen to be the options which FeedBlitz supports directly today; there’ll be more, not less, tomorrow is my guess.

What’s twitter? is a primer on that service.

“Ad Supported” Comes To Email Newsletters for the Rest of Us

Warning: this post contains blatant promotional material for FeedBlitz, a company in which I’ve invested in and on whose board I sit. FeedBlitz founder Phil Hollows has made a virtue of necessity and created what’s needed for ad-supported newsletter publishing. That’s important (I think) whether you’re an advertiser or an e-newsletter publisher (including bloggers who support email subscription to their posts) – and interesting if you’re interested in the evolution of Internet services.

Lots of stuff on the Web is free because it’s supported by revenue from ads – usually Google ads to be specific. Sites’ll ply you with information and entertainment and even host your content because they get to insert ads – usually from Google. You can even make some money from your own website by hosting ads – usually from Google. If you’re an advertiser, you can place text-based keyword ads all over the web with a single automated buy from Google.

But Google will not allow publishers of email-delivered newsletters to run their ads; it’s against the terms of service. So, unless your newsletter is big enough so it can sell its own advertising space, no ad revenue for you. And, if you’re an advertiser who wants to buy space in geographically or keyword targeted email newsletters without dealing individually with each newsletter publisher, too bad – you can’t do that through Google.

Many newsletter publishers pay companies like Constant Contact (a competitor of FeedBlitz) real money for professional services like mailing list maintenance, authentication of subscription request to avoid any possible taint of spam, emailing services which avoid getting caught in spam filters even though readers really want your newsletter and you are not spam, and tools for professional quality layout.

FeedBlitz provides a similar set of services (we think they’re better, actually) free to newsletter publishers. How can it do that? Easy (not so easy for FeedBlitz but easy for you); FeedBlitz sells targeted ads and places them in your newsletter. If you allow FeedBlitz to place a simple text ad at the bottom of each newsletter it sends out for you, you get all of FeedBlitz’ publisher services free.

Want to make money from ads in your newsletter as you can do from a website? That can happen, too. Just allow FeedBlitz to put more prominent ads near the top of your articles – your choice of formats – and you’ll share in the revenue from those ads.

Don’t want any ads in your newsletters. That’s your choice. If you don’t allow ads, FeedBlitz does charge for its services – but always considerably less than Constant Contact (just to pick on them). That’s possible because FeedBlitz is highly automated and self-serve; on the other hand, to be fair, you’ll get more attention from a sales person at Constant Contact.

If you’re an advertiser, FeedBlitz has implemented a self-serve auction for space in e-newsletters. You can target geographically (down to the zip code), by category, by keyword or in combinations. One interesting difference from the Google auction, which you may be familiar with, is that you can see the bid price you’re competing against. Should mean that you spend less time on game-playing as part of your campaign planning.

One last thought. If you’re a newsletter publisher, you may want to consider becoming an advertiser in other newsletters through FeedBlitz in order to increase your circulation. You don’t need a graphic artist for simple text ads. You don’t have to commit more than $25 to give advertising a try and see whether it helps build your circulation. Of course, if it does, that’s a virtuous circle since more circulation can give you more ad revenue.

FeedBlitz, Stage II

Founder and CEO Phil Hollows of FeedBlitz (in which I’m an investor and of which I’m a board member) announced that the company will make all its features available free to publishers who permit the placement of small ads at the bottom of the emails sent to subscribers. Publishers who prefer not to run ads pay FeedBlitz for its services according to their readership. This is similar to the way that Google licenses search for use on a company website: it’s free if you let Google run ads and you pay for it if you don’t want Google ads.

Formerly FeedBlitz had a free version with limited features and earned revenue from upgrades - another respectable Internet model. This was a choice born of necessity for a startup – you can’t get advertiser attention  for a tiny circulation. But, with over 2.5 million subscriptions served, some advertisers are investing resources in figuring out how to use FeedBlitz.

Note that this is very different from the well-known business of sending ads as email (SPAM if you’re not interested in the product or service being offered). These small ads are attached to the bottom of emails which have content that readers subscribed to (and verified that they subscribed to). No additional emails are generated for advertisers. The advertisers don’t have access to the readers’ email addresses. These are analogous to the ads which appear in paper subscription products and help pay keep the costs of newspapers and magazines down. They may turn out to be more effective than plain web ads as advertisers learn how to use them since they are attached to valued content but advertisers needed a large enough potential audience to justify learning.

FeedBlitz will discontinue its feature-poor version next month and upgrade all publishers using it to the full-featured model with ad support unless they’d rather pay for service directly (or elect to take their subscribers and leave).

When to seek revenue from the user base and how are tough questions for any web service company. If you don’t have a critical mass of users, you don’t have a business. If you charge users who, themselves, are not directly making money by using your service, you’re likely not to have very many users. Professional users of FeedBlitz paid (happily, I think) for the features they needed. Non-professional users, with some exceptions, were reluctant to pay for service out of their non-existent blog revenue.

Some services simply grow their user base without revenue until somebody buys the service for the users and that somebody – Google or Yahoo, for example – already has an inventory of ads and tries to figure out how to serve them as part of the newly acquired service. In fact, that hasn’t been a bad strategy for some although monetizing the acquisitions is often more difficult for the acquirer than it expected.

Our guess as the FeedBlitz board was that the market for email (and Twitter and SMS and IM etc.) distribution of content is still in its infancy. We think growing with that market’ll be exciting.

Many more small blogs and small websites are about to spring into existence to serve existing groups which, up to now, couldn’t use the web as the basis of member communication because broadband penetration among members was too low. The cost of sending an e-newsletter is much, much less than a physical one even if you don’t put a price on the time spent stuffing and stamping envelopes. An e-newsletter, particularly if it actually is generated by posts to a website, is also more timely and more accessible than its physical equivalent. And readers don’t have to worry about  putting it in the physical recycle bin or suddenly needing it after it left on the recycling truck.

Some of these new blogs will want (we think) to pay for FeedBlitz service and be ad-free or run their own ads.  Others will be glad to have FeedBlitz provide them with the capabilities they need and obtain advertising which small blogs wouldn’t be able to obtain on their own to pay the cost of the service.

Watching companies you invest in come of age and make choices is almost (but not quite) as scary as watching children grow up. In both cases you get to give advice but you can’t determine the outcome or even be sure your advice is right. 

Mass Customization Example - FeedBlitz

FeedBlitz (a company I’ve invested in and am a board member of) enables mass customization (see yesterday’s introductory post) for both publishers and subscribers of online content.  It may well be that no two people want to read the same list of online publications; even those who read the same publications may not want to receive them the same way. Moreover, even though you and I both subscribe to the same publication, we may both be interested in different articles from it.

FeedBlitz started by solving a single problem for publishers: delivering blog posts by email to readers who preferred receiving posts in their inbox to visiting blogsites each day or using a feedreader to browse RSS feeds (which many readers still don’t understand). For the publisher, it handled soliciting and storing the reader’s email address, accepting changes and cancellations, keeping track of various stats, physically converting an RSS feed into as many mail messages as needed, and helping assure that this mail – which the reader had requested to receive – actually got through the reader’s spam filter.

Subscribers keep control which is actually to the advantage of reputable publishers who want to be read. Verification assures that people are actually voluntarily signing up to receive this email and not being imposed on by someone signing up on their behalf. Subscribers can cancel with FeedBlitz at any time and know that the publication WILL stop arriving in their inbox; subscribers can use FeedBlitz’ interface to change their email address once for all the publications they receive through the service.

That was the service pretty much as it launched way back in 2005. But this is the age of mass customization; you could tell by the requests for enhancement that FeedBlitz got both from publishers and subscribers.

Although pundits talk about “convergence”, what’s really happening in communication is divergence. When FeedBlitz began, its supported only subscription by email. Now a reader can choose to subscribe to the twitter, the text message, or the instant message version of a publication. Note that the publisher doesn’t create each of these versions by hand – FeedBlitz does this customization from the RSS feed produced by the publisher at the instruction of the reader. My guess is that FeedBlitz will end up supporting an increasing number of delivery options on behalf of publishers who must deliver choice and customization to keep their readers but can’t each afford to master the complexities of each of these delivery mechanisms and all the new ones that may be invented.

Responding to requests from both publishers and subscribers, FeedBlitz added filtering articles by tags to allow readers to choose only those articles relevant to themselves from a single publication or to allow publishers to create focused sub-pubs from a more general publication. More mass customization.

Publishers have increasingly gotten the ability to tailor the look and format of their publications as delivered by FeedBlitz – just as publishers control the look of their websites. The group of publishers using FeedBlitz grew beyond bloggers to people who think of themselves as newsletter providers, local organization coordinators, or even direct marketers – but is still restricted to those publishers who readers make a verifiable request to receive the publication.

Some of these new publishers want to go even further in mass customization – they want each message delivered to each subscriber to be unique and relevant to that subscriber. This is natural in a world where Amazon greets each of us differently and Google searches for what it believes we really want based on our history. FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition had to be invented to allow that level of individual customization.

This all sounds like an ad for FeedBlitz and, to some extent, it is. I think the company and founder Phil Hollows have done a good job of recognizing and accommodating the growing demand by consumers that what they receive be relevant to them and physically delivered the way they want to take delivery. FeedBlitz’ customers are the publishers but FeedBlitz service is to help the publishers meet the needs of their subscribers; it’s really Reader Relationship Management (RRM).

Web tools including FeedBlitz are very cheap – free in some cases. Although Google and Amazon spend large fortunes to mass customize their web real estate, small publishers and community organizations can also afford to personalize. In fact, they can’t afford not to. None of us will stand for one-size-fits-all content anymore.

Breaking Symmetry – The Newbies Meet the New

Whether you’re an old hand at the new, new thing or a relative Internet newbie just using the Internet for email, shopping, eBay and Google, this post might be interesting to you.  What’s happening is that the tools of Web 2.0 like blogs, RSS (don’t worry about what that is), and widgets (ditto) are beginning to be seriously useful to real people doing the things they’ve always done and not just cool toys for us nerds to use in talking to each other.

Fact is most people still don’t really know what a blog is.  Easy to tell by watching someone’s face when you tell them you’re a blogger. But more and more people are reading blogs; they just don’t know (or care) that that’s what they’re doing.

Blogs get included in the websites that people are already accustomed to going to.  You don’t have to know that you’re reading a blog to find that a daily update is a good reason to come back to an interesting site on a daily base.  You couldn’t care less whether the update – or even the whole website – is made with a blog tool or hand-crafted by a fifteen year old nerd (they’re the best).

Blogs and other updates to web sites also get turned into email.  We all know how to read email.  When that happens a blog becomes an e-newsletter.  The fact that the email you’re reading with interesting new stuff in it was posted to a blog platform and turned into RSS and burned by FeedBurner (which was just purchased by Google) and turned into email by FeedBlitz (which I am in investor in) is just as irrelevant as the fact that your email is delivered with a technology called SMTP.

It was a major change in UI (sorry, user interface) which FeedBlitz founder Phil Hollows made to his service that clued me in that blogs aren’t just for the blogosphere any more. 

When Phil started FeedBlitz to create a reliable way to deliver blogs by email a couple of years ago, most of the people reading blogs were bloggers; so, logically enough, Phil created an interface which you could use either to manage the blogs you published or to manage the blogs you subscribed to.  Worked fine then.  Everybody’s a publisher; everybody’s a reader.

Over time Phil added features for both bloggers (publishers) and readers (subscribers).  But a funny thing happened.  Publishers of all kinds of web content – not just bloggers - began using FeedBlitz to get their stuff delivered to people who want and ask for it (this isn’t spam).  The number of subscribers grew way beyond the original Web 2.0 crowd who were the first blog readers.  The publishers want more and more sophisticated tools to serve their readers.  The subscribers want a very simple way to do things like change their email addresses, cancel a subscription, or order up something new.

As of this week, FeedBlitz has two different user interfaces – one for publishers, one for subscribers.  Publishers get more capabilities; readers get simplicity.  Publishers know that their subscribers have an easy way to manage their own subscriptions without the publishers having to invest in email address management.  All a straw in the wind that blogs aren’t just for bloggers anymore.

Two lessons:

If you have a “web 2.0” product, it’s past time to think how it’s going to be used by real people in their real lives.  Sure, the interaction’s important; but not everyone wants to be a content creator as well as consumer all the time.

If you’re thinking about your organization’s website, the tools that were usable just for bloggers are turning into exactly what you need to serve your customers or other constituents.  You can reach them with an e-newsletter a lot more cheaply than with snail mail.  They can handle their own address changes online (and they like being able to do that).  And the e-newsletter can also be content on your website for those who’d rather browse to it themselves, to attract users of search engines, and to be an archive of back issues.

New Feature: The Subscription Center is Phil’s explanation of his new UI.

Build Your Website on a Blog Platform is me suggesting how blog tools can be cheap or even free way to build a way site.

The Newbies are Coming is more about people who already have a life using the web to enhance it.

Congratulations FeedBlitz!

FeedBlitz, which I’ve invested in and on whose board I sit, just passed the 2 million subscription milestone.  That’s a lot!

What FeedBlitz does is make it not only possible but also simple for bloggers and publishers to offer email subscriptions to readers of blogs, newsletters, and other types of web content.  A “subscription” is one user subscribing to one blog .  If you subscribe to Fractals of Change by email, you count as one subscription.  If you also subscribe to Fred Wilson’s A VC, you count as two subscriptions.

FeedBlitz manages the subscription process to guard against spam; helps shepherd these requested updates through spam filters; manages the subscription list including allowing users to change their email addresses, cancel subscriptions, or even filter by tag; and provides publishers with lots of good statistics on what’s happening with their emails.  Publishers are the only ones who have access to their subscription lists, of course, and subscribers can elect to remain anonymous even to their publishers.

Now FeedBlitz even supports Twitter updates for those who want them.

Shameless plug: if you publish web content or e-newsletters and don’t do it already, you may want to offer FeedBlitz updates to your readers.  The base service is free but there are bells and whistles you may want to pay a small fee for.

Founder and CEO Phil Hollows has more stats on FeedBlitz in his post on the milestone.

Jory Des Jardins Joins FeedBlitz Board

Jory_2 BlogHer co-founder Jory Des Jardins has joined Phil Hollows and me on the board of FeedBlitz. I’m an investor and Phil is founder and CEO; so that makes Jory our first outside board member. I don’t think Phil could have done any better in recruiting.

Finding the right outside board member is a big step for any startup; it’s part of growing up and an opportunity to add strategic strength. What you want in an outside board member is strengths which are highly relevant to the company’s mission but which are complementary to existing board members and executives. You want someone you can argue with as well as learn from; you want a different view but an informed one.

Phil and I are both nerds at heart although we both have some marketing in our background. Jory has an impressive media and marketing background.  She started her career in print media as an assistant editor at Penguin USA (now Penguin Putnam) and was an Editor at The New York Times Syndicate and Time Inc.’s Custom Publishing Division before migrating to the Web. She was Director of Business Development at the Baby Boomer–focused new media company MyPrimeTime. In 2004 she began blogging and later consulted for traditional media companies that were bringing social media into their organizations. In 2005 she built the blog network the baby boomer web site and community, ThirdAge, and worked with social media/RSS companies to develop products that were compatible with traditional online media.

FeedBlitz is the leading provider of RSS to email service.  That sounds techier than it really is (Jory’ll probably help us think of a better phrase).  What FeedBlitz does is help bloggers and other creators of web content reach willing (double opt-in) subscribers by email. Some of the content creators are marketers with customers and prospects who want to hear from them regularly; others are bloggers like me with some readers who’d like to receive my posts by email. FeedBlitz takes care of the messy details of gathering email addresses, maintaining them, checking for legitimate opt-in, and navigating the spam filters that sometimes separate eager subscribers from the email they subscribed to.  FB also provides lots of useful statistics and has a growing number of important analytic and other tools for content creators.

[And – Flash News! – FeedBlitz now supports Twitter so your blog can now be distributed as tweets to those who so choose. More on that when I’ve implemented it for Fractals of Change.]

Jory knows both our target markets – marketeers and bloggers – very well. As a co-founder of BlogHer, which is the Web’s number one guide to blogs by women, she’s a startup person herself. She’s also writes on women’s business issues, marketing, blogging, and entrepreneurship for publications including, Fast Company, Inc., The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, and The New York Times.  And she blogs, of course.

There’s a great picture of Jory and the other BlogHer founders here in yesterday’s NYTimes.

Phil welcomed Jory with a post and there is a formal press release if you like those.

Web 2.0 – The Global Opportunities in Local

Local sites are one of the next great web opportunities.  But the great local sites, even the very good local sites, will be those that are intensely local – not the local spawn of a global or even national mother-ship, not clones of a single success.

Nevertheless, there are global opportunities in supporting and enabling the wave of local sites to come.  If you are an entrepreneur who wants to succeed in local, you’ll have to decide whether you want to succeed locally by making a local site a success or globally by empowering the success of very individual local sites.

Since these sites will serve a single locality or a cluster of nearby places, they will have neither the need nor the budget to invent technology. They will succeed based on their content and the online dimension they add to the existing local communities; but they’ll fail if their technology sucks.

The success stories of today aren’t the conglomerates of bloggers – they are the individual blogs that have become hits or category leaders, the tools that made blogging so easy to do, and the information services that made blogs discoverable and searchable. The success stories of local will be community sites – some horizontal, some vertical, some large, some small – that have become essential and the tools that enable these sites to concentrate on content and community rather than technology.

There is an opportunity for someone to build the Six Apart of local: Six Apart hosts blogs like Fractals of Change on its TypePad service and provides its MovableType blog publishing software to those who want to host elsewhere. My guess is that most successful sites won’t self-host. If I were launching a business like this today I’d be tempted to resell Amazon hosting space and computing power behind a powerful and growing set of templates and widgets which made it drop dead simple to start and grow a local site.

Blogs only have rudimentary community tools embedded in them.  Local sites will need powerful community tools.  Will MyBlogLog, which supplies community tools to blogs, expand into this space?  Or will you meet the need of the local sites with your new service?

You could be the del.icio.us of local by providing a tool used within local sites for sub-communities to find the best of what ever they’re interested in. The technorati equivalent may be a service which allows travelers to find what they need in local sites as they travel or plan travel.

It’s a good bet that local sites will use technology like RSS and podcasting and videocasting. Who’ll make it all simple for them and their readers like FeedBurner and FeedBlitz do for blogs and blog readers? (disclosure: I am an indirect investor in FeedBurner and a direct investor in and board member of FeedBlitz.)  What are the other technologies that local sites’ll need help with?

Local sites will be largely ad supported.  Some will have a local sales force to sell ads to local merchants but how will they get locally-targeted national ads?  You could start a business selling ads nationally and parceling them out locally. You could be the Federated Media of local site advertising. Or you could wait for Google to get this figured out and start a self-service local ad division. Better to do it yourself and let them buy you.

Related post: For Web 2.0 Success - Think Local, Act Local

Disclosure Policy

There’s a service called PayPerPost.com which has created not one but three separate waves of controversy in the blogosphere: when it launched (see Polluting the Blogosphere in BusinessWeek Online), when it got funded to the tune of $3 million (see TechCrunch), and when it had the chutzpa to suggest a disclosure policy for everybody else (see TechCrunch again).

PayPerPost does what it’s name implies; you can say that much for it: it pays bloggers to post articles about products from its clients.  Much of the controversy is over a policy which does NOT require bloggers to identify paid posts as such (although this is not prohibited either) and which allows clients to set “requirements” for posts such as that they contain pictures or that they be positive.  PayPerPost is the arbiter of whether a post meets the stated requirements.  If it doesn’t, no payment.  Decision of the judges is final.

Respected and envied VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) participated in but didn’t lead the financing.  They have invested in Overture, Technorati, FeedBurner, and, famously and fortunously, Skype.

Perhaps in reaction to the controversy and/or perhaps to fan the fires and get still more attention, PPP launched a site called DisclosurePolicy.org to “accelerate transparency across the blogosphere… DisclosurePolicy.org was created to provide a uniform disclosure mechanism as well as a central place to discuss the ongoing issues surrounding disclosure and transparency.”

The “uniform disclosure mechanism” is a multichoice form which a blogger fills out and which then generates text the blogger can post on his or her site as a disclosure policy.  True to its name and fame, PPP offers to pay each of its members who posts a disclosure policy ten dollars.

The first I heard of PayPerPost was when an ad for it showed up for approval on FeedBurner.  Didn’t do any research but I didn’t like the name and felt that running the ad might imply that I am paid for posting (not!) so I turned it down.  Not a moral judgment but it didn’t fit Fractals of Change.  Decision of the judge is final on that as well.

In FOC, thought I, ads are clearly identified and run in the sidebars or between posts in the center column and RSS feeds.  Whoops! Realized that there are links to Amazon which could result in revenue in my posts which mention books so I took them out (posted about that here). So PPP did make me think.

Although DisclosurePolicy.org may well be more an attempt to expose the fact that some blogs – including some which have criticized PPP – are hypocritical and have their own ethical conflicts than a serious effort to reform the blogosphere, I decided to fill out the form and see what it generated.  The results are below.  However, since it is not possible to be as accurate as necessary within the constraints of the multichoice questions, the text is edited. Deleted stuff has a strikethrough and added stuff is in [brackets].  Not edited for grammar.  I am not a PPP member and will not receive ten bucks for this.

This policy is valid from 21 November 2006

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact  tom at evslin dot com.

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation [and includes house ads for related blogs, blooks, and books].

The compensation received will never [(I hope)] influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All [Some] advertising is in the form of advertisements generated by a third party ad network[s]. Those [All] advertisements will be identified as [look like] paid advertisements.

The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owners. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider [or, better yet, other independent sources].

This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content will always be identified. We are employed by or consult with: Evslin Consulting. We serve on the following corporate or non profit boards: FeedBlitz Ltd; ShoreCap Exchange; The Snelling Center [nb. links added by me since the form didn’t seem to allow them]. We blog about people to whom we are related. The most interesting such people are: Wife and children. We have a financial interest in the following that are relevant to our blogging: FeedBlitz; FeedBurner; stock in energy companies; investments with various VC funds; real estate in Vermont; stock in an antenna-tower company; the book hackoff.com. [nb. If I write about any of these companies specifically, I’ll be specific that I own the company.  Listing them here would be an endorsement without an explanation (and might be bad stock advice)].

To get your own policy, go to http://www.disclosurepolicy.org

Hmm…  More thought on this to follow.

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CEO Tom Evslin's insider account of the Internet bubble and its aftermath. "This novel is a surveillance video of the seeds of the current economic collapse."

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