Jason Calacanis of Weblogs, Inc. posts a rational, albeit emotional, reply to Marc Canter’s proposal to promote Bloggers writing product reviews for money (so long as its done transparently), which I covered here.
Paying people directly to generate buzz for you in the ‘blogosphere’ absolutely should require disclosure (no disagreement there); I don’t want to have to read through a web of “undercover buzz agents” to figure out what information I can really trust.
Unfortunately, nobody’s ethics are beyond reproach today; the question simply naws away until opportunity inevitably strikes.
So, the question becomes, what is the trust system/mechanism that makes this a possibility? That is… How do I, as the user, vet you as an information source? (E-commerce — SSL, TrustE, etc — went through its version of a trust infrastructure buildout as well.)
Answering that should unlock all sorts of business models.