What is an authentic community?

My old friend and cofounder at BuzzLogic, Todd Parsons, has posted about the need to connect financial incentive to blogging activity, calling it an "an army on the rise":Despite its image, Pay Per Post is gathering steam and the reason is, for many individual publishers out there, the personal satisfaction they get from blogging is not always enough. The numbers tell us that many want to take their self-publishing efforts to another level and generate revenue, no matter how small.

My old friend and cofounder at BuzzLogic, Todd Parsons, has posted about the need to connect financial incentive to blogging activity, calling it an "an army on the rise":

Despite its image, Pay Per Post is gathering steam and the reason is, for many individual publishers out there, the personal satisfaction they get from blogging is not always enough. The numbers tell us that many want to take their self-publishing efforts to another level and generate revenue, no matter how small. So is Pay Per Post the right path to that? Probably not. But it is proving the market is ripe for the taking.

Can one "take" this market without compromising the ethics of the bloggers doing the posting? I know you think not, Todd, and I agree, because the authenticity of the posting is what is important. If a blogger posts simply because they got a check (or some other form of payment), they'll burn their credibility pretty fast.

This is what Marc Canter and I worked hard to avoid when we wrote the terms for the Marquis blogger program—a blogger could review product from the company and talk about it, if they wanted, or they could simply acknowledge sponsorship of their blog, just like advertising. At that time, the first time anyone provided direct financial compensation of bloggers, it was a worthy experiment that taught some good lessons. But paying people to post about a product—that being the condition for receiving payment—creates a huge ethical problem.

So, we agree that the authentic "unvarnished thought" needs to be aggregated somehow. And there are lots of different ways of arriving at some form of consolidation of bloggers with similar sentiments, but largely after the fact of their having agreed on something.

BuzzLogic can push the time that agreement is discovered close to the moment it happens, so the marketing problem is how do you use that initial momentum to create a movement? Ad placement may be one way, creating connections that extend shared passions is another. It's not clear to me that simply linking marketer support to blogger is enough, though it is a step in the direction you're talking about.

Credibility or authenticity will be a problem if the compensation system is perceived as an "army on the rise," as I explained several years ago in some articles about the dangers of paramedia. You're on the right path, but you need to be careful with the language you're using, because it will convince marketers that bloggers can be made into mercenaries. They wouldn't be bloggers, nor journalists, but just marketers if we make them part of this army.

What do you think, dear reader?