Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Blogger Seal of Approval?

Colleen Kennedy

In the Wall Street Journal article titled “Paid to Pitch: Product Reviews by Bloggers Draw Scrutiny,” Rita Arens suggests that reputable blogs display a seal akin to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The idea of utilizing a seal to ensure fairness and honesty in the blogosphere is admirable but unlikely. The major problem with trying to create a GH Seal of Approval is that the seal didn’t develop creditability overnight; it took years to develop the reputation of excellence.

The seal was developed as a result of the efforts from the GH Research Institute. The research institute individually tests every single product that the magazine receives and the magazine only features products it deems legitimate. The seal is reserved for the cream of the crop and since it’s creation in 1909, only 5,000 products have been worthy of the seal. The point is, the magazine was a beacon for decades before ever developing the the seal and has an immense research institute to mediate it.

If that isn’t a solid case for creditability, since 1941 GH has backed their product reviews with the GH Consumer’s Refund or Replacement Policy. Meaning if you purchase any product that had the GH seal or is advertised in their book and that product is defective, GH will replace it or pay the consumer the purchase price out of its own pocket. What will the blogosphere receive as a consequence for a misleading review?

To me, the suggestion that the blogosphere might be able to create something like the GH Seal of Approval is unlikely. When bloggers can set the standard for product review and hold some degree of accountability for their actions, I just might learn to trust them. Until then, I’ll be my own judge.

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