I mentioned in a previous post about a blogger who had posted something that didn’t really sit right with me. When I went to confirm some details in that prior post, I saw that I used this post’s title in that post. So, I guess I still have the same issues.
In the previous post, I was saying how the entrepreneurial lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and certainly not me. Aside from the level of effort it takes to start it up and keep it going, I also have significant issues with a practice I have been seeing more frequently. That practice is the monetization of information. One blog that I follow has reviews on random products that are interesting. Recently, that blogger started linking to those products using affiliate links so they get a slight reimbursement for their referrals. That was never the case before. And this other blogger recently made a post expressing the same thing, that he needs to start using affiliate links whenever he is giving advice or recommendations.
This bothers me for so many reasons. First and foremost is the WIIFM aspect (What’s In It For Me?). WIIFM isn’t always bad, but when the only thing you are interested in is money, I think it is. Why should someone promote another’s website/product/service? Well, you could because you want to see the company succeed or because you want your readers to benefit from a great product/service. Or, somewhat selfishly, you want the company to stay in business because you use that company too and you need them to stick around. Or, as I see these affiliate links, you don’t particularly care about the company or your readers and just want some money.
Affiliate links are a scourge on the Internet. Once you start down that path, it’s a very short walk until you get to entire websites that trick people who have misspelled a domain name. What “entrepreneur” had the idea of “Oh you misspelled macys.com as macies.com. Here’s a link to the real site you were looking for. By the way, anything you purchase after clicking on that link will give me a small payout. It won’t affect anything you do, but it’s just a way for you to pay me back for this helpful site I created to correct your misspelling. You’re welcome.”
Along with the WIIFM issue is the viewpoint that information is not free. Something like “I could tell you what you want to know, but I need a small payment first.” Some people could argue that it’s a fair exchange. The information is there for free if you can find it, but if you want a shortcut over the bridge, you need to pay the toll operator. It sounds like a “victim of success” complaint. You want to be an authority, but once you are an authority, you’re in too much demand and so you have to employ discouragements.
Before I make this too long of a rant, here’s an example of linking to something just because you want to:
This Kickstarter is a book of comics. It’s organized by Matt Bors, who is a comic writer I’ve followed for quite a while. He went to a paid website and let his personal website die, and I didn’t follow him to his new home. However, I try to support him when I can, and this is one of those times. If you like to get world perspectives through visual media, like comics and illustrations, this book would suit you well.