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Companies paying people to say good things about their products on forums

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Article about Geurilla marketing and NVIDIA paying people to build up reputations on forums so that they can later say good things about the product:

About a week ago, The Consumerist stumbled upon claims made by various gaming websites (specifically, Elite Bastards and Beyond3D) that graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia, in cooperation with the Arbuthnot Entertainment Group (AEG), had seeded various gaming and PC hardware enthusiast sites with pro-Nvidia shills. That is to say, that AEG would hire employees to create ‘personas’ in various gaming communities, slowly building up the trust of other members by frequent posting unrelated to Nvidia, to later cash in that trust with message board postings talking up the positive qualities of Nvidia’s products.
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[link from boingboing]

Carol Haynes:
Should this be a surprise? Given the amount of 'advertising' on the internet theses days (and the depths that some of these 'advertisers' will plumb) I would be very surprised if any possible method is not being exploited openly and covertly.

Add to that the large web-factions that have gotten 'religion' when it comes to browser wars, operating system, platform etc. then almost anything printed on a webpage should be taken with a pinch of salt!

i've posted this and made it sticky because i want everyone on this forum to pay attention to this completely outrageous technique of marketing.

the intention of is to be a helpful resource for the members of this site.
we hope also to be friendly and helpful to companies and programmers, especially small independent coders; especially donationware and freeware coders, but also to shareware authors.

i see it as a win-win situation when companies offer discounts and get some attention here, and members get a good discount.

i have my own personal opinions about software i love, and i expect many of you do as well, and we all want to hear when someone genuinely loves or hates a program.  i think the mini reviews by members are one of the great resources on the site (thanks zaine for making us give this a higher profile).

i have no reason to suspect anyone on this site would be promoting a program for reasons other than their own true feelings, but it needs to be said that if you say good things about a product and you have some connections to the company or some financial interest, and you do not reveal this fact, we would look on this in an extremely serious and negative light, and would take action to make sure that everyone knows such a company could not be trusted.

the same goes for the reviews, etc.  posting positive comments about a program in return for payment is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  there is always a danger of such things because companies try hard to get good word of mouth.  but keep in mind that if we find out such a thing has ocurred it will end up hurting your company in a much more severe way.

[note: this does not prevent authors or people affiliated with a company from posting a comment about their application or recommending it, you must simply make clear that you are affiliated with the product].

Here's some followup on the story

Oh, you mean this is wrong?<g>

The number of companies doing this is larger than we could imagine.

The solution? Other than publicly castrating companies that get caught, there isn't much that can be done.


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