A Can of Worms

If there was any remaining doubt that this blog has slipped into Seinfeld territory, I am sealing the deal by blogging about the comments on a seemingly innocent post from Friday called “Bloggers at OpenWorld“.

The issue at hand is about providing recompense for time lost/expenses incurred for attendees. Here are the arguments in no particular order:

For
For some bloggers like Vinnie Mirchandani, the time and travel associated with attending OpenWorld represents a loss of consulting revenues. Covering the travel and expenses essentially pays for Vinnie to come to San Francisco to cover the event, much the same way analysts and media are treated.

This one boils down to a very simple cost-benefit equation. If Oracle wants Vinnie to attend OpenWorld and blog about it, Vinnie wants Oracle to cover his time and lost revenues in exchange. He has been invited to cover OpenWorld, but Oracle is not picking up travel or expenses. Points about paying the way of analysts and media have also been made, but I am not savvy to the inner workings of these. So, we’ll leave them aside for now.

Against
The precedent for inviting bloggers to an event and paying their way was set years ago by Jeff Nolan. He was at SAP at the time, and SAP continued its blogger program after his departure.

This one boils down to appearances. Oracle does not want to appear to be currying favor by handing out airfare, lodging and expenses to bloggers. In the comments on his own post on the same topic, Justin responds:

“. . . the prevailing view is that T&E should not be covered in order to avoid the appearance of quid pro quo.”

Ironically, his post is titled “Oracle Relates to Bloggers”. Dennis Howlett, in his typically gruff tone, begs to differ in his post today.

Now what?
So far, I’m missing the opinions of established Oracle bloggers like Eddie, Paul, Nial, Floyd and others. Peter K says in comments:

The main reason is that if you blog positively about Oracle and its products (even if deservely so), there will always the lingering doubt that it was done because you have been “paid” to do so.

What do you think about this issue? As blogs continue to carry more weight, a precedent needs to be set. As a blogger, are you willing to foot the travel expenses to attend a conference, or would you expect that the company inviting you should pony up for all expenses to get you there? As a reader, would knowing that bloggers were flown out to a conference and put up on the company’s dime influence your opinion?

This is new territory for a lot of us, and personally, I’d like to hear a lot more opinions and suggestions before I support one path or another.

Plus, it’s fun to stir the pot. Feel free to add your two cents in comments here or on the original post.

AboutJake

a.k.a.:jkuramot

62 comments

  1. Jake, no worries about whether or not I was on the list…no big thing either way. My post was more intended to talk about the issue of comps for bloggers and to point out that a person’s perspectives on this issue could be influenced by their individual situation.

    And we will definitely meet up at OOW…I’m looking forward to it!

  2. Jake, no worries about whether or not I was on the list…no big thing either way. My post was more intended to talk about the issue of comps for bloggers and to point out that a person’s perspectives on this issue could be influenced by their individual situation.

    And we will definitely meet up at OOW…I’m looking forward to it!

  3. The waived conference fees for invited bloggers is great and for those of us fortunate or unfortunate to be employed, our employers will and do pay for our T & L plus salaries to attend BUT that is for the sole purpose of learning not to blog about the event.

    For those who are self-employed, the “training/learning” mindset has to kick in where if a vendor offers or waives their training fees, would you attend even if you have to pay for your own T & L? I would think that each will have to consider the merits (i.e. benefits vs costs) BUT if Oracle intent that you are invited as “PRESS” with the expectation that your sole intent was to blog about the event (i.e. not for you to learn), then that’s a different story.

    I am assuming here, but I think Oracle’s intent was to invite the bloggers along to learn AND blog about the event (negative or positive). Obviously it looks like there are opportunities available to the bloggers that are not available to the general attendees so that is a plus.

    Regardless, FULL DISCLOSURE is the only way to go when blogging about the event/sessions.

  4. The waived conference fees for invited bloggers is great and for those of us fortunate or unfortunate to be employed, our employers will and do pay for our T & L plus salaries to attend BUT that is for the sole purpose of learning not to blog about the event.

    For those who are self-employed, the “training/learning” mindset has to kick in where if a vendor offers or waives their training fees, would you attend even if you have to pay for your own T & L? I would think that each will have to consider the merits (i.e. benefits vs costs) BUT if Oracle intent that you are invited as “PRESS” with the expectation that your sole intent was to blog about the event (i.e. not for you to learn), then that’s a different story.

    I am assuming here, but I think Oracle’s intent was to invite the bloggers along to learn AND blog about the event (negative or positive). Obviously it looks like there are opportunities available to the bloggers that are not available to the general attendees so that is a plus.

    Regardless, FULL DISCLOSURE is the only way to go when blogging about the event/sessions.

  5. The objection I think isn’t so much if bloggers are being paid or not, its what happens if bloggers are critical of Oracle products. Does Oracle stop covering their expense?

    Environmentalists have always accused large media companies to cater to the interest of car advertisers. As a volunteer in a political riding association in Canada, I found it suprising how the relationship between an association and small community newspapers also change if you buy ad space from them. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of the relationship between Oracle and bloggers develop, especially given that blogs are a new form of media over newspapers.

  6. The objection I think isn’t so much if bloggers are being paid or not, its what happens if bloggers are critical of Oracle products. Does Oracle stop covering their expense?

    Environmentalists have always accused large media companies to cater to the interest of car advertisers. As a volunteer in a political riding association in Canada, I found it suprising how the relationship between an association and small community newspapers also change if you buy ad space from them. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of the relationship between Oracle and bloggers develop, especially given that blogs are a new form of media over newspapers.

  7. Julien: Oracle is not covering any expenses, only giving bloggers a pass to the event. That said, we will see what happens after the event when bloggers post their thoughts.

  8. Julien: Oracle is not covering any expenses, only giving bloggers a pass to the event. That said, we will see what happens after the event when bloggers post their thoughts.

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