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 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.
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.
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.