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Educational Site

" On some sites there is a blurry line between editorial content and advertising. "


By Dr. Ron Whittaker

When we started this site well over a decade ago a seasoned newspaper man warned us, "If you start to accept advertising, be sure to write down that date...

"...because that's the day you'll start to lose control of the content of your site."

We heeded his warning.

>>After we recently published the article, Shooting Themselves In the Foot, I started doing some checking around.

In some cases I found that the articles and even the product evaluations in magazines (trades) and on Internet sites were written by the PR or advertising personnel of companies involved, although that fact was often not mentioned.

So any pros or cons on a reviewed product would only consist of pros and maybe a few watered-down cons to give the appearance of objectivity.

Not exactly what we would expect from a source you could put your faith in.

>>Plus, when you start to depend on advertising dollars, and no matter how objective you intend to be, you are going to find yourself avoiding biting the hands that are feeding you.

So it's inevitable, advertising dollars will start to influence editorial decisions.

" I found this out when I wrote an article for a publication that included a true, but somewhat negative comment about a product.

The company behind the product advertised in the publication.

The article was published but the negative comment (that should have been part of any honest evaluation) was simply deleted. I decided that would my last article for that publication."

>>Readers almost never know about these behind-the-scenes influences -- in this case the influence of advertiser money -- on what is and isn't published.

These influences that can be subtle but they nevertheless compromise what the reader ends up seeing.

>>Extra money is nice and we've gotten offers to put advertising on the site.

We've been tempted.

But, personally, I can sleep better at night knowing that our decisions are not influenced by advertising dollars.

  • NOTE: At times an ad may pop up in your browser when you are viewing this site. This site is ad-free and it is a parasite ad, an uninvited addition to your computer, generally resulting from downloading a program with this advertising scheme included.
  • You should know that advertisers sometimes "spoof" our email address, sending out ads in our name without our knowledge or permission.
  • This type of commercial appropriation has now extended to a major search engine. It used to be when you typed in CyberCollege, the search engine would take you to our site, just as you would expect. But that was apparently before a site using our name paid to give their site priority. So now you have to type in the full address to keep the your search from being redirected.
  • Also see Shooting Themselves In the Foot.

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