1. 21
  1.  

  2. 10

    The only thing I’d add to this article is that I would highly appreciate it if affliate links were called out as such, akin to FCC rules for sponsorship (as unevenly applied as they are at times)

    Not because I want to avoid using them, but so that I can use them in an informed fashion.

    1. 3

      Agreed. Its important to know if the author is recommending something because they like it or because they are paid to recommend it.

      1. 0

        I disagree. 100% of the things I recommend I do so wholeheartedly and genuinely. If I provide a link for convenience, there’s literally no downside to providing an affiliate link. I didn’t do it for money, but free money is nice.

        Likewise, if I were to recommend things on my personal blog in this way, that recommendation would be completely genuine. @tlhunter isn’t exactly raking in the dough here, tens of dollars a month is hardly an incentive to shill random products.

        1. 3

          Don’t hear me saying that I think not calling out affiliate links is some great evil, just that I appreciate when the are called out, for two reasons: 1) It allows other people to find out about what affiliate links are and 2) It makes the business relationship between me and the author more clear. This is not a bad thing! As a professional, I want to support my profession, and other professions. If neither of those reasons appeal to you, then go about your day.

          Also, while you and @tlhunter might not make a great deal on affiliate links, there certainly exist bloggers and writers who could make a lot with them. Daring Fireball or Coding Horror come to mind as possible examples in the technology sphere.

          All that to say that I’m in favor of promoting more transparency when money is involved. There are certainly far greater evils on the internet. If you feel that calling out affiliate links would be too tacky for your style of writing, so be it.

          1. 2

            I disagree. 100% of the things I recommend I do so wholeheartedly and genuinely. If I provide a link for convenience, there’s literally no downside to providing an affiliate link. I didn’t do it for money, but free money is nice.

            Not calling out that you make money from an affiliate recommendation is just as dishonest as giving a fake recommendation, IMO.

            A recommendation can be both genuine and paid for.

      2. 7

        This is fascinating and I’d love to see more data about it. It mirrors my observations that, for example, these days the youtubers who actually make money off their channels don’t do it from Youtube ads (which uBlock Origin blocks quite nicely, and thank Eris it does), but make it either from Patreon, in-band sponsorships (a quick blurb as part of the video), or both.

        1. 7

          In my personal experience, I can’t remember ever buying something from a banner ad, but bought plenty of things from affiliate links or plugs.

          1. 2

            I have bought one thing from a banner ad.

            It was a mistake. Garbage product.

        2. 2

          I think affiliate links are actually easier to block than banner ads, it’s just that nobody cares to do so. This a point in favour of what the author is saying here.

          If you did want to block them, you could write a browser plugin that rewrites URLs to remove the affiliate information just before the browser loads them. (Offhand I think this actually has existed at some point on one of chrome or firefox extension marketplaces, but approximately zero people installed it.)

          As a proof of concept, there have been some cases of malware authors using doing this to make a revenue steam. Infecting machines with something that puts the malware author’s affiliate marketing ID into the URL every time the user clicks a link to Amazon or whatever, replacing any existing affiliate marketing ID in the URL.

          1. 2

            But that’s not actually blocking it. It’s just taking the author’s money away for no advantage to the reader. It’s like if your ad blocker somehow stopped the server from counting an impression while still loading the banner.

            You could write an extension that actually removed the a tag entirely, turning what used to be an affiliate turned into plain text. But even then, your still left with an unclickable “click here”. Hardly the pure win of an ad blocker.

            None of this is intended to ignore the fact that I do know of a few contexts where affiliate links are blocked. Affiliate links are against the rules on the Orange site and the Alien site, in an attempt to curb spam.

            1. 2

              I don’t think affiliate links are banned on reddit, but I have seen some moderators ban them, and bots which automatically comment on posts with affiliate links.

          2. 1

            Affiliate links are definitely less annoying than banner ads or text ads, but there are issues as well. When using banner ads, authors are incentivized to write interesting content to get people to read/view their page. When using affiliate links, authors are incentivized to write content which encourages you to buy a product/service with a large affiliate kickback. The point I am trying to make is that affiliate links encourage authors to become subtle shills for companies. I’m not saying that some software developer is going to write thinly veiled ads for and extra $10 a month of revenue from their little blog. If your core business is content creation and you live and die based on that revenue, then I can see how it would be very tempting to tailor your content to pimp products with affiliate links.