Dear Jason Calacanis – The Good Citizen Of The Interwebs?

I honestly want to believe that you are a good internet citizen, and your attacks on search engine optimization and now affiliate marketers are honest, and without any form of prejudice.

So while you are attacking affiliate marketing, please ensure you have first of all cleared up all the problems in the paid links debate, such as what seems to be a company, where you are on the board of directors, buying links.

ThisNext Paid Links

It is widely discussed that buying links in WordPress themes is something that might be a signal of web spam, and the same should be true for buying links in WordPress plugins and gaining millions of links.

Sociable sells links in WordPress Plugin

Of all the default options within the original Sociable plugin, quite honestly the ThisNext button appearing by default is the least obvious choice, thus most likely to have been paid for.

When approached about making the links nofollow, the developer refused – he seemed to think all those links to forms were a deserved vote.

I took action, encouraging people to add nofollow initially, and then releasing a modified version of the sociable plugin.

That version is relatively unknown – only downloaded 1700 or so times, I am sure the original has been downloaded upwards of 100,000 times.

Recently Joost decided to take over development of Sociable and create a new “official” version

I did make sure that the default options were changed.

Not As Bad As It Used To Be

Fortunately this situation isn’t as bad as it used to be, otherwise I honestly wouldn’t raise it in so open a manner.

ThisNext now has someone on board or was made aware of this issue and has made a specific point to block the URL from search engines

Disallow: /pick/new/submit/

That may not be the case of the other default inclusions

But it is deceptive to users – those are purchased links, and there is no form of disclosure on the page that they are paid advertising.

For a long time those pages were not blocked

Deja Vu

These are really old conversations but highly relevant to the current

There have been extensive discussions regarding the differences in disclosure in various blogging scenarios including with Gordon Gould of ThisNext after the interview between Jason and Ted from Izea (formerly PayPerPost)

Clickbank have required disclosure for more than a year now, though they leave it to the FTC to decide what level of disclosure is required.

Google still prevent disclosure of their referral units.

I have been writing about affiliate disclosure for some time

When Jason asks “Should Google, Yahoo, Mahalo, etc. ban affiliate links? (or “Will the FTC ban undisclosed affiliate links for us all?”)” his first port of call should be companies where he has a say in what they do, then his friends at Google.

Jason should also look into other forms of payola, and his own linking practice

For full coverage of Jason’s presentation at Affiliate Summit read

Sam’s blow by blow live blogging
Reaction to JC on ReveNews
Scott Jangro’s take – he agrees with a lot of Jason’s sentiment
Kieron also agrees with a lot that was said, and looks for long term value.

Linda has a full roundup of all posts, along with a player so you can listen to a recording on Webmaster radio

Zac was under fire over his big checks and responds

Finally Tris has probably the clearest takeaways from the Jason Calacanis keynote at Affiliate Summit

Maybe more coverage on techmeme, but currently most of the above posts have all the links covered.


I found Joel Comm’s views extremely interesting (p.s. Joel – if you had linked to a few more people I would have found your post quicker)

Good overview on Winning The Web

Finally Dan Rua with quite a scathing look at Jason Calacanis’ linking practice, with #1 rankings for Mahalo content being driven purely with links from the Jason Calacanis weblog.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate marketer, I also get classed as an SEO by many – this is a topic I am extremely biased about and have commercial interests in. I have been involved in the disclosure debate for affiliate marketing for over a year.

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    • says

      Tris I actually agree with that, I am pro disclosure of some kind, and strive to promote high quality standards in both paid reviews and affiliate reviews.

      At the same time Jason tends not to quite practice what he preaches, and to overlook the digressions of bigger players such as Google.

  1. says

    Hey Andy,

    Thanks for the visit, and you are right about the links. I need to dish it out a bit more.

    Glad you liked the entry. I feel like I held back a bit to give Jason the benefit of the doubt. I’m still hopeful that he is a nice guy in person and his whole point was to get a rise out of people.



  2. says

    Andy I concur, Jason has his own biases and faults as far as disclosure goes. But if people take anything away from his keynote it’s think big, take risks, solve a problem.


  1. FVB > Where is Jason Calacanis’s Disclosure?

    You can read Allen’s direct affiliate, employee, paid link comparisons. My post just provides a bit more detail to Allen’s dead-on observation. My post isn’t about affiliate links. My post isn’t about buzz marketing. My post isn’t about Mahalo’s …