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Tech Review Sites and Payola

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the fish-in-a-barrel dept.

The Media 189

cheesecake23 writes "How often have you read a hardware review and thought: 'No way was that an honest opinion, the reviewer was bought'—? The Daily Tech has gone undercover to find out whether or not payola is accepted among the 35 largest online English-language hardware review sites. Questions asked and answered — Q: How many sites would take money (or sell ads) in exchange for a product review? A: 20 percent. Q: How many sites would additionally consider selling an Editor's Choice award? A: None. Q: Were any regions of the world more corrupt than others? A: No, it was 20-25% almost everywhere. Q: Does it depend on the size or age of the site? A: RTFA. Although no bad actors were explicitly unmasked, the article contains enough information to make a whitelist of quite a few good guys."

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Arse? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391137)

Arse Technica?

Payola is a widespread problem (2, Insightful)

mollog (841386) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391931)

I finally wised up the the coincidence of endorsements of parts for performance cars, and the size of the ads in the magazines. Once I figured that out, I started seeing this sort of thing everywhere. In many places it's obvious, in other places it is more subtle. Recently I've noticed that this viral marketing is effecting web searches.

I'm thankful for this little bit of 'research', but the job that was done was cursory and will simply make these charlatans be a little more sneaky about how business is conducted; where there's money to be made, product placement can be bought.

This is one of the arguments for open-sourcing development of software and hardware; 'products' compete on merit, not marketing.

AP Wire: Paris Hilton Gang Raped In Limo to Jail (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19392147)

AP Wire: Paris Hilton Gang Raped In Limo to Jail. She later told reporters, "I needed to get filled up before going in because the girls in jail don't have penises, not real ones anyway, hee-hee."

Slashdot Payola (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391143)

Slashdot takes it, just admit it.

How else can the editors explain Roland Piquepaille, [slashdot.org] among others?

Re:Slashdot Payola (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391543)

Lots of inbreeding?

Re:Slashdot Payola (2)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391729)

What's to explain? He submits stories, and they get approved because they're interesting. What's your beef?

-jcr

The beef (5, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391811)

The beef is that he is his own personal shill. Nearly every story he submits is a link to his own blog.

Whether they're interesting stories or not, and whether his stories are worse than having no Roland at all, it's the sort of blatant self-promotion that people on Slashdot are finely attuned toward hating. It is an affront to the sort of chaotic diversity that we've grown accustomed to having here, and folks don't like it.

Re:The beef (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392335)

The beef is that he is his own personal shill. Nearly every story he submits is a link to his own blog.


Which in an unto itself isn't that bad. The problem is that most if not all his blog entries are just links to the original information source with a rehash of the information source. There's no insightful commentary, critique, or audience participation to add value to the piece. It'd be more useful to just look at the guy's blog link... find the real information source linked within... and then link THAT instead. But I guess that would ruin the game.

Re:The beef (4, Interesting)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392393)

Fuck, have you looked at the firehose? It's no wonder he gets stories posted. He knows grammar and spelling and doesn't get his news from slashdot. Which is better I can say than most submissions.

majorgeeks.com are the payola kings (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391773)

majorgeeks.com takes pay offs in money or free full copies of commercial wares featured on their website in exchange for good reviews and ratings for the creators of many wares rated highest at that website. The owners are druggies and alcoholics. Go figure. I found all of this out when I moderated on the old tweakfiles site and I also hung around their first site 3dfiles.com until they kicked me for no reason and shut the site down afterwards. I left for arstechnica after that and stayed there, only to find out they are even worse in this way. I may as well spill the beans on both sites now because payback's a bitch!

Re:Slashdot Payola (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391883)

Roland? What about the entire "special advertising sections" dedicated to Intel [slashdot.org] and AMD [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Slashdot Payola (1)

livewire98801 (916940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392237)

At least in your example they're fair. . . both Intel and AMD sections.

Re:Slashdot Payola (2, Funny)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392251)

Slashdot takes it, just admit it.

I think you're thinking of Cowboy Neal. And that was never conclusively proved.

Re:Slashdot Payola (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392809)

Roland has recently been posting links directly to other sites, with no mention of his blog, far more frequently than links to his own blog.

Have you just stopped looking at his articles for maybe a year now, because other Slashbots once told you they're links to his blogs?

RTFRolandAs.

I wonder... (5, Insightful)

WFFS (694717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391147)

How much to get an article on Slashdot? =p

Re:I wonder... (5, Funny)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391317)

No charge if iPhone is in the first three sentences :-)

Ask Roland Piquepaille. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391765)

If you're lucky he might send you a copy of the contract he has with Slashdot.

Re:I wonder... (3, Funny)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392157)

Patience, good stories, no life, etc. :) See who is #4 on Hall of Fame [slashdot.org] for "Most Active Submitters". ;)

Re:I wonder... (3, Funny)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392227)

On Slashdot, you'll get two articles for the price of one...

Toms (5, Funny)

Iam9376 (1096787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391161)

I remember when Toms Hardware Guide was a good, unbiased resource..
wait...

Re:Toms (4, Interesting)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391573)

Yeah, i also remember when Tom's Hardware didn't use to stretch articles in 17 ad crammed pages. Or when MTV played, you know, actual music, for that matter...

Re:Toms (2, Interesting)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391727)

I also remember when Mtv played music. I miss that. I used to flip over to Mtv in the early morning while I was getting ready for school in high school and jr high.

I also miss Mtv Oddities and wish they'd release The Maxx on dvd since Aeon Flux is out on dvd now.

Re:Toms (3, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391749)

Music on MTV... That was a good week, back in the early 1980's.

-jcr

Re:Toms (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391869)

I remember when the Country Music Channel (CMC) still had a twang. :P

Does it depend on the size or age of the site? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391169)

Online Payola against Publication Age -- Older and younger sites tended to refuse advertising and cash in exchange for editorial content

Is this a surprise? (5, Interesting)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391171)

In today's corporate-controlled world does anyone take reviews without a hefty dose of skepticism?

I'm not trying to say that there aren't neutral reviewers but, with marketing budgets as they are, is anyone surprised that some "neutral" reviewers are actually paid enough to be biased?

Re:Is this a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391999)

And the ones who aren't corrupt are retards regurgitating press-releases. If you see the "reviewer" commenting on the box the product came in, RUN.

Re:Is this a surprise? (3, Insightful)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392085)

When I look to buy, I read the bad reviews. If they sound kooky, I buy; if they have valid complaints I don't. Under no circumstances do I put any weight on good reviews.

Not a huge surprise. (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392439)

The thing that scares me is that I've seen "reviews" in the regular and tech press that are so blatantly paid advertising as to be absurd, yet people actually take them as gospel truth. The Guardian newspaper in the UK is great in many ways, but don't bother with their tech section - it's almost 100% payola. I'm increasingly skeptical about the WSJ after seeing some of their "articles" as well. This isn't new - Computer & Video Games (aka Commodore & Vegetable Games) was notorious for highly questionable reviews. Nor is it limited to the low-end - I've seen plenty of falsely promoted high-end systems.

In the same way that payola for music is illegal (in the US, although actual prosecutions are almost non-existent), it would benefit the tech industry if payola "reviews" were outlawed. The problem there is that there were attempts to make non-payola reviews of tech articles illegal, by banning reviews that were not authorized by the manufacturer. Dunno if that ever passed, but it wouldn't surprise me. Nonetheless, without independent monitoring, the industry is nothing more than trickery and fakery. Why? Because those are so much easier and cheaper than actually doing any real work. If you make the money anyway, why not take the easier road?

Meta-Cynicism (5, Funny)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391201)

How do we know daily tech did not take any payola from the reviewers surveyed?

Re:Meta-Cynicism (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391285)

It would have been really fun if they turned around and threatened to print names if they didn't get ad money :)

Re:Meta-Cynicism (2, Interesting)

cheesecake23 (1110663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391467)

How do we know daily tech did not take any payola from the reviewers surveyed?
I submitted this to /., so I'm one of 3 or so people who RTFA. They mentioned something about this, let's see ...

There are approximately 150 circulated English-print technology websites; our team specifically targeted the 35 largest publications. We determined the size of these publications via Alexa's online index and publication-supplied web statistics. DailyTech was included among this list.
Yes, there it is! They tempted themselves with payola. No word on whether or not they accepted though.

Re:Meta-Cynicism (1)

Baddas (243852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391857)

That must have been a cool study, getting to call the editorial department anonymously and see if they're taking payola. Makes me want to do it to some of my ex-bosses.

Re:Meta-Cynicism (2, Interesting)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392055)

There are approximately 150 circulated English-print technology websites; our team specifically targeted the 35 largest publications. We determined the size of these publications via Alexa's online index and publication-supplied web statistics. DailyTech was included among this list.
Yes, there it is! They tempted themselves with payola. No word on whether or not they accepted though.
They actually gave a hint when you combine the article with the comments. The article states that no publication with a seperate editorial and sales department would accept bribes, and in the comments mentioned that DailyTech has a seperate editorial from sales team. So, apparently their sales team refused.

Re:Meta-Cynicism (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392105)

I know you were being funny, but the author of the story is a lawyer who was doing some research, and not a Daily Tech staff writer.

They only take it from known conspirators (4, Insightful)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391213)

Maybe they only take money from people they know are from major companies, because if they took money from anyone who asked, they would be quickly exposed.

Re:They only take it from known conspirators (5, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391711)

Not really. It's quite simple actually.

The publication can't give a bad review. No more free review equipment.

If consumers _really_ wanted unbiased reviews, then publications would do it the right way. Buy the product off the retailer's shelf and test. But that's expensive and no consumer is willing to pay for it. This has led to opportunities that equipment manufacturers exploit.

Yes, the problem exists. IME the article in question is touching an ice cube on the tip of an iceberg, but no one cares enough to pay for the other, more objective, review. Want an honest review? Then pay for it. That's not going to happen though.

Re:They only take it from known conspirators (4, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392401)

"If consumers _really_ wanted unbiased reviews, then publications would do it the right way. Buy the product off the retailer's shelf and test. But that's expensive and no consumer is willing to pay for it."

You mean like consumer reports?

Re:They only take it from known conspirators (2, Interesting)

adelord (816991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392843)

I have a sincere question about Consumer Reports: For many of their car and computer hardware stats don't they depend upon readers sending in surveys? Doesn't that mean their reports may suffer from heavy selection bias? My wife will veto any big ticket item purchase if it doesn't have a favorable review. Thankfully Apple and Honda do very well so I got what I wanted when it has mattered so far, but part of me is worried that even though Consumer Reports is independent their methodology may be crap. My guess is no, but since there isn't a single better data source consulting CR is an important component of an informed decision. Are the statistics published in Consumer Reports for cars and computers mathematically sound?

Re:They only take it from known conspirators (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392569)

If consumers _really_ wanted unbiased reviews, then publications would do it the right way....But that's expensive and no consumer is willing to pay for it.
Actually, consumers are willing to pay for it....

http://www.consumerreports.org/ [consumerreports.org]

Re:They only take it from known conspirators (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19392271)

Posting AC as I still like my job
Or ones who pay more My company once went to offer one of our products worth $10k to a for a needy organisation who were shown on TV, we called the station while the show was on Live, A few days later after no response Our competitior was shown handing over there product claiming it was worth $25k, A quick check on there web site showed there price was still only $12k.

  As for reported Sales figures in a previous job the owner could never understand why our competitors always supposedly sold more PC's (according to magazines) when our suppliers leaked that we actually bought more components by a factor of 3 (Good to sell the accounting system to your supplier) the next time the owner multiplied his fiqures and not one person questioned the huge monthly increase at the magazine

As for MPAA type figures while working in a video store the weekend rental $ amounts often came out before stock was in any store

Duh moment most of what you read is Lies, Damn Lies, and very little selective statistics

Or they're more subtle (2, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392721)

Taking money can also be somewhat more subtle than "ok, it will cost you 30 silvers for a 95% score".

For example, in traditional printed media, advertising money was always a big set of shackles. The "if you don't give us 95% or more, we'll not advertise in your magazine" threat was around in various shapes for as long as there were reviews magazines, and some caved in big time.

I remember, for example, that back in the 80's some game magazines even let big publishers write their own shameless advertising as a review... and I only started to suspect something's fishy when one had given itself 115% score.

Others do it for the previews and free material to review. Being a review magazine or site puts one in a very tight spot, because you depend on having stuff to review and _preview_. No freebies to review, no reviews, no site. In a nutshell, it's the worst kind of conflict of interest: the same guys you're supposed to honestly review and grade, are the guys who control your air supply and can tighten the noose around your neck any time they stop liking you.

Even if you were rich and bought all the stuff to review (though that's a _lot_ of money), previews can still make or break your popularity. If you review games and you're the only site who has no clue what's EA's _next_ game gonna be like, you're fucked. If you're a hardware review site and are the only one who has no clue what nVidia is up to until the card actually hit the shelves (i.e., up to 6 months even after launch), you're just irrelevant.

And, yeah, both only work for big players. If Trident came and said "we'll only send you our next graphics card to review if you promise to make it look good", chances are you'd laugh them out of the office.

In fact, the side effect of being in the pocket of the big players, is that a lot of sites proceed to shaft the smaller players as some kind of "look, we can still give bad grades too!" proof. Some of the sites and magazines that caved in, at least then just shifted their whole band to the high end, and everyone equally gets grades between 90% and 100%, or between 4 and 5 stars. But I can think of some at least in the game reviews arena who figured out they still have a reputation to build, and proceeded to have to demolish some obscure or indie game regularly, to show that they can give low grades too. They're impartial like that. You better trust them that EA's review actually earned a 95% score, 'cause, look, they also gave some minor player a 15% this month!

So going at one of those pretending to be a minor player looking to buy a review, well, duh, of course won't work.

A survey of editors?? (2, Insightful)

canada_dry (830702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391215)

Isn't that akin to asking death row inmates if they're guilty?

Re:A survey of editors?? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391533)

The only English-speaking country that did not report any Payola was Australia

I call BS from personal experience ( and hence why I post ANON )

Every publication I dealt with in Australia always asked for you the product maker to supply "editorial" as extra incentive to advertise. I have worked with reviewers directly as few of them have good experience with the hardware/software and they simply regurgitate what you give them. This is reporting these days and is simply an extension of current affairs programs (which tend to be user supplied footage) which have more in common with infomercials than investigative journalism

Give the names, you chickensh!t (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391217)

Although no bad actors were explicitly unmasked

And why not, exactly? Oh, because they might sue? Come dear, this site talks about government oppression (and the need to oppose it) constantly. Resisting the evil **AAs is considered civil disobedience [slashdot.org] (automatically noble, of course). But you can't list the few sites, who — verifiably, one assumes — have agreed to accept something in exchange for better reviews?

Sorry. No Pulitzer prize for this piece of investigative journalism...

Re:Give the names, you chickensh!t (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391299)

Because DailyTech didn't list them? Because they might get sued?

And last I checked... DailyTech doesn't talk about Government Oppression or ??AA either...

Re:Give the names, you chickensh!t (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391617)

Because they might get sued?
Sued for what? If the article had been properly researched, that court case would last about 30 seconds:

Some review site: They lied and said that we'd accept money for better reviews! Sue! Sue!
DailyTech: Here's the tape recording.
Judge: Case dismissed.
Depending on your local jurisdiction (but ask your local sheriff's department and your lawyer before you rely on anything I say here), it is not illegal for you to tape a conversation without telling the other party - if you are one of the parties in the conversation. There's no reason they couldn't have backed their article up with some solid evidence.

Re:Give the names, you chickensh!t (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391311)

I agree with the parent but lucky us...

From TFA

Ikram: "We'd be willing to pay a little more for ads if you can get us some articles on ******"
******: "Ok, I can help arrange that."


Since we all know what **** is this shouldn't be that hard...

Re:Give the names, you chickensh!t (2, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391917)

Since we all know what **** is this shouldn't be that hard...

Hey! That's my password. Why're they doing articles on that?

Re:Give the names, you chickenshit motherfucker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19392129)

Insert stupid comment here about my fucking luggage combination.
 

Re:Give the names, you chickensh!t (3, Informative)

Aluvus (691449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392145)

DailyTech belongs to AnandTech. AnandTech doesn't want to destroy its relationships with other sites. Conversely, it's willing to shine a spotlight on some of the good guys (Tech Report) because that improves their relationship.

Re:Give the names, you chickensh!t (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392279)

And why not, exactly? Oh, because they might sue?

No. It's because they write for Slashdot as well.

Do you lie cheat or steal? (4, Insightful)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391239)

"Heavens no, next question?"

Ask any Congressman and they'll be happy to tell you they don't take gifts from Lobbyist. Then you start asking have you ever accepted a trip, expensive bottle of wine or dinner, etc and the story changes. There are other ways of pressuring and where as I think there are legit sites like Tom's I think the percentages are much worse than presented. At the very least many sites are biased whether the bias comes from personal conviction or encouragement is the question.

Re:Do you lie cheat or steal? (2, Interesting)

pytheron (443963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391919)

best way I saw to accept a bribe was from the Korean film "The King and the Clown". A government minister is making a show of presenting a golden turtle to the King, who won't accept it due to the unsubtle nature of it being offered. After several attempts, the King obliquely points out that the minister ought to change his method, to which the minister replies "I don't have enough money for the journey home, my Lord... but if you will buy this turtle from me for the cost, you would help me greatly". The King turns round, and laughs "At that price, I'll take 2!".

I expect alot of bribes are along similar lines these days.

One site comes to mind (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391243)

http://www.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] 'nuff said.

"Immorality" of radio payola? (3, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391259)

From TFA:

The immorality of paying radio station disc jockeys to air music did not become apparent until investigations by Federal Trade and Federal Communication Commission.

Pardon my naivety, but exactly what is so "immoral" about it? I've never really understood that. "I've got a radio station. You've got a song. Let's talk." Seems perfectly natural to me.

A radio station could play a song a hundred times, or a million. If everybody hates the song, they're still going to hate it no matter how many times it gets aired. Meanwhile, the record company is out a pile of cash. It almost sounds like a win-win for the consumer.

Obviously, bribing magazines for good reviews seems like a different matter...but the radio thing -- and especially the choice of the word "immoral" -- is kind of lost on me.

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391371)

Its immoral because it decieves the listener & skews the market in favour of the large players.

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391707)

Its immoral because it deceives the listener

How so? Into thinking they like a song when "really" they don't? It's hard for most Slashdotters to accept that a great many people actually like "pop", but it's true.

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391389)

A radio station could play a song a hundred times, or a million. If everybody hates the song, they're still going to hate it no matter how many times it gets aired.


Not true at all. There is a consumer base that will enjoy, and buy, whatever is played on the radio enough. This is because they listen to or buy music to be included in the group of others who do; basically, to have something to talk about with their "friends" amid this culture of lonesomeness. It's the same reason people talk about celebrities (and buy magazines containing supplements to their celebrity knowledge base.)

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392037)

Not true at all. There is a consumer base that will enjoy, and buy, whatever is played on the radio enough
There is a consumer base that will buy whatever is advertised enough. Is advertising now immoral as well?

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (4, Informative)

Sangui5 (12317) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391463)

There are other reasons to consider payola immoral, but there is a straightforward reason: if the DJ's only spin songs they've been payed to play, the those who can't pay won't get paid.

Simply put, payola keeps small artists and those without the backing of a well-monied party at a distinct disadvantage. The major labels certainly form an oligopoly, and, cartel or not, they have maintained their oligopoly through 1) control of the distribution chain, 2) buying out the supply of new talent, and 3) through squeezing small players from the most effective publicity channels. #1 is threatened by the internet, and is their largest problem right now. #2 is the fault of bands stupidly signing disadvantageous contracts; to a mild extend newer bands are wising up, though. #3 is still an issue. Payola is the direct way of doing it, and gave the majors their initial dominance. Nowadays, it is a little more discreet; "independent promoters" get money from the majors, and then they in turn turn over "stuff" to radio stations (stuff ranging from blatant cash bribes to concert tickets to give away through on-air contests). Direct or not, payola floods playlists with songs from well-funded labels, at the expense of smaller labels or self-produced bands which do not have the resources to buy their way onto playlists.

There is an exception; a record label can straight out pay to get a song played, but the radio station has to disclaim that it is a pay-for-play, and the amount of airtime devoted to pay-for-play is limited by law (I believe it may be by considering such to be advertising; and radio stations are limited in the fraction of airtime which is advertising). This sort of payment is probably unproblematic from a legal and a moral standpoint, unless playlists are influenced by who is buying advertising (which would essentially be old-skool payola again).

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (2, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391759)

if the DJ's only spin songs they've been payed to play, the those who can't pay won't get paid.

So, how is that much different than Clear Channel or the majority of stations out there today? DJs - where there still are any - don't pick the songs anymore.

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391607)

There are some crazy-ass people out there who don't believe that not everything of value can be determined by money, or corporations with money. There was also a time when corporations, at least in theory, were understood to have the purpose of serving the greater good as opposed to people serving the corporation.

It almost sounds like a win-win for the consumer.

Corporate America determining the selections of music that is played on limited public airwaves is a good thing??

the choice of the word "immoral" -- is kind of lost on me.

That may be in part because the connotation of moral has changed as have
the morals (and I don't mean religious) from earlier times.

Misuse of public resources? (3, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391649)

So there was this guy on trial, he says to the jury "Looks like I have money, you have power, let's talk. We can work something out".

What's wrong with the above? Money is trading hands between private individuals for mutual exchange, but something the public owns (i.e. the judicial system) is getting used not for the greater good of society, but for individuals. It's the same thing with radio. There's a limited amount of bandwidth the public gives away with knowledge that the owner will use it impartially for playing music. If payola is legal, radio stations may as well be owned by the record companies themselves. If Virgin records had a radio station, they'd use it to shamelessly promote their own artists. This isn't so hypothetical since Virgin does in fact own a satellite radio station, but that's OK, since in so doing, they are not using up the limited public bandwidth.

This is a little abstract now that most radio stations are owned by Clear Channel and have no claim to independence, but this was originally meant to allow some separation and moderation between the consumer and the record companies, while allowing new artists and record companies to have low barriers to entry. There's still college radio stations, pacifica radio, and NPR stations, but aside from that, unfortunately non-bias in exchange for public goods does seem to have gone with the times.

Re:Misuse of public resources? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19392475)

This isn't so hypothetical since Virgin does in fact own a satellite radio station, but that's OK, since in so doing, they are not using up the limited public bandwidth.
Since when do sattelites broadcast using pixie dust?

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (2, Insightful)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391745)

Yes, but if radio stations take bribes and play one song more often then other songs get less (or no) playtime. This does hurt the consumer because there might be a new song from a good artist that I might be interested in. For instance, say U2 releases a new album and single. Instead of U2, some new boy band group with no talent gets played constantly. Now I have to listen to crap or bring an iPod with me in the car. I shouldn't have to subscribe to a service or get an HD radio to listen to something besides boy bands and other crap 13 year olds like. They say adults stop buying music at age 28. The reason is that we don't like POP crap anymore.

Now U2 is big enough that I can still see ads and buy it on iTunes. However, what about new artists that I don't know exist yet? I listen to the radio to find new music just as much as I listen for songs I like.

Re:"Immorality" of radio payola? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391789)

Pardon my naivety, but exactly what is so "immoral" about it? I've never really understood that. "I've got a radio station. You've got a song. Let's talk." Seems perfectly natural to me.

Natural, yes. Immoral, yes. They were (are) lying to their listeners, by saying that particular songs are popular. The various "Top-XX" are supposedly of sales, or requests from listeners. When in fact their rankings were often simply purchased by the record companies.

If you say no harm was done, consider that artists and companies that didn't pay such payola never got on air, got very little publicity, and often went out of business. And the audience missed out on hearing the best music.

It's a lot like a restaurant supplier who gives a backhander to a restaurant buyer to order from him. Will the patrons get the best food? How does an honest supplier break in to the business?

Even if they don't, the reviews are semi-useless (5, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391275)

I've always been a bit annoyed that hardware review sites almost always get cherry picked engineering samples to test. Normally this isn't a big deal, but they always test the overclockability of hardware these days (I swear Ars, HotHardware, HardOCP, and the like would overclock hard drives if they could) which is fairly pointless with a sample size of 1. Worse, they have no way of testing if that overclocking is going to cause the hardware to fizzed out after 2 months. They also rarely include factors like "will the manufacturer maintain driver support 3 months down the road and fix the bugs in the current driver?" which is far more important than clocking it up to 105% and running Supreme Commander.

I know I'm being a little unfair here, but it's one of the main reasons that I rarely bother with hardware review sites anymore unless I'm actively looking to buy a particular piece of hardware. Well, that and their tendency to spread articles out over hundreds of pages with as little content as possible on each page.

A good example of this is the 120 page article on Core2Duo heatsinks posted to Slashdot a few days ago. At no point did the hardware review guys examine the fans to see if they were bottom of the barrel "will die in 6 months" models, or if they were high quality fans worth the $50 price tag on the cooling solution.

Re:Even if they don't, the reviews are semi-useles (1)

chromozone (847904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391419)

Ah yeah - I bought an Asus P5W DH motherboard last August after reading tremendous reviews all over about how well the worked with the new Conroe cpu's. Then it turned out they couldn't boot with retail Conroes because they had only been tested with engineering sample cpu's. Asus told people to buy a $50 Celerons to boot and then change Bios to accept retail cpu's - sort of a "let them eat cake" attitude . People went nuts, and then Asus said it would mail people a new Bios chip for $25. People went nuts again, even the Register covered that story and Asus said it would mail the Bios chips for free.

Re:Even if they don't, the reviews are semi-useles (2, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391553)

I once overclocked my ethernet card.

at the time, getting 11Mbps was pretty good!

and you're right - I had to have special LANCE controllers to achieve that speed. its true. most could only go to 10.5.

Re:Even if they don't, the reviews are semi-useles (1)

tm2b (42473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391675)

OK - I don't have any mod points but that was pretty funny.

So what you're saying is... (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391911)

...you turned it up to 11?

Re:Even if they don't, the reviews are semi-useles (1)

kahanamoku (470295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391739)

Well, that and their tendency to spread articles out over hundreds of pages with as little content as possible on each page.

they have plenty of (paid for) content on those pages! the more pages they provide, the more (paid ad's) they can show. They (review sites) seem to think we don't need the scrollbar on our browsers these days!

Re:Even if they don't, the reviews are semi-useles (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392643)

Overclocking hard drives you say?

Before northbridges were smart enough to lock down the PCI clock to 33mhz, overclocking of the IDE bus was the norm (since IDE controllers derived their clock from the PCI bus). All that mattered was what you could get away with. I found that IBM's were usually very tolerant of extra-chippy IDE speed, whereas maxtors usually fell flat on their face at around 111-114mhz fsb (going from 100mhz, of course). Your mileage may have varied.

I Learned To Ignore Most Reviews And Go To Forums (4, Insightful)

chromozone (847904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391331)

I found many reviews to be very unreliable for the most part and stopped reading them. Monitor reviews are especially bad imo. Rarely will a reviewer even mention what type of panel it is (TN, S-IPS, S-PVA etc)and that's an irregularity in my view because cheap panels like the TN's get the same or better ratings as the usually superior S-IPS panels (which look obvioulsy different to anyone with 30 seconds instruction). Dell and Samsung seem to always get positive reviews. Then some riot ensues in the forums likes when Dell had banding issues. In the past year Dell has ben swapping inferior panels into displays after they already got reviews with superior panels. The forums are full of "Dell Lottery" posts and thread threads complining about buying one monitor and essentially getting another. After months of this, I think I have seen it mentioned once in an article in the may sites I see visit. Dell ads are flashing on the sides of most of these sites. Reviews seem to be becoming an extension of manufacturers marketing just like TV and print news always seem to be inserting the latest entertainment product made by the ABC, FOX etc. I find the best way to see it good reviews are merited is to follow how the forums react.

Re:I Learned To Ignore Most Reviews And Go To Foru (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392171)

Be careful with this. I've found many "reviews" in the forums to be nothing more than astroturfing. Fortunately, the people doing the astroturfing are usually really, really bad at it, blatantly shilling the products in question, and that makes them pretty easy to spot.

Not that I want to give away all my tells, but if a posting is 100% positive with absolutely no flaws, there's very little chance of the post being fair. Every product has flaws or deficiencies of some nature, and a poster who can't find them is either being paid to shill or did such a crummy job at reviewing that it's not worth reading.

Re:I Learned To Ignore Most Reviews And Go To Foru (1)

indiechild (541156) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392353)

Forums can be worse than reviews -- it's mob mentality at its worst. I agree with people who say there are people astroturfing or otherwise people from competing companies acting as agent provocateurs on forums and blogs. It's blatantly obvious, but an extremely effective tactic. Witness the recent hysteria and class action lawsuit concerning Apple's 6-bit notebook screens. 6-bit screens are an industry standard on laptops, and on desktops the majority of LCDs are 6-bit. Some manufacturers like Samsung even label 6-bit screens like the 226BW as being capable of "16.7 million colors".

The amount of BS, FUD and insanity on forums with people ranting against Apple is ridiculous. These are the same people who bash Cinema Displays because they cost more than a Samsung 226BW, and they want to sue Apple because of this. Give me a balanced review anyday, by people who actually know what 6-bit and 8-bit are, and who understand that S-IPS is superior to TN film. The trick is to ignore reviews from lame websites run by 14 year olds out of their garage and concentrate on the professional reviews -- it's usually pretty obvious which is which.

CrashZilla (-1, Offtopic)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391335)

Ive renamed Firefox "CrashZilla", it would be nice to browse the web for more than 1 hour without it freezing up or crashing. Yes I have the latest version and all the latest plugins. I have no issues with Konqueror on KDE 3.5.7 (using the same plugins) and Firefox 1.5.* ran for days without crashes.

Re:CrashZilla (0, Offtopic)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391449)

Sorry posted to the wrong article.....sigh

Microsoft Payola (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391451)

Reminds me of software reviews from 25 years ago.

Many of them something like:

"Well, Microsoft's release of Sliced Bread 2.0 is full of bugs, late, and has fewer features than the competition, but you and your company had better use it because everyone else will. Oh, and by the way, it won't actually slice bread until 3.0."

please help!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391469)

my mom has a myspace page....which is like soooo embarrassing!!!! please troll her into getting rid of it....thanks

    http://www.myspace.com/amandagrashel [myspace.com]

alex

Re:please help!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391511)

plz post hirez pussy pix.

Do you take money for positive reviews? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391475)

Q. Are you a thief?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you take cash or prizes for reviews?

A. Never.

Q. And you expect me to take that at face value and write an article about it?

A. Yes.

Q. You expect me to not even ring around or go through your rubbish for receipts?

A. Yes, and here's a Microsoft Natural Keyboard for your troubles.

Q. Ooooh... nice, my fingers love it.

Blogging monetization = paid reviews (1)

ringfinger (629332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391479)

It's becoming common -- bloggers reviewing for direct payments... http://30days.itious.com/ [itious.com]

Re:Blogging monetization = paid reviews (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392235)

Yup. Paul Stamatiou [pstam.com] 's site used to be a good blog, now it's just paid reviews. I say "reviews" with a grain of salt, because on at least one article lately, he admitted he never actually used the site, just took a few hundred dollars to describe it.

What a great way to kill the golden goose.

The Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391571)

You bitches all just lost the game [savethegame.org] . Suck it.

Aussie Aussie Aussie (2, Insightful)

bobby1234 (860820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391679)

All English speaking countries except Australia....8->

Who was expecting honesty from the land of convicts down under...

or maybe we are better at smelling a setup...

Re:Aussie Aussie Aussie (1)

caylem (1014541) | more than 7 years ago | (#19391797)

Or maybe, since we are a land of convicts, that we would be automatically guilty of buying reviews ...

Assuming, of course, we are technologically advanced enough for a large review site in the first place ...(25mbit capped downloads anyone?)

Re:Aussie Aussie Aussie (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392259)

Indeed, the prospect of bribery is so ingrained it doesn't need to be discussed. Obviously the Aussies were expecting payola, in fact it is so obvious they didn't even mention it when asked.

Re:Aussie Aussie Aussie (1)

tumutbound (549414) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392283)

We're a land of convicts, we don't buy reviews, we steal them!

Big problem with this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391709)

The investigators came up with a fake company and fake products, and from the dollar amounts mentioned in the article, we're talking peanuts to the big sites like Anandtech, Toms Hardware, etc. I want to see some investigators get together with AMD or Nvidia or Intel, using REAL products that said company is actually going to release or has very recently released, demand that said company gets a great review, and tack on a multi-million dollar price at the bottom to be paid. Everyone has a price, it's just that $3000 is a bit low for a site that makes much mroe than that in ads per day most likely.

I have a feeling the outcome of such an investigation is 100% corruption across the board for every single review site. And given that said company (amd/intel/nvidia) stand to make a lot more than that (possibly) if the big review sites all paint rosy pictures. Of course this won't work for a product that is complete shit, but then again where these three companies are competing, the difference between every fuckwit recommending a product and every fuckwit hating a product is 5% in a benchmark and the swing of a conclusion. It's worth spending an extra few million on top of R&D and regular advertising to absolutely blow away the competitions comparable product.

Parlayed? Argument? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391719)

Adam Eiberger, a non-editorial sales representative from The Tech Report, parlayed the most succinct argument.

Parlayed? Is that a synonym for gave? And what argument? He made no argument. He simply said it wouldn't happen.

and what about politcial blogs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391733)

Dailykos.com is a paid shill for many democratic candidates.

However, he isn't very good at it. Almost everyone endorsed by Markos Zúniga loses the election.

Consumer Reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391735)

I think the least-biased review company is Consumer Reports. They don't have the best electronics reviews always, and their site requires a subscription (and they blocked the one user who appeared on bugmenot [bugmenot.com] ), but their reviews are very fair, in my opinion. I read that when they test a car, they don't go ask the dealer - they actually send someone to buy one, posing as a regular consumer, and then test it for days or even months, going as far as loaning it to the families of their employees to report back on. I recall them testing these odd devices called condoms once. I feel ashamed, as a geek, to not know what these devices do - I always thought I was good at hardware, but I have no idea what these might relate to. I got payed $20 to write this post saying they're the best. All kidding aside, I do believe that they have the most unbiased reviews. They even said that people shouldn't upgrade to Vista yet!

Very reliable study (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19391781)

Notice how they only tested English-language sites, only 35 in total, and yet they have "results" for all of Europe and Asia, which have a lot more than 35 countries and where 95% of them do not have English as an official language. Also, they don't name any names, so the entire article might as well have been made up... quality "journalism" from the leading press-release propagation website...

Free promotional items (1)

jihadist (1088389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392135)

If tech is anything like the music industry, most of the little people can be bought for chump change in free giveaways. I hope I'd have the strength to resist a new Dell laptop that they would "forget to request back" in exchange for a sterling review, although I think I'd kill myself if I forgot to mention their brick heavy laptops are slow as mud.

Gaming as opposed to Tech (2, Informative)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392319)

Then the source showed me an invoice for the same game, this one from
IGN/Gamespy. What Gamespot calls a gumball, Gamespy calls, less charmingly, a "Gamespy Spotlight". But the content and the principle is basically the same: the Spotlights are those thumbnail screenshot links that you see on the site's front page. "What you're looking at on the front page is not what the editors decided is the best game," the media buyer informed me.
Source: kotaku.com [kotaku.com] - They actually have a whole section on ethics [kotaku.com] including one bribe [kotaku.com] that I'm sure is utterly reasonable.

Home Security Store (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392343)

I recently purchased an alarm system from a popular web site called the Home Security Store. Not only do I feel their recommendations steered me away from better products for my application, but I've had a hellish time with their support. I've also submitted reviews for products to the web site and they apparently weren't approved, possibly because I didn't give the products a glowing review. The site also operates a whole slew of other domains pointing to different IP addresses which are basically the same storefront, and another alarm company told me they used to pay people to write reviews and cross link the sites. That explains why they're as popular as they are, but apparently didn't get that way because of the quality of their products & service.

Only one thing to say to the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19392605)

NO RLY?

Call it by it's real name (1)

Timo_UK (762705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19392789)

It's plain old corruption, nothing else.
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