Disclosure: The aspiring shill's best friend

Former Microsoft evangelist turned Intel pitchman Robert Scoble last week announced a new gig: keynoting Postiecon, a conference promoting the ideals of heinous blog-shill outfit Pay Per Post. Scoble casually mentioned that Pay Per Post was not only fronting his travel expenses, but also forking over an honorarium — which Scoble bizarrely characterized as Pay Per Post "paying my salary," as the cash was to be filtered through check to Podtech, Scoble's employer. But does disclosing make it all fine and dandy?

Unfortunately, despite blog-media's near-sexual fixation on transparency, disclosure is not a means toward absolution for ridiculous acts. Disclosure is actually a test of your audience's tolerance for chicanery. Most embarrassing is the naive assumption that simply disclosing the payoff somehow made it kosher. Fortunately, the mechanics of disclosure operated properly in this case, as Scoble was roundly abused for his paid performance; he has since issued a corrective update. Neither he nor Podtech will take money beyond expenses for the speech, and such is now Podtech's "policy" for such engagements. Future shillwork to be disclosed as it happens.