Blog with Integrity – we’re taking our community back

2009, sadly, has so far been the year that parenting bloggers were–often unfairly–vilified in the media. With talk of “blogola,” pay for play, shady review blogs, PR blackouts, and the grossly false assertion by the WSJ blog that the FTC is “considering new rules for parent bloggers,” you’d think that we were all a bunch of hustlers, whores, and naive housewives who left our professional skills, advanced degrees, and ethical backbones at the hospital with our placentas.

It’s just not true.

The vast, vast majority in this community (including plenty who’ve been mentioned in the press, by the way) have steel-strong ethics, unwavering integrity, and a continued commitment to the authenticity that is one of the original hallmarks of blogging.

So we’re taking our community back.

Over email and twitter over the past several months, I’ve been having the most spectacular conversations with Susan Getgood, Kristen Chase, and Julie Marsh. We all write very different kinds of personal blogs, and we all have a toe (or several) in marketing. But one of the things that we agree on is that we are, by and large, proud of how the parenting blogger community – and the blogging community in general – conducts itself.

And so we’ve put together Blog with Integrity, a voluntary pledge, complete with blog badge, for any and all bloggers (not just parents) who want a way to show their readers, marketers, the PR community, and certainly the press, that we are committed to integrity, responsibility and disclosure, and that a few bad apples do not speak for all of us. Not even close.

We may not have editors that we’re accountable to, but we do have each other.

I really hope you’ll sign.


101 thoughts on “Blog with Integrity – we’re taking our community back”

  1. I don't normally add many badges to my site ('tis a boring, plain site. Eh.) However, this was worthy of messing with around with my HTML.

    I have had to eat my words. It was not pretty. Perhaps, this badge will remind me to keep my snarky pie hole shut.

  2. I think it is amazing how strong the community is, how well they rally around each other in tragedy and celebration. This is just one more indication of your support for each other. I love it. I am honored to work with such fantastic individuals.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  3. Thank you all. And Cagey, don't lose the snark! I love snark! Good snark done well can be a thing of beauty.

    Integrity doesn't mean losing your opinions – even the strong ones.

  4. Oh, I totally blog with integrity ALL THE TIME.

    But if someone were to offer me, say, a trip to Orlando, I would probably cave. But I certainly wouldn't cave for damn Swiffer wipes.

    I guess this means I *could* be a whore, but only a high-dollar one, thank you very much.

  5. Heather, integrity doesn't mean turning down trips to Orlando. Hell, I wouldn't! It means making sure you're honest and transparent with your coverage and that it doesn't go against any principles you have. Like, say you are part of the “Cut Florida Off Into the Ocean and Let It Fend For Itself” movement. Then accepting the trip would be bad.

  6. Wait. I don't have a blog. Yet.

    But when I do, ohohohohoho Mama! You can bet I will be wearing this baby with only the slightest bit of snark, sans the sanctimony.

  7. Excellent idea. Who says a community can't hold its own to standards of ethics and integrity? Nicely done!

  8. I've joined and put the badge up, and now I'm not sure if I “fit” with the intent of this movement.

    I run a frugal/shopping/coupon blog. I link to other bloggers who provide me with info. I am not one of the “spam frugal blogs” that are poppingup everywhere. I write relevant original content and encourage discussion. I won't post about deals that fall in to an “ethical grey area” when it comes to coupon use, even if 95% of the other frugal bloggers are posting the deal.

    However, I also work with PR people on giveaways…but I turn down any reviews/giveaways for products that I don't wholeheartedly endorse. I am a member of affiliate networks, but I won't post a link if it isn't something for which I would personally sign up. I'm heading to Boston next week, courtesy of TJ Maxx/Marshalls…but I love those stores and have no problem writing about them (which is why I could never be a Walmart 11 Mom)

    So much of my blog is tied up with PR and advertising…but it is all done in an honest way.

    Yes – I love the writing, but my blog is a way to pay bills in my home. But I won't sacrifice my integrity just to pay the electric bill.

  9. You mean like the Ethical Blogger badges that a lot of us have had from Pitch Bloggers for the last 6 months? This concept has already been done. Unfortunately the PB separate site didn't work out. The good thing is that it's back home on the MomDot forums.

  10. Mindi, if you disclose your relationships and give your readers the opportunity to discern paid content from unpaid content, then you blog with integrity. This is not about review blogs versus non-review blogs.

    Amanda, the ethical blogger badge, from what I could tell from the “pledge” (which is all but impossible to find on that site), seems like it was mostly designed to help PR people avoid bloggers who post negative reviews. In my opinion ethics is about being accountable to your readers, not to the PR person who sent you the item. But I'm not the singular arbiter of blog ethics. I'm sure there are other opinions and I'd welcome them.

  11. Mom Dot's ethical blogger badge was specific to the Mom Dot community, and as Liz already pointed out, mostly covered issues related to reviews.

    Blog with Integrity was created for *any* blogger, and embraces a broader code of conduct.

    There's no reason someone couldn't do both. It's not a competition.

  12. Does the code of honor still work if Bossy lacks just the smallest fingernail's worth of integrity?

  13. Im sorry, I find this terribly hypocritical considering I was talked about, blogged about, twittered about, and endured my family personally attacked on many levels throughout a basic blog challenge for our own community.

    Ethics wont change because someone signed some online document and displayed a picture. Ethics are who you are behind closed doors and what you stand for when EVERYONE is looking.

    Unfortunately, I believe those two things vary for a good handful of women.

    As some of the commenters noted, the pitchbloggers/momdot ethical badge, utilized by over 500 bloggers, was meant for review and giveaway bloggers, and no, is not a competition in the slightest. Our program was started in Feb, so clearly its a different scenerio, although rooted in similar ideas.

    It was not, however as was suggested, meant to ask bloggers to not post negative reviews, but rather open a line of communication and ensure both sides follow a code of conduct under professional guidelines that fit the services we were providing. The program was run by half PR and half bloggers, so the guidelines were set to fit both needs and keep the lines of communication open between them.

    For the record, many bloggers were removed from our program for violating ethics agreements from stealing products and plagiarism. We practice what we preach.

    Seeing as you are touting ethics, I am assuming you wouldn't want wrong information displayed on your pages.

    This is not meant offensively, i am just stating it based on what I have been a party to.

    Perhaps what you should be pushing is to stop cyber-bullying online, which is currently a huge problem, and clearly one that is run throughout the 'blogosphere'. You can read up on that at the

    I wish you luck for the idea, but do not believe that when it comes down to it, people change much from who they truly are.

    And look around…who they are sometimes isnt worth fighting for.

    Take care,


  14. Love it! I don't usually put many badges on my sidebar (being the minimalist, clutterphobe that I am) but this is going to take top spot. Okay, right under “Search” – I hate having to look for the search boxes on blogs (but that's an aside).

    Anyway, I think that if you live with integrity, everything else that you do (including blogging!) will be done with integrity. I'm just saying…

    Anyway, finally – a blogging movement that I can wholeheartedly get behind! Woo Hoo! Can you tell that I'm excited? 🙂

  15. Chiming in again 🙂

    Trisha — Hopefully the reminder in the pledge about respect for others — to attack ideas, not people — will help address the phenomenon you experienced.

  16. I'm hesitant to respond, but I'm putting on my big girl thong (oh, who am I kidding, briefs) and going for it.

    What bothers me about this is not the concept–integrity is good. But why is it something that we need to opt into? It's like rewarding people for telling the truth. That should be the standard, not the exception.

    I guess it would make more sense to me if people put “I'm a shameless product whore but will lie to you about it on my blog” but I can see how it's harder to get people to put up that badge.

  17. Thanks for your comment Trisha. I'm not entirely sure how this is hypocritical, considering noone who has signed this, as far as i can tell, has disparaged you personally- only an idea that you generated for a pr blackout. Any comments about your family are totally out of line and disgusting to me.

    Indeed it seems that your own pledge does provide some very good guidance for review bloggers specifically, as to how to conduct oneself with pr, although it might be smart to add some guidance regarding transparency and disclosure which I would argue speaks to the core of “ethics” and is oddly absent.

  18. Marinka, i agree with you 146%. it all makes me a little sad. But the current media narrative is that bloggers need to be policed by the ftc. That sits worse with me than having to use a badge to spell out to the world what i've been doing all along.

  19. Ok, so if it were just a trip to Orlando, I would give full disclosure.

    BUT if that trip included Daniel Craig, I might be convinced to throw my integrity away and lie about it. Obviously I won't be cheap with my integrity, though. Daniel Craig = movie star = high-dollar whore confirmation.

  20. Heather, we wil totally add a Daniel Craig exemption clause. Thank you for the excellent suggestion.

  21. Marinka — I wish we didn't need a pledge too. But since I first started writing about the need for ethics statements on blogs (in 2005) the situation has gotten worse not better. It also seems that we (the community) have gotten mired in an attempt to define the right way and the wrong way to blog. There isn't one way, which is why we wanted to refocus on a simple code of conduct based on responsibility, integrity and disclosure.

    Personally, I would be, and have in the past been, opposed to complex systems for ethical badges on blogs. There's no way a set of labels can capture a blogger's relationship with her readers. It's a slippery slope that leads to the implication that one approach is better than another.

    That's why Blog with Integrity is just a simple promise. To ourselves as much as to anyone else.

  22. I signed it, and I put up the badge.

    Whether it's a new idea or an old one, I think it's good all the same. I appreciate the intention, and I'm happy to align myself with like-minded bloggers. Because really, I'm here for the community in the first place. Finding common ground is teh awesome.

  23. If I may chime in re the role of the pledge, I liken it to the honor code at the military service academies: We will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. It's a means of reminding ourselves of the standards we vow to uphold – standards that many of us informally set for ourselves when we first opened a Blogger or Typepad account.

  24. I'm with Backpacking Dad, I'm afraid.

    Of course I think integrity, ie. full disclosure is crucial. Of course I let readers know when I am doing a review.

    I just feel weird about having to have a badge for that because other people don't…

    Will think on this – thanks!

  25. Hmm I think some of the confusion/backlash about this is coming into play because many bloggers don't realize the implications of possible outside regulation. For many or even most of us, blogging is a creative and community outlet, and any money made is incidental or minimal. But! For those of us who have professional experience with marketing and media (myself included), the possibility of ethics becoming an issue that needs to be addressed by an outside regulatory organization is scary, because it could really infringe on the open dialogue blogging can create.

    So. I have signed, and I'm displaying the badge. If nothing else, so everyone will know that even though I maintain a personal blog, I think before I write, I make choices about what I will and won't write, and I'm dedicated to maintaining a high ethical standard and disclosure with my readers so as not to require intervention.

  26. I've always displayed a full transparent blogging policy but now I have a pretty badge to add to my sidebar. Thank you!

    It's a great idea and I hope it reaches far and wide.

  27. I love the pro-activeness of creating an idea to refute the many assertions being made in the mainstream press these past few months.

    As a member of the print journalism community as well, I was saddened to see Forbes' article describing a blogger's site as a “shill fest”. Though that may be the reporter's opinion, last time I checked reporters were supposed to abide by objectivity, not snark.

    So, Liz, Susan, et al- high five on caring about our community enough to put forth an alternate story. Now, can you get the NYT and WSJ to put some badges up?

  28. I think this is a great idea. I have heard a lot of talk about mom bloggers and the possibility of being regulated. I think that idea is absurd!

    There are some things about integrity that I have noticed. Many review blogs don't really review the products they are offered to review/giveaway. They just cut and paste stuff from the product website and then offer a giveaway to increase traffic. I think that is unfair to the reader who may have a genuine interest in the product.

    My thought process is (specifically for review bloggers and PR folks) that if a company wants a product reviewed then they need to hear the good and the bad. How else will they improve the product? If it were my product and it was getting a bunch of phony positive reviews then I would be very diappointed when my product tanked on store shelves. I believe consumers have a lot of power and there is no reason to sugar-coat something so you can get free stuff when the big picture is whether or not the product is successfully meeting the needs it was intended to.

    Anyway, I love my blog. It is a place for me to be me and I'm always keeping it real 🙂

    I think this is a lovely idea, thanks for putting it together!

  29. While I have believe everyone should be doing everything with integrity, I've gotten a number of pitches from PR folks who don't seem to don't know the difference either.

    Good on you for educating the bloggers. Transparency is the key.

  30. I also see where backpacking dad and donmillsdiva are coming from. A badge has the potential to become a bandwagon rather than a school bus

  31. Tamara, I agree it's bizarre to call it a “review” when it's actually a regurgitated press release and those posts don't really benefit anyone. But then, there should be some onus on PR not to engage with those bloggers anymore. A blogger's own best (or worst) advertising is her archives.

  32. The archives, linking there to be specific, is what bothers me. I recently had a PR person ask to pay me for linking to their product inside a phrase I'd already written in one of my archived posts; one that still gets a lot of searched word traffic.

    I didn't quite understand what the real problem was until I got that request. The giveaways are pretty transparent, in my opinion.

    Whatever happened to display ads?

    I think if we are mixing “advertorial” we will never be pure.

  33. I love the idea, really do! Just as I loved the ethical blogger badge from pitchbloggers.

    I will have both on my site.

    I do agree that it's sad we even need either of them. Actions are by far louder than words or a badge.

    But the idea is great.

    I'm with backpackingDad and toyfoto..quoting toyfoto:

    “I also see where backpacking dad and donmillsdiva are coming from. A badge has the potential to become a bandwagon rather than a school bus”

    I only hope that if someone doesn't have a badge, it doesn't divide us more.

  34. Nice idea, Liz. As you know, I stopped writing on my blog for a year. When I returned I felt…sad. There's no other way to describe it. Where did my community go? A handful of us started blogging together in 2005 and it's unfortunate that now for some of them all I see are dollar signs when I visit their blogs.


  35. Ohana Mama, this is by all means not a line we're drawing in the sand, “with us or against us” kind of a thing. We simply want to reframe the discussion, presenting bloggers (and mom bloggers in particular) as the giving, amazing, thoughtful, creative community that we are. And perhaps offer up some standards for others to aim for. Every one of us can use a little nudge now and again.

  36. I think it's very timely and a much needed reminder for all.

    And we need to remember that it's not just for on your blog but also in social media as a whole – Twitter, facebook, etc.

    Got my badge up!

  37. This is a great idea, and I think you sum it up perfectly in the comments:

    “Integrity doesn't mean losing your opinions – even the strong ones.”


  38. The great blog of 'The Lost Angeles Time' pledges its 23 followers. (Of course we will expect to be a part of the platform at the convention.)predi

  39. I have always felt I blogged with integrity – as a Baby Boomer, I “get it” in all aspects of my professional career… be it a work ethic or “blogging ethic” or as I told my kids (girls)…doesn't matter if you're pretty “on the outside,” it's being pretty on the “inside” that matters.

    Not considering myself a review blogger, although I do reviews I have had the “Ethical Blogger” badge from PitchBloggers up on my site.

    While I consider your idea admirable, I maintain high standards and don't need (yet) another badge to wear on my sleeve.

    Baby Boomers always did like a good cause though….Peace

  40. This whole thing is so ironic to me because one of the origins of my blog was to create a source of information for parents that was more honest than the mainstream media. Most magazines are filled with advertorial and make no disclosure or bones about it.

    I'm not a big fan of pay for review sites, but is what they're doing that much different than what most mags are doing? The main difference seems to be that the magazines are actually getting big ad dollars, while most bloggers are selling themselves short by doing reviews in exchange for a few baubles. Folks, if you're going to sell out, at least sell out big.

  41. totally agree. and will sign the pledge. and display my pledge. and pass it on. thanks for a great thing to be a part of.

  42. “…you'd think that we were all a bunch of hustlers, whores, and naive housewives…”
    What? Housewives? I have had absolutely no time for housework since I turned up the focus on my blog.
    I think any way to identify your approach to blogging at a glance is a splendid idea. Let those who wish to sell out do so. Integrity is its own reward. But badges are shiny! I'm in.

  43. I am not so sure I like the idea. I blog with honestly and integrity, but yet I feel like having that on my site, I am like the salesperson with hair hanging out of her shirt collar begging me to trust him.

    Some things just should not have to be said, they should just exist, if people come to your blog and read it, I think they will know whether you are a person who blogs with integrity or not. Kwim?

  44. I'll sign that pledge! And you're right, a few bad apples don't speak for the awesomeness of a good, well meaning and intelligent community.

  45. I love you gals more and more each day. Your dedication to us all is overwhelming. Thank you for taking the time to keep us legitimate.

  46. Just saw the Ad Age bit – you rock!

    It was lovely to see you again, albeit briefly.

    I've always considered myself part of the “mommy blogger” community, even if I prefer mom blogger or parenting blogger as the term. This weekend, I did find myself in the place of having to explain that not all of us are stuff-grubbing shills. Sigh.

  47. Gorillabusn, I sure hope we can curse and still have integrity. I'm pretty sure I just said fuck in my most recent post.

  48. I signed the pledge, think this is a wonderful idea – but I wonder…are you going to police this? Because just as some tasteless and greedy people turned the idea of gifts and sponsorship at Blogher into swag and shameless interrupting self-promotion, so too could a few people sign this pledge…use your seal..and then still not blog with integrity. How will you handle this?

  49. I think this is a great idea, I've signed it. And I'm adding it to something I'm writing about the intersection of reputation, attention, & monetary economies in MommyBlogging. Hopefully it will get some others to sign. IMO it's got to be discussed more.

  50. Not to say that Blogola and Pay-for-Play blogging aren't important issues to address, perhaps they could first focus on canned news? Just because a local reporter does voice-over on footage provided by advertisers, does not make it newsworthy. Most people don't realize that they're sold products by their local newscasters nightly on the news.

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