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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've notice some discussion recently about so-called "reviews" that are actually not what we have been used to ie not exactly impartial. Anyone who is making money off something is quite possibly not doing an impartial review but more of a sales pitch disguised as a review.

These could be:
  • A manufacturer
  • A retailer
  • An "official" endorser (paid with money, freebies, discounts or product)
  • Affiliate, ie getting a commission on sales which are usually generated via a link or a discount code used when purchasing.
  • Good old fashioned shill

I see nothing wrong as long as they are up front about it but it's not always obvious. Just because they may be famous just well known in a certain niche, doesn't mean you ought to somehow "know" that they have something to gain. Often they try to get round it by the disclosure being right at the end of the video credits which nobody looks at, or just the good old fashioned "small print."

We've all seen those (clickbaity) review sites: "the ten best..." which then have links through to Amazon (those people get money back for each sale, ie affiliates)

Or they could be YouTube videos and/or social media. What do we think when we see this kind of thing on SOTW? Should we call them out if they do not make it obvious that they have something to gain?

There are guidelines from the FTC and it seems they are getting tough on social media who allow this to go on:


FTC guidelines:


Lots of concern in many places it seems:



 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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Yes, regardless of the quality of a review or the reviewer’s credentials/ qualifications; I put a lot more stock in the findings of someone who says right up front: I bought this product for personal use and here’s my experience versus a social media page/ influencer who was more than likely sent/ gifted a product or sometimes even paid to do an infomercial.
 

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I guess I just go in to every "review" or demonstration expecting that the person has gotten something or expects to get something out of the deal. Unless the person has established a precedent of being very brutally honest on products, I generally expect they are only expressing the positives. Maybe due to this mindset, I've found it fairly easy to get past the BS or be able to tell if it is just an obvious shill.
 
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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
. Maybe due to this mindset, I've found it fairly easy to get past the BS or be able to tell if it is just an obvious shill.
Good for you, if only this is the norm. But I've seen so many posts here and elsewhere where people use the phrase "I've done some research and decided to buy..." when the research is basically Youtube videos which are at best well meaning beginners, but more often than not, "influencers" with something to gain.
 

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JS Crescent, JS NOS, Selmer SBA, Couf Superba I, Conn, Buescher, King
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Shilling was a very big problem on this forum in the early days. There was literally a circle of people that emailed each other telling each other to go make more posts pumping up a certain person's products. I know because I witnessed the emails personally.

The same thing happened when anybody questioned those products.

Obviously, that's unethical, toxic, and really ought to be "verboten."

But times have changed. Ambiguities have developed (like, socially, worldwide but especially in the West). People's ethical standards have loosened. Amazon includes "shillery" as a norm in its reviews and search results, etc. etc. etc.

Hopefully that sort of earlier thing never comes to be again, here as it once did very actively, at least not as far as commercial interests go.
 

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Steve Neff is a good example of doing it the right way (in his reviews.)
 

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Very little to add to the FTC introduction:

"Suppose you meet someone who tells you about a great new product. She tells you it performs wonderfully and offers fantastic new features that nobody else has. Would that recommendation factor into your decision to buy the product? Probably.

Now suppose the person works for the company that sells the product – or has been paid by the company to tout the product. Would you want to know that when you’re evaluating the endorser’s glowing recommendation? You bet. That common-sense premise is at the heart of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides."
 

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What do we think when we see this kind of thing on SOTW? Should we call them out if they do not make it obvious that they have something to gain?
The simplest remedy would be to impose a forum rule for SOTW that requires all product-related posts by a person with a material interest in the product at issue to include an explicit disclosure. This rule would apply to both first-person product "reviews" and to posts containing quotations of, or links to, reviews, demos, or recommendations of the product by a third party.

The required disclosure should appear in the first line of the user's post on SOTW, before any substantive material. Examples:
  • Disclosure: I have received a free [mouthpiece/neck/box of reeds/strap/swab/sax stand/etc.] from [name of company].
  • Disclosure: I have received a discounted [mouthpiece/saxophone/microphone/etc.] from [name of company].
  • Disclosure: I am a compensated social media influencer for [name of product or company].
  • Disclosure: I am an official endorser of [name of product or company].
  • Disclosure: I am a contracted [name of company] Artist.
  • Disclosure: I am a compensated Amazon affiliate marketer with respect to [name of product].
  • Disclosure: I have an ownership stake or beneficial interest in [name of company].
You get the idea. It's not difficult to include information like this. Actually, the people involved already have an independent obligation to do so, but it wouldn't hurt to align the forum's rules with FTC and other regulatory marketing constraints. If nothing else, requiring these explicit disclosures would spare all of us the frequent subthreads on these issues, and their attendant animosity.
 

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I think that would be great. It would also be good if we could, as a community, find a way of constructively pointing out to others who cite these biased sources that they may be biased without jumping down people's throats for things they may not have been aware of.
 

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I fully endorse this idea. Someone getting a free piece of equipment or money to endorse said piece of equipment is inherently biased with this issue. I tried to bring this up a few weeks ago and was told that I shouldn't bother with someone getting their money, but if your research leads you to amazon-affiliate websites (which I refuse to use for research nowadays, even if they are a reputable website,) I automatically lose all trust for said person/company.
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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Ahem.

 

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Ahem.

Shocker.
 

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Ahem.

In the video I VERY clearly go over this.
 

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I'd say yes, it should be fully disclosed. I put up Youtube videos, and used to do personal ones, and ones for the shop I work in. Anything I do showing off something we sell I put under my clearly marked "shop" Youtube channel.

I don't explicitly push anything, and I only review stuff that I like, but I still think it makes sense to make it obvious that I am in the business of selling horns. The opinions are my own, but I don't even want the appearance of an undisclosed conflict of interest.
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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In the video I VERY clearly go over this.
You do explicitly describe how you do (and do not) benefit at the tail end of the video, so you've clearly met the legal requirement. I posted this here mainly because of the coincidental occurrence of your post shortly after this thread was started.

That said, I don't like the fact that you use an unlabeled bit.ly link in the YouTube description for this video (and the previous one for this horn). This obscures that it's an affiliate link, and there's no written indication anywhere in the video description (which does include lots of other information and links). Again, you do add a disclaimer at the very end of your video (so you've met your legal obligations), but I think that many viewers are likely to miss a couple of seconds at the end of a 20 minute video. At the very least, I think any financial/affiliate relationship should be mentioned somewhere in the video description, but I'd personally like to see the sort of disclosure suggested in this thread.
 

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You do explicitly describe how you do (and do not) benefit at the tail end of the video, so you've clearly met the legal requirement. I posted this here mainly because of the coincidental occurrence of your post shortly after this thread was started.

That said, I don't like the fact that you use an unlabeled bit.ly link in the YouTube description for this video (and the previous one for this horn). This obscures that it's an affiliate link, and there's no written indication anywhere in the video description (which does include lots of other information and links). Again, you do add a disclaimer at the very end of your video (so you've met your legal obligations), but I think that many viewers are likely to miss a couple of seconds at the end of a 20 minute video. At the very least, I think any financial/affiliate relationship should be mentioned somewhere in the video description, but I'd personally like to see the sort of disclosure suggested in this thread.
There is some quite a bit of Gray area between Ethical and Legal.

I agree with many of your points and it's great this forum exists so Dave can read direct feedback from diversely educated perspectives and not just from YouTube's cesspool, known as the comment section.

That being said, Clickbait ($500 vs $5000 saxophone) is the way of YouTube and that's how people get massive views to make some additional money. All the biggest sax related channels have done it. I, for one, just avoid watching the videos with titles like that, because I assume it's just more noise.

I'd be more miffed about not being forthcoming with affiliate links if it were a private site under the guise of providing impartial information.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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