The blogosphere is chirping this AM about disclosures of affiliations between tech writers, analysts and pundits and the corporations about whose products they write. Turns out a few folks are ringers — on the dole of the very companies whose products they support. I am staying out of this one.
I happen to think that opinions are like elbows. Everybody has a couple. So, if you are basing a buying decision on what a blogger, or trade press writer or analyst says, without checking it under your own workload and performing a more serious research into other user views, you are screwing yourself.
I have a lot of opinions and have occasionally promoted products here — though far less often than I have criticized products in this biz. I try to lay out my objections to or reasons for favoring a technology fully and count on my aggressive commenters to tell me I am full of happy horsefeathers if they think I’m wrong. That seems to be working for the readers who visit here. At least, that’s the feedback I get from the trenches.
Have I ever taken money from a company about whose products I’ve written? Sure. Some companies ask us to test their wares — which we do, fairly and honestly. And the vendor must pay for the testing, whether they like the results or not. In truth, a lot of our testing goes directly back to product developers rather than into print. This is especially the case when our report shows product shortcomings that the client would not like to have published. Since the report is their property, it is their call as to what to do with it. We do not allow the publication of our reports if any alterations have been made by the client — at least, not with our name on it.
Sometimes, when I have come down in favor of a product or a technology idea, vendors will contact me to write a more substantial treatment of the product or technology, or they will get involved in one of our many projects or summits as a sponsor or advertiser. This is after the fact of a brazen post here, not prior to it. We allow no advertising on this blog.
I wrote in the last piece that RDX had some interesting capabilities, but that I didn’t like the price of the media. I disclosed that they sent me a unit to test — which did its job as advertised and well. They wrote back, by the way, that the cost of the media has fallen and wished I would ammend the post, something I only do when an error of fact has crept in. (It happens.) I will say that the status of the cost of RDX drives fluctuates. Dell, for example, is offering the drive media at $.50/GB, I am told. This link provides the skinny.
Bottom line: trust is a hard thing to come by in any market. Frankly, I advise everyone to trust God, trust their moms, and trust themselves. Anyone who buys something only because DrunkenData, Storage Switzerland, Storzilla, yadda yadda, said something nice about it in the blogosphere — or because they read something about it in trade press pub XYZ — is misguided. My contention is that we outsource our thinking process to the vendors and their talking heads in the media and analyst community way too often. Your next purchase ought to be of a test bench to test the products yourself, under your own workload. Beyond that, a nice set of noise cancelling headphones to drown out industry chatter is also a good investment.