Advertising on Daring Fireball

MacHeist’s appearance as the sponsor of the RSS feed this week at Daring Fireball generated a few questions regarding whether it was somehow weird or hypocritical, given my critical coverage of their bundle last year. E.g. Brian Ford, who wrote about it on Newsvine:

I may have missed something: Has the MacHeist system changed? Accepting a sponsorship from MacHeist seems a bit like Al Gore accepting a sponsorship from the Hummer corporation, given Gruber’s past concerns.

Effectively I gave MacHeist a bad review last year, albeit not of the software in their first bundle, but of the deals that the participating developers agreed to. That’s an unusual thing for a critic to review, but, MacHeist is an unusual promotion. If I gave an app a bad review for its UI, I’d still accept a sponsorship from the developer. It wouldn’t change my opinion or what I’d write about it in the future, but it’d still be a legitimate sponsorship.

Advertisements aren’t endorsements. They’re promotional messages from the sponsor, not me. In short, an ad is an ad, and what I write is what I write.

And in the particular case of MacHeist, I completely stand behind everything I wrote last year. Nor will their sponsorship affect what I will, or will not, write about them this year.1

(Ford also wondered whether DF’s feed sponsorships are perhaps published automatically, without approval. Not so. There are certainly products and services for which I wouldn’t accept a sponsorship, for various reasons.)

I’ve also gotten a handful of complaints about the ads for Microsoft Expression Studio appearing this month and last via The Deck, the ad network that provides the display ads on DF’s web pages. For one thing, it’s worth noting that every ad in The Deck appear across the entire network of Deck web sites, so it’s unlikely that Microsoft had Daring Fireball’s specific audience in mind when they placed the ad.

But, even if Microsoft did want to reach DF’s audience specifically, so what? The idea that it’s somehow offensive makes no more sense to me than these people who complained to Macworld magazine after Sony placed an ad for Vaio notebooks.

The idea that editorial content is independent of advertising content works both ways.

  1. I don’t (yet) know the details of the agreements between MacHeist and any of the participating developers in this year’s bundle, but MacHeist honcho John Casasanta has agreed to an interview with me next week. If anything, though, I would hope that my reporting from last year helped the developers in this year’s bundle negotiate better deals. If not, though, it strikes me as a bit of a “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” situation. ↩︎