When I started The Truth About Cars (TTAC), car reviews were nothing more than glossy puff pieces. As automobiles are the average American’s second largest purchase (after their house), I thought there would be a market for “tell it like it is” journalism. And so there was. When I left TTAC and started The Truth About Guns (TTAG), I applied the same “no holds barred” principle. As firearms reliability and ergonomics are literally a matter of life or death, TTAGs truthiness is even more important. As long as I own this site, it will never compromise editorial integrity. I’d rather shut it down. Our readers’ interests come first. Period. I say this because of a disturbing online trend . . .

There’s a new advertising “product” emerging on the Internet: “sponsored comments.” It’s not what you might think it is. It’s not about ads embedded in the comments section. It’s worse than that.

If a commentator makes a disparaging remark about an advertiser’s product, the website protects the advertiser by moving the comment into a less prominent position. AND it allows the advertiser to substitute a more flattering comment. OR it simply deletes the “offensive” comment.

But wait. It gets worse . . .

As part of this agreement, the website allows advertisers who comment to hide their identity. In other words, the advertiser pretends to be an independent voice, using a made-up name.

But wait. It gets worse . . .

Even when there’s not a critical comment, the advertiser’s commentator can steer the discussion towards a positive view of their product. What’s the opposite of an agent provocateur? Like that.

TTAG will have none of this. If we suspect that a commentator is a hidden shill we will delete the comment, ban that IP address and expose the manufacturer behind the scam.

I called this website The Truth About Guns to tell our readers who we are and what we do. I also chose the name because it serves as a constant reminder to our editorial staff that we are fully committed to keeping faith with our readers. Of that you may be assured.

 

30 Responses to TTAG Will Never Publish “Sponsored Comments”

      • The car is very fast, handles very well and keeps on running.

        The guys at Buttonwillow Raceway enjoyed driving the car, by the way.

        I’ve got over 50K miles on the car so far. The only money I’ve put into the car was replacing the back brakes. However, I’m on my third set of tires, so, perhaps understandable.

        I also tuned the car a bit, so I’m probably putting out almost 270HP at the wheels.

        The car is a blast to drive on twisty mountain roads. (I had a 50 mile commute for a while, part of which was on a narrow canyon road, which is why I went through tires and brakes)

  1. It really is nice to know that there are still a few places that I can put my trust in. When it comes to something that I am going to trust my life and the lives of my family, I do not want a manufacturer fluffing a review of a product that could fail at any point or worse yet, cause me to or someone in my family to loose their life. I know where to find information on guns and to be honest TTAG and Google search. I use TTAG first though.

  2. I used to write flashlight/illumination tool reviews. The site I used started getting sponsors and then they started trying to influence my reviews. I actually got a threatening legal letter one time after a bad review so I do understand the pressure that can be brought to bear.

    Keep up the integrity!

  3. This is why I don’t have a subscription to any gun magazine. For those manufacturers listening.
    To be honest it has been refreshing when those manufacturers have responded to TTAG reviews. No body is perfect, but the fact they are working hard for customer satisfaction makes a big difference.
    Having essentially paid advertising as review articles does nothing to boost consumer confidence. I know a lot of people don’t like Taurus due to quality issues, but the fact remains they are working hard to fix it and if you have a problem they are responsive. There are other gun makers as well that fall into this list, but it goes to show you that even though the product might have a few issues, there are those of us who would prefer the better follow up service as well.

    • Agreed – even the best of companies will screw up once in a while. It is how they respond to the screw up or complaint that sets the best of them apart from the rest.

      Phil B

  4. Thank you for that Robert. I wasn’t aware of that going on, but it does explain a few mysterious things I’ve seen in the past 6 months.

  5. In the time I have been here, it is no shock to me, your attitude.

    That is why I come here as often as I can.

  6. There’s already too many blogs and websites out there now that a review consists of the repetition of the marketing description for a product. IMHO, one of that type is too many and those should either be labeled “Sponsored” so everyone knows the validity of the info, or outright banned altogether.

    I’m glad to see TTAG go the way of telling it like it really is and not getting into bed with manufacturers for the funding.

  7. Hi-Point firearms are the pinnacle of firearm design, engineering and quality.

    *joking, please don’t ban me 🙂

  8. There’s the reason why I put the TTAG bookmark at the top of the folder. And I agree, this website is THATCLOSE to getting me fired since I sometimes open it ahead of my email at work. Especially on mondays…

  9. I wonder if TTAG’s transparency policy will apply as well to shills for gun control blogs?

    I am nearly certain a recent poster was an admin at a gun control blog who posted here using a different name. When evaluating speech, it is important to know the real identity of people and any possible agenda they might have.

    • Are you referring to the commentator who claimed to be a gun owner and posted comments stating that there is no physical proof that XYZ politician or ABC political organization is making anti-gun ownership plans against civilians?

  10. I’ve always posted as our company name on various blogging websites. Why any company would want to fake positive comments or reviews is beyond me. Sure short term it may prove useful, but long term you’ve received no real feedback and there for never updated your product.

    The reality is you may be tricking new to the product customers, but long term word spreads and eventually the truth will consume the inflated reviews and the end result is a product that never updated due to feedback and is stuck where its at.

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