This information may have flown under the radar of most genealogy bloggers but it is important and could seriously impact the way some bloggers construct their posts. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed new guidelines which could make bloggers responsible for misleading claims when they review products.
As highlighted in The Wall Street Journal and other news services, the FTC intends to regulate a fairly common practice among bloggers: how they review products and whether or not they are paid for such reviews (either outright or through free products and services).
Personally I have not reviewed many products although back in February I did review a YDNA kit which was provided to me for free by familybuilder. At the end of the review I did include a full disclosure of how I was asked to provide a review and how the product was provided to me at no cost:
"Disclosure: familybuilder sent me their YDNA kit at no charge for purposes of reviewing the process of taking a DNA sample, using a DNA kit for genealogy purposes, and to receive and interpret results. I am disclosing this as a matter of transparency and honesty of my opinion. My intent is to give a good review (meaning a well-researched and written review) not necessarily a favorable review of all products I receive gratis."
As a rule, I don't solicit free items for review from vendors, they usually approach me based on a recent post at my blog. I am very upfront about my disclosure policies and I tell them that my intent is to provide a good review - meaning it is thorough and my opinion of my experience with the product. This is not the same as a favorable review - if the product fails in my eyes or is less than what I or an ordinary consumer would expect I will convey such information in the posted review.
I am waiting to hear from other genealogy bloggers as to their past experience with product reviews, how they are contacted by vendors, what disclosure policies they use and what the proposed FTC guidelines might mean for their future review practices.