I had been meaning to write about the full disclosure policy on the blog in light of new US Federal Trade Commission rules introduced last fall that required bloggers to provide a full disclosure when they received free samples or have some financial interest in any product they write about. What with one thing or another, the topic fell off my radar screen. But now, in light of a recent minor kerfuffle on Where Does All My Money Go?, in which Preet forgot to mention that a post was sponsored, I thought I’d clearly spell out the editorial policy on the blog. So, here it goes:

  1. I will about topics I find interesting and/or topics that I think will interest and, hopefully, profit you. Unless otherwise mentioned no payment, monetary or otherwise, directly or indirectly has been paid to write and publish a specific post. Sponsored posts will be clearly marked.
  2. I occasionally may participate in affiliate arrangements with purveyors of financial products and services. Any participation will be disclosed, just so you are aware of it.
  3. I participate in Amazon.ca’s affiliate program. If you see a link to Amazon, you can assume that it is an affiliate link. Since, all earnings from Amazon are recycled into finance books that I read and review here, you get an indirect benefit as well.
  4. About the only free products I receive are books and financial software. While I love reading and free books are one of the nice perks of blogging, receiving a review copy isn’t always a free lunch. When I purchase a book or borrow it from the library, I have no qualms about putting it away after reading a few pages. With a review copy, I feel obligated to try and finish the book and then write about it, which sometimes turns a fun activity into grunt work. Whether I purchase the book or receive a free copy, I try to record my honest opinion in the review. I won’t write a positive review just because a publisher or author sent me a free book.
  5. I will run advertisements on the blog. The ads help defray my expenses in running the blog and puts some extra cash in my pocket. I hope you won’t begrudge that because after all, we are capitalists here.
  6. Blogs are a very democratic medium and reader comments are welcomed and encouraged. However, free speech has its limits. Abusive or offensive language will not be tolerated. Neither will slander or baseless allegations. Fortunately, such comments are few and far between on this blog and only a small minority of comments have ever been deleted or edited for overstepping the limits.
  7. Spam will not be tolerated. Comments that have little or no relation to the topic at hand will be summarily deleted without any explanation.

If you have any concerns let me know and I’ll try and address it.

This article has 20 comments

  1. Thanks for the link… none the worse for wear luckily… lol 🙂

  2. Good post, I was about to save the link, but I have realized I do not need to worry about this for a long time 

  3. Good disclosure policy.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Agree, great policy. I have a privacy policy and I disclose on any post that has been “sponsored” in any form – but I haven’t put it all into one single post like this (and I’ve only done two “sponsored” type posts). Aside from that, my policy sounds quite the same as your own.

  5. Wow… I did some reading on this and will look into it more. I’m not sure if it applies to Canadian sites per se, but I haven’t read it all. I’ll flag this for when I have a few more moments… Thanks.

  6. I don’t think you are losing much on the affiliate ads. They seem to me to be free advertising.

  7. Good straightforward policy.

  8. I will be borrowing this for a post on my site too.

    Excellent points made, do you plan to put up a legal disclaimer? Seen that on a lot of sites these days too.

    C8j

  9. CC, my experience in about two years was what might charitably called “laughably low revenue”. Mind you my blog readership is puny compared to yours, so maybe it’s just my blog. Or maybe my skeptical nature communicates itself to my blog visitors and they do not click on anything that is not the original website. What I think happens is that an affiliate ad for Questrade (which I had for over a year with exactly $0 revenue), for instance, sits there for months and months and readers see it, get it imprinted in their brain, but when a person finally decides to get a broker, they go directly to the Questrade and sign up there.

  10. Good policy.

    Question, though. Did you write it as basically a show of good faith, or can the US Federal Trade Commission actually dictate what Canadian blogs can do?

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @CanadianInvestor: Good to know, I’m not missing much after all 🙂

      @Caitlin: I don’t think US FTC rules apply to us Canadians who write for Canadians but I do think it’s good practice to be frank and provide full disclosure.

  11. @CC – Ok, good. I think disclosure policies are great, and I’m actually working on one of my own, I just wanted to make sure the FTC wasn’t trying to force us Canadians to follow their rules.

  12. @CC, thanks for writing up such a frank and clear policy. I have never had problems with people who make money online even with the so called “underhanded” methods like sponsored posts. People who were always clear and honest about it have always had my respect.

    While I don’t often buy things online when I do purchase a product I usually try to use someones affiliate link since it doesn’t cost me anymore and it profits me to have someone I respect earning a commission.

    @ALL who asked about the FTC: While the FTC cannot technically dictate to Canadians you do have to realize that online is a rather homogeneous place. While you are writing Canadian content you are visible in the US and you could even have your domain or website hosted in the US. These less than obvious issues can cause trouble when ignoring governing bodies like the FTC. If it isn’t going to add much hassle you should try to follow those rules. If your server is hosted in the US or domain registered in the US those rules do apply as lawsuits affecting various filesharing sites who’s owners didn’t live in the states but the servers did, indicate. FYI, all domains are technically registered in the US, as ICANN is located in the US.

    The new FTC rules are really not that hard to implement as CC has shown, and they only really affect those who are trying to be sneaky and make money that they don’t really deserve to make.

  13. Thanks for the disclosure, CC. My only question is how you manage to run such a thourough, well-informed and altogether successful blog in your spare time! (my understanding is that you have a full time job outside of the finance field). Impressive time management skills to say the least!

  14. FYI for any other bloggers who want to do this. The FTC requires disclosure to be visible on any post where there is money (or potential) of money or goods of valued to be paid to the blogger. Writing a post on your disclosure policy won’t do the trick since the post won’t be visible after a while.

    I haven’t done it yet myself, but some bloggers have put a disclosure policy in their sidebar where it is always visible.

  15. Canadian Capitalist

    @DM: Yes, I’m an electrical engineer and develop software in my day job. I do get writer’s block now and then but mostly the blog writes itself. The finance industry is to blame here: they keep cranking out one financial product after another. It’s all grist for the mill 🙂

    @Mike: That’s my understanding of FTC rules as well. This post wasn’t written to comply with FTC rules but simply to clarify editorial policy around here.

  16. Well… I did some reading and decided to add one line to my disclaimer. Essentially, I added that I do not receive any reimbursement from vendors for services rendered. I think that, with my pre-existing disclaimer, should suffice. I welcome your readers’ opinions!

  17. Sounds like a pretty fair set of rules to live and operate by. I don’t think many of us have a problem with you getting affiliate money from Amazon to help offset your expenses and to pay you for the time involved in writing this daily.

  18. Any info on the web should be taken with a grain of salt…big brother(ftc,gov,etc) is not watching out for you,they are watching you.