Prominent blogger Jeff Jarvis has a comprehensive post that nicely summarizes the latest online polemic about the evolving rules of the game for bloggers. This particular discussion was sparked by a recent Microsoft campaign that featured personal comments (plugs?) by some high-profile bloggers in banner ads which appeared on their sites. The key issue, cogently detailed by Jarvis, is whether these bloggers should have accepted to be directly involved in the ads and whether they are being transparent with their readers about their involvement in the campaign (the bloggers are apparently getting paid on the basis of page views for the banners.) There are two fascinating aspects to this case. One is the wide-ranging and robust discussion on the topic, which illustrates the “self regulating” tendencies of the Web and the moderating power of the diverse online community. Somehow, norms and informal rules are proposed, refined and publicized – though it’s often a rather messy and tumultuous process. Such is the price for virtual democracy. The other is the focus on integrity of the bloggers. To Jarvis and many others, the “old school” values of editorial integrity and transparency remain paramount on the Web, even as the lines between marketing, news and entertainment blur. It will be interesting to watch how this issue fares as the Web continues to grow and evolve. 

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