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Snooth User: dmcker

'Dedicated' articles

Posted by dmcker, Jul 20, 2010.

I've been noticing an increasing proportion of the articles in recent months are classified as 'dedicated', with no allowance for comments by the readership. I had assumed these were sponsored 'infomercial' like pieces, with no comments needed or desired. Was curious about today's piece, though, on Bordeaux roses, with a lamb and flageolet recipe rider. It seemed to be all original info generated by GregDP, with no commercial-like aspect. Why was it classed 'dedicated', I wonder?

Also, while on the subject of this piece, would love to hear more about actual Bordeaux roses, including tasting notes as possible. I'm a big rose fan, not only in the summer.


Reply by ChipDWood, Jul 20, 2010.

You should try some of the Roses from Virginia.  You'd be smitten as a kitten with mittens.

Good questions though about the articles.  Was wondering about that myself.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jul 20, 2010.

It's a very fair question, and one that has received its fair share of discussion here at Snooth.

The article written today, on Bordeaux rose, was sponsored by Bordeaux, who flew me over to France some weeks ago. In an effort to correctly identify this sponsorship the article was tagged as dedicated, which prevents commenting on articles.

Of course this is one of the ways we keep Snooth free to our users. I want you to know that I stand behind what I wrote for today's email, in particular my love of Clairet and Bordeaux rose, but Clairet in particular really rings my bell, and the ridiculously good lamb sandwich recipe.

The topic, and the editorial copy, was completely up to me, but it was on behalf of Bordeaux. You'll notice that the previous emails on 2007 Bordeaux were not dedicated, and represented my honest opinions of those wines. I will not sell a score or a review. And I really did opt to lug back Clairet in my luggage, as opposed to Claret.

In the not too distant future you'll see some changes in how these dedicated emails will be written, and you will find them being sent in addition to, as opposed to instead of, our purely editorial emails.

I really want to maintain an open forum here, and the comment thread of the emails are a fabulous source of discourse and information. The fact that you guys are here so often, and participate so freely, is a really big thing to me. I know we all have a finite amount of time in our lives, and seeing you choose  to spend some of that time here is something I deeply appreciate. I believe we have worked out a solid course of action in regards to our emails and just ask for your patience as it is implemented.

Any feedback you care to offer will be considered very carefully as we work through the implementation over the coming weeks and months. I hope you all will be as happy with the results of our plan as we are!






Reply by dmcker, Jul 20, 2010.

It does seem to be a sometimes tricky line to toe. Assuming the line is even clearly marked out and painted in, yet.

Some of the past 'dedicated' articles seemed like nothing but blatant advertising, and I was wondering, Greg, why your byline was attached. Today's, on the contrary, seemed like genuine content, though the lack of specificity regarding actual wines was a little frustrating. I assume from the explanation above that you couldn't pull in some wines but not others, and rate some higher than others, without fear of running afoul of some business-promotion bureaucrat in Bordeaux. I appreciate that Snooth is honest to the extent of labeling sponsored articles as 'dedicated', but it does seem like there are a few issues remaining with regards to implementation practices.

Bottom line, in my book, is upfront is good.

Reply by StevenBabb, Jul 21, 2010.

this is an interesting topic, something that i think i've just overlooked in the past... gotta pay those bills though... i think GDP does a great job writing these emails and articles.... and is fair and informative... i hope to be able to write half as well someday....

@GDP.... thanks for noticing the time we spend here.... not that i can think of another place i would rather learn and share wine info... i just realized that i haven't had a day off of work in a month.... headed to work in about an hour now.... i haven't had as much free time as i used to... besides, i keep hopping that those dishes in the sink will magically wash themselves!!!.... funny how the wine glasses always seem to get washed, though...  : )

Reply by dmcker, Aug 19, 2010.

Today's 'dedicated' article on Bordeaux whites is an excellent case in point. Your content, Greg, is quite informative and positive on the wines there, but real and not a blatant infomercial plug like the worst of the 'dedicated' offerings. It provides a lot of useful and educational content, that would only be enhanced by discussion in a comments thread under it.

This article is greatly suited to having the 'dedicated' filter removed, I feel. In the 18 months or so that I've been on Snooth this is the *first* time that Bordeaux whites have been covered in an Article or even Forum thread, a gaping hole in the site's coverage, which I've commented on a couple of times over the past year. The white wines of Bordeaux are refreshingly lovely, covering a whole range of styles and price points. If you only were to add a page or two of tasting notes for specific bottles, the content here would be better than many regular articles, notably a bad three part series in the recent past. Real discussion of what's out there--not hiding behind an offputting shield of 'advertising'--would better serve the Bordeaux whites industry, since their products are so good in both quality and price compared to a lot of other insipid dreck in its segments marketed at higher prices.

Moreover, the article's content would seem to be pretty much all yours, and not something forced on you by a paying client. It comes across much more as journalism than PR.

I really can't understand some of Snooth's recent publishing practices and decisions. To keep things simple, though, and stay on the current subject, why not just open this (and the other Bordeaux threads, past or future) up for comment by the community?

Reply by Philip James, Aug 19, 2010.

DM - you're right, its a great piece. However, we have a simple policy here - if it involves money, then we disable comments. It would be a slippery slope if we had to chose which sponsored articles should have comments enabled and which should not.

People are of course welcome to discuss it in the forums, although, I understand thats not as well tied into the content.


Reply by dmcker, Aug 19, 2010.

Well one real question, then, is why the bylines (Greg's) for paid content? Over the longrun that entails real credibility issues.

Why don't you have Greg write real articles on Bordeaux, but embed more traditional ads from the Bordelaise? You're missing out on the greatest value of the articles that comes from the interaction with the community. And I'm sure many eyeballs will just slide right past when they see 'dedicated', or otherwise suspect the content is paid.

I understand that the Snooth model requires regular tweaking as you grow, but traditional publishing with its divisions between journalism, opinion, PR and advertising provides a lot to learn from. Quality of content and credibility of names (bylines, etc.) are some of the greatest assets Snooth will have over time.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 19, 2010.

Having read all of the above and the article, I am still confused.  So you don't allow comment on an article which is based on a commercial agreement to write it. I understand concept and personnally am a little ambivalent, but in any case someone can merely start a thread by saying

"Have just read Greg's article and ........."

This is what confuses me, what is the great philosphical difference between attaching comments to a "Paid for" article (as long it is disclosed as such) or starting a thread.

I am but a simple wine loving beancounter, please help

Reply by dmcker, Aug 26, 2010.

The Kunde article that appeared today is also a prime candidate for 'dedicated'  status removal. The piece is very well written and informative, and even has some tasting notes.

Frankly, with dedicated status and the obvious inferral of 'paid for', the credibility of wine reviews, etc. can only suffer.

Snooth really needs to figure a better way to separate journalism, PR and advertising. Put ads from the sponsors next to the journalism, if you wish. Accredit sponsorship, too, when that is an acceptable solution. But keep wine reviews away from sponsorship, and bylines by Snooth's leading light, GregDP, off sponsored articles!

Reply by dmcker, Aug 26, 2010.

Also meant to mention that if a comments thread were opened up under the article on Kunde, the sponsor would likely see a lot of positive commentary and increased interest in them, while Snooth would get a bump, of whatever size, in traffic.

I really think Snooth's shooting itself in the foot with this confused publishing policy.

Reply by dmcker, Aug 27, 2010.

Sorry, here's the link the the Kunde Family Estate piece....

Reply by dmcker, Aug 27, 2010.

I just noticed that Greg's byines have been removed from the Dedicated articles. So I guess someone is reading this thread. However, I'd like to suggest more thinking on the subject by Snooth.

First of all, some of those articles were extremely well researched and written, such as the Bordeaux whites (that get neglected by so many people in the industry, not just Snooth) and Kunde pieces. He really should have his byline on those pieces. Other puff pieces that are upfront shilling for wineries or services or bottles, the more no-byline-by-Greg the better.

But why not open them up to community discussion? *Especially* those good articles. They're begging for it and will bring a lot of good attention to the sponsors, as I've suggested above.

Finally, I hope Snooth can come up with a better model for getting sponsor contributions, but keeping a bit more freedom for editorial content. We all enjoy what Snooth has put up here for us to share in, and I, for one, am making these suggestions in the hope of ongoing improvement....

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