Expectations of Openness

Another winery client at Wark Communications is about to take up blogging. This occasion has given me the opportunity to think about what’s important in this pursuit.

One of those things is honesty and openness. I believe readers respond best to those who disclose as much as is prudent to their readers.

Oddly, this point was driven home yesterday when I was looking over a new website, not a blog, that I think might have potential. But, as I cruised around Winemarketer.com I realized eventually that the sources of this new website dedicated to on-line wine marketing had no reference whatsoever to the folk who created it. No email address (just forms), no "About Us" page, no info on the credentials of the founders and creators, nothing.

I went back to the press release that led me to the new website and realized that not even there was any information available about the creators of the site beyond this cryptic reference,"Wine Marketer was developed by a group of professional wine marketers,
a wine retailer and SEO experts from multiple successful marketing
The contact name on the press release is "M. Phillip" and a cell phone number is offered.

The fact that there is no information about the who the "professional wine marketers" are behind this new website is not the point. The point is that this lack of information made me wary. It made me wonder.

I get the same way about wine blogs in which the owners choose to remain anonymous. Real people are always more interesting than unknown people, if only because real people have real stories. I tend to walk away from blogs that don’t disclose their ownership. This might be a fatal flaw on my part…but I don’t think so. It goes back to the issue of openness and honesty in blogging. If you expect your readers to stick with you, they should at least have the expectation that the object of their attention won’t pull punches and will tell you what needs to be known to put their words in context.

4 Responses

  1. Mike Duffy - August 29, 2006

    Plus, they’ve hidden the site ownership:
    which never makes me more comfortable (since you have to work to do this sort of hiding).

  2. Jo Diaz - August 30, 2006

    I had the exact same reaction… “Who is that masked man, anyway?” There’s nothing more annoying than trying to navigate through a Website, only to never find the author. (I even hack into the code, in the hopes of finding it buried somewhere in there, usually to no avail.) Houdini lost his life trying to escape, right?

  3. Chris Campbell - August 30, 2006

    I really have to say, I am surprised and sorta embarrassed by the negative commentary about secrecy and some sorta conspiracy with keeping your identity private when you run a newly launched wine website that is only a couple days old. There are more unreliable/scam/unidentified blogs on the web today touting crap and scams than so called “real websites” but where is the line drawn anymore between what is a website and what is a blog and who should publicly reveal their identity and who shouldn’t. Plus, has anyone asked for your money yet on WineMarketer.com, have they? So what’s the problem with this particular new wine site? Jealously, because you didn’t think of it? Me, I’m jealous, cause I sold them the domain, too friggin cheap! Proud, cause they actually came up with an idea that is win-win!
    DISCLOSURE: The buyer would not tell me what the domain was intended for when they bought it and frankly it was not any of my business. I found out about the rollout only today. I am not a partner, owner or investor in the site in any way.
    If you are skeptical about any website, wine related or not, or their management stay away, it is as simple as that, but…. there is no need after only two days from when a site is announced from a press release and launched to proclaim “there is something fishy goin’ on here” in so few words!
    Tom said originally, “I was looking over a new website, not a blog, that I think might have potential” in his recent post and only really seemed to question, as I read it, the wine professionalism or knowledge of the people running it, since they didn’t identify themselves and were barely reachable by phone. Hey, we all have to start somewhere right Tom? “Might have potential?” Those are BIG words coming from Wark.
    As for “hiding/hidden” identities, the principals involved in WineMarketer.com, based on their own forum post on the site:
    could be currently employed and may not wish to have their employers know they have a side business or maybe don’t want a ton of spam in their inboxes or questions from current clients about their “new garage business”. Seems to be a few plausible reasons why they and many others are not waving flags in public about their little startup,yet. Heck, they are just a little startup site , two days old. And would you tell your boss you have a new business you are starting in your garage?
    But the biggest flaw in the last couple posters comments, IMHO, is they didn’t even comment on the idea of the website’s value or usefulness to the wine industry or comment on any user produced content that was there already.They totally set that fact/opinion aside. Did they even sign up for an account and find that WineMarketer.com doesn’t ask for a ton of personal info to be a member? I found the questions and replys by the moderators and contributors to be quite well informed. Quality will obviously increase or decrease with the quality of contributors. Success is not a given!
    Lastly, after joining, looking at and contributing to the forum , to me this is just another niche focused website with a forum that’s success and growth really will depend on the contributions of it’s members which will define it’s real worth. That said,shouldn’t we give it chance to grow and maybe contribute something so it will become the kind of site the wine industry can be proud of and needs.
    Why do I press this issue and defend this little site? You are reading this commentary on the Internet, yet the wine industry has not quite understood what the effect the internet, when fully leveraged, can contribute to the education, branding and distribution of the 60,000 plus wine labels available worldwide.
    Sites such as WineMarketer.com are offering such education to the myriad of individual wine shops and wineries that sell the bulk of the worlds’s wine, and so far only ask professionals to join in and contribute. Will the WineSEO newsletter have value and serve us in the wine industry, I don’t know, time will tell.
    Chris Campbell

  4. Chris Campbell - August 30, 2006

    By the way the last post should have been Titled:
    “Expectations of Fairness”

Leave a Reply