62: "I'm Evil"

"Jack is what is called an 'Online Guerilla Marketer,' or 'OGM,' and his name isn't Jack. He's agreed to speak to The Escapist on the condition that we not identify him. Like an undercover cop or secret agent, Jack's effectiveness at his job depends on his ability to remain anonymous. He'll often spend days, even weeks, infiltrating a community to earn the trust of its members before he strikes - inserting a recommendation in the right place, at the right time to generate interest in the products he represents.

A typical day for Jack starts with checking 'to make sure I haven't been discovered,' he says."

"I'm Evil"

An interesting article. It is a lot of food for thought.

It's hard for me to comment on this. I hate the idea of somebody pretending to be something they aren't so that they can sell me on a product they don't like. I don't have any issue with them doing so to support a product they DO like. But, you wouldn't have to pay someone if they would sell your product anyway. I think the money spent on convincing people to promote your product that sucks could be better spent creating a better game.

- Tom

Devious tricks, indeed, but I don't think we are going to ever have to worry about undisputed industry leader Sony resorting to shabby tricks like this. After all, when you are the maker of the PlayStation(R) brand of video game systems, you don't need to resort to cheap tricks such as this. Take the PlayStation 3, for instance: You never see OGM's pushing the PlayStation 3 on communities because it is so innovative, with Blu-Ray player and true 1080p high definition capabilities... people are going to be lining up on launch day to buy it! It would be a waste of marketing dollars for Sony to pay OGM's to flaunt how awesome the PS3 is, because the consumer already knows that it is the best.

I've already got mine pre-ordered at GameStop! How about YOU?!?!

Well-played, Cornflake. Well-played.

I don't mind this tactic. I think it's creative and would be amusing to do, for a short while at least, and as long as you keep in mind that you're not actually hurting anybody.

It's funny to think of the obvious ones and how they would get banned forever right away.

Captain Cornflake:
Devious tricks, indeed, but I don't think we are going to ever have to worry about undisputed industry leader Sony resorting to shabby tricks like this. After all, when you are the maker of the PlayStation(R) brand of video game systems, you don't need to resort to cheap tricks such as this. Take the PlayStation 3, for instance: You never see OGM's pushing the PlayStation 3 on communities because it is so innovative, with Blu-Ray player and true 1080p high definition capabilities... people are going to be lining up on launch day to buy it! It would be a waste of marketing dollars for Sony to pay OGM's to flaunt how awesome the PS3 is, because the consumer already knows that it is the best.

I've already got mine pre-ordered at GameStop! How about YOU?!?!

LMFAO

Until today I didn't even know this sort of thing happened. But yeah, I'd have to say that would be a fun job at least for a little. I'd be curious to see how good I'd be at it.

What I would like to know (and it seems am never likely to find out) is if I've ever completly unknowingly had a conversation with one of these people, or even bought a game that they recommended to me?

there was a guy who posted about fable, he did it in riddles, he had the whole forum looking for secrets that didnt exist.

i never found out the reason he did it only that he revealed himself as a hoax.

im not surprised by this at all, i cant recall but it seems like ive herd about this before...anyhoo.

i think its misleading and criminal to decieve the consumer to get them to buy a product, to have a marketing guru pull some viral marketing scam on the web community in this manner is unconscionable, he even admidts it.

i feel like ive been taken advantage of by some marketing campaigns, i try to stay informed but its hard to stay on top of everything and occassional i end of purchasing a lemon.

"the OGM is viewed by many advertising firms as a weapon of last resort"

i use the internet to inform myself about things i see on tv, magazines or ads how ironic that these marketers are out in force online as well except even more shady.

its interesting that im supposed to accord myself with some ethics in society when there is a multitude of "them" that are trying to take advantage of me.

snyper256:
I don't mind this tactic. I think it's creative and would be amusing to do, for a short while at least, and as long as you keep in mind that you're not actually hurting anybody.

It's funny to think of the obvious ones and how they would get banned forever right away.

I disagree, it does hurt people, no-one likes buying crap games, especially if you buy it brand new and hav to lose alot of money on resale(I virtually never buy games new though, for this reason)

buy coke

I thought this article was intersted, but u know when u lost me?

"To the millions of potential young consumers populating sites like Myspace, the internet is a communication tool, an information store, a recreational exercise, a friend, a confidant and a place to pick up chicks."

I doubt these millions of potential young consumers are hetero males or homo females (which I doubt was your thought)....

I guess I'm just tired

How does a company measure the income it recieves from this 'marketing' scheme against what it pays into the tactic? That's the real question.

Online ads have click-thru rates & eyeball counts, newspaper ads have subscriber numbers - what does this have? Number of forum members? Thread views?

The Escapist: did you find this guy, or did he come to you? My guess from his quotes is he came to you.

Though not a businessman myself, I wonder how companies justify this practice monetarily?

Can you put me in touch with this guy?

If you rely on internet forums for your information then you deserve to be burned.

I have no moral qualms about lying to idiots.

FunkyJ:

If you rely on internet forums for your information then you deserve to be burned.
I have no moral qualms about lying to idiots.

Forums in general maybe, but thats the whole point. These guys contribute to forums on a regular basis to gain the trust of the regulars at that forum. By acting like just another guy (or gal) on the forum. Are you honestly telling me that if someone you had been "speaking" to on a forum for 6 months or so told you that a game you had never heard of was worth looking into, you wouldn't pay any attention to it?

You may have no qualms about lying to idiots, but how about lying to people that you know are intelligent consumers that you had spent the last couple months building up a friendship with purely to aid in the lie?

This sort of job is much more akin to an undercover cop or a spy than a sleazy car salesman. I have no doubt that it would be tough at times. But then again, if these guys really didn't want to be doing it they wouldn't.

I guess the forum I visit has been lucky enough for not attracting attention of the clever market-posters. We are mostly a small tightly-knit community, the owner has a few gaming related sites that are pretty popular, but the forums for the network haven't really taken off. That said, we do get a bunch of first-post registers that try and pimp their product, sometimes in not-so-clever one sentence posts. We always sniff them out and some people leave angry comments, etc. I don't know why this 'one-post marketer' even tries, with those very obvious tactics.

If we ever had a sneaky, longer-term poster, I think we'd have a good shot at sniffing them out too, I dunno, but it hasn't happened yet.

I've noticed these 'lazy' marketers have mostly boomed in the beggining of 2006. Not just on our forums, but all over the net. In the last 2 months or so we haven't got more than 5 or so, I guess they are finally learning their lesson.

In my opinion, they're more akin to travelling advertisers, except that in general, they actually give useful information (you can't really promote stuff in forums without giving information) (well, some travelling advertisers also give useful information. Unsurprisingly, they also fare much better at product promotion that those who just scream "Buy my stuff!"). Whether I hate them or not is dependant on one thing alone: if what they're advertising is actually good. If it's good, kudos for them on getting paid to promote something good. If it's crap, shame on them for lying.

To put this in perspective, I would treat them equal to any normal forum-goers, since it's nearly a practical impossibility to differenciate one from a) a secret marketter, b) a member who actually has something useful. Similarly, it's also a practical impossibility to determine the true gender of a person based on purely online interaction, thus it's safer to just treat both genders as equals.

Of cause, there's the non-secret type of marketter, who acts as a person from a company. In this case, the trick is to appear unbiased (example, if your company does something wrong, admit it, and convince readers that something is being done) while providing "insider information" which for most purposes, would probably go through the marketting department to determine exactly how much and what type of information to deliever.

In conclusion: trust no one but yourself for final judgement. Information from others are useful, but take note that occasionally people may deliever inaccurate information, be it intentional or otherwise.

Psaakyrn:

In conclusion: trust no one but yourself for final judgement. Information from others are useful, but take note that occasionally people may deliever inaccurate information, be it intentional or otherwise.

This is an excellent point, Remember that any and all advice you recieve on any matter has a personal bias attached. Right for someone else does not mean right for you. Whether or not the person is lying to get you to buy a game they personally don't like but are being paid to promote, if you take all advice with a grain of salt and rely on game demos, screenshots, many many different reviews from sites which traditionally don't agree, (or ones that normally agree with YOU). You should end up with a pretty good feel for whether or not you'll like a game. There's always a chance of failure, but doing the proper legwork before hand is a lot smarter than dropping 60 bucks on a game because someone in a forum told you it was the best thing since sliced bread.

- Tom

TomBeraha:
Even as a stoic PC person, the new Mac's are really really nice, were gaming not an issue, I'd be on a Mac.

So, Tom, are *you* Jack?

rblaa:

TomBeraha:
Even as a stoic PC person, the new Mac's are really really nice, were gaming not an issue, I'd be on a Mac.

So, Tom, are *you* Jack?

Its hardly marketing when you tell people on a gaming forum that the new macs are nice but they are no good for gaming.

But the point you raise is relevant. You could go to just about any gaming forum and find somebody saying good things about a game that someone else has bagged in the same thread. I've been very guilty of being a fanboy for certain products myself and I'm not afraid to say so. The difficulty is in telling the difference between someone who is doing it for love of the product and someone who is doing it for love of their paycheck.

Goofonian:
The difficulty is in telling the difference between someone who is doing it for love of the product and someone who is doing it for love of their paycheck.

i wonder...neither point of view is neutral, both viewpoints are skeud by there own biased. one wants to get payed the other wants to validate his purchase by making others think the same way. both want to influence the opinions of the consumer, is it really that differant?

the way i see it is the fanboy is obviously insane and the evil guru marketer is morally vacant. the only way to solve this is to buy the game that both parties recomend and if you hate it, rob a seven eleven to reimburse yourself and try try again.

or you could just pirate the game at no cost to yourself, the virtualy friendly solution to all money scaming jerk offs.

LordCancer:

Goofonian:
The difficulty is in telling the difference between someone who is doing it for love of the product and someone who is doing it for love of their paycheck.

i wonder...neither point of view is neutral, both viewpoints are skeud by there own biased. one wants to get payed the other wants to validate his purchase by making others think the same way. both want to influence the opinions of the consumer, is it really that differant?

the way i see it is the fanboy is obviously insane and the evil guru marketer is morally vacant. the only way to solve this is to buy the game that both parties recomend and if you hate it, rob a seven eleven to reimburse yourself and try try again.

or you could just pirate the game at no cost to yourself, the virtualy friendly solution to all money scaming jerk offs.

Treating piracy as a valid form of testing games isn't very nice to say on a gaming forum. IMHO, a better solution would be the re-introduction of shareware, which the Live services seem to get getting about doing so. Of cause it's nothing that we can actively do (unless you're a publisher), but at least there's good news about the whole issue.

(Oh, and one nitpick. Could you please use some capital letters in your posts?)

LordCancer:

the way i see it is the fanboy is obviously insane and the evil guru marketer is morally vacant. the only way to solve this is to buy the game that both parties recomend and if you hate it, rob a seven eleven to reimburse yourself and try try again.

or you could just pirate the game at no cost to yourself, the virtualy friendly solution to all money scaming jerk offs.

This would be the perfect solution if the posters labeled themselves as "fanboy" and "marketer". I think we need to add in a third title here: "cynic" - someone who is unreasonable in there bashing of any given game and by your definition equally as insane as the fanboy.

From Screenshots and Boobies thread:

LordCancer:
puzzle pirates is broken, that is one of the worst games ive ever played.

Psaakyrn:
What games provide instead is a psychological reward, usually that of achievement, stress relief, fantasy enactmant, relaxation, social interaction, brain workout, and etc. In terms of puzzle pirates, it provides relaxation, social interaction, and brain workout, which clashes with the rewards most "hardcore" gamers look for: achievement, stress relief, fantasy enactment.

LordCancer:
your point is certainly valid, but i really, really, really hate puzzle pirates.

How do I know who is the fanboy/cynic and who is neutral, perhaps you are both neutral and just have different opinions of the game. My point is, that it really all boils down to opinion and when your trying to decide what to buy you tend to rely on the opinions of people that you have had common ideas with in the past, whether that be 'real life' friends or people you've come to know as their avatar on a forum somewhere. If someone you've come to trust (i.e. the OGM's that do their job well) blatently lies to you because they've been paid to convince you to buy a particular game that may not be otherwise selling well, your gonna be pissed. but how are you gonna know?

Now lets not get confused here, really good games will sell themselves. Really bad games will get universally bashed and anyone who tells you to buy one will get laughed at by many people, openly. Its the middle ground games that some people will like and others will hate that the OGM's really do their good work on, because its these games that usually have the widest range of opinions floating around and which you usually rely on the advice of others to decide whether to put down your hard earned cash on.

It really seems to me like if an OGM is good enough, and has convinced you to buy something, there is
A) no way you could know you've just been had.
B) nothing you can do about it.

Or you could just pirate them, yeah.

rblaa:

TomBeraha:
Even as a stoic PC person, the new Mac's are really really nice, were gaming not an issue, I'd be on a Mac.

So, Tom, are *you* Jack?

Nay, I be jack's slightly twisted side that does like the way OS X looks, my roomate gets on me about it regurally, I can't justify the costs of the apple hardware. (Which let's be frank are quite a bit more expensive than their PC counterparts) I was hoping with the switch the intel chips they'd come down in price and be side to side same cost as a dell or hp of comprabale power.

See, If apple was paying me to market their hardware, I'd tell you it was awesome for gaming, pointing out that quite a few games are infact released for mac and run quite well on it. *blah blah blah* so on and so forth. As they aren't, trust me on this, I built my PC about 6 months ago, I have a AMD Athlon X2 3800+, 2GB of ram, and a Radeon X850XT with 300GB of HDD space, the equivilent mac, would have run me about $1,500 more. (seriously). A flashy desktop which is admittedly where I spend very little of my time on a computer, is not worth that price difference. However, the aformentioned roomate told me their are some cracked versions of it that I could try running as a dual boot, and I'm thinking about giving that a shot to see how I'd like it as a general purpose / coding environment.

Psaakyrn:
Treating piracy as a valid form of testing games isn't very nice to say on a gaming forum. IMHO, a better solution would be the re-introduction of shareware, which the Live services seem to get getting about doing so. Of cause it's nothing that we can actively do (unless you're a publisher), but at least there's good news about the whole issue.

I stand at odd ends here, I completely agree with you on the value of a good shareware / demo offering. For games that do not offer one, I will either pirate a copy, and decide I dont like it (or if I decide I do like it, buy it immediately to justify the stealing to my concience), or I will try a friend's copy at some indefinite point in the future when an opportunity arrives, I have yet to buy a game that I didn't play in some form first. I love game demos, it's why I own Psychonauts, it came on a Xbox demo disc my old roomate had and I loved it. I played a pirated copy of GTA:SA, and immediately felt compelled to buy the game. Oblivion is the result of 40 minutes playing on my best friends computer, now I own that too.

I don't try to argue that piracy is anything but stealing, But my concience doesn't feel bad about me testing a guitar before I buy it, nor would it feel bad about me testing a game. I don't make any uninformed purchase if I can avoid it, and if I have personal experience with the item, there is no question as to my feelings toward it.

Psaakyrn:
(Oh, and one nitpick. Could you please use some capital letters in your posts?)

No! lol

Goofonian:

LordCancer:

the way i see it is the fanboy is obviously insane and the evil guru marketer is morally vacant. the only way to solve this is to buy the game that both parties recomend and if you hate it, rob a seven eleven to reimburse yourself and try try again.

or you could just pirate the game at no cost to yourself, the virtualy friendly solution to all money scaming jerk offs.

This would be the perfect solution if the posters labeled themselves as "fanboy" and "marketer". I think we need to add in a third title here: "cynic" - someone who is unreasonable in there bashing of any given game and by your definition equally as insane as the fanboy.

From Screenshots and Boobies thread:

LordCancer:
puzzle pirates is broken, that is one of the worst games ive ever played.

[quote=Psaakyrn]What games provide instead is a psychological reward, usually that of achievement, stress relief, fantasy enactmant, relaxation, social interaction, brain workout, and etc. In terms of puzzle pirates, it provides relaxation, social interaction, and brain workout, which clashes with the rewards most "hardcore" gamers look for: achievement, stress relief, fantasy enactment.

[quote=LordCancer]your point is certainly valid, but i really, really, really hate puzzle pirates.

Goofonian:
How do I know who is the fanboy/cynic and who is neutral, perhaps you are both neutral and just have different opinions of the game. My point is, that it really all boils down to opinion and when your trying to decide what to buy you tend to rely on the opinions of people that you have had common ideas with in the past, whether that be 'real life' friends or people you've come to know as their avatar on a forum somewhere. If someone you've come to trust (i.e. the OGM's that do their job well) blatently lies to you because they've been paid to convince you to buy a particular game that may not be otherwise selling well, your gonna be pissed. but how are you gonna know?

Now lets not get confused here, really good games will sell themselves. Really bad games will get universally bashed and anyone who tells you to buy one will get laughed at by many people, openly. Its the middle ground games that some people will like and others will hate that the OGM's really do their good work on, because its these games that usually have the widest range of opinions floating around and which you usually rely on the advice of others to decide whether to put down your hard earned cash on.

It really seems to me like if an OGM is good enough, and has convinced you to buy something, there is
A) no way you could know you've just been had.
B) nothing you can do about it.

Or you could just pirate them, yeah.

i am a cynic or jaded, but i dont think my bashing of puzzle pirates was unreasonable. in my first post about PP i listed valid complaints with that game i played it and for 4 hours all i got was sore wrists and 1000 gold or so, the ingame economy is broken everything is way to expensive a black pirate jacket will run you upwards of 300k gold and unless you scam other players it would take you months just to get one part of your outfit a complete pirate outfit and qaulity sword would cost you more then man o war.

whats worse is your swords decay so after you spend several hundred thousand gold to get your sword it will eventually decay, i may be a cynic but this game sucks its free if you dont believe me try it out.

Not trying to defend puzzle pirates, I have no idea if its any good and from your description I'm not sure I'll bother trying it, regardless if its free. I have too many games in my bookshelf that I know are good that I need to get around to finishing first.

I think your most definately jaded in this case, but I don't think your a cynic by my definition of the label. A cynic would be someone that tells you not to bother with mario galaxy, not because its a bad game but because they hate nintendo or hate platformers or still feel like sunshine was a sub par game and all other mario's will be the same.
If I happen to have the same common interests with said person in regards to say, god of war and shadow of the colossus and a whole pile of other games, then I'm likely to listen to them when they tell me that mario is a waste of time, despite the fact that mario galaxy is a game that no doubt will be a lot of fun and have multitudes of fans when it finally gets released.

Goofonian:
Now lets not get confused here, really good games will sell themselves. Really bad games will get universally bashed and anyone who tells you to buy one will get laughed at by many people, openly. Its the middle ground games that some people will like and others will hate that the OGM's really do their good work on, because its these games that usually have the widest range of opinions floating around and which you usually rely on the advice of others to decide whether to put down your hard earned cash on.

Well, sometimes. But I'm sure we can all think of really good games that didn't do well, and really bad games that have sold plenty of copies. Marketing really does have a big influence on whether or not a game gets 'known' - it really has to be something astounding to take off without it.

I think that this is what was being insinuated as a "method of last resort." I'm not sure what the pay scale on this is, but I do know how much ads on websites and magazines cost, and I have to imagine that it costs less to get the word out this way than to plaster the gaming space with up front advertising. Even if you paid someone $20 an hour, full time, for a month to do this, it'd cost less than a single-page ad in a print magazine and the results would probably be easier to notice.

Not trying to defend puzzle pirates, I have no idea if its any good and from your description I'm not sure I'll bother trying it, regardless if its free. I have too many games in my bookshelf that I know are good that I need to get around to finishing first.

It's not quite that horrible. If you like casual-style puzzle games, then it's worth trying. If that's not your thing, then you probably won't like it. The economy is definitely set up for a micropayment model though, so many things are purposely set to be more expensive than a normal player could earn purely through gameplay. Don't take my word for it though, I could be a plant ;)

Virgil:

Not trying to defend puzzle pirates, I have no idea if its any good and from your description I'm not sure I'll bother trying it, regardless if its free. I have too many games in my bookshelf that I know are good that I need to get around to finishing first.

It's not quite that horrible. If you like casual-style puzzle games, then it's worth trying. If that's not your thing, then you probably won't like it. The economy is definitely set up for a micropayment model though, so many things are purposely set to be more expensive than a normal player could earn purely through gameplay. Don't take my word for it though, I could be a plant ;)

definatly a plant.

there are better puzzle games, dont listen to him!

I definitely found this article very interesting and to me, it is a nasty form of guerilla marketing. The psychological elements of the job would be interesting; spending all your days earning the trust of a community only to mislead them. I'm interested in what effect it has had on our dearest Jack.

Yeah, at times I wish I had a Mac for schoolwork and some artsy projects......

The difference online guerilla marketing and a regular old fan trying to talk you into liking something is that guerilla marketers are getting paid for it. And this difference is enough to make it evil?

On top of the fact that it's deceitful, the difference is the fan is doing it because he wants the company and the game to do well because he enjoyed it and he wants others to enjoy it like he did while the guerilla marketer is tricking people into thinking he's doing it for the more noble reasons of the former.

"So act that you use humanity, whether in yourself or in another, always as an end-in-itself and never merely as a means"

So yeah, the difference is enough to make it evil in more than one way.

Bongo Bill:
The difference online guerilla marketing and a regular old fan trying to talk you into liking something is that guerilla marketers are getting paid for it. And this difference is enough to make it evil?

That's only true if the GM actually likes the game he's promoting, which is most certainly not always the case. I don't know that it's evil, but it's certainly decietful, and on shaky moral ground. I think of killing for no benefit as an evil act, this is a long way before that.

TomBeraha:

Bongo Bill:
The difference online guerilla marketing and a regular old fan trying to talk you into liking something is that guerilla marketers are getting paid for it. And this difference is enough to make it evil?

That's only true if the GM actually likes the game he's promoting, which is most certainly not always the case. I don't know that it's evil, but it's certainly decietful, and on shaky moral ground. I think of killing for no benefit as an evil act, this is a long way before that.

TomBeraha, I agree.

GM = shill, simple as that. Fanboys/cynics (trollers excluded) have no economic ulterior motive for spouting their opinions; their feelings are genuine, whether you agree with them or not. People are increasingly choosing forums over professional critics because they crave a similar Joe/Jane POV. These OGM's poison the well-intentioned efforts of those who are willing to take the time out of their lives to share their experiences.

Whatever their names in the past, shills have been condemned since the begining of human bartering and interaction - Google or Wiki "shill" to see some views on the subject.

Side note: the quote that the bulk of the 18 - 24 crowd has been on the Web or 'Net all their lives is patently false. The Web has only been in existence 17 years, of that it has only entered into the public domain in the past 10 - 11 years, with mass adoption the past 6 - 8. I'm dating myself, but I've been on the 'Net before the web's existence, and I remember when the protocol came into existence (I'm in physics).

LordCancer:

i wonder...neither point of view is neutral, both viewpoints are skeud by there own biased. one wants to get payed the other wants to validate his purchase by making others think the same way. both want to influence the opinions of the consumer, is it really that differant?

Huge difference, I'd say, along the lines of what TomBeraha, Goofonian, and C Town have said. Remember, *no* point of view is neutral, including your own. In getting good advice on games, you're only looking for a 'neutral' point of view because a neutral point of view is easier to 'translate' into your own point of view. Think about it: if I could clone myself and send my clone out to play games and review them for me, the more skewed/biased the review, the better.

Bias and viewpoint aren't necessarily bad--they're really just another way of saying 'taste' or 'preference'. And that's what we're really looking for in games--things that appeal to our personal tastes and preferences, and who cares what anyone else thinks if I'm enjoying myself?

So here's what I disagree with the people saying 'eh, they have biases and viewpoints like anyone'. When I encounter a regular person talking about a game on a forum, I assume their bias/viewpoint is their own. So all I have to do is figure out how similar that person is to me: how close they are to that 'perfect clone' reviewer.

An Online Guerilla Marketer, though, is intentionally trying to discover who I am so s/he can do the best impersonation of my 'clone' as possible. Like the article states: "[t]he point is to completely blend in with the community, whether it is a place normally visited by 15-year-old suburban males who like rap and videogames, or a stay-at-home wife community that supports each other's problems with their husbands and diapers."

That is the key difference. The viewpoints and biases of the Online Guerilla Marketer aren't the viewpoints and biases their forum posts are revealing. The whole point is to make it look like s/he has whatever viewpoints/biases the members of the forum have, when really, the true viewpoint/bias the Online Guerilla Marketer has is different from *every* member of the forum: the product is good because it's made by Acme Game Co. Well, I guess in that case, Online Guerilla Marketers *could* be in sync with fanboys, but, that's kinda the exception that proves the rule I'm trying to illustrate, isn't it?

So yeah, to try and put all that into one summary paragraph, the key differences between a valid forum member and an Online Guerilla Marketer isn't that the latter has a viewpoint/bias and the former doesn't, but that (1) the Online Guerilla Marketer has a viewpoint/bias that will never sync (except through dumb luck) with my own viewpoint/bias and therefore can never be of use to me (and will probably be of harm to me), and (2) they take deliberate efforts that a valid forum member doesn't to make me think the opposite, that their viewpoint/bias is in perfect sync with my own. It has nothing to do with them getting paid; it has everything to do with them having the products they endorse selected by who is paying them, and then being asked to pretend the real motivation for that endorsement is that they are like me, whether I'm a '15-year-old suburban male who like rap and videogames, or a stay-at-home wife.'

 

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