It has all the makings of a hoax, but the idea is just crazy enough to be real. A couple of twenty-something, apparently American entrepreneurs got the idea to cash in on the nexus of two hot trends--blogging and outsourcing--by hiring a bunch of people in China to create a network of blogs, according to their site. The motto of Blogoriented is "Leading the way in outsourced blogging."
Their business strategy includes selling space for advertising, but it goes much further: "The long term goal is to generate a large untraceable astroturfing mechanism for launching of various products. When a vendor needs to promote a new product to the internet demographic we will be able to create a believable buzz across hundreds of 'reputable' blogs and countless message boards."
As if the site's authenticity isn't dubious enough on its face, further questions are raised by a curious description of the company linked from the site's front door, ostensibly written by one of the venture's partners: "The beginning of this blog marks the beginning of a business venture that lies on what I believe to be shaky moral ground... I just never imagined that I would end up quitting my job and investing my savings in a blogsploitation venture like this one." This soul-searching falls below an introductory biblical quote, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Matthew (16:26)."
Regardless of the moral and political questions, as well as this site's veracity, it's probably only a matter of time before someone makes big money on the concept. Microsoft has already begun hiring bloggers for MSN, in just one example of paid blogging, so what would prevent it or other companies from outsourcing those jobs?
Blog community response:
"What if is this thing is not a hoax? If that's the case, the misguided souls behind it will soon go insane as they try to train their Chinese staff to perfectly mimic the language and culture of American youths without leaving Shanghai, watching American TV or listening to American radio. Pirate DVDs can only get you so far."
"Personally, I don't have a problem with commercial blogging or professional blogging. However...their plan calls for deliberate misrepresentation of commercial interests as personal ones, on a large scale. This could be blog spam taken to the next level."
--Ho John Lee's Weblog
"The first idea is a non-starter because the splogs will be outed faster than those Chinese sweatshop bloggers will be able to type out their first sentence... But these guys might be onto something with the second idea: filling in for vacationing bloggers. Except who'd trust some unknown person halfway around the world with their reputation like that? Oh, right, I forgot. One of their main target demographics is teenage girl bloggers."
"Looks like another value-added service most small PR shops can add to their rate card!"