I was surprised to receive the following email, I’ve deleted the name of the author and links to the works referred to so as not to reveal the author’s identity:
I’m just reaching out to see if you’re in need of any written material on Australian Emergency Law – if so, it would be a pleasure to help out and contribute if you have any requirements.
Having graduated in International Business and Journalism a few years ago, Ive covered everything from global politics to local news, economics, sustainability issues and a lot in between. I’ve included a few samples below which will hopefully give you an idea of my versatility, but it goes without saying that anything I send over for your review would be specifically tailored towards your site’s visitors.
What’s more, I’d be entirely able to provide new content for Australian Emergency Law at no cost; I work on behalf of one of my business clients, and as long as I am able to link to them within the content (in a related and subtle manner) you’d be free to use the material on your site with no strings attached. Furthermore, it would be 100% original and would not be used elsewhere after publication.
If this is of interest, I’d be happy to send something pertinent to your readership or take on any ideas you may have. This applies to other sites you may own as well as emergencylaw.wordpress.com, but if this is not of interest I shall leave you with my best wishes.
Some varied samples (ghost-written for the most part):…
ps. don’t worry – you aren’t on a mailing list and I won’t contact you again if you aren’t interested but I will get back to you right away if you are!
I confess to being pretty shocked by what I saw as a pretty disreputable offer. I replied as follows:
I’m replying to your email as a courtesy as I take it that you are a real person and this is a genuine offer, and therefore deserving a real reply.
I maintain the blog Australian Emergency Law to communicate with emergency management and response practitioners. I do that as I believe I have something to offer them and I believe that they, in turn, value what I have to say. My blog has some 500+ registered followers plus those that just come past the blog through the search engines. I have some loyalty to my readers, and try to engage with them so the blog is a two way street, it is not however a medium to ‘capture’ an audience.
In light of that I was surprised by your offer. The followers of my blog are looking for advice and information that I have to offer. I have at times asked others to contribute to the blog but on those occasions that authorship is made clear. Whilst it’s not clear, I did infer that you were offering to ‘ghost’ write content ie to provide content that I could put up in my name. I have not asked others to write and then pretended it was from me. To do so would, in my view, mislead the readers, would constitute plagiarism and would be academically dishonest.
Even more dishonest would be using the blog to link the blog, albeit in a ‘related and subtle manner’ to some commercial content, that would be treating the followers not as readers but an audience, they would be a means to an end and not an end in themselves.
I accept that you don’t see anything inappropriate with the offer you have made, and so I thank you for the offer, but clearly we went to a different school of ethics. I think what you are proposing is dishonest and disreputable. It would offend my professional ethics whether you regard my profession as an academic or a lawyer and it would show disrespect to those that follow my blog.
As it was a genuine offer I thank you for it, but I shall not be asking you to contribute content for Australian Emergency Law.
I assure you I’m not and have no intention of using ghost writers. If a blog post isn’t mine I’ll let you know that (and you can see for example, that my colleague Ruth Townsend has contributed some posts here).
I trust that, as the readers of this blog, you agree that was the appropriate answer.
21 April 2013