I’ve been reading a few posts recently and trying to figure out what makes an ‘Approved’ blogger vs a yellow rat bastard who is trying to ruin our lives. A key thing seems to be intent, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions….
Let’s look at a couple of posts that have surfaced recently:
- Business Insider (picked up by Forbes) $300 for a $60,000 flight.
- General sentiment: everyone hates the guy.
Why? Well he was running on a loophole that allowed a lot of airtime for a very little amount of points. A loophole within a loophole, and he was happy to tell a major publication about it:
But in reality – we don’t know if Business Insider called up to demand if the itinerary was something that would ticket and threw around their weight vs they discreetly tried to book it and see. The people who knew of the loophole (I didn’t) were up in arms about this, but a lot of that is due to them knowing how sensitive it was.
Whether Sam’s post closed the loophole or not is another topic. But I guess here we can look at intention: what is the blogger doing by posting something like this in a major publication, and who wouldn’t want that sort of inflow of traffic to feed revenue, or ego?
Long story short, people don’t ‘know’ the guy, or what his angle is, and are pissed about it.
Omar at Travel Summary
- Forbes $100K Honeymoon
- General sentiment: everyone loves him, especially the TSA who like to spend a lot of time with him.
Omar wrote about his upcoming Honeymoon on TravelCodex and it was picked up by Forbes. Why not, it is attention grabbing? Perhaps it was by chance they picked it up, or perhaps it was sent their way to consider. Some people are concerned by this post, as they feel that sharing the story can close future doors in this thing we call a hobby.
One of those guys at PointsMD
- PointsMD $57K Honeymoon
- General sentiment, nobody really knows which brother is which, but they are loved deeply regardless.
What’s interesting is that until a story is picked up by Forbes or Business Insider or any other mainstream media, it seems generally OK to blog about it. After all, our blogs are to teach our family and friends about how inferior their lifestyle is, and a blog is one of the only ways to do that passive aggressively.
So, is everyone bad? Is every blogger doing the wrong thing and should be vilified?
It’s a very difficult question to answer. You could argue that there is always some sort of self interest at heart when it comes to blogging, at some point you are willing to lose control of your (or your stolen) content in exchange for sharing it with a wider audience. It’s most offensive when blogs take a concept and slice it up with circles and arrows in exchange for Ad/Affiliate revenue, but all content sharing is on a spectrum of greys, not black and white.
There’s also a certain irony at play when it comes to the ‘protectors of the secrets’. For the most part, the obnoxious trolls who exist out there haven’t got much of a clue either, the reason they come by a post to crop dust it with negativity is because they are hoping for the next hand out also. Sure there are private fora and message groups, but they all read the same stuff, and only a small group of people within such groups are actually innovators.
For me, I’m not sure if intent matters enough, but I think it is my own barometer. When I see someone intentionally publicizing a deal for pure personal gain (cashing in a gig) then I think it’s a bad thing. But sometimes motivation and intent is hard to gauge. I do believe that there can be a truth about sharing information publically that is intended primarily to help people.
Another example of this is the File and Suspend rules of Social Security (which have a filing deadline in 2 days if you are still eligible BTW!) there was a lot of publicity about them, bloggers wrote about them to be experts, and gain business. Ultimately, many people benefited from the knowledge, but also, the gig was shut down, no different to Amazon Payments. There’s people out there riding on a gig to gain personally from something beyond that gig, and there are people out there blogging about a gig because they think it is a good thing to share to help people.
Of course, when affiliate commission comes into play, few people are doing it just for your benefit…though you can bet your bottom dollar they will use that argument to defend what they are really doing.
Arbitrage has two sides
Travel hacking is all about arbitrage and ‘loopholes’. In order for such things to exist, someone must be on the other side of the trade, be it the airlines on the burn side or the banks on the earn side. The more that we talk about either side, the more people will join in, and the greater the chance that the half of the deal being ‘exploited’ will seek to address the giant hole in the system. With that in mind, even the most innocent post in the smallest of blogs could be the final nail in the coffin.
For the smaller bloggers, I ask you to think of this: if you knew you would be in the New York Times and Rolling Stone, and you knew that you’d be going from 100 page views to 100,000, what would you do? Visualize an intent that you might not have considered, and go for it. Hopefully you’ll keep the secrets secret, and if you can find a way to become wildly popular, help people travel for FREEE! And not pimp credit cards or other crap, that could be pretty neat.
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