Policy on affiliate links in reviews?

Not trying to start yet another war over affiliate links, but what’s wrong with someone making money off your click? If you click on the link and buy the product, then you have obviously decided that it’s a worthy product. In that case, why shouldn’t the person who posted the link get a little money for doing so? It has been shown over and over again that the money doesn’t make your product any more expensive. In lots of cases (around here anyway), the link even gives you a better deal than you would have gotten on your own, so it’s actually saving you money!

To this date, I still have never seen anyone give a truly logical and completely thought-out, fact-based reason for not liking affiliate links. People just “don’t like” them and it’s all about the “feeling” of not liking them. Just like me and Brussels Sprouts. }P

Often times people do not disclose that it is a paid affiliate link, and that basically makes it spam.
Rather than posting the link because it is a product they are interested in or to help people find the product, they post the affiliate link in order to make themselves money.
It is no longer about the product, it is just greed.
Same thing when people are shills and give good reviews in exchange for money or products, it’s all just self-interest.

Whats Wrong with Brussels sprouts?

But seriously isn’t this just a question of trust.

If I see a review where the customer bought the product and has clear info and opinions about it (this has some value as a data point) aka I have reason to trust them.

If I see a review where an individual has been compensated for (explicitly or implicitly related to the review) I have a reason(s) to trust the review less.

First compensation is not limited to cash, so the “I did not get paid for it” is a red herring.

Second it is safe to assume that any adult capable of buying on the internet is familiar with the basics of capitalism. Point being knowledge and acceptance capitalistic relationships are nothing new, and are not an issue.

Clarity about which of the two product to reviewer relationship(s) is in place matters. Blurring that line of Trust is what company(s) want to buy at a discounted rate, aka a good deal for them.

As long as we call a “Shovel, A Shovel” there should not be any issues.

To my mind this comes down to


HKJ is one of the few reviewers who sets the gold standard for Trust and Information. He is successfully managing his affairs in such a way that I don’t care which side of the fence he is on. It is also why Vendors wait in line for him to do a review.

I saw a post where some people ( not sure who ) where whining about white people living in comfortable houses …
Apparently these people want the white people to give them their homes ? ( What the parking lot ? ) For nothing !

If some one has the gumption to get off their bee-hive , do something to earn some green …. Why would people have a problem with that ? ( That sounds crazy to me )
Is it going to harm you ? , shorten your life ? , cost you money ? , make you go bald ? … I don’t think any of those things ! are going to happen .
So what is the root problem ? You don’t like people earning money ? ( That’s the problem ! )

You do know that when you go to a store and buy something , some one is making money from the transaction ?
The retailer , the wholesaler , the manufacturer , and the TAX man . And anyone else in that particular chain of supply . ( Like the transport company - package manufacturer and so forth )
? I am confused why some one with enough ounce to do something , is such a bad person . ( Unless of course they are breaking the rules - off course )
One would think they would be applauded rather than attacked …

Once upon a time people with gumption were held in high regard … ( ? ) What happened to that ?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
― Theodore Roosevelt

TR - A doer ! Wonder what he might have complained about today ?

It is morally incorrect to profit off others for personal benefit by not disclosing stuff like sponsorships, and monetized affiliate links are a type of sponsorship.

This is why it is now illegal in the US to make reviews or even youtube videos without stating the compensation you are receiving in the form of products or money.


Compensation ?

Is the product you are reviewing considered compensation ?
And how is it all factored ?

Here is a common scenario … Lets say you are sent a $50 product ( Value $50 )
What is time worth ? Lets call it $20 an hour … A half decent job should earn you $20 an hour unless you work at McDonalds …
Lets say you put in 10 hours for the review just for the hell of it … That’s $200 in time you are owed …
Less the $50 for the product being reviewed …
Effectively putting you $150 in the rears ( out of pocket ) … Not even considering any costs that may be incurred … ( For those guys at the IRS )
So while a review may look all attractive from the outside , the reality is quite different .
If you want to get nitty gritty ! Most reviewers are actually out of pocket unless sent something truly valuable …
So if you want to get out your pocket calculator , you may realize that most people do this for the enjoyment ( some people enjoy Golf ) . Not out of any sense of getting $$ and building up a Ferrari fund , that’s for Doctors and Lawyers and such . I don’t know that you could even fund a bicycle doing the odd product review … Again , this perception that people are earning from other people ( wait - that’s how the world works )

You don’t earn from the click on the link , you earn if people buy … And the compensation for that might be (?)
If it’s an affiliate link from a review ( I don’t know that you earn much of anything )

I do know that if you participate in their affiliate SALES programs ( promotions ) you might earn (?) this is variable depending on your affiliate level ( your graded ) . So the higher your graded the more you earn and I can’t remember what the high earners get … As long as some one is doing nothing illegal , as for this moral stuff ? There is an onion I don’t want to peel … Whoa !!! That’s a loaded gun …
And the problem with that is does one apply the same moral code to oneself as one applies it to others ?? ( Most people don’t )

I had to check !
I have earned $15.50 … ( Youtube video’s ) I don’t know that I could buy anything Ferrari for that … ( Maybe a Cap for the tire valve ? )
And I don’t even want to know how much I have spent putting video ( reviews n stuff ) on youtube , I would be lucky to have gotten a 1% return …
I guess some one owes me $1500 …
I really don’t know about this EARNING ( BS ) … I don’t think that for the average joe six pack earning is the motivation … If it was , would we not all be doing Girls with Guns video’s ? Now that guy EARNED Ferrari money ! ( No he really did ) . Simple concept ! Girls in bikini’s , large breasted girls ! Shooting guns with lots of jiggling when the gun went Boom ( slow motion even ) … A very simple , BASE , idea that earned $$
Yeah don’t know about the morals of it , but that guy made green . And in the end the only person hurt was him ! ( Was he shot in the head making a video ? Was that karma ? )

I just dont know , I have been doing reviews for a long time and I have never earned . If anything it has simply been a labor of love . And over that time ( must be like 25 years now ) , there has been this vocal minority that hates people getting product to review . Where this Ax came from and why people need to grind it ? This forum belongs to sb56637 , anything and everything else said is neither here or there … I have a review to finish .

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

"It's pretty obvious that affiliated links give people the opportunity to post items they usually have no personal experience with for the express interest of putting pennies into their pockets. It proves to what lengths a person will go through in grubbing up a few extra dollars. Affiliate links are notoriously banned in most forums for this reason." - FlashPilot

“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” - This I agree with! :wink:

I wonder why when unfounded hatred for affiliate links in general is called out, someone always seems to bring up this one extreme example. Is it because that’s the lone case that warrants any animosity? O:)

I just don’t get why some people don’t get why some other people dislike affiliate links in reviews. If a review is posted by someone who earns money of sales from that review, is it so hard to understand why some people might suspect that the review is biased?


No I understand and encourage suspicion - In the right amount its healthy !

Never ever trust anyone !

Especially reviews …

Which is why we need more of them , for a wider perspective , different opinions ( based on testing ) .

A single review - some thing might be missed , go untested - miss communicated - or simply be forgotten . And lets not forget those horrible evil variables ( there so nasty ) .

My thumbs will always be up for more reviews , more sponsors of reviews and especially new reviewers .
And again , not condoning rule breaking …

But I am condoning common sense

As well as moving forward , not backwards

Slap the guilty , don’t throw out the baby with the bath water

I only object to affiliate links if the sole purpose of a reviewer is to sell stuff under the guise of a real review. There are large youtube channels that get tens of thousands to millions of views, supposedly showing a youtuber doing cool stuff. It might be entertaining, but the main purpose is to advertise stuff or shill for stuff or sell stuff. Some get very rich from doing this.

I have no problem with Internet personalities getting rich, but I’m not going to make them any richer by using any links they provide. I’ll usually hit “unsubscribe”.

However, for a typical BLF’er, just how much money would he make if he gets paid for affiliate links? $20? $50? I have no idea, but probably not much more. In other words, he’s not earning a living doing flashlight reviews, and I doubt it even reasonably compensates him for his efforts.

As long as he discloses he makes money from affiliate links, I’m okay with that. As long as the review is original and has some useful information, I’ll happily use the link.

Is it possible that a reviewer that gets paid for affiliate links is a little biased? Perhaps. But if it’s a small amount of money, the bias is nowhere near the kind of bias that creates popular youtube shills to advertise stuff for a lot of money.

On a tangent, what is the difference between affiliate links in a review, and people that organize group buys? I’ve bought several things in group buys, and I assume the organizer is making a bit of money for doing it. It’s a lot of work, so why shouldn’t he get a little something from the manufacturer? Otherwise, we might have a lot less group buys.

I don’t have a problem with people making money from me, as long as I know it’s happening. Disclosure is everything.
That way, it’s my choice whether to trust that review or not, and it’s my choice whether to click on that affiliate link or not.
I like the way that the did it in the BLF-348 group buys, providing both affiliate and non-affiliate links, so that we could choose whether to click on the affiliate link (as a “thank you” for running the group buy) or not. I’d be fine with that approach in reviews, too.

I’d wager that no one who has successfully managed a group buy would propose it is a way to make a living or even be fairly compensated for their time. It simply is too much work to be worth it, and that is a crucial difference. lets not kid our selves some entity is making money on affiliate links. It might very well be the manufactures or distributors who make the lions share but affiliate links are not altruistic tools.

This is not a problem, but lets be clear about it and not confuse it with charity.

I propose that reviews where compensation is involved fit in the commercial category, affiliate links included. I’m not saying we can’t benefit from them but lets call a Shovel A Shovel.

If someone buys a light and wants to tell us about it good or bad, to me that is exactly in line with why BLF was created and is a review that deserves to be not mixed in with the other types.

I also don’t see why anyone should be upset by this. For the folks who buy their own lights it has no affect, for the folks that respond to vendors/suppliers providing the lights they still get to do their reviews exactly as they do now or as they wish, simply under the Commercial heading.

Heck it may help them negotiate more favorable terms (lets face it all reviewers are not treated the same way by manufactures and distributors) They have preferences and probably for well thought out reasons.

Well, I do get a little bit passionate at times. But I’m through now. No more arguments from me. I don’t want to be the reason this thread gets shut down. :wink:


What does it matter ? Who is getting hurt or robbed ? Do you care who makes $ when you go to Burger King and get a burger ? Do you care about the people making minimum wage ? Or who profits ? Again I just don’t understand this Affiliate links ( alleged problem ) … Because if you have a problem with affiliate links you must have a problem with everyone that makes money . Because everyone is used . Everyone . That is what our system is based on , using people ! Employers use people , advertisers , stores , governments - the list is endless . To single out affiliate links as immoral or something wrong ?

Is that a phobia ?

I am seeing a theme here of perceived wrong , so I would like to see a list of all the harm affiliate links do … ( Not talking about people doing the wrong thing - breaking rules ) And I don’t care about opinion . I want the evidence of the harm they have done ! Somebody lost a leg , some one got cancer , some one was robbed of their life savings . ( I mean harm ) … Do you want a list of the benefits ? It’s not a long list , but it’s all good . Cars are a fantastic subject , the pro’s and cons . So here it is , some evil parasite has conned you into clicking on an affiliate link , to a product that you knew you were going to look at … But you look at the address bar and realize its an affiliate link and if you buy now the parasite might earn 5c to maybe $1 from you buying because you followed an affiliate link … List the harm ! ( Make me a be-leaver )

What do you not understand about “biased reviews” and “undisclosed sponsorship” ?

This is completely different from someone at a fast food place making money, you can’t even compare the two.

No I understand !

BIAS is as old as we are ! ( Humans ) , which is why we need more reviews . I really don’t care if a review is Biased as long as its not an outright lie ! Back in the old days before the internet the only reviews you got were from magazines , and they were biased to the max , some just outright fabrication . Because peoples lively hoods were on the line … You either you wrote good reviews - good for the magazine - good for the sponsor - good for you ! Or you found another job ! Those were perilous times for consumers . Because so many product reviews were just advertising in disguise . So in that regard nothing has changed , the practice probably still goes on . Thankfully now , we have more sponsors for reviews , more people doing reviews , and more information to dissect . ( This is good ) Invariably there can be inherent problems with reviews . What happens when a reviewer is sent a tested and proven product ? The review is going to be good ! And then everyone else who buys the product gets pot luck ? This has happened and will most likely continue to happen . ( can you blame the reviewer for that ? ) Which is why more reviews are good , fewer reviews are bad . Getting information from one source = Bad ! very bad ! So when a sponsor picks 10 or 20 people to do reviews on a product - This is amazingly good . Its good for the product related community ( flashlight in this case ) , it’s good for the people doing the reviews . It’s good for the sites ( forums / webs ) where the reviews are posted . It’s good for the sponsor . ( And yes this is important ) . There is very much a flow on effect , look after the sponsor , the sponsor looks after the community , information is shared and there is an opportunity for everyone to move forward and grow .

There will always be people who miss use the privilege . People who lie and cheat and spoil it for everyone . But affiliate links are not responsible for this , people are . And as I have said previously knock them on the head .

Undisclosed sponsorship ( frankly it does not bother me ) I really don’t care … Just like I don’t care who is gay or not , or what color your shorts are , or how much money you earn or how much you spend on booze or how much you car cost . I just don’t care . There are far more important things in the world to care about than if some one was sent something to review or they purchased it . ( Again as long as the review is no an outright fabrication ) I think that is up to the individual to disclose , if they want to . ( Is that like a basic human right ? ) There is another flashlight forum that conforms to your wishes , candlepower ! Nice and strict , well regimented and lots of banning and warning .

I went and watched some TV , had dinner …

And thought about BIAS …

And it occurred to me just how easily we become biased and whether that is good or bad … And I realized it all depends on how we form that bias . Is the bias rooted in fact or BS . Let me explain .

A person goes and test drives two cars , one car he likes and the other car he dos not like . The buyer has just become biased ! But here is the kicker , because he test drives both vehicles his bias is VALID . His bias is born from testing the products and finding what he ( she ) likes and does not like .

Joe six pack is thinking of buying a car , rather than going to the trouble of test driving what he likes , he talks to his mates and gets their opinion . Unfortunately the opinion he gets is not from first hand experience , but rather 3rd hand or worse . Joe weighs up the opinion forming a bias toward a certain car ( or against ) . This is a BS bias . Bias simply means we prefer something more than something else . We all have product bias . And the more you like something , the more biased you are . What is important ! ( very important ) Is what that bias is based on - BS or facts !

Bias is usually used in the negative - and another word we can use is preference or like ( more positive ) We all form bias for or against ( positive - negative ) something . ( What is the driving force behind the bias ? )