Political Parties paying bloggers to comment

Or at least that’s what is happening in the US. On Sky.Com News this evening we highlighted this article from the US as one of the top stories on the web.

Apparently, Republican bloggers and blog commenters are being offered points and maybe even prizes to place comments defending Senator John McCain and his policies. They are even sending out proforma comments for activists to use and websites to target.

You can see what I mean on the 'Spread the Word' page John McCain's website.


Frankly, I can’t see it taking off. The whole point of web 2.0 is that it is independent and spontaneous. Maybe Senator McCain should get on the web and then he’d really understand what a naff initiative this is!

You can only imagine the furore if Lib Dem bloggers and commenters were instructed what to say on the web by Cowley St! Ha!


Jennie said...
8 Aug 2008, 21:47:00

I think we're more subtle about it in the UK - we don't do all that measly cash bribe stuff, preferring to scratch backs and do intangible favours and give peerages for those who toe the various party lines.

Certainly no cash bribes in our party, anyway, because even if there was a tangible party line to toe, we haven't got any cash.

It's one of the things I like best about the Lib Dems - we prefer to debate and discuss openly and respect each other for doing so than "present a united front" while secretly hating each other behind closed doors.

MatGB said...
8 Aug 2008, 23:59:00

Not encountered astroturfing before Jo? It already happens over here—the BNP have a team (of we assume volunteers) doing it, and I've seen evidence of Tory and Labour teams doing it, the infamous Grant Shapps incident springs to mind.

I've not seen it being done so blatently before, and pretty sure it'll backfire horribly on him as it makes any pro-McCain comment now seem suspect, even though we knew they were already doing it.

But it's been going on for years, several forums I have at times frequented would get one or two members that regurgitate talking points constantly, does make for a dull conversation when you've both seen it and ripped it to shreds before though.

Stephen Glenn said...
9 Aug 2008, 16:35:00

The Gnats do their best to monopolise the medai boards here in Scotland we don't think they're all 'volunteers' either.

Hywel said...
9 Aug 2008, 17:13:00

I happen to know that we don't do anything as systematic as this. But compare these two postings and you wouldn't be so sure!


Jo Christie-Smith said...
12 Aug 2008, 10:15:00


I think there's a difference between paid help (and all political parties use paid help at some time or another whether it's on the telephone or piad deliveries) but this is something different.

To be honest I haven't come across obvious examples of astro-turfing in the just under 3 years that I've been surfing and writing in the blogophere...but perhaps I haven't been looking properly (or read too few sites to recognise the patterns).

However, my surprise with the McCain campaign hereis that firstly, they would be so obvious about it. It makes them out to look pretty cynical.

Secondly, it looks like me like they are trying to get activists to do something for money tht they should be doing for free/ out of conviction.

It looks pretty desperate to me like they're admitting that they can't get people to support them out of belief and they have to run a loyalty card scheme.

And thirdly, I question if it does in fact work. The guys that had commented on the original article linked to said that they hadn't noticed any change in patterns of comments or activity; my guess would be that's because people who go and comment on websites do so out of conviction and perhaps find it pretty offensive to be asked to toe a party line, however much they agree with it. It just doesn't fit with my idea of what most of us who float around the blogosphere on a regular basis are in it for.

PLus, sorry i took so long to respond, I'm often not sitting down long enough at the weekends and you would not believe the firewall at my clients and what it will and won't let me do. At the moment it is letting me read CiF articles but I can't see any of the comments, for example, it's hell!!

Jo Christie-Smith said...
12 Aug 2008, 10:17:00


I think that's something different. These guys are just using the model press releases that all parties will provide to their elected representatives and candidates to use. They are not going around and using the comment system on other people's blogs to put forward a party line.

Jo Christie-Smith said...
12 Aug 2008, 10:19:00


That's interesting. What's the response of the other bloggers and commenters - do they 'out' them?

Jennie said...
12 Aug 2008, 11:11:00

"To be honest I haven't come across obvious examples of astro-turfing in the just under 3 years that I've been surfing and writing in the blogophere..."

This is because our political parties tend to be a bit more subtle about it - if it's obvious, you're doing it wrong and it will backfire.

As for how other net denizens behave towards them... Same as any other troll, really. N00bs try and engage them and get frustrated. Cynical old hacks like me just ignore them.

sm said...
30 Oct 2008, 09:54:00

nice blog i like it

about mcain what you pointed

what i wanted to say its good what they do openly do it
not like india something in heart and something in mouth

see you later


sm said...
30 Oct 2008, 09:56:00


ple let me know how you manage to display comments to readers without clicking on .

nice idea i am trying to find that trick but

ty in advance


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