Never Blindly Trust an Online Recommendation
By Leo Notenboom
From: Billy Bob Macrium
Mr. Leo, your check is in the mail 🙂
I recently got that as a comment to my article How do I restore a backup to a smaller hard drive?. Presumably, the commenter believes that my reasons for recommending Macrium Reflect are somehow financially motivated and is trying to make some kind of snide remark to make his point.
(For the record, there are two completely separate reasons why the implication is wrong – more on that in a moment.)
I’ll admit that it irritated me. No one likes having their ethics questioned.
But as I cooled down just a little, I realized that while the comment’s delivery is quite immature, the concept hidden in the sarcasm is one worth understanding.
There are reasons you shouldn’t blindly accept recommendations that you find online.
Perhaps even those you find on Ask Leo!.
If I were to re-word the comment to be clearer and more respectful, I’d say this:
Leo, you must be getting some kind of kick-back or monetary incentive to promote Macrium Reflect as much as you do.
It’s a valid concern as there are indeed formal programs known as “affiliate programs” where individuals – almost anyone in fact – can receive a percentage of the purchase price if someone purchases a product after clicking on a link provided by the affiliate program member.
For example, when I link to a product on Amazon – say a Kindle Fire, as I have here – I use what’s called an affiliate link. If you click on that link, Amazon knows that it was my site that sent you to them. Should you buy the device (or, in Amazon’s case, almost anything else), I’ll get an affiliate commission or “finder’s fee” of something around 5%.
None of that affects the price you pay. If no affiliate link is used, then Amazon keeps the 5% for themselves.
Some, but not all, producers of digital goods often have affiliate programs of their own. Commissions run the range from the 5% range offered by stores like Amazon, to 20%, 40%, 50% or sometimes even more.
And it’s nothing new. Affiliate programs and affiliate marketing have been around for years and are considered a respectable approach to getting a product promoted by others. Chances are you’ve already purchased things via an affiliate link and never even known it.
This post is excerpted with permission from Leo Notenboom.
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