Swag Wank

As some of you are aware, last fall the FTC made rules requiring that bloggers disclose any freebies, or monetary payments they receive from companies for reviewing their products, all in the name of Blogger Transparency.  (I’ll note here that, as far as I know, no similar rules were passed regarding, say, magazine beauty editors, who I am pretty sure get tons of swag.  I suppose they’re all above reproach.)

Apparently each blog is supposed to have some sort of written guideline, so here’s mine, which by holy fiat is Ours, Governing All the Serfs and Fiefdoms of the Posse.  I thought I’d go ahead while I’m at it and spell out some of the things people have been curious about and issues I’ve seen raised elsewhere.

1) I receive less swag than you might imagine, possibly because perfume houses (or their distributors or PR people) view me as a snarky, unprofessional wackjob, despite the Posse’s substantial readership stats.  Life being what it is, much of what I receive is samples (and a few bottles) of scents that I wouldn’t wear if – hey! – you gave them to me.  I tend to foist those off quickly on whoever happens to be standing near me and breathing, thereby fulfilling my legal and spiritual obligation to spread those goodies out among the less fortunate — which my giftees are, as soon as they’re holding what I’ve given them.

2) I thought it went without saying, but apparently not, so I’ll say it: sending me a sample or a bottle of a fragrance does not guarantee that I’ll review it at all – or, if I do, that the review will be positive.  I review mostly fragrances that I like, and some that I hate.  The origin of the sample bears no relation to my review.  If you have trouble actually believing that – that I wouldn’t whore myself out for some free Estee Lauder (or, okay, even MDCI, or Amouage) then a) you haven’t seen my collection and b) you shouldn’t be reading this blog.

3) Perfume bloggers, amoral lot that we are, are now required to disclose in a review that we received swag from a house if – and only if – we get a bottle and elect to keep that bottle.  In other words, if we get a sample from a house, we don’t have to tell you.  If we get a bottle and we give away that bottle, we don’t have to tell you.  And so f’ing what if we got a bottle?  What the hell is this dumbass rule, anyway?  Hey, Fragrance Police – swing by my house and root through Ma Endless Collection while I see if I can come up with receipts for all my swaps and eBay purchases and presents from friends and Wetzel’s-pretzels-triggered mall discount fragrance runs!  How is this going to be enforced?  Are you serious?  I can barely remember whether I bought milk at the grocery store.

4) I have never received, nor have I been offered, a monetary payment from a perfumer or representative thereof, in exchange for a review (or for anything else.)  I think that whole topic is a myth, like Bigfoot.

5) If you are John or Jane Doe Perfumer, and you send me your lineup of samples of your beloved fragrances from your teeny tiny company, scents which (presumably) you’ve labored long and hard over, and I hate them – I probably won’t say a word about them on the blog.  I won’t say a word about them even if those samples are sent to me by a friend with a note that says, “Are these not the lamest, most pathetic things you have ever smelled?”  Ragging on scents from micro-companies makes me feel mean and petty.  I reserve my vicious reviews for scents from industry giants who, sensibly enough, couldn’t care less what I think.  I doubt Michael Kors cried himself to sleep when I pissed all over Very Hollywood.   I don’t think my endless whining about my hatred of Angel has negatively impacted sales one bit although, so help me God, I wish it would.

6) There has been some argument/discussion on the blogs and boards regarding the validity of disclosure of the source of perfume for each review for “transparency” purposes.  I find the source of my perfume samples irrelevant.  In fact, in terms of “transparency” as opposed to “purity,” I find the implication insulting, because clearly this means I’m not to be trusted to write an honest review if my 3ml sample came directly from Kenzo instead of Patty.

If we’re going to reframe the discussion of where I got my review product in terms of “purity” of those samples, a concept I understand, then my response would be, who knows?  I review samples and bottles of old stuff of dubious or unknown provenance all the time.  Should I review nothing I get from friends or decanters, or anything vintage, or from yard sales or thrift shops or eBay or anywhere other than directly from the golden hand of the manufacturer?  Because I can’t remember where I got them, or those samples or testers might be bad?  That would suck. I couldn’t review most of what I’ve smelled.  Further, that leads us in humorous Catch-22 fashion back to the freebie issue – wait, now I can only review swag?

I will not be noting the provenance of every bottle and sample I sniff for a review, unless I happen to mention it for other reasons (e.g., I was sniffing at Saks with Louise.)  I am too lazy and disorganized to catalog the tidal wave of samps I get and file away (mostly shares from folks like you!) and I have little idea how I wound up with 95% of the stuff I already own. SO TAKE EVERYTHING I WRITE WITH A GIANT GRAIN OF SALT.  You’re not supposed to be buying unsniffed anyway, right?  My sources (e.g., friends with a small stash of Doblis) wish to remain nameless.  I will only be revealing this information, as required by law, in a review if I got an entire bottle from a manufacturer, free, and decided to keep it.

7) While I’m on a roll – am I saying that perfumers/distributors who send me bottles or samples for potential review get nothing out of it at all? No, of course not.  They get something: they get the possibility that if I smell their scent I might want to review it.  It seems pretty straightforward to me.   It’s not called bribery, it’s called good business sense, and there’s nothing nefarious about it, I swear.

Because if I haven’t smelled the new Andy Tauer scent, the chances I’ll review it are zero, yes?  (Correct answer: yes.)  It’s why people make samples and have testers and do demos in the first place.  So, manufacturers of harder-to-find scents (things I can’t simply go sniff at Saks or Nordstrom) who send me samples are more likely to find their scents reviewed than if they didn’t because, awesome as I am, I still can’t use the psychic powers of my Magic Womb to know whether I like a perfume.  I have to smell it first.

8 ) I have seen suspicions raised elsewhere when commenters see several perfume bloggers write about a new release at more or less the same time; are we being paid to shill?

If several bloggers do these reviews simultaneously, it is not some Vast Perfume Conspiracy.  It’s because the scent (or line of scents) is new and (theoretically) good and/or interesting enough to write about, and we thought that, you know, one point of having a perfume blog is to review new stuff occasionally.  This happened most recently, off the top of my head, with the Van Cleef & Arpels, the Cartiers, and the Maison Francis Kurkdjians. (Honestly, when a new movie comes out and these folks read three reviews of it, do they think the reviewers are colluding?)

In the case of harder to find scents or things that haven’t been released in the US yet, we might have gotten advance samples from the house/distributor, or some of us got samples and we shared, which we do – bloggers do a fair amount of informal swapping.  Also we have Overseas Friends who might, for instance, forward something from France that isn’t here yet.  Again, if we all blogged on it, it’s because we liked it or we thought you’d be interested.  If anyone’s being paid to write anything, I don’t know about it.  And the idea seems silly to me, I’ll say it again.  I’m sure I’ve been responsible for more than one blind buy because you thought UFO sounded good in my review, but not enough for Kenzo to bribe me.

9) One final note I’m adding at the last minute as I just realized it, but it’s both embarrassing and true, so here it is: I often don’t mention a perfumer as a source because, to my thoroughly middle-class American soul, it feels like bragging.  Like, if I wrote, “Andy Tauer sent me a sample of his new perfume called X which is scheduled to be released next month,” to me it’s as if I typed, “So, Andy and I were chatting via email the other day, because we’re such buddies, and he said, ‘March, darling, denizen of the famed Perfume Posse blog, I adore you so much I’m going to send you a preview sample of X because you’re so special.'”  (I’m picking on Andy for my hypothetical because he really does seem like a nice guy and I don’t think he’ll mind and he does, in fact, occasionally send me samples.)  Anyway, it makes me uncomfortable to mention it – and that’s my problem, not theirs (or yours.)   After all, the Annick Goutal U.S. distributor no doubt sent me Ninfeo Mio because they hoped I’d like it enough to review it, which I did.   Seriously, how much do you folks care if my source is the house/distributor?  That’s an honest question.

I’m going to strap on my seatbelt, pour myself a glass of champagne and take a chill pill and open up this topic to questions and general discussion.  For anyone who read this far, thanks for your patience.

  • Christen says:

    Oh, March you are a gem! I love the thought you put into this post, and your candor, too. In the years I have been reading the Posse, I do feel as if I’ve gotten to know you – and Patty and Lee, and all – to be people of integrity. I can still remember your lovely post about picking a party dress for your daughter, and Lee’s sweet post one Thanksgiving, and Patty’s post requesting feedback on her yoga bootcamp. Although perfume is the obvious common thread on the Posse, it’s the humanity that keeps me reading.

    I truly believe people who take the risk of opening their hearts to the blogosphere aren’t likely to be corporate shills…at any price. (Not even for blue platform gladiator sandals! Or the perfect red lipstick!)

    Best,

    Christen

  • Brian says:

    I feel like I’m reading Dorothy Parker. You know, this new regulation baffles me as a blogger too. I really wish I got more stuff for free. And generally, if we’re talking and you’re offering it’s usually because I love your stuff and have reviewed it before–because I love it. Does this mean I’ll love everything you do or send me? No. It doesn’t mean I’ll trash it either. I’ve asked a lot of bloggers over the past few days why they do this–it’s a lot of work for most of us–and several have mentioned, essentially, enthusiasm. A lot of us don’t write tons of bad reviews not because we’re biased but because we’re enthusiasts, and love perfume, and aren’t too interested in expending a lot of energy on something we’re just not that into. I love hearing what other bloggers have to say, as well. I like the sound of intelligent, interesting people discussing perfume. It matters little to me how they got what they’re discussing, unless I want some and I’m jealous, in which case I get a grip. I’m interested in this conversation happening, basically, and it sways me not the least in terms of my buying habits (unfortunately), as even a bad review might inspire me to go out and spend, and lord knows I often very much like what a reviewer is busy being unmoved by. It seems pathetic to me. Everything is changing–the way information is disseminated, the way opinion is swayed. Corporations and regulations are so desperate to contain this all in a way they can continue to imagine themselves sovereign. It’s like a guy in a bad toupee, and we all have to play along, pretending it looks like real hair.

  • maidenbliss says:

    March, I thought a little comic relief was in order so here’s a quote I read today on
    AbdesSalaam Attar’s blog, compliments of Luca Turin: “There is a new perfume called Scarlet, it is so ugly that I prefer to have tooth ache rather than smelling it”

  • Nancy says:

    Hi March!

    This is probably a case of better never than late, but since when has that stopped me from metaphorically opening my big mouth?

    The FTC regs were intended to address the real problem of phony endorsements and pay-for-play. Unfortunately, the regulations turned out to be a very blunt instrument. As you and the commenters note, their over-broad application leads to some absurd results.

    You may have the seeds of a solution here. It’s never too late to revise regulations. I read through the FTC’s summary of its rule making (yeah, I know. Shoot me now) and saw that the FTC considered, but rejected, having a threshold value for triggering disclosure requirements. Perhaps interested folks could suggest a review of that decision.

    The way that I read the regulations, it looks like no disclosure is required if you give the product a bad review. That strikes me as interesting.

    Should someone want to drop a note to the FTC, the address is:
    Federal Trade Commission
    Division of Advertising Practices
    Bureau of Consumer Protection
    Washington D.C. 20580

    P.S. I do like knowing the provenance of a review sample for the same reasons noted above.

    • Scent HIve says:

      That is fascinating!

      “The way that I read the regulations, it looks like no disclosure is required if you give the product a bad review. That strikes me as interesting.”

  • Tommasina says:

    As an English woman, I was completely boggled to see the title of this, and thus learned a new word usage today. Not sure I’ll be using it, mind: the W-word (as a verb) was apparently – uh – ranked the 4th most offensive in (British) English.

  • tmp00 says:

    Well, I’m late to the party but I’ll chime in.

    I find it interesting that say, Gwinnie Paltrow doesn’t have to disclose that she was comped her dinner at Mozza or her stay at the SLS on HER blog (because according to the judge, we’re expected to know that freebies rain down on Celebs) but if I disclose exactly what gift with purchase my bottle of Love’s Lustbat Lightly came from the blogger police are going to show up and put me away.

    I didn’t realise that it’s just FB though. Since I’ve started adding “I walked into ScentBar and asked for a sample” so much I can practically type it in the dark I guess I’ll just keep it up..

    • eggomania says:

      I wish celebs were under the same umbrella re:blogs/freebies/disclosure though. I bet that would put a grinding halt to blogs like GOOP – then the world wouldn’t be subject to Gwynnie et al singing the praises of non-toxic dolls knit in 4th world countries by orphan llamas or ‘fab’ month long colon cleansing detoxes where your only sustenance is juiced berries picked by virgins in rainforests solely supported by Sting’s sense of self-importance, air and your overblown smugness :d

  • carter says:

    I guess what strikes me most about a lot of these responses is how many of them take on the issue of the rules as a personal affront; as if their own personal standards and experiences in perfume collecting and blogging are the same as those of everyone else. Just because March has integrity, it doesn’t mean that everyone does. Just because you don’t buy fragrances based on internet reviews, doesn’t mean that others don’t heavily rely on the internet for information when making purchases.

    All it is a simple disclosure policy we’re talking about here, and I don’t quite understand the ruckus, particularly since there is no enforcement likely, which basically means that these “rules” are nothing more than a set of guidelines which each blogger can choose to adopt or not. It doesn’t have anything to do with protecting readers from themselves, it has to do with providing information for them to use as they see fit.

    If you, as a reader, don’t care or don’t need to know where the ‘fumes under review come from, that’s fine; skip on over that part if and when it is posted. And March, if you as a blog writer who happens to be fully aware that there will be no penalty imposed if you choose not to disclose your sources in all cases — even in the most generic of terms — well, it seems to me that there’s little here to get all worked up about. Just don’t do it, or handle it however you choose.

    But the personal umbrage is lost on me. (Insert Question Mark Man here.)

  • Vasily says:

    I don’t really have time at the moment to read nearly 200 replies, but here’s my two cents/pence/whatever worth.

    I read perfume reviews and comments for the same reason I read movie or book reviews: to help me make an informed decision about trying a perfume (or watching a movie, or reading a book). The only times I’ve purchased a full bottle based on comments somewhere it’s most often been a disaster. As a consequence, I take everything written about a product with a grain of salt … and try before I buy.

    I’m interested in provenance only in general terms: if there’s a pattern in the quality of bottles or samples or decants from a given source, I’d like to know about it. What I don’t care about is knowing that person X got sample of Y from Z since every source can have off-days.

    My buying process is: read what people have said (particularly those whose tastes have matched mine in the past) … take all comments with a grain of salt (particularly those from sites like Basenotes written by folks with names like GothGirlzRule and that start, “this isn’t kewl and smells like old ladyz” or “I’m giving this one star because person X charges too much for his/her perfumes”) … if it sounds like the frag might meet my stringent criteria get a sample … if the sample pleases, try a decant … and only then buy a full bottle. Even then, I sometimes find I later regret my decision.

    The choice of fragrances one places on one’s body is such a personal thing, and connected in such an intimate way with our own personal histories, that it behooves all of us to ultimately train and trust our own noses. If we purchase something recommended on a blog and then find we don’t like it, it is as Melanie says our problem. I visit this blog daily to see what people have to say because there’s real passion about fragrances … and paraphrasing poet John Berryman’s advice to W.S. Merwin, passion in fragrances as in poetry forgives everything.

  • tammy says:

    I had to come back to this because despite your hysterically funny post, this entire issue p*sses me the h*ll right off.

    I WISH you got paid big bucks and mega-swag for reviews. I could not care less if you got a thousand dollars a gig, and lifetime supply of every bit of juice you reviewed….it’s still MY decision to buy or not. And I would know, I have bought some najor scrubbers, unsniffed, on recommendations from blogs….and I am fine with that, and will continue to do so.

    Melanie, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    We are in the biggest Nanny-State in the entire world.

    Unbelievable that y’all are being subjected to such absurd standards. Pity politicians aren’t held to the same.

    Rant over, please don’t change anything you do!

    • Melanie says:

      That’s just what I mean, thanks. If someone buys a perfume based strictly on reviews, that’s their decision. How the reviewer got it won’t change the smell.

      I still get aggravated that certain ingredients that made many vintage perfumes the glorious things they are, are now verboten. I feel fully capable of deciding whether or not to buy something to which I may have a reaction, and take responsibility for it (easy for me to say, I’ve never been allergic in my life). Normally I couldn’t care less about chemical compositions, but knowing that Nombre Noir’s glory comes partly from something called “damascones” has made me seek other vintage perfumes containing them, LOL. Same with oakmoss, I’m fascinated by it. Irrational, I know 🙂

      • carter says:

        That’s why there’s an argument to be made for a simple disclosure on the bottle rather than a ban of the fragrance. Would you object to a perfumer being required to state that the fragrance contains certain ingredients that have the potential to cause a severe reaction in some individuals instead of being required to omit them altogether? In other words, providing information that helps the consumer know whether or not they might be allergic, while still permitting freedom of choice to the public?

    • carter says:

      No, that would be China, or perhaps Iran. The biggest Nanny State, that is.

  • I’m not an American, and I don’t blog from the USA, so I don’t feel particularly constrained/concerned by these regulations.

    I did work in several magazines, and know for a fact that cosmetics are always sent to beauty editors when they are launched. None of what they write about, or have pictures taken of, is paid for. When I was chief editor, once the piece had been written, or the pictures shot, and the beauty editors had skimmed off what they wanted to keep/sell/give to their friends, the whole team would plunder the rest.
    None of that is being questioned by the FTC, is it?

    I don’t intend to blog about the matter, but it doesn’t bother me at all to say that I get samples, mostly in 15 ml plain lab bottles, directly from the perfumers themselves, though I also review a lot of things I sample at the counter, or get/buy samples of. I’m also starting to get invited to launches. And? I’ve been going to launches all my professional life. I’m not going to bowl over frothing at the mouth because I’ve had a little champagne. There’s someone in my life who can buy me champagne on a fairly regular basis.

    I live in Paris. I’d be a fool no to take the opportunity to pop into perfumers’ labs for a chat: I love perfume. I want to learn more about it. I meet the people whose work I’ve already reviewed, the ones I admire, so by the time we hunker over coffee, the damage is already done.

    I don’t think any of them would actually waste time with me just to get me to fawn, not the people I know. (Or else I don’t know about people: a distinct possibility.)
    Actually, most of the time I bring *them* samples, new or vintage, from my own stash: most of them have to be dragged screaming into Sephora’s, they don’t have much time to seek out other people’s work and they don’t trawl eBay. They live in their labs.

    When I was a journalist, I often met and interviewed the musicians/artists/directors/designers whose work I reviewed. That was called going to the source and getting the facts.
    Perfumers are the ones who know the facts about their work, so we talk.
    Getting samples is also a way of getting, and passing on information, the most important one: what the stuff actually smells like.

    To me, the whole issue is a non-starter. Oh, and no one has ever offered to pay me.

    Hey, I have written a post after all, haven’t I?

    • Rappleyea says:

      Can I have your life in my next life? 😉

    • March says:

      Denyse, what a refreshingly different point of view regarding bloggers and responsibilities. I enjoyed it.

      • March, what other responsibilities do we have except providing an interesting, reasonably informative and hopefully entertaining and pleasant read?
        It’s not as though we were writing about politics, the law, human rights or the environment — however much we love perfume, it’s just perfume, not a major issue on which voters can take action, so I don’t feel impelled to stake out a high moral ground.
        The people who read our blogs are sophisticated and discerning enough to decide by themselves whether what they read should guide their noses… and purchases, just by going on the quality of the writing, and how it speaks to them.

        Re: sources, I agree that when vintage perfumes are concerned, they should be mentioned when possible — and even then, every bottle has had a different life. But vintage collectors know that and we take our chances.

  • Melanie says:

    Just more nanny-state mentality. Even if a blogger is shilling (never crossed my mind that anyone at PP would, just from the nature of a lot of the perfumes which are reviewed), the onus is still on supposedly grown people to decide if they want to purchase something, and on what basis. Especially something as subjective as perfume. I don’t know why, but this makes me think of Luca Turin mentioning his love of Nombre Noir (a discontinued and almost impossible to acquire perfume), and it suddenly becoming a hot ticket perfume amongst perfumistas. I know I wanted some, bottle unsniffed.

    Apparently, grown people aren’t to be trusted to decide to buy a perfume no matter why they decide to buy it. You might buy it because you would love it in a blind smell test, or because it’s the latest thing being touted, or because your great great grandmother wore it. None of those factors change no matter how the reviewer acquired it. Anyone who would buy a perfume strictly because someone gave it a good review and for no other reason, that’s on them. How the reviewer got it wouldn’t change anything.

    • Robin R. says:

      I suspect it’s not the blog readers who aren’t trusted, Melanie. The regulations are intended to put the reins on the bloggers. The onus is actually on them, and there’s good reason and substantial precedent for it. It’s a decent principle, even if it’s clumsy and unevenly applied, as it seems to be.

      There’s an interesting entry in Wikipedia on shilling that is quite enlightening:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shill

  • rosarita says:

    Oh, March, what a wonderfully entertaining, well written post. Again. Love you, love the Posse, love the fabulous comments written here, but I especially love the perfumes I’ve learned about by reading the opinions here – really, isn’t that the point? Hugs to all – 😡

  • janh says:

    Perfume blogs seem to me to be honest lovers of perfume. ON the other hand, there is a writer in my local paper( AZ Republic) who mentions the same stores over and over and over. Methinks she is on the take or at least on the freebies.

  • Meliscents says:

    I do like to know if something is new or vintage, but that’s about as far as it goes. And that info is so I don’t run out to purchase, oh I don’t know, the new Diorissimo based on how gorgeous it is when the review was on the vintage, pre-formulated version. How sad would that be?:(( I’ve not come across a Perfume Blog that ever gave me the impression that they were getting rich off of doing paid reviews. If they were, wouldn’t most of the reviews be positive? All I know is that I want business cards printed up that say “snarky, unprofessional wackjob & expert seer compliments of my Magic Womb”.
    Come on, how freakin funny would that be? Oh the looks on people’s faces would be priceless!!!=)) Gosh, I love this site!!!^:)^

    • mals86 says:

      Free business cards at Vistaprint (not affiliated, etc., just a customer) here:
      http://www.vistaprint.com

      Do it do it do it!! And then send me one…

      MY Magic Womb only allows me to find things like misplaced homework and mustard bottles.

    • March says:

      The bloggers I know and talk to each have very different styles, but none of their blogs gives me the impression that they’re getting kickbacks.

  • Mary says:

    March, thank you so much for the interesting post. I love reading Perfume Posse, which I discovered due to references on PerfumeShrine. I will freely admit, I am influenced by what I read on these two blogs. I work full time, I have children, a garden, a dog that needs to be walked, a high maintenance husband, and so on. 🙂 I do not have time to go into town to smell perfumes– although I have always loved fragrance. Discovering your blogs, then other sources of perfume writing, then discovering ebay and perfumed court, have all given me an avenue to explore and enjoy fragrance– which has added a very special and pleasurable dimension to my life. When I read about the same fragrance on several blogs, I assume someone has done a sample mailing. I am assuming that for the Posse and the Shrine, at least, you all have enough perfume and access to perfume that a free sample will not affect your opinions. March, I am so glad that you don’t bash the small perfumers. :)>- I agree with your decision– they are entitled to find their audience, and if we are interested in perfume as an art form, it is counter-productive to shout down people who are out there making the art in a small way–even if their offerings are not interesting to you on a given day. For my part, I assume that people’s opinions are subject to influence– whether due to charm, or being wined and dined, offered “insider access” or conversely, rudeness,stubborn refusal of access and so on. At this point, I have read enough perfume criticism to think that some of the negative reviews I have read are influenced by personality or other factors– not strictly a fair assessment of the juice in the bottle. But that is not here at Perfume Posse, or at Perfume Shrine, or any of the other blogs, for that matter. You do a wonderful job –if you put in a small mention of how a sample came your way, that’s fine– if you don’t, I for one assume someone gave it to you– and if it is a brand new fragrance, I assume you got it from a perfumer who is hoping you will write about what you think.

    • March says:

      Thanks for your thoughts. Early on I bashed a couple of small perfume houses, and I’ve always regretted it — not because anything happened, but because I felt terrible about it later. Mostly I’d like this to be a lively place where we meet some interesting fragrances. @};-

      • Robin R. says:

        I was a restaurant critic for a Vancouver newspaper for many years and once, early on in my career, I really hung a struggling mom-and-pop place out to dry. I still feel bad about it. It was like kicking sand in the face of that 97-pound weakling of a diner. They closed soon after (probably nothing to do with me) and I’m sure they had a heckuva time feeding their kids for awhile until they got on their feet again. They were under-financed and inexperienced. They didn’t deserve that kind of bashing. Never did it again. Truly chagrinned, after all these years. x( (I hope that is the emoticon of abject embarrassment.)

  • Annelie says:

    I assume this new rules are of concern for US bloggers only? At least I haven´t got contacted by somebody that told me to follow these rules, but I think it´s a strange rule though… And not really fair either, almost 50% of the readers on my “English” blog are from the US.

  • Aparatchick says:

    BTW, has anyone read Gaia’s blog today? Here’s an interesting topic – blogs are now regulated, but forums are still the wild, wild west with people (or two-faced costmetic companies masquerading as consumers as the case may be) posting whatever they please.

    http://thenonblonde.blogspot.com/

    • March says:

      Haha. Now THERE’s a topic. Since people can pretend to be whoever they want, and it’s totally unregulated, I pretty much don’t read anything on the boards that would guide a purchasing decision.

  • Aparatchick says:

    Oddly enough, when a member of the Posse writes about something that sounds wonderful, I don’t immediately think “Must.buy.bottle.” No, I think: “I wonder where I can sample this?” So even a great review (from ANY source), even if it was a paid-swag-informercial-post would be unsuccessful in getting me to buy something I Don’t Like. 😮

    When I first heard about this a few weeks back, I thought it was ridiculous to impose this kind of regulation on blogs, yet leave magazines free to accept whatever they please without any similar requirement to disclose. I still think so.

    Rock on, March.

  • Robin R. says:

    I can see all sides of this debate, and I can see merit in most of them.

    I’m kind of opinionless, I think because I’m just totally and irredeemably self-centered. All I care about is me, me, me. The only blogs I read are perfume blogs, and over the last few years I’ve kicked a few to the curb – the ones that sound like advertorials, and I could care less why: whether they’re getting swag, kickbags, or whether they’re just got codependency issues — and hung around the ones with the pithy reviews and an abundance of smarts, chutzpah, kindness, wit and yes, integrity.

    That’s a gut thing, the last one. Either you’ve got integrity, regulations or no regulations, or you don’t. And, like so many others have pointed out already, We Can Just Tell. We really can. Actually, it’s pretty damn obvious.

    Either that, or you and the rest of the Posse and Denyse and Robin/Angela/Kevin are sociopaths, and we’ve all been very adroitly fooled. (Whoah. That would be heavy. Say it ain’t so, March. :-ss )

    • Robin R. says:

      Oops. “Kickbacks.” Although kickbags is kind of interesting. *-:)

      • March says:

        A kickbag is a bag full of freebies, right?

        You hit on something that it’s hard for me to articulate — yes, I suppose I just have “enthusiastic amateur” written all over me to the degree that I always assumed other people would assume that, if nothing ELSE, at least I’m being HONEST. And I have no direct knowledge of any other blogger that I know doing anything unscrupulous in terms of being swayed by a perfume company.

        • Robin R. says:

          Correct assumption, March. We assume you’re being ruthlessly honest.

          If nothing else.

          😉

          P.S. Pet peeve: the emoticons always freeze after a few seconds so I can never tell what the hell most of those little buggers are actually doing. Which makes it hard to give you the exact right emotic. Like this @-)

          • March says:

            Some times the emoticons move … sometimes they don’t. The Zen of Emoticon? Like, finger-tapping guy always moves. But the alien only morphs on Tuesdays during the full moon.

    • Nava says:

      I can only speak for myself on the matter of whether or not we are sociopaths, and I will plead the 5th. I’m still an American, but I may have to drive to the middle of the Peace Bridge and shout that declaration towards downtown Buffalo. What does your gut tell you? :d

      • Robin R. says:

        That you may not be a sociopath, but you might be a little bit crazy.

        And don’t change a thing.

        (P.S. I’m from Vancouver, B.C., just a stone’s throw — by Canadian standards — from T.O.):x

  • sybil says:

    Hey, I don’t give a rat’s ass if where you source your review samples from, although I’m relieved to find you don’t get big heaps of money to review stuff. (saves me the pressure of starting my own blog to get some of that $$$!) Just keep doing what you do, it’s great!

    • March says:

      Uh …. definitely don’t start your own blog for the money. That’d be my advice based on personal experience. 🙂

  • Nava says:

    Ok, I’ll jump into the fray by saying that I don’t get any freebies, samples, promotional bottles, etc., from ANYONE. My research is on my own time, and my purchases are made with my own dough.

    I came to the Posse almost two years ago when I read that Lee had decided to take a break from regular posting. As an avid reader of the perfume blogs, here and NST have always been my faves. I write about perfume because I LOVE perfume; not because I want to be buried alive in swag from beauty/fragrance companies. I surfed over to the link Robin provided above of Jean Godfrey-June and her stash. I’ve never liked JGJ because her writing always sounds like she’s shilling. Hey – that’s her job, so good luck to her. But, at the same time, you’d have to be a real dolt not to know that all the ravings in Allure (particularly the October issue) are a result of industry swag. It’s the nature of that beast, certainly, and part of the reason why I didn’t pursue a journalism degree at this stage of my life. I did not want to sacrifice MY personal integrity.

    Years ago, it was my dream to obtain a journalism degree and become a beauty writer. I’m glad I didn’t. The industry has changed so drastically, and not for the better. That’s all I’m going to say about that, but what I do want to communicate is that I am so completely honored that March and Patty allow me the opportunity to post my musings about life, perfume and all that goes along with it. It comes from the heart, and from every drawer, nook and cranny of my life. If I have to start footnoting myself, so be it; I got big feets that I stand on. So there, eh? :d

    • old crone who LOVES Perfume Posse says:

      See, here is something I want to say to the FTC : “Do you think I am so dumb as not to be able to tell the difference between a sincere blog and a blog who is basically an infomercial?”

      I love your writing, Nava. FTC is making things too much of a hassle for the good people.

      • Nava says:

        Thanks. 🙂

      • Winifreida says:

        Ah crone, that’s the trouble…the vast masses ARE too dumb to not be totally swayed by advertising, that’s why the ad. industry is so HUGE, and consumerism is the true religion of most of the world.
        But its funny to think the internet has become a sort of runaway force that big business is paranoid-ly (non-word I’m sure) trying to tame/subjugate (witness France ebay etc).
        And it would be such a damn shame if bloggers gradually fell under the same spell as the adverzines did decades ago (but then I may never have discovered Mitsouko if some editor at Vogue Australia hadn’t scored a freebie thirty years ago – I still remember the trek to the Big Smoke department store from out in the bush to smell this wonder!)

    • March says:

      And we love you too!

      The magazine stuff I take with a huge grain of salt because I think they have relationships with merchandisers that are … complicated and I don’t fully understand them. Also it’s the cult of the new — like those stupid vibrating mascaras.

      • Nava says:

        So, would that be “payola” in beauty product-terms, similar to how DJs used to get money under the table for playing certain songs?

        I don’t quite get it either, but maybe it’s the same as regular TV vs. HBO. The kowtow factor is non-existent for HBO because it is a subscriber-based “service”. It’s not like Allure, Vogue, et.al. are going to go to press without a whack of adverts, even if they do charge for subscriptions. I was actually glad this year when I saw that the September issue of Vogue was about 300 pages smaller than last year. That issue is the pinnacle of ridiculousness in that industry.

        I agree about the vibrating mascaras. I have enough trouble mascara-ing myself with the old-fashioned kind. But, I will admit to being intrigued by Lancome’s vibrating powder foundation. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m planning to.

  • old crone who LOVES Perfume Posse says:

    I have to add my own little two cents to the comments, I felt it’s time:

    I LOVE reading Perfume Posse. I check in every day, and it makes my day!

    All of you are good, descriptive, warm, humourous writers, and very knowlegeable about my favorite subject:perfume.

    You even made me lol on this tough subject!…”psychic powers of my Magic Womb.” 🙂

    • old crone who LOVES Perfume Posse says:

      P.S. I don’t know how that first ‘smiley face with the tongue sicking out” got there in place of the “p” in perfume. Also,love the tags on this post!

      Love, old crone :d

      • March says:

        Oh, the emoticons do their own things sometimes. Don’t take it personally, I certainly don’t.

        The Magic Womb I stole from a friend who I am pretty sure told me it’s part of a comedy routine by someone else.

  • Shelley says:

    (Adopting lotus pose and deep breathing before speaking in Nearly Annoying Calm Voice):

    Let’s see.
    A question of personal integrity has been waved like a red flag, and dander has been (understandably) raised.
    It has been recognized (in the response to Monkeytoe) that somewhere, somehow, someone is supposed to be noting the line between ” ‘getting the word out’ and being in someone’s pocket.”

    Additionally, we are recognizing that some bloggers have questionable swag arrangements, which they might feel is reasonable, or even “fair” –after all, they put effort in, why shouldn’t they get some reward? To me, they are clearly suffering some confusion between being a “shill” and being “compensated.” And something should be done to call them out. Some sort of code of ethics is reasonable. The question is/will be how.

    Blog land is in the midst of mutable boundaries, further complicated by the implosion of traditional media. There’s a whole treatise to be explored there, and I’m already running long in a comment. But I’d like to say this: YOU, March, have always clearly spoken your mind and stuck to your guns. There are, however, a host of less scrupulous bloggers out there who probably do need made clear to them what will and will not be tolerated. It is the attempt to legislate that is, as usual, messy and potentially offensive. And might end up being as silly as attempting to define pornography.

    I get your mad. I love hearing you talk about it, because, as usual, you are pointed, witty, and a joy to behold. Only good things can come from this open dialogue. :)>-

    • March says:

      As you could probably tell, this post was a place for me to raise a number of issues relating to blogger transparency that don’t relate directly to the FTC ruling, but I thought my perspective on it might be useful. Sometimes when I read things (like people wondering about blogger collusion) and I don’t say anything, I feel like I’m leaving that accusation unchallenged. So it all went into this post.

      I still don’t see how these regs are enforceable.

  • Mindy says:

    It never occurred to me that I should be concerned with where you get your stash, but then I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. Having mulled it over for awhile I’ve come to the conclusion that I couldn’t care less where you get it. Hope you feel better for venting.

    • March says:

      Well, mostly I feel better having had this discussion. And seeing what people are interested in, and how their thinking goes. Because the way I look at things isn’t necessarily universal. I do think I’ll try to come up with a simple source notation that gives some info and doesn’t drive me nuts.

  • CynthiaW says:

    I don’t have anything to add to this, except – I adore you and you frequently make me laugh. And, yes, sometimes I try something because of this blog and I like and buy it. And sometimes I try something because of this blog and I hate it, want to saw my arm off and curse your names.

    Plus, I think that it’s blatantly obvious that if you were being paid to shill, we’d see a lot more reviews of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears scents and a lot fewer of limited edition, export only or vintage scents. Anyone who thinks otherwise probably ought to put his or her tin foil hat back on and start taking his or her meds again.

    • March says:

      Somehow I am totally not on the radar for mass-market scents; I get none of that. And mostly that’s fine, I’ll never want to review them anyway. I do, every now and again, go by Macy’s and smell the new Britney or JLo or whatever if I’ve read something interesting about it.

  • Olfacta says:

    It’s amazing how many people I know thought I started writing my blog so I’d get free 100 ml bottles of perfume from the big companies. Hah! As if.

    Those days are over in most businesses anyway, or hasn’t anyone heard? Even big media companies are supposed to account for every ticket and crumb of schwag they give away. Everybody knows that the beauty mags are really just advertorial. They have lawyers, though. We don’t.

    • March says:

      If people knew precisely what I got in the way of freebies, mostly I think they’d laugh. And not at my good fortune.

  • Robin says:

    Great rant!

    Just want to point out (not for you because we’ve had this conversation, but for anyone else who might not know) that the FTC never said you don’t have to disclose small samples, or that you don’t have to disclose full-sized products if you don’t keep them. All they’ve said is that you must disclose “material connections” with a brand — whether via cash or “in kind” — when you blog on that brand’s products. IMHO, since small samples have no official retail value and there’s no material connection if you don’t keep the bottle, it works out to the same thing, but the FTC has not been clear on how the policy will work in specific situations…probably because they don’t care, this not being the sort of thing they’re planning to spend their resources on.

    • Robin says:

      And must add this great picture:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/13/fashion/thursdaystyles/13skin.html

      That’s what my desk looks like too. Ha.

      • March says:

        That’s hilarious.

      • Rappleyea says:

        Wow! Thanks for the link, Robin. I just read the article and color me incredibly naive (how could I be?? I’m in the Thoroughbred industry!) as I had no idea that the real swag was so big and so pervasive. 😮

    • March says:

      Robin, thanks, I was hoping you’d drop by and chime in with the more technical details. As you know, it’s the implication that I’d be in someone’s pocket if they sent me free product that galls me. And I too don’t see how this could be enforced, at least in our level of blogging.

      • Robin says:

        That isn’t really the part that galls me…the part that galls me is that bloggers are held to a different standard than the mainstream media. There is an assumption on the part of the FTC that guidelines in the mainstream media prevent writers from keeping products they write about, but that simply isn’t true w/ the beauty magazines.

        • March says:

          Agree with you 100%. I’m under the impression that they get tons of swag, and that nobody’s paying much attention to what happens to it.

          • No, actually they do get paid attention to! People have been laid off for selling stuff of the companies they “work with” on Ebay. A prominent beauty blogger had lost her job when it was found out she was pushing product. She then capitalised the experience into non-fiction: That’s corporate America to you 😉

            BTW, Robin has a good point about the non-retail value of mere samples.

        • Erin T says:

          While I have sympathy with the “Transparency Matters” argument, I guess this is why I also find it a little funny. There seems to be this undercurrent in some of the discussions on this topic that some people feel rules or “industry regulations” give a gloss of legitimacy to blog journalism. Considering how debased the coinage of the traditional media is in some quarters, and how ethical and professional most of the major perfume bloggers are, I find it a bit comical that there is still this yearning for the gloss. I read Posse and NST for the same reason I read The Economist: siginificant knowledge about a subject, well-presented, and a consistency of tone over the years.

          I’m interested on what you think about interviewing, March. It’s the only part of the perfume blogging issue that gives me pause. I love to read interviews with perfumers, but I can’t help but notice it seems to spawn some positive or unusually lenient reviews from interviewers. I can understand a number of reasons why that would be the case, and think I would have a hard time avoiding “industry bias” myself, so it makes me uncomfortable. What says you?

          • March says:

            I think I’ve done one (two?) And the DSH one was in part because I like her scents so much but find her site so confusing, and she was contemplating getting rid of some scents and streamlining. So I in essence gave her the blog one day (I wrote the post) to ask these questions and talk about a few of her scents. But in that case I feel like it was so obviously service oriented (DSH fans — what do you think?) I didn’t feel funny about it.

            I think interviews are cool, and I think I’d be terrible at it. All my questions are either trite or weird.

          • Erin T says:

            I think you’d be great at it, btw, if you didn’t feel funny doing them, but I’m glad they are not a regular feature here or at NST (where Robin no longer posts them). I like reading interviews, too, no doubt – how’s that for hypocrisy?!? – but well-formulated, theory-based questions make me feel no better about the subsequent objectivity of the interviewer when it comes to reviews of that perfumer’s work. The answer, of course, is just not to read those reviews, which I suppose I will do, from now on. End of grouse! 🙂

          • Rappleyea says:

            I loved the DSH interview and the descriptions of her scents. Other bloggers have raved about them as well (I’m looking at you Carol). Based on the reviews, I’ve tried several and though none of them have really worked for me, I certainly don’t regret trying them. The fun is in the journey so to speak.

          • maidenbliss says:

            March, I’m glad you brought up the fact of DSH’s site being confusing. I’ve bought a lot of her samples but it isn’t fun slogging through the site-I’ll read your interview w her now. Au contraire as far as you interviewing–your originality would be refreshing.

    • Scent HIve says:

      Honestly, I find these regulations very confusing! I’m just going to continue disclosing when I get something from a PR rep or the company and then weave into the post if I bought something or was gifted it by a friend as best I can.

      ~Trish

    • carter says:

      Exactly.

  • Best. Deconstruction. Ever.

    Bravo! Please teach me to develop my bloggers balls so one day they might be as big as yours. 🙂

    • Also, the one good thing that I thought came from the FCC ruling – disclosing where we got the samples means you at LEAST know we smelled it before bloviating on about it, right??? You wouldn’t want us to write about it if we hadn’t. 😉

    • March says:

      Eh. You know what? I don’t care. I mean, I care about what commenters say, but I’m not doing this for anyone but me and the readers. So it’s easy in this venue for me to shrug my shoulders.

      • Yup, I often wonder if maybe I should just start my own blog so I don’t have to really be concerned about whether pissing people off affects my “syndication” so to speak.

  • donanicola says:

    Hasn’t this issue been raised before? I’m not complaining that it is being raised now, just am sorry that you felt the need to get this off your chest, March, as it clearly narked you. It has made me think about my reactions to reviews though. I’ve never worried about where you’ve got your material from and I know that if it’s relevant (like pre reform stuff) you will say so but seriously I trust you and all perfume bloggers because blogs are personal in a way that writing for magazines etc isn’t. And now I’m seriously worried about myself because I’m obsessed with that Chanel mushroom sh*t colour nail varnish which I saw glowingly reviewed in a sunday magazine……….

    • March says:

      The issue has been raised before, but not really kicked around on here, and (my bitchiness aside) I am enjoying reading these responses, and I do have to craft some sort of playbook. And this is part of my messy, organic process.

      The legislation I find annoying/unenforceable. It was some of the other stuff I’ve read in the past (like the multi-review conspiracy) that I thought I’d address at the same time.

  • monkeytoe says:

    First, I love a good rant, so thank you, this one is delightful. Second, I am no big fan of parental regulations. But, third, let me play devil’s advocate for a bit. What are regulatory bodies supposed to do if not create regulations that, in this case, distinguish between legitimate reviews and stealth commercials? Without a rubric in place that allows them to pursue unethical bloggers, how would they do it? These regulations need to be explicit (hee, dirty) to allow employees with a wide range of levels of intelligence and judgment skills to enforce them. I am sure that I am not the only person annoyed to tears over the confusing, shifting, and seemingly nonsensical TSA regulations, but would you really want some of the TSA employees* that you have encountered to be making judgment calls? As for the readers of blogs: not everyone can sniff out a fake.

    This is certainly not a smear on perfume Posse or any of its contributors. If I thought the whole lovely lot of you was anything but honest and entertaining, I wouldn’t be here commenting now.

    *I am not disparaging all or even most TSA employees who do a difficult job (above listed confusing and shifting regulations) with a public to whom they are an increasing annoyance, but the bad apples in any set of employees who have a strong public presence (we all have our tales of bad SAs) tend to overshadow the competent and better.

    • March says:

      Heh — I love your footnote! For a snark post, I like how polite everyone’s being.

      It’s been noted above that presumably this was actually aimed more at, say, electronics blogs — people who might get freebies that (piece by piece) are worth way more than what I’m getting. I’m still unclear as to how it would be enforced, though. But I guess they might be more able to sort out if someone had gotten a pricy car stereo or something, I don’t know.

    • Hilary says:

      Butting in here: the thing is, at least as I see it, that these regulations actually DON’T distinguish between legitimate reviews and stealth commercials. All they do is ask that gifted bottles be noted. Which is not very helpful, given that a positive review of a free bottle is probably perfectly sincere. All it might do is raise questions in the mind of a reader or two – which isn’t particularly fair either, since any devious bloggers who really receive money or freebies for rave reviews will probably be smart enough to refuse to comply. As March points out, the regulations are completely unenforceable.
      Many thanks for the post, and for the wonderful blogging at the Posse.

      • monkeytoe says:

        They don’t distinguish between the two, but they put in a framework of regulations that allows pursuit of unethical reviewers. It is a rare law or regulation that is perfectly enforceable–law enforcement agencies don’t catch all murderers-but that is an inadequate argument for not creating the law or regulation.

        “Mommy blogs are worth their weight in gold to toy makers such as K’nex Brands, a maker of construction toys for children.

        Working with its PR firm, Child’s Play Communications, the Hatfield, Penn. toymaker has cultivated relationships with a host of blogging mothers, each of whom signs on to receive free products in return for writing about them. Chief marketing officer Barbara Rentschler says the company has had tremendous success publicizing its products through contest promotions and through product reviews in the mommy blogosphere. How tremendous? “We raise awareness much more with mom blogs than we did with advertising,” she says.”

        From http://blogs.computerworld.com/14633/why_knex_brands_loves_mommy_blogs

        • March says:

          That’s really interesting. I wonder where the line is between “getting the word out” and being in someone’s pocket? I will say again that anyone who’s sent me stuff has not explicitly stated that they expect a review, although I’m sure they hope I like it and review it, and I certainly don’t promise one.

          • monkeytoe says:

            A better law would be that all scent companies have to send reviewers absolutely everything in plain bottles. Then reviewers would only disclose non-scent swag or payment. :d

          • monkeytoe says:

            I mean every single scent in each of its concentrations.

      • March says:

        Thanks. As I’ve already notes elsewhere, I don’t see how this is going to be enforced, and it does raise (implied) questions about the honesty of the review. And you’re right — some people will no doubt blow it off, regardless of whether they’re getting freebies or payments.

  • Silviafunkly says:

    If I were a blogger I would probably get as irate as you, dear March. It is hard not to feel personally attacked, but be sure that nobody here doubts your integrity even for a second (this applies to Patty, Lee, Nava etc).

    As a reader of blogs I find it amusing how little the “Regulators” give credit to our intelligence. May be they take the term “lemming” a bit too seriously ! Even when I have bought unsniffed after reading a blog rave review, there has always been a particular angle / comment / note / analogy that has sparked my interest and not just the rave review per se.

    Also the stuff that I buy unsniffed is so dead cheap that I doubt ebay or perfume discounters would pay you big bribes for it.

    :[email protected]

    Keep doing what you are doing so well and to our full discerning satisfaction !

    • March says:

      Yeah, I guess that’s a bit of it. The whole Saving You From Yourself angle – wth? And the utter unenforceability of it as far as I can discern.

  • DinaC says:

    A really great post filled with snarky humor and loads of common sense! Loved reading your manifesto of integrity, as it were. As many have posted before me, I only care about the source of scent samples so that I don’t go breaking my heart trying to find something that’s been reformulated, not available yet in America, etc. I may not always comment, but you can count on the fact that I’m always reading. Thanks, March! Keep up the great work!:d

    • March says:

      Thanks, Dina. I do think I’m pretty good about noting if I think my sample is “older” — like when I was blogging sandalwood, I said my samp of Tam Dao was several years old, I heard it had been reformulated, etc. I agree that if I know the provenance and think it’s relevant, it’s worth sharing.

  • aubrey says:

    This isn’t exactly on topic, but I sooo love reading multiple reviews of the same new launch (Ninfeo Mio or however you call it being a great example).

    The rest of it, I totally get. Plus, you guys are the people behind TPC, no? I think that your “purity” shows through quite well, because you don’t just give everything a “must smell” review, thus sending everyone constantly over to TPC to score samples and decants.

    • March says:

      I’m browsing these, so I’m answering this one and am tempted to add it at IN THE POST, because I keep forgetting and I think it’s important:

      PATTY IS THE ONE who is behind TPC, along with some other gals. They all got together, I believe they were all volume sellers on eBay till it kicked off the decanters. I occasionally order things from TPC for review, or Patty SENDS me things, but I DO NOT MAKE MONEY FROM TPC AND (and! this is important!) I have NO IDEA WHO WILL PROFIT WHEN I PLACE AN ORDER, any more than you do. Also, my understanding is they ROTATE product — so I can’t put $ in Patty’s pocket just by shilling something she sent that’s on TPC. Clear as mud?

      I like DOING multiple reviews for the same reason.

      • sweetlife says:

        I do think this point about TPC should be in the post, March. It’s the one point on which I can see folks raising their eyebrows at conflict of interest. I admit, I’ve thought about it from time to time. Not thinking that y’all would setit up *deliberately* but just sort of, you know, “Oh, wow, going to be lots of folks on TPC today” when y’all review something unavailable anywhere else.

        BUT on the other hand, I’d still read a blog by the owner of a wine cellar on the kinds of wine he likes to drink. So…

        • March says:

          I’m going to mull all this and do a follow up post, I think, that will address this, and some other things in comments. Which will NOT be this long! 🙂

  • chayaruchama says:

    Well, mein Schatz-

    I know who has integrity, and who has NOT.:d
    ‘Nuff said.

  • Rappleyea says:

    =))

    Thanks – I needed that!

    And a final thought that I haven’t seen mentioned in your very funny and snarky post, nor in the excellent comments, is that IF bloggers consistently gave positive reviews based on free swag (is that redundant?) then eventually I would imagine that their readership would tail off as perfumistas would decide that the blogger had questionable taste in perfume and was not to be trusted.

    • March says:

      I guess …. I guess … I thought our blog seemed so non-commercial that I found/find it hard to believe that anyone would think we were shills. And nobody’s said we were; I thought I’d throw it all out there though.

      • Rappleyea says:

        Noooooo – never even occurred to me on any level. Nor with any of the other perfume blogs I read. I have checked a few beauty blogs from time to time (I’m too hopeless in that dept. to take much interest though) and have wondered a bit about some of them.

        • March says:

          The beauty blogs … I don’t know. I don’t read enough of them to know. I am pretty sure, though, that magazine beauty editors are reviewing almost all freebies, I think they get them by the truckload.

  • Lee says:

    I’m so out of the loop these days in reading blogs and checking forums, that I’m not sure where these police are doing their kvetching even.

    For the record, even when I was a much more regular contributor, I received one bottle only EVER from that nice ‘make your own stuff’ German crew, and I didn’t like it too much (my fault, not theirs, I’ll warrant), so I never wrote about it. Though I think Anita did. I’ve always asked for samples, for heaven’s sake.

    Anyway, carry on flying the flag, baby. You rock.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    I am still giggling at the title of your post. You know the meaning in English English, right? This just unleashes my inner 13-year-old.

    As I am an avid blog reader rather than writer, I am amused that you are now governed by all these ethical rules and regulations. It really doesn’t bother me what you get, from whom, and when, where and why! Disclose or don’t, I’m happy (but I want to know about the Doblis owner, too). In my profession I am also bound by all sorts of very silly rules and am required to do things like ask to see the passport of someone I’ve known for 25 years to prove he/she is who he/she purports to be!

    • March says:

      Yup. So I was using it in the sense of “my masturbatory thoughts and commentary on this dumbass issue of swag.” Plus I loved the way the two words sounded together.

      I’m rethinking some of the disclosure stuff, these comments have been fascinating.

  • Louise says:

    March, I’m just enjoying your post and the comments, so very glad that I’m not asked to reveal the provenance of my perfumes. How the hell would I remember 😕

    I also would love to video you as we dodge pitbull SAs in an effort to sniff the latest release at Macy’s.

    In the interest of full disclosure, the sandalwood fragrances I’ll be bring for you to sniff later today come from my perfume cabinet, kitchen table, and lingerie drawer 8-|

  • DJ says:

    careful mixing the champagne AND the chill pill 😉 I think it makes sense for make up bloggers to disclose pr samples, but for perfume it seems silly.

    rock on with your bad self!

  • Hello my dear March! Glad you’re on a roll and sipping the champagne!! 😡

    I have a slightly differing opinion on some of the issues addressed (attested by my existing policies, so no changes in the future pour moi), although I agree on the whole that the focus of the new rule surely has been other segments of blogging (tech, cosmetics etc) and therefore several points don’t make much sense for perfume bloggers.
    Like Natalie and Mals I believe that a (gentle, if you like) mention on source (to the best of one’s memory :d ) does allow the reader to feel that they’re not taken for granted. Because the axis of the matter is that bloggers are approached (and they are approached) due to the *respect* they have gained among the public reading so that a little blurb on those pages guarantees some buzz for the brand; usually positive buzz.
    The funny thing is the respect has been cemented over the years and it’s occasionally *irrelevant* to the intergrity of the writers themselves (I’m not adressing this to the excellent Posse team or anyone specific, I’m talking generally), simply because it was first laid when the audience was very naive about these matters (ethical matters which exactly surfaced over the course of several years)!
    It’s rather clear to me: Simply having something appear on an established blogger’s site gives it some “gravitas” that cannot be given any other way, since blogging is supposed to be honest consumer opinions. Even if the bulk of the sales are not directed by us, no matter the high traffic we generate, the amount of “respect” handed out is coveted by companies; otherwise, why bother with approaching us in the first place?

    The rules can be ridiculed certainly: As you succinctly say, who can check anyone’s house and see whether they have kept the bottle or given it out to charity or a friend in need? To be honest I consider the practice of giving away free stuff to readers a more “transparent” way of dealing with this difficult situation, but that’s just a personal opinion, not something anyone has to follow themselves (Although I have not received anything substantial over the years, my offer to actually pay for shipping nicely cuts them off or results in my actually “paying” for the stuff so to speak since I’m overseas, which is rather funny in its way! :)) )

    Re: Money offered, aka Paid Posts. Yes, a couple of companies sometimes offer money, it’s not a myth, but not the companies one would think! (Or at least my experience doesn’t reach that far). If a diamonds company or a restaurant business offered money for paid posts 8-| it would require summersaults of writing genius to covert it into a perfume post, wouldn’t it, so I believe we’re mostly safe from that, us perfume bloggers. :-j

    Also, there is some implied moral obligation that if someone sends something (and they go through the trouble and expense to send it in the first place) they expect something to be written. I don’t think it’s their perogative to actually expect it in so many words, but they do. Oddly enough this happens with the behemoths and not the little indie guys! I find that rather chilling myself. Especially for budding bloggers refusing to react ~in some way~ would mean cutting off bridges and that would result in diminished information, diminished sources of samples etc. Only an established blogger who has found a career outside blogging can say “who cares?” Which is why several budding bloggers now and in the past have praised said things in the hopes of getting “into things”, be “in the know”; the tone is often gushing and it shows.
    Of course there are other ways of gaining info or samples which you have highlighted and indeed this is what (more often than not) happens, but it requires some journalistic/freelance spirit in place.
    I thought the “all writing about the same stuff on the same time-frame” was an interesting exercise before the rules were implemented, if only because in the cases of being sent some free stuff, it was revealing for readers to read the different blog posts and see who mentions the fact and who doesn’t and compare/contrast accordingly. (It can be easily searchable on Google Blog Search entering the products’ name, btw).

    All in all a complex matter, maybe it requires its seperate space, we’ll see. Sorry I burdened you with a diatribe. I thought you raised some excellent points though.

    Hugs!!

    • March says:

      Helg, thanks for your thoughtful response.

      In my case, I’ve never assumed (or thought that the manufacturer assumed) that anyone expected something to be written. I figured it was mine to do with as I pleased — including not reviewing it.

      Are you saying you know of perfume bloggers who’ve been offered money? Or just that in the blogging industry, it happens? (I’m sorry, I can’t quite tell from your comment.)

      I hear you on the respect issue, and apparently judging by comments some people really want to know if the manufacturer is the source. And some folks are apparently shocked by the idea that we’d get anything for free. So perhaps an easy mention is only fair.

      • Hi honey!

        Well, like I said, it’s a bit different for budding (operative wors is budding) bloggers: They would want to keep the communication channels open, which would suggest that they would have to write *something*.
        (Now how anyone proceeds is a matter of their own conscience. Personally, very early on I decided to mention everything meticulously and never looked back, but I can’t say that this is gospel and everyone should do that. Still, it hasn’t backfired).

        Offering money happens, as I have had offers from diamond companies and restaurant business to do paid posts. =p~ One would assume they’d just KNOW it’s a perfume blog and it would be completely irrelevant and totally alienating to readers, never mind my intergrity would not allow it [-x, hence you have never seen me reviewing diamonds or restaurants 8-| ; but apparently the offers *were* made, so it’s defininely happening. I deduce they don’t care, as all it matters is Google stumbling on their name, so they’re targeting sites with high traffic no matter the subject. Besides we do get an inordinate amount of spam from all possible sources which is distracting to say the least (I think we’re being bulk-emailed under the generic, lumped-together tag “fashion-beauty blogger”, otherwise I just can’t explain the erratic, insistent and hilarious things I get sent all the time)

        Whether it happens with perfume companies or even PR companies pushing perfume, nah, I don’t think so, but I don’t have proof to the contrary either. Still, I really, really *don’t* think so and I know you don’t either. It would be totally lame and counter-productive (imagine if anyone exposed this hypothetical scenario, the ridicule of said house/brand/company!).

        To conclude, I’d rather think that an easy mention wouldn’t hurt. But that’s totally YOUR decision (Patty’s and yours and the rest of the team), not mine. I appreciate the fact that you had (again) the cojones to open this up for honest discussion though!

        • March says:

          Having read all these comments, and participated in some interesting discussion, I’m toying with a simple disclosure that will (one hopes) both satisfy the curious, to the degree they can be satisfied, and not be much of a sweat for me.

          That’s hilarious about the bribes. Wouldn’t that look odd?

          • That would be perfect! =d> (And I agree that healthy scepticism on the part of the readers is a good thing, a morbid paranoia is nothing to be concerned with)

            Yeah, completely moronic too: Because why the hell would a perfume enthusiast be interested in dining at a specific restaurant that’s probably hundreds of miles outside the perimeter of their everyday life on top of that? 8-} =))

            Hope you have a lovely rest of the day!

        • Scent HIve says:

          Helg,

          When I first started my blog, you gave me a piece of advise and that was to disclose when I got something from a PR agency. I then become more aware of your disclosures, and it made me respect your reviews even more.

          So as a reader and a blogger, I think it’s a good thing. And yes, it annoys me that beauty mags aren’t held to the same standard. But as Carter said, do we really want to be like them anyway? Even when I was a teen reading Seventeen, I never ran out to buy the “editor’s pick” of the month.

          But I will run out to buy something (or test it) if it’s reviewed very highly here, or on Perfumeshrine, NST, TheNonBlonde or IndiePerfumes, etc because I have come to trust you all over the months/years.

          Trish

  • hvs says:

    I agree with Natalie. We know that beauty magazines are written by paid employees who receive samples for review. We think that beauty blogs are written by people like us who really love perfume or makeup or tea, and spend their own money and time exploring it, so their opinions are actually more genuine, and worth more – so we might be more likely to go out and try or buy the product or scent. When we find out those regular people get it all for free as well, it does make us resent the ‘lemming’ impulse at times. And by “we” I mean “I.”

    • March says:

      I’m going to argue with you (fellow journalist) just because I can: don’t “regular people” get free shit all the time? Like, industry lunches and free dinners and ugly mugs and sweatshirts and etc? I have no idea, not actually working in journalism right now, how much of that has to be disclosed. But if you had lunch in a nice restaurant with someone several times, and she paid, and then later she was an interview subject — do you mention that? Or, like, “I once got a goody bag from Chanel at an industry event?” (Man, I wish!)

      • carter says:

        If the “regular people” turn around and write reviews of those ugly mugs which are then read by hundreds, if not thousands of people, most of whom have no freaking idea whether or not the authors are sincere, the answer is yes, they should disclose. I don’t need you to disclose your sources, but the person who first comes to this blog tomorrow looking for a perfume to buy for his girlfriend and who then proceeds to drop $350 on 7 mls of Homage Attar does. He *knows* he’s taking a chance in basing his purchase on one person’s opinion, but he should also know that that person is reviewing a sample she obtained from a friend or, alternatively, that she was given a free bottle of the stuff by the perfumer. That is information he needs to have in order to choose wisely.

        • March says:

          First off: I think I am going to try to do some sort of simple source info as an experiment, and we’ll see how that goes.

          Well … if he’s going to choose wisely, why would he spend $350 on 7ml of perfume he’s never even smelled? Based on a review by a woman he doesn’t know from Adam? Guy sounds like a dope to me.

          I guess what bothers me so much in this scenario is: are you suggesting that my review of Ninfeo Mio would have been different in some way if I’d gotten the bottle from my sister as a Christmas present, rather than from the house? Why? How?

          People need to read EVERYTHING with a grain of salt. I have gotten FROM MANUFACTURERS samples of things that were clearly different than the “final” product. I am a “victim” of an unsniffed buy as much as anyone, but if Angela at NST reviewed something and described it as “pure sandalwood” and I order it and all I get is rose and turpentine, I’m not going to blame her for it. I mean, who knows? Maybe I’m anosmic to musk. Maybe I don’t *really* know what lentisc smells like.

          Thing is: these codes are totally unenforceable. I’m both honest and annoyed. Anyone who might be paid to shill isn’t going to admit it, and it’s pretty easy to avoid disclosing a bottle. So don’t these rules just give a false illusion of transparency?

          • carter says:

            I’m going to take these in order:

            a) It doesn’t matter whether it’s a $350 bottle of HA or a $20 of something else. It doesn’t matter if the guy’s a dope. You are assuming that everyone who reads your blog

          • carter says:

            I’m going to take these in order:

            a) It doesn’t matter whether it’s a $350 bottle of HA or a $20 of something else. It doesn’t matter if the guy’s a dope. You are assuming that everyone who reads your blog knows and understands you. Actually, you are *expecting* everyone who reads the blog to know and understand you. I would highly recommend that readers take the time to do that, because they will be rewarded and it will enrich their lives considerably, but as your readership grows, it’s absurd to think that that is gonna happen, and I maintain that you have a responsibility to your readers, regardless of whether or not they happen to be stupid and/or unfamiliar with your personal integrity.

            b) Of course not. I am stating that you should be held to the same standards as the guy who gets free things from manufacturers and wants to keep ’em coming, so he publishes fawning reviews of that maker’s stuff. It’s not personal. You guys are too widely read now to be exempt from this kind of thing.

            c) I’m going to take these in order:

            a) It doesn’t matter whether it’s a $350 bottle of HA or a $20 of something else. It doesn’t matter if the guy’s a dope. You are assuming that everyone who reads your blog knows and understands you. Actually, you are *expecting* everyone who reads the blog to know and understand you. I would highly recommend that readers take the time to do that, because they will be rewarded and it will enrich their lives considerably, but as your readership grows, it’s absurd to think that that is gonna happen, and I maintain that you have a responsibility to your readers, regardless of whether or not they happen to be stupid and/or unfamiliar with your personal integrity.

            b) Of course not. I am stating that you should be held to the same standards as the guy who gets free things from manufacturers and wants to keep ’em coming, so he publishes fawning reviews of that maker’s stuff. It’s not personal. You guys are too widely read now to be exempt from this kind of thing.

            c) You are being entirely too reasonable and, well, logical in your thinking. If you were to put an 10-foot-high electrified fence up around your swimming pool (assuming you had a swimming pool) and some damn fool still manages to get in and drown himself, you could have a neon sign flashing a disclaimer that could be seen from outer space and you’d still be liable. Perfume reviewing on the internet is not the same thing, of course, but the point is that people (including many of your readers) are idiots and life is not fair, even in the wild and wacky blogosphere.

            d) Yes.

          • carter says:

            Oops! I am sitting here waiting for the repair guy to show up because I think there’s a problem with my modem and the wireless keeps cutting out in the middle of transmitting emails and posts and things, and I had to write this post twice. I don’t know how it happened, but it looks like the two got sorta posted together at the same time or something. Sorry about that.

          • carter says:

            Just start with the second “a” and go from there.

          • carter says:

            And why are you yelling?

          • March says:

            Carter — perhaps we’re talking across each other here, although I know our intentions are good.

            Regarding the perfume-buying guy and my “blog responsibilities” in general — there’s a whole level of responsibility that’s being debated that I decline to assume. This is related, I think, to my philosophical outlook that the the FTC regulations and the rest of it foster an illusion of blog accuracy and honesty. People are going to be honest or they’re not, and nobody knows for certain which is the case. The liars will lie — and they’ll look every bit as legit as I do, probably more so.

          • carter says:

            Then if I were you I wouldn’t give it a moment’s thought, and I wouldn’t bother with disclosures on any level, particularly as it is unlikely that there will be repercussions. It’s like being half-pregnant, a whole lot of trouble for nothing.

      • carter says:

        If a reviewer is treated to lunch a number of times by the subject of his review, yes, I would hope so. Am I implying that YOU, March, would be influenced in his favor by that? Nope.

  • Masha says:

    I’m totally with you, March. The idea that we get free perfume collections, then write glorious prose about our ill-gotten loot, is an urban legend. The only time I ever got free decants that I wrote about was when I contacted a perfumer because I was intrigued with the concept of his line, and had tried several on vacation. I couldn’t further sample his perfumes in the country in which I lived. He sent me decants, we did an interview, I wrote it up and published it. Yes, it was positive, but that’s because I already knew I liked the line before I contacted the perfumer. Magazine writers, I feel, are a more suspicious lot than the humble bloggers I know. They should be bound by the same rules, if such rules must exist.

    • March says:

      Perhaps (certainly?) part of it is my excessively high opinion of myself. Because on a certain level I can’t believe that anyone would really thing I’d only write nice stuff about Kenzo or whoever if they gave me crap.

  • Scent HIve says:

    I’m still calming down after a good laugh. Loved this line so much:

    “I don’t think my endless whining about my hatred of Angel has negatively impacted sales one bit although, so help me God, I wish it would.”

    As a blogger, I too think it’s (somewhat) silly that they are asking us to do this. It must have more to do with techie bloggers getting free computers and iPhones to review than us perfume bloggers.

    I have no problem stating when I receive a sample(s) from a PR person or directly from the company itself, if that helps my readers feel better. But, I’m not going to start reporting every little detail of provenance ie: swapped at MUA, given to me by friend, went on buying spree at DSH Perfumes (OK maybe I have reported that once!) And I (almost) only review the things I love b/c I review mostly indie perfumeries and I don’t want to be mean and tear down the little guy/gal as you said.

    Anyway, we bloggers will tweak this as we see fit, and I think your plan sounds perfectly legit. More power to you my dear!

    ~Trish

    • March says:

      These comments are so interesting! So, there are several people who give legit arguments for provenance, in a way that doesn’t get my back up. Maybe I’ll try a framework, for the ones I know…

      yes, I do think this must have been aimed at folks like electronics reviewers?

      • Scent HIve says:

        Thinking about the provenance issue more, it seems like it’s relevant if you’re really unsure where it came from, how old it is, and if it’s vintage or a probable reformulation.

        I’m hoping my readers know that I either bought the products myself or got it from a very trusted source if I am going to review it. If I’m not sure, it makes sense to clarify that within the review.

        And yes, if it’s from a PR person, or the company, I think it’s important to state that. Full disclosure and transparency can never be a bad thing.

        ~Trish

        • March says:

          Well, we’re looking at this differently, probably because I’m covering a much wider swath of perfume-dom than you are. For instance, much of what I review isn’t even new perfume — it’s older or vintage, and who knows about the provenance? The fact that I got my bottle of Antilope on eBay isn’t going to prevent me from writing about it, but *your* bottle of Antilope (or almost any other older scent) may well smell different.

          But I am going to work up some sort of categovization that will in theory give readers an idea of just how large a grain of salt they should be taking my review with. BTW as I just said to someone else on here: I have gotten samples from houses and PR drones that smell quite different from whatever ends up being marketed, so that’s no ironclad guarantee either. And in the last couple months I’ve sniffed two products from reputable online places and there was clearly something wrong. I … what am I trying to say. I get a sense, sometimes, that people are taking false security in some sort of guarantee of authenticity that does not, in fact, exist.

          • Scent HIve says:

            I hear you March. I feel overwhelmed by all the offerings in the naturals world….I can’t imagine how you all feel!

            Regardless of what you do, or how you categorize something, I trust you and Patty. And doesn’t it come down to caveat emptor really? We consumers need to take responsibility for our purchases, for the sole reason you mention. Scents can vary from bottle to bottle, skin to skin, and in the naturals world, from harvest to harvest.

            All we can do is our best, and what feels right in our hearts when we do these reviews. If readers don’t trust a blog, they can move on and find one that speaks to them of integrity.

  • mals86 says:

    Regarding most of the Rules of the Posse Kingdom: yes, exactly, I figured, DUH!, and I expected nothing less. Posse Honor stands spotless. That said, I appreciate your spelling them out.

    Regarding #6: I always like to hear where the sample under review came from, in a general sense. If the sample is a preview, like the Ninfeo Mio of yesterday, I’d love to know that I can’t go sniff it at a retail establishment, and also that there’s no point haring off to TPC to order a sample, because it’s not out yet. (I’m sure that release info would be in the post anyway, but sometimes I miss those things.) If it’s a vintage scent, it’s exciting to find out that somebody picked it up at an estate sale, or snagged a lucky find on the ‘bay. Moreover, with the rash of reformulations going on these days, I’ve gotten bitten a few times recently where I bought a bottle or decant based on a sample that was prereformulation, and been disappointed with the stuff that I wound up with. (Okay, so I’m a dumb newbie. I had no idea that my decant of Les Exclusifs Bois des Iles would smell so thin compared to my TPC sample… somehow, in all my reading about it, I never ran across a review that said, “the LE version isn’t as full-bodied as my bottle from 1994.”)

    So. A brief description of provenance would be a helpful addition to a review, in my opinion – just something like “smelled at retail counter” or “mfr sample” or “bought from online discounter” or “advance PR sample” or “evilbay steal” or “friend sent it to me” or “apparently fell from the sky” would do.

    • March says:

      This is really well expressed. I’m skipping you and coming back.

    • ScentRed says:

      Ya, what she said 😉

      Nicely expressed Mals. Agree on all points.

    • March says:

      Okay, having gotten a range of responses:

      I’ll address this in another post, but the points you raise are valid. I DO try to note in a post where it’s relevant that my sample is vintage, or of something that has allegedly been reformulated, because that’s only fair — I don’t want people hunting down the new Poison or Paris if I’m specifically blogging on the vintage one.

      The hardest bit for me is the samples. I file them, I mostly keep them, and I have hundreds (thousands?) at this point. But there could be a broad category covering “private samples,” whose provenance I don’t know and can’t guarantee.

      • Musette says:

        I totally get what you’re saying here. I think ‘reader beware’ is a little bit in order for this blog, amongst others (most). This is NOT a professional site – it’s amateur in the purest way – and should be read as such. You (and Patty et al (even me, when I think of it but I’m not as precise a writer as the rest of you) do tend to state where you have gotten something, if it’s available info and germane to the discussion (it usually ends up in some hilarious recount of getting ambushed by a SA or stumbling upon a samp rolling across the bathroom floor=)) But what should be remembered here is this is purely an OPINION blog – you are not shilling for sales for any brand. At best, you are simply giving your readers the opportunity to know about scents they might not’ve known about – I fell in love with Cartier Brilliant, NOT because you told me to (you didn’t – in fact, Patty sort of faint praised the hell out of that one). You (she) just let me know it was out there – the rest was all on my own time and dime.

        I hope the FTC doesn’t try to ruin a good thing, which I’m sure is their intention, in hopes of keeping payola in current mainstream hands;)

        You just keep doing what you’re doing, let us know where it came from when it’s relevant and when you can (Do-blis? hellllooooo?)

        xoxoxo >-)

        • March says:

          Forget that Doblis, woman! Ain’t happening! [-( 😉

          I really think the blogging thing was aimed at blogs that review high-end widget stuff like fancy electronics, and we’re sort of stuck in the dragnet.

        • Rappleyea says:

          Musette wrote: “I hope the FTC doesn’t try to ruin a good thing, which I’m sure is their intention, in hopes of keeping payola in current mainstream hands”

          Brilliant! This should be cross-stitched and framed!

      • mals86 says:

        This point does really touch on the review itself, as being one more useful fact to know about the sampled fragrance. You do often note “older sample,” which is extremely helpful. I really think “private sample” is a good, gen-purp caveat emptor, so that readers would know the sample isn’t newborn and straight from the ‘fume factory. Annoying for you, perhaps. However, it wouldn’t take all THAT long to add, “I have no idea where in Middle Earth this sample came from.”

        As an additional point concerning the “full disclosure” issue, it rarely does any harm to avoid the appearance of impropriety, however improbable. (There speaks the accountant. I yam what I yam.) Also, I admit to feeling a sort of vicarious thrill when I read, for example, that Kenzo sent bottle of upcoming-release Our New Smell to Posse Base Camp March… *I* know you’re going to be impartial.

        • March says:

          I’m going to try to put together a list of “sources” that would be noted, and do a little post on it.

          And I have really enjoyed the discussion on here today. And you’re right, if I have useful info to add, adding a brief note isn’t time consuming.

  • violetnoir says:

    Woman, I loves ya!

    It’s really all a load of bullsh*t, and you’ve called it exactly as we all see it.

    Cheers!

    Hugs!:x

    • March says:

      I thought the ruling was idiotic, but I didn’t get mad until I read some of the commentary. Seriously, the “Perfume Review Conspiracy” thing drove me insane.

  • Divalano says:

    March darling, I reading *because* you’re snarky & opinionated & don’t have an editorial vision to satisfy, a job to protect, or a publisher who cares what the advertisers think. I could care less where your samples come from … though I should hope houses who want you to have an opinion & create buzz would pass some tastes your way. After all, buzz is buzz & it creates interest. I see nothing dishonest about that. Now, let’s discuss Vogue & Allure who happen to run glossy ads the same month at they review the new Lancome vibrator … um, vibrating mascara & we can talk about whether or not the reviewer might have an agenda. Sheesh.

    • March says:

      I guess that’s what sticks in my craw. I am pretty sure (I could be wrong) that more or less 100% of the crap in Allure and the rest is from free samples foisted on some beauty editor in advance. But nobody’s policing them.

      • carter says:

        This is very true. Do you want to be them?

      • maidenbliss says:

        March: articulate, irreverent, smartypantsy, hilarious, naughty and nice, tasteful, honest….I really don’t care about anything else. It’s why I read this blog everyday (well, almost) and am one of those who can say I’ve learned so much about perfume-I don’t give a crap about where or how or why you get bottles, samples….it’s beyond me that this discussion should even be taking place. It’s perfume for crying out oud! :))

  • Kim says:

    March, I thank you for your candid and often hilarious reviews for a novice perfumista like me. Keep doing what you’re doing, please!!!

  • Natalie says:

    Alright, call me a petty a-hole, but I actually do care about this stuff. Not because I don’t trust you or think you’re shilling; I just think it’s simple ethics to be transparent about the provenance of what you’re reviewing. Yes, I know that movie reviewers go on boondoggle junkets to Sundance and beauty rag editors get truckloads of expensive freebies, but do you really want to adhere to the same low/no standards as they? Perhaps it’s my background in journalism, but I don’t think it’s insulting to be asked about your sources and whether the prospect of any sort of gain might influence your opinion. I don’t expect you to account for each and every little sample, but I for one am glad that you wrote down the guidelines you follow, bile and venom notwithstanding!

    • carter says:

      Sorry, darling…what she said :d

      • Shelley says:

        I’m in the middle of reading all these…holy cow, this early, and so much chat!…so am going to wait until the end, but the fact that I inserted here is going to be some indication of how my brain is digesting…

      • Natalie says:

        Right back at ya, babe! I haven’t had time today to follow up on this discussion, but I see I didn’t need to — you made all the points I would have made, and probably far more cogently.

    • March says:

      I can see there are already other variants to your response so I’ll try to do one comprehensive answer here.

      Well, my degree and background is in journalism — which is, of course, now like having a degree in buggy whips making, or something similar. And I suppose I viewed this gig as a completely different, utterly subjective project: my opinion about a perfume.

      Bile and venom notwithstanding… the provenance of what I’m reviewing is often murky, for the reasons I stated. I DO note (I’ll probably address this again) when I’m doing something vintage, or any other notation that I feel might be helpful to the reader if they wanted the same version (like, the Maja with the red cap from about ten years ago — or, sample from Patty, if I just got it.) Honestly, though, for much of this stuff: I have no idea.

      • carter says:

        Back in the day when blogs were read only by ones immediate family and/or child molesters and serial killers in the predawn hours, I would agree: this *was* different. But now that blogs, and this blog in particular, are so widely read and enjoyed: not so much. In this age of the interwebs, blogs are the new journalism, and even though it’s just you expressing your opinion about a perfume, you have considerable power to influence, and with power comes responsibility.

        Are the rules silly and nitpicky? Some of them, perhaps, but the basis for them isn’t. Is it personal? No. But you’re absolutely correct that no one is going to come yank you out of bed and haul you off to the pokey if you don’t wish to comply. However, as Robin said, I appreciate that you took the time to write down the guidelines that you follow.:)>-

  • divinemama says:

    (((((((March))))))) 😡

  • sweetlife says:

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! OK, ‘scuse me, have to take a deep breath and pull myself together, this is SERIOUS STUFF.

    First: No one but you, dear March, could have delighted me with a rant about disclosure rules. I read all the way to the very end, giggling all the way. And now I very much want access to The Psychic Powers of Your Mystic Womb. I have a few other mysteries that need clearing up.

    Second: Geeze, someone out there must be getting some payola. They wouldn’t happen to work at the magazines, would they? You know, those places that subsist on ADVERTISING? THANK YOU for mentioning that. You know the mainstream is feeling threatened when…

    Third: I do think there are some serious issues with blogger reviews, but they’re in other areas–say, Mommy bloggers reviewing baby products, stuff that’s way too big and expensive to test without getting it direct from, um, oh geeze, some of the same folks advertising on their sites. Or folks reviewing nutritional supplements, where there’s an actual health risk at stake. And yes, for that kind of thing I’d want to know if they were receiving product rather than just assuming “oh, hey, here’s a thing I stumbled over…” And I do sometimes want to know the provenance on the make-up blogs, mostly because I can’t imagine buying XXXX mascaras or whatever, so I start wondering–why this one? (Maybe just my own failure of imagination, I’m sure they feel that way about my perfume.) But I’ve never felt that way on the perfume blogs because they are so obviously part of a larger ongoing conversation. That’s how I feel about simultaneous reviews, too–“oh, okay, great, they’re all talking to each other and I get a group consensus instead of just having to take one person’s word for it.”

    There are a few blogs that seem more industry driven, and don’t have the same kind of conversational feel and…well, I don’t read them much. So I don’t really care where they’re getting their stuff.

    As for “purity” — a concept I detest — I always appreciate it when people say “my sample is old” or “this it the 1994 EDT” because then I know not to blind buy. But a simple “I don’t know where this came from” caveat emptor is good enough for me.

    Hope you are still sipping that champagne!

    • March says:

      Okay, you do raise a legitimate point I didn’t include: presumably some of this is aimed primarily at reviewers of much more expensive stuff (flat-panel TVs? computers?) But it still feels a little scattered and poorly thought out.

      I’m going to address “purity” further down.

  • gina says:

    Haven’t commented in ages, but I’ve been a-lurking! How are you, March? I hope you are enjoying the champagne. I think you need it, because those who have their panties in a wad about where the samples/bottles come from that you guys review are a bunch of petty aholes. Seriously. I could give a rat’s arse where the stuff comes from, I just am giddy-happy that you guys take the time to write such lovely words about it all. Shit, I can’t seem to find the time to write an email. And I don’t have kids. So you drink that champagne. I will find any excuse at all to do that, and you definitely sound like you were in need.

    • March says:

      See, I love a comment that includes “panties in a wad” and “rat’s arse.” Oh, and “shit.” hehe and is STILL eloquent. Responses are varied!

  • Francesca says:

    I love it when you’re on a roll! Rules such as you describe put me in mind of a scene in the book upon which “The Great Escape” was based. The POWs went to a great deal of trouble to steal some German military manual, only to find it was just a book of regulastions such as, “If your right arm is shot off above the elbow, it is permissable to salute with your left hand.”
    I don’t care where the stuff you review comes from; just keep doing it and being your brilliant, inimitable self.

  • Geordan1244 says:

    March,

    Long-time reader/lurker, first-time writer (I think…unless I was drinking some good wine, which I tend to do :d). Bravo, bravo, bravo for your big-time “suck it”, thumb-to-the-nose, response. Love your posts, and who gives a crap whether or not your get samples, bottles, or dollars for your reviews. I’ve learned tons about fragrance on this and other blogs and have found more than one fragrance that I will love for life through my time spent lurking online.

    Kudos to ya!

    – G

  • Musette says:

    Frankly, my dear….

    who gives a ~:> where you get stuff? Except….who, persackly, are these friends with a small stash of Doblis? 😕

    srsly, this whole FTC thing is just too silly. I don’t care where any blogger gets their stuff. You either like the stuff or you don’t. Whether you do or not has little or no bearing on whether I will like it (or not). We are not sheep.

    fun post, tho. Now give over with the Doblis info!8-x I’m wearing it right now, in honor of your post – feeling very luxe.

    xoxoxo >-)

    • March says:

      Ooooh, look! Lively discussion already!

      Sorry, I can’t disclose my source of Doblis.

      • March says:

        Um, that is looking bitchy. I forgot my 😉

        • Musette says:

          oh, SHUT UP!;)

          Of course you can’t.

          that is, until I hold your husband and children hostage.

          Oh, wait. That is an unlikely incentive – at least it would be for me:-j

          and a ps: if you cannot bitchify to the >-) Gibraltar has just tumbled!