Much has been made in the last couple of weeks about blogger transparency and whether pen bloggers are honest in how they are writing their reviews of pens and other stationary items. Here is my stance on the subject.
I am actively soliciting ink samples from manufacturers, distributors and retailers. This blog is on track to review more than 150 inks per year and I feel that it is unreasonable to expect all of those to be purchased by the blogger. So how do I let you, the reader, know how an ink was obtained?
In weeks where I receive ink, I run a post entitled New Inks Received This Week where I photograph the inks that were received so that the reader knows whether samples or bottles were contributed and the post clearly states where the ink came from.
I have an ink inventory page on the blog that lists each ink and states whether I purchased it, it was donated by a friend, or whether I actively solicited the ink from a retailer, manufacturer or distributor.
In the case of inks that I purchased or were donated by friends, I mention this in the introduction portion of the review. In the case of inks that were solicited, there is a Solicitation Disclaimer section that runs at the bottom of the review.
Every month I write a Pen Budgeting post listing all of the pen related purchases that I made during the month. Readers are kept abreast of my purchases down to the last cent.
I encourage you to consider the motivations behind retailers and manufacturers/distributors when they supply the ink for review. A manufacturer or distributor hopes for two things; first, a positive review of the ink, but secondly, they hope for exposure of new or lesser known colours so that there is increased sales of the obscure inks In their catalogue that don't move very well. The world does not need another review of Kon-Peki. (Yes, I will review that one too some day) Retailers, on the other hand, want to be seeding Goodwill within the community. By providing ink for review, they hope to drive sales to their store front. Whether the purchaser buys the ink that was reviewed is immaterial to them so long as they buy something. With this in mind, I will always link to the retailer who supplied the ink in the Where To Buy section of the review. You will see their price, you will see their competitors' prices, it is up to you if you choose to purchase from them. I do not place affiliate links in the reviews that I write.
While my personal opinion of the ink's performance is certainly part of the review, the vast majority of the review is comprised of images showing how the ink actually performs on stationary. I have no influence on this and you, as the reader, are able to assess whether the ink's properties meet your requirements.
So how do you know that I am not influenced by receiving ink for free? You don't, but I say that I am not and I don't think that I am. When you review 150 inks per year, it is unlikely that you will recommend purchasing all of them or even most of them, the truth is that the average user will only have a couple of bottles of each of the standard colours and a few luxury inks that they like for the ink's unique qualities such as shading or sheen. The value of this blog is for the reader to assess which inks are going to make up their small subset of what is available to them.