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question-tm.jpgDespite the fact that everyone in the blogging business starts out every single conversation with us by asking, “Why aren’t you guys doing referrals?” we’ve held off on doing so.

Why?  Because we’ve always felt that we can best serve readers by remaining completely separated from their purchase process.  We write what we think, not what we think’ll make you buy some tool.  In fact, if you hear us actually recommend buying something, it’s because we’ve got one and we love it.

But today it struck me that it might make more sense to ask you rather than just assume that you have strong feelings about this.  Does it matter to you?  Do you like our Froogle links for pricing?  How’d you feel about an additional direct link to the tool for sale at Amazon, assuming it didn’t change our writing at all?

I’m concerned, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.  If you would, please take the time to let me know in comments.  Or, if you’d like a more private line, just use the contact us form.


21 Responses to How do you feel about referrals on Toolmonger?

  1. Brent says:

    By even considering the issues pro and con regarding referrals, you have shown more integrity than most. If you feel that you can be objective, then I say go for it.

  2. Randy says:

    I have no problem with a referral. It’s not like I have to buy it there if I decide to get one.

    P.S. The Contact Us sheet is ultra private. It has no contact information of any kind on it when I load it up. All of the tool links, submit a tool, recent topics, etc are there. Under Contact Us…just huge blank.

  3. SuperJdynamite says:

    I was actually going to ask you why you didn’t put referral links to Amazon.

    I don’t see a conflict of interest here — it’s not like Amazon is asking you to review tools and you stand to profit from that arrangement.

  4. bbot says:

    You don’t do referrals because you aren’t corporate whores.

    Although, judging from the shills commenting above, that won’t be true for much longer.

  5. James says:

    It doesn’t really matter to me, but I probably wouldn’t buy tools from Amazon anyway. I like to hold a tool in my hand before I buy it, so I’ve only bought from local stores.

  6. nrChris says:

    I don’t mind referrals. As long as I have a manufacturer name and model number I am going to go through my normal purchasing routine (no matter who makes the referral or where they direct me).

    Although a direct link to Amazon is a tidy way for me to add things to my wishlist–which I use as a “to buy” reminder list.

  7. eschoendorff says:

    I don’t want to see referrals. I know how to shop for a tools… I visit toolmonger to see what’s new and cool, not to be sold something. I got people trying to sell me shit all day – it’s nice to come here and not have to face that.

  8. Marko says:

    I don’t mind if you want to do referral links, but please leave the Froogle links also so we can look around easily for other pricing.

  9. Brian C. says:

    The most important thing to me regarding the Toolmonger site is it’s objective nature. If you can maintain that while providing the referral service, that’s fine by me. With a nod to those posted above me, I would prefer the Froogle links be left as I don’t do most of my tool shopping at Amazon. Amazon maybe useful for many things, but a tool authority they are not – and their prices are not always the cheapest.

  10. Michael says:

    I would add extra comment, but Brian C. stated my feelings so closely that I feel that he’s somehow sucking out my brainwaves.

    Quick, where’s my tinfoil hat?

  11. kythri says:

    Paid referrals, of course not.

    But something as simple as an Amazon affiliate program, where you get a kickback if someone buys through the link, why not? I don’t see that harming any objectivity whatsoever

    As many mentioned, keep the Froogle link, and the manufacturer links, but adding one more link to a “Buy it on Amazon…” isn’t going to hurt things, and it might help some people out. I know that I shop on Amazon a LOT, and there’s quite a few Amazon retailers out there that have better prices than Amazon on some gear – and I don’t think those prices pop in Froogle, just the main Amazon-sold price.

    Either way, as I said, I don’t see Amazon links hurting anything – if they’re not the cheapest, then fine, they’re not the cheapest. If they are cheaper, then, sweet (and with the free shipping they commonly do, some things DO end up being cheaper overall). If anyone buys through Amazon, then the site benefits. If the site benefits, we benefit from it staying more active, or doing more reviews. It’s a win-win situation.

    bbot: You realize that every product reviewed on this site is manufactured by a corporation, right? By purchasing those products, doesn’t that make you a corporate whore? If you happen to find a hippy who makes hemp ratchets and sockets with his buddies in the commune, let me know. I think you also need to look up the definition of shill.

    EdS: Would a link to Amazon such as I described be any more intrusive than the already existing Froogle link?

  12. David says:

    Sadly, in this time of people being paid under the table by advertisers to write comments and blogs, it is hard to trust anything you find on the Internet. I don’t know how you pay for your bandwidth and worry about what I see here. Anything you do that further undermines the ‘appearance’ of objectivity would be a bad thing. I am very pleased with your being open about this issues. I hope you will be able to maintain the site and continue to remain as objective as humanly possible. Consumers Reports does it only through paid subscription. How do you manage it? Best of luck with this project… I sure enjoy reading your material.

  13. Bruce says:

    I lke everything as it is … the froogle is great … and that’s all we need

  14. SuperJdynamite says:

    I wouldn’t begrudge Toolmonger for making a tiny percentage of each sale they refer. In fact, I think it’s kind of ballsy to consume free content and demand that the providers don’t try to recoup their loss in any way whatsoever.

    If you don’t want to buy from Amazon, fine — click on the Froogle link and go nuts. If you want to buy from Amazon but have decided that you’ll be in the cold, cold ground before Toolmonger sees one cent from the purchase of your belt sander, fine — remove the referrer code from the Amazon URL.

  15. Eli says:

    I say make whatever money you can. Doesn’t make you a whore. We get a place to talk about tools. You’re doing it for a living right? Leave it the way it is, I’m a grownup. Just try not to go overboard pushing things, and watch the backlash.

  16. TimG says:

    Do it! Adding “Buy at Amazon” link is good for you guys (and keeps you motivated/able to run the site in the future). As long as Amazon doesn’t pressure you in your reviews, and if something sucks you let us know. Thats all I care about.

    If I were in the US (or Amazon.ca actually carried anything other than books) I’d defenitely consider buying the tool from them (if the price was right of course). Would also be glad to support you guys while doing it.

  17. Rick says:

    I can see both sides of this debate here. But I’m of the opinion that assuming the froogle links and the manufacturer/model information remains intact that links to Amazon to buy the tool are not going to impact your objectivity. Yes, I would prefer to see fewer ads, and other sales links, but the reality is that bandwidth isn’t free and given the choice between having a free toolmonger with some amazon affiliate ads and some other ads sprinkled about (I’ve learned to ignore the google ads, etc.) – or having no toolmonger at all, because you guys couldn’t keep losing money on it every month – I’ll take the add-laden toolmonger (within reason)..

    Plus, as someone mentioned – I like the idea of clicking through to Amazon and adding stuff to my wishlist.. so that come the Holidays or my birthday I can just point folks to amazon (even if that’s not the first place I would go to buy tools, but if it’s someone else’s dime.. well I’ll make an exception.

  18. Dan Sroka says:

    Running a site is not cheap, neither in bandwidth nor your time and energy. Adding affiliate links is not becoming a “corporate whore” nor does it in any way damage your objectiveness. The pennies you get per referred link couldn’t buy off anyone’s opinion! It’s a relatively benign service that provides the reader a way to find out how to purchase something (which is, after all, why we are here), and provides you with a tiny bit of compensation.

    Besides, I don’t read this site because you are “objective”. I read it because it voices *your* opinion.

  19. Eric says:

    pleas just keep with the froogle links

  20. James B says:

    If I want unsponsored comments I’ll re-subscribe to Consumer Reports, and pay for it. If I want entertaining commentary and opinion for free, Toolmonger works for me. Go ahead and get paid however you can – it’s not like you are taking tax dollars to fund your site.

  21. Paul says:

    It’s your site do what you want. If I don’t want to see it I will do my best to ignore whatever I am not interested in. Then again sometimes I even suprise myself with what I click on.

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