Skip to main content

Recently, we've seen SEIU banner ads at the end of many DKos diaries concerning health care reform. I suspect that most people here assume that diarists either have been adding these, or agreed to have them appended, or even worse, as suggested in comments below like here, that the diarist represents SEIU. The SEIU ad appears as part of the diary itself, rather than in the advertising column. When you click on the ad banner, it takes you to a page in which you can "Sign-up now to make sure Congress passes health care reform this year," certainly one of the goals that most of us share, although as discussed below, the health system reform supported by SEIU may not be the same kind of reform that many here, including the diarists who authored the diaries to which the ad has been appended, hope to see enacted.

This is NOT being done with the prior knowledge or consent of the diary authors. I learned this first hand the other day. I respectfully submit that this requires further discussion, and a change in policy about these ads.

UPDATE: Especially after reading that diarists are being mistaken as SEIU reps, I appreciate that this made the Rec List. Some have suggested that this is an overreaction. I'm adding a poll.

UPDATE (during a commercial at the start of the 4th quarter of the Nuggets-Lakers game :-)  I notice that the ads are now gone, but only for subscribers. So, this at least solves the problem that paid subscribers should not be subject to ads. The essential issue remains, though. In fact, subscribers who write diaries now  won't even know the ads have been appended to their diaries unless they log out and check. So, the concerns about consent and implied endorsement remain, but hopefully will be resolved with an automatic disclaimer. Thanks to Hunter and others for working on this.

* * * * * *

I was more than a little surprised to see the SEIU banner magically appear appended to the end of a diary I wrote several days ago. I was not asked for my permission. I guessed that this was automatically triggered by one or more key words in the Tags related to health care or health system reform. This supposition has now been confirmed (see update at the end). You can find many diaries that have the ads, just a few here and here and this diary that was atop the Rec list.

I first wrote that I wasn't necessarily saying this is wrong, but after reading some of the discussion below, I'm now concluding that this is a very bad policy. In particular, I think it is not at all good that the placement of the ads and the wording of the ads themselves have misled some readers to conclude that the diarists were in some way representing SEIU. I suspect that the words, "sponsored by SEIU" found in the ads themselves perhaps facilitates this mistaken impression, even though I'm confident that was not the intent of SEIU.

To be clear: I'm not suggesting anything sinister regarding SEIU, although it is a union that has generated its own share of controversy within the labor movement. (Update:) And a commenter on a thread on this same topic as part of the Moyers diary added, regarding the apprpirateness of the SEIU ads, that this is a legitimate issue "Especially since SEIU is NOT pro-single payer, but is on the Obama/HCAN line of public option in a mixed plan."

If you click on "terms and conditions" of the SEIU sign-up page you land on when click their banner ad, you find this:

The Action Tag service (“The Service”) is provided by Pressflex LLC on behalf of the action sponsor, the Service Employees International Union (“SEIU” or the “Sponsor”).  By using The Service, you are opting in to SEIU's mailing list and your personal data will be shared by The Service with the Sponsor.  If you use The Service in the future,  unless you delete our cookies or un-enroll from The Service,  your data will pre-load to allow you to take action for SEIU or other of our sponsors .

I have to confess to more than a little discomfort about having any advertisement, no matter how ostensibly noble, appear as if it were something that I agreed to, appended to what I've written. A quick search did not come up with any front-page explanation.

I would like to suggest that the more appropriate policy would be to have any advertising tags appended to the body of a diary on DKos only with the explicit permission of the author of the diary, or at the very least, with a prominent automatic disclaimer that the ad was not approved or endorsed by the author, and does not necessarily represent the author's opinion. These ads are NOT the same as ads appearing in the advertising column, as they appear to be part of the diary and suggest the tacit approval or endorsement of the author.

These ads also appear even to DKos subscribers who have paid not to not see the other ads, only adding to the impression that they are part of the diaries. (As a subscriber, I can certify that the ads are seen by everyone.)

Consistent with the ethics of this DKos, there should also be complete transparency about this entire issue.

* * * * * *

UPDATE: The SEIU banner also appears below, now confirmed (both by tag removal and addition, and by SEIU's reply -- see below --) that this was triggered by the tag "health care". Other tags also trigger the ad, as noted by several commenters below, in addition to the ones noted by Mr. tagaris.

This ad does not appear with my prior knowledge or consent. Perhaps every diarist ought to add this same disclaimer until this is resolved.

UPDATE ON SEIU's RESPONSE: Tim Tagaris, the "Internet Director of SEIU", has just posted this diary in response. I invited him to join the discussion over here as well, which he has done, and I very much appreciate his open participation. He confirms that "health care" and "employee free choice act" trigger the ads. But this is also an excellent opportunity for SEIU to clarify it's position on Health System Reform, and whether clicking on the SEIU add will be used to suggest support for a specific position that SEIU is advocating. So far, these questions remain  unclear, even after several hours of discussion here. So, how about it?

I think this can be easily resolved with some additional transparency, such as an appropriate identification that these are paid advertisements, and a disclaimer that the ads do not represent endorsement or approval by the authors of the diaries in which they are embedded.

I also want to make clear: this is NOT an SEIU issue. It's about transparency, and how a site like this that represents a pluralistic community functions. Imagine, for the sake of discussion, that the ads were not placed by SEIU, but instead by AHIP (America's Health Insurance Plans).

* * * * * *

I want to acknowledge a very reassuring and greatly appreciated reply by Huner:

It's an ad, yeah.
I'll ask the ad people to pop in and address this if they can, but Markos and pretty much everyone else is on their vacations this weekend, so it may take a while.

The deal is that it comes up according to a story's tags. It's also an experiment of sorts, to see if ads could be better targeted to specific things that readers might actually be interested in, as opposed to just random stuff.

The points about (1) subscribers still seeing it and (2) it not looking sufficiently like an ad are both valid. I think (1) is a programming bug, and I think (2) can be addressed somehow. Like I said, I'm going to ping folks and make sure they know.

Given unanswered questions about SEIU's specific position on health system reform, and the effect of clicking on the ads (apart from giving people a chance to "sign up"), I've just deleted my previous thought that this diary should slide peacefullly into rec-list heaven.

Originally posted to flitedocnm on Sat May 23, 2009 at 01:57 PM PDT.


Regarding banner ads appended to the end of diaries:

35%452 votes
34%440 votes
14%188 votes
14%178 votes

| 1258 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, C S McCrum, Sharon, myriad, Dissento, tmo, Marek, Ducktape, raboof, Phoenix Woman, eugene, Sally in SF, eastbound, Bryan in CT, Rita in DC, Better Days, AaronInSanDiego, moon in the house of moe, Pen, Gooserock, decafdyke, mem from somerville, janinsanfran, RNinNC, tommurphy, annalivia, billlaurelMD, islanddave, eeff, patsy in pgh, delver rootnose, MarkInSanFran, expatjourno, silence, yellsatTV, Heart of the Rockies, PBCliberal, fabacube, TheMomCat, conchita, Shadan7, srkp23, jiffykeen, buckhorn okie, luaptifer, rabel, peraspera, jbeach, ctsteve, Iberian, dmsilev, Cedwyn, Skipbidder, InquisitiveRaven, Matthew Detroit, danthrax, sockpuppet, Winnie, CitizenOfEarth, brainwave, Timoteo, churchylafemme, catfood, defluxion10, Catte Nappe, Greg in TN, kalmoth, RebeccaG, barbwires, count, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, poemworld, justmy2, cartwrightdale, The Gryffin, Sybil Liberty, Dave in RI, Timroff, weelzup, Big Tex, nehark, Fabian, chumley, paige, lcs, Bluesee, Tarindel, radarlady, TheGeneral, Yoseph, yuriwho, ek hornbeck, Alice Marshall, sc kitty, BCO gal, jhutson, ccasas, grasshopper, snacksandpop, catleigh, chidmf, YucatanMan, boofdah, Jules Beaujolais, Annalize5, lotlizard, blue jersey mom, Isara, exmearden, WisePiper, jj24, Ekaterin, JanF, Land of Enchantment, fhcec, bently, Jim P, SSMir, SoulCatcher, martini, Showman, esquimaux, oregon blue, Icy, The Sinistral, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, vigilant meerkat, eamongeorge, Opakapaka, trentinca, dharmafarmer, Malachite, Catesby, play jurist, Silent Lurker, Tanya, Lashe, 4Freedom, nonnie9999, lao hong han, akogun, tapestry, Potus2020, totallynext, Randolph06, Turbonerd, SingerInTheChoir, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, fiddlingnero, Dreaming of Better Days, Brother Love, respectisthehub, airmarc, PoxOnYou, AntKat, tegrat, pale cold, AmericanRiverCanyon, One Pissed Off Liberal, artist1776, pgm 01, DorothyT, Polacolor, willie horton, dmh44, moodyinsavannah, ColoTim, gloriana, Stwriley, atmplant, yoduuuh do or do not, some other george, jeanette0605, Jimdotz, ilex, twinpeaks, davehouck, gatorbot, HCKAD, mp, jamesia, millwood, Jack the R, carpunder, Pinecone, Rumarhazzit, madgranny, KJC MD, JML9999, konscious, rmonroe, JDWolverton, fayeforcure, rogerdaddy, Shane Hensinger, revm3up, mconvente, Lasgalen Lothir, zerone, cdsmith, poligirl, Brandon Friedman, Ponder Stibbons, Pragmaticus, Cassandra Waites, pickandshovel, RN4MERCY, jorogo, mofembot, pragprogress, temprano, joy sinha, Parthenia, mary13L, BYw, eddienutzak, dmhlt 66, sydneyluv, cactusflinthead, rhutcheson, catchaz, papicek, fidel, ggwoman55, SciMathGuy, Pris from LA, number nine dream, DontTaseMeBro, George Hier, bushondrugs, holger smed, An Affirming Flame, Jdories, weltshmertz, Partisan Progressive, EquationDoc, robertoroberto, Night Train, ProgressiveTokyo, dRefractor, CaliSista, Calfacon, obscuresportsquarterly, COwoman, IngeniousGirl, The BBQ Chicken Madness, Joeytj, XNeeOhCon, cs, Lava20, ArthurPoet, ratmach, MelloY, ruscle, sneakers563, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, ladygreenslippers, pyegar, p gorden lippy, zeiben, politik, BFSkinner, CS in AZ, dagnome, BonnieSchlitz, polar bear, NY brit expat, SoCalHobbit, Mariken, debbieleft, SunsetMagnolia, WedtoReason, Paul Delehanty, MsGrin, nosleep4u, fiercefilms, indubitably, Jane Lew, Colorado is the Shiznit, whoisjohngalt, Pizzapotamus, I love OCD, Oldowan, FreeStateDem, La Gitane, Sand Hill Crane, inexplore, KelleyRN2, it really is that important, samalex, datoo, BellaNJ, Billdbq, PedalingPete, marleycat, Wheever, muddy boots, Coastrange, Laurie Gator, rk2, impygirl, MRA NY, emf, Fire bad tree pretty, IL JimP, Edgewater, Bidet, earljellicoe, Marcus Lewis, NextTenWords, happenstance, Book of Hearts, sleight, Ezekial 23 20

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site