Getting The Staff
I can’t find a decent astro-turfer for love nor money. Some time ago, I advertised. The main problem I have found is one of too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Everyone wants to have their own blog. What I would like to see would be some sort of apprenticeship scheme where people can start as a blog commenter - if they’re any good they can get trained up as an astro-turfer. Only accomplished astro-turfers should be allowed to have their own blogs.
The most important reason for market failure in the astro-turfing and sock-puppet market is government interference. Why would an astro-turfer work for private blogs when they can get a cushy deal working for the government? As this thread shows the standard of astro-turfing in the public sector is risible. But, nobody ever gets sack – in fact the worse job they do, the more overtime they can justify. I recently made the mistake of recruiting a couple of turfers from the public sector. They didn’t last a week. One kept calling himself PT’s sockpuppet and the other kept rebutting me or started mowing her favourite bits of cyberspace (women’s sites).
Are Vouchers The Answer?
How can a private blog owner compete with that? I’m not advocating that all blogs should get allocated their own government astro-turfer, but there is a case for some sort of voucher system to subsidise private endeavour. Once a blogger gets a certain amount of traffic they should start receiving astro-turfing vouchers to spend (or trade) as they wish.
Is it unreasonable for me to expect a hired astro-turfer or sock-puppet to manage the estate for a few hours without having someone looking over their shoulder? The answer is obvious, but to get there we need a far greater level of professionalism in the industry. To facilitate this I support the idea that astro-turfers should need to pass an exam so that you can be sure that they know their ad hominem attacks from their trolling before you employ them. Anyway, I’ll throw it over to you. Let me hear your ideas for raising astro-turfing standards.