Roughly once a year I get an urge to build something in real life instead of digitally. This summer it was a raised vegetable bed which immediately scope creeped into an Aerial Organic Super-Botany Farm-Garden. My starting point for building things out of lumber was googling “how does buying lumber work” and my gardening knowledge started with searching “how do you grow stuff”.
Those articles told me I need a bunch of tools and the only one I owned was a computer screwdriver (which google tells me is strangely called a “Phillips” instead of X-head or just computer screwdriver). Given my nature, that required further googling brilliant questions like “whats the best shovel for moving dirt” followed by “best scoop shovel review”.
Other then reddit and other forums, there was simply no way to avoid affiliate linked articles. Maybe I’m late to the party in noticing, or maybe it was the consumption of so many diverse articles in such a short span, but it was demoralizing. Wood, dirt, seeds, fertilizer, gardening gloves, construction plans, nails, etc. etc. Every opinion I read was tinged by those links. Some products, like garden planning apps, had insane saturation where it felt like every single “blog” was owned by, apparently, some sort of programmer/gardner/mafia syndicate <citation needed>.
Now, surely some of the blogs were written by honest, well meaning bloggers just looking to offset costs in the same way I did when agreeing to an affiliate for this site. It seems dumb not to provide a link to a service we review, and it seems dumber to not take a commission if that service feels like giving us one. But having to constantly read deeply into each vegetable article so I can distinguish the honest bloggers from the corupt made the task unpleasant. And in the end I put in a lot of effort, time and expense without being sure of my sources. That’s shitty.
I’ve replaced the affiliate links that give us money with generic links that don’t. The Utomik review which used the link gets daily traffic and I’m now irritated by that number instead of liking the views like any webmaster would. Most of the people who land on the review are searching for it, but some land there after querying “is utomik a scam” (it’s totally not). I picture them anxious about spending their money, finally finding a review, seeing the tainted link and still not knowing. That’s kind of the opposite of our purpose.
And to be clear, none of this is Utomik’s fault. I still think it’s a really good deal and they’ve done nothing except send updates of new game releases – no pressure or influence whatsoever. But as my gardening experience showed me, there’s no way for a casual reader to know. So off the affiliate link goes. I could use a set of steak knives.