Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Ask Slashdot: My Company Wants Me To Astroturf, Should I? 391

An anonymous reader writes "Posting as AC for obvious reasons. The company I work for put an app in an app store. The marketing people think it isn't selling very well, so they sent out an email asking people to get on all their social media sites and friend or like the app to build up traffic. The thing is, most of the employees have not used the app, but we are being asked to say that we like it. We just saw stories about companies not being allowed to ask employees or interview candidates for access to social sites, but what does it mean when a company asks employees to astroturf? Will the marketing or HR people look at who has astroturfed, and who has not at raise time? How would you deal with this?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: My Company Wants Me To Astroturf, Should I?

Comments Filter:
  • Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:54PM (#39648611) Homepage Journal
    Things are that bad at RIM and AppWorld, eh?
    Look, if Thorsten wants you to astroturf, he should at least offer some examples.
  • Find another job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:55PM (#39648627)

    liars are liars.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:25PM (#39649089)

      liars are liars.

      only until the go pro by winning an election.

    • by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @06:24PM (#39650475) Journal
      That's the nub - if you're enthusiastic about the product and talk about it in a non-spammy way, in context, then it's not astroturfing, and it's arguably better advertising. I used to work as a science book buyer and wrote a blog reviewing the coolest ones I read, with due disclosure of the job I did. It gave a lot of publicity to the product I was selling.

      Go posting spam on boards and twitter or whatever and it's not only annoying, it's just plain unimaginative on your bosses' part.
      • by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @11:32PM (#39653585) Homepage

        Right, I mean, if you don't even minutely like the product you're working on, you probably should find another job.

        You had a hand in the product, no? There's some minor level of satisfaction, correct? That's all they're asking you to do: tell the world about the product.

        On the other hand, if you want to keep your purity intact by not pimping a horrible product, how pure are you by taking income which comes from the sale of said product?

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        You picked the right word there, 'DISCLOSURE'. No body really gives a crap if you astroturf on behalf of your company as long as you disclose your interest. You can stretch the truth and exaggerate a little as long as you do it in your name and disclose your interest.

        Don't hide your direct interests in the product or company you are promoting, do go overboard in spreading the message and there's not a problem.

        However when you choice to deceive right from the get go, hide or lie about your interests, ru

  • by berashith ( 222128 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:55PM (#39648629)

    there is only one answer ...
    We are building a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude. We forge our tradition in the spirit of our ancestors. You have our gratitude

  • Are you loyal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:56PM (#39648633)
    Putting the obvious moral issues aside, how loyal to this company are you? If the answer is "not very" then I think you already know what you should be doing (i.e, looking for another place of employment). If, however, you are a loyal employee, then suck it up & just do what they ask...finding a place to work that you actually enjoy is tough, especially in this economy.
    • Re:Are you loyal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:02PM (#39648733)
      Additionally, you may want to check the app-store-in-question's contractual obligations, as I'm pretty sure stuff like astroturfing is against it. Just point out to whoever's in charge that what you're being asked to do violates their policies and could potentially result in your company's app being pulled off of their app store altogether.
      • Re:Are you loyal? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:17PM (#39648939)

        Just point out to whoever's in charge that what you're being asked to do violates their policies and could potentially result in your company's app being pulled off of their app store altogether.

        That really looks like you are making the threat to report the company to the app store.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Why don't you just try the app? If you like it, you can share it on your facebook (assuming you're the type that would normally do so), and if you don't, you can provide your feedback like this: "I really want to share this app with my friends and such, but I can't, because there are some flaws that I really think we should try to fix. Here's what they are, with steps to reproduce. If we can fix these, I think I can recommend it in good conscience, and more importantly, our user base will begin to market on

        • Re:Are you loyal? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by sdguero ( 1112795 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @06:18PM (#39650395)
          Yep. I was nearly fired when I pointed out (at my manager's suggestion) to the execs that the smallish (~250 employees) company was throwing hazardous materials in the dumpster, and could be fined for it under CA law. The big wigs saw it as a threat and my manager had to convince them I was only looking out for their best interests, not trying to be a whistle blower or make money off them. And of course, they did nothing once they figured out I was just trying to help and not get a lawsuit going.
          • by irving47 ( 73147 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @07:57PM (#39651639) Homepage

            CA law?
            Let me guess.. A stick of chewed gum in the foil wrapper?
            An ethernet cable with a bad crimp?

            • Old computer monitors, florescent light bulbs, and batteries mostly. All they needed to do was put a bin in the receiving dock for hazardous materials and have the maintenance guy take it to the dump a couple times a year. The reason I pointed it out was because I read an article on the new laws and a new state enforcement agency that was checking dumpsters outside office buildings and levying big fines (like $1500 per computer monitor or something)...

              Anyway that was several years ago and that company we
      • by tiberus ( 258517 )
        Ya, you might want to con somebody else into doing that for you. My assumption would be that they are well aware of the Terms and Conditions and are simply choosing to ignore them. Taking this action, however noble is likely to lead to Moral Option #1 (find a new job) against your will. If your company is large enough to have a legal or ethics department, that is where I would take this but, all the aforementioned risk still applies.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In my experience, these sort of requests come from middle-management types who don't actually get how things work. They see a problem (low sales) they think they see something that would help that (improve ratings on the app) and they have access to a resource (employees with social media accounts). They put Solution and Resource together and call it a day. Often times, the hint of ToS or even ethical violations never even enters their mind.

          Of course, that doesn't mean that pointing it out won't still be ta

    • Re:Are you loyal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:11PM (#39648861)

      You know, I'd go for the 3rd option. Just don't do it. I'm regularly asked to plug some thing where I work, and I just don't unless I really like whatever it is. I've never been approached as "I saw you didn't post about X". Most of the time, there are so many people in the company that it doesn't matter... If they do ask, it's really none of their business. It's your social networking account, not a company one. I don't see why they should have any jurisdiction over it.

      • Re:Are you loyal? (Score:5, Informative)

        by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:46PM (#39649387)

        That is my opinion of the subject. If you like the app, definitely support your company. If you don't like the app, just don't do anything. I've been places that they ask you to do that, and frankly, I can't be bothered unless I really like it. I've never had anyone call me out on it.

        If they do call you out on it, it depends on how much you need the job right now, and what they will do to you if you don't. In my case, if they did insist, I'd feign ignorance of the requirement, and immediately promise to look into it, still fail to do it, and see if they notice. At that point, marketing eventually moves on to something else. If they do get deadly serious, apologize profusely for my oversight, put it up immediately and then start looking for another job. When they ask why I left, say something banal and nebulous and leave on good terms. No sense getting people like that to hate you, just remove them as carefully from your life as possible and move on.

      • Re:Are you loyal? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @05:07PM (#39649633)
        If they ask, tell the truth. "I posted good comments on all the company controlled social media accounts I have access to"
      • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @05:33PM (#39649945)

        I just tell them that I have no Facebook or Twitter account at all. Sometimes they look at me like I am lying and then I remind them that I am in IT and that we have no friends, as they so often claim :)

        Works every time. I don't get asked by marketing to have anything to do with the "Social Networking".

    • Putting the obvious moral issues aside, how loyal to this company are you? If the answer is "not very" then I think you already know what you should be doing (i.e, looking for another place of employment). If, however, you are a loyal employee, then suck it up & just do what they ask...finding a place to work that you actually enjoy is tough, especially in this economy.

      Plus if they do come to ask about your astroturfing creds (they probably won't give two shits so none of this matters anyway) just tell them you do all of your product commentary as AC (for obvious reasons). And when you use the word obvious be sure to draw out the "O". They will know what you mean.

    • Re:Are you loyal? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Idbar ( 1034346 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @06:05PM (#39650239)
      Independent of liking or not the app. I wonder why having an app, the people in the company haven't used yet. If the employees don't support their company and at least try their products... what kind of employees they have in first place.

      If that's the main product, and the employees won't use it then it makes no sense.
      If it's not and it's supposed to help the employees with something, then why people doesn't try it.
      If it is informational only, why not just using a website and call it done!

      Seriously, doesn't seem to me that it's a problem of only the "company" or the "developers" or perhaps just "PR".
  • Whatever happened to advertising a product? Spend money to make money and all that jazz.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jakester2K ( 612607 )

      Whatever happened to advertising a product? Spend money to make money and all that jazz.

      Costs too much. Just like in-house beta-testing. That's why the idea was born to release purposely-buggy software and let your (ahem) customers pay for the privilege of doing it for you. It's a small step from there to get people to do your shil... er, advertising for you for free.

      The 21st century version is "Spend less and make more."

    • by Surt ( 22457 )

      Tolerance has begun to develop among the population. So marketers are looking for new ways into the brain.

    • by jimbolauski ( 882977 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:53PM (#39649459) Journal
      Advertising like the stuff Add-block handles or commercials that are skipped over? Word of mouth is all that is left, and as another plus your employer has directed you in a memo to use social networking sites at work. Now hours of no productivity can be directly attributed to a memo instructing you to do so.

      Honestly I would prepare to leave the company not because of some moral code but for much simpler reasons. If you main revenue stream is selling apps and you are not selling them then the next shoe to fall is layoffs.
    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @05:00PM (#39649549)

      traditional advertising weakened significantly as people shifted to a 'social' model of judging if they should buy a product. Since the early inceptions of this idea were informative rather than spammy (your friend is playing this game, your brother likes bought this car). It was like a technological word of mouth, with some tools to help spread the word. Word of mouth was always valuable, it was just cost prohibitive to plant fake word of mouth people for everything. Now of course you can use your employees to count as warm bodies for your marketing department as 'likes' for their supposedly social advertising. In some ways this isn't new, how many companies offer employee discounts for example? You want your employees to be advertisers for your products, this just makes it official.

      As a result advertising shifts. If people believe celebrities, hire celebrities, if people believe 'page views' or 'total number of likes' then you find ways to generate those things. If people tend to click the first result of a google search, you're the first result or you're trying to figure out how to get there.

      'Advertising' is trying to get people to know about your product and want to buy it. That changes as technologies change. Right now people still (wrongly) believe that some sort of social liking of a product means it's worth owning, so you pay for that. Sometimes you pay for fake journalists, review scores, or whatever you think people will care about.

      In the case of the OP his job has asked him to perform work as part of his duties. He should make a series of corporate social accounts that are for the employee Sir_Sri_CEOofSriCorp sort of thing. And use those for all company advertising. When his (or her) employment concludes transfer that professional employee persona to the employer, as it was done on their time and is their property.

      One of my friends used to work at a radio station, where she had a brand that wasn't her name. When she left the radio station they claimed (correctly) ownership of the persona she had created at that station as part of her employment there. When she left she couldn't keep the name. She now does voice acting under a similar but not the same persona. (You can dodge this by creating a company that owns the persona you use, and then the contract that hires you hires your company which retains ownership). Someone like stephen colbert manages to maintain decidedly different personal and public profiles, as an employee it doesn't have to e quite as grandiose, but it's basically the same thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:57PM (#39648659)

    As a fellow anonymous, representing the big E and the A, we get it in our inboxes daily to astroturf our products.

    This seems to be a common practice nowadays, and I guess it shows you have some faith in your product. I have nothing against it as long as you like what you are doing. If you don't like astroturfing for your stuff, then don't.

    What concerns me though is that you seem to be not very keen on this app. Care to elaborate why?

    • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:14PM (#39648899)

      As a fellow anonymous, representing the big E and the A, we get it in our inboxes daily to astroturf our products.

      He's not being asked to astroturf. He's being asked to like the product. Astroturfing is when you post comments to blogs and in other places saying how great the product is ... not unlike the occasional product plug we see here in slashdot. It's a term that comes from a "fake grassroots organization". If you pretend to be some unaffiliated user who posts things like "hey, the solution to your problem is Spiffy Car and Cat wax, it will solve two problems at the same time..." you're astroturfing. If you simply click "like" on Facebook, you're not.

      Do you actually not like the product your company makes, whether you use it or not? If not, don't like it. If so, what's the problem? You're not being fake.

      • by sosume ( 680416 )

        If you don't like your company's product, you should quit. You should really try to love your company and its products and recommend them to everyone in your acquaintance list. That's what is ultimately paying your paycheck in a few years and also it gives great satisfaction after working somewhere for many years. I agree it's hard to have that kind of relation with a big corporation, but seriously, for a start-up company there's nothing worse for the image than being run by a bunch of cynical bastards who

      • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:39PM (#39649285)

        "He's not being asked to astroturf. He's being asked to like the product."

        Astroturfing is astroturfing, no matter the form. Employees are being asked to falsely represent themselves as happily satisfied users of the product. That is astroturfing at its very essence. Whether you are doing it via blog posts or Facebook likes, you are still committing exactly the same ethical breach. There is no difference.

        • "He's not being asked to astroturf. He's being asked to like the product."

          Astroturfing is astroturfing, no matter the form. Employees are being asked to falsely represent themselves as happily satisfied users of the product. That is astroturfing at its very essence. Whether you are doing it via blog posts or Facebook likes, you are still committing exactly the same ethical breach. There is no difference.

          His point is that it is *not* astroturfing if your profile identifies you as an employee or otherwise being involved. Astroturfing involves hiding the involvement.

          For example I have an iPhone / iPad app named Perpenso Calc []. Its a calculator offering RPN, Scientific, Statistic, Business and Hex functionality. If I recommend it in a slashdot thread regarding calculator apps I am *not* astroturfing because my account name, "perpenso", indicates that I represent the publisher.

          FWIW, I have not asked friend

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:58PM (#39648667) Journal

    And therefore you can set whatever terms you want. They are in effect asking you to store company materials at your house. You cannot be required to provide the company storage. And if you do, you are able to be compensated. Your online property is no different.

    If they want marketing, let them hire a marketing company.

    Note that the site's terms of use may prohibit some or all actions as well.

  • Not A Good Sign (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:58PM (#39648673)
    I worked at a company where we were actively told to astroturf. It was a bad sign because the product sucked and instead doing something about the criticism, they buried their head in the sand. The criticism was completely well founded. My advice is to not worry about astroturfing and start looking for a new job. Your management isn't looking to fix problems, just cover over them.
  • Well, people should be a bit more committed, and see the app, since it seems to be a big deal. This is probably also the fault of management for not engaging the employees more. Other than that, there's nothing wrong for putting out a good word for your employer. I'm sure every company does something similar, even if just by giving out shirts with the company logo. There's a fine line, and I'm sure plenty of companies cross over to the "wrong" side, but at least for me, it's not terrible, and to be expe
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:59PM (#39648685) Journal

    Go with the flow until you get a new job. Be able to pay your bills, but plan your exit strategy now. Take lower pay to switch if you can get by for a while on a lower salary (mortgages etc.).

    Get copies of the emails asking for the dirty deeds and hide them at home in case.

    I've worked for slimeballs also before, so I feel for you.

    Good luck.

  • by forgottenusername ( 1495209 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:59PM (#39648689)

    A few startups ago, the marketing teams entire plan was "lean on your personal social networks". They'd have been better off standing outside handing out flyers.

    If you like the app and think it's useful then it doesn't hurt to promote it a little. If it's just some crap, then don't bother - you'll just desensitize your friends and contacts.

    Just saying "I'm working on app X, it's going pretty well!" is subtle and non-annoying, curious people will check it out.

    Anyway, a company asking employees to lean heavily on friends/family for promotion is a sure-fire sign of a failed marketing vision in my book, a problem in the business side of the house.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      I sorta can see personal networks function if you're trying to start up a local business, that there's a new restaurant/clothes shop/computer repair shop in town, tell all your friends and family and everyone you know. Apps? Hello, most of them are $1-3 each and you need to be making sales far outside the town your little office is in. And unless it's a competitive game and we're looking for buddies to play, nobody bothers to talk about $1 apps. Besides, most people will know where you work and people take

  • No. Shilling is worse than trolling in my mind. If you must hype your product, at least be honest enough to let people know you're an employee.

    • Shilling is to be expected though. I only read critical reviews if I need information-- after seeing that info, you can decide on what may be wrong with the product. Then, you have to check the neutral and positive reviews to see if it just sour grapes (or stupidity, or inherent negativity). All this for a $0.99 app does make me hate the astroturfers, but once you accept it as a necessary evil it isn't that hard to work around.

    • by Ken_g6 ( 775014 )

      If you must hype your product, at least be honest enough to let people know you're an employee.

      This isn't just a good idea. It's the law!

      The revised Guides [] specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

  • Celebs do it all the time on public TV. (promote products they probably don't use let alone like).

    Tell your friends you're astroturfing outside of the social networking sites and move on with your life.
  • by FadedTimes ( 581715 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:00PM (#39648707)

    Do they have a catalog of all the employees social media links? How would they know who did advertise and who didn't?

  • Honesty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:01PM (#39648717) Homepage

    Try the app. See if it's really worth saying good things about. If so, I'd go ahead and praise it as deserved. If not, send a message to the sales/QA/service department as appropriate saying why you can't promote the app. Keep a copy of that message just in case you have to show that you were fired for raising an ethical concern.

    Of course, encourage others to do the same, and mention your plan to superiors. They might just admire your behavior, and suggest it to more of the company. Few managers really want to be the guy to let a bad PR situation loose, so they might jump at the chance to prove they're more ethical than that nasty sales department - especially if the app is actually decent, and there's a good chance it'll get astroturfed anyway.

    • Re:Honesty (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:23PM (#39649053) Homepage Journal
      The dishonest thing about "astroturfing" is the lack of full disclosure. I see nothing wrong with an employee or developer or managet stating in a review who they think is good about a product. Heck, I would even welcome some inside information about details that make the product really good. However the consumer does have a right to know when a review has a deep interest in the success of a product. I know disclosure is not always permitted, so what I would say is to write nothing that is untrue.

      In any case I wonder if these programs really work. If a product is popular, the competition has an equal right to state honestly everything they think is bad about a product. In the end all we have is an arms race where the outcome is determined by advertising resources, not quality of product. And then we back where we started from.

  • One way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:02PM (#39648723)

    You could always try the app yourself then give it an honest review. If you genuinely like it, it's not astroturfing.
    If you don't like it, you could consider feeding that back to the developers as that may reveal more fundamentally why it's not selling well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gatfirls ( 1315141 )
      Dead on. Seriously, your employer is just asking you to help with marketing. Raising awareness is not some evil agenda. Do you think Trixx are really only for kids?
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:03PM (#39648739) Homepage

    So are we just talking about clicking the "Like" button on Facebook? That doesn't sound terrifically evil. It's not unusual for people to "like" something they don't like, and so I wouldn't even really consider it dishonest. Like I "like" one of my friend's websites, but... you know, it's just because it's my friend's site. My work has asked me to make use my LinkedIn Profile shows that I work where I do, in case the company gets looked up.

    Also, are they simply asking you to do it, or are they somehow monitoring everyone's accounts to make sure they do it, and then threatening some kind of response if you don't "like" their product? If they're just asking, and you don't want to do it, then don't do it.

    This doesn't seem like a serious problem.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:03PM (#39648751)

    My advice is, don't lie. Try out the app and, if you like it, promote it, but don't lie about it.

  • If the company's employees aren't familiar with the Ap (which seems strange as it is something they are all getting at least some of their salary on) shouldn't this be indication one for the marketeers that it isn't very good? Maybe it's for an obscure market or target customer, but I would still think that people had opinions on it if it was useful in any way.

    When I think back to the various companies at which I have worked, *everybody* had an opinion of the company's products and generally used them.

    If the majority of employees have no experience with it, I would think the most positive action the company could take would be to fire the Ap's product manager because if the Ap can't generate any interest in the company, then clearly it's NFG.


    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry to see you are running short of P's here are some spares...

      Ppppppppp pppppp pppppp pppp p ppp ppppp ppp pppppp Pppp ppp pppp pppppppp ppppp pppppp pppp ppppp ppppp pppp ppppppppp ppppppppp

  • Why do you work for a company who's products you don't use? Is the app too expensive, or just not something that is suited to your life? Frankly if neither you nor your colleagues use a product your company created, why does the company think anyone will use it? If the product is good, but you just don't have a use for it, I don't see any ethical issues in promoting it. But if it's simply not a good product then I would probably not promote it, after all it's your personal reputation that is at stake. I'd
    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Why do you work for a company who's products you don't use? Is the app too expensive, or just not something that is suited to your life? Frankly if neither you nor your colleagues use a product your company created, why does the company think anyone will use it?

      Many jobs ago over the summer I worked IT for a place that provided emergency 24x7 repair service for industrial cranes (like those things you see moving shipping containers at seaports and building skyscrapers, nothing under, say, 10 tons capacity) Obviously I had no use for their service, but I could easily intelligently evaluate what it would be like to be their customer, and compare them to similar emergency service providers and I knew a little bit about the competition and their strengths and weaknes

  • If they were truely black hat, they'd be creating spoof accounts and autoposting from a quiet room where no one can see it. Asking people to, you know, use your product and, maybe, talk about it isn't even that shady.

    Asking, sure. Enforcing, that's something else. But I suspect they won't do much. The employer doesn't have all that much leverage there, because it's all happening out in the public. Not hard to blow the whistle on this, and the various marketplaces can nuke a product without recourse, which i

  • by Coward Anonymous ( 110649 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:05PM (#39648781)

    Get used to it. Everybody does it and much of what you think of as news (especially tech news) is networked people astro turfing for each other.

    If you think some of your friends will find it interesting, why not? Just serve your friends well. Use the app and be honest about what you like about it. If you can't stand it, just mention the app without saying you like it.
    It is somewhat self serving and it may feel dirty but you are helping your company and yourself and informing your friends who may be interested and so everyone benefits. This is how the world works.

  • How about you actually TRY the app? If it's good, go ahead an give it a favorable review, but include full disclosure that you're an employee. That way there is no question of whether you're astroturfing or not.

  • If you do a review of the product, do a review of the product.

    If it sucks, call it out, if it's great then point out it's qualities.

    If the product sucks your job is on the line anyway, the only way that your job will still be there is if the product is actually good so you might as well tell the truth, and if the truth sucks get going on that resume.

  • It seems that companies think of social media in two ways only: 1) Can we use this to our advantage? 2) Can this be used against us? They don't seem to understand that YOUR social media account actually REPRESENTS YOU on the internet, as in your ONLINE IDENTITY. So what they are asking you to do is analogous to making you stand on the sidewalk in front of a supermarket with a bullhorn, in a yellow chicken-suit, and then making you shout "Fred Freddson's Eggs are the BEST EGGS in the market. Buy today! You'l
  • ...and have your handle be "LoyalEmployeeofCompany", where company is the company you're shilling for.
  • You work for evil cocksuckers, but need money. Astroturf on expendable accounts, while systematically and __untraceably__ documenting all the astroturfing you can find.

    Leak the info at your convenience. You get paid, they get fucked, life is good. There is no moral obligation to companies which astroturf.

  • I'd hire a lawyer and have them fire off a terse letter reminding them that my political views are my private business and they can go fuck themselves. Oh, and by the way, my refusal to participate in their bogus political scheme had better not affect my prospects for a raise or advancement or there will be hell to pay. Have a nice day.

  • Obviously selling the product is a concern for your employer. This means it is a concern for you. If your employer cannot make money, how do you expect them to pay you? I'm not telling you to lie, or make anything up, but why aren't you being proactive about this and asking for the app to use for your own? Unless you hate your company, then expect to be let go for some other reason.

  • Well, I'd say, do this:
    Is the app actually any good? Does it do what it's supposed to? Does it have a target audience that would like it, but might not be aware of it?
    If so, promote it honestly. Tell the truth:"I work for this company, and I'm proud of the product we make. If you want an app that does blah, you should try this one out. It's nifty, and I stand behind the work my company and my co-workers have done on it."

    If not... just look for a new job. If you think your company is making crap, you're prob

  • by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:16PM (#39648933)
    That would be if you were expected to fake a bunch of actual reviews. Of course you "like" it. It buys you food. Employees have always been expected to stand behind their company's work in at least a "well, it's ours" kind of way.
    • From the company's perspective it is astroturfing, but from the individual's perspective it is more accurately deemed shilling. Either way, reviewing something without disclosing your financial stake in it is dishonest - it is the very definition of conflict of interest.
  • by royallthefourth ( 1564389 ) <> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:17PM (#39648943)

    When marketing (or most anyone else) sends an email to the entire company, ignore it. Duh.

  • If you have moral difficulties with something outside the scope of your employment agreement and/or job responsibilities, then don't do it.

    Normally someone doesn't have to ask me to astroturf a project I'm working on. I want my company to be a viable source of employment so their bottom line is my bottom line. The more money I make them, the more money there is around raise time, whether they're keeping a naughty or nice list or not. Keeping that in mind, I'm usually very eager to promote things I'm wor

  • I see a lot of "If the employees don't use it, it must be crap!" comments here, which makes me wonder a little about what kinds of jobs people hold. Most of my professional career has been spent writing code for products I would never personally use -- vertical market software for large financial institutions, for example, or custom databases for people with very specific needs. To pick something at random, an app which helps people layout and plan gardens is not necessarily an app most of the programmers w

  • When asking slashdot, use the company name. Backlash will stop this nonsense.

  • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:23PM (#39649059) Homepage Journal

    If it's good, I'd say so. If it sucks, well, then I'd have some thinking to do. Of course, if a company is relying on ME to do their PR, it's probably near bankruptcy anyway. :-P

  • So let me get this straight...You are not part of the marketing department but the marketing folks are asking you and the rest of the company to do their jobs for them??? That's what it sounds like to me.
  • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @05:01PM (#39649559)
    Chances are, if you are proud of the company you work for, and are happy to be there, nobody in that company needs to ask you to astroturf, or do any kind of promotion.

    If you are here asking the question as to what you should do... then I think you already know that answer.

    And that answer is to get a better job, with someone you enjoy working for. Or at least, someone who won't make you want to shower every time you come home at night to wash the slime off. Yes, it's a tough economy -- but it got that way by the immoral actions of the minority. They way out of it, is not by further immoral actions.

    And at risk of Godwinning the thread, the "only obeying orders" is an excuse, never a defense. You are responsible for your own moral actions. Internally, for your own peace of mind -- and in the eyes of the law.
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @05:02PM (#39649569) Homepage Journal

    Give the app a try. Perhaps you'll actually like it and ease your dilemma.

  • by Fallen Andy ( 795676 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @05:11PM (#39649687)
    Ah marketting - I remember them (...asking for a manual *before* i designed the program haha).

    One approach - just point out that spamming social media with ilikes from a single source will very likely backfire and

    get the company *bad* publicity (...and hint that marketroids might lose *their* jobs) .

    Might even scare them a bit (wipes crocodile tear from eye....)


    (Yes it is *personal* accounts, but a big batch in one go is a dead giveaway)

  • by LoyalOpposition ( 168041 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @05:40PM (#39650003)

    How would you deal with this?

    Morally? Try out the app. Write what you really think. If you don't like it, either don't say anything, or tell the company what you didn't like. Maybe they can use your input to improve the thing. Worse comes to worst, tell them that at least now they know you're truthful when you tell them something.


  • by TheInternetGuy ( 2006682 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @05:19AM (#39655227)

    I think this is sort of like asking Slashdot whether or not you should jerk off in public to drum up business because your employer asks you.

    And the answer is of-course it depends.

    It depends on - in no particular order:

    - Is it in line with your morals and ethics?
    - Can it be construed to be part of your job description?
    - Is it legal in the jurisdiction you are in?
    - Does it pay well?
    - Would you enjoy doing it?
    - Do you need the money?
    - What happens if you refuse?
    - Do you have other offers?

    Answer these questions to your self, and you probably know what to do.

  • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @07:23AM (#39655745) Homepage
    There are two parts to this question:
    A) Should I like the product?
    Yes, unless you totally hate it. If you like it, then like it. If you haven't seen it, well it is YOUR companies product, so you like it right? I mean in some sense it is making you money, so why not like it? Obviously if you feel it is a piece of crap, then don't like it. Otherwise what is the problem?
    B) Will there be repercussions if you don't like it? As in will some PR drone go through the list and see who liked it?
    I guess that is a remote possibility, but if you are the paranoid, you might want to look for another job (to relieve your stress levels). Your company doesn't really care if you click the like button or not. They just want the like # to be larger.
    If you feel THAT strongly about it, then don't like it. But from the sound of it, there are other issues going on at your company you need to resolve.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner