Word of the Week: blogola

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sun Jan 16 22:09:48 UTC 2005

There's a new "blog" blend to join "blogorrhea", "blognoscenti", etc.
"Blogola" (BLOG + payOLA) has been circulating on the blogosphere this
past week due to a mini-scandal (blown out of proportion by a Jan. 14
_Wall St. Journal_ article) about bloggers receiving payments from Howard
Dean's presidential campaign.

A good source for blog citations is <www.technorati.com>, which gives
chronologically ordered search results (unlike, say, Google):



Posted by: jbm (October 26, 2004 10:58 AM)

Doesn't this imply that this wasn't paid for, but a freebie? If so, why
aren't we getting disclaimers for what otherwise amounts to shilling for
free schwag - blogola?


Posted by: Ann Althouse (December 20, 2004 1:27 PM)

An emailer writes that there should be a spiffy little word for blogger
payola, like "blogola." Maybe we could also do with a word for blog
product placement, like maybe "product blogment."


Posted by: Ronald Coleman (January 13, 2005 8:56 PM)

The only real difference I can see is that one form of blogola is
liquidated, but the other sources of bias can be and of course are in some
cases far stronger.


Posted by: Major John (January 13, 2005 10:05 PM)

If you really care if someone is getting blogola, you'll make your choice
of whom you read based on their disclosure (or lack thereof) and/or who is
paying/hiring them.


Posted by: Impacted Wisdom Truth (January 14, 2005 6:25 AM)

Perhaps we should call paying off bloggers to shill for politicians,
"Blogola" in tribute to "payola."


Posted by: Jeff Jarvis (January 15, 2005)

Give credit to the coining of blogola to an Ann Althouse reader.


Posted by: Ann Althouse (January 16, 2005 7:17 AM)

Is it fair for me to get traffic from links to posts of mine where I note
a term coined by someone who emailed me? Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for linking
to this December 20th post of mine, where I offer the word "blogola" for
money secretly paid to bloggers for positive postings. My emailer
originally suggested "payblogga" as the word, then added:

    That's a horrible name for it, no flow at all. "Blogola" sounds
    better, but it loses the derivation of the term. It could just be
    left as "payola", but today's buzzword/catchphrase world would
    desperately want to have "blog" in there somewhere.

I preferred "blogola," because it does flow better. There are other
examples of coinages that misuse the root term. Consider the way the
"-oholic" ending of "alcoholic" is used in words like "workaholic" and
"chocoholic." Really, only the "-ic" should be needed, as that's all
that's been added to "alcohol" to produce "alcoholic." The problem is that
"-ic" won't be recognized for what it's supposed to be unless more of
"alcoholic" is brought along. It just doesn't work to say "workic" and
"chocolatic." The "Watergate" ending "-gate" is a similar example. Nothing
about "-gate" meant scandal in the original word, but it's a distinctive
ending, and we know what it means. I think "-ola" is like that. The loss
of "pay-" might seem wrong, because that was where the original meaning
was, but I think we need a suffix, not a prefix, and somehow "-ola" has
come to signify the corruptness of under-the-table payments.


--Ben Zimmer

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