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The Kid Blogger Affair

2:51 pm PHT

Many of my readers are not into the so-called local blogging community, so here’s my unsolicited coverage of The Kid Blogger Affair, i.e., the question of the authorship of the Making Money Online with a 13-Year Old blog, which is owned by Carl Ocab, now a 14-year-old teenager.

Quotes from the Pinoy Blogosphere

Noemi in “Ethical Blogging”:

I don’t care if you are a man pretending to be woman or a prime time woman assuming a young woman’s persona. What infuriates me is when a parent uses their minor child to create a blog and misrepresent some facts! What gets to me is that it’s unfair to the child. Do I continue to be a spectator of this modern day “The Emperor’s New Clothes”?

Doc Tess in a comment:

I think I know which blog you are referring to. Yup, an exchange of some words did convince me that the blog isn’t that of the kid. But I don’t think we can do anything about it. It’s their personal lives, after all. One thing we could do, though, is stop visiting the blog. That’s about it. Yeah, it’s sad that it happens. Maybe the problem is that of perception. In this case, the parent doesn’t seem to perceive it as deception, but rather a curious way to market himself in the blogosphere.

Shari in a comment:

Friends and I have been talking about it since the blog became a hit. I’ve always said that I don’t believe for a moment that the kid is the one who blogs, or that if he does, the kid’s parent/s make/s him do it. I’ve gone as far as saying that he has no life. And meeting them proved me right.

Miguel in a comment:

Another factor is GREED. I googled for the father’s name, and all sorts of internet marketing crap came out. Maybe blogger senior is bribing junior with all this dubiously earned wealth.

Andrew in “Making Money At Home Through Your 13-Year Old Child”:

I’ve been having my suspicions about this kid ever since he started blogging about “making money”. I mean, he’s only 13 right? How can he talk about moneymaking like it’s a piece of cake? Where are all his insights coming from? When I was 13, I was just entering puberty, throwing away all my toys and thinking of only one thing (hmm..) And honestly, I wouldn’t have had enough smarts to talk about making money, let alone any remotely interesting topic that’s bloggable.

BA in “Identity Crisis”:

What’s so cool and disturbing about Web2.0 is that it’s sooooooo easy to fake your identity. That’s why I use my real nickname and last name in the blogosphere, so as not to lose my identity when I read and comment on other blogs.

Karlo in a comment:

Me and my friend have been speculating about this ever since the blog has become such a hit. […] I feel sorry for the kid. Instead of spreading his own voice, he ends up using the voice of his dad.

Hari Skwatir in a comment:

If we haven’t got a substantial proof, I think it’s still fair to give the kid the benefit of our doubt. Afterall, blogging about “money making” is no mystery these days. All you have to do is visit similar blogs and mimic them.

Aileen in a comment:

My son is a teenager and I know how he writes. From day 1 I knew it was quite obvious who was doing the writing. I’m teaching my child to blog, but on his own terms and based on his own interest. Oh well…

Abe in “Will the real kid blogger, please stand up?”:

We have a prodigy blogger in our midst. Bloggers admired the kid and were proud of him only to be disappointed after finally meeting him and talking to him about the subject he’s so passionate about. The inspiration fizzled and we thought we’ve been had. Some of us are not immune to issues of disclosure, transparency and openness to conversation.

Jayvee in a comment:

i just hope carl doesn’t get too affected by this pressure. i sincerely think that scrutiny to this level should not be pulled on a 13 (or 14) year old.

Benj in a comment:

This has gotten out of hand. My take is short and sweet. If you think a blog is fraudulent, don’t visit it. End of discussion.

Dine in “If Your Son is Attacked, Defend Him Fast, If You Must”:

Let me talk in the point of view of a parent. If my son is being doubted, let alone attacked, immediately I will see RED. More so, if in my heart of hearts, I know that the accusations they are hurling my son are baseless. Oh, boy, will I prove to them that they are wrong—point by point I will throw their glaring mistakes right into their faces. I will not even practice my ever favorite mantra of patience—counting 1…2…3….10. I have to defend my son. I will defend my son, FAST!

Manuel in “Carl Ocab’s Ghostwriter”:

When I was 13, I hardly wrote. And while I’m still struggling with the thought that a teenager writes that well (and even better than a number of much older folks, myself included), I’m left with the fact that there is no evidence that suggests Carl did not write those posts.

Connie in “Disclosure policies, Carlocab and blogging ethics”:

Why should the blog of a child serving as a mouthpiece of the father, if it were indeed true, be less ethical than those of bloggers serving as mouthpieces for business entities, for instance, when they blog about products being promoted by PR companies, in exchange for free dinner, drinks, “being seen” and benefiting from the subsequent rounds of “link love”? Do disclosures of having been invited make them less of mouthpieces? For all we know, the child may be going through a real learning experience here. Meanwhile, bloggers who are so fond of attending PR events and blogging about them do it for reasons much less noble.

Now, I ask: Which community? What is “acceptable”? The truth is, bloggers and other web site publishers willing to adhere to strict ethical standards constitute a minority. Surf the web. I do it everyday and guess what? The assholes far outnumber the good guys. Splogs, rip-offs, “manual aggregators” living off other bloggers’ content, parked domains and so-so blogs without substantial content put up for no other reason than to steal keywords and page ranks from legitimate sites, AND TO SERVE GOOGLE ADS, are all part of the norm.

Cathy in “The Ghost who writes”:

BUT, if you want me to believe that children write those long and well constructed sentences in some blogs, I will advise you to take a hike. Lakarin mo mula Maynila hanggang San Fernando at pagbalik mo madiin pa ring HINDI ang isasagot ko. But then I would not condemn the parents if they do ghostwrite for their children just like when I did not publish (I just asked for the ghost blogger to stand up) nor look for the ghost writer of the nine year old blogger who I found to be the first to make journals as early as 1996. Too good to be true to believe that those were the writings of a little girl who must still be playing her favorite Barbie Doll. Then the mother started blogging. Sherlock Holmes, your services are no longer needed. Ethical blogging? Espleyn to me please. Dahan-dahan, mahina ang aking pang-unawa.

BrianB in a comment:

This kid writes like an English teacher. He should be on Korina Sanchez or something. I don’t mind if a kid is better than me on designing sites (I don’t even know html), but he can can actually write perfect English with a few “intentional” colloquialism here and there. I’ve heard of eleven year olds write magnificent epic poems, but the controlled language on this one just ain’t believable for a 13-year-old.

Abe in “Yuga meets the Kid Blogger”:

I believe the father and the son has a good relationship. I couldn’t remember talking with my dad about serious stuff around Carl’s age. I don’t think Carl is being forced to go into internet marketing/problogging by his father (well, he has access to his dad’s credit card, that’s for sure). The kid had other previous interests in sports, music and even girls. That being said, I don’t believe there was any issue of exploitation, whatsoever.

Dave in a comment:

I wonder why these crusaders aren’t worried about the 14 yo girl with forged papers who is working as a GRO or the 14yo boy with 2 years of schooling who spends 14 hours a day in his uncle’s jeepney collecting fares or the 14 yo girl who cleaned our house yesterday because her mom) who usual works for us one day a week) was sick and if the girl didn’t come by and work … and get paid … they wouldn’t have eaten last night?

Jhay in “Hello, it’s the blogosphere”:

Should we cast judgement on mere hearsay or observations? It’s a good thing Sir Abe has done something which is what should’ve been done in the first place; meet and talk with the 13-year-old-blogger and his dad. Hopefully things will be sorted out.

Connie in “Sometimes, defense is not enough”:

There are situations too when parents throw accusations at a child in order to attack the parents. […] It’s not even always the case that the parents are guilty. People just love drawing conclusions and throwing accusations based on suspicions alone.

More Quotes

An anonymous person to Dine in a comment:

I am just wondering, when did coaching a child become bad? Assuming that Carlo’s father is really “coaching” him to earn money? What’s wrong with that? It’s between the two of them and you have no right to meddle there. If my memory serves me right, Sexymom, you have a son who is younger than Carlo. And he knows blogging! Don’t tell me that he discovered blogging alone without “coaching”. Let’s say your youngest son is indeed a “good” blogger. Then there’s a chance that by the time he is 13 years old, he can do things like Carlo. So why does it seem that you people think that it is impossible for Carlo to do that?

Cathy in a comment:

If they feel that the child is being exploited, then the issue should have been thoroughly discussed with some people who are “genuinely concerned about the boy”, write a letter addressed to the father and settle this issue without subjecting the minor to the unfavorable media exposure.

Richard in “My thoughts on the Carlocab issue”:

One problem that I see with “this” group of bloggers is that they have crab mentality. Masakit mang sabihin pero parang mga utak talangka sila. Puwede na ring “inggitero”. Yun lang yung nakikita ko. They might as well create an association of Filipino bloggers and I have a perfect name for it. Talangka Bloggers Association (TABA).

Anton in “Much Ado About Carlo”:

[The Ocabs] are actually laughing this whole thing off to the bank, because the more you talk about them, the more of a byword they become, the more famous they get, and the more people will want to come see the site etc. etc. Let them be, leave them alone and just mind your own business, because his business, as you may have not noticed, is thriving.

Cathy in “The ghost who writes part 2—The ghost writer with a past”:

I am not also fully convinced that the Kid blogger wrote all what you read in his blog. Sabi ko sainyo, take a hike. This time, akyatin ninyo ang Mt. Apo at bumaba kayo, HINDI pa rin ang sagot ko.

There must be a collaboration between the father and the son. Nothing wrong with that. Ethical implication? Anong ethics. There may be misrepresentation. Is it a crime?

Some Points To Ponder

  • If you see a 13-year-old kid write about financial topics and high-end entrepreneurship with prose that can put many adults to shame, and especially if the father is writing about the very same topics, it’s impossible not to jump to conclusions. Note that many people have been thinking about this issue independently. You can’t blame them for thinking this (but you could blame them for not handling the situation in a more diplomatic manner).

  • Just because you weren’t blogging at 13 or writing beautifully at that age does not mean that this kid is not the real thing. It does not follow.

  • Also, just because a respected blogger thinks one thing does not make it true. (Yes, I’m guilty of this sometimes.)

  • Yes, there are more important issues like street children and the war on terrorism and global warming but that does not make this particular issue something not worth discussing. Also saying that people should help other less-priviledged children instead of “coming to the rescue” of this particular kid is beside the point. After all, those zealous people might actually be already doing those charitable acts in the first place.

  • Comparing the morality of the supposed proxy writing issue to other situations (e.g., PR blogging) is also beside the point. Moral relativism is not the framework of the ongoing discussion.

  • You cannot hope to argue with a former practicing lawyer if you are not a lawyer/debater yourself even if the lawyer’s points are actually wrong.

  • Some people are taking personal observations too personally. On the other hand, some people are really not diplomatic nor sensitive.

  • The whole affair “seemed” to get out of hand. But if it did, it really wasn’t because of the machinations of a person or a group of people. If you’ll notice, no one was instrumental in blowing things out of proportion. It just happened. There’s no obvious tipping point here. Welcome to the Internet.

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Comments

Comment times are in Philippine time (+0800).

1

On 3:32 p.m., 14 Aug 2007, benj wrote:

If we were in the same debate and you were my opening team, I would be very upset and irked with the way you summed the exchange.

Well done, Eugene. This post is very comprehensive and objective. The closing team would’ve had a hard time of cooking up a new argument to put forward.

Also, who’s the lawyer? Hehe

2

On 4:07 p.m., 14 Aug 2007, Joni wrote:

Nice, Eugene! I didn’t know the topic was THIS hot. lol.

Now I feel bad for Carl.  :(

3

On 4:27 p.m., 14 Aug 2007, Dave Starr wrote:

ice aggregation and summation job … more thoughts and opinions than I had seen before … a little example of what many bloggers say the blogosphere is about, but it seldom is.

And point well taken where you point out that indeed some of those who are so shocked at the ’exploitation” of “Carl” may, indeed, be working against the real-world exploitations I referred to. If there are any, feel free to speak about it, (private if you wish), and I’ll be happy to offer a private or public apology … contact info is on my site or you cna text to 0919–231–5625. My personal guess is, I’ll receive no emails or texts … but I’ve been wrong before.

4

On 4:30 p.m., 14 Aug 2007, Shari wrote:

I have no problems with a 13-year-old’s good writing style. Yung topic lang talaga…it’s <em>off</em> for a kid his age. But that’s just all I’m going to say about it; I refuse to say anything more. Whether I believe or not that the kid is the one who’s writing is irrelevant now.  :p

Loved the points at the end. Well done.

5

On 4:53 p.m., 14 Aug 2007, Karlo.PinoyBlogero wrote:

i guess I know whom you’re referring to when you were talking about the “lawyer”.

The issue at hand is already swaying out of control. Exchange of opinions here, blog attacks over there. i suggest that everyone should back out a little and look and talk about things in a more diplomatic ways.

Otherwise, things could get really ugly if things continue.

6

On 8:02 p.m., 14 Aug 2007, missyosigirl wrote:

very brave in entering the fray ha.  :P

i guess we will never know the real deal about the kid blogger.

bloggers have made their opinions known, on their blogs, or as comments on other blogs, and i think we should leave it at that. it’s enough that the fire has been started. and as long as the kid blogger still posts, the fire will definitely not stop burning. tama na yon, wag na nating palakihin pa diba? di na kelangan ng away or ingay para maisapuso natin ang isyu. maalala at maalala natin yan pag pupunta tayo sa blog na yon  :) [kung isyu nga talaga ito ha]

good thing i didn’t read this post at the office. dalawang posts lang nabasa ko about the issue at hindi nako nakapagtrabaho  :P eh eto pa kaya, lahat ata ng posts about it naisama  :D

7

On 8:44 p.m., 14 Aug 2007, Prudence wrote:

Good points you made there.

I just hope everything would simmer down soon. Although, I think there’s a new issue on the horizon.

And who’s the former lawyer you’re referring to?

8

On 8:54 p.m., 14 Aug 2007, Prudence wrote:

Oh okay, after reading some more blogs, now I know who the former lawyer is.

9

On 2:09 p.m., 15 Aug 2007, Riz wrote:

Nice Eugene. I read a lot of blogs about this issue already and honestly, yours is the most objective I’ve seen so far. Good job.

10

On 3:24 p.m., 15 Aug 2007, Jon Limjap wrote:

Nobody needs to continue arguing with an unrelenting lawyer if they think their points are strong and moot.

I think at the end of the day the real issue would be the strength of conviction by which people stand by their opinions.

Hindi pwedeng padalos-dalos ka lang sa pagbibitaw ng salita at opinyon sa Internet—kailangan mo itong panindigan. And there are people who just do this better than others.

Mahirap yung banat lang nang banat kung hindi mo kayang ipaglaban—and lawyers and debaters are trained at that. They’re even trained to reverse sides in the argument and STILL win.

If they’re good at arguing, you can’t take that against them.

11

On 10:11 p.m., 15 Aug 2007, Jon Limjap wrote:

I forgot to state:

I do agree that moral relativism is not the framework of the ongoing discussion. I also believe that there needs to be substantial proof for anybody to prove or debunk the accusations, as they are, rather, grave.

12

On 2:57 p.m., 16 Aug 2007, Anton wrote:

All this brouhaha over Carl has rocked the Philippine blogosphere. Ok, he didn’t write it, he wrote it, he wrote it with the help of his dad.

One thing that I really want to ask is this; if we did find out that he was being exploited, would we have reported it.

We should let them be, like i said, pinapasikat lang natin sila.

As for the comments on the lawyer and the other bloggers; well, we all are entitled to our own opinions, which is, before we all forget, one of the basic foundations of blogging.

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