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Astroturfing :: Another Bane of Bad PR Practice

Astroturfing is “The use of paid shills to create the impression of a popular movement, through means like letters to newspapers from soi-disant ‘concerned citizens’, paid opinion pieces, and the formation of grass-roots lobbying groups that are actually funded by a PR group (AstroTurf? is fake grass; hence the term). See also sock puppet, tentacle. (Source)” according to one of the definitions posted on the AntiAstroturfing / HomePage in the NewPR/Wiki. This is a new project from Paull Young and Trevor Cook.

…how refreshing to see constructive criticism and action on important industry issues… too often some say “Don’t be critical”, but I think it is an important part of online dialogue…

Here is Paull Young’s appeal for involvement. You may read more about the program at the NewPR/Wiki AntiAstroturfing.HomePage.

AntiastroturfingSeeking advocates that will join together in battling this unfortunate practice, Trevor Cook offers this post urging involvment.

Something that spurred on this campaign was Paull’s PRIA post about the sad practice undertaken by a PR advocacy group.

I wrote previously about how Kayak.com’s ad campaign is being called – if only by one person – an astroturfing effort. I don’t believe it is, but the idea intruiging.

Check out the new project from Paull and Trevor. I wish them luck with it. You can even get a cool button for your blog. Transparency requires that I share my discussions with Paull about the project. I helped a teeny bit on some technical issues and am not directly involved with the project. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, however, and I support their efforts.

Something I forgot to mention, who wants to guess how long it will take for someone to claim that this anti-astrofurfing campaign is actually an astroturfing campaign itself? It isn’t, of course, but the irony just struck me.


  1. Robert, I read the links and I’m still not quite sure what astroturfing is. I think one example is if someone who works to promote a product, goes to a chat room or somewhere and gives praises about the product under an alias, is this correct? What is another form of astroturfing?