Content writing advice blogger Jeremy Rivera shared a story with me this morning which seems to have pretty much flown under the blogosphere radar undetected. Yesterday, Internettrees.com became the center of a controversy on both Sphinn and Twitter on the basis that the concept of the site was immoral. The site offers to plant a live tree to help restore damaged forests and a virtual tree in the form of a link on their site for a donation of $2 ($1 for each tree). The controversy? The second dollar clearly isn’t a charitable donation and thus winds up in the owners pocket. This has lead many to believe that this is all just a way to make money and not really about the charity. I say, who cares?
Let’s be honest here the concerns people have brought up about the fact that profit is being made off of what is posed as a charity are warranted. But at the same time IT’S ONLY $2! And are we forgetting that you are getting something in return? You get a link back to your website AND you help the planet that we live on. Nobody is losing here people! So what if this guy is making a little bit of money, at least he’s doing it in a way that benefits the environment.
Some will argue that if you’re trying to help the environment why not do so directly through the Arbor Day Foundation? Well, because the Arbor Day Foundation isn’t going to give you a link, and let’s face it, most of the people going to this site are not doing so because they are hoping to plant a tree. Furthermore, a number of the people who would buy a link probably wouldn’t think to donate to this cause. In this instance the site capitalizes on those who seek out links while benefiting their charity of choice. So again I ask you, what is there to lose?
An additional concern that Jeremy brought up in his post that wasn’t part of the original debate was what kind of stance Google would have on a site that is essentially selling links. And honestly I think they are going to look the other way on this one unless someone makes a big stink about it. First off they are not promoting the site as a site that sells links. They are simply providing a link to those who donate. The site is also trying to direct its efforts towards bettering the planet, and Google is clearly an eco-friendly company.
The biggest kicker about all of this is the fact that this site and the stories related to it were so quickly shot down by various outlets. Sphinn.com quickly took down the site saying that it was no relevant to SEO. Then Jeremy’s post which was sphunn was also taken down, followed by the debate that continued on twitter after the bashing on Sphinn. There are bigger fish to fry and I don’t think that slamming a guy who is trying to provide a means to sustain the environment while making a couple bucks is really who you should be attacking. How about the spammers, hackers, and various other internet scammers that aren’t providing anything of value through their sites or services? If you’re helping the environment who doesn’t profit from it? It’s one more way to sustain a greener planet for generations to come.