What should the “freebie rule” be for bloggers?

Gift For years, journalists have maintained a "no gift" rule because they never wanted their credibility be put into question.  While I am sure some journalists bend/break that rule…it’s pretty much the industry standard.

But most bloggers are not journalists by trade.  They aren’t employed by a media outlet and they certainly aren’t objective observers.  Most bloggers infuse their opinions into their posts. 

So is it wrong for a blogger to accept freebies?  There’s a pretty broad spectrum of opinions out there.

Lewis Green raises this issue and takes a very clear stand in his post Does taking a freebie mean you can’t trust me?

Tim Almond talks about Microsoft sending out laptops and his opinion of accepting gifts.

Robert Scoble say as long as you disclose you received the product (in this case…the laptop) for free, your ethics are fine.

Joel Spolsky calls it a bribe that is corrupting the medium.

B.L. Ochman makes her take on the question pretty clear in a post from late December where she called PR agency Edelman’s ethics into question.

What do YOU think? 

A laptop or a trip to Seattle to meet Bill Gates (examples in the above links) seems like the extreme that only the most influential bloggers will be tempted by.  But what about a free weekend at a bed and breakfast?  Or an advance copy of a book?  Or a pair of sunglasses?  How about a marketing white report that will later be sold?  Tickets to a show or concert?

Should a blogger ever accept a gift?  When is it okay?  If a blogger does accept a freebie — how should they handle that fact if they post about it?

UPDATE:  Some additional opinions…

Chip Griffin has this to say. 

David Reich adds his always valuable and insightful 2 cents.

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