Is it acceptable for bloggers to ask for sponsorship from brands directly? The same question can be asked of journalists and editorial staff.

The Internet democratises publishing. Using a blog platform or other content management system, anybody from anywhere in the world with Internet access and a computer device can be an editor, a writer, or publisher.

Alas, whether you are able to draw a substantial audience is another story altogether.

Recently in Singapore, a self-proclaimed, full-time professional blogger (via her LinkedIn profile) named Janice Leong (Janiqueel), wrote to a local hair salon to get free haircuts. When her request was not granted, she turned nasty on Conrad Chua, the salon manager:

If this woman was a journalist, one phone call from Conrad to her boss would probably have gotten her fired or garnered her severe corporate demerit points for the utter lack of professionalism.

However, there lies the problem: Who keep bloggers in check?

The term “bloggers” refers to a loose collection of vastly different individuals, each writing for different purposes with different agendas. There is no central code of ethics on professionalism governing bloggers.

That is the beauty of it and also where the shortcomings lie.

On the one hand, anyone can be a publisher, encouraging the free flow of information and reporting, much like how Twitter users fueled the Arab Spring revolution in the Middle East.

On the flip side, precisely because anyone can be a publisher, there will always be some black sheep like Janiqueel who try to capitalise on the “blogger” tag: “You better give me this or that, or else I will write negatively about your product or service.”

Janiqueel has since claimed her Google account was hacked and the nasty e-mail was not sent by her, but by the mystery hacker. This hacker must be someone who’s very idle or who hated Janiqueel very much to go through so much trouble just to send out a nasty e-mail to ruin the “reputation” of an otherwise unknown blogger.

Ironically, I believe no one will remember this incident a few months from now. Janiqueel, on the other hand, will benefit from all the free publicity and become another “famous” lifestyle blogger, living the life she wanted with tons of freebies.

Borrowing a quote from the late Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping: “It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.”

It doesn’t matter if the Web traffic to your blog is from fans or haters, as long as they give you traffic, they are good readers. Such is the peculiarity of online publishing.

Tweet me @alvinologist with suggestions on what freebies you would like as a blogger. Use the hashtag #WhereMyFreebies, e.g., I am Alvinology and I am considering blogging about diamonds. De Beers should give me a few for reviews. #WhereMyFreebies