Disclaimer vs. Disclosure

Photomatt and Roland have recently disclaimed things when they mention a product or article on a topic when really they want to disclose something. When people or companies disclaim something, you distance yourself from it (the classic "we are not responsible for" line), but when people disclose something (which is what Matt and Roland are doing), they are simply making people aware of their connection to something or information that may discredit them. The word "simply" is misleading, because disclosing something that, if it were kept secret, would harm your reputation is a profound act: it is effectively saying to the world "I have an interest in what I am discussing; I leave it up to you decide whether that's ethical".

People who disclose their relationships with what they discuss have a higher degree of credibility than those who don't. Wouldn't you rather hear from a politician "I was a board member of a company that this bill affects" before voting on it, or somebody who is using a product and talking about it with you who says "I should mention that I own stock in the company that produces this"? Since there is a line for everything, nobody can disclose everything (whether they should is a different matter), but if you stand to gain or lose significantly when you praise or disrespect something, then a simple disclosure of that interest goes a long way in helping us decide whether you are overly influenced by that interest.

A disclosure: I've done some work with Roland and I think Matt is cool (Roland too).