A team of researchers from U.C. Santa Barbara’s Carsey-Wolf Center are polling Huffpo bloggers to see how they feel about their free labor. Answer options for that last question include “Bloggers should form a union,” “Bloggers should withhold their labor” and “Bloggers should launch a publicity campaign.” Yes, yes and yes but let’s not hold our breath waiting for it to happen!

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Is she running a platform or a plantation? That’s for her bloggers to say. Image by Getty Images for AOL via @daylife

The Newspaper Guild says the Huffington Post is taking advantage of its unpaid bloggers. Huffpo says its bloggers are only too happy to write for free. What do the bloggers themselves say? With a few exceptions, we haven’t heard much from them.

A team of researchers from U.C. Santa Barbara’s Carsey-Wolf Center aims to change that. The researchers are polling Huffpo bloggers under the aegis of the Media Industries Project, which studies trends in media culture with a focus on digital media, globalization and creative labor.

“We have been planning this survey from the time we heard about the merger,” says Ryan Fuller, a doctoral candidate working on the study, via email. “The merger provides an opportunity to focus on the conditions of digital labor (e.g., bloggers), and who is responsible for value creation (contributors v. distributors) in the digital environment.”

The survey is being conducted independently, without cooperation by Huffpo or AOL. Since researchers had to track down subjects’ email addresses themselves, only a fraction of Huffpo’s 9,000 bloggers are being polled. The questions being asked include:

-Do you feel you should receive part of the $315 million AOL used to purchase the Huffington Post?

-Do you feel that the Huffington Post’s brand has changed since the merger with AOL?

-How would you compare the conditions at the Huffington Post to other sites you have blogged for?

-Some have raised concerns about the labor arrangement bloggers have with The Huffington Post. In your opinion, what do you think is the best way for bloggers to address the issue of compensation for digital labor?

Answer options for that last question include “Bloggers should form a union,” “Bloggers should withhold their labor” and “Bloggers should launch a publicity campaign.”

Fuller says results from the survey will be published in April.

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