One issue not addressed by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's rules is what to do when those asked to spread the good word decide there's no good word to spread. Recently, several members of BzzAgent's word-of-mouth network complained on the company's blog about a new product: the Home Café coffee machine. Though many reviewers liked the Home Café just fine, some said it was poorly designed and brewed coffee that was either way too hot or tepid. Others referred readers to negative reviews of the product on One man said he had promised to bring the machine to his book group and was disappointed when he received a broken sample.

In and among complaints about the grade of plastic used to make the lid and the machine's propensity to emit steam or (some said) smoke, a few people raised a more fundamental question: Are we obliged to talk up a product we don't like? No, a BzzAgent manager replied on the blog. All that is required is honest feedback.

As one member of the BzzAgent network pointed out, it seemed like an awful lot of excitement over a few people sharing their opinions about the product. Then again, the power of people sharing their opinions is exactly the point.