NVIDIA denies hiring online shills

A controversy is brewing over whether NVIDIA hired "online actors" to promote its products in web forums. The issue stems from NVIDIA's involvement with the Arbuthnot Entertainment Group (AEG), a firm whose services include "messageboard monitoring and response" and "strategic seeding viral assets to ensure they are spread far and wide." NVIDIA's Derek Perez has commented on the story, insisting that NVIDIA does not hire online actors or shills. However, he also said the following:
"AEG helps us to manage the online community - we engage with some NV fans to help educate people on the web."
We called Perez to clarify that statement, and he told us that NVIDIA utilizes longtime NVIDIA fans to help answer product and tech support questions in online forums. These fans are used to help communicate directly with the enthusiast market because NVIDIA can't answer all the questions themselves. Perez was adamant that these fans were not paid, but conceded that they do get thrown a free board every once in a while, in part to help test newer drivers, he claimed. Perez also confirmed that there's no obligation for these fans to disclose their relationship with NVIDIA, although he doesn't think there's much of a relationship.
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