I tried to post a comprehensive response last week but it looks like I made an error submitting the post as it does not appear in the thread. It probably isn't worth hammering out again because I doubt I'm going to change anyone's mind. The difference in opinion is probably due to a broader difference in ideaology and could never be resolved on such a micro level.
There are two two things from my attempted post that I would like to go on the record about. The first is that I am not trolling or looking for an argument. God knows, the last person I would attempt to pick a fight with would be someone that is as cogent and articulate as Scott. The second is that I would like to clarify what I meant by "additional transactions costs."
You'll have to flesh that out for me. What are the "additional transaction costs"? From the writer's perspective, including a disclosure in a blog post or message board comment doesn't cost a dime (except perhaps in credibility, which is the point).
When you regulate an activity you add transaction costs. In this case, the additional transaction costs are costs associated with reading and understanding regulations. You said yourself:
If you write about food on the Internet--whether as a professional, a freelancer, a blogger, or a message board participant--you ought to read the FTC's recently revised "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." You may not think these official administrative interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission Act impact you, but you might be surprised at how broadly they're drafted.
Rely on your own reading (or preferably your lawyer's reading), of course, but perhaps the most significant point, from a writer's perspective, relates to disclosure of "material connections" (16 C.F.R. 255.5).
The marginal utility that someone gets from making a post on an anonymous messageboard over the cost of their time and attention is already pretty small. When you add the cost of reading and understanding regulations (which might even include hiring counsel!), you eat into that utility. Again, I don't think these regulations will ever be broadly enforced online, but if they were, I think you would see less useful content.