Last time I blogged about something that annoyed me, many of you thought I was seriously angry. So I'll begin by saying that the only things that make me seriously angry have serious consequences: war, injustice, discrimination, child abuse, environmental destruction. (Not an exhaustive list, but that's the idea.) Everything else is simple annoyance. Pet peeves. Just stuff I don't like.
So let's agree that I'm not seething, steam is not coming out of my ears, and this is not a rant. This is just something I don't care for.
I dislike when bloggers ask for donations.
I first noticed this a couple of years ago, while visiting a popular female blogger who I won't name. With time to kill on my old weekend job in New York, I dropped her a line to ask what exactly her readers were being asked to contribute to. I mean, she's using Blogger, the software is free. She appeared to be writing just like the rest of us, not performing any special activism or offering a service. I didn't say any of this, I didn't express my opinion. I only asked. She never replied.
Since then, an increasing number of bloggers have started asking for donations. The blog-ad usually says "Donate to this Blog". Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't that another say of saying "Give me some money?"
Some blogs put a real emphasis on donations, the bloggy equivalent of running a pledge drive. I find this a tad self-important. If you choose to put a lot of time and money into your blog, that's a perfectly reasonable choice, like any other hobby or interest. But why should you expect your readers pay for it? If it costs too much to maintain the kind of blog you have in mind, scale back.
The bottom line, for me, is that none of us are doing anything that wouldn't be done just as well without us. If any of our favourite bloggers called it quits, we might miss them, but our lives would be unchanged. We'd find the information elsewhere. We'd find something else to read, and probably something just as good.
I'm not saying the blogosphere isn't important. It's an incredible tool for building community and sharing information. But we're all doing that. We choose to do this, on our own time. People who try to use blogging as a form of employment accept advertising and try to re-sell stories. But they shouldn't, in my opinion, ask their readers to pay for their choice.
My main gripe with "donate to this blog" is that it's not actually a donation, in the sense of contributing to some greater good. Giving money to a blogger will not help save one acre of rainforest or one harp seal, or help end black-box voting, or get a progressive elected, or keep abortion safe and legal, or find a cure for AIDS. It's just giving your own money to another person, for no reason. You may choose to be this generous. But I think it's dishonest of bloggers to ask.