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A Weblog Foundation proposal
May 13, 2002 11:15 AM   Subscribe

A Weblog Foundation proposal aninteresting proposal via http://aintnobaddude.blogspot.com/ to help sustain blogging as an important aspect of media and online community. Any ideas for or against this proposal?
posted by Postroad (56 comments total)

 
Blogging is no-more important than any other aspect of the Internet. Want to blog, pay for own admission, thank you very much.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:20 AM on May 13, 2002


I propose the creation of The Wanklog Foundation for the advancement of wanklogs and online wanking.
wank. wank. wank. wank.
never before have we seen so many wankers so impressed with thier own wanking.

posted by quonsar at 11:26 AM on May 13, 2002


Once you start putting financial incentives into the whole blogging mix, you lose the individual and independent nature of a good blog. Would we fund Dave Winer or Ev Williams? Would they fund me?

This would almost be like a Blogger's AARP and NEA combined.
posted by mkelley at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2002


sorry, forgot to add the .com for Evan's site.
posted by mkelley at 11:32 AM on May 13, 2002


Once you start putting financial incentives into the whole blogging mix, you lose the individual and independent nature of a good blog.

Really? How is this any different from awarding grants to artists and writers?
posted by lizs at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2002


I could see this working if they could convince some wealthy technologist types that they should support creative expression online. That is, they could possibly raise money from people who might be tempted to support the arts in general, and who would be receptive to the new-technology angle.

But weblogs themselves are hardly an art form inherently worthy of such support. I like reading them, and some of them I would even say are quite good, but I don't think I've seen any that I could actually pitch to a philanthropist as something that, were it to be discontinued because its publisher couldn't afford to quit his day job, society would suffer.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:46 AM on May 13, 2002


i don't think i'd contribute to the organization. i've no interest.

Really? How is this any different from awarding grants to artists and writers?

lizs, i think you're right. this organization wouldn't be any different from awarding grants. my out-of-pocket expenses for my website are much, much smaller than there could be for a movie director or a full-time writer, though, so i don't think i would personally have a need for such a group.
posted by moz at 11:48 AM on May 13, 2002


I'm with you mkelley, that's not what blogging should be all about.

I would say that a "direct to revenue" plan wasn't what should be persued, but instead some sort of "sponsorship" or "patronage" model. Here's a rough idea:

Corporations would pay the bill for hosting, bandwidth, some software setup and perhaps a teensy-weensy little technical support team.

This would get some lucky blogger the resources to develop a site that they would then have the responsibility to update/maintain on some determined schedule or pattern and to present content exploring a particular subject, relevant to the sponsor's industry.

The real trick here is that for the sponsor, the content is HANDS OFF. They pay for it, a person (with an interest/passion on the subject) actually develops, posts, and controls it. They don't edit, approve, modify, or bear liability for it.

The corporate advantage is that they get a sponsorship billing (NOTE: that doesn't [necessarily] mean advertising, which we know is essentially worthless anyway) and if their product is actually of viable quality in their marketplace... well, then it'll float up in the content naturally, now won't it?
posted by theRegent at 11:56 AM on May 13, 2002


I'm not spending an awful lot on my weblog, so I'm not sure why I need financial assitance. I'm also not sure why my weblog needs to turn a profit.

Then again, my garden, the screenprinting setup in my basement, my camping equipment, and my personal library aren't exactly bringing in cash hand over fist either. Stupid hobbies.
posted by iceberg273 at 11:57 AM on May 13, 2002


It doesn't really matter if any one person is for this or against this proposal strongly, everything is heading this direction, like it or not.

As someone that's kept this site up for almost three years, the introduction of financial rewards and compensation is a double-edged sword (even for small things like donations and textads).

All the things webloggers hate about traditional journalism are certain to happen to the future paid blogger. Writing entries to please your readers and advertisers, not yourself, posting entries because you have to, to get paid, lazy fact-checking to push things in under deadlines, conflicts of interest, and lack of disclosure of who is paying you and why are certain to give blogging a taint.

Classically (not saying they are any better, just how they started out), weblogs were personal ventures and brutally honest opinions of a person, mostly on the sites they found interesting that day. They wrote for themselves, and only kept it up as long as it served a purpose for them.

I'm skeptical of paid journalists in general, and the media outlets that employ them. I've always tried to maintain a healthy skepticism of weblogs (especially post-Kaycee), but it's usually easy to spot a writer's bias, opinions, and general viewpoint on subjects that cross their site. Thowing money into the mix would no doubt spike my bullshit detectors, as the motivation to post changes from personal satisfaction to personal checking accounts.

Just looking at current popular weblogs, it's easy to see how this motivation shift plays out. It doesn't appear from his posting habits that Kottke is forcing himself to constantly update with new stuff each day at kottke.org. Scripting.com still looks like something Dave genuinely enjoys doing, though there is a good deal of promotion for his company. Evhead barely mentions blogger, and scarcely updates on any sort of schedule for evhead.com. Looking at AndrewSullivan.com, it seems clear that maintaining traffic levels, book club money, and noterity is of importance to Sullivan. I see so many mentions of traffic numbers on Instapundit.blogspot.com and so many daily updates that it doesn't seem evident that this guy is keeping his site up for fun, but to capture readers, get his name out there, etc.

Money does taint personal ventures, like it or not. When I started getting donations, I felt a bigger need to keep the site online, actually it was more of a duty. When I took the site offline for two weeks last year, I got hate mail about how the site wasn't mine and I was a selfish bastard for even daring to take something offline that wasn't really mine. With textads, I have to balance the money being thrown at me with the quality of ads and the site. I've refused thousands of dollars worth of ads, for stuff like vacation giveaways and get rich quick ebooks, but I've taken some questionable ads (like the quasi-porn one).

Running MetaFilter these days is nothing like the fun excuse to learn a programming language I setup three years ago. I used to post here about movies I saw and talk in detail about things I did that day. It was a sandbox that everyone could play in, but now it's turned into almost a business, and is a major drain on my time and energy, but I get just enough money and press to keep it going. I instinctively check the site at least hourly, nearly 24/7, for it the site goes offline for even a few mintues, my inbox is filled with dozens of queries why and what happened. I get personal phonecalls at least once a week, either from freaked out users of the site, or businesses trying to hawk their products to me. Sometimes I wish I could go back to having a silly little site no one cared or worried about, and sometimes I wish I went completely commercial and sold it all to some media company.

The taint of commercialism is an ever present problem in media outlets of any sort. I used to love Brill's Content because they did the digging, and rooted out the clashes of disclosure and conflicts of interest. CNN.com's typical list of current hot news stories looks a lot like E!'s top stories combined with a few stories about major corporations. Weblogs were traditionally honest places for a person to write down whatever they wanted, and now we have things like Macromedia's employees running weblogs touting their new products as the Best Things Ever, but some don't disclose that they work for the company or helped design the products they laud so greatly.

The bottom line is that money changes everything, no matter how hard you try not to. But blogging is a big world, and if there are people that want to try and outdo traditional journalists, or make some scratch doing weblogs, go right ahead, but don't say I didn't warn you.
posted by mathowie at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2002


Really? How is this any different from awarding grants to artists and writers?

I heart lizs and moz. Exactly. Blogs will only come into their own when - I was going to say "talented" but the same subjective provisos apply - bloggers are able to make a living from their work. Because it is work. Eulogizing amateurs is all very fine, in a destitute-poets-in-an-attic sort of way, but how are these amateurs supposed to eat? Or, if they do the T.S.Eliot bank-job thing, why shouldn't they we rewarded -as writers and artists are - for the joy and interest they bring?

On a tangent, thanks Postroad. Too many people here, who probably don't bother actually reading what you write or the tolerant, civilized tone of your comments, think of you as a single-minded Zionist I/P poster. Silly them.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2002


Blogs will only come into their own when - I was going to say "talented" but the same subjective provisos apply - bloggers are able to make a living from their work. Because it is work. Eulogizing amateurs is all very fine, in a destitute-poets-in-an-attic sort of way, but how are these amateurs supposed to eat? Or, if they do the T.S.Eliot bank-job thing, why shouldn't they we rewarded -as writers and artists are - for the joy and interest they bring?

Must the rewards be monetary?
posted by iceberg273 at 12:22 PM on May 13, 2002


thanks Micguel: I like to think of myself as a dirty old man who, with years filled with lust, can focus not only on the Middle East but the babes there and elsewhere...I remain calm. Medication works!
posted by Postroad at 12:23 PM on May 13, 2002


Reading Matt's comments - and as someone who's paid to blog, although I'm free to do as I choose - I have to agree with what he says about money.

It does change things. I was contracted for a six-month period, starting December 2001 and paid a handsome sum - $8000 a month. My bosses, however, weren't happy with the traffic - so that, for the next six months, I've had to accept a 25% reduction in fees.

Not only that. Starting June 1 my site will be a paysite and although my employers - a big Portuguese Internet company - don't expect to recoup their investment in me(for them it's a "prestige" venture), they've made clear to me they want to see some money coming in from my website's members.

So the pressure does exist, definitely. I'm a well-known writer who can sort of shrug it off - as my income is solely derived from sales of my books, plus the odd newspaper article - but I'm still conscious of it and I definitely try to keep my audience interested in a way I wouldn't do when writing my novels.

So it is a lot like print journalism - inasmuch as there's a conflict between your freedom and your natural desire to maintain the sort of audience that keeps your paycheck where you want it to be.

I still think, though, that work is work and work should be paid. Matt, if I read him right, sort of laments that blogging is going commercial. But look at literature, the press, music or whatever - the market is the main thing and, in the long run, it doesn't prejudice(or favour)quality.

That's just the way it is. Why should blogs be otherwise? Not that I know the answer, mind you.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2002


The grant programs that exist for writers, musicians, artists, etc. fall into two categories:

1) They attempt to help an industry progress past the point of coddling, or struggle through tough times. (See: record labels in Canada.)

2) They attempt to support artistic endeavours that, while not always financially rewarding, are beneficial to humanity/the community, in the eyes of the funding organization.

While you could set up a funding organization for blogs, certainly, they don't meet either of the above criteria, at least until they're viable commercial ventures. Sure, some of what Paul Ford writes on his blog is Art. And he would possibly be eligible for funding as a writer. But the typical web log format - links, commentary, a touch of the personal journal - is neither beneficial to the world to the same degree as true Art (IMHO), nor an industry in need of a little help.

Subscribers and sponsors may wish to pay to support a weblog - they can certainly be entertaining and informative - but the government, for instance, is certainly under no obligation to fund their creation, nor do I feel such a foundation would be compelling to anyone besides the bloggers who want the funding.

(As for me - I write fiction "iRL". I don't blog. I do participate in other online ventures. But in terms of the writing I do for the web, it's a hobby.

I'm with iceberg273. Who's my buddy.)

posted by Marquis at 12:48 PM on May 13, 2002


Miguel it is my guess that you are the highest salaried blogger in the world, ever. I know that others might make more money through their sites (Drudge, perhaps Sullivan), but $8k (America, I'm assuming that isn't in Escudos!) is an astounding sum as an approved monthly salary figure for a columnist/blogger. Bravo!
posted by cell divide at 12:54 PM on May 13, 2002


I too pay for a couple blog out of my own pocket, and I would have to say quite honestly that if I was sponsored by a large company, I would be more consensus of what I typed about them. It reminds me of Wayne's World, where they added the sponsor.

One of the funniest things recently is that newspapers seem nervous about blogs, and I think one of the reasons is that blog writers have no strings attached....aside from the new Macromedia Bloggers. No editor to run a story by, no advertisers getting angry about a negative story, and no overhead other than $10-$40 a month on hosting fees. I guess I worry about the honesty in most journals disappearing with grants and ads.

The NEA has produced some great grant-funded works, but there are many who are just take the money and produce drivel.
posted by mkelley at 1:04 PM on May 13, 2002


Cell divide - you have to consider it compared to normal column-writing. I get $1500 American dollars for a regular newspaper column. So I get $7000+ for four columns per month. On my blog, though, I have to write 3-4 columns a week, post 8 daily links, answer about 15 daily questions, participate twice a week in an hour-long "chat" and "maintain a presence" in the discussion Forum.

Also, it's short-lived, unlike newspaper columns, and depends heavily on what members post. When you write for the press you can shrug off audience statistics. Not on the Web. Everyone with a computer can verify what sort of response you get. So it's much more stressful - and a lot more work.

Though it is fun...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:07 PM on May 13, 2002


There are some pretty good examples of subscription blogs, Jerry Pournelle and Robert Bruce Thompson have been keeping an online journals for years, and they went to a subscrption system a while back, where their archives and some special reports would be available to subscribers only. They write books and get paid for their opinions, and at times bite the hands that feed them. Would most paid bloggers be willing to bite the hand or become shills?
posted by mkelley at 1:15 PM on May 13, 2002


I must be doing something wrong. I have a blog. I pay people to read it. I notice that when I offer more money I get more traffic. I have mortgaged my house and sold my car and taken out loans so I can watch my traffic go higher and higher. Is there a different way to do it that I have not been told about?
posted by Postroad at 1:41 PM on May 13, 2002


How is this any different from awarding grants to artists and writers?

Well, firstly, I hope nobody is talking about using my tax dollars to do this! That said, I have a HUGE problem with the government subsidizing individual artists directly. I don't mind if they subsidize forums for their work, theatres, galleries, etc. but I really think that an artist who cannot practice their art AND support themselves at the same time (by any means) has nothing worth saying to the rest of society - unless our goal is to build a welfare state.

As for the Weblog Foundation, heck, as long as it is voluntarily donated money why should I care? All I want to know is how is it any different from subscribing to a site? Christ, mention that you want somebody to actually pay money to view a website and the netizenry goes apeshit ranting about how commercialism is destroying the community but if we all donate money to an organization that then subsidizes sites - that's okay? Not a problem though, I'm pretty sure I can ignore them as effectively as I ignore Top 40 radio and hit television...
posted by RevGreg at 1:55 PM on May 13, 2002


I don't think money is inherently hurtful to good writing, even on personal websites. I'm sure there are those who would be able to produce better stuff for their own sites if they could focus on them more, and not have to worry so much about day jobs, or other sources of income.

And I also think that the website as personal project is here to stay. I don't think it will be a huge, earth-shaking development, but there will always be people who value having their own little spot on the web to publish their own thoughts, reactions, opinions, musings, reflections, experiments, etc. Some of them will even be good. And other people will help find them, and community sites will help bring them together and discuss them (for those who are interested in doing so).

And if self-publishing on the web helps some talented folk find paying gigs, all the better.
posted by mattpfeff at 1:59 PM on May 13, 2002


Is there a different way to do it that I have not been told about?

No. Keep it up, Postroad!

By the way, you're a little late on April's check.

---

Miguel, I think you are in a priviliged and extremely rare position as regards blogging. But I also think most people see bloggin as a hobby, and that there is no chance you would be getting paid for it if you weren't already a famous novelist.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:06 PM on May 13, 2002


Haha. I meant "blogging", not "bloggin".

I don't really talk like Deputy Dawg, hoss.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:07 PM on May 13, 2002


Since I added flat-rate text ads to my site, I've made enough to actually have a bit of a surplus (I suppose you could call it profit) after paying my hosting costs. My content hasn't changed one iota, and I only quote my traffic one a month or so (or if something weird happens). Would I like to make a living doing that? Good god yes and I'm ready to sell out at a moment's notice. :)
posted by owillis at 4:39 PM on May 13, 2002


From MiguelCardoso:

Blogs will only come into their own when - I was going to say "talented" but the same subjective provisos apply - bloggers are able to make a living from their work. Because it is work. Eulogizing amateurs is all very fine, in a destitute-poets-in-an-attic sort of way, but how are these amateurs supposed to eat? Or, if they do the T.S.Eliot bank-job thing, why shouldn't they we rewarded -as writers and artists are - for the joy and interest they bring?

Pardon my French, but this is bullshit!

I've been doing my weblog for over two years and I've not seen dime one from it, nor do I expect to. Weblogs have existed long before the mainstream journalist hype discovered it. I guarantee you that 99% of webloggers do it out of love or fun, a need to express themselves or just for the hell of it, not for some mythical financial payoff.

As everyone knows, money = mediocrity. If you're weblogging for money, than you're probably a whore who's answering to someone and you will do whatever you can to keep them happy. What else can explain the crap that's handed to us daily by the mainstream media (i.e. see advertising/branding)?

If you are only concerned with money, there's lots of other professions where you can make a lot more cash with a lot less effort.

Count me out, please!
posted by mark13 at 4:59 PM on May 13, 2002


Hey. I see you get a lot of your links from MetaFilter, Miguel. I noticed my humble "10 worst cars" effort on one of your links pages, and my "eat cinnamon till you croak" post about Stinkfactor. And there's a link that could only have come from my recent weblog entry about the trilobytes cookie recipe.

No wonder you "like Ike" so much. Pay up! I accept paypal.
posted by iconomy at 5:31 PM on May 13, 2002


As everyone knows, money = mediocrity.

Oh, give me a break. By this axiom, anything artistic that happens to also be financially succesfull is mediocre. Please.
posted by owillis at 5:54 PM on May 13, 2002


[tiptoes in] I, uh, just wanted to say Thanks for all the Good Work, Matt, we do appreciate it. [tiptoes out]
posted by jokeefe at 5:56 PM on May 13, 2002


miguel: Blogs will only come into their own when - I was going to say "talented" but the same subjective provisos apply - bloggers are able to make a living from their work.

forgive me, miguel, but what nonsense. at this moment there are too many *excellent* weblogs for me to have time to read them all, and all of them are paying a little bit for the privilege of maintaining their sites.

so many professional writers seem to have the idea that good writers must be paid in order for writing to be worth their while--the web belies all that. *professional* writers need to be paid in order to be professional, but there are even some of them who are willing to do it on their weblogs for free.

if you mean that most of the best current webloggers will eventually be unwilling to put in the required time if there's no renumeration involved, well, that might be. but based on the last three years, there will be other, excellent webloggers to take their places.

if you had offered me a job weblogging two or three years ago, I would have taken it in a minute. but my circumstances have changed, and I doubt if I would anymore. I do my weblog for my own pleasure, and I don't want it to be an obligation of any kind.

weblogs are about giving a voice to the people--most people who take up weblogging are quite happy to have the opportunity to say their piece without demanding that their weblog pay for itself or turn them a profit. a writer who insists on being paid for writing will either not start a weblog, or quickly quit if it doesn't turn a high enough profit. it won't matter--there is fine writing being produced by amateurs all over the web every day.
posted by rebeccablood at 6:35 PM on May 13, 2002


I'm firmly on the fence here, but...

so many professional writers seem to have the idea that good writers must be paid in order for writing to be worth their while

I'm thinking the attitude is more that writers must be paid in order to give them time to produce writing that is good. Okay, you can have your brilliant amateurs, but then you cut out all your smart authors who write ponderously, your original creators who just can't switch modes quickly enough to get into a writing groove, etc., and the field suffers for it.

That being said, I wonder if the limiting factor (for weblogs to "take off") is the frequency of the writing more than the (lack of) lucrativeness of the endeavor. It's often been noted that weblogs compete most directly and successfully with op-ed columns. Some would claim they're better, on the whole, and I'd agree. Without the bloggers being paid even. So maybe the coming up with things to write about day after day is what keeps weblogs from coming into their own, as they say, compared to novels or the like.
posted by furiousthought at 7:18 PM on May 13, 2002


Amen, RCB.

Applying pay to weblogs could ruin many of them. What, are you going to pay them by the word? Say hello to endless windbagging. I'll have time to read half a blog a day.

waitaminit.... You don't get paid to post on MeFi, do you Miguel?
posted by D at 7:28 PM on May 13, 2002


There is the question of whether anything being produced is good enough to earn it's keep. I know some of you feel that there is. But I have yet to find a single personal blog that is well-written and consistently-interesting enough to make me come back more than once or twice. Am I missing them all?

If you could recommend ONE blog for me to read to change my opinion (it may well be possible), what would it be? Keep in mind that I'm not impressed by people who can't write, or can't be bothered to take the time to get the mechanics of writing right, or with those with nothing more to say than a detailed treatise on their latest nose-picking session. I would love, otoh, to read intelligent, passionate voices with something to say. Are they out there? Or am I missing the point of blogs entirely and are they just not for me?
posted by rushmc at 7:46 PM on May 13, 2002


I blog, but it's a weird combination of fiction and links...most of links I get from the good people here. :) I write editorals and fiction for money...well, not for money, but sometimes I get lucky and get paid...which is nice. I'm all for an organization like this, if it's possible to get it off the ground. I have seen some amazing talent out there that would benefit from grants.

Power to the bloggers! :)
posted by dejah420 at 7:47 PM on May 13, 2002


1. Samuel Johnson's definition of "patron" might be a useful warning here: "One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery."

2. The idea that "being an artist" or "major literary force" is incommensurable with "being otherwise employed" does not appear to have much grounding in reality. T. S. Eliot? Matthew Arnold? And "professional" is hardly synonymous with "quality," which I thought was part of blogging's point. (It isn't also necessarily synonymous with getting "paid," either: a historian with no academic affiliation who writes books for money will still be considered "amateur" in many circles.)
posted by thomas j wise at 8:04 PM on May 13, 2002


Power to the bloggers! :)
Right on, sister dejah

I agree that blogging shouldn't be about profit or traffic and that it would suck all the individuality out the whole endeavor. However, with the abundance of talent in the blogging community, maybe a foundation like this could help talented bloggers find work in feilds that might turn them a profit. To pick to MeFite's at random, maybe they could get Kafkaesque a paying gig as a comedy writer(I'm completely serious) or get wider exposure for evanizer's artwork.

That would be helping to keep bloggers solvent while maintaining the integrity of the community, Just an idea.
posted by jonmc at 8:11 PM on May 13, 2002


If you could recommend ONE blog for me to read to change my opinion (it may well be possible), what would it be?

Lileks? I know he already gets paid for it but as a blog it's still incredibly funny. Also a few of the blogs from Mefi members I found to be fantastic. I can think of a few others that, were I asked to pay a fee to read, I'd do it.
Who knows? Maybe my expectations are lower or I'm just way too easy to please.

Not everybody can do it well and I think a little cash would weed out the posers.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:14 PM on May 13, 2002


If you could recommend ONE blog for me to read...

I consistently take great pleasure in reading Paul Ford's Ftrain. His prose is lyrical and light, honest, evocative, and he has a ready sense of dark humour. I've been too busy to keep up with his postings over the past month, but I can assure you that the archives make for hours of wonderful reading.

Paul's work is a very far cry from the link-logs, diaries, and smug "I've got the answer" commentaries found on many other blogs.
posted by Marquis at 8:35 PM on May 13, 2002


I don't think James Lileks gets paid to Bleat. He gets paid for lots of other stuff, but The Bleat appears to be a labor of love.

I know that others might make more money through their sites (Drudge, perhaps Sullivan), but $8k (America, I'm assuming that isn't in Escudos!) is an astounding sum as an approved monthly salary figure for a columnist/blogger

From what I heard, Drudge makes more than $20,000 a month on banner ads alone.
posted by rcade at 8:42 PM on May 13, 2002


Thanks rcade. I meant to say he gets paid by the Star-Tribune for his regular gig.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:06 PM on May 13, 2002


You don't get paid to post on MeFi, do you Miguel?

Dear Lord, now it all makes some kind of horrible sense... (/grin)

Ditto on Ftrain, by the way, Marquis. Tasty, indeed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:08 PM on May 13, 2002


Blogging doesn't need sustaining. Blogging doesn't need ANYTHING. It's out of control. This is just more pathetic navel gazing. Blogging doesn't need to "come into it's own".

And being paid for your "work" is completely besides the point. This concept is as bad as bands on mp3.com who complain about not making enough money out of it (well duh!), and become angry at the artists who don't care about making money. It's not work if you don't consider it work! I don't expect to be paid; in fact I expect to make some capital investment into my weblog. It's a hobby, and it should be nothing more. If i want to fly model planes, or go hiking, would I expect corporate sponsors? Should I expect to be able to make a living from it? If you say "yes", it's an indication of the sad state of the world we live in.

Now some may say "but those hobbies are personal pursuits - blogging gives something to the community". Nah, that's crap. Well, it does give something, it gives stories, content, art, discussion, but in all honesty (something that so many people have left behind), people blog for selfish reasons. For pathetic-poems-and-personal-diary bloggers, it's for their ego. For others it's an effort to get noticed, become a little bit "famous" in your chosen field (a pursuit that is almost impossible given the current volume of weblogs out there). And for yet others, it is unfortunately about money. The cool thing about weblogs is that the best way to satisfy these selfish needs is to give more and more to the community. That kind of incentive doesn't need any foundation to keep it going on.
posted by Jimbob at 12:41 AM on May 14, 2002


Weblogs are - in many ways – just another form of personal publishing. Like other forms of creative endeavors, some people will find a way to make it pay, some people will do it for kicks. But the web of course has the potential to make personal publishing a lot more accessible than previously possible.

The idea that introduction of money would compromise the content / quality / opinion in weblogs is slightly tenuous. There are many ways that people are compromised. There is as much groupism, politicizations and backbiting in the weblog community as anywhere else. That introduces 'corruption' in a strict sense of the word. Also, most of us are compromised by our own biases, prejudices and blinkers to whatever we write. Introduction of money, is simply adding one more dimension to it – i.e. if at all we consider it fiscal corruption. Many people engaged in creative professions tend to have a left liberal orientation and tend to view money / corporations through a prism of suspicion. I think the disgust with paid weblogs could be a reflection of that.

Also, assuming that we accept the premise that maintaining a weblog can be a creative venture; I would like to make the point (made by others made on this thread) that art has always been patronized by someone or other. But just because the church patronized painters, the art of those painters aren’t any less important. (I know that the comparison between painting and textual content is quite a stretch and probably doesn’t work, but can’t think of anything else at the moment).

I think the main reason that many people would stay away from any kind of financial payoffs is because most do it for kicks and it isnt an occupation for most people. Getting paid for it introduces pressures that Miguel alluded to and which I guess many can do without. Pressure to deliver makes it 'work'.
posted by justlooking at 12:46 AM on May 14, 2002


The lifecycle of a weblog

via excellent blogs, linkmachinego.com and morelikethis.

Thanks, LMG.
posted by emf at 12:53 AM on May 14, 2002


Quick questions:

How many people here on Mefi are professional writers?
How many blog?
Do you do it for fun or (eventual) profit?

Me:

Yes
Yes
Fun
posted by Duug at 3:16 AM on May 14, 2002


Oh...and what jokeefe said.
posted by Duug at 3:17 AM on May 14, 2002


This is one of those pivotal moments, like in "Dogtown and the Z-boys", the skating documentary, when everyone starts doing it for cash and getting really self-destructive.

Ben Folds Five were going to call their second album "Knee-deep in whores and cocaine." Be afraid, bloggers. Be very afraid!
posted by mecran01 at 4:01 AM on May 14, 2002


And instead, they called it 'Whatever and Ever Amen'.

Before Blogging Broke, back in the Bronze Ages of the 1990s, many ran their personal sites on GeoCities or Tripod and got the hosting for free in exchange for a few advertising banners. Others who actually paid for their sites offset the costs by signing up for banner advertising or affiliate programs, back when there was so much money flying around that those things actually paid real coin. But some did neither. They spent money out of their own pockets to do what they wanted to do, and kept the ads and any other means of recouping costs off their sites. (Although if they got too popular, the bandwidth fees sometimes forced them to reconsider.)

Nothing has changed. Some use BlogSpot; some don't. Some have tip-jars; some don't. Some think that doing stuff on the web is a waste of time unless it brings monetary rewards; some don't.

I can understand the attraction of pay-for-blog if you're getting slugged with excess bandwidth charges, but for the great majority of bloggers that's never going to be an issue. For most the question is, Are you doing this for...

a) fame?
b) fortune?
c) both?
d) neither?

In 99.99% of cases the only realistic answer is (d), and then comes the fun part—determining for yourself what (d) really means.
posted by rory at 4:26 AM on May 14, 2002


And instead, they called it 'Whatever and Ever Amen'.

Before Blogging Broke, back in the Bronze Ages of the 1990s, many ran their personal sites on GeoCities or Tripod and got the hosting for free in exchange for a few advertising banners. Others who actually paid for their sites offset the costs by signing up for banner advertising or affiliate programs, back when there was so much money flying around that those things actually paid real coin. But some did neither. They spent money out of their own pockets to do what they wanted to do, and kept the ads and any other means of recouping costs off their sites. (Although if they got too popular, the bandwidth fees sometimes forced them to reconsider.)

Nothing has changed. Some use BlogSpot; some don't. Some have tip-jars; some don't. Some think that doing stuff on the web is a waste of time unless it brings monetary rewards; some don't.

I can understand the attraction of pay-for-blog if you're getting slugged with excess bandwidth charges, but for the great majority of bloggers that's never going to be an issue. For most the question is, Are you doing this for...

a) fame?
b) fortune?
c) both?
d) neither?

In 99.99% of cases the only realistic answer is (d), and then comes the fun part—determining for yourself what (d) really means.
posted by rory at 4:33 AM on May 14, 2002


Dammit. That's the second time in two days... IE5.1/OSX seems to be keeping the 'post' button highlighted and hitting it when I flip between windows. Back to lurking.
posted by rory at 4:44 AM on May 14, 2002


Blogging doesn't need sustaining. Blogging doesn't need ANYTHING. It's out of control. This is just more pathetic navel gazing. Blogging doesn't need to "come into it's own".
i'm with jimbob. wank wank wank wank!
posted by quonsar at 5:19 AM on May 14, 2002


Ben Folds Five were going to call their second album "Knee-deep in whores and cocaine." Be afraid, bloggers. Be very afraid!

I'm having an enormous amount of difficulty following this train of logic. But maybe that's just me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:04 AM on May 14, 2002


Makes sense to me. It's a lot easier to worry about things like editorial integrity when you're not trying to separate your audience from their money.
posted by rcade at 6:46 AM on May 14, 2002


to start with a very broad generalisation, i reckon weblogs + cash = establishment media, which would undermine much of the appeal behind weblogging. st francis of assisi might do a decent job at not being corrupted one iota by the filthy lucre, most of us would have to make compromises to keep getting paid.

i'd be embarrassed to accept money for the drivel i'm spilling out. if someone made an offer to me meaning i could quit my dayjob, even though i'd be able to spend more time doing research, refine my prose, doing decent link searching again, at some point the hand signing my paycheck is going to have a few ideas on what i should or shouldn't write. if one's lucky, they might be positive and tolerant (and perhaps some editorial advice would be helpful in many cases), but since money follows money, there's every chance that cash-for-comments or payola style corruption of the content would occur.

If you read the article between the lines, it's not so much about a foundation as a freaking chamber of commerce for mediocre warbloggers who sorta think 'hmm, i'm ripping off all of andrew sullivan's attitude, ideas, links, how can i get paid for this?'. simple. you won't. as if people are going to start paying for uninformed opinions in the same era when they're "sharing" mp3s. if you're really, really good, and get noticed, you might get a regular column in a periodical or a book deal. if you're lucky. the rest of us will have to please ourselves.

and besides, as jimbob pretty much said, weblogging hardly needs a self-styled foundation established by a bunch of myopics to promote it.
posted by GrahamVM at 8:25 AM on May 14, 2002


I remember turning down advertising money back in 1999 and thinking that CamWorld was about me and that accepting money would taint it.

I recently started accepting Paypal donations and the $100 or I collected in tips I turned around and used to offset the costs of getting t-shirts made which I then, for the most part, gave away to regular readers at various industry events.

I'm actually grateful that my readership is down about 30% from last year. It's less pressure on me to keep CamWorld updated and allow me to chill out more and do something besides sit in front of a computer.
posted by camworld at 9:01 PM on May 14, 2002


Cam, you've touched on something that occurred to me while reading Matt's comment above... to paraphrase:

All Some of the things webloggers hate about traditional journalism are certain liable to happen to the future paid blogger. Writing entries to please your readers and advertisers, not yourself, posting entries because you have to, to get paid keep your readers, lazy fact-checking to push things in under self-imposed deadlines, conflicts of interest, and lack of disclosure of who is paying you and why other things happening in your life that could create those conflicts of interest are certain liable to give blogging a taint.

It doesn't really take money for these sorts of problems to arise.
posted by rory at 2:18 AM on May 15, 2002


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