Becky Says...

2000-07-22

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Sharing Thoughts

There's been much discussion in online journal circles this week about whether or not it's appropriate for journallers to ask readers to pay to read their journals. It all got started when one journaller put a donation button on a site, alongside an entry saying donations to defray the expenses incurred in privately running the site were voluntary. And the discussion has gone into side issues of whether or not banner ads on journal sites or journallers having wish lists at Amazon, etc., were appropriate. I haven't had much to say about it, even in private, because I hate to speak before I've thought. But now I have thought, and now I'm speaking.

I won't be donating to read anyone's site. It really doesn't matter to me that their cost in site maintenance is higher or lower than someone else's. It doesn't matter to me that their content is or isn't something someone might consider "worth paying for"---that's really subjective: just because something is popular doesn't mean it's what everyone wants to read. I won't pay for it for the same reason I don't send a friend a donation every time I get mail, nor would I accept one in return. Sharing thoughts is just that. And I won't ask for donations to this site, either.

I do see a difference in the use of donation buttons and the banner ads. Clicking on a banner is a benign act for me--on sites where there are banners, especially if there's a note asking me to click to help keep the site free, I'll usually go click, though as a visual thing I hate flashing banners. Costs me nothing, and sometimes the ads themselves are interesting and/or informative. If not, I have at least learned to avoid that company's ads! Also, I see this as my way of "thanking" the site host for giving me access to someone, in much the same way that I see paying my ISP and my phone company and the Postal Service is "thanking" those agencies for helping keep me in touch and sharing thoughts. My site host has asked that its users include host contact information on our pages, and I'm happy to do that. People who choose to pay for hosting, or who own their own servers, have made a choice of how to spend their money. They probably were not refused free service. (If they were, that's a whole different issue.)

If the question is why one would pay for a newspaper/magazine/ movie/live show but not for reading a journal, my answer is that I've "hired" those writers/performers/others involved to do the job of informing or entertaining me. Should some journallers write in other venues? Sure! Would I pay? Well, if a writer's insight is so profound, dog is so cute, or child so precocious that those things are salable to some other venue, then maybe I'll go "hire" them to tell me about it. In the same vein, if I've written something I think is worth selling, I'll try to do just that.

And as to journallers with wish lists: I see that as a whole different thing. It's a list of wishes. I've never felt that I was being asked to pay the writer by running over to Amazon and buying a gift. I have, however, gained some insight into other interests some of my favorite writers have, by looking at those lists.

Do I ever give something to online journallers? Yes, my respect and attention. Some I've written to, just to say I like their work. Sometimes I've sent notes of moral support to people going through a rough time. Sharing thoughts.

Those whose work I respect the most, I ask for the privilege of linking to from here so that I might possibly introduce them to someone new. (Note to those who've said yes but who have not yet been linked or whose mentions were brief: gimme time!) And when some of them have linked to me, I have been profoundly honored. But I see all of that as sharing thoughts.

That's what I want from people who read my entries: respect and attention. I will try to deserve both. It's lovely if you write me, because you want to share a thought. But don't send money.

Text copyright 2000 Becky