Ever since I put the donate button on the blog, I get the occasional email accusing me of exploiting my readers. Usually, these don’t bother me, because I know that regulars here value this space and don’t even notice the button. Some do, and donate (about one person a month – not massive donations so far) and that amount helps me tremendously. But occasionally, there are some comments that sting, and this current story with Keenan and Reuben seems to have hit a few rock bottoms of online life forms among lots of good guys.
I am addressing the most common questions, comments and suggestions here once and for all. Understand it how you will.
This blog is over six years old. It has always contained original thought, and it is very rare to find an article that echoes something said in another place. Not only is it original content, but each time, it is ideas that are totally unique and bring a different angle to a situation. It is about expanding your mind. Something I do with as much honesty as I expect.
Until very recently, I had not thought to ask contributions from readers. I did that when I went so broke I couldn’t afford to host the blog anymore, and a reader spontaneously offered to sponsor hosting rather than see the blog go down. Later, a few other readers sent in money in appreciation and support.
Why I need money is my business, but we all need to make a living. For me, with a special needs son, it is difficult to find work that I can manage around him, and earning from the blog gives a child his mother round the clock. I will bear a lot of harsh comments for that. There are other problems, also public knowledge on this blog in other posts. But even if they didn’t exist, I have a right to try and make an income from my skills. I am not forcing anyone.
Why should you support?
Note that where links are provided, it is mostly separate links for each word and links to some well liked articles. There are many more excellent articles, but I got tired of linking.
Because this blog does a lot of good things. It spreads thoughts worth thinking.
It provides a space for people to be more honest, authentic, to be, say and do things that take guts. Not just me. Others too. People walk along in help and in doing so, we make the world slightly better.
I have lost count of the number of people I have informally counselled for free – in person, on phone, email, chat… for FREE. It is a healing conversation – impossible to convert into a product. It is spontaneous. Unfortunately, confidentiality being a part of the conversations, I am not free to speak specifics. Maybe some might comment on their own wish. I don’t know. These experiences are personal
There are people whose troubles I have heard of, and stood in support. Those who claim that I pick up these stories in order to earn on this blog for them might want to know that this blog isn’t earning enough to cover my phone bill from long calls to Delhi and other places in the country over the Naina Singh’s murder that I wrote up here, and am coordinating help for Malti for. A budding web development professional can confirm that the subjects I write on are rarely “advertising friendly”. If I really was only doing this to earn money, this would be a stupid choice.
I have given money to people in need that I met here. Often much needed survival money out of my own rainy day savings.
I *could* find a job, and abandon this blog (being mother, job AND writing is not going to happen). But I think I fulfill an important need for many people. I say things that need said. A need that can’t have a job description or a value tagged to it. And I am fine accepting whatever people may find themselves in a mood to give or not.
I am also not going to create an NGO. I am not in the business of rescuing people, counselling or doing anything except blogging currently. Nor do I want to be obliged to turn caring and reaching out into a job. In other news, I am lousy at accounts with my tallys usually ending with Rs.2345/- (random amount) = unremembered expenses. This will get me lynched if I start an NGO :p Just look at Team Anna 😀
I do not see this as begging. If there is nothing wrong in leaving money at a place of worship depending on your ability and will, there is nothing wrong in doing the same here. I am as unaccountable as they are 😀 If there is nothing wrong in clicking the “buy me a coffee” button to donate to your favorite developer, there is nothing wrong with clicking the button here, even though it doesn’t say coffee. Trust me, that developer doesn’t buy only coffee with it either.
Nor is this exploitation. The content on the blog has always been and will always be free. There are no monthly limits, paid memberships or anything preventing you from using the blog to its full intended use without ever paying anything. EVER. Nor does donating earn you anything at all – not even public acknowledgment, not publicly posted accounts, nothing. I don’t even follow you on Twitter for it (If I do, it isn’t about your money). I take your money, write an email thanking you for your support. Period. No incentives. Not even a willingness to conquer my disinclination for the phone and speak personally.
This isn’t betrayal. I understand that you care about this space and fear money changing things and thus feel betrayed that the blog they had come to care about so much is suddenly “about money”. It is precisely the reason why I offer nothing in return for financial support. I don’t wish to lose objectivity. It still isn’t about money, or this post would have been far easier. Paid membership is a plugin I can install in one click, rather than doing soul searching for answers because we have a relationship and you want to know.
This isn’t about calling myself a wonderful person, though I am that and I am not modest about it at all. This is about explaining that there is considerable thought gone into this decision, and like everything else on the blog, I am laying it bare.
And I think at the end of the day, as the owner of the blog, I have the right to put whatever button I want on it, and you are free to click it or not. I don’t think that reading the blog gives anyone the right to comment on my intentions, financial conditions, habits, relationships, son or anything else.
I suggest that if the button bothers you, learn to ignore it, use RSS feeds or whatever. It stays. I need the few generous people coming my way. They don’t bother you. Nor do they need this post, because they know.