Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
When I first started planning the Kitchen, I mentioned the fact that it was being funded by a person who wanted to be anonymous. When I tried to attract more women into contributing, in order to balance the gender gap that is present in most activities, one of the first responses I received was: what was the motivation behind the person’s involvement? Why did he or she prefer to remain anonymous? And how much was I making from this effort?
I remember being taken aback by these questions, particularly when the assumption behind them was that the person had a right to know. My first reaction was to ask in turn: did you also ask how much David Weinberger makes for his work at Harvard? Should we begin to ask Scoble how much he earns at Microsoft, or Tim Bray at Sun? Do you also ask the person who works at the Red Cross how much they make? Or the person at Goodwill? How about the bell ringer outside of your local store?
I responded with details of what I was making but wasn’t happy about doing so. What I wanted to write was: does it really matter what I made for my effort, if the effort itself is good and worthwhile? I didn’t follow my first inclination because I hesitated to offend the person who questioned the motives behind the funding. I shouldn’t have hesitated, though, because whatever I wrote wasn’t satisfactory to the person, anyway, who never responded back.
We have become a rather rude group of people at times, and too much of it is associated with weblogging and dollars, and weblogging and whuffie. We demand accountability, but it’s not enough to mention that you’re supported in part by one organization or another — we want full details. I am rather expecting a move next year to demand that people scan and put their IRS (or national equivalent) tax statements online, and wonder how one can fit this into our FOAF (Friend of a Friend) files?
Possible monetary disclaimer:
I made 23,000US dollars last year, of which 2000.00 was from weblogging; the other 21,000 came from selling myself on the street corner at 5.00 a blowjob. I regret this, though; I feel so cheap for taking money for weblogging.
In addition, I was surprised at the level of distrust directed at the effort because the person who was providing the funding preferred to remain anonymous; especially in light of charity in society outside of weblogging, when those who contribute anonymously are considered more giving than those who demand that their name be plastered all over an effort. How odd that in this genre that the opposite is true: if someone doesn’t deliberately seek to get whuffie for an effort, somehow their actions are considered suspect.
Personally if a person can make money from their weblog, more power to them. If they get glory for their weblog, more power to them. I do agree that it’s probably not a bad idea to know if they’re funded by an outside agency, but I don’t need to know the details–that’s private. What matters to me, and should to you, is if they begin to change what they write as a result of it. If they do, it’s then up to us, the readers, to decide if we want to continue reading that person or not. If enough readers quit perhaps the person’s funding will end and they’ll go back to writing however they want. Regardless t’s the value of the words and how much trust we have in the weblogger that should matter–not the value of the Google Ads, and whether they make enough money from their weblog to ride the bus or drive a Lexus.
I have never seen it fail yet: weblogging routes around damage, even damage created by the almighty buck. However, I’m not sure if weblogging can continue to route around rudeness.