How do you feel about paying to read content on personal web sites? : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

I know this is a touchy subject. We're all used to banner ads and popups on free hosting sites. Pamie has just added Chickclick banners to her site; I'm used to those from all the other Chickclick sites I read, so they don't bother me at all, and I think it's great that Pamie gets paid for her work.

But for various reasons (mostly aesthetic, but also related to content), banner ads don't appeal to me for my site. So I decided to use the donation button, since I figure if you don't like it or you can't afford to donate or the very idea offends you or you think I have too much money anyway, you just don't ever have to click that button.

What do you think? Would you pay to read a site you like? Would it change your mind one way or another if I told you that if everyone who visited this site contributed a penny per entry for a year, I'd have enough to quit my job and go into private practice? Or does that comment just make me sound like a greedy sow?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000


I sounds great that you could actually make a living out of this, for what, each reader paying....(365:100) = $3.65 a year! [I'm good at counting, does it show?]

I'll pay more than that to read you everyday, honestly, and I WILL.

I like that way better than banner ads, the same way that I'm happy to know some journalists are getting paid for their magazine articles a lot more than thinking my attention is being sold to advertisers on TV, say.
I think the only question for me there lies in this thought: I want to know if honestly the journaler [here it would be you] thinks that getting paid directly [or not, for that matter] will affect their writing.
If your answer is, 'well, I'll have more time to write so i might get better at it, and i can promise i'll update everyday', it's good for me. If you think your STYLE will greatly be affected because of a desire to satisfy viewers/payers [like changing the kind of topics you're touching and all], it isn't good.
I'm not sure I'm making sense here.
Anyay, good idea, and I'll donate right away!
Now go get your arm fixed, gal!

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I think it is a fine idea. I look forward to reading this site every morning and I'm glad to pay a little something in return.

However, is anyone else having trouble with the donation site? I just tried to donate, but I can't because the freaking page won't let me enter the proper experation date for my credit card. Maybe it is because I'm a Mac user? My version of Explorer is very new tho

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

You're so sweet.

I should clarify, though -- I didn't mean I could live off of the website, just that I could get the start up money I need to work at home ... which would, I think, give me more time (and freedom of speech!) for the website.

I can't see donations changing the way I write. Okay, if I were in a flame war with someone and they gave me money, I might stop flaming. But that would be more because I'd have to rethink the issue of how much I could hate someone who gave me money.

On the other hand, I did reject the idea of banner ads for the garden site recently, because the company administering the banner ads is one that I've griped about in the past and will undoubtedly gripe about in the future. I do some product reviews on that site and I'd like to keep them honest, and I think ads would affect that. Even if I liked the particular advertiser, I would feel a little weird about discussing competing companies, etc.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I can't donate!
My browser works fine [I'm an average PC user with Netscape 4.whatever], I can fill the whole form, except it won't let you BE in another country than the freakin' US!
Sorry Beth, I'll figure out something else than that...

What a bummer.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

As a far right-wing-wacko Republican conservative, I am philosophically against all variations on the free lunch. I get lots of enjoyment from these pages and was happy to make a donation.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Yeah, you're right, I didn't go into the whole product review / personal opinion about corporations stuff, but banner ads ARE a problem with that, and I think your choice is healthier.

Daily indivual readers are far less susceptible to affect your freedom of speech, except for the whole flame war thing.

So, you want to go into private practice?
Maybe I just don't follow the journal well enough... :-)

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

"Okay, if I were in a flame war with someone and they gave me money, I might stop flaming."

Beth, don't you DARE back out of a flame war with me just because I gave you a crummy little donation!!!!!!! The day I have to pay liberals not to flame me is the day I go to KMart and buy a Rosie O'Donnald dress to wear on election day.

Flame away you commie-lib, I can take it! ;)

Your Fan,


-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I sent you a donation for the same reason I always leave extra for the waitress in a restaurant or buy candy from kids. Dave and I are fortunate to have more than enough money to live and to us a dollar isn't much. I didn't grow up with money and lots of times we had to do without because we couldn't afford it. My mother had to waitress and I worked all through high school and college.

During those times people were generous to me when I needed it. My Aunt Deena would give us things we needed or take us nice places because she wanted to. She did it because she could and because she wanted to. And I always remember that and try to do the same for others.

I'm not saying Beth is some charity case, but that I can spare a dollar for someone who wants to keep her website up. I also click on people's links when their host will give them money for clicks.

I'm always the one to buy cookies or candy from the kids. Sometimes I don't even take the candy -- just give them the money. I do the same with lots of charities and I never miss a Salvation Army bucket at Christmas. And a veteran can't stand in front of me without me reaching for my wallet. It's the least I can do. It's not like they're asking for much.


-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Finally a way to let Beth know how much I like her site! I think the Paypal idea is great and long overdue. I don't think of Paypal as paying you to write, I think of it as a small token of my appreciation. I can't put into words how much I like your site, but I can send a quarter or two your way.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I like it. It puts it in the hands of the user, where everything on the web should be. Rather than forcing someone to download banner ads, instead, it's an optional donation, and I just love that aspect of it. I also don't think it compromises the art or artist, frankly. If Beth can make a living with this, more power to her!

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I think it's weird. It changes the whole dynamic, to me, from putting out one's writing for anyone to read, to making readers aware that this is costing money. Even if it's optional, it still seems weird. It feels like jennicam or something.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I don't have any problem with it, and I'll gladly donate. Any site that can keep me out of trouble for a few minutes every day is definitely worth a little cash. This actually seems like a great setup, in that it keeps away a little of the I-paid-my-$X-and-therefore-I-deserve-Y mentality that some of the subscription sites seem to create.

You have a favorite readers list? Is it like one of those football polls that change every week?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Personally, I wouldn't do it, and forgive me for saying so, but I think it's kind of tacky. A journal- even though you know you're writing for your readers, is supposed to be personal writing. Personal writing that you also share with the world. If you're getting paid for it, then the expectations for more frequent content, and content that is highly polished, is there, for me, at least.

I pay to read a lot of things, magazines, books, newspapers, 'zines, online 'zines, and I'm happy to do it. The money pays the author, pays the editor, pays the people who work together to make it a good product. Journals shouldn't be a product, in my opinion. Either write a journal, or write a column, but the cross-mixing of the breed makes me bristle.

Nothing personal, that's just the way I feel.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Just to respond to Saundra: you aren't reading my personal journal. I think I've made that very clear. I have no desire to share my personal secrets with the internet; I got over that a long time ago. I do make an effort most of the time to present a fairly polished product, as do a lot of other journalers. If you don't feel like you want to pay for it, that's fine, but let's not pretend that yesterday you were reading my private diary and today you're reading a product. Lots of journals are a "product" -- I could cite some of the ones kept by aspiring authors and screenwriters and columnists; even if you don't want to get paid for it, you are using it for practice, for recognition, for feedback.

I write this journal primarily to entertain people. Comments like this one -- Journals shouldn't be a product, in my opinion. Either write a journal, or write a column, but the cross-mixing of the breed makes me bristle. -- make no sense to me. Online journals have always had more in common with columns than private diaries. If you don't feel like contributing, that's great. But if you think you're adhering to some high and mighty artistic standard that I've just abandoned, feel free to bristle your ass on out of here.

Sorry, but that post just set my teeth on edge.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

[I really need to stop typing ...]

I just wanted to clarify/repeat/whatever: I don't care if you don't want to donate. I certainly don't want anyone feeling guilty or weird if they don't. I'm not the first person to put one of those buttons on my site, and lots of people pay for their webhosting with click-through buttons. Sometimes I click on those buttons, and sometimes I don't. So I'm not going to have feelings about it one way or another if you don't donate.

What I was taking issue with above is the suggestion that there is something wrong with keeping a journal that is designed to entertain, or that there is some great and holy dividing line between a column and an online journal, or that you are, in fact, reading my personal diary and know all my secrets. Or that the "donate" button will change any of that.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I was going to write pretty much what Beth just said. Although this is a journal in the sense that it's a depiction of what Beth does and where she goes, I get the sense that Beth puts a lot more thought into her entries than your average journaller (like me). They have themes, titles, subheads, links, all kinds of crazy stuff!

I feel like if enough people don't want to pay (which is certainly their choice to make), Beth can always pack it in and go write for a place that will pay her. Not that she has threatened to do so, but it's always an option. I have no problem with her making money for her work, and in fact, I think it's about damn time. I think the means she has chosen is unobtrusive. But that's just my opinion.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I've actually been considering implimenting micropayments on Retrogression for a while, and planned to start them at the end of the summer. I've also been mulling over a long article on the topic because I'm sure some folks will have indignation over being asked to pay to read articles.

I think there are several implications in your scheme. Firstly, I support being paid by the audience much more than being paid by the advertiser. Advertiser-sponsored media tends to be bland as shit. Seriously. Look at "Newsweek", "Cosmo", "The Utne Reader" and compare them to "Z", "Adbusters", "The Progressive", and "Ms".

Advertiser based media does not sell news or information or entertainment. It sells eyeballs. It can't just sell any eyeballs (or eardrums), it needs to sell THE RIGHT KIND of eyeballs (or eardrums). For example, black radio stations tend to make much less in ad revenue than white radio stations in the same market with the same listenership size, because the listership of the white station on average has much more disposable income, so that's where the advertisers invest.. in the eardrums that are going to buy their products. (Of course, in some cases it is blatantaly racist. FAIR just did a story on this in Extra! and interviewed ad execs who said that their clients who are large upscale department stores didn't advertise on "urban" radio stations because they didn't want to attract the "wrong crowd" that might scare off the "right buyers").

Advertiser driven media tends to be noncontroversial to begin with (like Pamie, as much as I love her work, is an advertisers dream... so much of her stuff is about pop-culture consumption already), changes to suit the advertisers, or eventually runs out of funding.

So I support you. I will donate when I get home, cuz that's where my credit card is. I have a feeling what will happen is that many people will donate every few days for the first month or so, then forget about it for a few months, or think "geez, this doesn't seem like a lot, but it's adding up"... especially if other of their favorite journals take the "donation" route. I don't think this is good or bad, especially if you are not planning on living off of this money, it's just my half- assed prediction.

I think once a few journals/webzines adopt this idea, more will follow. People may donate a lot at first but will probably settle on a few that they donate to regularly. If it remains volunteer-only, most readers will still read all of their favorite journals and donate to a few. This may lead some journals to move to a "pay to read" system or a combination "pay to read the latest entry, anything over a week old is free" system. That's what I'm leaning towards with Retrogression (not that it matters).

Sorry to ramble so much, it's just something I've thought about a bit.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I think Saundra is making this too complicated. Writers deserve to be paid for their work. It's that simple. Writers certainly deserve to try to get back a little of the expense of making their work available, especially if it is the form of voluntary donations. Call it what you like, but journal or weblog or whatever, if you are reading it and appreciating it, you should give some thought to what that means for the writer.

Beth, I have absolutely no problem with what you are doing, and as an online writer, I'll be watching the results with obvious interest. Whether or not it's something I'd do, I don't know. I'll have to think about this for a bit. Also, I typically pimp myself out for toys, but that's just me...

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I can cite myself as a working writer, who also keeps a journal, and those two kinds of writing are separate to me. Since you're on the journal lists, you vote in the diarist awards, and you link to other journals, that's pretty much what we have to work here with, Beth. What you reveal or don't doesn't determine your category here. However, that's neither here nor there.

If you wanna pay site, make a pay site. If you wanna ask for donations, ask for donations. You can do whatever you want to, that's the beauty of the web. It wasn't a comment on artistic standards, and it wasn't a personal attack. Your question was, "How do you feel about paying to read content on personal web sites?" and you noted yourself it was a touchy subject. The thrust of that question was personal websites. Personal is not the same as commercial. That's how I feel. I'm sorry if my opinion upsets you, but I'm not going to lie about it.

I don't spam your forum, and I've always tried to make a worthy contribution when I post, so now I'm upset that I've been told to bristle my ass off of here for thinking something I wasn't even thinking. If you don't want me to post here anymore, I won't after this. I just wanted to restate my position before I went.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

What the hell is a journal if not a product? I'm not talking about online journals, I'm talking about any journals. My handwritten diary with the lock on it that I kept under my bed in junior high was a product. It was the product of my imagination, my thoughts, my dreams, and my ability to write.

Or perhaps you were simply attempting to insinuate that charging money for something you've produced is... selling out? Well, God fucking forbid somebody should make money from a piece of art. It cheapens it somehow, you say? Makes it seem tawdry, low-class, even tacky?

Well fuck, then sign me right up for the Tacky Bus, because I want to ride. If I thought I could make money from the labor of love that is my online journal, I'd do it in a New York minute. And I'd laugh all the way to the bank at all the prim little people sniffing their haughty little noses at how tacky I was.

Beth, I don't have a credit card, so I can't contribute, but if I did, I would, and I'd keep reading you even if I thought you were tacky, which I don't.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I don't like banner or pop-up ads; I've never clicked one and I don't read them. And, I don't think I'd subscribe to a journal/disussion site. But I did just make a PayPal donation. ;-)

(Doesn't PayPal offer a $5.00 bonus for signing up? ...They did when I signed up a few months ago...)

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I don't see anything wrong with charging for visits to a website, whether it is an online journal or the Times. I think it was inevitable that payment for publications come to the Web.

You are doing the equivalent work of preparing a newspaper column, Beth, and in the print medium you'd make a few dollars for it even if it was mostly for fun. If you can make a small income from Bad Hair Days, you should do it. I don't think you have to come up with some cosmic rationale, or ask permission, before you can properly charge a fee or ask for a donation.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Saundra, if you were not making a judgment about artistic standards, then I confess that I don't understand why the distinction between personal and commercial (or, as you put it earlier, columns and journals) is so important to you. Especially when it comes to columns vs. journals: I've written several weekly columns for free; where do they fit in?

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion and you're entitled to post it here or anywhere else you feel like posting it. I thought your first post was insulting and rude, and I responded accordingly. I don't care if you disagree with me -- Lizzie did, but she managed not to call me tacky and imply that I was crossing some holy barrier between personal and commercial.

I think it's just dandy that you make such a big distinction between the writing you do for money and the writing you do for free. Other people don't make that distinction and receive varying amounts of compensation for writing that they are otherwise happy to do for free (whether that's awards, wishlists, banner ads, or Bendos). You think my way is tacky; I think your distinction is stuffy and ridiculous. Aren't you glad we're being honest?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

or that you are, in fact, reading my personal diary and know all my secrets. Or that the "donate" button will change any of that.

Now wait a minute. I was under the impression that if I donated, I'd receive a daily update in my mailbox detailing Beth, Jeremy and Doc's deep, dark secrets. I want my money baaaaaaack!


-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I consider Beth a friend (not a close friend, but I've met her a couple of times and feel that I know her somewhat), so if I were to pay for reading her website it would feel, to me, like paying for her friendship. I feel the same way about my own site--letting people pay to read my stuff would be sort of like letting people pay to hang out with me. Maybe I'm overstepping the bounds of the reader-diarist relationship, but this is how I feel about the diaries I read.

I certainly don't condemn anyone for putting ads on their sites or asking for donations, but I do agree with Saundra that this component transforms it from a personal site into a commercial site.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Hint: I'll be more likely to donate on days when there are dog pictures.

I'm just sayin'.

BTW - I just broke your forum, Beth. You might want to fix my name on the entry I just made. I'm wicked sorry.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Rob wrote: Writers deserve to be paid for their work. ~ Really? [writing] I can't stands me some stupid people. [/writing]

Pay up, son.


Anyway, I too, had been thinking about this for a while (not my own pay site- ha ha hee hee ho ho . . umm, sorry), but because the quality of some of the writing is just *that good* that it (almost) makes me wanna bust my wallet open and hand over five quid.

Initially, I thought about who I'd pay- and surprise, surprise, folks like Pamie and Gus came up. With them, it's the sheer entertainment. Pamie's usually worth a penny a day, even after thought. Gus, on the other hand . . .

Gus would have problems with new readers being suspicious of the truth behind a paid site- I mean, take away the fact that (98%, if not all of) what he writes about actually occured, and it's not nearly as entertaining. Or worth a penny a day. And if he started making money off it, I'd always be a bit suspicious.


Beth's another story. She represents folks who could get paid not because they're just *that* amusing/entertaining, but because of reader loyalty. She's got lots of goodwill built up, and not a small amount of her readers would be willing to let her cash some of that in, I suspect. Again, this will work for very few, though. Better be first in line, too.


Will I donate? Probably, but not because Beth's fantastically entertaining or I have some sort reader loyalty. I'll donate mostly cause I have a soft spot for pathetic little girls on the brink of poverty ;)

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Well Curtis honey, step this way if you like poverty stricken girls.


-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

As a just occasional poster here, let me say, Beth, that I think you've been exceedingly rude to Saundra.

I couldn't care less whether you ask for donations or whatever, but really, do you need to attack so vehemently someone who disagrees with your outlook on things?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

  1. This would be a good topic for JournalCon since, it seems, many people are thinking of implementing similar schemes.... Having everyone do it similarly might make more of a "norm" in the jounrnaling community.
  2. Web hosting can be expensive - especially if you get a lot of traffic like Beth.
  3. Journaling can be very time consuming. How many of you have been to a craft show, of any kind, and expected to walk away with free stuff? It is a hobby - if you can make the hobby pay for itself, then more power to you.
  4. With that said, I think the "donation" is better than a flat "charge." You'll remember, when the web was young, (those were the days~~~~), there was much debate about newspapers, major magazines, etc, charging for content. Those who did either stopped or failed. There was a huge backlash against it simply because of the very nature of the web. (I think there *is* one newspaper who does that - big name, I can't think of who it is...) Anyway... If you look at usability testing stats or if you read at all about marketing on the web, one of the first things you'll learn is that people don't click on banners. In fact, they've learned to COMPLETELY IGNORE them. So that won't work...

I think what Beth is doing is great - but I'd modify it just a bit. Like birthday week and in the tradition of things like public television & radio, why don't you have "Campaign for the Journal." Have it for a week, then keep the button in the side nav just because you always want people to donate as easily as possible. However, twice a year, have a campaign where you remind everyone about the campaign AND make it official giving week.... Otherwise, I know I won't remember to donate after the first time and will wonder when I should donate again, etc.... You might also raise more money that way....


-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I certainly am glad we're being honest here. I didn't call you tacky, I said asking for money on a personal site is tacky. That doesn't make you tacky, it makes the act tacky.

The big difference between personal and commercial is simple, to me, I guess. People write personal web pages because they want to share things with other people. They share pictures of their families, they share their stories, their vacations, whatever it is- to me, the idea here is to share. It's not done toward and end goal, the act in and of itself is the point.

People write commercial websites, or sell their work to magazines and what not, to get paid. They may very well want to share, but they're doing it in a commercial forum to get paid. Writing gratis articles for any publication are important on the CV. Having a good record and a good publishing history is an extraordinarily important part of a writing career.

If somebody, based on their popularity as an personal, unpaid writer, wanted to start a commercial website featuring their work, I think that would be great. If, for example, Rob had created a pay magazine spawned from his original, free Robservations, that would have been a great business maneuver. I still think he could do it. I think any numnber of online journallers could create paid 'zines with the talent and skills they have. I don't think there's anything wrong with getting paid for your work, and I don't think that's selling out- selling out would be changing what or how you write, to better reflect the thoughts and opinions of the people paying you.

What I think is tacky is taking writing that you chose to share for free, then making commerce of it in its original form. I thought it was tacky when Suck did it, I thought it was tacky when Salon tried it, and they were true magazines from the start. If somebody already has a fan base, and they want to profit from that, by all means, start a new site, commercial from the ground up. Write a 'zine, syndicate your columns, sell ad space. Ask your readers to come along, I bet they will. I just don't think it's fair to start asking people to pay for something you've been giving them all along.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

In response to Curtis's comments about Gus--back in his Big Fun days, I believe Gus actually did actively solicit financial contributions for his site (though he did it much more informally--he just asked people to send him money). Now that he's a dot-com thousandaire, I guess he doesn't need to do that anymore.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

"I just don't think it's fair to start asking people to pay for something you've been giving them all along."

Thats a bizzare, if not down right derranged statment, at least in the context of this discussion:

1) Beth is STILL giving it away for free. If you don't want to send her a buck or two, neither Beth nor anyone else would notice or care. You can still read the journal and post in the forum.

2) I'd MUCH rather have that little button on the main page rather than a bunch of irrating banners, that are probably leaving cookies that I don't want.

3) It's HER PAGE for heaven's sake!


-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Yes, Jim, I agree with you absolutely. It's Beth's page, she can do what she wants, and I don't care for banner ads either. The question was not, "What do you think of Beth's decision," the question is "How do you feel about paying to read content on personal web sites?" The former is the question I answered.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

The latter, actually. I don't even know if I'm coming or going at this point.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000


I must respectfully disagree. The distinction you make between a "writing career" and "sharing" doesn't necessarily hold up. Back when I was in college and writing Retrogression, for example (little known fact, back in 1996 Beth actually wrote an article for me), I could spend a lot more of my time writing than I do now, and I ran up huge credit card debts printing and distributing a magazine that I gave away for free.

A few years later my credit cards are maxxed out, so I move my writing to the web, a move some decried as "tacky", actually. I figured it would take me only a few bucks a month to pay for the web hosting.

A few years after that I find I have gone from writing daily to writing monthly, because work, looking for another job, commuting, and all of these other things take up much of the time I used to spend writing. I Also realize that to do Retrogression well is going to require a better web host with unlimited bandwith, always up servers and a good chunk of backend programming. All of this is still geared towards me sharing my ideas.

But what I really need is to work from home, part time, so I can have more time to write the stuff my readers have grown to love over the years. Obviously I still need to pay rent and buy food. I expect to make some sacrifices for my art, but I can't run a website without a computer, and I need a home to put it in and food so I don't starve. The money needs to come from somewhere. It becomes a simple proposition for me... don't write, or charge money.

It's not tacky, it's just life. Hey, if we could do away with landlords and investors, democratically manage industry and all that other crazy anarchist stuff I talk about, we'd all have a twelve hour work week and would have much more time to pursue our art and give it away for free. But until then the money has to come from somewhere.

I'm not writing to make money, I'm making money to write. (Geez, this sounds like Engels Kapital). The difference is as a "professional writer" who is worried about their resume and such, you have to write what will sell, not what you love or what you want to share. Beth is managing to write what she wants to share and still cover the costs of the server and maybe a small amount of her cost of living, or her startup business.

I'd rather pay a donation and see her update every day (with dog pictures often) than not pay and have her spend her time dealing with commuting and selling her time to a boss. And I want to see her writing the same stuff she has written all along, not change her format and content so that she can appeal to the audience advertisers want, or write about sex all the time to make sure people pay to read it.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I don't think there's anything wrong with the donation button Beth, you obviously put alot of time and effort into this site, and why shouldn't you get paid for it? I do like the fund drive idea though, it makes the whole concept seem more fun somehow.

As far as the mini-flame war that's been going on with Saundra, I have this comment to make: I am always annoyed by people who preface insults with words like "forgive me for saying so". Say what you mean and leave the passive aggressive bullshit out of it.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

People write personal web pages because they want to share things with other people. They share pictures of their families, they share their stories, their vacations, whatever it is- to me, the idea here is to share. It's not done toward and end goal, the act in and of itself is the point.

No, Saundra, that's why you write your personal web page. Other people write personal web pages for a lot of reasons, some of which may or may not be similar to your own.

I'm sorry if I was "exceedingly rude," but you're wrong, Jane, if you think I was rude because Saundra disagreed with me. I think Jen Wade, for instance, has a really good point, even though I don't happen to agree with it. No matter what happens with this site -- whether it's sponsored, whether I take down the donations button, whether I pay you ten bucks for every time you show up and submit a post to the forum -- I can guarantee you one thing: I will always get my back up when someone starts spouting "the world is black and white and how dare you behave as if it were gray" nonsense, even if it's over something as silly as the distinction between personal and commercial websites.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I think that red is the prettiest color. I think personal websites should be free. You can disagree with me, I can disgree with you, but it's not going to make either of us right. There is no right or wrong answer on this particular question, because it's an opinion question.

I love what I write for pay- if I didn't, I couldn't do it. I just got done writing an action-adventure script for a network. It's not my genre, it's not a genre I would have written in, if the impetus of pay weren't there. But I still love the characters I created for it, and I love the story I created for those characters.

I love what I write for free- if I didn't, I wouldn't do it. I get great pleasure from my journal. The act of writing things out and sharing them with my readers is incredibly gratifying. I love that I can talk about anything, I love that I do talk about anything there. I love that sometimes what I've said occasionally prompts my readers to write me, or other journallers to link me.

Like I said, many, many posts of mine ago, if somebody wants to make their site a pay site, a donation site, a banner site, that's up to them. They can do whatever they like, and whatever they feel comfortable with, to their site. My opinion on personal sites for pay is just that, an opinion. It's not a standard, it's not a rule, it's not policy. Nor is it intended to be character defamation or rudeness. It's my opinion on that subject.

I think red is the prettiest color. If you think blue is, that's fabulous. All it means is that we're different.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Beth, I'll have to give this some thought. I love your site, I get a huge amount of enjoyment from it, and I think you should be rewarded for producing such a great product, but it goes against something in me to pay to read stuff on the internet. I don't know why, but I'll dig further when researching a company for work to find free data rather than pay, and if I won't do it for business I don't know whether I'd do it for pleasure. But I do think good writers should see some rewards for their work, and you definitely come under this category. So I'll ponder it further.

What I'd love to do is send people like you - people who I always enjoy interacting with - a personal present to show my appreciation - because I love buying things for people - choosing something perfect for them. So if you want to send me your postal address ...!

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I don't know how much it costs to maintain a site like this one. It's comparable to a hobby, right? And hobbies sometimes cost money.

It's been demonstrated rather clearly that people--at least currently-- are unwilling to pay for Web content.

Frankly Beth, if you want to make enough to quit your job and go into private practice, why don't you do that? And don't attorneys on the low end of the wage scale make more than the average worker?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

It's been demonstrated rather clearly that people--at least currently-- are unwilling to pay for Web content.

My desk is covered with Bendos, they watch me as I type and as I eat. They are like a tiny little city. They are legion.

Ask people to pay for content on the web, and they resist, and probably rightfully so. But make it fun (like some of the ideas presented earlier) or do it in an original manner, and it's a different story.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Joy, I've been saving for about three years to do just that; I'm still about a year and a half away. I wasn't really suggesting that that was the point of doing this -- just that it had occurred to me when looking at my stats that a penny per page view would have allowed me to quit in a year, not even counting what I've already saved up. It was more idle speculation than anything.

And yes, writing for the web is a hobby. An awful lot of people make money from their hobbies, but this is the only arena where I regularly see folks throw hissyfits about it. (Well, okay, it's not as bad as the big sell out debate that used to plague the punk scene.)

Has it occurred to anyone that a person who keeps a personal site on a free server with banner ads is basically running a commercial site? They're getting free web hosting in exchange for content, aren't they? That was really all I was trying to obtain here, just something to offset the cost. (And y'all have paid for five months at my current host just this morning. Thank you. You rock. Those of you who didn't donate also rock, of course, just for reading.)

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Maybe if you're talking about online chums exchanging toys or cookies. There's not a single [non-personal] Web site that's making any money on pure content.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I don't mind a person asking for donations on a website. I would much rather have the option to make a donation rather than someone saying, "if you want to read this journal or view this personal website, you will give me $10!"

More power to those who feel brave enough to ask for donations. While it might upset a few people who might think it is "tacky" or seems like a "cheap" way to receive money for something they are supposed to be writing for pure entertainment, I still think it is a good idea for everyone involved.

Hell, I'd do it too if anyone ever read my journal. Hint, hint. Ahem. Good luck, Beth. I hope this works out for you.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

On paying for content... oddly enough, I was just talking to someone about this the other day, in the context of why certain web ventures look doomed to fail. The problem with asking for money on content-driven sites, whether personal or commercial, is that there's so much free content out there, it's ridiculous. You can't base your business model on getting people to pay for something they can get easily for free.

Dunno. On the actual question that was asked, I think that if you -required- people to pay, that would be tacky. I might even go so far as to say, that would be wicked fuckin' tacky. But voluntary donations, or ad banners? That doesn't really strike me as tacky. Most people know that there's some degree of effort and expense that goes in to making a good webpage, and a daily-updated good webpage is even more resource intensive. I'm grateful to everyone who has been taking on themselves the expense burden. I have a hard time arguing with those people asking, non-intrusively, for some compensation.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I am really conflicted about this.

One one hand, I would love to do what Beth did. Last Christmas, when journallers were putting up wish lists and were getting presents from their readers, I was jealous, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, either.

My site used to be almost free, in terms of hosting. I started on Geocities and then worked out a deal with a new hosting start-up. Now, two years later, my traffic is more than they bargained for, and their tech support is less than I bargained for. So, when I move to, I'm paying for real hosting. I implented Amazon links to try and offset some of this expense.

I would pay to read sites I like, in a manner that Beth propses (ie, payment is optional). When MoPie started writing reviews for some epinions-type site, I clicked through on all of her links. I've been offered banner ads, and once I fielded an offer to buy the rights to my site outright. The deal was too restrictive, though, and I'd have had little control over who was advertising in the banner ads, and that was unacceptable to me.

I don't think Beth is greedy. I may end taking the same route she did. When I started my page I never expected for a minute for things to turn out they way they did. I need to adapt to the growth of my site, I'm just not sure how to go about doing it.

And as for potentially offending my readers, well, they don't have to pay if they don't wish to. I'd rather have them be offended by some decision I made, than by some ugly honkin' banner ad for Live Nude Girls on my index page.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Yep, PayPal will give you a $5.00 bonus just for signing up:

..and Beth, PayPal will give you $5.00 too if you code it right!

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I know people (okay one person) who started out making a website for her friends to read, and as a forum to keep in touch with her friends. Other people found out about it and liked it, and eventually a company contacted her about putting banner ads on her site. She was nervous about it, and afraid that people would be offended by them, but ultimately decided that it could offset the cost of running the site. It started as a hobby and now that person has quit her day job and spends her time running her website. I should say website(s), because the extra time has allowed her to build more sites, and pay other people to contribute to them.

I'm not saying that is the direction Beth is going, but I think it's important to recognize that money does make bigger things possible. I am able to work from home now, because there are a few websites out there that will pay me to write for them. Most of those websites started out as a hobby, built upon the blood, sweat and tears of the creator.

On the web today, we read a lot of stories about how all these online businesses are flaming out because they ran out of money. I would much rather see a site start small and grow organically to where it can be self-sustaining than see them funded by venture capitalists, who insist upon a lot of changes. I think it gives the creators a lot more control over their own sites, which is a good thing.

I do think it will be funny when other journallers follow Beth's lead (and you know they will -- I can't say I haven't thought about it today) and then there will be a huge backlash. But I'm glad to hear that Beth has already made enough to keep things going for a while. Go, Beth!

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I have to say that the "donations" button ruffles me the wrong way, and it took me awhile to narrow down why.

Here goes:

If you want to transform "Bad Hair Days" to a pay site, I'd support that decision. If you felt that you've reached a place in your writing, the content you provide, and the audience you've reached to start charging, I'd respect you for it. It's a chance you take, as to whether or not enough people will subscribe to make it worthwhile, both in financial terms and in audience terms. (Sure, you could write a journal for five very wealthy patrons, but is that what you want to do?)

If you were approached by a commercial site (let's say ChickClick for now, since Pamie recently made this move), who would pay you to provide content that would benefit them (in bringing in more readers), it's a matter of figuring out if your content is going to change, either due to outside pressures (the editors of that website tell you not to write about something, give you an update schedule, etc.), or internal pressures (as you mentioned, not wanting to write anything against a sponsor of your Garden Journal). Again, I don't think this is the optimal situation for a journal to be in, but I'd understand that decision and make up my own mind as to whether or not I'd want to read you. (I'm having a hard time with Pamie, as ChickClick tends to crash my elderly home computer, and their banner ads give me a headache.)

In asking for a "donation," you're, in my opinion, effectively having your cake and eating it too. You're not making the leap of faith it would take to position your journal as something worthy of a subscription price, and you're not accepting a "job" from someone (or some company) who wishes to hire you.

Instead, you've chosen a route that makes me inherently uncomfortable. You are, in effect, asking your readers to become your sponsors, without any of the obligations that sponsors can expect. In terming it a "donation," you're effectively relying on the sympathies of your readers to keep you afloat, or (as someone else posted), asking us to pay you because we like you.

If I'm going to pay someone to write, I'll expect a certain consistency of content which I don't find in "Bad Hair Days" or any other online journal. If I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, I wouldn't put up with Owen Gleiberman saying "I meant to post a movie review this week, but things are too hectic, so you'll just have to come back later."

I forgive that (hell, I don't even notice it) in online journals, because they're free, personal websites. None of the writers has an obligation to me, because they give away these words for free.

I think it would be a shame if a trend toward commercializing journals happened. I think that something special about them would be lost. I don't want to encourage the idea that certain journals are worthy of being paid for and some are not, because that's going to stifle a whole lot of very good voices, or those who improve as their journals grow, simply because they have an unencumbered outlet for their writing.

And, just to be blunt about it, if I were to donate money to people who have journals, I don't think you'd be tops on my list. Not because you're not a fantastic writer, but because I think there are a whole lot of people out there, writing just as often, who need the money a whole lot more.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

You're certainly right that there are journalers who need the money more than I do. There are also journalers who need the money less than I do to whom I would contribute if they put up a donation button.

Just curious, though, Patrick: your web hosting is free, isn't it? I know you don't have to display banner ads and that your readers don't have to pay to read your site, but didn't you receive hosting as a gift, basically, because someone liked your writing? Did that create a conflict for you?

I've been offered free hosting and I've opted not to take it, because I want the freedom to demand perfect service and round the clock tech support, something I wouldn't feel comfortable expecting if my site were hosted by a friend. I think that decision has worked to my readers' advantage; to the best of my knowledge we've never had any downtime at, and access is reasonably fast. The trade off is that my hosting service is pretty expensive and it's about to become more expensive. I'm not sure why my little entirely voluntary donation button is any different than the free hosting you receive or the hosting other people receive in exchange for banner ads.

Finally, I have made a financial trade off to keep up the journal. I've turned down two regular writing jobs because I just could not find a way to do a weekly column (much less two of them) and still have time for the journal/weblog. I chose the journal/weblog because I enjoy it more, primarily, but if I can say this without sounding too much like Miss America, I also considered the fact that I think that at least some of my readers would be disappointed if I discontinued the site in order to do more commercial writing somewhere else.

As for your argument that I'm having my cake and eating it too, I must confess that that went right over my head. The whole idea of voluntary donations in exchange for expression is a pretty old one; don't you ever drop a dollar into an open guitar case, even if you wouldn't pay $15 to hear the same music in a club?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Patrick wrote: If I'm going to pay someone to write, I'll expect a certain consistency of content which I don't find in "Bad Hair Days" or any other online journal. If I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, I wouldn't put up with Owen Gleiberman saying "I meant to post a movie review this week, but things are too hectic, so you'll just have to come back later."

Beth is still allowing free access to her site. You don't have to pay if you don't want to. You can give her .25 (or whatever) if you feel that her writing has met your expectations, or you like the pretty new rose in her garden, or because Doc did something adorable. But it's not like she's going to shut you out if you don't pay.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Patrick, put down the crack pipe. You're seeing all kinds of things that aren't there. that Beth isn't making her site "commercial" (the Horror, the Horror). She's not saying that "certain journals are worthy of being paid for and some are not". She's not "asking readers to become sponsors". Think of Beth as poor, ragged, homeless wretch playing her guitar in a subway station. She has the case open, and politely asks you to throw in a quarter if you like her music. Throw in your quarter, or don't, it's up to you. I have some sense of what is involved here, because I have a popular political site ( ) that I've pretty much kept banner free for the last five years, just because I hate banners. It's not nearly as popular as "Bad Hair Days" or "The Book of Rob", but it's enough work for me to sympathize with the authors of popular journal sites. I can't see someone faulting them for opening their guitar case.

I do wish that Beth had made the topic read "How do you feel about donating to read content on personal web sites?" since that is really what she is doing.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I personally see nothing wrong with what Beth is doing. I have always thought of my journal as a daily column, and columnists (usually) get paid. By making it purely voluntary, if one chooses not to contribute, that's great...if they choose to, that's great too. I think it's less irritating than the "Chickclick" banner that Pamie went to...which is not criticizing Pamie, just personal taste.

If I could turn this hobby into a few extra dollars for Brian's college fund, for instance, I really don't see any reason why not...on a voluntary basis.

I'm not criticizing Saundra and Patrick. Certainly the quality of most journals is far below most print media. But a few aren't. Pamie, for instance, regularly does a hilarious column, and deserves to be paid. I really don't see any reason why Patrick's excellent "Spotlight Stories" need not earn Patrick a little money back.

It is, after all, the ultimate applause--being reimbursed for one's work...especially when instead of being required, it's voluntary. (By the same token, I hope Beth will forgive me, but I'm going to freeload, and read without paying. For my kids need every nickel I make. I don't feel guilty about it, either.)

That's the beauty of it. It's like shareware. Pay as you wish.


-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Patrick-- let me know if you're still having those problems. I'm not using the framed ads like mbtv or hissyfit. Mine are embedded, and I don't know exactly how they'd crash your browser. Let me know and I'll see what I can do to fix it for you.

Everyone else-- This month I spent $350 on Squishy. Three hundred and fifty dollars. Why? Because the site was too big. I couldn't afford to keep it where it was. The forum was out of control and people were making fake posts and stuff and I had to create a place with more control. Enter UBB. Enter two hundred dollars. Then I had to move it to a place that would support UBB. They charge quarterly. My site is too large and has too many hits a day to run on the cheaper plans, or even on a mostly-free-new-business site.

I love writing Squishy, but when I was on Geocities, I can't even tell you how many complaints I got concerning pop-ups. Then I had to pay them for virtual hosting my URL. I got complaints from the last forum because it would spam people. I got complaints because people were e- mailing other forum posters dirty sex mail.

I found a place that supports women and girl power and markets you. I don't know how to market myself at all. I write and perform, and would rather have someone else worry about my business affairs. This conversation with Chickclick has been going on for over a year. They were the ones who encouraged a forum. I thought a forum wouldn't work in a journalling community. Look how right they were, and how different journals are now because of it.

I haven't seen a paycheck yet, and I won't see one for a while. But Squishy was becoming a very expensive venture. I want to go to Journalcon. I need money to do that. I want to continue to update Squishy. I need both time and money to do that. With these banner ads, I just might be able to.

That and I'm a big whore. I'm a performer. That's all we do. We whore. We whore ourselves to get bigger and better and improve ourselves and improve our work and our craft and to always reach for the next thing.

I don't anticipate a dumbing down of Squishy. They didn't ask me to change anything (I did take down the splash page that had a mother sticking her head in the oven while calling her family "ungrateful shits" because, well, I can understand the hesitancy. get to know me first and all), but other than that I have complete creative control. It was in the contract.

I write Squishy to express myself and to entertain you. It also becomes cheap therapy. And it's fun. The forum is fun. But it was becoming pricier than an electric bill. That's not fun. You only get so much space, and only so much bandwidth before they start charging you for hits. And there's a big hole in my bank account from Squishy this year that I'm hoping chickclick and your pageviews are going to cover.

I posted this question months before I signed the contract asking my readers what they thought about it. Their overwhelming response was that I should go for it, and that I should get paid for what I do. I probably wouldn't have done it if they were turned off by it. They weren't. They knew they couldn't send me money, but by having someone else send money because they were there? That's the easiest way to reward someone for their work. And we're both happy.

Let me know if you're ever disappointed, though. For real. And Patrick, let me know what's up.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Al, I don't mind at all, and in fact I'd be crabby if you did donate while raising two hungry kids and hosting your own site on free servers! ;-)

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Beth, if you didn't want our honest opinions about your asking for money, you shouldn't have started the forum thread.

Yep, I get free hosting. Nope, I don't think it's the same thing at all, because I never asked for it. I was at a free hosting service before, and I considered that a tradeoff I was willing to make. The person whose "hobby server" (her words) I use has never made any demands on my site since the time she offered me the space. In fact, I've never heard from her since. To me, that's the same as writing on Diaryland, or Crosswinds, or any other banner-free no-charge server.

I didn't post requests for free hosting on my site. You're asking for free hosting from your readers on your site. And a little more, from the posts you've made here.

I'm uncomfortable with that.

If you didn't want to know that, you shouldn't have asked.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Whoa. Patrick, chill the fuck out. I don't think I said anything to you to warrant that response. I don't think I discounted your opinion in any way. If you thought my comments about your free hosting were an attack, then I apologize; I was honestly trying to make a comparison. Soliciting your opinion doesn't mean I have to agree with it, and the fact that I don't doesn't mean I'm disputing your right to share it. And I was honestly mystified by the "having your cake and eating it too" comment, the logic of which still eludes me.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

OK, I've thought about it some more and I can't quite understand the fuss.

If you don't personally like the idea of 'commercialised' journals, then don't read them. It's not like there's a shortage of alternatives. And if writers like Beth ever decide to make their journal exclusively available to paying subscribers (which she's certainly not threatening, from what I can see) then we as readers will each make a choice.

Yes, if you pay for something you should get consistency of writing if you're paying for it, but you don't. If you buy a novel, read it and don't enjoy it, Amazon won't be sending you your money back.

I personally prefer Pamie's route - let the advertisers pay! But that's just because I'm a cheapskate. If Pamie wrote a book I'd buy it, and ditto Beth - they're both excellent writers. And yes, tomorrow I will click your button Beth, because your writing is worth something to me.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

By the way, not to be entirely cynical, but I'm having a really hard time with this distinction Patrick and Saundra are proposing, i.e., that it's the hybrid nature of a personal site that accepts donations that is troubling to them. Patrick, you say you would support my decision to turn Bad Hair Days into a commercial site. Forgive me if I don't believe you. I just don't believe that you would be out cheering for me if you clicked on this site tomorrow and found a big sign that said "you must be a registered user to enter this site," along with a credit card form so you could send in your five bucks. I may not be giving you enough credit, but I don't believe you'd really support that decision.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Except, Beth, unless you're selling porn or stock info, people Will Not Pay.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I'm glad you're so all-knowing, Joy, but if you'd read what I posted above, I noted that people have been paying all day. As I said on the front page, I wanted to offset some costs, and the response has been better than I'd hoped.

I know for a fact that I am not the only web journaler who occasionally receives e-mail from people asking where they can make a donation. When I had a P.O. box, I sometimes received cash in the mail. For that matter, I have occasionally sent money or gifts to people whose pages I enjoy or who seemed to need the money. Many people will not pay. Many people will. I'm not trying to make a living off this site, for crying out loud.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Well, I know Gus use to speak of readers sending him things, so, nothing really is unusual. And now with E-bay, you could convert all those items to real cash. (well maybe not used men's underwear, and oversized condoms, and pictures of naked hairy bodies, or someone's kidney...etc)

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Re: Gus' earlier collection of things per Jennifer Wade: Yeah, I remember that- but I guess I saw that as yet another side of gus' utter lack of social grace. Not really a money making venture. In fact, the thought of gus' consistently doing anything with the primary aim of pecuniary gain is a bit beyond me.

Re: Cory's suggestions on what gus gets: The only thing he needs now is a club to defend hisself, I think.

Re: Joy's assertion that folks won't pay: I think that could change, and soon. If you already have a paypal acct., it's pretty damn painless to click and make a micropayment. There are all sorts of things I'd make micropayments for if I could be sure of the quality and ease of access ahead of time. Fer instance, I'd pay for the web based version of the Economist if I didn't already have a subscription. It's consistent quality, better than I find at almost any free site (on the same subject matter, at least).

Things are a changin.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Curtis: It's not changing. You apparently don't keep up with business developments on the Web.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I'm glad you're so all-knowing, Joy,

That's why I'm here.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Joy: please. just please.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I completely understand the cost that goes into creating and keeping a website. I used to have my journal on Dreamhost. Hubby and I had to give it up because it's just too much money when we are trying to get surgery for him, a house and hopefuly infertility treatments. When people post dreamhost buttons, I always click them so they get credit -- even if I hate the site. It's something small I can do. "We're all in together" type of thing.

movies are expensive, comics add up, museums, camping -- all forms of entertainment have a price. I can come here and read some pretty entertaining stuff everyday and interact with people. I think that is worth a quarter. I also like the donation button (which you can ignore) and being able to read without the pop-ups or banners or anything of the other things that can get frustrating. Go for it Beth! I am just an occasional poster, but I like coming here and I am willing to support it being here. And by posting a button -- people who feel weird about it can ignore. That's why it's label donation.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

"There's not a single [non-personal] Web site that's making any money on pure content. "

Well, there's, and, to name just three. We don't sell anything there. Just pure content, making money while people read.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Joy, I think I'm just kind of confused as to what your point is. I agree with you that you can't, in general, expect to succeed by requiring people to pay for content on the web. I'm just not entirely sure how that relates to what's going on here.

Other meta-comment before I go be quiet somewhere: having asked for someone's opinion does not negate your right to disagree with that opinion. If it did, we wouldn't have very interesting discussions, no?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Joy, as usual, has no clue what she's talking about.

There are plenty of porn sites making money on "pure" content.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

What an interesting discussion! I don't think I'd have even noticed the little button if you hadn't pointed it out... I've gotten so used to seeing various advertising buttons, banners, click-thrus and what- have-you that they are mostly invisible to me, as long as they aren't obnoxious or clash with the layout. (in other words, they don't bother me, nor do I feel that they demand any response on my part)

I think this is probably a pretty natural trend, and in a way that makes me sad... we seem to be coming to the end of the 'pioneering' portion of the web, but it isn't dead yet, which is why this is even a controversy. Another couple years in Internet time, and this will be as moot a point as arguing over clickthrus were a year ago.

So that's the large view musing... on a more person end... I dunno yet. I'm doing the big Tevye thing (on the one hand... but on the other hand...), and I find most of my arguments against it are the same as his, too... tradition!

And that's probably not the best of reasons to take issue with something, is it? Especially not in a medium where traditions change weekly.

But... I don't see a personal donation button as 'going commercial' anymore than the PTA asking me to send my kid in with $2.00 to offset a teacher's expense for a party she's giving the class. If Beth and I were local, and we were going to go out for a meal (fun for me, fun for her), and she would have to stop and think about whether she *should* due to finances, I'd pay without blinking because my interest is in having that fun moment, not about whether she 'deserves' it, or I 'should have to'. As somebody who has had to set aside my journal due to too many important things going on and no way to justify giving something purely hobby that same important (its all about who do I feel most responsible to), I can understand this choice. And I suspect that the only possible change is a heightened sense of responsibility to her readers. Is that a bad thing?

I've sent gifts out to journalers - my whim, my choice, purely voluntarily. I've recieved the same. And my journal exists (ok, existed) due emphatically to donation.

In my case, its the donation of one woman who has carried me for nearly three years, along with three other journalers (#4 added yesterday) - because she likes doing for people without feeling obligated to - make her feel obligated and it would be a whole 'nother story..she'd fight it to the death. And I've never felt any need to 'pay back' in terms of changing what I write - much of which I know she might philosophically take issue with - in in stumping for things she would like to see brought up. If I ever did, I would immediately stop taking her donation.

I'm quite sure I feel far more beholden to her than I would to any one person who clicked on a donation button and paid less than the bonus they'd recieve for signing up, so if it doesn't affect me, I don't see why any one person's donation would change Beth's writing.

Nor do I see how making it possible, via an online method, for folks to do what many of us do now, without giving over one's personal address makes it any different. Maybe in a bit we'll all have a playpal account, just to handle money transactions of whatever sort among online friends?

The other thing (I know, I'm all over the map as usual), is that there has always, always, always been grey territory between hobby and profession - it's never been a sharp division. There are many people that publish via small press that get donations for their work, there are people who publish fanzines, etc, for no payment all all. None of it is free... its just a matter of who pays for it. I'd like to know - other than that battlecry 'tradition!' that isn't even accurate historically, why it's artistically more pure that the one producing should be the only one paying? Every artist has some sort of patronage, whether it's a relative subsidizing them so they can spend time doing it, or odd jobs that pay, or someone donating space and materials with which to create, or an employer who is - knowingly or otherwise - donating the time they pay for while the artist creates on the clock. That patronage doesn't determine the purity of the art.

but... will I donate? Not today, no. I'll wait until it's a purely voluntary whim, and when I do, I'll feel great that - unlike the last time I sent Beth something just because I dig her - I won't have to remember to buy stamps.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000


Guess you were too busy to read upthread a wee bit.

Except, Beth, unless you're selling porn or stock info, people Will Not Pay.

-- Joy (, July 19, 2000


Is hissyfit, et al making money? Are they showing a profit, that is?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I think Joy had previously made the point that porn sites and stock sites had made money for sites based on pure contents, but that nothing else would.

Like everyone else here though, Joy, I'm curious as to how you'd reconcile the authoritative "people Will Not Pay" with the fact that people are, in fact, paying for this one?

I'd actually guess that a personal site like this one, with a loyal, built-up readership base of people who like Beth's style would stand a better chance at getting people to type in the credit card numbers than a more national website. There's a lot of places to go for sports news, for example, but there's only one and she has a dedicated-enough following that I'm not surprised that people are voluntarily paying for the enjoyment of hearing what she has to say.

That might have gone a little bit beyond the original scope of the question, for which I apologize.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

My goodness, Mike, we wouldn't want to go beyond the scope of the question around here, now would we? Heh.

Lynda, are you implying that my entry today sucked? Wait. Hands ... dumb links ... oh, yeah, I guess it did. ;-)

Joy: I don't know the numbers on Hissyfit et al. I do know they are able to pay their contributors, that Wing Chun was able to quit her job and work on her websites full time, and that they hired their first full time employee a few months ago (as oppposed to the freelancers who write for them). So it sounds like they're doing all right.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I don't mind a donation button on a journal page, discretely asking me to push it if I wish. Better, as others have said, than a banner ad. I really hate how much advertising I have to deal with on a daily basis so any small escape from it is a relief.

Out of curiosity, I just did a little calculation to see what it would cost to read my daily journal fix if I paid .25 cents per entry. I read an average of about 10 journal entries a day, I would guess. Makes it easy to calculate, anyway.

25 cents times 10 is $2.50 a day, times 30 days in a month is $75 a month. Quite a bit more than my 500 channel digital cable bill. Is journal reading worth that much money to me? (I have a fairly tight budget.) I'm not sure yet. I'll be thinking about it.

I predict a trend... Beth just made enough to cover some of her hosting fees, and I suspect it won't be long before we see those little buttons everywhere, popping up like forums.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Oh, no, 25 cents every single day is way too much! 25 cents a month is more appropriate, if a person feels like donating. I thought about making the increment $0.01, but I figured that would be way too annoying for everyone involved.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Oh. Whew. $2.50 I can afford.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Oh dear, is it voting on a particular entry?? ack!

At last something I can say unequivocably, that has no philosphical basis at all... I'd never pay per entry, or pay every journaler i read every day. I am a broke little puppy who reads way too many journals.

Now I'm all upset... if this catches on I'd have to stop and think in terms of 'is this worth .25 to read'? arck....I'd have to stop and think if what I write is worth .25 to read!!

I'm going to go lie down now...sniffle....

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000


I was speaking generally about commercial sites. People have decliend to pay [e.g., Slate].

Beth's devoted readers may pay today or tomorrow, but I'm skeptical if people will make regular payments. Perhaps I'm wrong and she'll make scads of $$.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

You know, this is why I'm a poet. In a way, poetry is pure. Nobody ever pays for poetry. (Of course, that's why most poets are poor. "Be Pure, Be Poor" could be a new bumper sticker.)

I've been waffling on this issue for a while now. (I'm a waffler by nature.) I guess what it comes down to is this: I think having ads on your site (or banners or links or what have you) is various degrees of tacky, but I'm willing to deal with it, both for myself and other people. I just wish there was some kind of STOP button, so it doesn't go too far. I would hate to see journals become as sickeningly commercialized as everything else on the internet, and steps in that direction (yes, even my own) turn me off.

But on the other hand, I'm conflicted. Journalers work hard on their sites and give people entertainment. I want Beth and Pamie (and, I'll be honest, me) to be able to get something back. But I don't want the journals to change. I don't want the readers to change. I get a little sad over Pamie's new banners. It destroys the illusion of intimacy.

I'm afraid of anything that turns a journal from a labor of love into a commodity. But, realistically, it is a commodity. I pay to read books and magazines. I would rather pay to read journals than not read at all.

I think having a donate button is a decent compromise-- it's not as intrusive, and it's not obligatory. Of course, I know I will feel the Catholic guilt until I donate. And I hate the Catholic guilt. (I think that's just me, though. Those fucking nuns...)

And what are the ramifications of the commercialization of journals? I'm afraid people could be out there writing the most dramatic or pornographic or sympathetic stuff to hook readers (even making up complete soap opera lies) and then as soon as they have enough readers, turn their journal into a pay site or get banners or something.

Just call me Charlie Brown. I don't think I committed to any point of view in there at all, did I?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Generally i merely lurk, but i have to comment on this:

Joy, your comment about "keeping up with business developments on the Web" seems pretty laughable, considering your The People Will Not Pay attitude. Ever heard of Jakob Nielson? The "smartest person on the web?" In his most recent book, he devoted an entire chapter to the future of the internet, and i'll give you a little peek into his ideas:

Nielson believes that soon, people will have "contact tokens," or encrypted pieces of data that allow people to contact each other free of charge. If they don't have a token, they are billed a small fee in order to contact that person, by phone, email, or voice mail.

Nielson also predicts that the web will eventually all cost a small fee to access, a few cents per visit for small sites, and so on.

In the past, magazines like Slate and others flopped with subscriptions because they went about it all wrong. It seems that the key is small fees, a few cents to get what you want. I'm not saying it will happen in 5 years, probably closer to 10. But perhaps you should invest in a little bit more research materials before you make a fool of yourself in public.

To me, it seems like Xeney is just a little bit ahead of the rest of us. I think it is a tasteful and quiet way to allow readers to show their appreciation.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

From time to time I have found myself bothered by the fact that I so thoroughly enjoy and even depend on Beth's (and Pamie's) consistenly good content-- and yet provide them with nothing in return. I'm ashamed to say that many times I've thought to send them each something from their Amazon wish lists, and yet I never followed through. Since I don't even keep a journal myself, the feeling was exacerbated.

So this donation idea appeals to me. I'm gonna see that button, and it will make it easy to occasionally contribute something to the gal who makes my days more interesting. And when I do, I'll stop feeling unbalanced about the whole thing. That's not to say I think everyone should feel the same way I do about it.

And Pamie's banner doesn't bother me in the least bit either.

I know that opinions are the essence of an online forum, but: hoo-boy, Joy. Your posts always irritate me, and today is no exception. I so resent statements about what "people" will and will not do. "People" are proving you wrong left and right today, apparently.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Yes, I've heard of Neilson. But does he actually run a business, or just think deep thoughts and make predictions about what might happen? People predicting the future of the Internet are way cheaper then a dime a dozen. They make money [e.g., all those stupid seminars for "execs"].

Anyway, I did not say people will Never pay. I said that they haven't so far--for content. And they've become habituated to getting content for free. I think it's possible in the future that people will pay for "premium" content" the same way they're willing to pay for HBO.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Neilson has a few wellknown books under his belt, yes. I'm sure his reputation keeps his bank account fairly fluid. (I'd be purely guessing, but I suspect the technical seminar circuit is beddy beddy good to him)

Funny analogy, HBO.. because that's *exactly* what they said about cable when it first came out... that no one in their right minds would actually *pay* to watch TV.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

oops, it's Jakob NielsEn, and the book is Designing Web Usability, Joy. Oh, and Nielsen's dime a dozen seminars are for these fees: Website usability review: $30,000 Keynote speeches: $25,000 1-day usability seminar: $35,000 3-day usability workshop: $70,000

I have to say that when i saw the "donate" button i considered doing one for my own journal, however, i think or other well known journals are the only places this would succeed, as others have said, because they have built up a base of readers who are looking for original and exceptional content from one person. For those of us who are too shy to send complete stranger gifts, this button is a nice way to say thanks. I believe that gratitude and sheer entertainment is a good enough motivator for the People to Pay.

Thanks for listening,


-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

Well, Julie, here's a tip. When you see my name, don't read. That's what I do with posts from people who annoy me. [And I don't even announce it, I just don't read 'em].

But since you're already annoyed, don't *you* use expressions like "they said" or "people will"? Isn't it implicit that some people won't feel this way? It's just verbal shorthand.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000


My point was that Neilsen and his ilk are legion, not that they are cheap. On the contrary, people are getting very rich predicting the high-tech future.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

and my point is that it seems a little juvenille to dismiss all internet analysts, especially the best of the field, as snake oil salesman, and maybe give thought to their research instead.

But we're digressing.

I've made all my points, i wish you luck xeney.


-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Beth, I hope you make tons of money.

I'm going to steal your idea and use it on my site tomorrow. Fuck selling my stuff on eBay and hoping people would pity me enough to pay too much for it!

Oh... I just made it tacky, didn't I?

But, hey, time is money. And you aren't charging. You're offering an opportunity. If people suddenly think your method is tacky, they don't have to pay. And they can still come back for free to check the status of the latest flame war. People who like you and want to give you stuff won't have to get up and drive to the post office if they don't feel like it. See? Everybody wins.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I don't have a credit card. I really don't want to have to get a credit card - they're evil.

Generally, I don't have a problem with charging (or asking for donations) for reading personal sites/online journals. Personally, I don't think I would pay for online journals though. Not because I don't enjoy them and admire the fine writing, or appreciate the effort and cost involved, but simply because they would not be a priority. Even if the cost were minimal, it would end up being just another bill hassle. Yes, I hate paying bills that much.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

To answer a question way above, although I don't have access to their accounting books, I am fairly sure that collectively Wing Chun's sites (Hissyfit, Fametracker and Mighty Big TV) turn a profit. I'm sure that there are other content-driven sites out there that do as well (although we usually only hear about the ones that fail). It's just that we are used to paying with our eyeballs instead of our pocketbooks. Looking at ads means someone, somewhere is receiving money. Whether those people run a profitable business is another story. But I know that the aforementioned sites have built slowly, and been careful to keep costs and overhead low, instead of going crazy, renting offices, hiring tons of staff, hriing people at outrageous salaries, etc., which is usually what brings any web business down. (Look at the recent demise of the DEN for examples of a venture capital-funded content-based website that got out of hand.)

I did a lot of studying of business models and revenue generation streams for content-based websites as part of my graduate degree. I was once of the mindset that people will not pay for content, ever, except via advertising (looking at the failure of Slate, the NY Times subscription model, etc.) But things change quickly on the web, and I really think that once a secure, easy method is devised, micropayments will happen, and people won't mind paying $1/week to access an online news site, just like they don't mind paying 35 cents for a daily newspaper. PayPal is close but it requires purchasers to register first -- it would be nice to eliminate some of the filling out of forms.

I'll shut up now because I'm way off topic, but this is an area of great interest to me because of my academic research. I guess if people are interested in discussing, they can e-mail me. If anyone reads my weblog, I'm always linking to articles on this topic too.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

nae, you're extrapolating, not digressing. I didn't say all analysts are "snake oil salesmen". Some are. I do think that a lot of them are getting rich by finding an effective way to market their "wisdom".

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Kim's right, right and right. And when you think about it, sites which begin personal (as I believe Wing Chun's did) are perfectly placed to turn a profit by avoiding start-up costs.

And of course analysts make money by selling information. No surprises there. Joy, do you do any job which actually involves business development or forecasting in the internet sector? You seem pretty sure of what will and won't make money, and I'm curious about your credentials.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I agree with Joy in that no amount of research will enable anyone to predict the future, and it's far from clear what the future will hold for sites which charge for content in general.

But I also think that's totally irrelevant to the discussion at hand, which pertains to personal websites requesting donations and not companies which require a fee for access to content.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

You know, I think I have a new idea. No donations from readers -- but if you want to send me mail that starts with the line "you stupid bitch," you have to send me a dollar.

I wouldn't get rich, but I'd feel better.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Joy - go to to visit Jakob Nielsen. If you know *anything* at all about web usability and target audiences, you should at the very least be familiar with this man. He is, after all, the guru of web usability.

To further append to someone else's message regarding fees (I think you got this info from his site, non?), Dr. Nielsen is (quoting from the jacket of his book) a user advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, which he co-founded with Donald A. Norman (former VP of Research at Apple Computer.) Until 1998 he was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer and the company's web usability guru.... He holds 38 U.S. patents....He spends much of his time lecturing around the world and writing on usability issues.

I don't agree with everythng he says, but the man *does* know what he's talking about.... And I agreed with you earlier, actually before you even posted about the proving people won't pay. I think a pay pal type system might have *some* viability, but again, others have come and gone and failed miserably.

Only time will tell. Making absolutes on the web is not safe. Used to be everyone used blink tags. Then, it became passe and in bad taste. Now, I've heard that in LIMITED CASES, if you knowingly break this rule for good reason, it is okay. Who knows what will happen in 10 years? Something has to give - look at the nubmer of companies going under because they can't turn a profit. If people don't click on banners, (some) companies don't turn a profit, something has to give for the breed to survive.

I could go on because I have lots of conflicting thoughts on this, but I'm off to bed. I hope this entry makes sense in the morning...

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Um after all the kerfuffle above, I'm a bit wary of stating my thoughts, but hopefully I'll be forgiven by folks (Beth especially) if I also find this pay-per-read idea a little bit weird. I still keep my erstwhile journal at Geoshitties, but my main site is hosted by my ISP, since 5Mb webspace is thrown in as part of the deal. Obviously this costs less than it would to have it properly and professionally hosted, but it still does cost a bit. And yet until this evening, coming across this topic, I never even thought of charging for the things I have on offer (some 15-odd stories, 20-odd essays plus sundry other things). I'd feel wrong and it'd be slightly presumptuous of me to do so, despite the time I put into writing things and maintaining the site. I get paid for packing drugs into containers at a pharmacy, I don't get paid for these writings of mine.

That said, I wouldn't be above being paid for them if a publisher wanted to publish them for whatever reason. Although I offer them as personal writings for the fun of it, I do still have the professional possibilities in mind. Were I still doing my journal, though, that'd be a different thing. Journals by nature, in my opinion, are meant to be the writer's personal thing, not something with professional possibilities (unless, admittedly, they're asked to write one for a specific purpose), and my assumption has always been if you offer your journal to the world for reading then you offer it as a personal item.

'Tis all quite confusing, and possibly I'm making even less sense than normal. Suffice to say that I have a few issues with paying for stuff online (security concerns and lack of my own credit card being among them). If Beth did choose at any point to go the whole hog and make BHD a pay site, that's her right, and it'd also be my right to stop reading it. That said, the current arrangement, though it still feels slightly odd to me, is probably the best compromise. The small donation button is a lot better than banner ads, which just shit me to tears endlessly, and the optional nature of it still leaves it clear for those of us who can't/don't want to/have problems coughing up.

I've said enough so I'll shut up now and let the rest of you pick holes in my logic, cos knowing me I'll have left a few. At any rate, what Beth does with her site is her business, and if she wants to ask for donations to maintain it, that's her right and her prerogative. Just that it's not something I think I'd do myself. So hopefully Beth will forgive me if I'm not one of the many who've contributed to the BHD fund. If it's any consolation, you do still have my love and respect, of course :)

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I do not mind donating $1- $5. :) I appreciate what Pamie said, after she explaining how much ($350/month) I have more general idea why she needs the banner. By the way I am not bothered by the banner at all. I cheered for the whole concept of "sponcering" because I rather see the banners than Pamie pulling the site down due lack of funds.

I am curious though how much it takes for you Beth to keep this site up. That way I would know if my $5 could in anyway help offset your overhead cost. Should $25 donation would be more appropriate? :) Cheers.

Perhaps some negative (or rather concerned) comments are there because we believe that lawyers are very wealthy. :) Society leads us to believe that.


-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Well, since my first post, things sure have evolced, haven't they?
This weirds me out, especially the mini flamewar with Saundra and Patrick, since these are two of the other journallers I frequent daily and am willing to help.

Yeah, 'cause I agree with Lynda, and to put it somewhat different [or is it the same?], I'd say it's all about LOVE.
The journal is a work of love from the writer and maintainer, for sure, but it is something they share with us, those willing to read, as a personal enjoyment, right?
For me it's the same that when my mother makes the cake she likes the best [to make & to eat] and then invites me to come and have some of it as well.
Maybe the difference is that you can have daily readers who don't like you as a person and only relate to the writing itself [or think of you as a trainwreck, possibly], but still, as a daily reader, I think of myself as a FRIEND of Peth, Patrick, Saundra, Pamie, all the ones I read 'seriously'.
I like them all enough to be sending them things from their wishlist if they have one, but at the same time I might not find anything on their list that is a gift i potentially would have chosen myself, so i can end up in the old dilemna 'Should I offer them something I know they will like or something they might not like but I really think is good? That's a more personal issue, and gifts are personal, right?'.

Well, here's the reason I don't feel comfortable sending them gifts from wishlists: I FEEL like I'm their friend but I don't know for sure. They were writing journals, and not exactly ASKING for my friendship. THEY, on their side of the screen, might feel really friends with some of their readers, but probably not me, since I did not email or post enough and noboday reads my own journal. So I feel I'd be demonstrating too big a closeness by sending personal stuff, or wishlist gifts. Sometimes I feel like that.

Money, on the other hand, is THE TOOL humanity invented to have a standard to measure value.
As Lynda puts it, if we were friends in real life and we'd go out for a meal, i wouldn't hesitate to pay the bill for two, because I use the money I can spend in ways I think are worth, say, spending a good time with friends even if they cannot afford it.
I have this practical view on money as well. I know it is expensive to host and maintain a website, and if we were real life friends with Beth and I didn't read her website, I'd still be willing to share a bit of money with her [since I can afford it] to help her keep doing it.
WE are not real life friends, and the reason I feel we are or could be linked, is that I read her. Well, because of the affection I developped for her as a person, I find myself also willing to help her keep doing this.
I might stop reading tomorrow, I will still help a bit, because it's afriend I can HELP.
The analogy with the person playing guitar on the street is not perfect [since that can be nuisance imposed on you when you walk by], but it is a good one.

We're talking about donating, here, not buying. It is different, fondmentally different. If you don't see it, it means you have reduced the concept of money to one thing, when what it is is only a 'standard measure' for all to use.
It can be a measure of 'value', or affection, or pleasure, or rarity, and all of these things are different.
I won't start expecting a 'better service' and complain if Beth stops writing four days because she doesn't have time, and I find particularly bizarre that Patrick can evaluate it like that.
I don't feel offended or obligated [I got rid of the Jewish Guilt for some things at last, whew!], and most of all I don't feel SOLD.
As much as I love Pamie, and I do, since yesterday i fell as if she sold me to someone else for money, and THAT make me feel very uncomfortable.
Since I'm weak and I need my Fix, I'll still got to the site, but each time the banner ads are gonna make me mad.
To me adverstisement is PROSTITUTION clear and simple, of you as a writer and of your readers.
Of course, Chickclick can almost be considered as a publisher, and maybe I'll revise my judgement on that, but still.
Ads MAKE me ba a customer again, right wheni just felt I was going to the intimate, the friendly zone.
I hate it.

Donations are only asking ME as a person, not as a buyer-consumer-customer, if I m willing to help. It's a call to my generosity, whatever I base my generosity acts upon is left to me. Well, I usually am generous to people around me, when I can. The ones i care for.

Now Paypal is only working for US residents, and it does check on the credit card billind addres so you can't cheat, I tried.
Wich means Beth, I'll have to figure out another way of sending you my $25. Or I'll sneak in a virtual bookstore and find something I think is 'worthy' of both of us, something I think you would like and I'm sure I appreciate [It won't be for the garden, NOR for the dog, not even for the cooking.]
You've got yourself another friend you didn't know about ;-)

I hope this made sense, 'cause I really mean it, but I have a hard time explaining it.

Now lemme go and hide in a corner, 'cause I feel like a self-righteous semi-stalker bitch.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

...and of course there were typos... :-)
Beth, I promise I won't call you Peth ever again, unless you specifically ask for it.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000


I just tried to donate but I ran into trouble - I live in the UK and the form doesn't seem to accept either the format of my phone number (s)- which come up as required info - or my zip code (ditto). Anyone know a way round this?? I hope paypal isn't US only : (

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I think me and Anatsuno must have posted at the same time - sorry for the repetition : )

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Joy Rothke wrote: "Maybe if you're talking about online chums exchanging toys or cookies. There's not a single [non-personal] Web site that's making any money on pure content."

Just for clarification: My site, on which I post videogame reviews, makes me a fair chunk of change, and it's nothing but pure content.

Personally, I wouldn't charge (or ask for donations) for the "Whatever." However, I have been known to take material I've written for the "Whatever" recast it slightly, and sell it -- in this regard I think of the "Whatever" as a sort of rough draft for saleable copy, and also a place to write material I know I can't sell elsewhere, or don't wish to be bothered to market. It's also just a place I write for fun -- and the only place where I won't or don't write with the expectation of cash on the barrelhead. For someone who writes for a living, it's nice to have that. There's no expectation for the writing there to do or be anything other than amusing to me (and hopefully the readers).

Obviously because of my profession, I have no objections to people being paid for their writing, no matter what sort it is. If people want to put ads on their journal sites or ask for donations, that's perfectly fine with me. I wouldn't expect that they'll get rich off of it -- they might get some beer money out of it -- but if it makes them feel like what they're doing has some intrinisic worth, fine.

My own experience with people paying a "suggested fee" for content has been met with modest success: I posted my science fiction novel up at my web site ( also made it available as a download. I told people that if they read it and they liked it, to send me a buck. It's made me a couple of hundred bucks. This is nowhere near what I could have gotten if I had sold it (I have a book being published this fall, for example, for which my advance was considerably larger), but it is a couple hundred bucks more than I honestly expected to get: I mean, knowing myself, I find it difficult to put anything in the mail, much less a dollar (I expect, Beth, you'll miss out on some donations simply because people can't be bothered to provide their credit card information to Pay Pal).

I don't think journallers should feel bad if they decide to make a little off of their sites: The salient point of journals is that they are an expression of the individual, so if a profit motive is part of the individual's makeup, there you have it. I do think, however, that the average journaller, whose site is hit a couple hundred times a day at best, better try not to be disappointed when very little comes in. When all is said and done, the best way to make money off of writing is still the old-fashioned way: Go out and try to sell it.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Actually, James, you said that very well. You make some good points. You and I have a different approach to keeping a web journal, but I appreciate your thoughts.

As for people wanting to send me $25, or $10, or whatever ... that's way, way, WAY too much. Really. A few people have done that and I'm thrilled, believe me, but I'm sort of treating that as a birthday present. Twenty five cents was the request. I probably should have made it so you could only donate that amount and not more. Seriously, a lot of people donated, and .25 adds up.

Two things I want to say, and then I should probably stop posting here before Jeremy comes out and breaks my arm (I'm not supposed to be typing at all, remember): first, I was going to say that the donations would make me feel obligated to try to write every day, which I think would be a good thing, but instead I have to tell you that I'm probably going to take at least a week off until I can get my arm looked at and buy an ergonomic keyboard. Sorry about that. Second, the donations I got yesterday and this morning have brightened up an otherwise shitty day, so there's that. Seriously, people, do not ever go to and try to figure out what you're worth, unless you're pretty sure you're overpaid. I'm ten grand under the minimum salary range for my city and my level of experience, and I'm near the top end of that experience range. Going to go stick my head in the oven now ...

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

nice thread, interesting topic. some people feel way strong about some of this.

beth, i enjoy your site and plan on contributing somehow. however, I, personally, would prefer an anonymous system. so, i'm trying to figure out what to do.

anyone out there have any suggestions. can we use our real account info but make up the rest of the info and have the process work?

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Writing well requires effort, ISPs don't give away their services, and if a Web site gets enough traffic, then the ISP starts charging by the megabyte. Subscription-only Web sites, beyond certain narrow market categories, don't get subscribers. Banner ads are evil. What's left to do, but depend on the kindness of strangers? And if the donation process is as simple as clicking on a button every once in a while and having a slightly higher charge on your credit card ... it becomes painless for the donor.

My one concern is with PayPal's security. I got 75% through their registration process, and then heard that they only use 40-bit keys; anyone who cracked my messages to PayPal would have a blank check to use my credit card, and the contract with PayPal forbids me from disputing their charges. On the other hand, I see from their Web site that customers are now insured against fraud, and US encryption regulations have loosened, so maybe I should give them another chance.

It would be interesting to see, a year from now, a budget for the Web site -- the cost of the ISP service, the amount donated, the amount of stuff on the site, and the amount of traffic. (And if you're not sick of toting up "billable hours" from your day job, it could also include the amount of time spent writing and designing the site.)

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I confess that I don't have to worry about paying for my site. It's hosted by a friend of mine for free. My reader count is small enough that I don't think I have, or will, caused that friend any problems. Now, if he told me tomorrow that it was getting too expensive and asked me for $x a month, I'd probably pay it, depending on the amount. ($350 is waaay too high.) Would I try to offset those expenses with something like the PayPal button? Again, it probably depends on the amount and my finances.

The thing is, it is expensive for many people to maintain a Web site. I'd rather see a PayPal button than banner ads. Someone like Beth isn't trying to start a big for-profit enterprise, she's trying to keep the site expenses down, or so I would imagine. Pamie illustrated this point perfectly. Even if your site is functioning as a kind of resume, you can only pour so much money into it.

At first, I wanted to endorse the idea of people sending things rather than money if they liked the site well enough -- cookies or Bendos or whatever. However, some recent problems with my own journal site are leading me to reconsider this. I would rather maintain a certain distance between most of my readers and myself. I'm starting to see a pattern of certain readers who think they know me better than I do, who respond to every single entry with advice on how I should run my life, or rather nasty comments about my sex life, etc. Their argument is that if I'm posting personal stuff publicly, they have every right to respond. Some even consider their emails to be a sort of literary criticism ("you didn't provide us with enough foreshadowing about such-and-such").

If I wanted some sort of reward or compensation for my personal site, or even if I wanted to recoup the expenses of money and time spent on it, I'd go with the PayPal button. I don't want people thinking that they have developed a personal relationship with me because they read my journal every day. I would rather place some distance. The PayPal button is a good reminder of this -- this isn't a friendship, it's a Web site. I remember John Scalzi's posting his novel online and asking for donations if someone read it and felt like contributing -- this seemed sensible and fair to me.

A journal site is what you make of it. Some people can ask for donations and it seems perfectly natural. I'm not sure if it has to do with content or personality or readership. It worked for Beth, and the chickclick agreement seems to work for Pamie, but I couldn't see Patrick doing it in any case. In terms of me giving someone else money, I might be inclined to do it to cover someone's Web expenses, but not to pay for his kid's college fund.

I'm sure that at some point I'll probably overcome my wariness about PayPal security and give my quarter or two. No big deal.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I like Beth's journal, I enjoy reading it, and it doesn't cost me anything to read it. If I'm broke and want to read it, I can. If I have extra money and I'd like to help her offset the cost (financially and otherwise) of maintaining the site, I can now click the little button and send some money. Whether I donate or not on any given day or week, I'll still enjoy reading. I'm going to donate today. That's something I can afford to do, and something I'm choosing to do. If this were a site I'd never read before that charged me for access, I'm about a hundred percent sure I'd never pay to get that access. This is different. Beth doesn't know me, but in at least some limited way, I know her. And I like her. I've been allowed to get to know and like her without paying any money. Now that we're "friends" (in my head, anyway, and in the fondness I feel for her), I don't see that this is much different than coming over for dinner and asking if I can bring anything or if I can help cover the cost of dinner. If you don't want to pay, don't. For me the issue of donating to Bad Hair Days (PAYING for access would be a whole different story) need not involve my own personal query into what's commercial, what's not, what's "selling out", what's "personal." I don't have my own journal, but I'm pretty willing to believe that maintaining one can cost a lot of money. I'm willing to chip in toward paying that cost. That's the end of my own inner debate.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Jette worder it way better than i did, but this is EXACTLY what i meant, about the friendship and the distance.
I maintain banner ad are EVIL, yes. Hope the arm gets better, girl!

[and $25 was meant to be a one shot thing in my head, not a monthly or yearly contribution, you know? It's just that I can afford it now, and I might be bothered later to not be able to contribute anymore... This way I felt afterwards i could forget it. Anyway I spend it on stupid femme mags i don't even read through, about each month. Anyway, paypal doesn't want me, so there.]

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

How do I feel about this kind of thing? Mixed. I'm not thrilled to see the banners on Squishy, but I don't think less of Pamie for putting them up and I wish her well in getting a little cash back from all the entertainment she's given me. Same with Beth. And if you're going to do it, I think a discreet "donate" button is probably the most graceful way. Beth is being very casual and low-pressure about this, and I don't feel at all obligated to donate. But maybe if the mood strikes me sometime, I will.

I don't want to involve commercialism of any kind in my own journal, but that just shows that my journal has a different place in my life than Beth's journal has in hers. Kind of nice that nobody's out there telling us what our journals have to be, isn't it?

What I am curious about is whether the promise of filthy lucre will affect the journalling process at all. That's something that will probably become clear only over time. I'd be very interested to hear about any subtle changes Beth might notice in her attitudes as this goes on.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Wow, this thread is long. My feelings:
1. I don't like the idea of a donation button the same way I don't like it when people ask me for money. I also hate wishlists, etc. I think the entire concepts of *asking* readers for stuff is incredibly tacky and terrible and I can't bring myself to do it, nor can I bring myself to give these journallers what they ask for. Of course, that doesn't mean I don't like the journallers; I still read and adore (well, virtually adore, anyway) Rob, Pamie, Beth, etc. Weirdly enough, I don't feel a personal connection with people who engage in practices like those as much as I do with journallers like Jen Wade, who just post for the enjoyment of it. I can't explain it, but there it is. I think that maybe Rob's Bendo thing is an exception, because he was so openly silly about it that I couldn't help but be amused. (And yes, I pay for everything on my site.)
2. Side comment: As an outsider to this discussion (ie I have no real feelings about Beth putting a link on her site, and I don't love/hate anyone posting in this forum), I have to say that it does seem that some of you are getting a little ... emotional regarding the flamewar taking place at the top. If you disagree with Saundra, Patrick, etc., why not just chalk it up to "good info to know"? People fight enough (for EXTREMELY stupid reasons, I might add) on diary-l; let's keep it out of this disucussion, k?

The Secret Page

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I thought awhile about this.

At first it appeared that people were confusing Beth's question and intertwining a PURELY pay site with the donation button from PayPal.

I had never heard about PayPal before, but I don't see a thing wrong with the donation button. Donate if you choose for whatever reason, or don't if you are unable or again for what ever reason.


-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

> Would you pay to read a site you like?


> Would it change your mind one way or another if I told you that if everyone who visited this site contributed a penny per entry for a year, I'd have enough to quit my job and go into private practice?

No. But I'd rather save my money until I have enough to quit my own job (this will likely never happen). I don't much care whether or not you have enough to quit your job, and of course I don't expect that you would own concerns about my financial status.

> Or does that comment just make me sound like a greedy sow?

No. I agree, though, with some of Joy's comments regarding the public's lack of willingness to pay for what they are accustomed to getting for free. I don't mean to comment on your web site's content or quality, but most online journals are written poorly; so if you present the site as an online journal, then I'm even more unlikely to cough up cash.

-- AVT

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I've been an on-line journal reader for two years; an on-line journal writer for four months.

Is web hosting expensive? It can be. Depending upon how much space you *choose*. Depending upon the service-level fee schema you *choose*. Depending upon what functionality and freedoms you *choose* to be the ones without which you couldn't possibly create and maintain your site.

I don't know that I believe any specific statement is being made by a journal site owner who provides the means by which readers can offer voluntary donations. Except, perhaps, that he/she believes his/her web hosting costs are becoming excessive.

I've been an on-line journal reader for two years; a on-line journal writer for four months. I choose not to own a domain name. I chose to accept an offer of free space from a friend who couldn't possibly exhaust the megs his chosen fee structure provides. He won't take a dime from me. He just wants me to keep my commitment to writing daily. There are virtually no images on my site. Only Michael has ftp access. I can't edit my entries once I post them because of some date functionality changes Michael had to make so I could write entries after a day's fact. If I make an error, I have to delete the post and copy/paste again.

If I wanted all of that, I could have it. For a price. Or not if I were to willing host banner ads on my site. And if Michael went away and took his megs with him? Maybe I'd just scrap the whole thing and move straight to an e-mail-generated journal.

We choose our on-line expenses. We choose how we pay those on-line expenses.

I wonder, though, if those who have chosen hosting solutions that are costing them would be more willing to donate to journallers than those haven't? I ask this, because as someone who most likely wouldn't pay for a personal domain name or probably any hosting solution for a personal site, I'm not likely to donate to those who incur expenses they chose.

It's the words that keep me coming back, after all. Not the links or the graphics or the photo galleries or a snappy domain name.


-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

The question isn't whether Beth should put a donation button on her site ('cuz it's hers to do with as she wishes), but how do you feel about it? I don't care for it. Not because I think it's tacky, but because everytime I read her page I'll see that button and feel pressured by its presence. I know that I don't have to donate anything, and life will go on just fine. But it's kind of like taking the subway everyday and not giving money to the silent, staring homeless woman sitting across from you day after day. She's not asking you for anything but you still feel guilty for not offering. Although you may be a paycheck away from homelessness yourself, you still feel guilty looking at her.

Not that I'm saying Beth is homeless, or even rides the subway. It was just an analogy.

That said, I can also understand those who don't have a problem with it. They are people with spare change and good credit (for me the former is rare, the latter a joke). I bear these people no ill will, and am glad that someone can help Beth out. It's the asking for money, not from a corporation, but from actual readers that bothers me. I have no idea why, but it does. There's my $.02

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I've thought about this a great deal since I saw the button on the sidebar yesterday.

At first, I thought it was going to be a button to donate to one of the animal shelters Beth writes about. I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I realized it was for her, instead. But, like I've said, I've given it a lot of thought, and what first seemed very wrong to me, now makes more sense.

If regular, generous, able readers making donations for site maintenance means Bad Hair Days stays online and updated, then I'm for it. I don't have the means to assist anyone with their sites (at times it's a struggle to pay my $10/month at Dreamhost), but I don't have a problem with Beth asking for assistance. (I've never heard anyone complain about Willa requesting people buy from Amazon via her site for the same reasons.) I do wonder, though, how much more this blurs the boundaries between journallers and readers and what one expects from the other.

I would have problems with it if the donations were for anything but site maintenance. Obviously, Beth pays for her domian and pays for hosting, so there are legitimate expenses. And yeah, if I were to make a donation, I'd feel I had a right to know exactly what I was contributing to (ie what the journaller pays for hosting.) I would just hate to see this become a trend among journallers without the same needs. And I don't know if I can put into words why that bothers me, other than to say that it would be making a very personal, intimate endeavor somehow cheaper. A very bad analogy: I'm not going to pay someone to sleep with me, but I'd be happy to buy the condoms.

I don't have a problem at all with banner ads. I hardly think online journals are about design, anyway. For me, at least, it's about content. I don't have a problem with wishlists or Bendos or what have you. I've given gifts to journallers that have become friends, and have received gifts from readers that have become friends. No big whoop.

In my mind, expecting to be paid for your writing in this venue is like expecting to be paid for writing on a bathroom wall or sending a letter to a friend. If you want to be paid as a professional writer, write in a professional venue.

And I have to ask, how does one handle this scenario with the IRS? Do you pay a gift tax?

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I actually paid for Slate for the year it was a subscription service, and I didn't mind. I even got a nice umbrella out of it. I would have continued to pay for it. is sort of screwy because its way too much money. And people pay for stuff all the time on the web: the Wall Street Journal, for one. I don't happen to believe that information wants to be free. I think its great if it is, and we should strive to make it accessible as possible to those with less money, but I also think compensation is a good incentive for good work.

That said, I do think its different that Pamie now has a banner. But I was never under the impression that Pamie was not branding herself. Her writing style is very different from, say, Tracing, or Jen Wade. I don't really like banners and I may visit Pamie less frequently. But I imagine it won't have an impact on her site because of her style. I'll bet she'll get more hits though. I really do think that's good for her, as it would help her career. Funny, I never thought of Hissyfit as a personal site. I see it as a magazine, really. I guess I rarely read Wing Chun herself!

I prefer the "voluntary contribution" thing. I would just as soon send beth some puppy food or something she would like, but hell, cash is good too. I think its only right that Beth tells us this costs a lot and would not reject small tokens of our affection.

I would even contribute to Jen Wade's fund, and she's a pal of mine. That might seem awkward, but I have enough integrity to not demand friendship because I pay (though I recognize that's not universal) and I would expect her to flame me even if I support her.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Just to clarify my earlier comment in light of Jen Bombpop's post, I think the awkwardness would mostly be on the side of the recipient rather than the giver. In the past some of my readers have asked if they could send me gifts, and I was really uncomfortable with the idea and asked them not to.

I knew that if they sent me gifts I would feel beholden to them. I wouldn't be able to let their e-mails sit unanswered in my inbox for weeks at a time anymore, and I didn't want a gift to be the basis for a friendly relationship. And, I didn't know what these readers would expect in exchange for their gifts and I didn't want to disappoint them.

I think that Beth will have to be prepared to deal with the possibility that some of her donors, especially those who give large sums, might expect some personal attention in return. They may not even be aware that they hold these expectations, but I think it's only human to expect some sort of gratitude in exchange for our acts of generosity. I'm not saying that everyone who gives Beth money will expect to be her new best friend, but I think that some people will probably end up being hurt.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Okay, bonus points for me, baby: I just read all these posts. 119 or something.

Put me in the "no donations/no asking for donations" category and I can tell you why - for the very reason that Beth mentioned briefly: the affect it might have on her with regard to editing her content. If she's ticked off at someone, yet, they donated to her, will she back off? See, that's one monkey I do not want on my back.

Once people start giving you any form of payment, they begin to feel they are invested in you and they begin to feel justified in making demands - now, whether any of this is moral or logical is not what I'm interested in. Beth, you've certainly - I'm sure - had your share of people who've gotten very involved in your site long before the donation button, right? Now that money has been introduced into the equation - don't you think you've opened the door to further complicate that situation?

There's also the purist side of me which says, It's a personal site - I do it because I like it and get fulfillment from it. That other people read it is great, hurrah (and god bless 'em, because they're the most tolerant and patient people on earth) but I will do this thing on my own terms, on my own schedule - nothing will be allowed to muddle that up.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Stephen King things people will pay. If not, he has a solution, he just stop write the $1/each installments.

From today's New Tome Now Lurking Online King Posts New Work on Internet, Avoiding Publisher

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

When I think about all the silly shit I waste money on -- magazines I read once and toss aside, CDs which I pay $30 for only to like one track out of fifteen, lipsticks which look awful on me and sit unused -- it seems like a waste of time to even contemplate whether or not it would be worth paying for a site I like. Of course I would. When my dial-up access was costing me about three cents a minute (local calls are not free in the UK, and have only recently become available through special providers), I was doing just that, essentially.

And considering that Wing Chun and Glark are making enough off of their sites to pay me and many others to work for them, and that Wing Chun quit her job at a magazine just to run the sites, I would hazard a guess that they're not exactly doing it for the sheer pleasure. They provide killer content, the quality and variety of which you just cannot find anywhere else on the Internet, and I think it's only right that they be able to turn a handsome profit from providing such a service. Why in the world shouldn't they?

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Making money and making a profit aren't the same thing. Lots of sites are making money, but spending more then they make--e.g., Salon.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

What Ive always loved about the Web is its ad-hocness someone wants to put up a page about their pencil collection or their theories about UFO or their daily ruminations, and I get to read it. Sure, a page may be horribly designed or the server may be unreliable, but thats all part of it.

Journals fall into this, for me. I see them as personal writing, writing that for whatever reason people want to share with whoever out there wants to read it. Most of the time it costs them money, just like having a vanity plate does. (I have a web site of my own, though not a journal, and I pay for it.) I dont think journalers dont deserve to get paid for writing, or even that they shouldnt have Amazon want lists. Ive bought journalers gifts from those lists, and thats what they felt like, gifts. If journalers end up finding places that will pay them to write, thats great. Im all for writers getting paid. But paying for the journal is what feels different.

Something impels journalers to put their stuff out there. I really dont think its the chance that theyll be discovered or that someone will want to advertise on their site. If it had always been for pay, I guess that would feel different. Or sometimes people post that their hard drive died & theyll accept donations Yeah, I know this isnt your real personal secret journal. But it feels more like your personal journal than any kind of commercial site. I read and enjoy Salon and its ilk. Something different keeps me coming back here, maybe the feeling that youre writing & posting this because you want to, not because you have to. I sort of dont want to know your finances, that if we all donate you could quit your job. Pressure? Maybe. It certainly feels different from the garden variety I hate my job type posts. Maybe Im kind of naive to think youre doing this for love.

Ive been involved in amateur writing communities for a long time, in print media. None of that is ever for money. I guess thats why I have strong feelings about this, on a gut level. Not that that necessarily has anything to do with the issue at hand.

I guess I dont really have any conclusion. I dont think less of anyone for doing this, but I dont want it to ruin our beautiful friendship.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I did something similar with my journal, not realizing how I would feel about it later. I was having a baby, and many people expressed wishes to send gifts, so i set up an Amazon list for my soon-to-come daughter. Over half of the things were purchased for her, mostly by people I had never even heard from or of. Then, miss baby was born and i found the journal to be overwhelming.

I felt guilty that so many people sent gifts only to have me quit!

I hope you won't feel the obligation that I felt.

(I am journalling again... email me for the url.)

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

IF we send money, can we have some input on what it's to be used for?

In the past, I have sent the Gus money, when he was C'ville, but with the EXPRESS instructions that he spend it on malt liquor! (I was thinking about the Musings, of course).

I find people are more amenable to donations if they've got an idea what it's for...

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I just posted an update to my site that touches on this issue, went over to The Book of Rob, and found this discussion. I read Saundra's first post, and I honestly didn't think it was rude.

On writers getting paid to write -- does everyone who writes a novel get paid for it? No. Is everyone who has a personal web site "a writer"? No.

And why didn't people who maintain personal web sites ask for money to help defray costs before this Paypal mechanism was created?

With so much buzz in the air about the web being too commercial, soliciting money for talking about your personal thoughts (whether or not you get into your "deep dark secrets" -- I know I don't on my site) seems like a strange thing. There is free web space out there.

Just my opinion...

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

I have been putting off replying to this one because I fear I'm going to be flamed and flamed like certain others are getting, but the whole thing bothers me. Which I guess is wrong seeing that (a) I write professionally (b) used to and still sorta do a journal and other sites, and therefore should (c) support any writer getting money any way they can. And I'll admit that a "donation" thing isn't as annoying as banners are (gawd, I'm tired of the things beyond belief. Expensive timewasting wallpaper to me these days), but it does feel to me like seeing a panhandler on the street (like someone else said) and feeling guilty that for whatever reasons I'm not giving them money (i.e. I have slightly more than they do). I like that Beth's not making a big deal about it and not holding grudges, etc. And before I continue I want to emphasize that yes, I know that what I'm about to go on about isn't the issue here. But the donation thing reminds me of it a great deal.

I have this big pet peeve about the Internet becoming just a big moneymaking project. It bothers me so much that I avoid anything that I'd have to pay for via the Web (i.e. access to a site, having any of my web pages hosted, giving money so I can use shareware, etc). I love reading this site and Salon (probably my favorites at the moment), but if I had to pay for access, forget it. I'd love to go on the WELL, but I don't want to have to pay every month to be able to play on the Internet (even if it's an area where some of my favorite writers play). The only FTP program I've ever been able to keep working on this computer is CuteFTP, and I desperately need a working FTP program for Elgonquin...but it's shareware. (And I've been griped at with "Why shouldn't you pay for it if it's a good program? Don't the designers deserve money?")

I don't want to encourage the use of the Web turning into all financial stuff. I love that the Internet is mostly free (for the moment), and I start shuddering at anything commercial, because it feels like it's not going to stay that way for much longer. The rest of the world is already like that, I wish to avoid it spreading if I can (HA!) I love that here people will put up random pages about anything under the sun, and a lot of it's done out of love for what they do and a desire to show it to people, without worrying so much about how to make a buck. (Then again, if I enjoy something enough, I gladly do it for free- just spent 9 months doing that!) But that's me. Everyone else's mileage varies.

But seeing yet another sign of "money" on a site reminds me of the whole "money taking over everywhere" thing, and it bums me out a little.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

Ok, I know I shouldn't say anything here, but: If people are already giving you money under no obligation, how hard would it be to just out-and-out sell something? I would imagine you could just go to a printers, order a gross of Bad Hair Days™ pens. Then offer a first printing, and link it side-by-side to the donation button. Figure out the cost, and mark them up 50% for your trouble. If you bring in more money from the pens than the next 144 donations, then try it again. For the next printing, keep something recognizable, and maybe even make something different. Maybe that will intice a buyer to buy a second one to give to their dentist.

When you offer whatever little doo-dad you decide to sell, just let people know you're building a warchest, and what the warchest will fund: Support My Project. Buy A Pen. No one is going to object to you building a warchest.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2000

A site which enables anyone to do exactly what Mike is proposing already exists:

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Beth, its my understanding that running a website that received the traffic that your does is quite expensive. Personally, I like the donate button. Understated and simple. More than happy to contribute a little money. A quarter is a small price to pay for the enjoyment I receive from the site.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

(Actually, Beth, I hate to say it but I'm having trouble getting into your site right now so I haven't seen the actual donation button in question or read what you've had to say about it in your journal.)

I've read this whole discussion with interest.

I have to say that, while I don't think there's anything wrong with asking for money/clicks/toys/eyeballs for advertisers/whatever on your site in return for providing content, and I am in favour of people getting paid for their endeavours, I can't say that I am personally terribly fond of the idea, when applied to online journals. That's not to say I think it's wrong, it just doesn't appeal to me.

I have and would send gifts to people I have at least had a one-on-one connection with, and I guess I would donate to someone I felt really needed the money or whatever it was they were asking for (and of course, that would be according to my entirely subjective opinion) but, I don't know, I just generally am not inclined to donate or to ask for donations myself.

(I do prefer the donation idea to advertising though -- I think the less advertising we have in the world, the better, myself.)

For one thing, as a journaler myself, I feel like I'm engaged in a trade here. I write. In return, others write, and I get to read their stuff. Of course, not everyone I read reads me and vice versa, but overall, it adds up, or more than adds up, because I have more readers than I have journals that I read. (Then and again, I also read more material than I write, so it's a bargain all around.) It's sort of like how people would exchange chapbooks and zines in the small press/ self-publishing world, or how you can usher at the theatre and get to see the show in return.

So that's why I wouldn't feel compelled to donate in return for receiving material to read, in this case, and it's why I would be uncomfortable receiving donations/gifts from people I don't know.

Also, when people are asking for things, I feel a little uncomfortable -- like they are trying to win me over for material gain, even if that's really not the case. It does feel a bit like a challenge: "if you really like me, you'd give me money." (And I *know* that's not what anyone is saying but still, that's how it makes me feel sometimes.)

I'd happily buy a friend dinner, but if they *asked* me to buy them dinner... well, I would think that was rather tacky.

Of course, there is the whole question of why there's a distinction between a personal and commercial site, and I'm not sure I have the answer to that. All I know is that I have a preference.

Also, I would feel bad giving to some journals I read and not others, just because some were asking and others weren't. I feel badly enough when someone says "thanks for all the supportive e-mail I received" if I didn't send any myself.

I had another point to make too.... oh yeah, I must say that I have always though of sites such as Beth's and Pamie's to be more "commercial" and "branded" and "product-like" even before any of this came up, meaning that it is apparent that a lot of effort is put into catering for an audience, or not even catering for an audience but attending to them.

So that's how I feel about it. Intellectually, I don't see there's anything wrong. At a gut level, I don't really like it, and I wouldn't do it myself, but nor would it put me off a person or a site.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

"Making money and making a profit aren't the same thing. Lots of sites are making money, but spending more then they make--e.g., Salon."

Which is why people like Wing Chun has such a good head for business ... they've started slowly and avoided start-up costs.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

My wife used to have a site that would get thousands of hits a day. (It was devoted to one soap opera. She would make a call to a line the network ran, a pay call, which told what would happen in the next week. She recorded the phone call, so she couldn't miss anything...and then posted it on her site.) She did this for years before she got tired of it.

Our ISP, because of that site's huge traffic flow, asked Barb to pay COMMERCIAL rates, not the rates for a usual web page, for that site. She did. I can vouch that too much popularity can be quite expensive from most ISPs.---Al of NOVA NOTES.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

God, I go on a little vacation and when I get back, everyone's fighting about MONEY?! I can't leave you guys alone for a second, can I?

Anyway, I hate fights about money, so I won't go into that. I didn't even bother to read most of the entries on the bottom half of this page, but here's my two cents worth: would I pay for Bad Hair Days? You bet! If this would be a magazine; a real one, on paper, sent by mail and available at the newsstand; I'd subscribe in a heartbeat. That's easy for me to say, though: I tried to access the form and immediately was rewarded with the Blue Screen of Death. This is the first time in history Bad Hair Days made my machine crash. After rebooting and going back, carefully avoiding the donate button this time, I read here that the form is only for those of you living in the U.S.A., which leaves me out of the picture anyway. But as much as I despise pay sites in general, my gut reaction was still that, yes, I would pay for BHD. I've paid good money for publications lots and lots worse than this site and for me, that's the bottom line.

As some of you might know, I have this Star Trek site where I review books and videos, and lots of them. It costs me a fortune to keep it up in spite of free hosting, because I have to pay for those books and videos out of my own pocket. A little cash from my readers would be nice, but personally I'm not about to ask for it. But that's just me. I can understand perfectly why Beth came to this decision, though. Now try to come up with an international method of payment which doesn't screw up my computer, please?

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

I sense that this is one of those debates that could go on indefinitely. While I think a case has been made for both sides of the argument, what it boils down to is this: the internet is evolving - or continuing to evolve - and concessions will be made to accomodate that evolution. Not everyone is going to like it, but it's going to happen anyway. It's really pointless to try and fight it, because as long as everyone is free to make their own decisions...they will. And as Beth has already told us, enough of you have clicked that button to make a significant contribution. So why should she take it down? It sends a message to other popular journallers, and I'm sure they've heard that message loud and clear.

This is a very popular site, and Beth's decision to institute a donation system is going to influence the future of the on-line journalling community as we know it. Many of you may argue that you will NEVER pay for content in this way, but the truth is, someday you might have to. How can this community continue to sustain itself otherwise? And why is it a bad thing to support creativity?

And please, give me a break with high-minded statements about on-line journals being "different" from any other sort of entertainment on the web. Sorry, that's not true. Those of you who have journals didn't decide to put your thoughts on the web because you CARE about the strangers who might read your journals - uh, uh - whether you are willing to admit it or not, you did it because you wanted an audience. And there's nothing wrong with that. So why then is it inconceivable that your audience should support your efforts?

So what if Beth turns a profit? Why is that bad? We like her, we like her writing, she works hard at it and she's not forcing anyone to read. I suspect that those of you who have your knickers in a twist over this issue may be more concerned that Beth is getting something that you're not. Do you question the outrageous salaries of movie stars when you shell out your $10 to see a movie? Maybe you do, but how many of you refuse, on principle, to go to the movies?

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Whoa, girl, turn it down.

First of all, the online journal has sustained quite well for over five years without financial support from its readership. I do not see any kind of indication from this new donation meme that journallers will be turning to this system in droves and that journalling will be revolutionized. There's simply not enough money to be made by enough people for it to make a bit of economic difference. (Consider, if you will, the proliferation and stagnation of the forums over the past year or so, for an indication of the kind of readership numbers I'm talking about - too much damn overlap.) I laugh everytime I see another commercial site pop up with a hair brained "fee for content" business plan (see:, most recently) and I don't see personal sites somehow coming up with more sustainable models.

I don't think that donate button is going to be on Beth's site in 6 months. Whether it's because she'll find it ultimately not worth the while or because the company will go under, is yet to be known.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Gabby - I didn't mean to say that i believe that somewhere down the line all on-line journals will be pay sites (although in re-reading my post i guess that's how it came across. what can i say? Too much coffee and I turn into a militant advocate for journallers rights)

Anyway, the point that i was trying to make is that with the proliferation of journal sites it is inevitable that Beth won't be the only journaller to ask for donations. And I don't think anyone should be upset by that.

But you're right, this could all go away in 6 months, I just don't think it will. And in that sense, it's going to change how journals and their authors are perceived. It was bound to happen, this community is no longer just a few creative, web-savvy pioneers - it's thousands of people vying for our readership, and it's unrealistic to believe that everyone can afford to maintain their sites without outside help. Banners are one solution, but with the introduction of Beth's donation button I think we're seeing an alternative which will shortly be appropriated by others.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Since people are raising the question of the evolving internet becoming commercialized: I've been playing around on the internet for a good decade now, have the usual feelings of nostalgia for "the good old days" and all that, and I still don't see this making-money-from- journalling thing as a Bad Thing along those lines.

Beth's "donate" button makes her site more or less equivalent, in internet terms, to shareware. I love the whole concept of shareware.

Some people will always want to put their stuff out there for free. Others will offer their stuff for money. And some will say "You're quite welcome to it, but if you'd toss a little money my way for it, that would be very nice." Sometimes the free stuff is high quality because it's purely a labor of love, whereas sometimes the expensive stuff is able to offer more features and complexity because the creators are getting paid. It's a perfectly reasonable setup.

Beth is putting even less obligation on us than most shareware does, because she really doesn't seem to expect anyone to donate unless they feel like it. It seems to me that a lot of people are having problems with this whole thing because they feel guilty over not donating. While I can understand that, it is their problem, not Beth's. She isn't putting any real obligation on us, so we can't blame her too much if our own attitudes cause us to feel one.

Of course, it may play into Beth's decision to know that, despite her intentions, she is provoking that feeling in some of her readers. But maybe instead of changing her choice to cater to the attitudes, she can put her choice out there and let it help alter those attitudes.

Did that come across comprehensibly? It's early morning in California.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Would I pay to read this? I know that I do sometimes pay much more than a quarter for really dumb magazines. Each time I ask myself why I waste my money on them. And I buy two newspapers each day and the content there is often far less than I find here or on other websites. I go to the movies. Sometimes I like the movie and sometimes I don't. I guess I just chalk it all up to discretionary amusement expense. I think I might be able to look at paying for web content that way. As long as there is choice involved. But once it becomes pay or don't read, then I'd have to think really hard about what it was I was getting from the content, and the reasons I read. I read a lot of journals because I am curious, and I am simply interested to find out what life is like for twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings or forty-somethings, etc. I am interested in what people are thinking. As long as people create online journals there will probably be plenty of those to read for free.

Money is an issue for me, but I do think I could spare a quarter. However, as Viv noted way up there, those quarters add up. And while it's not much right now, I forsee that if this mode of collecting becomes successful, there will become a point at which people will charge whatever the market will bear and they will ask for more and more, and eventually it will come to the point where it will be either pay or don't read. Nothing wrong with capitalism I guess, but I can't help but think that dollars will influence writers. What sells best will be written, paid for and read, as it is in the offline publishing market. Then the motivation to write what sells best comes into play. Can't get around that.

You are certainly not the only website where people are experimenting with asking people to donate money. Whether I contribute here or there really does depend entirely on what I get out of the site. As for banners, they are a necessary evil. But I don't particularly like them either, and rarely click on them, because I have learned to ignore them.

One thing I like about your site is your forum. I find it very interesting to read some topics, and I enjoy the mostly intelligent comments. I even enjoy the silly topics sometimes. And yours has lots of traffic, I know. But, the question I have is this-- aren't the greenspun forums supported through his server and not yours? How does usage of his forums affect your bandwidth? Or does it? Or have I misunderstood completely how they work?

Finally, I have to say I thought that you overreacted to Saundra's comments because I don't really think she meant them in a hurtful or critical way. And you did ask for feedback. You seemed really defensive, and perhaps that may be because you, too, have some unresolved questions about whether or not you should ask people to donate.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Sarah said "Many of you may argue that you will NEVER pay for content in this way, but the truth is, someday you might have to. How can this community continue to sustain itself otherwise?"

Sarah, in your next post you say you didn't mean to say you think paying for sites is inevitable, but I still think it's worth pointing out that the journaling community has sustained itself without pay for content all this time.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Yes Lizzie, but the journalling community has also evolved dramatically in the last couple of years. My point is that now that the idea has been introduced by a journaller who is unquestionably popular, it is inevitable that other journallers will follow suit.

Whether this means that at some point we will all have to pay to read personal sites, or whether we will only occasionally be asked to make contributions, the idea is out there now, and I don't think it's going to go away.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Just because the idea is "out there" doesn't mean it will catch on. Justin Hall was asking for money to support his online diary efforts back in 1995--this is not a new idea.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Jennifer wrote:

"Just because the idea is "out there" doesn't mean it will catch on. Justin Hall was asking for money to support his online diary efforts back in 1995--this is not a new idea."

This begs the question of whether, since the inception of the online journal, anyone has actually made a profit of any sort from their journal writing.

Another interesting question: Could the addition of a "donate" button be enough to label the online journal a business, and thus qualify as a tax deduction?

Personally speaking, I write off my Web space as a deduction, but then I also use the site as a legitimate place of business (both with and then also for Scalzi Consulting, which is my actual business)so this is not a conflict (also, as previously noted, I sell material originally written for the "Whatever," so it itself would qualify).

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

yeah, in 1995 there was nowhere near the amount of traffic on or accessibility to the web that exists today. i think the fact that Beth received a substantial number of contributions speaks for itself.

As i stated a few posts ago, this is a discussion that could go on indefinitely. We live in a capitalist society, and while you may wish to elevate this genre to an art form, there is no reason why those who are successful shouldn't be rewarded for being good at what they do. you may not like it, but you don't have to.

and i'm sorry, but I fail to see how posting a wishlist on Amazon (and there was certainly no shortage of THOSE around the holidays) and directing your readers to it is in ANY WAY different from asking them for money. If you choose to send a gift to a journaller whom you admire, you're still going to have to pay your credit card bill.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

I agree Sarah - it's like the wishlists. I don't think Beth is getting all these contributions because this is a viable business tactic... it's because people *like* her. It's not that much different than when a bunch of people contributed to a shower for Rene a year or so ago when she was in need of both a morale boost and some practical assistance.(That online shower was led by Beth, btw) Then as now, it was a special thing, brought on by special circumstances for someone people felt they had a special connection. Showers for every pregnant journaler haven't become the 'thing' as a result, and if they did, people would quickly grow as weary of them as they do at the "contribute $5.00" deal that happens in the workplace every few days - not because you don't care, but because once it becomes required, it's no longer enjoyable.

That's a little different then people just suddenly decided that pay- by-the-page is an ok norm online.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

After thinking about this issue for a while, I think I might consider donating to a journaler who I enjoyed and who I knew was experiencing financial hardships.

What follows is not meant to be personal attack, but IMO, anyone who works as an attorney and can afford to buy a house in California doesn't fall into that category.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Hey, Joy, maybe you could get Beth to embed an alternate button that would be labeled "I'm not donating and let me tell you why."

Or maybe the button could just say "Meow, meow, meow!"

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Okay, I'll step into the confessional booth. After talking with Beth about it a little (and making sure I wasn't stepping on her toes), and getting a little feedback from readers, I added a similar button to my web site. I just put it up on my index page without any fanfare, so not a lot of people have noticed it. Or perhaps that's just what I'd like to think. In any case, we'll see how it goes and what kind of reaction it gets.

Yeah, I did it. And I'm glad I did it, see?

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

I will if you will Gwen. You're no novice to cattiness.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

mwrowwww! ssssssssssss! Cat fight!

And now, just because it's the end of the day, and I'm punchy, and I have a shitload of work that i haven't done because I've been too busy posting on this topic, I'll leave you with these parting words:

told ya.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

I'm not supposed to be typing, but I'll ignore doctor's orders for just a second and clear up a few things.

I don't think I ever claimed to be in dire financial straits; I just said the site is costing a lot of money lately. As someone pointed out, yes, the forum is hosted on Greenspun's server. The forum is also on occasion a giant pain in the ass to maintain because of some of the limitations of the Greenspun system -- users can't edit their own HTML screw-ups, problem users cannot be excluded, and there is no way to prevent multiple posts before they happen. This is a very busy forum to be administered entirely by one person (ask Pamie). As most of the regulars here know, I've been talking about moving to a system that will allow me to require registration and a password, allow users to edit their own posts so I don't have to, and generally accommodate the large number of posters a little better. I've been looking at UBB, which costs about $160. I will need to move to another server if I'm going to run UBB. All of this stuff costs money.

It's a trade off, really; my time administering this forum, or my money paying for UBB (and hosting same). When I talked about UBB before and said I didn't think I could afford it, a number of users here offered to chip in to help with it. I certainly wouldn't require anyone to pay in order to use the forum, but I'm not going to turn down a donation -- especially not when it's my impression that many of you enjoy and use the forum as much as or more than I do.

You know, I think the forum is a bigger part of this than even I realized at first. If I just had a little page where I put up my poems or what not, I wouldn't dream of putting up a donations button. But more and more, this site is a shared commodity. People send me links; I deliberately look for links that will foster discussion; we've tried (not altogether successfully) to get a book club going. Someone a while back suggested that I'd just made a "choice" not to use free servers and to keep this website a barebones operation. Well, yeah, I did, and I think the fact that I made that choice is part of the reason that this site gets a lot of visitors. If you think the time and effort and expense of maintaining a moderately high traffic (high for a personal page, miniscule for a commercial one, that is) web site is the same as it is for running one that gets 50 or 100 or 200 visitors a day, then you're just wrong. I know, because I've done it both ways.

This isn't really just my personal web site anymore, is it? I dare you to find me a message board on the web that has the kind of traffic this one has that does not involve banner ads. You'll find a few, but not many.

I'd call this a community. And sometimes it's a community that's expensive and a great big pain in the ass to run. I don't say that to be a big martyr, because I wouldn't do this if I didn't enjoy it. But I have to say I'm a little confused by the idea that some of you are offended because you feel that I'm charging money in exchange for my friendship. If I foot that $160 UBB bill myself, then the friendship is hardly equal to begin with, is it?

As I said -- I don't care if you don't donate. But if you want to, dandy. I'll use the money to keep the site going or to make it better.

And Joy, just for your information: when we bought this house (as a fifty-fifty proposition), one of us was making $8 an hour. There are houses in my California neighborhood that sell for well under $100,000. An FHA loan is pretty easy to get. There are attorneys in this city that make less than $25,000 a year. I'm not claiming that I suffer from terrible financial hardships, but your generalizations are stupid. I could just as easily say that anyone who drives a car that's less than 12 years old, has less than 180,000 miles on it, and has a working air conditioner and a rear view mirror is cleary not in any financial trouble and obviously doing better than I am. But I wouldn't say that, because I wouldn't presume to know someone else's financial situation.

Hell, I gave money to Derek Powazek (the person from whom I stole the idea in the first place), and I'm sure he makes a hell of a lot more money than I do. He can afford to live in San Francisco, and I can't. I gave him money because I like his work.

[Edited because some of you are now paying users and deserve better grammar than I exhibited in this post.]

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Beth: Fuck off. You ask people what they think, but when they disagree you insult them. Maybe that comes from being a lawyer, or maybe even some of your lowlife clients enjoy it. But you're the one who asked Or does that comment just make me sound like a greedy sow?

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Joy, isn't visiting someone's web page forum and telling THEM to fuck off sort of like visiting someone's apartment, getting pissed off at them, and telling them to get out?

"Um.. I'm the one who lives here. You get out."

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

I think Beth should charge Joy $5 for every time she posts something obnoxious and bitchy and then gets pissed off when people respond in kind. At the end of the year, the rest of us could have a pizza party!

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Uh, Joy, I said your generalizations were stupid. Most generalizations are. I don't see how that was anywhere close to as insulting as 90% of your posts on this board and elsewhere.

If you're going to spew generalizations without knowing what you're talking about, you probably ought to develop a thicker skin about people calling you on your facts. \

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Beth.. your reasoning there is dead-on. This forum is the equivalent of a community, and helping to pay for it only makes sense. Thank you for putting it in those terms, and I greatly look forward to being able to edit my atrociously typo-ridden posts.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Sarah said: "I suspect that those of you who have your knickers in a twist over this issue may be more concerned that Beth is getting something that you're not."

I don't care. If that was my concern, I'd be slapping donate/ads/etc. all over my pages.

"Do you question the outrageous salaries of movie stars when you shell out your $10 to see a movie?"

Oh hell yeah.

"Maybe you do, but how many of you refuse, on principle, to go to the movies?"

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie (though I've certainly never paid $10 for one. Six at max). Though there are other ways to see a movie without paying exorbitant amounts...

Ok, way off topic there!

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Yeah, Joy, but she didn't say to tell her that in as tactless a manner possible.

At any rate, we'll see what happens. I check the site every day (or at least every day I have internet access) and I really enjoy it. If donating a little change will help the site's maintainence, I'd say it's well worth it. Whether Beth's a lawyer or McDonald's fry cook has nothing to do with it.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

And besides all that tact you possess Joy, where does it say on Beth's forum that she gets to ask questions but then not participate in the discussion that follows? You get to make assumptions about her salary and home-- but yet she shouldn't be able to respond to that? That's an interesting point of view you have there.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

I have to mention the fact that this is the most incredible forum topic I have read in the entire time I have been on the internet. I used to be a forum moderator for Yahoo! GeoCities several years ago and nobody was quite as rude as some of the posters have been here in this forum.

I just think it is so nice how people are attacked for stating their own opinions on things even when the questions were asked in a public manner to begin with. So there you all go: I stated an opinion. Feel free to attack me, too.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Yep, this is a community and there is definitely a need for community. I participated in "communities" on AOL years ago and more recently in a private women's community on the net. Both had upsides and downsides, and when they were good they were very, very good, etc., etc. AOL made money from user subscriptions and also because they had foolish people like me who "volunteered" to work for them for free. The other women's community now asks an for an optional donation. In any case it is up to people to help support their communities if they want them to continue.

Maybe we are having a little bit of difficulty here separating out where your journal becomes "our" forum. Couldn't there be one large separate central forum more like this one and either supported by voluntary contribution and effort; or "owned" by you and maintained separately as an area more distinct from your journal? Maybe the sense that it benefited the entire community would be more clear, and issues about donating would not be so problematic.

I also know of some other commercial software which is really nice for this sort of format. It might be worth looking at. I'll check with the person I know who deals with it and let you know if you like.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Hmm. "Touchy subject ... What do you think?"

Yes, it was touchy, wasn't it? Beth, if a calm person - maybe a mediator - read the initial responses you made, they would have to point out that you appeared to overreact. Some people wrote what they thought, and initially at least they were being polite. You responded with rude language and hostility.

Obviously people WILL make donations to you for a variety of reasons. So why was it necessary to so vehemently attack nearly every person who posted a response that wasn't to your liking? Why set up a forum with this question at all? Putting a donation link up is discretionary. So is donating.

But feeling bad about it - enough to ask what people think and then attacking those who don't say "it's great, you're great" - I guess I just don't get it.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

I think I understand what Patrick tried to say. There's a difference between holding out your hand and saying, "If you've got a quarter you don't need, send it *my* way," and saying "Just because I want to relieve you of that quarter, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the effort it took for you to accrue it, so let me offer you something in exchange for it." Well, I may be mixing my own understanding in there to what he said, but I think it still applies. It's easy to infer from the former that there's something wrong with you if you decide you would rather hold onto that quarter. The latter involves a risk of rejection, which always demands a little more courage.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Joy, face it - you really seem to dislike everybody who reads and responds at this forum, and that seems to include Beth. Why are you here?

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Wowie. Way to go, Beth, you controversial journaler you. Everything I have to say has been said by one person or another, but hey, since when has that ever stopped me? One point - since you and Pamie did your respective things at (nearly) the same time, you seem to be getting lumped together. I don't think they are the same at all. You are making a donation option available. Pamie has made that decision for her readers. I don't think either is a bad idea. I agree with (Al? I'm not sure) whoever said that Pamie's site can handle the banners. She's never made any bones about her journal being a performance. She's great at it. The banners don't detract from her site, as the design has a "commercial" kinda feel to it anyway. More power to her. And to you. I don't think I would every pay to read a journal, primarily because I'm poor. If I had a credit card and plenty of money, I'd be doling out the bucks like nobody's business. But I don't. Another semi-off-topic point - I really think the methods you and Pamie have chosen are very appropriate for your styles. I don't think either of you are driven by greed, but by maintenance costs. That's something I can understand. If and when my journal gets that much traffic, I'll be right alongside you. I have more to say, but I've realized that it's 3:30 am here and it shows, so I'm going to shut up before I make more of a fool of myself. G'night.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

A couple of things that are probably totally off topic:

I participate in the sometimes lively and even heated debate that takes place in this forum. I always have. If the new rule is that I can ask the questions but then I can't express an opinion when the responses come in, then we can just shut this fucker down right now. I operate under the assumption that anyone who reads my journal and this forum understands that I have opinions, I have little patience for bullshit, and I assume that anyone who has been on the net for more than a month can handle him or herself in a debate.

I also tend to respond to people based on the sum of my experiences with them, not just with a particular post. Maybe that's a bad thing; some people are sweet all the time regardless of the situation, and some people are rude and brash all the time. Maybe that's better. I know my way is probably confusing for anyone who is new here or who doesn't know some of the personalities on the board.

For instance, I know that Gabby is blunt and that too much pussy- footing around a topic irritates her. I tend to respond to Gabby in kind, just because I find it to be the most effective way to communicate with her. Likewise, I know Joy as the bitch goddess of diary-l, prone to terrifying newcomers (and old timers, for that matter) with her scathing and sometimes very personal dismissals of their opinions. I also know that Joy gets very snippy if anyone responds to her in the same manner. Like Jackie, I'm mystified as to why Joy frequents this forum (or diary-l), since everyone in each group seems to annoy the shit out of her. If I think Joy has said something stupid, I'll be goddamned if I'm going to say, "Well, forgive me, Joy, this is just my opinion, but I think perhaps you hadn't considered these facts ..."

But those of you who pointed out how rude I was to Saundra were right. Saundra has annoyed me in the past with her moralizing on other forums, and I took her post here in that light, and I really shouldn't have. She didn't say anything very different than what Lizzie and Gabby and Jennifer and Jen have said, and when they said the same thing, it didn't annoy me in the slightest. I still disagree with her, and I still think it's obnoxious to assume that everyone is keeping a web journal for the same reason you are, or that there is only one right way to do it, but I overreacted to the way Saundra phrased her post, and I apologize for that.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Oh, yeah, and as for making the forum a separate entity: there are some plans in the works for something along those lines, although it will be different than you might expect. (And less expensive, hopefully.) But I don't think it would work to make the forum completely separate from the journal. Even though people start new forum topics all the time, during times when I'm not updating the journal or at least posting on the forum, participation drops dramatically.

So I'll just leave you with this teaser: if the forum plans work out as I hope they will, the forum will be bigger, better, and frequented by a more diverse group of people. I know, it's hard to believe that a forum that already includes David Grenier and Jim Howard could get any more diverse, but you'll see.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Beth & Jackie:

Nice move:::very lawyerish. I don't know what Jackie does, though. I even confuse her with the other Jackies on this forum. IOW, I don't dislike her. Or even have an opinion about her. I can't even remember if she's the one in the UK or US.

Saying I dislike the people on diary-l is completely offbase. Some I do dislike; others I consider friends and have corresponded with privately, etc. Plus, there's very little of the syncophancy I've noticed on forums...none of the "how dare you say that about Beth/Pamie, et al!!! This is their game/forum/home and they are so cute/talented/ great writers/look like [insert movie star name here], etc." These are less forums than fan clubs.

What I do like about diary-l is that people have strong opinions and are unafraid to express them. And, they tend to forgive each other, and move on the the next discussion. There is very little grudge-holding. That may be the reason it's still flourishing after several years, while other lists tend to tank after a while.

Beth, when you posted there, you frequently played the hectoring schoolmarm you do so well, and people responded. For such a self- styled tough cookie, you have a surprisingly thin skin. [Of course, that might just be a "stupid generalization", so don't get insulted].

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Oh, for sweet fuck's sake -- how is pointing out that you are nasty and snide to virtually everyone you encounter in this forum (and diary-l) "lawyerish"? If you're going to argue, at least make sense.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Because lawyers are confrontational and argumentative--and masters at twisting the language. And stop making generalizations, stupid or otherwise, about the my relationships with the people in your forum.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Just finished reading this whole thread. Ey-ey-eyes burning...m-m- must step away from the computer...butt in state of atrophy...

One thing that I'm curious about though. As a non-journaler. It seems as though the majority of the people who frequent the forum are members of the journaling community. I don't know the proportions of non-journalers to journalers - but if, in fact, the journaling community members are the largest group of visitors to another journal, doesn't it seem kind of fruitless to give money to each other to offset costs; like passing around the same pool of money?

Repulsive though they may be, ad banners seem like a practical way to draw money in from *outside* of the community.

I am curious about the quantity of non-journalers who regularly visit online journals. And I wonder how many of them will become journalers themselves at some point? It makes the line between audience and community members kind of blurry. Isn't that part of the appeal of online journals? That it's a DIY proposition?

Exchange of payment within communities is always difficult. In music scenes, for instance, there is this strange unspoken balance sheet: "so-and-so never comes to my shows (or pays me $5) so why should I support them (give them $5?)" Hardly anyone makes any real money - they buy the band a bottle of bourbon and some pizza, or they use the money to print up some CDs. And then according to the unspoken rules, they give another band $5 the following week to do the same thing.

Is that a fair correlation? (my butt has atrophied, perhaps my brain as well?) I just don't know what kind of statistics are involved...from the outside, it gives all appearances of being the same kind of (mostly) self-limiting community.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

[Completely off-topic, but I just gotta say it.]

Joy, you are the most offensive person I've seen on any forum for quite some time. Please go somewhere else and spew your bitterness and hatred. And, incidentally, please learn to use punctuation correctly.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Because lawyers are confrontational and argumentative [snip!]

Add 'rude, obnoxious and wholly unpleasant' to that, Joy, and I'd say you've got us all -- lawyers and non-lawyers -- beat.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

I do think Angie has a good point about passing the quarter around...LOL!

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Whee! I'm the cutest!!!!!

And twelve.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

while we're correcting Joy on her punctuation and what not:

The correct spelling of the word which you you used earlier to describe the population on various forums is "sycophancy" Joy, I don't believe that "syncophancy" is a word.

Which means I would probably kick your ass at scrabble. So there.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Okay, I was trying to stay out of the fray here, but...

I don't see what all the controversy is about. Beth, I think you put the donation button up very tactfully, and I like the fact that people can donate if they want to, or not. I would have been very unhappy if it wasn't an option. The bottom line is, it's your page, you have every right to do whatever you want with it. More power to you.

And I agree with whoever asked Joy why she even bothers to post to this forum, since she so obviously hates everyone involved, but I think she knows the answer to that: she just loves to start problems. She feels really important when she insults and belittles everyone around her, and I have no respect for her point of view because of it. Joy, please go away if we all annoy you so very much.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

You know that a thread is totally played out when people start correcting each others' spelling and grammar...especially when the posts aren't editable.

I wonder how Hitler would feel about paying to read a personal site? (hint, hint...)

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

I heard somewhere along the line that Godwin's Law doesn't apply if someone brings Hitler up deliberately just to forcibly end discussion...? Unfortunately the nitpicker who told me that isn't available for consultation there :P

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

Damn, Damn, Damn!! And I know the Hitler rule and everything, but I just can't NOT respond about the "Passing the quarter around."

The difference seems to be that there are not too many journals out there that cost as much money as BHD and Squishy cost to run. A LOT, and I mean a LOT, of journals are on freesites and the fact that they don't receive a fraction of the traffic that Beth and Pamie receive means that they pay very, very little to put their journal on the web.

If there are 20 journalers on freesites who pay zilch to keep theirs updated, and 2 journalers (pamie and beth) who are getting eaten alive in costs caused by traffic, then it would seem to make sense that those 20 journalers who aren't spending money on their own hobby (if they are so inclined) might dip into their own pockets and toss a quarter Beth and/or Pamie's way.

Am I wrong?

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

"The artist is always at the doorstep of the rich." --- Charles Bukowski

Personally, I see nothing wrong with Beth asking for money either to make ends meet or to make a profit. It is the way of things. Artists have always sought patrons. These patrons were usually kings and queens and dukes and earls and the church, who made up the wealthiest part of the audience-and the patrons were usually rewarded with portraits of themselves or odes written in their honor.

The problem you're seeing here, Beth, is a simple one. You are seeing some threatened people, people used to viewing someone one way and now have to deal with that person in another. When someone moves from amateur to professional, from "one of the guys" to "one of the elite," he can expect a certain degree of animosity from those who are not able to make that step also. In short, the minute an artist starts making cash, he becomes one of those great unclean artists, who only does it for a buck, whether that's true or not. Don't worry about it. You can't go forward if you let people hold you back.

However, I won't be sending you money. Not only has your work been sparse and uninspired lately, but I refuse to pay for work in which I have no control. When I buy a book, I get to keep that book the rest of my life, take it wherever I go, and give it away if I want. With your journal, I can't-unless I print it, which costs me not only money but time to do. You maintain control over the work. You can take it down anytime you please (and have.) You can disappear into the void with my shiny quarter tomorrow. I want product in hand. I want something that will be of consistent quality from beginning to end. I want to know an editor has looked at it. I want to know the work is one of a kind and not a take off of what Pamie did last week. No, I'm not going to pay you for your hobby. If you ever become a professional, I would. Write a novel, get it published, and I'll buy it.

And so would everyone else-without 200K of bitching.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

I have no interest in writing a novel, Jim, but thanks for the advice.

In regard to the passing the quarter around phenomenon: I couldn't possibly guess the percentages, but I definitely would not say that most of my readers keep journals themselves. It may be 50/50. Most of the folks who have donated are not people whose names I recognize as online journalers.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

Come on, Beth, Sure you do. If you didn't have an interest in writing fiction, you wouldn't have twice begun writing courses. (That I know about.) You may not have the dedication or ability to write a novel, but that not the same as having no interest.

No problem on the advice. Any time.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

Jim, I didn't say I had never had an interest in writing fiction. I took a couple of writing courses and decided that I didn't enjoy writing fiction, and since I already have one occupation that I don't particularly like, I have no desire to take on another.

I once thought I might like to be a probate lawyer. I took two classes in probate law and discovered that I was quite mistaken.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

Okie dokey, Beth. So long to the fiction. That still doesn't address my major issue, which is: you're selling a product without giving anybody control over or possession of a product. If I told an editor he could buy my writing, but I can rip it out of all his magazine any time I please, he or she'd say keep your writing and I'll find someone else to work with. If I told a reader, you can buy my writing but I can come into your home and steal back my book anytime I want, he'd say get lost. I'm just saying that's the way it usually works. If you can find people, however, to pay you for simply being Beth Campbell, more power to you.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

That's a perfectly valid reason for not donating (as is, for that matter, any other reason you may have for not donating -- that's why it's called a donation). But just for the sake of argument, I pay money for a lot of things I can't take home with me: theater, movies, and live music all come to mind.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

For those of you who expect a product, when you pay for someone's art:

Have you ever donated small amounts of money to art museums? You go and see the art, but you cannot take it home. You do not have any control over what art is purchased, and for all you know it may not be there the next time you go. So what are you paying for, then? You are paying for the costs of running the museum, and the acquisitions of new art.

Some people "rent" library books. I am not one of those people, since when reading books I feel the need to keep them in my collection forever and ever... but I know some people do, when they're really wanting to read new releases and simply cannot wait.

Some people donate money to street performers. Mimes, musicians, etc. You cannot take that musician home and tell him/her what to play, when you are in the mood for it.

And as for how I feel about paying writers to keep journals? I'm not sure. I know that there are gihucious costs involved... but I also know there are gihucious costs involved in many hobbies, for which people cannot recoup any of their money. I'm rather neutral on that subject. Writers will do what they feel is right, and readers will do what *they* feel is right. No worries.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

I knew you'd come up with that: so I had an answer all prepared. A movie is product in hand-- as you know what you're going to get ahead of time. (Usually two hours of utter boredom.) There is no assurance that you will ever write another word. I don't know what I am paying for-- maybe a day, maybe a year, maybe great work, maybe utter crap. If I pick up a book, I can be assured of getting (usually) 300 pages of something, not so with a journal not written. In a book, I can flip through the pages, read the blurbs, feel the weight in my hands. With a journal, I get to preview nothing. It comes down to trust and you've been less than trustworthy, disappearing months on end. (Hey, no blame, so have I.) This is why editors rarely give out advances anymore-- and only to established writers who have no history of sticking them. They want product up front and rights. You're offering neither.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

Thing is, Jim, that I don't think Beth's asserting that she is offering a product you can take with you and which is guaranteed yours indefinitely. You require those assurances be in place before you'll pay a dime, but -- obviously -- not everyone has such tight restrictions on where they want their money to go. In a larger sense, I think it would be worth donating to Beth if only as an expression of appreciation for the hours she has put into moderating this forum. If you're not down with expressing appreciation -- let's say you don't appreciate Beth's effort in moderating this forum -- then you don't have to donate. That, it would seem, is the nice thing about a 'Donate' button as opposed to banner ads. Personally, neither bother me, at least on Xeney.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

On the other hand, if you're a journaller to whom I've written fan mail in the past, or taken the time to drop you an e-mail to tell you how much your work had affected me, and you couldn't be arsed to reply with a simple 'Thank you,' I'm very much not inclined to reward you monetarily for your journal when you inevitably jump on the bandwagon. I guess I'm petty like that.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

Well, appreciation is not what Beth said she wanted the money for-- she said she wanted it for site maintenance and, before she was cornered into backing off it, to be able to quit her job and start her own practice. If you want to give money to those things, give money to them, but Beth's stated purpose is for site maintenance (now) and that assumes there's going to be a site. A donation is an investment in the future. Nobody is going to give money for starving Depression children, they give it for kids who will be starving today and tomorrow. A donation is also charity-- and I can think of more worthwhile causes. If Beth said, give money to these homeless kids because I've written some really cool stuff you've enjoyed, I'd go looking for my checkbook. Charity for a middle class childless lawyer who owns her own house with an equally solvent boyfriend-- no thanks.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

I really don't understand why it matters what Beth uses the money for, or how much money she currently makes. She's not a charity, nor did she ever claim to be. To me, a donation to an artist is like a token of appreciation (and given that the suggested donation is only a freaking quarter, it really is a token). If Beth wants to quit tomorrow, take down the site and run off into the wilds with Doc and Jeremy, I will still feel fine knowing that I gave a donation, because I feel like it was for the years of enjoyment I have gotten from Beth's various sites. I don't feel like my donation was supposed to be an investment in the future. But I'm only speaking for myself -- I think the obvious conclusion of this whole discussion is that people have different feelings about giving money away. Some feel it entitles them to control over the final product. I don't.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

What Kim said.

Also, Jim, I didn't say that Beth was asking for money as a token of appreciation; I said that I thought that would be the reason many people would be donating. As in, 'I appreciate all you've done, so here's a quarter so that you can keep doing it.' See that? Appreciation which helps with the maintenance of the site.

As far as whether or not Beth is worthy of donations to offset the costs of her site, that's purely at the discretion of the reader. Again, that's the nice thing about the 'Donate' button -- no one's forcing you to donate merely by viewing a page. I like Pamie's site, and other sites which make revenue per page view based on banner ads. If I felt really passionately that she didn't deserve the revenue, I'd simply disable the graphics on my browser before I visited.

Frankly, I can think of more worthy things about which to get my knickers in a twist, especially when I'm financing the evil Rupert Murdoch with my subscription to the Sunday Times (London). But I like the content, so $3 a week seems reasonable. If I had a Visa, I'd pay Beth at least that much.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

I do think everyone wants to donate. But apparently some are upset because they can't send you a lump of coal with the push of a button.

(judging from some of the responses)

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

You wanna raise *real* money?

Convince Joy sign an exclusive agreement with you to let people smack her at $5 a crack. Then advertise in any forum in which she's posted more than a couple of times. And Diary-l.

Even if you could get just a tiny percentage . . .dayum.

Screw private practice, you could *retire*.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

And how did I ever wish a disease on anyone?

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

I don't like it and think it's an irritating trend. And it makes the site owner seem greedy. Must we try to make money off everything?

Also, there's an atmosphere of sharing that an on-line journal gives off. The writer is giving of herself to whoever wants to read it. And that's nice. It costs the journaler little to put up her words, and in return she gets e-mail and people interested in her life.

But, when that person asks for money, her words become a product. The easy accessibility of the Internet allows anyone to put up their on-line journal, but that doesn't mean that what they write is worth reading. Even the best on-line journals have their off days. But that's okay. I mean, it's a journal, and not every moment of a person's life is that exciting. The difference between a donate button and none is that you are saying, whether directly or indirectly, consciously or not consciously, is that you are worth hard earned cash. And that negates a lot that is nice about having on-line journals, plus it comes off, to me, rather arrogant and tacky.

Of course, it's nice you give people a choice whether to donate, but why not have them donate to a cause or something instead of outright asking for money? That seems in better taste to me.

My two cents.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Oh darn, I don't even have a flame.

Well, one question- Maureen, what is "gihucious"? I know generally what you meant, but I really am curious what word that was supposed to be.

Anyway, on the actual topic. I don't have a problem with it, if I were feeling solvent I would donate to those whose work I enjoy. Especially for a site of this size, I don't see it as a matter of greed to ask for donations. (And I don't think Beth was saying she _wanted_ donations so she could quit her job. Rather, I saw it as a statement of how large her audience is, and how small donations from everyone would add up. And of course, just how large a proposition running this site really is). I wouldn't pay for access to a site unless I really needed the content, but that is a different matter.

I wouldn't do it myself, at least not for the site I have now. As it is now, I like knowing I could quit writing tomorrow, and nobody would care. I would feel more of an obligation to keep going and to update regularly if people gave me money (or gifts, or mail, etc. etc.), and I think I'd start to resent it. But I don't have a problem with donating myself.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Did you read the thread? Most of these issues have been addressed, unless my reading comprehension skills took a plummet.

I don't like it and think it's an irritating trend. And it makes the site owner seem greedy. Must we try to make money off everything?

The way I understood it, Beth wasn't seeking a profit. Yeah, she said if everyone donated x amount (a penny? Oh, the horror) she would be able to open a private practice in a year, but I just thought that was trivial information, and not something she was actively trying to do. I thought it was more to help offset the costs of the journal. But again, maybe I just misread it.

It costs the journaler little to put up her words, and in return she gets e-mail and people interested in her life.

For MOST people it costs little. For people like Pamie and Beth, who get so much traffic that they are asked to pay the COMMERCIAL rates for their websites, I don't think "little" describes the costs.

The difference between a donate button and none is that you are saying, whether directly or indirectly, consciously or not consciously, is that you are worth hard earned cash.

And what's wrong with that?

Of course, it's nice you give people a choice whether to donate, but why not have them donate to a cause or something instead of outright asking for money? That seems in better taste to me. Again, do you not understand what the money raised is going toward? Or am I the one that misunderstood the numerous posts. I didn't think the money was just going to be pocketed for dinner and a movie and maybe some new clothes... the money is for the maintenance, upkeep and growth of Bad Hair Days.

I'm not saying that I'm jumping on the donating bandwagon, I just hate it that people think that these folks are just asking for money just because they think they deserve it, and they're just pocketing it for their own personal endeavors. Ugh. READ, People!

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

I just hate it that people think that these folks are just asking for money just because they think they deserve it, and they're just pocketing it for their own personal endeavors. Ugh. READ, People!

But isn't that exactly what they're saying? The very act of asking for money suggests that you think you're worth it, and if putting that money toward the upkeep and hosting of your site ISN'T using it for a personal endeavor, well then I don't know what is.

Me, I think it's tacky and on par with wish lists and asking your readers to give you stuff. But that's just me. My site is a donation-free zone, and always will be.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000


Sorry. "Gihucious" is one of my Mo-isms that I use so often I forget other people don't necessarily understand what I mean. I'm sure you got the general gist of it, so yes, it's like a combination of gigantic and huge, and it means... well... gihucious. ;)

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

It is totally Rob Rummel-Hudson-thing: here is my wish list, I want these toys and now send me money!

As if it is our fault that he is not able to live within his means. Why not look for a second job for the time he spends on writing his journal and surfing the web? (At least that way he can afford for his toys!)

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Thank you, Ashley and Jolene, thank you from the depths of my soul, for being the only people to get my apparently muddled statement about quitting my job. Yes, I was trying to show how a tiny bit from a lot of people would make a big difference, not to say that I thought that would happen or that it was what I was after. I don't think I ever gave the impression that in my wildest dreams I hoped or expected that everyone would donate a penny a day, did I? So why did everyone assume that was a serious statement of my intent? Sheesh.

Mike and Rob, take it outside. I've deleted your posts and I'm going to be very pissed if I have to come back here later and do it again. Mike, I don't recall inviting you back.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

"Thank you, Ashley and Jolene, thank you from the depths of my soul, for being the only people to get my apparently muddled statement about quitting my job."

Oh, Beth. Come on. Sometimes you're so corny you make me want to cry Kellogg's.

No, I didn't think you actually wanted to quit your job. You're not half as dumb as all that to believe, after the initial rush of donors, you will trickle off to next to nothing, especially with your continued and prolonged lack of updates and your spitting at most of your detractors various "fucks." What I did get, what I think anyone with even a third grade ability to read objectively got, is that you wanted the money, not really out of any dire need, but for personal profit reasons.

This ain't personal, Beth. Sometimes when you reach for honey you piss off the bees. Better get used to that if you hope to remain head of Xeney Inc.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Asking for toys or books seems totally different to me - no strings. It's more like hey you guys, anybody feel like getting me a present?

When it's for maintenence of the site it starts to feel like more of an obligation. I guess the analogy is to public television. Send us money or we might have to take your favorite show off the air. And of course some of those "non commercial" stations really push the limit of that (to take the analogy further.)

Anyway, one thing I was thinking about over the weekend is that this isn't anonymous the way banner ads are. How will Beth end up feeling about those of us who don't donate?

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000


Thanks for your site and all the time you put into it. We only come here because we enjoy the community you built so damn much.

It is my opinion most of the non-journal readers to your site do not see the donate button as a big deal at all. We like your product, we hate banner ads, and we get to decide if we want to help or not. What's the big deal then? I think mostly we are just happy we don't have to deal with ads!

I think maybe the little green monster is whispering in the ear of some of the nay-sayers here, too. Please don't let them get ya down, you know how much you are appreciated. I think the only reason some folks could be so opininated about the issue is- they can't do it themselves ... and yes, that is just my opinion.

Your donate button is not tacky or inappropriate. Also, I think many of us would like your site and these forumns to stay around awhile so we thank you for the opportunity to help.

For me, in paricular, could you provide a mailing address for donations? I sure would appreciate it.

Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

BTW, I am so glad that I am no longer the most annoying poster on your boards. After that health care debate and all ...

Also, I whole heartily agree with you that you have a diverse audience. David and Jim are worlds apart in understanding of How Things Ought To Be. Maybe David will see the light someday .... ;-)


PS This post has not been edited for contecnt or grammar, and YES this IS my native language. ;-)

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Sigh. To quote myself, way up at the beginning of this thread:
I just wanted to clarify/repeat/whatever: I don't care if you don't want to donate. I certainly don't want anyone feeling guilty or weird if they don't. I'm not the first person to put one of those buttons on my site, and lots of people pay for their webhosting with click-through buttons. Sometimes I click on those buttons, and sometimes I don't. So I'm not going to have feelings about it one way or another if you don't donate.

Look, it's very clear from the feedback here that people might have all sorts of reasons not to donate. They don't like the idea, they hold online journaling to be some sort of sacred source of free discussion, they think my writing has sucked lately, they don't think I need the money, they can't afford it, they don't have a credit card, PayPal crashes their browser, they're outside the U.S., or they just didn't feel like it. If you don't donate, how in the hell am I going to know what your reasons were? For that matter, how in the hell am I going to keep track of which of the 2000+ people who visit this site donated and which ones did not?

(Except to send thank you notes to those that did, I mean, and I'm two days behind, and I apologize. I've got a bum arm and a new puppy, but I'll get to you tonight, I promise.)

Jarvis, I forgot to pay the bill for my PO Box and the Man shut me down, but I have to get another one, and when I do, I'll put the address up around here somewhere. And thank you for posting.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

nah, so many people are expressing opinions because we are an opinionated bunch of people and this is forum is a good place in which to do so. There is no one 'party line' in place here, as there are in many forums.

I've been thinking about the point Jim made a day or two ago, about how people don't buy something that isn't sure - that's when it finally dawned on me what this is similar to, and why the idea of contributing to the forum didn't bother me at all, while I was generally uneasy about the idea of contributing to the upkeep of a journal...

Those of us who recall the old BBS days are familiar with paying to help support the various BBS communities - they existed due to community support, either via money or via volunteer effort. And yes, Jim, people did pay, and yes, sometimes a BBS would go belly-up, with or without warning, shortly after someone had committed to money for it. It wasn't a guarantee. And that was ok, because everyone was kind of in it together.

All I'm really pointing out is that it isn't a new notion at all, nor a jump into the new commerce-ridden internet... in a way, it's a dip back into the early days.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

To answer your questions Beth, more power to you. Those who are freaking out over a little donate button will get over it. Those who are complaining about banners might grow some initiative and download some of the many free banner-blocking software out there. If you see ads on the internet these days - its because you choose to.

I really can't believe people have made such a big deal out of it. I'm not sure if its amusing or sad that people get so upset about banner ads and donate buttons.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

I didn't say it was new, Lynda, just unwise. People send their last dollar to Jerry Falwell, too, because he promises to cure their cancer-- but he doesn't, has no intention of doing it, and you know what he really wants that money for.

Of course, if people didn't send money, he'd go out of business. What a shame that would be.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

I always thought that the poor souls who had to trot out Hitler comparisons were eye-rollingly ridiculous, but I think it's safe to say that the Jerry Falwell one takes the cake.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Jim, that's ridiculous. Beth isn't making any bogus promises, and she's not asking for anyone's 'last dime'. It'd be a lot better if you addressed what is said, instead of making a false comparison and then arguing from that.

While I understand that not everyone would be inclined to pay for a BSS or an interactive forum (or for that matter, use them extensively), that doesn't make it a 'bad idea' for those who are. Not everyone has the same interests or motives. I appreciate that you, Jim, have a desire to have something in hand for your money. Others are more inclined to speculative investment, or taking a gamble (not unlike donating to a cause that you don't know will ever see fruition). It's their call to make, no?

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Oh... and one more thought. I have and will donated to the Cancer Society, and never have, never will donate to Falwell.

The Cancer Society doesn't promise to cure cancer. I am not attempting to secure a promise with my money. I simply trust their motivation to make an sincere effort more. Even if they don't succeed soon enough for me to gain by their efforts, my money is better spent there.

If this were anyone else's forum (including Rob's), I would not have any interest in donating, because it would be just another forum in a sea of forums that may or may not shut down tomorrow. I trust this forum, because it remains active, has a large variety of topics and opinions, and it's been around long enough to let me trust that it will stick around.

Even without a promise of that.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Lynda, the comparison is fair and hardly ridiculous. Both Beth and Jerry ask you to send money on faith, both have offered little in the way of specifics about how the "donations" will be spent, both want cash for little more than charisma and "friendship." You have no idea whether or not her promises (what are they, incidentally?) are bogus and Falwell never asks anyone for their last dime either-- they just send it because they have a need to get acceptance somewhere. Beth isn't Hitler, or even Falwell, but again the analogy fits. It ain't flattering, but neither was it when Beth lumped my in with Lohr and Jack Saunders, calling me precious and special in a thread I had no involvement in, but I didn't see anyone claiming that ridiculous, even though it was.

I never said it wasn't anyone's choice but their own. Obviously it is.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Jim: Blah blah blah blah whine whine.

Just hush already. Donate or don't. Quit freakin' out.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Jim - At no point did I think that Beth was asking for cash in exchange for her friendship,in fact I am offended that you would presume to know what any of us extrapolated from Beth's initial query.

I suggest that you find an argument that will hold water, your ship is sinking

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

I think your first premise (you're paying for something when there is no promise that that something will exist) is a lot closer to the way things are than this modification of yours (That some sort of false promise is being made that is separate from her real motivation.

She's not made any promise, unlike Falwell. Ergo, bad analogy.

And you suggested earlier that no one pays for what is past, but for the future. That is the core of my point... I spend my voluntary money where I have already seen something that lets me make a fairly intelligent guess that it won't be pissing down the well, esp. if it is somewhere where I or someone I know has benefitted in the past.

This forum qualifies under those conditions. Falwell's organization doesn't. For that matter, Beth's journal doesn't - as much as I enjoy it and appreciate it's worth, Beth's style is to come and go from time to time. Perfectly acceptable for a journal, but not as somewhere to put my money. But this forum? Very stable.

No, I don't have a promise from her to make it better, and maybe she won't. But I doubt she's going to yank this one down either, and I've already benefitted by it and I fully trust that you and I will both be able to (and will) post to it long after this thread is dead.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

I think maybe the little green monster is whispering in the ear of some of the nay-sayers here, too. Please don't let them get ya down, you know how much you are appreciated. I think the only reason some folks could be so opininated about the issue is- they can't do it themselves ... and yes, that is just my opinion.

Yay Jarvis! You've got the full support of me on this call.

Beth has the readership to make a donation button viable, and has enough confidence in her ability to provide worthwhile content. I bet a lot of fellow journallers would dearly love to be in the same position. It's pretty easy to have high ideals about this whole journalling thing when a) your site's not costing anything close to a commercial site to maintain, and b) you have a slight feeling your total donations would only stretch to paying for a cup of coffee.

Why punish success? Beth (and Pamie) are extremely successful at this genre. All power to them if they find ways of helping cover the costs involved.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Nah, Lynda, I won't be around long after this. Save a few like yourself, this forum is rubber tofu, no nutrition and leaves a bad taste. You can't get by the Beth Sweethearts, who have their godhead, and those who try to open an honest discourse are quickly cut down at the knees by Beth's profanity-ridden objections. I thought this issue was important enough to waste some of my valuable time, but otherwise, for the most part, I have a girlfiend and a six month old daughter who are far more interesting to talk to...

Incidentally, Beth, you'll notice all of my posts have had my name below them. If I ever post again, which I doubt, you can expect the same.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Wow. Who would be in charge of the apropos-of-nothing Jerry Falwell comparisons in your absence?

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

It's a quarter, people, come on! And not a demand, hardly even a request. And Jim, if you don't want to pay for future "promises", how about putting out a little for the stuff you just read...or the stuff you just posted? Why should Beth have to pay for you to post again and again?

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

i read beth every day (at work), when there is a new post, and when i can because she is primarily a good/entertaining writer, and also because i want to read about an ordinary person's life(for many reasons) and not neccessarily deepdarksecrets or exagerated fiction.

i am a contemporary artist showing/selling in NY, with a fulltime job. i live in philadelphia where every firstfriday of the month (we invented this, by the way :), the gallerys remain open late, and throngs of people come out and galleryhop, getting free entertainment, as very few people buy art. i joked with my dealer at the time about charging a nickle for entry into the gallery to support the arts, since as a dealer it was tough to make a living. patrons who buy art for themselves support the artists/dealers, and therefore also support the general public's ability to view art for free by financing the infrastructure.

think about it.....if we had to pay for every little bit of entertainment we run into in our daily live, it would truly get to be ridiculous. would you pay for every site you were to visit? would you pay a penny everytime you encounter art in your daily life?

in my opinion, by charging even a penny for your personal webjournal, you are aiming too low. what you are doing now is easier than putting effort towards finding a credible outlet where you would be held accountable for what you write. one of the best "journalers who is not a web journaler" i know is jim knipfle (slackjaw).

everyone wants to be a musician/writer/artist/whatever, and thats ok. these journal things seem chockfull of goodwill, and i think this donate button thing is just that, a way to let goodwill keep the sight going. but to be a fulltime practicing artist/writer supported by society is a privilege, not a right. its a tough and rare thing to accomplish. i gather that is not the intent of this donate button. if you are trying to create a new portal/community, thats not such a bad idea. when you mean private practice, are you saying you want to write a journal to support your lawyering habit? boy thats backwards. sorry, but are you kidding? i know you are funny, but...really????

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

I just posted this over at Lucy's forum (where there's a little less frothing going on in the discussion), but I thought it bears repeating here:


I just wanted to make one short statement, since I'm one of the ones involved in this whole controversy. It seems like everyone is trying to turn this into us going from free sites to "pay per view" journals. That is a huge leap, one that is also totally inaccurate. I fail to see how giving a small group of especially devoted readers a way to help support a site that they enjoy equates with suddenly making a journal a commercial site.

I'm sorry, but it's apples and oranges. And if I'd known the amount of ugliness and hostility this move would generate, I probably wouldn't have done it. But what WOULD have happened, as has happened for years, is that I would have continued to get gifts (and more recently, money via PayPal) from that core group of readers who feel compelled to send things like that.

If I can channel that giving spirit directly into making my site better for the people who read it, then of course that's what I'm going to do. That's the sprit behind this, anyway. The reality has turned out to be an In Box full of hate mail, which I knew was a possibility, so I have little room to complain...

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

It's been so much fun watching everyone get up on his or her high horse that I can't resist offering my opinion.

I get the feeling that some folks think Beth and Rob OWE their readerships something. They don't, not jack squat. If they both folded their tents tomorrow, I'd be sad and disappointed, but I wouldn't feel ripped off. Conversely, I don't feel as _I_ owe Beth or Rob anything either. They put their words out there for free, of their own choice. There is no contract between us, and I must say that I prefer it that way.

I'm vaguely uncomfortable with the donation idea, just as I'm vaguely uncomfortable with Stephen King's idea to sell his latest work online at $1 per person per installment. It's kind of an interesting idea, and yet the thought of writing out a series of $1.00 checks (and spending another $.33 in postage) does not sit well with me. (So far, I have completely resisted the temptation to type my credit card numbers into any online dialog box. Call me paranoid or a Luddite, but I plan on avoiding "e-shopping" as long as possible.) What's even more galling about King's experiment is that, even if I'm honest, I have no guarantee that I'll be able to read the completed work. King will yank the project if he doesn't achieve a 75% compliance rate. If the dishonest knuckleheads represent more than 26% of the total audience, then I'm just screwed, ain't I? (And King gets to keep all those micropayments, however many there might be.) There definitely is a contract there, but I think it's weighted too heavily in King's favor.

Anyway, I'm all for writers getting paid for their work. That's why I don't write much for the web and prefer print markets. But I'm not going to begrudge anyone -- Beth, Rob or even Steve King -- if they can find a way to get a few extra bucks from their online writing. And how they spend that money is none of my damn business.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

As far as Jim's point about being unsure about how regular the writing will be, and unable to save it...

It's rather like subscribing to a magazine or a fanzine. There's no guarentee of the magazine continuing, but you look at the record and make your choice. (Except in this case you don't HAVE to can read it yourself, i.e. like you would a magazine in the library, for free...and "subscriptions/donations" merely help the fanzine to meet costs.)

"I want something that will be of consistent quality from beginning to end. I want to know an editor has looked at it. I want to know the work is one of a kind and not a take off of what Pamie did last week."

Hmmm. I know a lot of magazines, looked at by editors, that strike me as take offs of what I read in another magazine last week, last month, or by Robert Benchley or James Thurber seventy years ago. Also a lot of magazines with "uneven quality", editors or no...much more uneven than say, Patrick's INSIDE.

And of course, anybody can save a web page, despite his analogy. "I refuse to pay for work in which I have no control. When I buy a book, I get to keep that book the rest of my life, take it wherever I go, and give it away if I want. With your journal, I can't-unless I print it, which costs me not only money but time to do." I have quite a few web pages saved myself, graphics and all, of other people's sites, for various reasons, on my hard drive. (Reference files for things I'm interested in, for instance.) Just "file> save as" and it's done.

Jim obviously still reads some journals, like Beth's. And of course it's his choice to contribute or not. I just find the reasons here given for not doing so rather odd. But at least he does agree in principle that some journals might be worthwhile subjects of contributing, and that's the main thing.


-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

I thought it had been established earlier that this forum is actually run on the greenspun server, (is that at MIT?), and that forum usage itself was not necessisarily responsible for the extra cost Beth pays to run this journal. Perhaps I misunderstand.

If the point is to attempt to create a new type of portal, a new community with a new forum somehow functioning around Beth's journal with different software which will likely cost a lot more, then that's maybe a little different than just paying to support Beth's journal.

Anyhow, my thought was that if the plan is to create this new variation on the web community, the forum, the portal, whatever....then, why not actually offer something to those who are willing to help create that. Why not offer "Stock" in that venture. Of course it wouldn't be real stock but an opportunity for everyone who supports the venture to also realize something if it becomes wildly successful or something?

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

Nah, Lynda, I won't be around long after this. Save a few like yourself, this forum is rubber tofu, no nutrition and leaves a bad taste. [...] I thought this issue was important enough to waste some of my valuable time, but otherwise, for the most part, I have a girlfiend and a six month old daughter who are far more interesting to talk to...

Well, then, please let me apologise on behalf of everyone here for wasting your valuable time. I've kind of wasted a bit of my time trying to wade through the last 50-odd Kb worth of this forum (which has long since turned pointless and passed its use-by date), but then again, I've only got myself to blame for that, it's not the other posters' fault that I looked in here to see what was happening against my better judgement. And you've only got yourself to blame for coming here in the first place too.

If I ever post again, which I doubt [...]

OK, bye then missing you already actually, no I don't, I tell a lie

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

Refer-A-Friend Bonus Wait a minute, this (signing up for PayPal) is a good deal. As I was trying to sing up for PayPal to donate to Xeney and realized even if I donate her $1, she will be getting $5 extra dollar for my referral. That is cool. :)

From PayPal signing up page;

"Refer PayPal to a friend who is not a current user and we will reward you $5 once your friend completes these simple steps:

Signs up for PayPal Confirms his or her email address Registers a credit card OR Verifies a bank account."

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

I'm doing my part to reduce Beth's web costs - as of today, I will no longer be reading Bad Hair Days. Beth, I've been reading your journal since DJR days. When you were going through some tough times about wanting to buy a house Jeremy didn't like, you were so kind as to say you liked the emails I sent. But reading your responses to Joy and Sarah just set me off. I don't like the donate button, I think its tacky, but I would have lurked in silence, until I read this forum. You want to know what people think, but then you write bitchy, snappy, whiney responses to the ones that don't agree with you. I agree with whoever it was that said journals are a cheap form of therapy. Look at it that way, and you're getting a bargain from the costs of your website. Don't bother to flame me or respond here - I've deleted my bookmarks, and I'm not coming back.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

If you've been reading since DJR and you're just now finding out that Beth is bitchy, snappish, and rude to people who are acting bitchy, snappish, and rude to her, then you haven't been paying much attention. I've always found Beth to be pretty reasonable and (dare I say?) a complete sweetheart most of the time. But yeah, if you make her mad she can out-bitch, out-rude, and out-snap you any day. And I probably just pissed her off by calling her a sweetheart, so I'm outta here.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

"(Except to send thank you notes to those that did, I mean, and I'm two days behind, and I apologize. I've got a bum arm and a new puppy, but I'll get to you tonight, I promise.)"

So you get a thank-you note if you send a quarter? I've written a few fan letters to you, Beth, and haven't heard anything in return. To me, kind words in email from a stranger are worth far more than 25 cents.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

I agree, Amy, they probably are. Unfortunately, if I spent even one minute responding to each e-mail I receive in connection with this site, I would spend an hour every day doing nothing but saying, "Thank you, I'm glad you like it, no, we haven't tried a pinch collar on Doc, yes, I'll give that a try, thank you, that means so much." It's not that I don't feel those things, but I just can't keep up with it. I've tried. Sometimes on weekends I go backwards through my mail log and try to reply to everyone who wrote that week, and then I look up and see that it's been three hours. I'm not exaggerating, and I'm not pulling a "oh, poor me, I get too much mail," gig; I'm just telling it like it is. I try to respond to general queries on the forum and to participate in the discussions here, and the whole reason I created this forum was that I couldn't keep up with the e-mail. But the forum didn't decrease the amount of mail I get, not one bit.

And now you're going to make me confess that yes, I am using a form letter to thank people for donations. There are far fewer donations than there are daily e-mails.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

A sociological note...

It's generally considered impolite to tell your friends, "I'm throwing a dinner party, and if you want to come, please pay me $20 to recover my costs." On the other hand, if I keep showing up at other people's parties and mooching off their hospitality, and never do anything for them in return, I will eventually stop getting invitations. A gift is not simply thrown out into the void -- it implies a relationship between the giver and the receiver, and while the receiver doesn't have any legal obligations to the giver, any social relationship between two people has social obligations.

So, Beth regularly posts her writings on the Web, and I regularly read them. We have a social relationship -- a kind of relationship that didn't exist before the Internet, because of its scale. (The number of people who read Beth's work far outnumbers the number of people whose work Beth reads.) What obligations go along with my side of that relationship? Different people in this discussion are mapping different aspects of pre-Net social obligations onto the Web author-reader relationship, and they can't agree on which mapping feels proper.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

Yes, but I don't want to have a social relationship with all my readers.

I've fought this problem myself. You read someone's journal site, it's very personal, it's as though that person is sharing his or her problems just with you. You feel like you're developing a relationship with that person. Perhaps you even send him or her an email. And it's so disappointing when they don't bother (or don't have time) to answer, or they send along a cold, informal, form-letter reply.

But we are readers here. We are not automatically friends and relatives. Sure, I've made friends through reading someone's journal, or having someone read mine. I can count those friends on one hand. Okay, two hands. Some people assume they're close to me because they read my journal, but that is most definitely one-sided.

I do not want my readers to automatically assume that a social relationship exists between us. Some readers presume too much. I don't want gifts but I also don't want unsolicited advice from someone who says he knows me better than I do myself. I think these are two sides of the same coin.

And I think that some people's outcry over Beth's PayPal button (which is small enough to be ignored on her index page) is related to the idea that "friends don't pay for their friendships." Wake up, please. Beth isn't your friend, no more so than Stephen King. She's the author of this journal. If you are her friend "in real life," think of her as a writer friend who asked you to buy her book if you wanted to read it, rather than giving you a free copy. (You could always go to the library or borrow the book; there's no pressure to buy.) The rest of us need to understand that we may be imagining a deeper, more intimate relationship than really exists.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

I'm with Binky on this one. She's not snapping at everyone who disagrees with her- me, for example. Oh well. No big loss if he/she/it leaves, I suppose.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

I used to have some expensive hobbies -- I skied, I collected comic books like a little geek, I collected hardcover books.

When I switched jobs, and was paid much much less than I had been previously, I had to give up some of my hobbies.

Now that I have me a website, that's become something of my major hobby. I love the writing thing, and I love the feedback.

It's a small site, and I doubt I'll ever become huge and famous. I wasn't even aware that the Huge and the Famous had to pay more for their hits until recently. Which is rough.

But I'm pretty sure that, like my other hobbies, should my site magically and mythically become too unwieldy or costly to upkeep, I'd have to give it up.

I wouldn't feel comfortable asking for donations to have my hobby supported. No matter if you adore me, and I'm the first journal on your reading list, this is my hobby and you've chosen to participate. It's not fair to ask that you support me in it, too.

I totally support, however, asking for donations for a forum, perhaps. The forum is certainly a community - a democratic sort of entity that we've all created, and that Beth has devoted a lot of time and energy and effort to maintaining. That certainly deserves some aid and some backup. If we all participate, it's possible that we should feel some obligation to donate. I certainly would.

You can argue that the journal was the catalyst for the forum, which is true, but I feel that the journal is in another category altogether - and that the forum has become a separate entity.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

I've written a few fan letters to you, Beth, and haven't heard anything in return. To me, kind words in email from a stranger are worth far more than 25 cents.

Well, I've only been keeping a journal for five minutes and already I get more emails than I can answer every day, so imagine how many Beth must get!

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Because I love to kick a dead horse...

(There is no way I will ever be able to find the various posts I will inevitably refer to and quote them verbatim, along with the author's name. I apologize ahead of time.)

Whomever brought up the jealousy factor: I applaud you. One of the reasons the idea of donating rankles is that I'm jealous of Beth being able to ask for quarter-sized donations and having enough readers to make that worthwhile. The "I thought at first that it was a donation for an animal shelter" person: I give you golf claps. Golf claps because I don't begrudge Beth the chance to make the site earn it's keep, that's perfectly fair. But I wonder what will happen when the site is not only earning it's keep but exceeding it. Will Beth find more stuff to add to the site or will she buy Doc a chew toy? If it were me, I'd feel odd using the extra money on myself, I'd rather funnel it into a charity but Beth makes it clear that it's a donation and it's therefore hers to do what she wants with.

Beyond that I don't really care. It's Beth's site, she's not going to condemn me for not giving her a quarter (and people, we're all fighting about a quarter here, and the only thing you can buy in America for a quarter is five gumballs from a machine) and I'm not going to stop reading her simply because she put up a dinky little button. It's far less annoying than a garish, blinking ad.

I'm not going to applaud Beth for what she's doing but I think it takes a hell of a lot of guts and I certainly admire her for it.

(And one of the reasons I'm not going to donate, besides the fact thad I don't have a credit card, is that I feel as though I'm already paying for everything I view on the web by way of the exorbitant fees my internet access provider charges me. And don't forget my phone bill, which can be a bit insane at times, as well. Contrary to popular belief, we are not getting all of this stuff for free. Everything has a price. The sad part is that most everyone isn't directly capitalizing off it.)

And if I did donate to a journal, Beth would be one of the few I would donate to. I've been reading her since DJR and having her still around and churning out entries makes me downright nostalgic for high school sometimes. There's also the fact that I like what she does.


-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Columbine just posted very sensible article (journal entry) similar topic as this forum.

I like this because it gives a sense of community, being consulted before things are done, feeling like being in the same boat. I feel like donating. :)

Here is the link.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I am not Columbine, I just not good at HTML tags. Sorry about that. Beth bring on the EDIT function. :)

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I fixed it for it. That's what I'm here for. And I agree, it is a really good entry.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I wanted to reply to Jen's comment about this being a hobby. I'd certainly agree that it would be strange for you to ask for donations to keep collecting comic books. Consider, though, some sort of craft hobby (cooking, sewing, pottery, whatever). Say you start out giving these crafts away. Say people start requesting them, or start asking you to make things for them to give as gifts. At some point, they should start contributing for materials. For the most part (I'm assuming) your hobbies seem to be just for yourself. But I think we all get something out of reading journals, and it's appropriate for us to contribute for "materials." An obvious concern is that if you pay for the materials you get to pick what's made. Not to doubt Beth, but I think I would keep tabs (at least a little) on who'd contributed and who hadn't, and that it would color my opinions on people.

I thought Columbine's entry hit it exactly. Somebody has to pay for this, and it seems reasonable that it be all the people who benefit (The writer benefits most, but readers benefit, too.) I figure any journal I check daily deserves my support. I'm going to aim to donate to everybody on the first of the month, not much, but what I can afford.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

One of the reasons the idea of donating rankles is that I'm jealous of Beth being able to ask for quarter-sized donations and having enough readers to make that worthwhile.

Actually, the quarters aren't the attraction to PayPal. Beth gets five bucks whenever someone signs up for the service to give her your quarter. At $5.25 a pop, it's worthwhile. After that, whether or not a sporadic quarter donation at a time, even from a large amount of readers, is questionable.

I'll be interested to see if the donation button stays up too long after the core group of donators is already signed up with PayPal, and a quarter given is a quarter received.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Uh, Patrick, I've received a grand total of four of those referrals. I hadn't even really considered that when I put up the button; I guess I assumed most people had used PayPal before. (I think it's the most common way to pay for Ebay purchases, for instance.)

Don't get me wrong, the referral fees are very cool, because that comes from PayPal. But it's a very minor and incidental amount of what has been donated.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Jette -- I didn't mean "social relationship" in the sense of being introduced to one another at a party, or something like that. Maybe "complementary social roles" would be more precise.

In any culture, once people start interacting with each other, there are rules about how they have to behave. Different rules apply depending on the sort of interaction that's going on, or the social roles of the two people involved. (This isn't so obvious in the late-twentieth-century USA, because we try very very hard to act like a classless society.) The role of "Web author" is new, and the interaction of "one Web author getting hits from thousands of loyal readers" is new. So we have the role and the interaction, but we don't have the rules yet.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I had PayPay long before Beth's button went up.

Jesus, this argument is getting boring. Donate. Don't donate. Whatever. Get a grip, people.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Beth -- my bad. If that's the case, I'm truly impressed! (And I'm not being snarky here.)

Sara, sorry if you think the argument is boring, but I think it's much more fun to see a long, lively discussion on a forum than the daily exchanges where each person posts a single opinion, ignoring what everyone else has said.

Back in my BBS days, discussions could go on for months, the participants taking bits and pieces of various posts and modifying their arguments, and sometimes (gasp!) altering their opinions. I see some of that going on here, which is, to tell the truth, a lot more fun than the usual "What's your favorite soup?" type of discussion on a lot of forums.

To me, the length of this thread should be the norm, rather than the quickly posted and quickly abandoned threads which seem to be common nowadays.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

If twenty bucks is "incidental" compared to the larger amount, I'd really hate to think of what you consider somebody's individual quarter.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I'd be thrilled if I saw something new or lively going on here, but everyone is saying the same thing over and over again. The people who agree. The people who disagree. The one interesting new angle I did see was over at Lucy's board, where there was some discourse on personal growth and some other stuff (I know, I'm petering out here, and I'M STILL POSTING! AAAAAAAGHGHHHHHH!).

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I think eventually one have to go to Ad Banner unless there is and "will be" a regular, committed donation. I do not mind Ad Banner in Pamie. The design goes well with the banner and it is only 1 second that I am exposed to the banner and I quickly need to scroll down to read. I think Ad Banner has more lasting solution for helping to keep the site maintenance fee. What do you all think? One has to used to some Banners if you do not want to donate regularly with commitment.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Actually, I agree with Patrick; I enjoy the longer threads -- but only because I read them via e-mail. They're murder to read in the Greenspun format.

Jim, you've spent the last three days trying to bait me, for reasons I don't particularly understand. You've gone out of your way to criticize my writing, my motives, and my appreciation (or lack thereof) for those who have donated. None of these issues seem to have much to do with the general topic being discussed here, and to me it looks suspiciously like you're trying to pick a fight. I'd gladly give you a quarter to find another hobby.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Okay, I also agree with Sara, but I think Demian has brought up an interesting side issue, and I'm going to start another thread.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I agree Patrick, a long lively discussion is much more interesting than a forum in which the exchange of ideas is limited due to the subject matter of the questions.

However, I also think that Sara has a point. By now, we've pretty much examined every possible angle on both sides of the argument. I think the reason this debate is still raging has more to do with all of us wanting to continue the lively interaction, and less to do with actually giving a shit about Beth's donate button. How else would you explain the reappearance of Jim Valvis?

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Last time I read this thread was Friday; I thought that Jeremy would've broken Beth's wrists repeatedly by the middle of the thread. How did you slip past him, Ms. "I'm not supposed to type"? I kept waiting for a post saying, "can type only with one arm, other arm broken, busted by Jeremy" or something.

Maybe I just don't get as riled up about these sorts of things as everyone else. It hardly crossed my mind twice when I read about the donate button and I thought it was a good idea. This site is expensive to run. Would everyone who is bitching about the mere concept of donating be satisfied if you logged on to and saw a message saying, "Sorry. I can't afford this anymore. It's been fun."

IMHO, I'm not really paying to read this site. Beth hasn't asked me to pay anything. Beth's asking for some help so the site can be maintained without driving herself into financial hell. I'd rather toss a penny or a quarter or whatever her way and keep looking forward to my lunch break, when she usually posts. She's entertained me for years, back to Xeney's Guide to the Galaxy. The way I figure it, I probably owe her for all the comedic relief she's provided.

If you don't want to donate, don't donate. Why get all worked up about it? I just don't see what all the fuss is about.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Jesus Christ you people write a lot -- and most of you say nothing.

I have three points:

Joy -- you are a bitch. It takes one to know one, and although I am male, I can say this with authority. End of statement.

Jim V -- Whimpering about a lack of control is absolutely no excuse not to contribute. "I don't want to" is a far better reason not to contribute than that. Look at it this way. You are not buying future content, you are helping defray the cost of producing and shipping content you have already received and enjoyed. You do have something out of the experience, that being the memory and enjoyment you gained from reading that content. It shouldn't bother you that Beth might vanish into the ether with your shiny quarter, you are still way ahead on the balance sheet.

Finally. Someone (can't find it quickly) started in on the predictable and demonstratably false "information wants to be free" crap. This information is not free. It may be free to you but it is not free. Beth spends time and effort creating content and then money shipping it off to all of us. I have some feel for how much time it takes -- I have a small collection of pages that I update a couple of times a week, and it takes me more time than I care to admit, and the result is a piss-poor site if I do say so myself. Beth's is excellent in terms of content and I've almost never had a connectivity problem. This costs big bucks, and to give her community of readers a way to help defray these costs in no way lowers the site.

Alright, let the flaming over my bad grammar begin.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I just want to know what 'golf claps' are.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I just want to know what 'golf claps' are.

You and me both.

I was afraid to ask since they were aimed at me.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

"Jim V -- Whimpering about a lack of control is absolutely no excuse not to contribute. "I don't want to" is a far better reason not to contribute than that. Look at it this way. You are not buying future content, you are helping defray the cost of producing and shipping content you have already received and enjoyed. You do have something out of the experience, that being the memory and enjoyment you gained from reading that content. It shouldn't bother you that Beth might vanish into the ether with your shiny quarter, you are still way ahead on the balance sheet."

Well, this is just silly. For all three of my journals, Beth was a regular reader. It is more than possible that she has read and enjoyed more Jim Valvis than I have Beth Campbell, especially since I have rarely read an entry in the last two incarnations of her journal. I would guess my work has inspired some of her entries and I know it has given her one of the most frequented topics for her forum, thus adding to her popularity, the popularity she is now using to get people to give her money. She has also featured my work in her weblog, unsolicited, without due payment. If these things are true, and you stand by your donation by guilt stance, an argument can easily be made that she owes me money.

Never mind that. Let's put it this way. To my knowledge, at no time did Beth ever state or even imply, here or in her journal, that I was reading her under the implied consent that in the future I would have to pay her for it. The past is the past. I'm sure even Beth would agree that neither I nor anyone else owes her a damn thing. So your argument is flawed top to bottom.

Thanks for playing. Please try again.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

[Never mind. What I wrote was just too mean; I've deleted it.]

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Well, finally something I might know the answer to.

A "golf clap" is a quiet round of applause, usually in the form of clapping together the middle and index fingers of one hand against the other hand. The point is that it's supposed to be quiet and dignified, since one's supposed to be quiet while the golfers are actually golfing.

Obviously things have changed in this Tiger Woods era, but there you go.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

This is so far off topic I may need a guide dog to get me back on track, but am I the only one who finds it hilarious when somebody posts to a thread already over 200 in length, begins their post with a comment like 'you people talk enough, but you all say nothing', and then throw in their own lengthy two cents?

Um, to paraphase Phoebe from Friends: Hi, Kettle? This is Pot. You're black.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Thanks Mike for explaining "golf claps". Chalk that weirdness up to the fact that it was three in the morning, I had just finished reading the entire thread and I've seen RENT way too many times.

(This is so off-topic that it's not even funny.)

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I have read most of the posts here with interest. I tend to agree with those verging on the "uncomfortable" side of the "donating money" aspect. I don't have strong feelings. I am enjoying the various differences of opinion, true debate. I love to read Beth's site, but I wouldn't donate "money". I am following this forum mainly as an interested and objective observer to the discussion. As such I am beginning to feel that this whole "forum" is being censored by Beth. Suddenly people who are not part of the "I Love Beth and Will Give To Her Worthy Cause" side of the argument are no longer with us. Why is this? Beth, I know you are clever, but have you really reduced Joy, Mike and some others (can't remember their names) to humble silence in this forum or have they been "ostracised"??

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Well, I opened up this discussion in my browser about three or four hours ago, and I only just finished it! Of course, I am at work, so I've only been sneaking bits here and there, but even so, wow!

So, here is me, making it longer.

Personally, I have no problem with the button--shareware or a tip jar, these are both good analogies, I feel no obligation whatsoever to press it. I haven't clicked it yet, and I probably won't really soon, since I just sent a birthday present (you get it yet, babe? I did send it late, so you may not have), but I'll bet I will sometime.

I know that there has been the friend/only thinking you're a friend discussion, but Beth is a friend of mine, not just someone that I read and that reads me, so therefor I would prefer to send presents as a way of expressing that friendship than tossing her a quarter, on the other hand, neither do I begrudge the quarters.

In terms of the Philosophy of the Button--Moral or Not? discussion, I don't know. I have gotten a bunch of presents from people at various times, and I am certainly not one to ever turn down a present, but I have probably given as many as I have gotten. I don't think I'd have the button on my site, just because I think it would be a little embarrassing, but on the other hand, I have gotten my share of Amazon click-through money, so what is the difference?

Honestly, if I had The Button, I don't think that anyone would click it. Besides, my server doesn't charge extra for traffic--maybe it would if I got 1000 hits a day on a consistent basis, or something like that, but they are pretty laid back over at zipcon.

In summary, for those who are skimming: The Button is neither good nor bad, The Button just is--click it, don't click it, whatever. It probably won't appear on my site anytime soon, but I started selling t-shirts today. I don't really expect anyone to buy those, either, but when it comes right down to it, why not give people to opportunity to if they want to?

Did any of that make sense? Don't mind me, I'm babbling.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I am now taking off my blouse to reveal the words I Love Beth and Will Give To Her Worthy Cause tattooed across my breasts.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I'll bet people would pay to see that!

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Well, I can only speak on my behalf corkygirl, but I'm not being censored or ostracised by Beth. I gave my opinion, I responded to the people who responded directly to me, and there's only so many ways I can say the same thing. Repeating it just to hear the sound of my own voice is a waste of everybody's time. :)

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Corky: Greenspun does not give me the power to physically ban someone. All I can do is tell them they are unwelcome and delete their posts. I have done this with two people: Mike Leung and Dave Van. Dave has been invited back; Mike posts regardless of the ban. He was banned for annoying the shit out of me and other users, not for disagreeing with me.

I have deleted two messages on this forum -- my reply to Jim, which is noted above, and one of Demian's in which he had problems with a link. I haven't deleted anything else. Anyone who is signed up for the e-mail notify can confirm that.

There are plenty of people here who are disagreeing with me. I assume Joy left because she doesn't like me or my rotten little forum.

At the risk of being accused of censorship or belittling you for stating your opinion, I think your accusation was obnoxious, unfounded, and completely out of line. People have said some pretty nasty things about me over the last few days, and I've let those posts remain. Anyone who could read this thread and then accuse me of editing it to make myself look better obviously doesn't think much of my editing skills.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Based on that remark, I suspect Sara could probably do a PayPal button for a live webcam now and pay for it in short order....

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000


Thank you for giving me one of the few laughs I had in wading through this massive thread.

I guess the daughter and "girlfiend" [sic] weren't all that interesting after all, eh?

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

"Someone (can't find it quickly) started in on the predictable and demonstratably false "information wants to be free" crap. This information is not free. It may be free to you but it is not free."

Information wants to be free? No such thing, bub. I want information to be free for as long as I can get it (yes, I know, someone's paying for it along the line, I'm paying for it with my DSL at least, blah blah blah. How 'bout "as close to it as I can get?"), but information itself doesn't give a rat's ass.

Yeech, now I'm getting all cranky at people. Is it catching?

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Ok, I'll donate, only if Beth goes out and gets those damm dogs a huge basket to keep all those chew toys in. Then ground the dogs for a week if they refuse to clean their room!

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

The dogs have a toy basket -- we usually clean up the mess once a week or so. But with two of them, we're going to have to step that up a bit. Mochi is just so very excited about the very idea of a toy basket that she tends to pull things out of it faster than you can put them in.

Sorry. Off topic. And we wouldn't want that on this monster of a thread.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

Dave was invited back? And Jim and Joy have never been asked to leave... but Mike's too annoying? Aw, man, Beth. That's kinda harsh, isn't it? I know he's bugged you in the past, but golly...

[leaving a big bunch of grapes at the altar, backing away slowly while bowing, running back to cafeteria table and taking Little Debbie cake from bewildered Mike's plate]

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

*cautiously sets up a protective ring of concertina wire*

Honestly, I'm surprised that this whole thread has been pissing people off to the degree it has.

I don't read Beth on any kind of a regular basis, but she has the right to profit from her work if she can. The fact that it's voluntary makes it seem pretty innocent.

It's not a a scandal, she's JUST asking for a measley quarter and it's pretty fucking lame that people have been reduced to name calling over this issue.

Oh, and yeah, I would contribute to journals I read regularly. So Sara, come out with some T-shirts or something. Rob, how about a "chub college fund" donation button.

Reading this whole thread has tuckered my ass out...Try to play nice, kids.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

I guess non-journalers have a different (and far less emotional) perspective on this issue. I just read them. For entertainment, like I read Cosmo. And I get pretty involved in some of them (Kymm, Pamie, Stee, Molly Zero). And you know what? I don't care what motivated any of you to start a web journal, and I don't care if Beth's sitting on a bucketload of money and burns the bills in her backyard when she's bored. It costs money and time to do this, and you can call it a hobby if you want, but the fact is that a hobby gives an individual pleasure or diversion, and a web journal and forum give the readers pleasure and diversion. The journaler must like it or he/she wouldn't do it, but it's not a hobby in my opinion. You pay to see a movie with no control over content; if it sucks, you don't see a movie by that director/with that actor/about that time period anymore. You donate a pittance to the site, the content sucks, you don't read it anymore. I guess I'm in a tiny minority who prefers banner ads because I don't have to do anything. There they are. I ignore them. No one gets hurt. But I began my site addiction at Hissyfit, so I've been looking at the banners all along. Beats pop-ups. And I'm not a sycophant, but I feel this way about the people who think Beth has been too bitchy/pissy/harsh. It's her site. And you reap what you sow. Call me a bitch and believe me I'll be one. Express an opinion fairly; get a reasoned response. Call your site host a bitch and expect a self-fulfilling prophecy. To quote (undoubtedly incorrectly) Lady Croom in Arcadia "while you are a guest in my house, The Count of Udolfo was written by whomever I say it was." (which is not, from what I've seen, Beth's attitude but it's how I was raised to be a guest, whether in your house or on your forum. Be polite or stay home.)

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

I've only read portions of this thread, because my eyeballs started to bleed.

Therefore i'm only responding to the initial question and not all the other randomness that is going on in here.

I have been reading Squishy for a long time. Having unobtrusive banners will not stop me from reading Pamie's entries because the content hasn't changed just because she gets paid to do what she does. Hell, if someone wanted to pay me to do what i enjoy, there's no way i'd say no.

I have also been reading Bad Hair Days for quite some time and i don't plan to sniff and turn up my nose just because Beth has placed a "donate if you really want to and i will love you or don't donate and i will still love you anyway" button on her site. It's a small button, it's not like it's a pop-up that leaps out at you every time you go to a different page. She's also not writing "Hey donate money! Come on! Donate it now!" every third line in her entries. It's there and it's up to each individual.

I've never seen huge complaints about people who used to use Dreamhost at the time that you received a ten-cent donation for each sign-up referral, yet it's essentially the same thing. It was always up to the readers to decide if they wanted to do it.

Beth's site hasn't turned into a password-protected entity where you must pay $9.95 a month to read her. It's simply donations.

I guess i just don't see what the big hooplah is.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I am now taking off my blouse to reveal the words I Love Beth and Will Give To Her Worthy Cause tattooed across my breasts.

Beth Campbell, from Virtual Panhandler to Virtual Pimp in a few short steps.


-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I've read Bad Hair Days on a regular basis since I stumbled across it and enjoy it very much. Hell yes, I'll give Beth some $$ as a thank you for my past enjoyment. I hope (but do not expect) that the site continues to provide me future enjoyment.

I'm not a journaller (just read a few journals on a regular basis for personal pleasure) and I have to say that some of the posters on this forum are scaring me. Do you all know each other and just carry out catfights on different sites to try to one-up each other? It makes me glad I'm NOT a part of your community. I like a spirited debate a lot, but some of these posts are so full of vitriolic hate that it truly makes me wonder why the poster is even reading the site.

I'm probably asking for it now....

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I've been offline for a few days hence the late contribution.

Couple of things: for those offended by Beth's bluntness -- I don't know about anyone else but that is why I read her journal, and its previous incarnations. OK so she's into cute puppies and stuff now but there's always the forum...

Also, there's a difference between paying for content and donating to a personal site you like and visit often. I would never download Steven King's new book for example; but I'd donate to Beth (and Rob too) if only I could. (Please lobby the providers of the service to allow donations from abroad!)

It's not a moral difference, in my view -- I don't think there's anything morally superior about "sharing" your art as opposed to selling it. Art has always been for sale.

For me the difference lies in choice. Paying for web content usually seems to involve paying before you read. As with Mr King. I like to flip through a book before I buy, browse the magazine stand. Beth's donation button gives a choice -- use it or just ignore it.

-- Anonymous, July 31, 2000

If someone is writing a pay per read site, and that was their goal from the beginning, if I liked it enough, I'd pay.

Would I pay to see an online journalers site? Probably not.
Would I pay to read a book that was a combined, culled, and transformed into a singular work online journal? Yes. I'd buy it to read it. But I wouldn't pay to be able to continue to read a site that was previously free to me. I keep a journal, I've done it for four years. I keep it for ME. I don't do it for others to read, but I am delighted that they do. Part of me thinks, if you can get other folks to pay you, well, good for you, aren't they little sheep. Part of me thinks it's a total sellout, if you are selling the site as an online journal, that once was free. Pay to view a site? Sure. It's like buying a book by Anais Nin. But not after it was first given to me free, as a personal space to hash out life. I don't need to pay for that if it was free, once. I don't need to be paid to do what I love.

Hi Beth! =)


-- Anonymous, August 07, 2000

Beth, I hope you get enough contributions to build a huge custom designed house on the lake, with a wing for the dogs, a wing for the cats, a garden that would turn E.T. as green with envy as Jim Valvis, and a huge hedonistic bedroom for you and Jeremy to enjoy.

I hope you make enough to buy Bill Gates and make him walk the dogs for you. I hope you make enough to buy breakfast, lunch, dinner and atomic secrets from Al Gore.

I hope you make enough to never have to write a brief again.

For those that don't like the "donate" button. Mighty fine, you're not shoplifting. Beth has put this site out for all to read and comment on. Feel free to enjoy BHD while it lasts. It's just a little button for heaven's sake. It's not like it was some huge flashing banner.

For those that feel the need to complain, mighty fine. Beth is a tough girl, make your point on the forum, she can take it. In fact, I think Beth can appreciate a well formed argument as much as anyone I know, even if she disagrees with it. For example, even though she is a total commie-lib, she has never edited or deleted any of my hysterical right-wing rants.

For those one or two who repeatedly post variations of the same tired and boring convoluted, irrational, whining screeds, you are clearly midgets in every way that counts.

-- Anonymous, August 07, 2000

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