a node at the edge  

October 17, 2002
MetabloggingBlogs, Bucks, Ethics

Me? Blog for bucks? There is absolutely no way that I would violate the trust of my readers by blogging for money. My readers know that I'll always be honest with them, and would never sell out for filthy lucre. (By the way, while we're on the subject of readers, I would like to recommend to you the ultimate in RSS feeds -- the Userland RSS feed. It dices, it slices, it purée, why it can even clean Windows. It shoves and crams and punches all your weblog information into one itty bitty easily consumable package. Sm-o-o-o-th. Best of all, topped with crumbled feta cheese and pimento, and baked in the oven for ten minutes, it makes a tasty popover. Serve with a nice chianti.)

Now, where were we...oh yes, getting paid to blog. This may surprise you, but I'm a professional writer. Yes, indeedy. People pay me to write things for them, which shocks the hell out of me on a fairly regular basis. (But not too regular, which is why I'm broke all the time.)

Are you surprised that I'm a professional? Especially with all my typos? Well, if you think that the typos are the result of my inability to spell, and my horrid grammar, think again. It took a team of psychologists days to figure out where to insert each one for maximum effect.

So, are you all endeared to me yet?

Dorothea had some good points, among them:

    Freelance writers (and, I should say, some employees) who blog are already accustomed to fitting themselves into the acceptable, the accepted. They’re so used to self-censorship it doesn’t bother them any more.

I've never had a problem censoring myself as a writer. In fact, there's a host, a veritable host of editors who are laughing their heads off right now at the thought of me censoring myself. I'm the only writer at O'Reilly who has had "Opinion" prominently tacked on to an article title just so people won't assume I'm speaking officially for O'Reilly. Yes, you work at O'Reilly and you piss off Tim, as punishment you'll be assigned to work with me. (All except my current editor, Simon St. Laurent, of course. Simon is editor on the RDF book because, well, the man likes pain. What can I say.)

Back on topic. AKMA also had some interesting words on all of this. In particular he wrote:

    Lesser bloggers, who might the more easily fall for the seductive allure of corporate benefaction, probably ought to make utterly clear their relation to any patrons. In that spirit, I’ll stipulate that I paid for my own hotel room in Denver, and burned all my frequent flyer miles to get to the conference.

But AKMA, you got God. All you have to do is walk along and, Oh, Sh--oot! There's a bag full of money just lying there. Mercy, mercy. In other businesses this would be called graft, but in religion, it's known as devine intervention.

Of course, David Weinberger came up with this Blogger Code of UnProfessional Ethics, giving us guidelines as we proceed in this serious business, this blogging. My particular favorite was:

    My readers are kind. They make allowances and forgive me ahead of time.

(Yeah, right. And Bugs Bunny and the Brer Rabbit are having torrid sex over in those bushes yonder.)

In response to another nice writeup by Dorothea ("Hot blogger coming through, look out!") Salo, Steve quipped:

    I agree on the process, but I'm not sure it's always selling out, or losing one's soul. For me, yes, it would be: I'm an obnoxious anti-DeepPockets windbag. But if you believe in the supreme value of The Company or The Product (what is good for Microsoft is good for Rome), then what ethic are you going against by placing that value above any others? Not believing in universal ethics, I suppose I'd have to say none. Which, then, places the onus of reading the media—of sorting out the swill from the swell—to us, the consumers, the users, the sheep who can't afford to be sheepish.

My golly folks! First you want my readers to trust me. Then you want my readers to forgive me. Now you want my readers to think!

You're just asking too much.

This is offtopic, but I'm with Jeneane:

    Alright, this needs to be said and I'm going to say it. David and Halley need to add comment capability to their blogs, and RageBoy needs to fix his comments forthwith.

Except I want to add Dorothea and Mark Pilgrim to this list. Jump in, folks. I've been assured by David that your readers will be kind.

Hee hee.

Posted by Bb at October 17, 2002 01:13 AM

Trackback Count (0)


While we are off the subject, would an RSS feed be too much to ask for? :-P

Posted by: Sam Ruby on October 16, 2002 09:15 PM

Shhh, Sam. Don't tell anyone, but I turned the feeds back on.

Posted by: Shelley aka Bb on October 16, 2002 09:23 PM

Ok, how much did they pay you to write this, and why am I not gettin' any of it?

Posted by: Kafkaesquí on October 16, 2002 10:07 PM

I prefer my current system of leeching off the comment boards of others.

Posted by: Mark on October 16, 2002 11:18 PM

Maybe I should add commenting to my blog. I tend to blog back or email instead. hmmm...

Glad to see your RSS feed is back. And why do these MT comment boxes eat href links?

Posted by: Kevin on October 17, 2002 12:12 AM

I agree Dorothea does need commenting, especially since I can't find time to actually write a blog entry about some of those tempting topics she brings up.

And she won't even have to suffer like I am in bringing comments to her loyal readers. After all, she knows what she's doing.

If she had comments, I could even leave them over there for her and not here.

Oh, and you forgot that Commander Dave at Time's Shadow needs to get them back, too.

Sorry, Shelley, didn't mean to use your site as a public message board.

(If I had more courage, I would also leave the comment I wrote for Dave last night but never hit the return button on. )

Posted by: Loren on October 17, 2002 12:30 AM

Okay, I answered the comment thing on CavLec, and I'm working on an apology (or apologia; I'm not sure how it'll turn out yet) for what I said yesterday.

Bb, I'm with you on the "kind reader" thing; I only want to point out that it probably pays (at least temporarily) for David W. to call his readers kind, because that kind of thing *can* be self-fulfilling. Up to a point.

Posted by: Dorothea Salo on October 17, 2002 09:30 AM


Posted by: on October 17, 2002 04:15 PM

I was going to say something, but I've decided that I'm charging for comments now--though my blog is still free. If you want to know what I was going to say regarding this post, please send 25 cents in small bills and a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

OnePotMeal Comments
c/o McLean Hospital
115 Mill Street
Belmont, MA 02478-9106

Posted by: steve on October 17, 2002 05:46 PM

Gift culture vs. corporate capitalism is what this is really about. You want to blog and be paid for it? Then it behooves you to be good enough to deserve it, as Wood certainly does. You want to blog for some MegaWanking System of Monopolistic Control? Then you might to not be believed.

Posted by: tom on October 17, 2002 06:57 PM

Hi Shelley = So you do get paid for your writing ... hmm, that's all I was talking about, trying to bring up the sacred subject of remuneration and toss around some new models for where blogging is headed whether we like it or not. Also, I'm sure everyone saw Andrew Sullivan's essay WILL BLOG FOR CASH on his site (a piece he wrote for money! Yes, it appeared in the Sunday London Times). I know blogging w/sponsors can compromise if not totally undermine editorial purity ... but we still need to make some preemptive strikes in defining models instead of having them foisted upon us by the market. H

Posted by: Halley Suitt on October 18, 2002 07:44 AM

Kaf, you can get 10 percent of what I make on this weblog, which is zip.

Dorothea, sorry for putting you and Mark on spot for comments. And I wasn't whomping you for your weblog positings. I thought they were excellent.

Steve, would you take a check?

Tom, the concept behind the gift culture is good -- same thing as the tip jar and paypal. But I think Wood's case was unique, and most likely won't happen again.

Halley, I'm only paid for my books and articles, not for this weblog. If anything this weblog takes away from my pocket, because I spend time on it rather than my paid writing.

As for using a weblogging format within a corporate structure, I see no harm. As long as the weblog is clearly marked as such.

Posted by: Shelley aka Bb on October 18, 2002 08:40 AM

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