The more I get into this blogging malarky; the more people seem to ask me for money.
The unofficial term I shall use for this form of online begging is “crowd mugging.”
Just whilst you are here:
how would you like to contribute to my routine private dental and healthcare costs? My teeth are really very sore today. Sad face.
Or even better:
you too could make me a $50 donation so that I can keep eating out at fancy places and then blog about it afterwards?
Obviously I am just jesting with you, but sadly these are real examples from users of this very platform.
I don’t know about you, but as a blog reader, I find this really offensive.
Many millions of us aspire to make a living by being discovered as writers or artists. Assuming one is any good, this dream is made even more difficult to realise within the ever saturated blog sphere.
So why should these hustlers be allowed to canvas money from us humble bloggers and blog fans for nothing in return (and get their kicks for free)?
Correction. It is probable that you will get someone being very, VERY nice to you in return for your generous donation.
Before I go any further, I’m not, by the way, talking about the more legitimate forms of “crowd funding” run by reputable and established (i.e. tax paying) websites. These sites host the entrepreneur or artist who is willing to take a risk and who always promises to give something (money or product related) back in return for their projects if they reach their monetary targets. The last figures that I saw suggested a 60-80% failure rate of crowd funded businesses to date and, you guessed it, predictions of the bubble bursting imminently. At least as investors, we can go into such ventures with our eyes open, especially since one might not expect a huge ROI on an arty thing and/or may just invest for fun or love.
Back to the muggers though. I noticed that #1 beggar’s latest blog plea (for $600 dental fees) was flanked by a few comments that offered up donations/big high fives/good wishes and other jolly hockey stick comments from his adoring fans. I was amazed. Why were people happy to part with their hard earned cash? I’m all for charity, but in this case? Really?
I decided that I would post a (very diplomatic) comment asking him if he had ever experienced any negativity going his way given that his posts all revolve around and end with a request for donations. Somewhat unsurprisingly, my comment was never accepted as moderated for his site, nor did he respond to me. This was an opportunity for him to put his side of the debate across. I checked his historic posts for voices of dissent in the comments lists. Nothing. I remain completely censored and very intrigued.
Am I really the only cynic? Now the guy writes well, but not well enough or on subjects of sufficient interest to justify a $600 pay check for one post. Surely? I suppose my attitude towards bloggers who promote products with articles that they have been paid to write is largely positive provided they are as honest as possible in their reviews. Is this really poles apart just because its a business paying for promotions? We are all just trying to make a living writing, right?
Before you say it, its not just the green eyed monster in me speaking because someone is getting rich quickly, I mainly worry about the online grooming aspect of crowd mugging. Do these people prey on the vulnerable? Again, I’m not referring to the promotion of “legitimate” crowd funding of projects through sites. I just feel that this should be better policed. Really just incase my granny pledges her house or something.
I hear that the UK government has plans in place to regulate crowd funding sites in the near future. The particular focus of this new regulation has been prompted by some issues with sites where pledgers can set the percentage rate of return on investment. Protections are therefore required to safeguard entrepreneurs and artists from loan sharks at the extreme end of the spectrum. I wonder if they will harness the “donations” market as part of this regulation. Is there anything they can do if someone is happy to pay a person for nothing in return? This strikes me as a particularly difficult area to regulate if cross border transactions are taking place and possibly not a high priority way to spend the tax payer’s money to investigate.
I throw this issue out to the floor for further consideration. Am I being overly harsh? Perhaps you would be happy to support this chap just for trying? Are you a crowd finder or indeed, by my definition, a crowd mugger? Can you defend your position? Or does it make your blood boil? Take it away!