Crowd funding vs crowd mugging

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.”

Harsh?

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!

UNTIL NEXT TIME……

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9 thoughts on “Crowd funding vs crowd mugging

  1. I don’t know or care which blogger this refers to, but there is a lot about a donate button that I find really distasteful. Of course, if the blog is self hosting, or sometimes if it is not, but has it’s own domain name, there are costs associated with it. However, I think it is more open to run ads, personally. I also think that people who do this also harm the legitimate calls for funds that huge sites like Wikipedia run every winter. I use and link to Wikipedia regularly, and love that they chose to remain an independant not for profit, because that supports the neutrality they attempt to maintain through active moderation. So, I am happy to donate to them. This blogger does not seem like he is providing a similar service, and by diluting the pool, as it were, there is a risk that net users get donation or compassion fatigue, and thus better regulated schemes may not get funded.
    I think it is the most telling that he has not published your question, to me it would feel more honest if he were at least to answer such questions honestly, which would give people a more solid basis to decide if they should donate or not. I also don’t really appreciate the base appeal designed to tug at the heart strings. But it must work for enough people for the blogger in question to feel that it is worth it.

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  2. I think asking readers to pay for a specific bill (like the dental example) is pretty tacky. I don’t think it’s dangerous though. It’s totally optional. He’s not scamming anyone… it’s pretty upfront – give me money for my dentist bill and I promise you nothing in return. So while I’m not a fan I don’t see it as something that needs to be regulated.

    What I’ve seen on a few sites, and really liked, was a donate button at the end of posts which said “buy me a coffee” or “tip me” with the invitation that if you liked the content enough to literally buy the author a cup of coffee you could do so by donating a couple of pounds.

    That way doesn’t guilt anyone into parting with money but offers a small token if you feel like it. Back in the early days of blogging it used to be pretty common for people to link to their Amazon wishlist on their site for the same reason. I like the coffee/tip method more though.

    Sorcha x Bright Field Notes

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    • Hi Sorcha! I love the “buy me a cup of coffee” concept… if it’s not abused! Sadly, there are too many people begging money around sob story posts. I do worry that people who easily have their heart strings tugged could end up with empty bank accounts very quickly! Thanks for commenting 😉

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  3. I don’t like the pimping for money, especially if it’s in every post. And honestly, unless you know the person, they can make up whatever they want, and if they aren’t publishing every comment, that’s pretty suspicious. I prefer established charities, in general. But I also think it depends on context. Take yeah write for example. It’s expensive to run. It’s much more than just the self-hosting. There are a lot of additional fees around making the site run the way it does. All of the editors donate their time (and it’s a lot) for free and most also donate money. We have a donate button on the website and we occasionally make a plug for supporting subscribers because we are losing money out of our pockets every year and would like to break even. Right now it’s a labor of love and we have to do everything we can to keep it going. We don’t require that people donate, of course, but every donation helps us tremendously. So, I think sometimes it’s situational. I would never put a donate button on my personal blog. Just not me. But I am willing to ask the yeah write community if they’d consider contributing because I want yeah write to be around for a long time.

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    • Hi Stacie, thanks for commenting. And great plug for Yeah Write (which is a brilliant host platform and virtual head space for bloggers who write or writers who blog)! I have no objection to being asked for cash for genuinely good causes, or facilities I love to use. I, like you, just find it distasteful when people ask for money and don’t offer good reason or anything in return – even a great post would be a start. See you over at Yeah Write soon! 😉

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  4. I haven’t seen enough of this sort of behavior to really comment. Maybe it’s because I’m really new to blogging. But this post made me wonder about your feelings on censored comments in general. Is there etiquette surrounding politely dissenting comments?

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    • As with everything net based, anything goes, but “politely dissenting” is a contradiction in terms here!! But then I’m one of those that gets miffed if people don’t reply to comments full stop. You are probably also aware that blog owners can edit comments at source before moderating, this could be a good thing in certain very limited circumstances, but I’m not sure generally why a need to censor would arise unless comments/views were being manipulated to suit an ego. Obviously a repeat offender troll or cussing would be good examples of exceptions! Just my views, appreciate not everyone agrees!

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