Is It Right to Beg for Donations on a Blog?

Many people who know me or follow me will know that I can usually be found hanging around Google+ (Google’s version of Facebook), and generally it’s a happy affair where I can really geek it up with my fellow techies. But today I saw a post from Dietrich Schmitz and I just had to re-share it with an accompanying rant.

What’s it all about?

Basically Dietrich has created a campaign on FundRazr were he is basically asking for supporters of his site, Linux Advocates to pay his wages for the next 6 months ($10,000) so that he can continue to work on the project full time. Dietrich justifies the campaign by explaining the amount of time and expense he has put into Linux Advocates.

Time yes, expense, no. The site is hosted on Google’s free blogging platform, Blogger. So in monetary terms, Linux Advocates has cost Dietrich absolutely nothing.

“I launched Linux Advocates at my own expense and have devoted considerable time and energy to getting it started off on the right foot. In order to continue operating it at the same level, I anticipate devoting myself in a full-time capacity. To that end, I anticipate the need to defray costs of $10,000 over the next six (6) months.”

Dietrich even goes on to tug at the heart strings of readers by explaining that he will have to go on welfare soon if he does not get the donations he feels he deserves.

“My funds are nearing the point where I will become financially depleted and simply will cease to operate and worse without income will require Welfare assistance to live. With your help, I can continue to survive and serve this important advocacy.”

Is this right?

Well in some cases, absolutely yes! I fully support many open source projects and donate regularly to them. However, for someone to start a free blog and expect for us, the community to pay their wages is just completely and utterly out of the question (in my humble opinion).

Linux Advocates aims to promote Linux to the masses. That’s great, I fully support the mantra. However, in the Linux world the developers must come first. Begging for wages is completely polar to what Linux advocacy is all about.

Now, on the other hand, if Dietrich had spent time growing his site and had millions of visits a month and require large, powerful servers, and therefore large running costs, then I would have respected him more. Even then though, I would expect him to make up this deficit with other means like advertising.

There is already a PayPal donate button on your site Dietrich. Is that not enough?

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t get into blogging unless you do it because you enjoy it, not to make a quick buck. As it usually shows through. If you build a good solid blog, with great content, and build it up over time then the financial rewards will come anyway if you want them too.

Just to put this into perspective. I started RefuGeeks around 2 years ago, it started it’s roots in the same place a Linux Advocates but it now had a fairly powerful dedicated server that it needs to run on. Over the last couple of years I’ve invested hundreds of pounds into RefuGeeks (I hope my girlfriend isn’t reading this as she will kill me!) but even now I wouldn’t dream of asking the incredible RefuGeeks readers for a donation. Sure I have adverts on RefuGeeks, but the money they bring in don’t cover costs. However, every little helps and I am happy to do this because I love it! That to me is how a blog should be run.

I personally feel that Dietrich Schmitz is way off the mark on this one. To ask a community for donations on a blog that is just a few months old and had absolutely no money invested into is ludicrous. If you need money Dietrich, then do what the rest of us do…go out and get a job. Don’t sponge off your community!

What do you guys think? Am I totally in the wrong here? Are Dietrich’s requests reasonable? I’d love to hear what other members of our fair community think (that’s if you’re still awake after hearing me rant!)…

**Update**

Since writing my rant, as a clearly concerned member of Dietrich’s community, he responded with the following comment on Google+:

Blood boil?  Oh dear.  Maybe you should see a Doctor.  It just could be hypertension you know.

Clearly he takes negative feedback from concerned members of his community very seriously. Subsequent to this I found that I have been removed and blocked from the Linux Advocates Google+ Community, and I was banned from commenting on the site…all because I disagreed with the all mighty Dietrich.

So, what now? Well, the thought came to me that I can do so much better than a poorly designed blog on Blogger so I campaigned for people to help on Google+ and the answer was called by Bhushan Shah, Brandon Holtsclaw, Guillermo Garron, and Yop Spanjer and we have now formed FOSS Advocates which will be what Linux Advocates should have always been.

There won’t be any censorship (apart from spam), and you will be free to explore everything that FOSS has to offer. Let’s hope that me and my team can make FOSS Advocates the success that Linux Advocates should have been.

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