I’ve noticed a number of bloggers recently who have added PayPal forms to their blogs for those individuals who wish to contribute to the blog in a financial way. This has, of course, caused me to raise one eyebrow in a very Mr. Spock-ian sort of way. ((And yes, I am a _Star Trek_ fan, though I doubt I could technically be considered a Trekkie – not fanatical enough.)) Basically, I question of the ethics of this with some bloggers.
Some bloggers contribute snippets of code and new plugins for the various bloggins platforms. The ones who include PayPal forms on their sites as sort of a virtual ‘tip jar’ are, I believe, justified in doing so. They correctly point out that coding takes time and effort, and while all this code is open-source and free to the public to have, use, and modify as they see fit, I see nothing wrong with allowing users of said code to show their gratitude and support for these gifted individuals by donating $5 or $10 here and there to continue to support these people developing new innovations for the web-based tools we use on a regular basis. The same goes for those bloggers who contribute information to their readers that is useful and practical, people who blog about, for example, health issues and how up-and-coming writers can improve their craft, etc. These are the writers who are presenting thoroughly researched material, not just their opinions.
The bloggers whose ethics I question are those who include PayPal forms on their sites when all they write about are their _opinions_ or merely the (comparatively) trivial facts of their lives. I can’t see how they justify asking for monetary contributions when they offer so little information of value. Granted, I realize that we could all probably use the extra money, and web hosting space isn’t all _that_ cheap (though I do think that $100/yr. really isn’t that bad of a price to pay), but I really have to question the ethics of asking for money for the mundane. It’s an appealing temptation, I’ll grant you, but the way I see it is that if you aren’t contributing something that consumers can actually use, you probably have no right to ask that they pay you for your opinions. And of course, blog readers don’t _have_ to donate anything; there’s no obligation there to do so. Just the very existence of the form, though, smacks of the guy on the street who is able-bodied yet holds out his hand for a donation. Maybe I’m the only one who sees it this way, though. I just feel like it’s a bit unethical to be asking for handouts, but then again, I was raised to believe that you make what you earn, and I don’t see how some of these bloggers are earning much of anything. Just because you _can_ doesn’t mean that you _should_.
But that’s just my opinion. Take it for what it’s worth.