The more careful amongst you will have noticed a couple of changes to the website in the last couple of days. The google ads are a basic staple of most websites out there, so I don't really have much to say about that. But I have also added a Paypal donate button, right up top, which I think deserves some comment.
First, and most trivially, this button allows those who would like to (monetarily) reward your humble blogger with the opportunity to do so, all with a click of a button and a credit/debit card (or a Paypal account). So that's the what. The why is a bit more torturous. This will be a bit of a stream of consciousness, so bear with me.
When I first started blogging more than three years ago, I did so because I loved writing and opining on things I cared about, from politics to sports to random shit on Youtube. I did it whenever I found the time, and I loved (and continue to love) doing it. I never imagined that we'd get to the point where we have the number of readers we do -- not an overwhelming amount by any stretch, but enough to make us proud. I never imagined that we'd get quoted by the BBCs and ForeignPolicy.com's of the world and I certainly never imagined that people other than our close friends would care about what we have to say. The fact that we have exceeded those expectations speaks to the power of the medium (i.e. the internet), where everyone is created equal, and it doesn't matter where you went to school, who your father is, how big your house is and so on. If you keep producing content, people will come. That's the nature of the enterprise.
About some time last year, I started thinking about ways to make this blog more than a hobby, or at least a profitable hobby. I kept putting real decisions off, however, because the idea of money makes me intensely uncomfortable. I really don't like talking about it -- just ask the W. I've always been the type of person who tries to live carefully, be frugal, and assume that by doing so, I save myself the incredible awkwardness of actually having to think about money. By and large this tactic has been successful, despite being a graduate student, not exactly the most lucrative thing a 20-something can do. Getting married last year changed this a little bit but hardly significantly.
There hasn't been some game-changing experience recently, but I simply bit the bullet and added the ads and the donate button. I felt that there would be little direct harm, but some possible gain, so I may as well roll with it. I know a bunch of our readers really like our blog, some just read it to waste time, and some positively hate us and our ilk (you know who you are). I'm hoping that people from the first two categories, on days when they're feeling extremely generous and when I've written something they particularly enjoyed, donate whatever they feel is appropriate. Think of it as Radiohead's last album release, except 4500 times less entertaining and brilliant.
There are a few obvious questions that pop up immediately. First, why the hell should anyone pay me for content when they get much more important content (newspapers, TV shows, sports websites etc) for free? Frankly, I don't have a good answer for that question. I guess one difference is that those people are already paid for their content by their employers, whereas I don't have one. Also, you still get this content for free; you only pay if you want to.
Second, since when did I become such a sell-out? Well, since yesterday.
Third, will the content change at all? No, of course not. I'm not beholden to any particular corporation or advertisement force, so there are no conflicts of interest. Though it will be mighty suspicious if I suddenly start blogging about the wonders of PayPal.
So yeah, that's it. Frankly, I don't even know if this is going to be a massive waste of time and effort, but I suppose we shall see.