The Ethics of Blog Panhandling

October 20, 2005 at 7:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

What ethics rules, if any, govern the solicitation of funds for oneself via one’s blog? I ask not because I plan to do it myself, but because many bloggers have done it before, and many will do it in the future. Blog panhandling has never directly affected me, however, until today. A blogger I read regularly is soliciting money to help pay his bills. Not blog-related bills, but household bills: rent, car payment, utilities, and so on. He has been unemployed for quite a while, picking up the occasional scrap of work here and there.

When I read his request, my first thought was “How tacky!” It struck me as “wrong” somehow. Now, though, I’m not really sure what’s so wrong about it. In the loosest sense he is coming into my house and asking for money. But by reading his blog I invited him in and allowed him to say whatever he wanted.

So what are the ethics of begging for bill money via one’s blog? Is it ever ok? Is it always ok? Is it fair for a blogger to put that kind of pressure on his loyal readers? How many requests are too many? If it is ok, where does blog begging fall in the begging hierarchy (parents, family, friends, strangers, etc.)?

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The Comments

Steve October 21, 2005 at 7:09am

I’ve never contributed money to a blogger nor have I put blogads, google ads or anything else on my site.  That doesn’t mean I think there’s anything wrong with bloggers asking for money.

The bloggers who beg for money, aside from Andrew Sullivan, have usually earned their right to beg.  There are quite a few political commentators out there who do their blogs full-time and beat the paid media to the story everytime. 

There are others who act as pundits and point you to a story you might not have seen.  What they do is no different than what Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olberman do but those guys make 6 or 7 figure salaries because they have Time-Warner, Fox and GE behind them. 

I have no problem with bloggers asking for money.  If they use a free service like Blogger I question it a little bit but if they’re doing it full time and people feel they provide a service, it’s fine.

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