I’ve been seeing a lot about Pay A Blogger Day bouncing around the internet today. It’s on November 29th, and it’s a campaign to promote Flattr – a service that allows you to donate small amounts to websites and services you like.

I won’t be putting a Flattr button on my site and I do not want you to give me money. Not for this anyway.

I have a bit of a problem with Pay a Blogger day. If you’re tossing me coins because of the ‘creative work’ I do in the public domain, that makes me a busker. I am not here to be a busker. I am here to have conversations.

And you wouldn’t tip someone at a party because you thought they were interesting, would you?

Happy Birthday. That’ll be 50p please. Each.

And of course, there is an overlap between people who write for money and people who have a blog – and I happen to be both. But this is not where I write for money, and you should not pay me for writing here, any more than you should pay a professional musician when they sing Happy Birthday at a child’s party you both happen to be at.

No matter how well they do it or how much you appreciate it. That’s not what it was for.

But here’s the thing: I think that most people don’t want to be paid for their blogging. I could be way off, and perhaps people genuinely want that to be how they make their living. Or they want it to be a supplementary income. Or perhaps they feel that this is an appropriate way for their readers to show proper appreciation.

For me, that would be like getting money for talking on the phone to your mates. Or for sending email. Or saying stuff on Twitter. I don’t really see a difference.

There are some blogs for which that will be appropriate, of course – and I’m sure they’ll get themselves a Flatter button in time for next week. I do not mean for this to be an argument against giving them some money, if that’s what they want. My point is that you shouldn’t just pay any old blogger, no matter how much you like what they do.

Be nice to the amateurs

The rhetoric seems to be about doing something nice for amateur bloggers. The Mashable article says:

When it comes to Pay a Blogger Day, Flattr doesn’t care if readers support bloggers through clicking Flattr buttons or simply through purchasing their merchandise. The startup cares most about starting a movement.

“If you’re an amateur blogger and get one beer from your readers it could be the best beer you ever had,” Olsson says. […] You may be wondering if this movement will really generate enough income to provide bloggers with a viable income. A blogger testimonial on the site says, “This month … I’ve made $0.03, but it was the best $0.03 I ever made.”

So maybe Pay a Blogger Day won’t provide bloggers with enough money to make a living, but it may give them the necessary pat on the back to encourage them to keep contributing their craft to the Internet.

But even though blogging is not what pays me, I am no more an amateur blogger than I am an amateur bus passenger, an amateur music fan or an amateur breakfast cook. This is just something that I do, and yes – while it may have some ‘craft’ to it – it is not “my craft” and I am not “contributing it to the Internet” any more than I am contributing my egg scrambling to the kitchen.

Thanks for visiting cyberspace, please tip your blogger

In a nutshell: please don’t make the assumption that because someone writes on the internet, they’re standing there with their hat out waiting for donations.

In fact, I kind of feel like that undermines what’s really going on: people are sharing their lives and interests with each other – contributing knowledge to a shared pool and generally adding to culture.

And I tell you what: if you’re really going to pay me for writing… you can expect a hell of a lot better than this.