Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
 
What do you think about the Paypal donation button?

Dear Reader,

You visit this blog occasionally or regularly, or you read this content on your RSS feed reader. And maybe you wondered what I do get out of this, why I am putting so much effort into creating this content that you are reading. Obviously one major factor is that I like to talk about my hobby, everybody does. But my interest in games, and MMORPGs in particular, is not the only thing that keeps this blog going. I am also very interested in blogging itself: Blogging as a social phenomenon, as lowering the barrier of entry into publishing, the interaction between bloggers and their readers, and everything that is related with that. Thus about 11 months ago I started an experiment, putting up a Paypal donation button on my blog. Not because I needed the money, but because I wanted to know whether that was a viable way of blog financing.

The experiment certainly was interesting. Apparently there was pent-up demand, and I received hundreds of dollars in the first month. Then donations slowly came to a halt. My total donations income for 2011 up to now? $0. On the other hand I recently followed a trackback to a forum where somebody had linked a post of mine, and found that some people thought that blogs shouldn't have donation buttons at all, that a donation button was "proof" that I wrote only for money, thus making my opinion less valid.

Thus I was wondering whether I should remove the Paypal donation button from my blog, for example in early April, after exactly one year. But I would like to hear your opinion about this: Does the donation button bother you? Do you think it diminishes the value of the blog and the opinions expressed here? Is there any advantage for you, the reader, in me having a Paypal donation button? Is a donation button better or worse than having for example Google Adsense ads or banner ads?

Regards,

Tobold

[EDIT: After reading your comments, I decided to keep the button, but change it from "Donate" to "Buy me a coffee", to make the nature of the donation more clear.]
Comments:
I see little difference between having an addon block one image link instead of blocking three. Neither significantly improves, diminishes or overwhelms the content.
 
personally no, i read your blog bacause you chose to write it. that is it.
 
I don't care.
I guess those donations are pretty much a one time only thing, so your visitors who are willing to pay probably already did that.

On a side note, ever thought about flattr.com?
 
It doesn't bother me, but as jbrember said, I just read your blog because you write it. I certainly don't feel obligated to contribute money when you blatantly state you aren't in some financial crisis.

I run a small gaming website, but I use ads to monetize it and keep it updated with news and content specifically because I generate a small revenue from it. I get about $100 every 2 or 3 months, so obviously it isn't much, but it will pay for the occasional cellphone bill.

If you want to monetize your blog, do it. If not I don't think the donate button or ads are worth having. Just having a donate button isn't going to motivate people to hand over money and it shouldn't.
 
Being purely emotional: I don't like donation buttons on blogs. But I see your reasons and they are legit.

Emotionally it is comparable to an cosmetic item shop. I see why they do it; I agree that it can be useful; it is legit. I also see that it corrupts people and I generally I don't like it.

If I have to guess that you make a post about your donantion stats every few months, not only because you are interested in them, but also to remember people about that button, it already caused harm.

Blogs are at their best when they can credibly convince me that they are 100% written out of passion.
 
Since the Paypal donation button was just an experiment and not because you needed money, maybe it's just time to change up the experiment a little bit. Instead of the button donating the money to you, have the button donate the money to people who post on your blog. You could either make it random or choose your favorite poster for the month, hopefully giving extra points for sarcasm.
 
I don't even see the donation button. It's tucked up there far and away from the content.

Also, I look for black and white, text on background. Colors typically mean avatars and terrible internet meme pictures, so I tend to automatically tune out images and buttons.

You've said in the past that you don't need the money, that you'de be 100% okay without the donations. I think this would be a good reason to take the button down. Those people who shun you because of the button could have valid discussion points or incite new topics, and if it's that little button that's holding them back, and you're not gleaning food and water from those pennies, then off with it.
 
Try Adsense or similar - it would be interesting to see how this compares.

It's a shame Syncaine won't released numbers for his DF marketing.
 
I donated in that first month.

And I haven't even noticed or thought of it since then. It is so tiny and out of the way that I don't think it has even registered in my mind except when you make posts about it (This is the...third I think? After the first month that is. Could be wrong, feels like three-ish)
 
I'd prefer Adsense, to be honest - it adds content and interest, in effect.
 
I'm not a big fan of ads at blogs. I understand that self-hosted bloggers might need support to finance their hobby, so I accept them thouhg, as long as they're not violating the rules and ethics of MMOs, such as gold ads, and as long as it's clear what is an ad and what is editorial material. The other day I complained in a comment to Matticus when he had a post that definitely blurred the lines, using the format of a blog post to promote an offer from a company that he's "cooperating" with.

Anyway: a donation button is far less offensive to me than intrusive ads and blurred borders. It definitely doesn't stop me from reading your blog. I wouldn't use it myself though. I love to feel the freedom of writing without owing anything to anyone. I would always feel more obliged if I had received funds from somehwere. It would put pressure on me to keep delivering. Now I can stop posting for a while and no one can really complain about it. My time. My space. My freedom.
 
I think the donation button is a good thing. I have made donations in the past for bloggers, freeware, etc. and I like the option to show my appreciation in that way. The operative word being optional. Btw, I am a regular reader, really enjoy your writing, but the reason I never donated is because you said you didn't need it.
 
I never noticed it. It doesn't show up in google reader, and I seem to have trained myself to ignore everything on the sides of whatever webpage I'm on since they're usually "advertorials" of some sort.

However, It certainly doesn't matter to me if you have a button or not. I like your blog and I like how you tend to provide a differing viewpoint from many of the other mmos blogs (even to the point of causing occasional unintended controversy).
 
Keep the button. Donations are donations it is nice to have a method to express gratitude.

Ads suck. They are more work for you and have a risk associated with them.
 
If you were regularly telling us about the paypal button (or telling us to look at some google ads) that would be annoying. But just having something like that around? Nope. Doesn't matter to me one way or the other. If you're complaining about stuff like that, you're just looking for something to complain about.
 
In your case, a donation button doesn't affect my opinion of your blog at all, because I was reading it long before you placed it up there, and I saw your stated reasons for it. I suppose in the case of someone else's blog that I'm reading for the first time, it might be different.

And personally, I find ads to be a bit more negative, because they create the possibility that the blogger is simply trying to drive traffic to his/her site. And of course it all depends on the visibility of such things.
 
Anyone who interprets a donation button that way is a drooling moron who is ignorant of the web and blogs and can be safely ignored.
 
Anyone who interprets a donation button that way is a drooling moron who is ignorant of the web and blogs and can be safely ignored.
 
You write, I read.

Everything else doesn't really matter.
 
1) Anyone who thinks that a guy with an MMO blog is in it for the money is stupid.
2) Anyone who thinks that a donation button means you do it for the money is an idiot.
3) Never do something just because idiots complain.
 
I don't notice it and forgot about it months ago.
 
Please keep the donation button. If someone decides to not read because you have a donation button then it is their loss.
 
It allows us to "vote" for your content I feel. If we are particularly impressed or feel like we have gained a good/service from what you provide we can let you know in a measurable and quantifiable way. I think it is a great idea and should be kept.
 
I come here daily for your insights and ideas. A tiny button does not enhance or devalue that experience. You can even change the text from "Donation" to "Buy Me Coffee," and I just might do that because this feels like I'm sitting down across the table and chatting with you.
 
To my way of thinking, by putting the "donate" button there you show that you know the content is good, possibly worth paying for. It is a mark of self-respect. I haven't donated, but only because you said you didn't need the money and right now I do. If I had more cash I'd probably donate a few dollars because I genuinely enjoy reading your blog.
 
You can even change the text from "Donation" to "Buy Me Coffee"

Brilliant suggestion! That's what I'll do. Makes it clearer that this is to express appreciation, and not to support a charity.
 
I am a writer. I also have a WoW-focused blog, where I seldom post. I use the blog mostly to link WoW information in a way that makes it convenient for me to access.

In my opinion, a writer is as worthy of pay as the next person. The reader, of course, is the one who should pay the writer. Thus, a donate button is a direct means for the consumer (reader) to pay for the goods s/he has consumed.

Donate buttonz iz good!
 
Have you experimented with the Flattr platform? i've seen it on other blogs and don't think anything of it, because it's like a virtual tip saying, i like what you have to offer sir, here's a small token of my appreciation.

Someone mentioned adsense, and i don't think that's a bad idea either. Some typically ignore it, and some people hate it, but i doubt you will lose any [valuable] readers over it.
 
I personally don't have issue with it, but I've been reading your blog for years and know there is no bias associated with it. I even think you should have ads. I don't even care if they are gold seller ads. I can ignore ads easily.

I wonder if new readers might be turned off by it. They shouldn't be. I try to judge new blogs I read by the content, but sometimes other items on the page make me worried. But mostly I read them from a RSS readers, so I never see them anyway.
 
The coffee button is so much prettier — great change!

Now, about that coffee...
 
I read your blog daily. Great and varied topics, and the comment strings are generally worth reading.

I "donated" when you started your experiment, but don't even notice it now.

I definitely think your content is worth paying for, and I'm not bugged by a "coffee can" for tips, nor would it bother me to see an occasional reminder to "tip your blogger if you appreciate the service".
 
Enjoy your espresso :)
 
Honestly, I consider it so much a part of the web-scenery these days that I rarely pay attention. Sometimes, if the button is cute/punchy or I know the author/artist (webcomics moreso than blogs) is trying hard to make an actual living out of their web content instead of doing it to vent/brainspew/spark up conversations with their community, I'll try to pitch a couple bucks their way if I think it's worth it.

Otherwise, I see blogging in much the same way as tanking. Someone's gotta pull the topics/mobs, dictate the kill order/frame of reference and wear all the incoming damage/trolls, occasionally yanking loose adds/moderating. Then all the DPS/commenters dogpile on the topic/mobs.

Sure, in a tightly-knit enough community/guild run, the group might decide that the best way to progress the conversation/instance is to make sure the tank/blogger gets the primo loot/donations for the good of the group, but it's not something you see come up all that often unless the tank/blogger specifically makes a case for it.
 
As others before me, my ad-blocker seems to filter your button; I wasn't even aware of where to look for it on the page when I went to consider the question.
 
Brilliant suggestion! That's what I'll do. Makes it clearer that this is to express appreciation, and not to support a charity.

I agree. That is a really good suggestion. Nice to see such a small change improve blog so much!

More bloggers should do away with the boring 'donate'.
 
I usually read from an RSS reader so I don't see the button. Donate buttons are better than ads.
 
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