Sunday, January 06, 2008

The annual Orcinus fundraiser

-- by Dave

I guess a lot of you have probably noticed by now that I'm not inclined to underestimate the intelligence of my readers. Why else would I post these long, detailed monster posts?

In a lot of ways, this is a reaction of sorts to having been in a business (newspapers) for twenty-plus years that was generally predicated on assuming the worst about its readers, essentially acting on Mencken's dictum that "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Celebrity worship news was only the most obvious manifestation of this.

But since I'm not in this blogging thang to make a buck, I've never seen the point. More importantly, I always figured that if assumed that your readers were intelligent and capable of handling bigger ideas and harder facts and tougher issues, you would attract readers who in fact were. Frankly, I'm not sure why anyone would want readers who insist on being shallow and thinly informed, unless they were mostly intent on making money.

That's not to say that quick-hit, snarky blogs or their readers are necessarily shallow. Indeed, many of the quick-hit blogs produce such a volume of diverse information that they become very much in-depth reading, if you stick with them. Blogs like mine are somewhat idiot repellent (except for the content, which does unfortunately attract a Grade Z kind of troll), which is to say, I still get my share of idiots, but they don't usually stick around long. They usually just can't keep up with the commenters I do attract, who (as I hoped) have in fact turned out to be very smart, well informed, and voluble, and they come from a pretty broad political spectrum.

On the other hand, while I haven't exactly gone broke, this approach has largely guaranteed that this blog is mostly a labor of love. And I'm fine with that.

I've considered running ads as a way of making revenue, but I've resisted for a number of reasons -- the primary one being that I think readers can and do appreciate the value of an ad-free environment for their reading. (There are also journalistic reasons for it, but they are in some ways secondary.) I've always intended Orcinus to be a pure writer's blog, and I like keeping it that way -- for now, at least.

Now, I'm perfectly aware that this approach to blogging is considered a ticket to Teh Suckdom. Certainly, the insistence on longer posts, the occasional infrequency of the posting (real life intervenes at this blog probably more than most), and the extremely focused nature of the material really doesn't fit the model of what's supposed to be working in the emerging model of the blogosphere. I'm OK with that, too; but if I stopped doing what I've always done here, it just wouldn't feel right to me. I'd probably lose a lot of what motivates me to blog in the first place.

So once a year, I run a weeklong fund-raiser. I ask folks to hit the PayPal tip jar button at the upper left of the blog -- or, barring that, to drop a check along to my snail-mail address:
David Neiwert
P.O. Box 17872
Seattle, WA 98127-7872

It's a way for readers to let me know that the work we do here at Orcinus still has value to them. I hope you can see fit to join in too.

These fund-raisers typically raise between $4,000 and $5,000 -- which comes out to about 20 cents an hour for the time I spend working on Orcinus. But it's enough to help out, which is all I really need.

It'll last for a week -- I have a placeholder post that will run atop the blog all week. And then when it's done, I'll announce the happy tally.

Please chip in. It is, after all, the intelligent thing to do.

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