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I'm vaguely contemplating selling out. More accurately, I'm vaguely contemplating signing up for Google AdSense. I can think of a few reasons for and a few reasons against, and would be curious as to what other people think. Please, please, please send your opinions to my email addy.
Obviously, the main reason for is money. Plain and simple. I enjoy writing my blog, and if I can get paid 37 cents/month for something I enjoy, well, why not? I don't expect any money, so this is just pure bonus. Besides, it might make my website costs tax deductible!
Curiousity is also a major factor. Given that my content various widely, I'm curious as to what targetted links are thought appropriate to my site content. I'd love to know what AdSense thinks is appropriate for this entry.
Support for the general concept. I like the idea of unobtrusive targetted ads. When I'm looking to buy something, I will look at the ads Google suggests. I also like the concept of paying people who put up content worth reading to display ads. With anything, someone has to pay. I'm happy to have advertising dollars paying for quality TV programs. The caveat being that the advertising doesn't impose content demands. I can honestly say that I severely doubt this will change the content I publish - I write what I think most appropriate to me and my readers (if any). I do my best. Given that I have neither the temperament nor discipline to maintain a populist line which will attract and keep readers who wouldn't naturally want to read my work anyway, I don't think I have to worry about this anyway.
Some of the reasons against include:
External control of parts of my site. While I still effectively maintain a veto over anything and everything here, I give up a small measure of control over it (just in the region where I put the ads though). I agree to certain rules as to what I can and can't do on my site. I'm loathe to do this - this is why I use my site rather than a free blog site (I have other reasons, too, but they don't fit in with this discussion).
I'm not a salesman. I feel free to give an opinion about anyone or anything. To be interesting, to be boring. To be funny, to be serious. To bullshit. To do what I like. As soon as I agree to use my voice to help sell something, it subtly shifts the reasons for the site and the reactions of my readers. For Australian readers, did you react differently to Good News Week when it was on the ABC vs when it was on Channel Ten (before GNW stopped being about a humourous analysis of the world and current events, and became a light entertainment show)?
I leave myself open to accusations that I have sold out, and that my words are suspect. If I accept money from Google, even though they don't formally attach any strings to what I can and can't say, if I decide they have done something good I want to write about, do the words become hollow? If I criticise a competitor, are my words empty of legitimacy? For instance, I like Google's lit-searching site. I use it regularly. My mum even has an entry in it (my papers don't seem to yet). Does a positive comment on it sound meaningless if I accept money from Google? Apart from MS-Excel, I dislike a lot of things about Microsoft. Because they are a compeititor of Google's, would criticism of them sound suspect?
The money won't be very much. Unless I have a much bigger readership than I suspect, who are passionately interested in all the things the ads throw at them, I'm not going to earn a lot of money. While this is money I earn without actually changing the way I do anything, and without me having to actually do anything, it still has a cost to my credibility. How much credibility do I lose, and does the money compensate?
Let's be honest. I have a price. Everyone does. Would I do something morally reprehensible in return for some benefit. Of course. I have no doubt about it. It just depends on how reprehensible and how much benefit. Thomas More had a price. It just wasn't met. Anyone who says/thinks they don't have a price is delusional. This doesn't mean that people will do the wrong thing. It just acknowledges that they will if certain conditions are met. Make a realistic threat to destroy a moderate-sized city, and you can probably just about get me to do anything to prevent the destruction.
In the case of letting someone put ads on my site, however, do I lose enough credibility to make it not worth doing it? Well? What do you think?
My favourite procrastinations
The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.
The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.