When I heard that JT Eberhart, Chris Hallquist, and Dan Fincke were all abandoning FtB, I was happy, maybe this signaled the beginning of a mass exodus of people who were sick and tired of the Atheism+ nonsense. Then I read further and found that, instead of leaving over ideological differences, they were going over to Patheos, who apparently pay more.
Damn, I hate to see that. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy, healthy capitalist, I love making money and I don’t begrudge anyone getting a paycheck if they can swing it. However, I don’t know that blogging is really the place to do that.
People will notice that I have no money-making mechanisms on Bitchspot whatsoever. I do not have Google AdSense. I don’t sell advertising. I don’t even ask for donations. Bitchspot is an entirely free service to which I donate my time and money because I want a place to talk about what I want to talk about.
Virtually everyone I see who has money-making mechanisms spends entirely too much time, IMO, trying to drive traffic to their site. They’re worried about their Google rankings. They spend time trying to optimize their posts for search engines. In fact, while I have no data to support this, I suspect that people who are most concerned about making a buck consider every potential article they could write with dollar signs aforethought. Given the choice between two different ideas, or two different slants on the same idea, I suspect that there’s a certain pressure to move toward the one perceived to be most controversial or most likely to drag in more viewers. More eyes mean more clicks and more clicks make more money. I’ve even seen blogs where they seed in keywords and links into their articles that have nothing to do with what they’re talking about, they’re just there to get more clicks and more money.
Beyond that, you get people who think they have to have a presence on Twitter and Facebook and Google+. They have to get their messages re-Tweeted and Stumbled and Reddit’d. They have to carefully track incoming links and trackbacks to make sure they’re being seen by the widest possible audience. In fact, I’ve seen podcasts, which are just as bad, who specifically ask other podcasts to be on their shows, just to get a bigger audience. If you won’t grow their exposure, they won’t talk to you.
Me, I just get to write whatever I want to write. Certainly, if I was looking for a large built-in audience, I wouldn’t be writing from a conservative atheist perspective, being one of the very few conservative atheists out there. I don’t care if 3 people read an article or 3000, it just doesn’t make a bit of difference to me. Certainly there is an understanding that some articles, due to their controversial nature, may draw more readership, but to be honest, the most I ever do is, when scheduling articles, I may put those less popular articles on days where I traditionally have a lower readership. Otherwise, I write what I write, entirely without regard for it’s popularity, because I want to write it.
You know, right about the time John Loftus started Skeptic Blogs, someone asked me if I would ever consider moving Bitchspot to that, or another, central blogging location and my answer was a resounding no. Not only because of the disaster that has befallen FtB, but I specifically pay for my own servers because I don’t want anyone telling me what I can say or do. I want the complete freedom to post what I want to post, do what I want to do, criticize who I want to criticize, and not have to worry about someone pulling a PZ Myers on ThunderfOOt. So no, I would never be on SkepticBlogs, I would never be on FreeThoughtBlogs, I would never be on ScienceBlogs, I would never be on WordPress.com. Ever. All the money and readers and popularity in the world just isn’t worth the one instance of “please don’t write that” that may come up. Fuck you. I write what I want.
And so, Bitchspot will never be monetized. It will never be packaged or controlled or written for impact. It will never be concerned with popularity. It will be what it is, what it was always intended to be, a place for me to rant at the world and for those people who find that ranting entertaining, fantastic. Those who don’t. Take a hike.