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Monday, December 22, 2008

Is Selling Advertising on Your Blog Immoral?

I recently asked about putting up a Google AdSense widget on my blog and in my RSS feed. DixieFlatline suggested text-link-ads as an alternative. I've nearly decided that I'm going to experiment with a widget for both of them, or maybe just AdSense. It'll take me a week or two to get it set up. (I'm busy with other stuff right now.)

Several of my regular commenters have said "FSK, you should sell some ads on your blog." For example, Barry B. from Debt Prison has been telling me to monetize my blog for awhile now, although he hasn't participated in the recent discussion. A few Anonymous commenters said "Selling advertising on your blog is immoral!"

First, I'll list the advantages of selling advertising on my blog.

I want to switch from using Blogger to self-hosting on my own domain. If hosting my own domain costs $10/month, then I really should make sure I can raise $10/month in advertising first.

I want to write my own PHP forum/AgoristBay engine. For this, I need to host my own domain, and not use Blogger or other free hosting.

I don't have enough readers to blog as a full-time source of income. However, if I keep up 10%-20% monthly growth for a few years, then I might have enough readers for that to be viable. If the Remnant is over 1 million people, then I'm nowhere close to maximizing my potential audience. A lot of people are disgusted with the current economic and political system, but don't know of any viable resistance strategy. I like agorism, because you can fight the bad guys and show a profit at the same time!

I'm looking into ways to promote agorism and make a profit at the same time. I would be better off with my own domain, rather than being dependent on Blogger. I'm growing dissatisfied with Blogger. Instead of moving to hosted WordPress ( or something like that), I'd rather move to my own domain, install WordPress, and keep 100% control.

If I have my own business, I'm not as dependent on a corporate wage slave job. The Internet makes it easier for people to start small businesses. Using Blogger, my expenses are $0. Even if I move to self-hosting, my expenses are negligible.

Now, I'll respond to the criticisms of selling advertising.

Selling advertising will compromise the content of your blog!

Actually, programs like Google AdSense and text-link-ads allow me to keep full editorial control and still make a little money.

If I were a mainstream media source, then advertising totally corrupts the content presented.

Other people wind up doing "advertisements disguised as content". In other words, they're paid to write an article promoting something, but pretend that it's an article they would have written anyway. I consider that immoral. If someone paid me to write a post about something, I'd clearly mark it as an advertisement.

Selling advertising only corrupts my blog if it negatively impacts the content I present. Some of my articles are very attractive from a SEO/advertising perspective, and others not as much.

I'm only looking to make $10-$20/month right now, so I can cover my hosting costs if I move to my own domain.

Plus, the advertisements will be in the left sidebar or RSS feed footer. You can easily ignore them.

I'm going to stop reading if you put up ads!

The only people who made this complaint were Anonymous. None of the people who give regular intelligent comments had that attitude. The regular non-Anonymous commenters all have said "Go ahead and put up ads, FSK!"

If a handful of people stop reading because I put up ads, that's negligible compared to my blog's long-term growth trend.

Other bloggers have said that you shouldn't worry about losing readers when you first put ads up on your blog. Overall, people will be attracted by my good content.

Putting up ads supports the State!

As long as I work in my corporate wage-slave job, I'm supporting the State.

At least via blogging, I'm promoting agorism. If I can make a reasonable profit while blogging, then I can promote agorism and show a profit at the same time!

In the context of a slave economy, all on-the-books work supports the State, whether I'm blogging for advertising money or working in my corporate wage slave job.

You should solicit donations!

This is worth seriously considering. When I move to my own domain, I might allow people to make a donation to disable all ads. That is not an option on Blogger. The terms of text-link-ads don't allow me to disable it for certain site visitors, but I believe I can do that with AdSense, where I'm only paid for click-throughs.

There's another interesting point. All my regular non-Anonymous commenters said "Put up ads, FSK!" The only people who suggested donations were themselves commenting Anonymously. This lends more credibility to "Supporting your site via advertising is better than supporting it via donations!"

If my goal is to eventually have a for-profit business, I don't think that can be supported via donations. As I'm more successful, people would be more reluctant to donate. For now, I'm not relying on my blog for full-time income. I just want to clear $10/month so I could afford hosting.

I can put up ads without it compromising the content of my blog. I'm looking to expand into other things besides blogging, and for that I need my own domain. For now, given the context of a slave economy, there's nothing wrong with me putting up ads to help raise money to pay for hosting.

DixieFlatline complained that I'm taking too long to make the decision to put up ads. There's no need to rush. If I'm only expecting to make $5-$10 per week anyway, I'm not giving up much by waiting. I'm way behind on the "Reader Mail" answering comments, and I'm trying to catch up with that. Plus, I have a couple of interviews for wage slave jobs lined up.


DixieFlatline said...

Time is money (opportunity cost). The deeper the economy gets into recession, the less you will earn from advertising.

Mike Gogulski said...

Your profits, should you realize any, will not only be moral, but virtuous. Go for it.

Anonymous said...

FSK, there is nothing wrong with having ads on your site. It is the ad companies tracking us that are the problem.

The ad itself is a fnord. Sure, the ad company makes a penny or a fraction of a penny, but the real cake is the profile of each user as he/she traverses the various websites carrying the ads.

A single, unconnected ad that resides on your server would be fine. But the ads are fetched from the web server of the ad agency. The web agency leaves a cookie on my computer and logs my ip address along with the referer information (the page I was looking at when I saw the ad).

The next web site I go to probably has an ad from the same company (because there are only a handful of them). Now the company recognizes the cookie, logs my ip address again, and the page I was looking at. It correlates it with my last record. Now I have a permanent record. They know what kind of web sites I look at and when. From the IP address they know where I live.

When I go to my local coffee shop and turn on the computer, my ip address is different. But the cookie is still there. Now they know where I drink coffee. They know what mood I am in today, too.

You could say "turn off the cookies". But then most web sites will not come in correctly. And the advertisers are tricky and use scripts and CSS stlylesheets to trick my browser into giving up some identifying information.

Google is even worse - they literally know what I am thinking! When I have some idea and search the web, they know it. They put it in my file along with my email, map searches and god knows what else. I would venture to say they know me better than I do!

You might say "so what? That's so much information that it's useless", or "I have nothing to hide". Well, you can think that at your own risk. Google NEVER deletes that information.

You may remain anonymous for months until that time you forget to turn on the filter to read FSK's blog, and BAM - you are correllated to your other recods! Just because FSK wants to know how many unique visitors he has and is too lazy to do it himself. So google provides this little service TO FSK, but gets all of my information as a payment.

That is immoral - FSK sold me to Google to satisfy his idle curiosity. Google will turn this information over to the state if they ask persuasively enough. Therefore, FSK has effectively sold me to the state.

Sure, the cowardly 'anonymous' poster is blabbering nonsense again. But, FSK, I like your blog, and would gladly give you a buck a month or more for the pleasure of reading it, and prodding you to stop using google every so often until you realize how evil it is to let your readers be sold down the river.

I think there are many who share my opinion who would never compromise their anonymity by posting a comment. You will not hear from them and they do not show up on your 'google analytics' charts (why they hell would you care anyway? Are you really that vain, or is it some narcissistic disorder as your shrink would put it?)

But there are others, who have little technical knowlege and you owe it to them. You know better, deep in your heart. How would you feel if years from now someone drills down the google analytics logs (with much more detail than was given to you), and cross correllates it with purchasers of say silver, and goes and arrests everyone involved? Or puts them on a list of potential agitators and makes it hard for them to fly or even cross the GWB?

FSK, you know that there is right and wrong. It is not the ads that make it wrong. It is that everyone looking at networked ads on your site gets seriously tracked, and you are the facilitator.

AzraelsJudgement said...

Go for it

Anonymous said...

Embedding information that is not served by your own computer compromises you and your readers simultaneously!

The blogging phenomenon is a blessing for the State. People are shamelessly listing their innermost thoughts for anyone to see!

By itself it is a windfall for the State and private information networks.

By tracking your users via advertising network, the blogger creates a 'friendship map' between their files with his own. This map is one of the few data mining tools that are functional in the sea of information that is collected. It is used successfully by various agencies to find out who knows whom.

This information is forced out of the users of 'social networks' by the very nature of the sites (you list your friends voluntarily!). Bloggers give up all of that information and more via various scripts run by the conveniently free blog providers, and even more (and to more parties) by placing ads, VeriSign logos, Visa or Mastercard logos, PayPal scripts, links to various 'paedias or booksellers, and even innocent-looking 'no rights reserved' logos from well-known public domain promoters.

The only morally acceptable way to advertise is by serving ads directly from the server you own and keeping no logs.

It is a good practice to avoid releasing any information to information collecting agencies by never embedding third-party links into your pages.

Anonymous said...

Like another anon above, I just want to emphasize that it is not the display of ads that bothers me.

Instead it is the fact that of all the people, FSK is going to sell me off to tracking companies for a penny!

Do not pretend that you do not understand our concern, FSK. Don't ask if advertising is immoral. You have accamulated a group of people around you that can read fnords, ok? So, when you do ask a question like that, it is painfully evident that you just trying to evade the question of selling of your visitors to trackers.

I am surprised actually. I did not expect to ever see YOU issuing a fnord. Now is the chance for you to analyze this, and to find out how good people eventually will become evil and start issuing fnords.

If this is what you always planned to do (making money by selling your friends into tracking slavery), then may-be you should have been blogging on military forums. You know where they all post nuclear blast pictures and call for turning this or that problem into a "glass lake". Those with mission, believe that as long as they do no wrong, there is nothing to worry about.

But you have chosen an agorism blog...??? As your way for paying expenses by selling visitors for tracking?

fritz said...

Fsk..Again I say go for it. As far as putting your readers in some sort of compromised position,and your self also. By making your site more available to big brothers eyes, that's nonsense. You already tested the powers to be by putting your address and full name on line. And I see that they didn't kill you or sensor your blog. I would bet that they didn't even pay you a visit. They're not that organized yet and can't sensor all opposition.

I believe it is your destiny to reach the remnant ( many of which don't even know they are) and spread the word. Fsk you have a unique talent of true vision and purpose. Again I say to you to take your time,do the research, calculate the best method to spread your message, and fallow your heart.


Anonymous said...

This takes us slightly off topic, I guess. The fact that FSK is still alive after posting his address does not prove that the State is not interested. If the State cared, obviously it was easy enough to get FSK's address without waiting for him to volunteer it.
Hiding from the State is not the issue (or an option anyway). The State is much better off having someone like FSK blogging away to compile a list of readers/dissidents and cross-check it against other sites, such as the NRA or an Afgani newspaper.
The question is: is it moral to impose your opinion of safety upon others? If I feel driving without a seatbelt is safe, should I make everyone in the car take off their seatbelt? Should I cut the seatbelts so that they are no longer functional even though they appear normal, so my passengers won't know as they strap themselves in? Do I know better?
By allowing analytics scripts and ads in my website, I am effectively turning my logs over to third parties. If someone objects, I just wave my hand and call them paranoid. Is that morally right?
Calling someone paranoid by the way, is just a way to change the subject and discredit them. Mental institutions do that. It does not really matter if I am paranoid anyway, the question at hand is your own privacy and security.
By saying 'the information collected is not important','there is too much of it to be useful','honest people have nothing to hide','you are paranoid','my right to blog is my right and don't tell me what to do', etc, you are making a certain trust assumption that are bound to be incorrect:
If you don't honestly believe this, you should not release your own and other people's information, and better yet, you should collect it in the first place.
Thank you for letting my humble opinion be heard on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, a typo in my last post should read
'you should NOT collect it in the first place'

FSK said...

This really has been a contentious issue.

So far, all the intelligent comments seem to be by the non-Anonymous regular commenters who say "Go ahead and put up ads, FSK!"

The Anonymous people are concerned about data collection by Google. If you are concerned about that, you should use Tor (but I think the NSA has infiltrated the Tor network anyway). (I tried Tor once, and found it to be too slow to be usable.) Just by hosting my blog at Google, Google can collect the IP address of everyone who reads my blog. Without adding an Analytics or AdSense widget, the bad guys may track my blog.

Suppose I purchase hosting. The bad guys can still subpoena my IPS's records, and according to national security rules I don't even have to be notified. Alternatively, they could intercept traffic as it goes across the Internet.

There is *NO* option that doesn't give the ability to spy on what I'm doing.

I haven't (yet) been the victim of State violence based on my blog. If silencing me was a high priority for the bad guys, then they would have done it when I first started blogging, rather than waiting for me to get a wider audience.

Is it risky for me to write my blog? Apparently not, so far, although I was very scared at the beginning. Is it risky for you to read my blog, whether I have Analytics or AdSense widgets installed? I doubt it. The bad guys are collecting lots of information, but that doesn't mean they're capable of using it intelligently. You're just a blip in a huge mass of barely comprehensible data. The bad guys are much more concerned about Al Qaeda and other acts of violence and property destruction. They aren't capable of making the connection "Agorism could lead to the collapse of the State", unless they also agreed with my main points.

When you consider that complete economic and political collapse is coming, doing nothing is also risky. I'm doing the best I can, given the circumstances. I want to make the transition from theoretical agorism to practical agorism, but that really is risky. In the USA, there still is the presumption of freedom of the press, but not the presumption that individuals own their own labor.

Due to the fact that nearly everyone is brainwashed as a pro-State troll, the State appears to be more powerful than it actually is.

I'm going to start with AdSense, but I'm going to wait until early January to put it up.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, those who agree with you are 'intelligent' and those who don't are not?

Obviously those who are not anonymous don't give a rat's ass about information collection (or they would try to be anonymous). They will say 'sure, whatever'.

Those who are anonymous do not want you to sell their information to google or others. They say "make money, but don't sell me".

FSK, your remarks about 'there is too much information for the state to bother' have been addressed by anonymous. Your 'safety' has been addressed as well.

Is everyone who disagrees with you a state troll by definition?

Let's examine this. Not releasing information to unknown third parties does not help the State. Releasing and collecting information may help the State.

Creating fear about blogging may help the State. However, pretending that there is no possible problem with releasing and collecting information may help the State.

There is no absolute safety and anonymity. However, you sound a bit like a Statist troll by refusing to weigh the possibilities with an even mind, like you do on other topics.

By outright refusing to consider that letting google into your bedroom is a possible problem, you sound very much like a troll yourself.

Everyone here is saying 'make money'. Some are saying 'don't make money by collecting and selling information about us'. Apparently, the idea of not making $10 a week by turning us over to google is offensive to you and those daring to say it are statist trolls and idiots.

Non-anonymous users have 'intelligent' comments, such as, 'go for it' and 'nothing wrong with making a buck'.

Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

FSK, you seem to value anonymous readers less than those who use made up names. Why?

Also, you say 'the state can already get this information, so what I do does not matter'. You know that is morally wrong. The state collects taxes and does other morally wrong things. Perhaps you should become an IRS agent or a cop, since the state is already doing this thing. Does it absolve you of your own moral responsibility?

Based on the subject of your blog and the responses on various topics I've been reading, I would guess that most of your readers are anonymous and the rest use fake names. You'd be a fool to use your real name unless you want to be a martyr, especially if it's not their own blog.

I would suggest treating your anonymous friends with more respect. Not all of them are one state troll, some of them are individuals who believe in the same ideas as you.

barry b. said...

I currently earn an average of 2.5 to 3 cents per visitor on my blog. I don't know if this is higher than average but it's my experience. However, my blog is driven by search engine traffic and my ad layout is heavy.. hell I don't even like the layout but the results were good so I've left it heavy.

As far as immorality goes there's nothing immoral about placing advertising on your site. I don't see it effecting your readership.

As for those worried about the 'tracking' of their thoughts and web history... well I say get over it. The government isn't likely to target anyone for the type of rhetoric on your blog... unless of course it becomes very popular. Either way life is too short to spend it worried about what if the government does this or that. My best friend told me NOT to put my real name on my blog. I finally did and am glad I did so. I figure if I run into trouble I'll deal with it when it happens. Until then I've decided not to spend my life hiding anonymously behind my opinions. We all have to answer this question for ourselves. But how would anything ever change unless good people stand up and make charges against the status quo? Besides, I don't plan on living forever.


Anonymous said...

10 slave points per month seems like a pretty small amount. I'm sure you could easily get donations for that amount. Is there anyway to transfer slave points anonymously? If so, I'd be happy to start the donations. But, if not, I'd be scared of the state if they knew I read your blog.

Anonymous said...

You know that it will be very easy to get caught of evading taxes on your Adsense income. The fruits of your labor be recorded be third parties, it is very easy for the third parties to rat out your tax evading techniques.

So what I endorse is either direct donations or set up your own advertisement placing system. In that way, it will be much harder for the state to find out your tax evasion techniques earned from your agorist activities.

Anonymous said...

You know that it will be very easy to get caught of evading taxes on your Adsense income. The fruits of your labor be recorded be third parties, it is very easy for the third parties to rat out your tax evading techniques.

So what I endorse is either direct donations or set up your own advertisement placing system. In that way, it will be much harder for the state to find out your tax evasion techniques earned from your agorist activities.

Anonymous said...

It is contradictory, for a true agorist, to pay taxes, especially from agoric activities such as income earned from this blog. It is like advocating tax evasion while paying taxes from the income earned form the same blog that tells you to evade taxes. A true agorist stays on principles, and never conpromises his strategy both in theory and practice.

I think you have to first offer advertising services only to the ones you trust, to evade your taxes from the advertising income. You therefore will have a much lesser chance of getting caught of your tax evasion techniques. No third advertising party has a record of your advertising deals and income earned through. The ones you trust will eventually get larger, and your agoric advertising network will begin to attract commercial ventures.

The web has an easy technique of evading taxes of your transactions by using encryption. Set up your own website, and use a web authentication strategy to leave the important content away form the statists.

Anonymous said...

And, by the way, most web hosting services prohibit content that advocates "illegal activities." If your web hosting provider finds out of your activities, they will rat out to the state.

citizen stefish said...

do what you want. if google adsense works for you, go for it. i have been reading this blog for over a year now and wouldn't care one bit if you had the ads on here. i don't care if google is watching me. i don't care if the government is watching me. what can i do to stop it? completely shut down my life? vote? ha! if you set up a donation option, i'll send over some money when i can.

to the anon poster (#17 post), it is impossible to avoid taxes altogether. we pay taxes on our internet connections. that doesn't mean we're hypocrites or selling out. it is impossible to live completely tax-free.

i agree with barry. don't hide your opinions. i used to do that, and got nowhere. so i started polite discussions and got nothing but blank stares. i tried using logic, and it just doesn't seem to work. but people know where i stand. one time i laid all of this out (state as violence, taxation as theft, etc) to someone i had marked as a possible convert (a person who rambles on about socialism constantly) - and was accused of being a socialist. the amount of brainwashing in society is a real spectacular achievement for the propagandists.

Anonymous said...

to the anon poster (#17 post), it is impossible to avoid taxes altogether.

I mean avoiding taxes on the advertising income. You still have to pay taxes on Adsense income. It is immoral to pay taxes form the Adsense income earned from the same website that tells you that voluntarily paying taxes is immoral.

What I meant is to minimize taxation by setting up your own advertising service or by direct donations. Your advertising provider's terms of services will probably forbid the "illegal content" found on your website anyway.

Anonymous said...

Look at the Adsense ToS:

"iolent content, racial intolerance, or advocacy against any individual, group, or organization"

"Any other content that is illegal, promotes illegal activity, or infringes on the legal rights of others"

Adsense will not approve your blog that advocates "illegal" activities.

Anonymous said...

It is immoral to pay taxes form the Adsense income earned from the same blog that tells you that voluntarily paying taxes is immoral. You are using agorism to fund the state, because you are paying taxes from income earned by Adsense. Therefore putting Adsense ads on this blog will not make this blog by definition an agoric organization anymore, since paying taxes from the Adsense income generated form this blog will make this blog a pro-state institution, not an agoric one.

Josh said...

Hosting your own site does NOT cost $10 a month (while I would love to charge you that much).

Ads on your site is NOT immoral. Nothing on your own site is immoral as you are neither harming a person, nor do you owe any reader an ad-free space. As long as you don't engage in piracy, defamation...etc.

I can have you hosted for $55 a year domain name included. (feel free to talk me down if you insist)

E-mail me if you got any questions, I'm here to help.

LovinItAll said...


Just found your blog and your writing is compelling and interesting to read. I have a dedicated server (not a vDed) with SingleHop, and you are more than welcome to host on my server for $0 (that's zero dollars, as in free). I have plenty of drive space, sync. 100mbps dedicated port, etc. You would have cPanel as your control panel.

If your interested, shoot me an email. Always happy to help people that are delivering messages people should ponder.

Best ~ RLR

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