By in Writing

What Gives You the Right to Criticize?

Loyalty to a writing site.

I've been troubled by this for some time, and it's been difficult to formulate exactly what I want to say about it. I had kind of decided I wasn't going to bother after all, but then today I was told by a fellow writer that I was “avoiding” a specific writing site. Between that and the fact that Bubblews saw a minor surge in traffic after the engineering upgrade, I guess it's back on my mind again.

Writers Jumping Ship

Around the time that Persona Paper started up, there were a lot of people leaving Bubblews because they were having payment issues. They ended up a little bit all over, including paid to click sites, survey sites, etc.

And then word got out that this site was addressing issues that Bubblews had been leaving on the back burner – issues that would later result in Bubblews cancelling a huge number of payments owing – and of course, people flocked here in droves hoping that they'd found the next way to get rich quick by keeping an online journal of their lives. Those who believed that, all jumped ship when the exchange rate was lowered unexpectedly. And a lot of the same people who had been criticizing Bubblews bitterly over non-payment, were suddenly singing their praises from every rooftop.

I'm sure I wasn't the only one put off – if not surprised – by the fickleness and hypocrisy.

Writers Demanding Loyalty

When EliteVisitors started up, there were a number of writers who wrote posts encouraging or even demanding loyalty to that site. I'd like to say they were just trying to encourage people to write, but these posts were pretty much saying it was disloyal to write for any other site.

And then one owner absconded with all the site profits, and all the writers who had accumulated earnings there lost everything. And then the site went through a couple more incarnations, started asking users to write for free, and as World Famous Writers, finally closed its doors . This happened because yet another owner made a unilateral decision to take the contents of the site off the server. Without first ensuring there was a backup.

I had issues with the way all of this went down, but taken against the backdrop of all these earlier pleas for site loyalty, it was even more irksome.

We All Need to Get By

Whatever some social writers say about the earnings, there are always a good number of folks for whom the money matters. Whether it pays the internet bill, gets saved for a rainy day, or puts food on the table, there are a significant number of people for whom it really does matter whether a site can be trusted to pay what they promise.

I know it can be frustrating for whole writing communities, and not just to site owners, when traffic falls or not very many people are writing. But I want to echo the words of one social writing site owner: “This is not our job.”

We all need to get by. We'll make the best decisions we can to that end, and yes we will probably favour sites where the money can be had now. Because web writing is very uncertain, and it doesn't often pay to invest in a site long term.

It's fine for site owners or fellow writers to encourage a stronger presence on a certain site, or to express disappointment when that doesn't happen. But it's disrespectful for anyone to criticize a writer for expressing disappointment when earnings drop. And it's even worse to shame someone for not being active enough on a given site.

When writing for a given site becomes a salaried position, or we sign a contract promising a given number of articles in a specified time, writing sites can reasonably expect writing product to be delivered on time. Until then, there is no basis to expect anything of the writer other than that she'll abide by the site rules.

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Image credit: Shame by John Hain/Pixabay ( CC0 1.0 )

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DanieGirl8587 wrote on June 29, 2015, 8:39 PM

I don't think I could keep up with more than 1 writing site unless the pay was exceptionally good mainly because of my son and my actual job I work 5 days a week.

CoralLevang wrote on June 29, 2015, 9:31 PM

I am so tired of the fickleness. Worst thing yet, I dislike those who talk out both sides of their mouth.
If I have an opinion, I am certainly one to express it. I try not to be hateful, but I hope that what people know about me is "what you see is what you get." Good, bad, or indifferent.

Great piece, Ruby3881 . Keep preachin'!

cmoneyspinner wrote on June 29, 2015, 10:09 PM

I heard a bus driver say this one time. One of the customers was being discourteous in expressing what was to their mind a “valid complaint” and she, the bus driver, wasn't too keen on responding to their “issues” and handling the matter. She looked at the passenger “You know … you can catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” :) Criticizers should probably use a more civil tongue to get better results.

On the plus side, if you don't show up and people ask why, at least you know the other members miss you! That's kind of sweet. :)

Bensen32 wrote on June 29, 2015, 10:10 PM

Well writen as always. I have to say I put my opinion out there now and then and sometimes that opinion changes or I hope for something to change for the better but as for putting people down for using one place or another I don't do that each person has their own opinion and although I might think at time people are crazy I wouldn't call them out on it. Maybe they have a good personal reason for their choice and maybe something is working for them that doesn't for me.

AliCanary wrote on June 29, 2015, 10:18 PM

I'm just happy to be here, and I would recommend this site as trustworthy. I'm also glad that it seems to be one of the stable ones. I also heard that the Bubblews clone CGP Gallery folded and dd not pay anyone. One of my friends said she was cheated out of hundreds of dollars emoticon :sad:

morilla wrote on June 29, 2015, 10:54 PM

Enthusiasm, particularly when coupled with discontent or anger, can create 'interesting' situations. Many of us were skeptical of CGP Gallery, for a number of reasons. Yet, as you indicate, the timing was 'ripe' as many were upset with Bubblews. They jumped in and the rest is history.

We used to have these discussions on a site I was on for over 9 years. Any number wanted to demonstrate how 'righteous' their 'loyalty' was by declaring that they didn't look at the money; but, they were the first, every month, to post what they'd made. Of course, they 'justified' it as 'cheerleading,' arguing that if you worked hard, you too could make this kind of money; yet, never acknowledging that they were part of the reason (both rightly and, occasionally, nefariously) that many couldn't.

As I've said a number of times, we all do this to be read. Most of us do it with at least one eye on the money. The money means something different to each individual; from "fun" money to helping pay the mortgage. Simply telling people, in this day and age, to "go get a real job" is largely irrelevant and does not give one the moral high ground. Likewise, changing the "mission statement" of the business, where you are no longer willing to pay for content is not offset by harangues over... "understanding our vision," "not being selfish, envious, jealous" or "you should be self-motivated." If you offer money for content, then you pay an 'honest' wage for an 'honest' day's work. Likewise, you should expect to give 'honest' work for the pay you receive.

However, when those two get out of alignment, that's where you end up with criticism, declarations of loyalty, tests of commitment, harangues, et al.

MegL wrote on June 30, 2015, 3:26 AM

That is all very true. I do not write to put bread on the table and I have no right to question any (legal ethical) decisions on writing sites made by others, whether they write for pay or not.

rescuegal wrote on June 30, 2015, 10:06 PM

I don't see how earnings on revenue share websites can buy much of anything. People should write for them because they enjoy it and nothing else. Then they'll be pleasantly surprised when they can cash out.