What motivates you to do work for no pay?

    by Mark Glaser
    March 24, 2006

    This has been a nagging question for me. I know that America Online in its early days was helped immensely by the volunteer work done by hundreds of chat room moderators. Many online services such as Amazon and eBay and Craigslist depend on the work done by so many of its customers, who help monitor what goes on there, and write reviews of products (in the case of Amazon). With many new citizen media projects, they are depending on the work of the community of users — with little or no pay. So why do you do this work for free? Is it helping the common good? Are you helping others? How do you justify this work that reaps huge benefits for a corporation? And what about writing a blog or producing a podcast for no pay? Why do you do it? Share your thoughts in comments, and I’ll publish the best ones in next week’s Your Take roundup.

    • I blog to share information. To hopefully help someone find something that they were looking for, or even find something they didn’t know they could use.

      My pay? Comments. Comments/feedback are the currency of blogging in my opinion. Comments and that precious link-love.

    • Oneil

      I work to do good … because I care … because I believe in making a difference and leaving this world slightly changed for the better. It sounds schloky (sp?) but that is how it is …


    • There’s nothing altruistic about it. I blog because it’s fun. I get to blather on about what’s intereting to me, without worrying about pleasing a boss or editor. If someone reads it and likes it, and lets me know about it, that’s an added bonus.

      (I also volunteer for PTA and my child’s athletic organization, but you weren’t asking about that kind of work without pay, were you?)

    • Ben

      To blog for altruistic purposes is difficult to say the least. At what point does your altruism become mere ramblings or personal opinion? If you’ve been blogging long enough, and have a large enough following of readers, why not toss some AdSense advertisements or banners on your site to make a few extra bucks? Oops, bye bye altruism. Or perhaps you could produce a compilation of your best posts and publish them so others have a handy portable paperback of your best thoughts. Again, commercialism rears it’s ugly head.

      Bloggers can start altruistically, but it takes a dedicated community to continue that purpose, to push the blogger in new directions when they find themselves in a rut or continually posting on a particular topic, beating the horse until the ghost has long left the body. I started blogging because I believed that others could benefit from my thoughts on educational technology (again, is the egotistical viewpoint of others benefitting from my thoughts altruistic?). What I found was that so many others shared my ideas, that including a forum on the site was a more democratic, and easier, way of filtering through all of the thoughts and providing a place for a wide range of voices.

      That’s really what it comes down to; working for no pay just isn’t engaging (at least not for me) without some communal or mutually beneficial reward that will not just benefit myself, but others searching for the same answers or looking for a forum to voice their own thoughts. The reward in blogging pro-bono is to find those that you can relate with each other beyond your own limited set of experiences, beyond your limited range of knowledge, and to create a whole that is much more stronger and longer lasting than its parts.

    • I think the question was also seeking comments from others who are not bloggers but contribute time, energy and expertise to a cause, company or activity without pay. Nothing against bloggers – your work is invaluable, but I would love to hear from others who do work with no pay either until the company or activity becomes financial viable or just for the cause/mission.

    • Well, I just realized the focus was on web based work, but not just blogging. Interested in other examples like AOL and Craigslist.

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