If there is one thing that I have observed over and over again – also in the context of an internet-based fandom, no matter what platform – it is that success seems to breed contempt. When a personality or project gains traction, it inevitably seems to attract criticism, too. And possibly also some other reactions, not necessarily motivated by rational and valid criticism but other, more unsavoury feelings. It really has taken a long time for me to finally become a target. But OTOH it was not unexpected what I read today in my tumblr “asks”. However, it actually prompted me to consider our fundraiser models.
(For those who are not on tumblr – the “asks” are basically a mailbox for questions to a tumblr blogger. Anybody can send a question/request/comment, which is initially delivered privately. You don’t have to even disclose your name/handle but you can send an ask anonymously. The receiver can then respond – which will take the shape of a public post on tumblr that includes both the “ask” by the original commenter, and underneath that the receiver’s reply. This is what it looks like:)
And there we are straight into it. I thought long and hard whether I should reply to it, and whether I should also discuss it on my WP blog. In my mind, replying to aggressive accusations and insults, not only puts you on the defensive by default, but also makes it look as if the insults and criticisms are valid (because otherwise you would just dismiss them out of hand). Defending oneself in such matters often merely gives more space to a discussion that should actually not be validated at all. In the fandom context an anonymous comment is basically an attempt by a troll to stir the shit. And to that the only reply is:
Are our Birthday Auctions “exclusive”?
However, the main criticism voiced by Troll Anonymous above is something that I am prepared to open a dialogue on because it is an issue that has been raised before (albeit in a less rude manner). It is a valid criticism of the Birthday Auctions that the individual proceeds of the items exclude such fans from participation, whose budgets do not extend to two or even three figure prices. That is, of course, incidental to the concept of an auction. If an item is sought after, then its price will increase with each bid. I am the first to admit that I am astonished about the stunning results we have generated with the items we have auctioned off in the past. As the organiser, I am excluded from bidding as a matter of course, but I concede that I often consider myself priced out of some auctions, too. But here comes the big BUT: The objective of the Birthday Auctions is to raise as much money for charity as possible. So putting up sought after items for auctions and attracting high bids, is the point of it all. The auctions are not designed to be deliberately exclusive to my “friends w/ money” aka a pool of participants with a large disposable income. That is merely incidental to the concept of an auction.
But I take the criticism on board. It would be preferable if the Birthday Fundraiser was accessible to all, no matter what individual budget. My idea for the fundraiser has always been to create an inclusive event that can be participated in by anyone, independent of money. (Hence my appeal to fellow fans to get involved in non-monetary activity such as spreading the word, tweeting along, commenting etc. which I consider a valuable contribution to the success of the fundraiser.) The next fundraiser is months away, so no decisions will be taken right now, but with a view of generating money for charity I do not think that it makes sense to drop the auction model completely. Not least because the system of auctioning off items via an established platform such as eBay not only makes it easier for me as an organiser, but also offers maximum reliability and safety for the participants in the sense that once listed, auctions can not be manipulated by anyone. That is an important consideration for me because as the organiser I end up entrusted with a large sum of money – and could potentially be vulnerable to malicious attacks of people saying I am manipulating things.
What about an “inclusive” raffle?
However, I actually like the idea suggested by the anonymous poster – a raffle with ticket prices that are affordable for all. Such a concept would guarantee inclusivity and fun, too. This is a fundraising model that has been suggested to me before. The reason I hadn’t taken it on board yet, is the work and risk involved in it – from selling tickets and receiving money in my account, to picking the winners out of the hat without being accused of rigging the draw. It seemed risky to me. But it appears that there are web services available that create and conduct raffles, so wouldn’t involve me dealing with money sent in return for raffle tickets, and even offer the option of letting the computer draw the winners. (Rallyup is one such service.) So I think it’s actually a good idea to give this model a try at some point. Not as a replacement for the auctions but complementing them – for the sake of inclusivity, allowing everyone a shot at some nice fan items while collecting a donation for charity.
But I do want to hear your opinions, too. The Birthday Fundraiser is yours as much as mine, and for it to be an inclusive event, your POV is needed, too. If you have any opinion on it, please leave a comment below.
So, in conclusion I have to say that I am grateful for the anonymous ask that prompted this post. I could’ve done without the personal attacks, but I think throwing the idea for a raffle with set ticket prices at me, was useful. Not least because it made me look into online raffle providers – something I didn’t know existed. So genuine thanks for that! As for all those lovely accusations thrown at me – shameless pouting, blatant tagging, embarrassing and desperate behaviour on Twitter, thirst – I am not going to dignify these personal insults with a reply or a defence. The anonymous poster can rest assured though, that such words hurt. However, I *am* available for a dialogue on the fundraiser anytime, given that it is conducted without personal insults!