How Can I Help You?

Helping others

Recently, while going through my “works-in-progress” folder, I found a comment I had saved. I made note of this because I don’t usually copy my own comments, but for some reason, with this one I did.

I had talked about my dad and his approach to being a doctor; how he was often paid through the barter system, rather than with cash.

Sometimes his fee was paid with a basket of homegrown vegetables, a loaf of bread, a pie or even a knitted comforter.

I still have two of the knitted comforters one patient gave him. They remind me of how much my dad cared for his patients. He felt responsible for making sure they received the medical care they needed, even if they couldn’t pay for it.

My dad wasn’t always an easy father to live with, but he raised me to believe I have a responsibility to help those who need it.

For the most part, I’ve tried to live up to my dad’s teachings. I volunteer in my community, give to a variety of causes and respond when disasters strike in my country and in others.

Yet, to be honest, there have been many times when I’ve been to a blog where someone is struggling and appears to need help. I may have left a supportive comment, but I didn’t go any further than that. I didn’t ask the person, “How can I help you?”

Community help

Some might say the blogosphere is very different than our local neighborhoods, our communities or even our nations, but is it really?

In the blogosphere, we become connected to each other, sometimes even more than we do with our neighbors. While we may not recognize each other if we passed on the street, our written words link us, through our blog posts, our comments and on Facebook and Twitter. In many ways, we act like members of any community.

So, lately I’ve been pondering the question: What is our responsibility to our blogging friends and community? How far should we go to help a blogger who is struggling?

Your thoughts

I’m curious what you think about this subject. How do you feel about reaching beyond the comment box to help a fellow blogger?

Here are some questions you might consider commenting on:

What do you think our responsibility is regarding helping members of our blogging community?

What, if any, are the dangers to contacting someone you don’t know well, but who seems to need help?

If you knew a blogging friend who needed help, what approach would you take to help this person?

Blogging is a free expression of emotion. If you ask to help, are you invading someone’s privacy if they didn’t request help?

What do you think is the best way for a blogger to request monetary help for his or her blog?

Something to think about

In writing this article and not wanting to duplicate, I went to Barbara’s blog, “Blogging Without A Blog” and reviewed her archives. They are extensive and an excellent resource:~) During my visit, I came across a very touching request that Barbara made while seeking help for a blogger she knows.

One line in this post stood out for me. She said:

“Individually we can all do a little, but as a group, we can do a lot.”

Photograph by: Godfried Edelman


47 comments on “How Can I Help You?

  1. desk49 says:

    Read and try and to say something nice. Give a smile, don’t judge. But don’t lie.
    Going that one-step farther. Struggling at what writing, money, home life?
    1. Money (NO)
    2. Home life. (Lend an ear but don’t tell them to go left or right.)
    3. Writing (be kind)

    Dangers of:
    Getting raped and murdered guys and gals.

    Approach:
    Depends on many things.

    Asking for help:
    Try not to. Unless it is spelling or grammar.

    They asking for help:
    No monetary never, never, never.

    Call me cold but words and a ear is all I can afford to give.

  2. Jonathan Fields wrote about this yesterday – an interesting idea. I find myself asking it more often than not anymore – “How can I help?”
    The Blog world is another world entirely. I am not sure I spend enough time here to know how to navigate the “help” waters or that even if I offer, people know me well enough to accept.

    • Sara says:

      @ TE — You hit the nail on the head! I have the same issue and that’s why I was curious about this subject. It’s just giving help, but whether people want to accept it. It’s also not necessarily monetary. I don’t I made clear in the post. It can also being sending an email asking what support the person needs, etc. However, once again…is that an imposing on someone that they may not want????

  3. Linda says:

    Hi Sara,

    You have raised some good questions for thought. Maybe you should call these “thoughtful Thursdays”. Oops, unsolicited advice. 😉

    I think it depends on the situation and what the struggle is. In the case of helping someone spread the word about something legitimate and of value to many by promoting a post, such as the situation you referenced, then yes.

    Personal situations regarding family or finance, I tend to agree with desk49.

    With regard to blogging, the ins and outs, topics, etc., maybe if there was a request for help or advice, and/or if I felt I knew the blogger well enough to offer an opinion.

    • Sara says:

      @ Linda — I like that title!!!

      I appreciate your thoughts about this subject. Like I said in the post, I don’t have a right answer for this.

      One interesting point you make is that we tend to respond to people we regularly visit and who visit us, rather than a first time visit to someone’s site. This makes sense and it’s very much like how deal with problems in our non online life. So, it seems like we created in the blogosphere a similar structure to our own neighborhoods and communities. Now, that’s fascinating to me:~)

      I’m curious about something. Would you respond to a post from someone you didn’t know well if was about a legitimate “cause,” rather than a personal plea or situation?

  4. Talon says:

    I don’t understand the monetary issue…blogging is free so what’s the money for?

    For me it depends on the relationship I have with a blogger. One of the things that attracts most people, I think, is the anonymity that the internet provides. If someone I know is reaching out for help, if they were my friend (even through blogging) I would have an awareness of what’s going on in their life – outside of the actual blog itself and would be able to help in the best way possible having knowledge of them.

    Support through words…it might sound light and not that important, but it does make a difference.

    It’s tricky dealing with people you haven’t met in the real world…who they really are as opposed to who they represent themselves to be can be vastly different. I guess you have to go on gut instinct…

    • Sara says:

      @ Talon — I think I made a big mistake in this post, but not specifying that it’s not just about monetary help. I agree with you that words are also helpful. The question is I’m trying to ask is what would it take for you to go outside the comment box to, for example, email someone expressing your concerns or offering your help, even if it comfort words? How well would you have to know them?

  5. Liz says:

    What, if any, are the dangers to contacting someone you don’t know well, but who seems to need help?

    I don’t know of any dangers. o.o

    If you knew a blogging friend who needed help, what approach would you take to help this person?
    I would let them know that if they needed anything that they could e-mail me. 🙂

    Blogging is a free expression of emotion. If you ask to help, are you invading someone’s privacy if they didn’t request help?
    Not necessarily… I don’t think so, anyway. But I do try not to, as it tends to annoy me when people help me even though I don’t ask for it. >.<

    What do you think is the best way for a blogger to request monetary help for his or her blog?

    By putting up a "donate" button on the sidebar. I think that, with that, it isn't taking a desperate approach and trying to make the readers feel sorry.

    • Sara says:

      @ Liz — Thank you for your thoughtful replies to these questions. It is interesting how people see this in the blogging world. I also like your suggestion of offering more help via someone emailing you, which is stepping outside the comment box.

      Thanks for your thoughts on this subject:~)

  6. Stephanie says:

    I believe that the most we can do for a blogging friend is to just be supportive, tell them our own stories, and say the nice things that come to mind whether they’re tips or not. Staying supportive is the most important thing we can do as friends. If you ask to help in a comment, then it’s not an invasion of privacy since you read the person’s blog, which is public.

    Since we know these friends only through the Internet, it’d probably be best to not meet them in person. If I ever lived near one of my blogging friends, I’d meet him/her with another one of my friends alongside as a precaution.

    • Sara says:

      @ Stephanie — I think it is an excellent point that you shouldn’t meet someone from online communications without taking safety measures, especially if you don’t the person well.

      I also found it interesting what you said about offering help in the comment box because that’s public. If someone has a contact page up at their site, would you be comfortable offering help via the email?

      I think it’s very appropriate to be supportive and continue to do in the comment box if someone is going through a difficult time:~)

  7. Hi Sara,

    Very thought provoking post.

    With blogging I think a lot of us struggle to build up a readership, so in that sense, linking to, tweeting, Stumbling or Facebooking a post can help a fellow blogger. As can leaving a supportive comment, especially if we see the blogger hasn’t received any, or very few. Sometimes that’s all it takes to keep them motivated to continue on, or just brighten up their day.

    As for monetary help. I like the idea of a donate button. If others feel they’ve received value from the blogger, it’s their prerogative to donate or not, however I don’t think a blogger should “expect” to be paid, no matter how good their posts are.

    I also like the idea of bartering. Let’s say a blogger needs help with coding but can’t afford to pay for it, but they have expertise in compiling ebooks. Two bloggers could come together and both would benefit without spending money.

    Asking for personal monetary help is a touchy subject as it could be construed as conning others. Instead, I would be more apt to buy a product through an affiliate link of theirs. When I see situations where a blogger is struggling, I also include them in my prayers and send good vibes their way.

    Thank you Sara for your kind words and the link love. With regard to the post I did, I don’t know if it had anything to do with asking others to help get the video clip taken down, but it was shortly after that YouTube did remove the video.

    I do agree, the blogosphere is similar to a real life community and by blogging responsibly we do our part for the betterment of all.

    • Sara says:

      @ Barbara — And I thank you for this very informative comment!!! You made some excellent suggestions for how we can help other bloggers or even get help for ourselves, if necessary. I like the idea of buying a product through an affiliate link and the barter idea — that suits me very well, as that’s exactly what my dad did in his medical practice.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts:~)

  8. Eliza says:

    Well … this is thought provoking. First, I will bend over backwards to help a newbie blogger with hints, tips, lessons learned, etc. There is so much to learn and if I can help someone fast track a little, I will.

    Will I help promote a fellow blogger? Yes, AFTER I have determined that their values, at least those expressed online, are the same as mine.

    As for helping someone with something personal? It boils down to ‘how well do I know someone?’

    The old adage holds true that you cannot help someone until they are willing AND able to start helping themselves. When you interact with someone in person, you have a good sense (if you pay attention) as to whether they are at that point. Through a virtual community this is extremely difficult. Especially since we are only reading their words … which are only one piece of the puzzle.

    I think the ‘one piece of the puzzle’ is an important point. When you help someone without knowing the full story, or at least most of the story, it has the potential to turn out very badly for all concerned.

    Lend a ear. Pay close attention. Your intuition will let you know if you should back away or continue to find out more and potentially help.

    • Sara says:

      @ Eliza — From the comments so far, helping someone outside the comment box does seem to boil down to that question, “how well do I know someone.”

  9. Hey, Sweet Sara, I think we should go ever as far as our hearts tell us to help some one.

    Sometimes kind words are all that are needed. Sometimes I might give a $10.00 paypal if they have a button and I know them, or feel I know them to be who they say they are. I am not “rich”, far from it — the economic downturn has hit us too. But even a little cash can make a big difference for someone.

    Your dad was old-school amazing, it sounds like!!

    I know YOU are AMAZING.

    xoxo

    • Sara says:

      @ Jannie — I like your words, “I think we should go ever as far as our hearts tell us to help some one.”

      My dad was really amazing. What he did isn’t something a lot of doctors can do…my dad was lucky in that he had other incomes…so I that has to be balanced. I really did like his idea of barter as it kept the respect for his patients. Barbara brought “bartering” up in her comment and it has a lot of merit.

  10. Lori says:

    Hi Sara,
    What an interesting topic, I like how you introduced it, too, featuring your father. What a guy! I wish I could have met him. I love that he bartered with people — a wonderful thought.

    Helping others in the virtual community is a very personal decision, and I will never judge anyone for their actions. Each of us are unique and come with our own set of experiences that shape us.

    For me, I do not hesitate for a second to give what I can (help, my time, my expertise, money, a warm virtual smile, etc.). Call me a bleeding heart, but I’m not ashamed of it. I am! Maybe it was my upbringing, growing up on a farm, and everyone in the community coming together to help each other when times got rough that gave me this approach — I don’t know. I let this approach extend to my virtual community, too.

    I have sent emails to people who I thought may be hurting and could use an ear to listen or may need help with their blog or graphic design, etc., with the words that I do not intend to intrude and I always walk lightly and respectfully.

    I give freely, too, through donate buttons, buying the person’s products, or whatever else might help them. I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but I live very simply. When I have extra funds available, I never hesitate to give. Never. There have been too many people who have helped me along the way for me not to do this. It all comes back to me in some way or form, as well (thought that is not my intention). The way I see it, if it turns out in real life that the person is scamming me, well, then so be it. Maybe my gift to them, with no strings attached gave them pause (a good thing) and softened their world. Although, I’ve never felt my kindness has been abused.

    That said, I rarely give my personal information to people I do not know (i.e., my home address) and never credit card info, SSN, etc. I am aware of dangers of internet fraud — so I protect myself in that manner, too.

    There is not enough love in this world, and I see the virtual community as an extension of my physical community, deserving of all the assistance, warmth, and love I can muster.

    Sara Songbird, you are all that is good in this world. Thanks for letting me add to the conversation in this important and timely post. P.S. I agree with Barbara, what a great quote!
    ~xo

    • Sara says:

      @ Lori (Surfer Girl) — You make an excellent point with these lines: “Helping others in the virtual community is a very personal decision, and I will never judge anyone for their actions. Each of us are unique and come with our own set of experiences that shape us.”

      I also agree that if you do give in monetary way, it’s best to do with no strings attached and give what you can. There are ways to give safely — money orders, through the donate button, etc. — but it is a very personal decision.

      I like your point to never give out personal information, unless you feel really comfortable with the person you’re seeking to help.

      Most of all, I love this comment because it reflects a person who lives her life through kindness. I have seen again and again with my friend, Surfer Girl:~)

  11. Lynn says:

    What food for thought this is. I suppose I give so much to my community and church that I never thought about online assistance to fellow bloggers. I would tend to offer more emotional support, I think, rather than money. Certainly food for thought though.

    • Sara says:

      @ Lynn — That’s true. Many of do give locally or to causes dear to our heart. In today’s economy, giving can be challenging.

      Like I said in other comments, it isn’t just giving money…it’s also giving support through the comment box and even sometimes “outside” the comment box via contacting the person through email, especially if what they’re struggling with is something you know about.

  12. Shay says:

    I think it would depend, for me, on who the blogger is. How close we are, and how long we have been friends.

    I think offering kind words or sharing one’s own experience is a powerful thing that costs nothing but a little time to give. It can make an enormous difference. If i feel a connection with a blogger, i have no problem doing this, and i appreciate it when others do it for me.

    Life advice, well, it depends again, for me, on how well I know the person. I avoid saying “do this”, but i will give my view of possible actions and outcomes. When people do this for me, it gives me ideas and options, as well as alerting me to pitfalls I hadn’t thought of, and I appreciate it. But I have to know someone to do this. Strangers I am more circumspect with.

    And i would stress very much, that if help is offered, and the person says “thanks, but no”, don’t push. It’s a good way to lose a friend.

    • Sara says:

      @ Shay — I think this is a very appropriate approach to going “outside the comment box” to help. I agree that telling people “what they should do” isn’t always a good approach, but giving options and idea can be helpful.

      I also agree that it’s important not to push if, like you said, the person…”thanks, but no thanks.”

  13. Kelvin Kao says:

    As far as responsibilities go, I don’t think there’s any. However, it is still a nice thing to do, even though you are not really responsible for it.

    I think blogs are a lot about words and you should offer supportive words to those who need and deserve them. As for monetary help, I wouldn’t do it unless there’s already a relationship established over time (or that you’ve been following the blog for a while and as far as you can tell, it’s a genuine cry for help). But of course, that’s a judgment call.

    Once I was signed up for an e-course taught by a blog that has interacted with me for many years. Unfortunately it was cut short because his dad passed away and he had a lot to deal with. He didn’t issue the refund until some time later. From customer support point of view, it was kinda awful. But really, if he told me that he was having money issues, I would’ve said hold on to the money for now and don’t worry about it. But that’s because I already considered him a friend. I probably wouldn’t do that for a stranger.

    And if you ever ask me for 10 bucks, Sara, I will not hesitate. 😉

    • Sara says:

      @ Kelvin — Very thoughtful comment and I will definitely keep you in mind if I need that $10 dollar:~)

      I agree that going outside the comment box to help someone is a very personal decision and it’s a judgment call.

      I think it’s very different when you dealing with a promised service…in the example you gave, I think it is better if the person experiencing the crisis told everyone that a refund would happen, but not right away. However, lots of times, a death of a close relative simply shuts a person down and everything is temporarily forgotten because of the grief. It doesn’t excuse it, but it does happen.

  14. Hilary says:

    Hi Sara .. I have to say .. before I settled for my present blog .. I started a blog that really solicited empathy comments etc – & that’s not me .. it was negating too .. the negativity of it drew my energies out of me – and then of course I’d carry on brooding on that negativity and the doom and gloom until it’s over.

    So I put it aside and started on another approach .. I don’t like being drawn down by bloggers and will shy away – the same for people in general .. we have to keep the bright side of life at the forefront of our lives.

    So I will support a blogger via my positive comments – if it gets too much then I don’t visit .. there’s enough challenges in my own life, without worrying about everyone else.

    Thanks – good thoughts though .. Hilary

    • Sara says:

      @ Hilary — Your comment is very interesting. You bring up a good point, sometimes bloggers just want to vent and share the struggles in their life…they may NOT want help. I think it is important for bloggers have to be careful about offering lots of empathy and support. I’m literally squirming right now because I’ve been guilty of this many times. Usually, because I haven’t asked the blogger if he or she really wants advice and help.

      You are right that sometimes it’s important to take care of yourself and if a site is pulling you down, then it might be better to visit at a different time, especially if you need to conserve your own emotional energy.

      Thanks for sharing about this:~)

  15. suzen says:

    Hi Sara! Oh YAY for the barter system! We really need to get back to that! Money isn’t working all that well with things sort of grinding to a halt when you don’t have any. It would be terrific to know you have worth beyond what is or isn’t in your bank account and bartering brings out the very best in people!

    Back in the days of my farm life growing up, there was far more bartering than money being exchanged. That whole system made everyone feel they had something special to give – and encouraged you to test your own talents and grow.

    Ok – to your question(s). I have helped out a couple of people in the blogosphere monetarily due to some real hardships that touched my heart. I do the same thing “in person” or in real life. I help out when I can. As for my blog, I have offered many times to help people with any food issues, diet concerns etc. by telling readers to just email me for privacy rather than ask in comments – no charge – happy to help. I can’t think of what more I could do for my readers.

    As for community help, I volunteer at a food pantry and I make crocheted baby blankets to donate at the hospitals locally, as well as quilts for kids in the cancer center in my “spare” time. Some of my neighbors buy baby blankets periodically which helps pay for the yarns for the donated ones. It all works out!

    Frankly Sara, I cannot imagine NOT giving in whatever way I can and I really feel for people that miss opportunities to give SOMEthing SOMEwhere to SOMEone!
    hugs
    suZen

    • Sara says:

      @ Suzen — It’s interesting to see how people view this topic. You have a very generous heart, but I’ve known that for a long time:~) I think your discussion on the different ways you help is important. You use your own knowledge to help people at times and you use your skills to assist others via the crocheted baby blankets. In my travels through the blogosphere, I have noted that many different blogs do donate their talents to help others.

      I remember Patricia, of Patricia’s Wisdom, recently talking about this.

      I really liked your closing line: “Frankly Sara, I cannot imagine NOT giving in whatever way I can and I really feel for people that miss opportunities to give SOMEthing SOMEwhere to SOMEone!”

  16. Linda says:

    “I’m curious about something. Would you respond to a post from someone you didn’t know well if was about a legitimate “cause,” rather than a personal plea or situation?”

    If you mean would I get involved beyond a supporting comment, or promoting their cause-related post, I suppose it would depend on the cause, and what kind of feeling I got from them, but honestly, I don’t know.

    I do treat meeting people on-line a lot like those I meet in person. I have learned over the years that real friendships are developed slowly. I take this same course with my on-line friendships. People are most comfortable with what they are familiar with, and thus we create our on-line neighborhood to reflect our real one. In my youth, I rushed into friendships only to find out later that they weren’t really my friends.

    On the flip side, I suspect there are those who use the internet as an escape from real life and therefore have created a neighborhood that is the complete opposite of their real one.

  17. Sara says:

    MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT…

    I have been fascinated by everyone’s comments, to date, about the subject of helping other bloggers outside the comment box. There have some excellent suggestions for ways to do this, as well as thoughtful conversations about how different people respond.

    Some of the comments made me want to play “devil’s advocate” and ask you, the readers, to consider this question:

    Why are we willing to give to complete strangers in our real life, like the homeless man outside our grocery store or the people collecting money at a stop light. Yet, we hesitate to give to strangers we meet online?

    To be fair, Barbara raised an important point about Internet “cons” and that is a concern. I also recognize that it’s very hard to give your leftover change to someone through the Internet:~)

    But, this is something to think about. Many of us do give to strangers in our community who ask for help, but we’re a bit more uncertain about this online.

    BTW I don’t the answer to this question:~)

  18. Linda says:

    I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this question, I think it is up to the individual. Like Jannie said, go where, and as far as your heart leads you.

    As for the original questions, there is so much more to be considered here than I had initially thought. This topic is by no means cut and dried, nor is it black and white. As in life, there are many shades of gray.

    I, too, wish to help people. I am perhaps overly cautious. That said, I would share any knowledge or expertise I had in a particular area to help someone out. If you sense someone is in need, and they sell ad space on their blog, that is another way to help out.

    • Sara says:

      @ Linda — Barbara brought up some excellent suggestions for safe ways to help a blogger, such as buying a product from an ad on the person’s site. You are right this is a tough topic. Ultimately, it will always come down to personal decisions. I think, however, it is important to explore our online reactions versus our face-to-face reactions to someone in need. Again, this includes both emotional assistance as well as monetary assistance outside the comment box.

      Thank you for your very thoughtful response to this post:~)

  19. Belinda says:

    Sara, this is such a great topic and one that I don’t believe has been explored much.

    I definitely feel that a friendship forms when I’ve visited a blog regularly and I would be inclined to help that blogger in any way that I can. I usually leave a comment when I visit a blog, unless I simply have nothing to say. I think it’s safe to assume that bloggers who don’t turn off comments welcome them. If someone normally has comments turned on but for a specific emotional post, they have it off, I’d take that to mean they’d like a little space. This is the challenge of blogging (as opposed to interacting in peson) because it’s easier to misread someone.

    I have busy days and am a working mom so I sneak blogging in during my free time which means I will miss some posts, which means I may not always pick up on a vibe. Still, I don’t blog anonymously because Idon’t really see any danger in interacting with other bloggers (or readers without a blog) as myself. I think it’s always okay to send a simple note asking if a blogger could use some help, if I happen to pick up on something that compels me to act.

    Your father — wow. I love hearing about people like him because they are really the unsung heroes of the world; prioritizing people over profit, compassion and being able to serve well. Thank you for sharing a little bit about your womderful father and for starting this dialogue about how we act, behind the scenes, as reationships form through blogging.

    Have a great weekend.

    • Sara says:

      @ Belinda — You’ve brought up an excellent point. Being online challenges how we respond to people. We do use visual signs to tell us how to approach someone — I think this is hot wired into us. Since we are communicating online and cannot actually see the person, we don’t have a lot of the regular signs to “read” about what a person needs.

      I agree that sending a note via email is good way to let the person know of your concern.

      Thanks for my dad…he was special and I appreciate your thoughtful comments to this post:~)

  20. Evelyn Lim says:

    I have assisted with free emails for assistance and monetary donations. I am inclined to using social media to help spread the word if needed for a blogger who requires assistance. What’s important for me is that the request is made with genuineness. I’ve ever helped a stranger from Canada with repeated free clearing work.

    • Sara says:

      @ Evelyn — I’m curious about something you said in your comment. How do you assess genuineness online? How do you get to the point where you feel comfortable and safe helping someone or do just do it because you feel it’s the right thing to do? Again, this goes back to my curiosity about how we make decisions about whether or not to help someone online.

  21. Farouk says:

    i like your post Sara, its full of good intentions and i certainly agree with it

  22. Chris Edgar says:

    That’s funny, I haven’t thought much about personally contacting bloggers who seem to be hurting — I try to offer what I can in the comments to their posts but I can imagine that doing what you’re suggesting would really push the edge, both in terms of building community and requiring us to face anxieties about offering help.

    • Sara says:

      @ Chris — I’m curious about your thought that stepping outside the comment box might, as you said, “really push the edge…requiring us to face anxieties about offering help.” What is it about helping someone online that might a person more anxious? I’m not challenging your comment and I don’t have a right or wrong answer to these questions. I just find it interesting how we make our choices about giving online versus in person.

      The question I didn’t ask and regret not asking is this one: Would you be more likely to give to someone you don’t well if you met them in person versus online?

  23. This has been a fabulous conversation, Sara. Very thought provoking for sure.

    I follow my gut concerning helping other bloggers and in deciding who to connect with beyond blogging. Early on my blogging days an online friend contacted me to ask if I needed help with things. I really appreciated that. And I’ve used the donate box before to give when I wanted to show my appreciation for what I’d learned from another blogger.

    I’ve spoke to numerous bloggers on the phone in the two years that I’ve been blogging. That helps, as does seeing pictures of bloggers; especially when one or more of them connect with each other. As always we can never know for sure about a person, whether offline or online, so I just try to follow my gut and be careful.

    • Sara says:

      @ Davina — Now that I’ve had to really review the conversations about this subject, it does seem that a lot of people use their intuition in how they respond online. It seems to be one way of assessing how to help. What’s interesting to me is that we are able to get a sense of a person via the computer…the words we write and the responses somehow let us feel a person is truth worthy. I think this is special because communication is shifting from almost exclusive face-to-face contact to online contact. I believe this online communication will encourage us to use senses that do not require the usual five:~)

      Thanks for sharing on this topic!!!

  24. Jeanne says:

    Sara,

    Responses to your questions in the order asked:

    I think our responsibility is enormous. Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed about this… because of the readership I have (mostly people who are seriously ill, chronically ill, in pain…)

    I believe we should do whatever we can without putting our own health at risk, spending too little time “offline” (i.e. with family), or doing/saying anything likely to make the person we’re trying to help uncomfortable.

    There are dangers, yes. If you don’t know a person well, you can miscalculate how to respond. This could do more harm than good in some cases. I believe it has to be looked at on a case by case basis.

    It is important to direct people to the help of professionals for certain issues as well. For example, I don’t ever give medical advice. Also, if a person I encounter online if having thoughts of suicide, I do everything in my power to get them connected with suicide first aid resources (i.e. suicide prevention hotlines). I do not ever do anything that puts me in a position of being liable for something.

    It depends on the person, what kind of help they needed, whether I had anything to offer them, or whether I knew of resources likely to help them. I would listen to what they need & go from there.

    No, you are not invading someone’s privacy by offering to help if they are posting information publicly on the Internet. If they really wanted privacy about a subject and still blogged about it… and if I then offered help, they could always turn my help down.

    Good question. It took me 2 years to finally screw up the courage to post a PayPal button on my blog. Someone I respect had suggested it way before I did it but I was uncomfortable doing it at the time.

    About 2 years later (and after working hard on my blog 7 days a week either posting on the blog or researching for posts or interacting with fellow patients/readers on social media) and after losing mega money (associated with hiring someone to migrate my blog from Blogger to WordPress/re-design my blog… that cost more than initially planned), I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to post a button just in case someone might use it. (Unfortunately, that doesn’t ever seem to happen… but we won’t go there).

    I finally decided that my time, effort, and research is worth compensation… and if anyone wants to use the button for $1 here or $2 there, why not? So I posted the PayPal button. (Someday, maybe someone will put it to use so I know if the thing works). lol

    I also have Amazon ads. The amount of revenue from them is very small and does not even cover my hosting costs but anything is better than nothing.

    When my husband lost his job (end of July), I did write a post where I gently pointed out the ads and PayPal button. (This was the first time I ever mentioned the button in a blog post even though it had been sitting there a couple of months. I think I may have mentioned it in just one post since). It wasn’t my favorite thing to do (!) but as it’s my only means of making any money (due to my illnesses), I did it. The good news was that it boosted my Amazon referrals just to mention the ads. The bad news is I still don’t have a clue if that Pay Pal button works. 😉 lol

    Jeanne

    P.S. My husband has now interviewed ELEVEN times with the same company and we are on pins and needles awaiting word. So, he is still job hunting. It’s scary.

    Jeanne

    • Sara says:

      @ Jeanne — Thank you for your thoughtful answers to all the questions in this post. It is hard with the donate buttons and sometimes people are more comfortable with the affiliate ads.

      I will be keeping both you and your husband in my prayers that a job opens soon for him. Do let me know! We are living in scary times and given this, we do need to reach out and help each other.

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