[Program Note: Instead of our regular article today, we are going to attempt to shamelessly beg for money from you. Just thought I'd warn everyone up front. And, as always, there will be kittens! This is a cheap and completely transparent attempt to fog your mind with saccharine cuteness in an attempt to make you send in some of your hard-earned cash before you wake up and realize what you've done. Kidding aside, though, we have big news to offer if this year's pledge drive is successful, so you'll want to read about that, below.]
Yes, it's that time of year again, folks!
'Tis the season when kittens show how helpful they can be, by joining in the tree-decorating fun. This can involve kittens disappearing into the tree itself, and after much shaking of branches, popping their furry heads out, halfway up the trunk. Kittens are the most helpful creatures, aren't they?
Which is why we traditionally let them help out every year, when we kick off our annual 2012 Holiday Pledge Drive. Unlike some other blog sites (or PBS, for that matter), we limit these pledge drives to once a year, because we do understand how downright annoying they can be. What started off, for us, as a plea to help fund a trip to Obama's first inauguration has now become our own holiday classic. With kittens, of course...
Stare deep into that kitten's eyes. Doesn't he seem to be saying: "Why oh why haven't you sent in your CW.com donation this year yet?" By way of comparison, here's a kitten who has just sent in his generous donation, because he knows Santa is watching. Mrowr!
What a happy kitty! Well, OK, that hat does look Photoshopped, but still...
Seriously, though, we do have some good news to kick off our holiday pledge drive with, this season. We've already received two very generous donations which already put us over one-fourth of the way towards this year's goal! Woo hoo! What a great start!
This continues a tradition which continues to astonish us here at the headquarters of Chris Weigant Global Media Enterprises, Inc., LLC (heh) -- because it proves once again that even when we are tardy in getting the pledge drive up and running, our faithful readers take it upon themselves to get the ball rolling. Which continues to blow our minds, every year.
In 2011, we took in enough money to cover our basic operating expenses -- a first for this site. What this meant was all costs to keep the web site up and running and all costs to keep the business legitimately businessing all year long were covered (as PBS puts it) "thanks to viewers like you." This did not cover the costs of traveling twice this year (for Netroots Nation and, unexpectedly, for the Democratic National Convention), but those expenses are really above-and-beyond what we expect from donations, so that's not a surprise, really. But it did leave enough in the "kitty" (sorry...) for us to upgrade to DSL here at CW.com, for which we have been grateful throughout 2012.
For 2013, we're going to set a fundraising goal, and we're going to make a promise if we reach that goal. If we can count on another fully-user-supported year of operation, then we will do our best to get rid of the ads. That's right, because we've been pulling in much more in donations than in ad revenues anyway, we're considering going as ad-free as possible. Now, we might have to run a minimal number of ads in order to stay part of the Banter Wire network (I have to contact them and ask...), but at the very least we can promise no ads on the main page.
The truth is, I've always found the ads annoying, but wanted to have at least a small revenue stream to cover the costs of the site. This isn't really an issue, however, if the pledge drive brings in enough to meet this goal. So, one way or another, we'll find a way to either completely get rid of the ads or at the very least make them much less prominent, for your reading enjoyment.
The real reason I'm hoping for a successful pledge drive this year, though, is to help me go out and get a new computer early in 2013. The machine I'm using now is a good one, but it is also ten years old. It's been having a slow and extended nervous breakdown for approximately the last two months, waving large red danger flags which say: "One morning, pal, I'm just going to stop working altogether." We're hoping that it'll hang on long enough to be seamlessly replaced, and this is going to be number one on our list of things to do after we tally up the pledge drive. We know that even the pledge drive isn't going to be enough to cover the costs, but it'll certainly help.
So dig deep, folks, because your donations will be going to two good causes this time around: getting rid of annoying ads that make the pages download slower; and providing seamless service by upgrading our decade-old computing hardware.
I realize that this year I've been awfully distracted, here. Even with the excitement of a presidential race, I've been spending every spare moment working on another writing project. This has meant -- far too often -- re-running columns or otherwise offering up rather thin pickings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I cannot thank everyone enough for your patience during this period.
This book project is fast coming to a conclusion. The sample chapters are about 98% done, the documentation and citation work is done, and the only thing left to do is to write the proposal itself, to sell the concept to literary agents and publishers. Because of the end-of-year frenzy, I'm looking to start sending the proposal out in early January, so wish me luck!
This will, at least for a while, allow me to focus more fully on keeping up this website, writing articles and answering comments to provide true two-way feedback on the politics of the day. In short, keeping the site as fun as a basketful of... well, you know:
One other thing I've been lax at doing is keeping up communications with readers. Yes, I have been remiss at times at doing such things as answering emails and commenting on comments, and I promise to get better at doing so in the upcoming months.
For instance, new commenter Hawk1983 appeared here a few weeks ago, and I didn't even welcome him or her to the site, as I try to normally do. This is a shame, because he or she adds to the international flavor of our community, writing in from Australia. Having lived outside the U.S. myself, I've always been amazed at how closely the rest of the world follows American politics -- sometimes closer than Americans do. So, Hawk1983 and all other new readers and commenters, a big hearty welcome to the site! And I'm not just saying that because it's begging season.
Speaking of which, let's just wrap this up with a final note. As I mentioned, we're starting off this year further ahead than we ever have before -- with over one-fourth of our goal already attained! Let's see if we can keep this pace up, and we'll hit our target before the fiscal cliff deal (or no deal) happens.
How much is this site worth to you? The price of a song online or an app for your phone per week? That'd be fifty bucks a year, roughly. If that's too much to ask for, then we understand, and will be grateful for any help you can give to support these long-winded rants and raves for the whole of the next calendar year. Every little bit helps. Here's a fact that may motivate you -- this is quite possibly the only political site around which is heavily financially supported by people who regularly (and sometimes quite forcefully) disagree with the opinions offered up by yours truly. It'd be like Dittoheads supporting half the budget of the Rachel Maddow Show, to put it another way. This is the thing which astounds us the most here -- even those who come here to disagree with us pony up at the end of the year for the privilege of being annoyed all year long by my writings. That's pretty impressive, at least to us, in this divided day and age.
If they can see their way to donating, surely you can too? Then we can all settle down for our long winter's nap, together. To prove the point, I am including those of the puppy-loving persuasion for our final heart-ripping and seasonally-appropriate schmaltz.
[Full information on donations and the pledge drive can be found at our "2012 Pledge Drive" page, or you can click the button below to start the process with a either an ordinary credit card or a PayPal account. For those wishing to send a check or money order, contact me privately via the "Email Chris" page for a snail mail address. And happy holidays to all!]
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant