Yesterday edrie wrote a wonderful but heartbreaking diary that is still, deservedly, on the rec list.
I want to make it clear that I am in no way challenging or disagreeing with edrie or what she has written. I respect her and rec'd the diary because I think that now is an important time to discuss this, while community rules are being drafted.
edrie writes from personal experience and I completely respect that. That's normally how I write, too. But I'd like to have practical rules and/or guidelines established for our community on this topic. edrie addresses the humanitarian aspect of fundraisers which, again, I don't disagree with.
But in the interest of this community, I think we need a more even-handed approach. Something between "ban them all," which a very, very small minority has suggested, and "people need help, let them seek it here," which is a somewhat more popular opinion, and one that I generally share.
Nuance below the fold.
For the sake of simplicity, let's say that this is a balance between the humanitarian in all of us and the need to protect our community from scams. I understand that it goes beyond that, but I don't want to write a treatise today.
I've been here for several years and have seen plenty of scams, but as the economy has deteriorated, the requests for help have increased. I think that is a normal thing to happen. Many of us are in tough situations, and too many of us are in dire straits. When a friend needs help, I consider it an honor if I have the ability to jump in and help. Sometimes I can't, and I try to not feel too bad about that.
Just as often, though, I see pleas for help that, frankly, seem less than sincere. Whether it's from a long time member here or a newbie, something will ping my BS detector and it drives me crazy to see the community respond so willingly. I love you all for being so kind and generous, but it still peeves me to see people that I care about being taken for a ride.
So how do we create a community that is at once caring and kind but not an easy target? That is what I think needs to be addressed when the new community rules are written, and what I think should be discussed with more brainstorming than emotion.
grover wrote a great comment that summed up a few things I would like to see:
1. Limits on frequency (this is a big one for me)But the comment also hit on something that I fear:
2. Some sort of maximum limit.
3. When the maximum is hit, the diary is taken down.
"Immediate need" fundraisers really should be immediate need, such as car accidents or other sudden incidents. Most if the time, "immediate need" is lack of planning or not wanting to face up to facts. I don't go sound cruel, but that panicking tone in that sort of diary makes me far more skeptical; and from what others have posted publically, I get the feeling that's part of the issue.I don't want to kick people when they're down, but I believe that a lot of times, when you read someone's story, you can see the exact moment where they went wrong. Oftentimes when they are that low it's considered inapropro to criticize those actions. And I don't want to bring the mistakes up anymore than the next person, but it is kind of a challenge to see people asking for help if you don't have confidence that they won't be needing it again in a couple of weeks.
So in a case like this, we have two things to consider. One, how do we help this person in the short term? Two, how do we help them in the long term?
We can meet their immediate needs today by giving them a leg up- something I'm not opposed to- but we can help them more if we then concentrate on getting them the long term help that they will need. People will often post a diary saying they need help now, and others will direct them to local resources that can help. If those are ignored, it should be a red flag to all of us.
At the same time, we should be willing to help someone who obviously needs it today while also helping them navigate the choppy waters of poverty in order to prepare for the long run, and making sure that we help them follow through with it.
I know firsthand how dehumanizing and draining poverty can be. It can be hard to pick up the phone and ask for help, knowing that your voice is going to crack as soon as you hear a voice on the other line. It's easier to write a diary behind a wall of anonymity and let no one see your facial expression.
I've done this recently- I reached out to someone and they asked me to call them. I found myself unable to, even though I've talked to several kossacks by phone before. I turned down the offer because I knew what I would be told would be too hard to hear.
At that point, there was really no saving me, right? I wanted help but as soon as it was given I ran away from it.
We need to hold people accountable in that way, somehow.
Next comes the vetting part.
This is where I think it gets tricky.
I think that we should have a fundraising group that is dedicated to just that, and I'm more than willing to be a part of this. I know we have a group dedicated to fundraising, but I think it would benefit all of us if we could set up a group that vets people and their requests.
This will do two things, both of which are beneficial:
A) It could be semi-anonymous. The community wouldn't necessarily need to know who the kossack is that is asking for help, and the group (which should, itself, be thoroughly vetted- no active participants in flame wars, no single-issue people, etc, this needs to be expanded upon).
B) It would give the beneficiary a resource to turn to when they need additional help. They could come to the group and say they need help with something, and the community group could help them find local resources and help them follow up with the things they need to do for long-term success and/or relief.
We could have sponsors for each person in need. I'll take this person in the custody dispute and help them get through it short- and long-term, and someone else will sponsor the person with a drug addiction that just got evicted. The group could draw up a plan as a team and then have one person act as a "case worker" for that person.
This may sound silly, but, again, I know what it's like to be lost in the trenches of poverty. We want people to pick themselves up by the bootstraps, let's give them some bootstraps!
I know how amazing this community can be because I've had so many people here help me through so many things. I know we can find a balance that allows us to actively help others while at the same time weeding out the scams.
I don't want anyone to have a hardened heart over scams that have happened here. I want us to learn and grow as a community and produce as many success stories as possible.
So, what say you? How about a DailyKos Department of Health and Welfare?