Mods/Admins, seriously stop it with the "Pls help, I need money" threads.

Call me a cynic, or worse if you wish, but I really don’t think this is the place for people to be asking for hand outs. It’s just not.

Just waiting to see The Straight Dope Message Board listed as one of the places where you can make fast money with nothing more than a sob story.

Of course, the counter-argument to that is that the people who have done it have been relatively long-term posters.

I’d be curious about how these requests are vetted by the staff: this recent one seems to be more “I’d quite like you to give some money to make my life easier” rather than “I don’t know where my next meal is coming from, for God’s sake help”: the latter might incline me to think about it even if it was a scam; but the current request gets more of the raised eyebrow. Are there any criteria for what constitutes a legitimate request?


There have been a lot of them lately, that is true. But it’s also some very hard and terrible times, so it is not surprising that there is a greater call for assistance.

The staff evaluates all such requests to the extent that we can. Yes, the fact that it might come from a long-time member of the community has some bearing on the situation; that’s true in a lot of what goes on here. People tend to trust those that they know, or at least have seen for some time. Tenure has meaning here.

And these situations appear to us to be legitimate requests for help made by people with serious need.

You can be cynical if you choose to be … and it is possible that we have been fooled in the past, but I would tend to believe that the overwhelming majority of requests are for real and the contributions Dopers have made have alleviated real suffering. That’s pretty meaningful.

The people on this message board hold themselves out to be a community, a group of friends. For some here, those that hold that belief, it’s not the worst thing in the world to ask for help from your friends. Some have had nowhere else to turn and Dopers have been incredibly generous to friends in need.

People have been kept in houses/kept from being homeless, they’ve been helped medically, they’ve been assisted into jobs/better jobs, they’ve been carried through most every kind of awful crisis that can happen to someone.

That is not a bad thing.

No one is holding a gun to your head for anything here. You are free to help or not, as you wish.

To characterize all requests in this negative way is an insult to the entire community. You don’t believe in this kind of thing? Fine. Don’t participate.

For those that do participate, we invite you to look at these situations carefully. Ask questions as you need to, that’s part of the process. If you find yourself willing to lend a helping hand, it’s appreciated.

It’s not your decision, that’s why they get mod approval. :rolleyes:


Are you the same covered in bees soliciting adult sized baby clothing on SA? Inquiring minds want to know…

I can’t imagine the standard for ‘vetting’ can be very high. Being what I assume (and correct me if I’m wrong.) is done through a buch of E-mail exchanges.

And tenure is bull shit. Why is an old timer more deserving of a handout than a newbe? I get that trust is an issue. But using ‘years of service to the Dope’ is a flawed axiom.

Yeah, like the guy who needed to keep his bunnies cool just a few weeks ago.

And it would be no less meaningful if these people were to donate to a legitimate charity. Or hell, here’s an idea: This board could chose to sponsor a charity, then Dopers could donate, feel good about themselves and not have to worry they are getting the run around.

No it’s not a bad thing. But there are better ways to go about this. And why limit the generosity of Dopers to other Dopers? Or excuse me, other long time Dopers?

I’m not saying it’s negative; just misguided.

Fair enough, I wont participate.

I suggest a sub-forum to keep mendicancy threads separate for those who don’t want to see it; you could call it Alms Control.

How long have you been waiting for that one?

How about, at bare minimum, a modicum of judgement on which beg-a-thons to allow. I mean, granted, there’re bound to be some grey areas but it shouldn’t be too hard to distinguish between

A) I’m homeless, and posting from the public library while living in an abandoned refrigerator box. And I’ve been eating nothing the fine selection of products available from McDonald’s dumpsters
B) My bunny-wunnies need air conditioning. And I don’t want to touch my savings account or retirement funds


A) My wife has cancer and needs an expensive experimental drug that has a 90% chance of curing her but the insurance company won’t cover it.
B) I want to go to school to become a web-cartoonist because of the wide-open opportunities there.

or even

A) My computer broke and while I’m making ends meet, I really can’t afford a new one. Anyone able to help with an old computer?
B) Hi, I’m a known mooch on the SDMB, and I made some dumbass decisions that really aren’t going to ruin my life, just make things uncomfortable for me for a while. Gimme money so I don’t have to worry about the consequences.

It’s really not hard to distinguish between real, honest emergencies and people who just want free stuff.

I mean, seriously. If the standard is “I don’t want to spend money that I have in savings (retirement or otherwise) to buy air-conditioning for my bunnie-wunnies” then I’d like to ask permission to start a “Get Fenris a shiny new iPad3, 64 gigs…oh, and a couple of 3 Tb Hdds. Oh, and a few rare books I’ve always wanted” thread.

Do I have permission to do so? Because, hey…I need these things and I’d rather spend Doper’s money than my own.

Not that the mods are specifically looking for input on this subject, but I admit that threads asking for donations rub me the wrong way as well. I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly why they do, since I don’t read them and have no plans to donate.

Fenris got it right.

You misunderstand the phrase, ‘run around’.

I think I disagree with you about tenure not mattering. If someone is a long time member of a community, of course they are going to have the trust, respect, appreciation, whatever, over a noob. Every kind of community ever has always worked that way. It’s useful.

I have no opinion about the other points you make, mainly because I don’t participate or read those threads.

I will say this though. I remember one time I was freaking out about my kid not getting into the school of her choice. I didn’t need money, but I needed support and advice and man, I never felt such warm fuzzies (fuzzies weren’t too warm, though. Didn’t need AC or anything.) as I did from all that good internet love I got that day. It never occurred to me that I could be the kind of cornball that leaned on an internet forum for comfort, but there I was, soaking it in.

So, I have a some applesauce for anyone who needs this community for whatever. It’s not my style to donate randomly on the internet, as I give a lot in real life to real people who have their real hands out often. But, I guess now that I think about it, I think it’s probably a good thing that folks feel they can come here to ask for help when they do really need it.

ETA: And yeah, agreed; Fenris got it right.

Here’s another problem – could this have the potential to harm this place? For all the worry the staff is about what could hurt the board (any mention of illegal or shady activities, talking about trolling on other boards, whatever), I would think any sensible place would be VERY leary of allowing people to ask for money.

(Oh, and can I have a few bucks? No reason, I just like money.)

…there was a recent appeal for funds granted regarding a woman who was shot dead in Afghanistan. The thread wasn’t about raising funds for the woman who was unarmed, going to the boot of her car to get some help for her dying family but to help out the soldier who was being prosecuted for having shot her.

Now I found that particular thread very offensive and was surprised that the thread got the mod’s blessing. The thread wasn’t about helping out another doper: it was to fund raise for a soldier being prosecuted for killing an innocent woman. I don’t think that those sort of appeals should be allowed.

We do vet all threads of this type, and we’re trying that much hard to evaluate them carefully after the bunny thread. We want to make sure people represent their situations accurately and that nobody feels misled or taken advantage of, and I realize some people felt that’s not what happened in the thread being discussed here. In no way is anyone encouraged, pressured, or obliged to give money in response to any of these threads. Nobody on the board will know if you give or don’t except possibly the recipient. We can’t do very much to prove the people asking for money are telling the truth, and for that reason and because it’s just good common sense, we’ve always encouraged people to think carefully about these situations and come to their own conclusions. If you don’t want to give money in response to an appeal because you feel it’s not worth it or for any other reason, don’t do it. If you’re thinking about giving to someone and you have more questions, ask away. I don’t think we need to ban threads of this type because people are skeptical or find it distasteful or something along those lines.

Except in the past, asking questions can result in snotty, condescending mod notes saying how it’s wrong to question someone and saying you can’t “bitch” about the request in MPSIMS so take it somewhere else, or equally snotty comments about how anyone who questions the request is kicking someone when they’re down.

Seriously. Why is “Send me $1200 'cause I wanna go to school to get a degree won’t get me a job” OK for an SDMB sanctioned beg-a-thon? How is that a ‘real’ request? If you’re letting that one through (and granting that the “bunny” one was a mistake), what are the standards of need?

For example…?