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Poll...and Query

First the poll: 

If you had a pocket full of cash, and all your bills paid,
Poll #1592044 If you had a pocket full of cash, and all your bills paid,

You are waiting for a train and a musician is playing music. You enjoy the music, and you notice their guitar case is open. You:

Tip the busker
Wait for the end of the song and say a few words
Just listen

You are waiting for a train and there's an artist drawing some really cool sidewalk-chalk art. You enjoy the art, and you notice they have a hat out. You:

Tip the artist
Chat with them and compliment their work
Just watch

You are waiting for a train and a break dancer or other performance artist is performing. You enjoy the performance, and see they have a bucket out. You:

Tip the artist
Compliment them at an appropriate pause in the performance
Just watch

You are using a secure internet connection, and you find a story online that you really enjoy. You see the artist has a tip button. You:

Tip the writer.
Leave a comment for the writer.
Just read.

You are using a secure internet connection, and you find some art you really enjoy. The artist has a tip jar. You:

Tip the artist.
Leave a comment for the artist.
Just look.
If, assuming that you had plenty of money and no urgent need to pay bills or put it in savings or the like, you answered the above questions differently, my query is simple:


What factors led you to take one imaginary action or another in these situations?


( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 14th, 2010 05:59 am (UTC)
I've actually done most of these things. I miss being able to do that; we've been so broke for so long, we haven't been able to get out much, let alone tip. But at least we get to the farmer's market occasionally, and it has buskers. I can smile and wave, or chat if I'm not rushed and roasting.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
Re: Thoughts
And you also do something that I didn't mention on these polls -- you talk about the things you find online that impress you, or that you think your friends/readers will be interested in.
Yes... - ysabetwordsmith - Jul. 15th, 2010 03:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Yes... - wyld_dandelyon - Jul. 15th, 2010 03:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:08 am (UTC)
Live situations, I often add to the hat. If I have money in my pocket and my bills paid and I like it, I often still don't tip because I'd go broke if I did that every single time. But I try to tip on a ratio, like every fifth artist I see.

In internet situations, I'm much less likely to tip because it's so much easier than live busking. When you busk, you have to look people in the eye. You notice every person who ignores you, you get mistaken for a homeless person, you might get kicked, you might get "moved along", people might make change in your hat or just steal from it. In many ways, live busking is very rewarding, but it is also not for the faint of heart.

Also, on the internet, if I go looking for art or writing, there is huge, huge wealth. Searching for... an enjoyable webcomic, say, would be like attending a worldwide conference of balloon entertainers: they're everywhere! But one piccolo player on the streets of Madison lights up the air for blocks. There's nothing else going on, and that means there's scarcity, and that makes it more valuable.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
Yeah, I remember when busking first started in Chicago, and I was heading home from work and I heard a hammered dulcimer. Something about the shape of the sound told me it was live, not out of some boom box. It was a delightful surprise.

You don't get that online--you only find something online if you're out looking. (Unless your browser is hijacked, and that's not exactly a wonderful discovery.)

It's great to hear from you here.
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:10 am (UTC)
My biggest problem is that I'm almost never carrying cash anymore. It's hard to tip the meatspace artists with a credit card. So, I tend to tip the on-line ones, and not the meatspace. I'm also far, far shyer in person than I am when I can self-edit, and am more likely to leave a comment than strike up a conversation. Smile, yes, and even clap, but not interact.

Edited at 2010-07-14 06:11 am (UTC)
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:54 am (UTC)

Seriously I carry one single dollar usually and that's only because I'm paranoid because Illinois still has the vagrancy law on the books that if you don't have any cash on you they can haul you in.

But for almost everything now it's the debit card. *shrug*
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Jul. 15th, 2010 03:21 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:12 am (UTC)
My answers were the same for every case except the dancers; in that case, instead of saying I would both tip them and stop to comment, I said I would tip them but not stop to comment. The reason is that, in my experience, troupes of street dancers are more tightly focused on their work and not inclined to stop in between numbers to chat; they spend the time in between numbers sorting out with each other what they're going to do next, or just resting and grabbing a drink of water, since their work is more physical than most of the other types of artists you mention. Street musicians or chalk artists, in my experience, generally welcome compliments on their work; dancers seem to prefer to be left alone.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
It's so wonderful getting all these different perspectives!

And good to see you here, too.

I've seen dancers who were happy to talk, while they were passing around the hat. But yeah, if they were just getting ready to dance, they'd need their concentration.

Now, there is one type of performer I wouldn't try to chat with--one of those "statues". It's a good point that you don't want to disrupt the performance or the concentration of a performer.
(no subject) - rowyn - Jul. 16th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:14 am (UTC)
My credit card lives downstairs and I live upstairs is the lame answer to that.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
One of the things I do like about Paypal is that it is wherever I have a secure computer connection.

In theory, it's also available wherever I have a non-secure connection, but I'm not stupid.
Jul. 14th, 2010 08:51 am (UTC)
I never chat with artists and buskers, though I'd smile and pay them a quick compliment. That's not to be rude, but I figure that while they're chatting to me, they're not entertaining others and therefore missing out on potential money.

Jul. 15th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
Perhaps I chose the wrong word. I wasn't suggesting starting a long, deep conversation! :-D

Though that IS possible online, since the artist/writer can respond when they have time, rather than when you commented.
Jul. 14th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
Of course, I never actually HAVE all my bills paid and cash in my pocket, but if I DID, I'd spend on supporting people whose work I valued.
I had the biggest issue with art online; it's rare I'd tip for that, because typically I'd rather buy a print or some other tangible object with the art on it.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:37 am (UTC)
It's interesting to hear both from people who would rather have stuff, and from people who Don't Need More Stuff.

Thanks for stopping to comment!
Jul. 14th, 2010 12:30 pm (UTC)
Although, I'll confess, and it galls me to do so, that commenting is often a matter of time for me. I don't like leaving banal comments, even though, as a writer, I'm pleased even with "Great chapter, wow!" so if I can't think of anything great to say (or if their forums overwhelm me with the number of posters), I'll move on.
Jul. 14th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
Me, too!
(*laughs at self* See, kinda banal... but it's true.)
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Jul. 15th, 2010 02:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lissa_dora - Jul. 15th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rowyn - Jul. 16th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 14th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
To tell you the truth
I can't stand most performance art. I've seen a hell of a lot of it, since I have artists in my family, and damned near all of it leaves me cold. The same with breakdancers. So there's a good chance I would turn my back, if possible.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:39 am (UTC)
Re: To tell you the truth
What a great distinction between "you can tell they're good" and "you're enjoying the performance"!

And certainly you're entitled to "vote with your feet".
Jul. 14th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
In all honesty, what keeps me from interacting with buskers in person is shyness. Even stepping forward to tip someone is a source of discomfort for me. (I should note that if I've stood there for a long time, enjoying the music/art/dance/what-have-you, I will tip quickly because I think that's the decent thing to do.) So I interact more in online venues because they tend not to turn me into a quivering ball of stress.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:53 am (UTC)
So, would your shyness make you more likely to tip online if you could do so anonymously?

Although, as a busker, though I have always respected the shyness of people who tried to tip without letting me see them do it by not showing I noticed them doing it, I did appreciate that tiny bit of connection, as well as the cash.

As an online "busker", I think it's pretty cool to know who tipped me. I don't do a lot in the way of perks (though I've done thank-you icons for a few of my sponsors), but I do make an effort to pay particular attention if a sponsor responds to one of my "inspire me" posts. I also give my most regular sponsors the perk of getting to peek at unfinished fiction I'm posting to a limited audience for critiques, if they ask to be included, even if they don't have that skill. I couldn't give those kinds of perks to anonymous sponsors.
(no subject) - minor_architect - Jul. 15th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
I've never lived in a city where busking was a normal thing, and I've only barely ever seen anyone doing it when I've visited cities where it might happen. I don't like places where large crowds are thronging through. I avoid them fairly strongly. I can only think of a couple of times that I've ever seen anyone really busking, and they were so bad that if I'd thrown anything, it would have been a tomato, not money. I think that if I regularly passed by people playing for tips on street corners, and I had the spare money in my pocket, I'd hand a little out to the ones who stood out as brightening my day.

I think I would feel a little social pressure in one way: if I felt that my enjoyment of the performance was worthy of a quarter, but not a dollar, I might not actually throw in the quarter. I wouldn't be noticed at all if I just walked on, but if I threw in a quarter, I might be hurting the performer's feelings or looking like a cheapskate. Walking past is totally safe, but as soon as I do something more, I worry if I'm doing it right.

When it comes to the on-line piece, I again get hung up on my odd little foibles. If it's on a site where I'm already logged in, I'll often comment, but if I have to go through the rigamarole of signing up, I'll have to be really deeply moved. As for leaving a tip, if there were a site where I had the option of just pressing one button and leaving a quarter, I'd probably do so fairly freely. If it were a dollar, I'd do it if I liked the piece. But entering a credit card number is, to me, a big hassle. Instead of reaching into my pocket as I listen and tossing a coin in the guitar case, it turns into going home and getting my wallet as a psychological barrier.

I believe that what we need (where "we" is both the community of content consumers who'd like to be paying, and the community of content providers that I have some faint aspirations of joining) is an infrastructure that makes it very quick and easy mechanically and also fully socially acceptable and economically useful to make small, but still non-zero, donations in response to stuff we like. The problem is that I have enough motivation to bounce some ideas around in my head or over a beer with someone else but not nearly enough to write up a business case or actually crank out software.

Jul. 15th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
an infrastructure that makes it very quick and easy mechanically and also fully socially acceptable and economically useful to make small, but still non-zero, donations in response to stuff we like.

This is actually something I'm working on! :) Other (paying) projects and a hacker attack have taken precedence, but I'm working out the gears and whistles as we speak. Though, done my way, it will be fantasy/sci fi genre, probably... I'm ambivalent about managing a free-for-all site. If the software is awesome enough, I might make it open source and let other folks spread it further.
Hmm... - ysabetwordsmith - Jul. 15th, 2010 12:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Jul. 15th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 14th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Interesting, I've never heard the term busker before. Outdoor performances really impress me--it takes guts to perform for an audience that may want nothing to do with you, compared to performing at a theatre where people have paid to see you. And often there's something very unique--I saw a guy playing very intricate music on a platform of partially filled water glasses. I could pick up a flute a play a note, perhaps badly but I could play it...I don't know the first place to begin with getting a glass to make noise like that. Unfortunately I didn't have any cash ):

I'm more discerning about what I tip for online because when I like to make a larger contribution. I feel weird about putting just a few dollars on my debit card, there are always signs in stores about minimum orders. I also spend more time with the online stuff...a podcast could give me weeks of entertainment whereas a street performer can offer an hour or so and I usually only stick around for a few minutes.
Jul. 15th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
Minimum payment varies by project. Some have specific amounts listed, but others don't. Many have multiple options: things you can sponsor individually, things you can cosponsor, and/or a variable donation button for whatever you want to chip in. There are really no standards in crowdfunding yet, and probably won't be for a while if ever.
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Jul. 16th, 2010 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zellie_bean - Jul. 16th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 14th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
In person, I will tip the busker/artist/etc if I was paying enough attention to notice (sometimes a high bar), and I liked their work enough to go out of my way to hear/see more (which is a fairly small fraction -- many cause me to flee), and I have reasonable units of cash with me. I will pretty much never strike up a conversation with a stranger. I will occasionally buy a CD or similar. I'm more likely to tip a solo busker than a performer at a street festival or similar, which now that I'm thinking about it seems incorrect. Also now that I'm thinking about it, at a street festival often the things I like best are for sale, and I don't necessarily want/need a thing to take home, but have no idea of the etiquette for "I am very glad this nifty thing you made was here for me to admire, but I do not have a proper home to offer it".

Online, there's vastly more stuff, the overhead of 'look for more' is much lower, the overhead of tipping is higher (in both my time and paypal fees), and tipping isn't so anonymous. I think I tip online more often overall but for a much smaller fraction of what I see/read, and the selection is a little more arbitrary. I am unlikely to comment unless I have something cogent to say or know the artist.

I mildly prefer music, story, and 3-d arts over 2-d arts and dance.

I'm aware (and thank you for the training) that not-particularly-cogent comments are still appreciated by at least some artists, but lurker inertia is still pretty strong.
Jul. 15th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
One thing I do like about Facebook is the unobtrusive, but easy to use and always available, "I like this" button. It would be cool if LJ had something similar.

I suppose I could add a poll to do that here, but I fear that would seem pushy.
(no subject) - kelkyag - Jul. 15th, 2010 06:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zellie_bean - Jul. 16th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 15th, 2010 01:24 am (UTC)
Kind words are great - I will always thank a perfoprmer/artist for their performance/work. But kind words don't put beans on the table. I've busked for coin a time or two when things were tight - I know the feelings.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
Cool to see you here!

Yeah, money (especially when you're broke) is much appreciated.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)
Hi! Welcome!

Haikujaguar and djinni are artists who use tip buttons. I've also seen it with other LJ artists who, like djinni, do sketch days or icon days.
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
I almost never stop to chat with the artists, but I love dropping money in their hat. Every time I go to New York City, I always make sure to carry lots of $1, so that I can tip if I see/hear something I like.

Online, I try to support when we are solvent. It is incredibly frustrating to me that we haven't been solvent in so long I haven't been able to contribute in a dog's age.
Jul. 15th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
I've been commenting about busking, and crowdfunding, and the like all evening, here and in haikujaguar's journal and in stryck's journal, and I find I've run out of words!

Don't worry, I'm sure it's only temporary!
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Jul. 16th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 15th, 2010 09:24 am (UTC)
Even when I don't have a lot of money I'll drop a coin in a hat when I am at work. In general I'm not a dance person so I wouldn't tip there. Since funds are tight usually when I do drop a coin I want it to be something I've enjoyed & want to support. I have a 'performance artist' I try to tip regularly though, he stands on a box and does like a moving statue/robot when you tip he moves. :) I've tipped the guy who draws amazing pictures as well as the older "country folk" type couple who busk regularly. I can't tip everyone but try to when I have a spare coin or two.

I think online people are more shy about tipping sometimes because they don't want to be seen to be 'cheap' by only dropping a couple to few dollars in, especially when they're name goes in (Paypal) vs an anonymous coin drop.

A lot of people are also broke or can't afford to tip. For those who are in this position, I don't think they realise that even commenting or spreading the word is a kind of tipping that makes a difference to an artist. Getting the word out on the internet is crucial for anyone trying to make a couple bucks, especially an artist trying to get their words out in the public eye.

Also, I think there's a presumption that if something is on the internet then it's free and should always be the case. I think some people tend to devalue work just because it's online and not "real life", but they don't realise not everyone has the resources to become a famous published artist.

Also, one of my downsides is that my Paypal is only credit card funded. I would love to tip more often but (1) am never quite sure how much and (2) it goes on my credit card and I don't pay my balances off completely so I need to justify to myself that it's ok to do this once in awhile but try to balance it. When I cut my spending down on stuff then I include donations.
Jul. 16th, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
I suppose you could shoot the same amount toward your credit card, a mid-month payment, whenever you use paypal. But that's still two transactions, far from easy and convenient.

And I suspect "easy and convenient" is one of the big things lacking in online busking. Even though Paypal is a LOT easier and faster than the prior alternatives. But even for people who like Paypal, it isn't as easy as pulling the change out of your pocket and dropping it in a hat or guitar case.
(no subject) - red_trillium - Jul. 16th, 2010 08:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
My answer boils down pretty simply:


I would tip online more often if there was a way to do it that wasn't agonizingly painful and expensive every single time I use it. Digging out a dollar to drop in a hat is easy: using paypal to give a dollar (a) only gives the artist, what, $0.60? when Paypal is done with it. Actually, I think Paypal switched to charging my credit card for a cash advance on every donation transaction, meaning it costs a minimum of $2 or $3 to use. I do not understand the crowdfunding world's adoration of Paypal or the assumption that tipping online must be identical to doing so in person in every respect and there is no earthly reason beyond sheer malevolent injustice for any differences in behavior.


Sorry. I just really hate Paypal. It's not all that rational.

Anyway, I talk to artists online if they have a comment-friendly forum because (a) if you have a comment-friendly forum I know you want comments, and I do not have this handy guide in person and (b) it's generally more convenient to talk online.
Jul. 16th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
$2 to $3 to a credit card company to donate $1? Ouch!

I don't see this cash advance charge from Paypal, but I've linked Paypal to a bank account, so the credit card is not in the picture.

You actually can set up a Paypal account that charges a straight percentage; for amounts up to--drat, I can't remember, I figured out the cut-off point months ago--it's cheaper to use the micropayment formula, above that you pay more to Paypal using the micropayment form. However, you can choose only one of these types of payment per account. (Per bank account? Per user? I'm not sure, I don't get enough tiny contributions for it to be worth my while to figure that out.)

I wouldn't say that I love paypal; however, I am not aware it has any competitors. And it's much safer and easier for me than giving out my home address; I don't have to worry about bounce fees for checks or ask my fans to go out and buy bank money orders or postal money orders. And I don't like the risk of someone sending cash in the mail, and don't do enough business to support the costs of taking credit card payments directly.

Oops--lunch is over! got to go!
(no subject) - delight_in - Jul. 16th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
Why? If I really enjoyed it and had money, I'd tip, but I'd probably not speak. Somewhat shy, and have been burned too many times by creating an opening for someone to take advantage of me. If a musician is playing I might catch their eye & smile, and move on. Online, rather than in person, (especially when I know the author/artist) I might be more likely to say something -- but I'm not good at thinking of things to speak when on the spot. And it's not so much that I figure I'll look stupid and that bothers me, but that I'll _be_ stupid and be wasting the time of the person I want to commend.

I saw a paypal comment above -- I know once of all the times I've donated via paypal I've elected to pay a bit more so that the recipient would get the full amount -- but I'm wondering if I selected the wrong radio-button that time -- I think if you choose "gift" they don't take their cut.
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