I got email today from the folks at NaNoWriMo, warning me I’d be eaten by the database gremlins if I didn’t confirm my address for Year 5. I did nanowrimo last year, and I’m planning to nano again, so I clicked the appropriate link and re-registered myself.

At the other end of that link was a plea for funds. That’s not an unusual sight by any means, but they also mentioned their annual expenses: $35,885. Hosting costs money, but not that much money. Fortunately, they provided a PDF expense report to itemize this huge sum. Mystery solved - $29,800 of the expenses are salary for various part-time and seasonal NaNoEmployees. An additional $1,100 is for graphic design.

Maybe I’m a little too used to free stuff free, but asking for donations to pay someone’s salary seems a bit much. At the very least, they could ask for donations of graphics from artists, rather than paying over a thousand bucks for graphics that, while nice, weren’t necessary. I’m not sure why a phpBB and regional parties require such expensive staffing.

I spend a lot of time doing free stuff that benefits other fanfic readers and writers, other sci-fi writers, and other geeks, and I don’t ask for donations to pay myself a salary even though I could use one at the moment. My payment is other people’s labor on other free things from which I benefit. I used to think nanowrimo was one of those things.

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