Charity Debt: Public Knowledge

I said earlier this month that I was probably going to pick Public Knowledge for this month's Charity Debt.  I never actually got around to doing the write-up, though.  (I mean, now I'm getting around to it.  But it's the 21st.)  For the record:  though I absolutely intend to buy a copy of Pirate Cinema for a classroom somewhere, my feeling of debt to authors who release their work for free is separate from my commitment to donate a chunk of my (hypothetical) income to charity on a regular basis. Public Knowledge's minimum donation is $10, so this month's entry is going to be a little more expensive than usual.  But that's fine.  The point of this is to do it when I can afford it, right?  Though I'm starting to feel like I should do some of them soon even if I'm not out of debt yet.

Public Knowledge lists four major categories of issues they support:  Open Internet, including net neutrality and getting internet access to as many people as possible; Promoting Creativity, including pursuing a more balanced system of copyright, and defending that more balanced system to protect more artists; Open & Accessible Technology, including "Ensuring access to communications for all Americans;" and International, including foreign legislation about copyright and control that would affect the internet for everyone.

Public Knowledge is a great cause, and I'm happy to support it.  This looks like one of the places I'd be interested in signing up for a regular donation, when I have an income greater than my expenses.  Until then, I'm committing to donate $10 when I can get around to it, and encouraging all my readers to donate, too.

Cards Against Humanity's surprisingly humane financial decision

Cards Against Humanity, the mildly evil card game, had a Christmas sale, where they released a season-themed booster pack at $pay-what-you-want. After the sales all came through, and they paid for production and expenses, they donated all the profits -- all of them -- to the Wikimedia Foundation, best known for being Wikipedia.

"From the outset we decided we wanted to give all the proceeds to charity and that made it more fun for us," said [co-creator Max] Temkin. "We weren't really worried about the bottom line, we were really able to do it as an experiment and do it in a great way."

After covering an assortment of costs including manufacturing, shipping and development they were left with $70,066.27 in profit, of which every cent was paid to the Wikimedia Foundation.

"We wanted to pick something we thought the users of our game of had heard of and believed in and used and we felt like Wikipedia is pretty unique in terms of having universal appeal," said Temkin. "It's something that helps a lot of people of all different classes and levels of education in different places all around the world … We also support the social mission of Wikipedia."

(Bracketed notes mine, unbracketed the Guardian's)

I still haven't gotten the chance to play Cards Against Humanity, and I'm still not totally sure I like its hipster-awful ethos, but I absolutely approve of this decision.

Public Knowledge seeking to avert the Mayan apocalypse

(via Boing Boing) I've been looking at Public Knowledge for a while, trying to decide whether to add them to my list for Charity Debt (spoiler: they're probably going to be this month's pick) .  I'm not going to be able to help with this campaign, because I remain broke.

Apparently, Public Knowledge has found a device that can help avert the Mayan apocalypse.  They even show it in a video, so you know it's legit.  But it's running low on power or something I guess, and it runs on donations to Public Knowledge.

So, I would like to ask my readers to donate leading up to the 21st.  Because I don't want to die.  Also good cause and stuff.

Donate link

Charity Debt: The Wikimedia Foundation

I'm a few days late on picking a charity this month, partly because I forgot that, after Halloween, a new month started, and partly because the biggest issue that's been weighing on my mind is the election.  I'd love to give a contribution to the Obama campaign, but it's kind of pointless to promise to donate money sometime in the indeterminate future to help a campaign that will be over tomorrow.  For a similar reason, I'm not donating to Hurricane Sandy relief, although I do have the Red Cross, or other emergency relief organizations, in mind for a future pick. I picked the Wikimedia Foundation for this month, the people behind Wikipedia, partly because I've meant to donate to them for a long time now.  I think that Wikipedia is one of humankind's great achievements -- on a sort of second-tier, alongside stuff like the scientific journal or public education, but not on level with the printing press or the internet.  I get a lot of use out of Wikipedia, and it's important to me.

I also picked them because the organization I was going to donate to,, doesn't show up on Charity Navigator -- instead, when you search for them, one of the results is the Wikimedia Foundation, which has 4 out of 4 stars.  Public Knowledge has been open in a tab on my computer for about two weeks, I keep meaning to look into them.  I still plan on investigating further, but the fact that they aren't on Charity Navigator kind of sketches me out.

As usual, I won't be able to make this donation for a while.  (I've got a lot to get through before this one comes up in line.)  If you want the list, click here.  And, here's a video of Jimmy Wales at TED talking about Wikipedia.

Charity Debt: The Trevor Project

I'll be honest -- I've been thinking for a couple days about who I wanted to commit to donating to this month, and I was drawing a blank.  Not that I think there's a shortage of worthy charities in the world, but I've already listed pretty much all the ones that tend to jump to mind for me. So, I looked at what I had, and tried to figure out what categories of help I care about that aren't represented in that list.  The first one I came up with was education, but none of the charities I found jumped out at me as great ideas, right away.  The next category I searched was LGBT.

Sorted by star-rating, The Trevor Project is the first charity that comes up when you search LGBT on Charity Navigator.

I know of the Trevor Project mostly because of the Trevor Lifeline, a free suicide prevention hotline that they provide for kids around the country who are facing bullying, harassment, or abuse for their sexuality.  The number for that hotline is 1-866-488-7386.  This seems very much like the kind of charity that might have helped me, when I was younger, if things had been a little worse.  It's easy for me to imagine kids who need this.  Donating here is something I can do to make that thought a little more unrealistic.

July Charity Debt:

This month's charity pick is, a favorite charity of a number of vloggers.  (Flying vloggers out to see, and report on, the conditions in the less-industrialized world is a great advertising strategy.)  You can see WheezyWaiter visiting India here, and Hank Green visiting Haiti here. I checked out on Charity Navigator, where it has 4 out of 4 stars.  Also, Matt Damon really is a co-founder.  I thought that was just a joke in WheezyWaiter's video.

According to their FAQ, $25 buys one person clean water for life.  So, $5 should help at least a little.

Here's a donation link.

[The title of this post was edited on July 30, when I noticed, embarrassingly late, that I wrote "March" instead of "July." -- Watson]

June Charity Debt: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

I've finally set up a page for my charity debt, so it's easy to reference, and even more obvious if I fail to post a monthly charity, and how long it's been since I paid any off.  (So far, none.  I'm still broke.) On that topic, this month's charity pick is the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF).  A funny thing about censorship attempts is that they seem to work (in my entirely-unsupported-by-science-or-surveys estimation) much better on art forms that haven't been around as long, or aren't as respected.

That puts comics near the bottom of the heap.

The other major problem with censorship is that it's intrinsically normative, preventing the aforementioned under-respected art forms from reaching for more adventurous, controversial, or fringe work that's the stuff that gets your art form or genre respected.

It is therefore, in my estimation, more than usually imperative to protect comics from attacks on free speech.  Also, I just like the CBLDF, and I've wanted to give them money for a while now.

Here's a donation link for them.  They've got a convenient $5 minimum, which is good because that's what I intend to commit to.