At Slashdot, in response to the comment that "they get zero compensation for their products being distributed over the Internet", a poster replied "The vast majority of them earn every penny of that." The other argument, which Simon Owens made in response to this topic on my WordPress blog, was that there are far too many "semi-pro" bloggers waiting to take over if the A-listers went on strike.
I think that Mooney addressed the first point pretty well:
At the same time, though, there’s sense in diversity when it comes to compensation: not all bloggers should be treated equally with respect to remuneration. Most bloggers, after all, don’t draw very much traffic; neither are they part of a blogging conglomerate that is making real money selling advertisements. Were bloggers to organize, a threshold would have to be established between blogging “for fun” and blogging in a way that should be considered “labor”—between amateurs and professionals, if you will.He also pointed out that the distinction between an amateur and a pro shouldn't be whether you have a day job. Most blogs aren't generating significant income for anyone. Obviously, if you simply blog to let your friends and family know what you are up to, the issue of compensation is moot. That said, you should still have the opportunity to join a Bloggers Guild. You never know when someone will decide that your personal exploits are interesting enough to re-post. It never hurts to organise.
The second point is more relevant. If the A-listers went on strike, the B-listers would say "sign me up!" The "industry standard" at the present time is to not pay bloggers. Most people blog because they want their words to be read. If you are getting paid nothing to blog in obscurity, and someone offered you the opportunity to make the same amount of money on a far more prominent platform, many people would jump at the opportunity. The key here is to get people to recognise the value of their labour. Part of that may lie in getting people to realise that people are making money off your labour. In some cases it probably doesn't matter - people who post diaries at places like Daily Kos are doing so as activists. Their aim is to change opinions and get candidates elected. In addition, of course, Markos is sharing the wealth - he is paying his frontpagers, and Daily Kos is sponsoring political events. But even in a case like that, it's useful to give people a sense of the value that they are creating.
Of course, when it comes to comparing A-listers with B-listers, there is an issue of quality. The top tier draw traffic because of who they are and because of what they have to say. B-listers might be just as good writers, they might be just as insightful commentators, but fewer people will read them because they are relatively unknown. At some point, the difference in value makes it worth paying the A-listers. But if the A-listers never ask to be paid for their labour, the entire argument is moot.