A San Francisco man named Daniel Polk was explaining homelessness to his children when he decided to take a photo with a homeless man named Edward near the Castro Walgreens, promising to donate a dollar to him for each like or comment their photo garnered on LinkedIn.The Examiner, who seemed to thrill to Polk's story, reports that Edward received $22 dollars and that Polk has handed out as much as $500 in another instance.

The director of global citizenship at a private K-8 girls school, Polk has volunteered for the past six years with various homeless organizations. As the Examiner reports, he sees an opportunity for homeless people to seek resources - and yes, "likes" and encouragement - online. Perhaps he'll take them to the library to set up social media pages, he imagines.

For cynics, though, there are plenty of bothersome questions to ask about Polk's recent advocacy (the first and least important of which is: Why LinkedIn?) At South by South West in 2012, a marketing agency caught flak for an effort to turn homeless Austin residents into 4G wireless hotspots for attendees. In a similarly criticized move, last summer a NYC entrepreneur touted his work to teach a homeless man to code. Is Polk's effort different and useful, or a similarly patronizing gambit?

As the Examiner points out, half of San Francisco's homeless are above 50 and have little or no experience with technology (to which they have limited access). Perhaps that itself is an issue worth pushing for, but to get the homeless up and running with social media pages might be putting the horse before the cart... or before the food and shelter.

San Francisco's population of homeless people has figured above 6,000 from 2005 through 2013 according to the San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey. And, for his part, it sounds like Polk does plenty to help and is sincere in his efforts. "The smile on his face was incredible," he said of the moment when he told Edward how many likes their picture received. "It was sort of beyond his way of thinking to think that there were people out there who cared about him in that way."

I'm not saying that what Polk did isn't kind or heartwarming, but does social-media presence actually equate to real fundraising? Last, it's weird that Polk, not Edward, was featured in the Examiner photo for the story. I don't know whose decision that was, but it enforces the idea that this project, like so many others, is about patting the generous privileged person on the back, and not really about solving Edward's homelessness.