Contributoria

Article The changing value of money

Announcing wordzleybux, the new virtual, valueless currency for journalists

Are you a writer, tired of getting paid little or no money for your work in the unlimited-free-content-on-the-Internet age we live in?

We understand. We’re writers, too.

But we couldn’t afford the lease payments on our rickshaws. That’s why we created Wordzleybux, our brand new virtual currency for journalists. Are Wordzleybux worth anything? No. But can you pretend they are? Absolutely.

And will this eventually lead to a population of homeless journalists who can’t afford to pursue their craft— and thus a world without credible and reliable primary sources for the entire Internet to piggyback on?

Maybe, but that’s someone else’s problem. We just need to eat.

So, now, instead of telling your friends you’re getting paid a dollar for every ten thousand clicks, or 4% of the non-existent online ad revenue generated by your piece, or a fraction of a penny for everyone who likes your post on Facebook, you can tell them you’re earning 10,000 Wordzleybux. And doesn’t that sound like a lot?

You can even say you’re earning a million Wordzleybux, if you think they’ll believe it.

How does this provide us any more actual, real cash we can use to keep ourselves pretending we’re still in the middle class than we were able to earn writing blog posts in exchange for the promise of future stock options if the Wordpress site we were writing for ever magically became the kind of thing that people buy stock in?

That’s a good question! How about this revenue model— we can send you actual Wordzleybux bills — printed on recycled pages of self-published novels that never earned their authors back the money it cost to buy an ISBN number — and Wordzleybux coins — minted from old computers that some of your fellow writers couldn’t even take as tax deductions because they never earned a profit from their work. Will anyone pay us for that? Maybe? Please? If we ask nicely enough?

Look, you want to get in on the ground floor here— Wordzleybux are nothing like micropayments, which couldn’t even find a name that didn’t make them sound as embarrassingly small and inconsequential as they usually are. And they’re nothing like paywalls, which rarely provide enough pay to fix a wall, like the one you keep punching your fist through when yet another website says they’ve cut their freelance budget and now instead of fifty cents a word, they can pay you fifty cents. And a $5 Starbucks gift card over the holidays. Maybe.

And Wordzleybux are nothing like Bitcoins, which have a fluctuating value and the risk of being stolen from your online wallet. Instead, Wordzleybux are always worth nothing, and no one would ever want to steal them — just like no one wants to steal your journalism degree, and no one wants to steal your full-time blogging gig, where you write thirty-two posts a day, aren’t allowed to sleep, and only get paid if more than eight billion people worldwide read your work.

So please pay us to send you some.

What’s that? There are only seven billion people on the planet? Are you sure? Because I saw that on Wikipedia, and you can’t believe anything written on there because the writers don’t even get paid. Who would bother spending the time to ensure accuracy when they’re not even getting paid? What kind of person does work — real work — and doesn’t even get paid?

Oh, wait. All of us. But not anymore. Not us, if you take advantage of this limited-time offer to get three physical Wordzleybux non-refundable, valueless paper certificates for the price of four. And not you, if you can somehow convince yourself that Wordzleybux have value. (It can’t be that hard— you’ve already convinced yourself that tweeting has value, so you can’t be all that hard to influence.)

Will Wordzleybux help give your writing exposure to new audiences, just like the folks at your friendly neighborhood blog promise their site will? Of course. Wordzleybux are worth their weight in exposure. (Recall that Wordzleybux weigh nothing.)

Will Wordzleybux help pay for meals to keep you alive (and writing, goddamit — there’s a backlog of cat videos just waiting for you to link to them)? Not really, but if you’d like us to send you some raisins, I think there are a few stuck on the bottom of the messenger bags we bought when we thought we were going to be travel writers, hunting the globe for the next big adventure, until we found out that travel writers make even less money than music bloggers. And music bloggers make the same amount of money as the bugs that are nibbling on the raisins, deep in the back of the closet… where aside from storing our clothes, we also live.

Will Wordzleybux help you afford health insurance? Maybe — if you’d like to be treated by our in-house health writer, who links to health-related stories from around the web, and has absolutely no medical training (but she’s working on a book of poetry!).

Will Wordzleybux pay your rent? Actually, we will, as long as you live here at Wordzleybux headquarters. There’s a desk with your name on it, and also a stack of papers, each with a specific topic, commissioned by our client partners at a nearby content mill — we need a 200-word blog post about each of them by the end of the week or your bathroom access will be terminated.

But don’t worry, we’ll pay you for your work, of course. Thirty-five million Wordzleybux. On their way into your virtual account, 6-8 weeks after we process your invoice. Do we have a sample invoice form? No. How often do we process invoices? Never. But will we apologize and keep telling you it’s happening soon every fourth time you e-mail us? Definitely.

How about this? We’ll pay you after you pay us. Or we won’t. Just pay us. Come on, isn’t something we do worth some amount of money to someone? No? We should have gone to medical school? Shoot.

Wordzleybux: the currency of the future, if the future involves journalists just finally giving up and realizing no one is ever going to solve the economics of online content. For sale now on a blog near you.

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